Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Okay, I'm just gonna have to jump right into this one. Avengers: Age of Ultron. This movie was all over the place, and I sorta feel like I'm going to be all over the place while talking about it, so let's just start with the good, and keep in mind that there will be spoilers in this review (and in case you don't believe me about there being spoilers, lemme prove it to you right off the bat).

So the best audience reaction the movie received definitely came when the worthy Vision handed Thor his hammer back, which was admittedly an awesome moment, and I loved the running gag involving Thor's hammer throughout at that. But to the point, the audience loved this, which is great, assuming that we can ignore that the actual best reaction of the whole night period came at the hands of the freaking Batman v Superman trailer of all things. Just, ugh. That, plus a comment from the person sitting in front of me that the (awesome) new trailer for Tomorrowland looked like "more Spy Kids crap" made me sort of hate my audience going into this thing. But that's neither here nor there, though I suppose you could say that in a way my letdown in my audience perhaps acted as a nice segue into the ensuing letdown that was to come, so let's talk about the actual movie itself.

Like the first Avengers, I thought the characters were pretty well balanced throughout. Ultron was a really interesting villain with an intriguing ideology, and I loved the character's personality interjected by James Spader, who gives off such a sinister innocence that just sorta gets under your skin in such a good way. Such a creepy character, yet such a joy to watch on the screen.

But I would say the highlights were the side stories involving Hawkeye and his secret life, as well as the brewing romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner. The character moments are this movie's absolute strongest aspects, and the performances all around were as good as we've come to expect by this stage in the game.

That said, while the ensemble cast on the whole was well balanced enough, where this movie strays away from the first Avengers in terms of balance is in its pacing. More to the point, there's just too much god damn action in this thing. And unlike the first movie, the vast majority of the action scenes are just incoherent and boring.

The movie opens with the equivalent of a CGI cartoon that looks like it would feel more at home in one of the Hobbit movies, as the Avengers get right into the action, and we set the stage for this movie that basically exists just to set the stage even further for more future movies, but more on that later, we've got even more action to discuss! Similar to my complaints regarding the action in the second Captain America movie, a lot of the action in this movie is shot and edited in such a bland way that sorta just jumps back and forth with quick cuts all over the place and ultimately fails to connect on any level, which left my mind constantly wandering throughout. There were moments and shots in the first movie that truly felt inspired, but I really didn't get that feeling from anything happening here.

Now, while the action may not have been inspired, it sure as hell did feel at times like a retread (though I do like the idea behind the floating island scenario, the last action sequence in many ways mirrors that from the first movie), and at other times, a blatant rip-off. For instance, remember that iconic train sequence from Spider-Man 2? Yeah, this movie completely recreates that scene here. And as it was being set up, I seriously sat there thinking to myself, "they're not really going to just straight up steal that scene from Spider-Man 2, are they?" But yes, they in fact did. And I kinda couldn't believe it as I was watching it. Now, perhaps this is merely an homage to that movie, seeing as how Spider-Man is now officially going to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the future? Perhaps, but, I'm pretty sure this scene was filmed well before that deal ever went down, so I kinda doubt it, and this was most likely just the blatant rip-off that it feels like.

But that's not even the worst of it. No, I would say the worst came during the fight that was probably hyped up most in the trailers, that being the epic encounter between Iron Man and the Hulk. And oh boy, where do I even begin? This whole fight just felt like way too much, like the movie was blowing its load way too early (and hell, maybe that's even fitting, given how many dick jokes that are in this thing). But beyond the fight just dragging on way too long and suffering from the same tedious, uninspired issues as the other action sequences, this fight did something else that I'm actually kinda surprised to see in a Marvel movie.

Now, remember how Man of Steel ended with that big city-leveling action sequence that everyone threw an absolute bitch-fit about? And, upon reflection, deservedly so, considering the character in question, and how much of that battle and the ensuing destruction was most likely preventable. And then remember how The Avengers sorta acted as a counter to that sequence, what with the city-leveling action in that movie being an act on our heroes' part to prevent further destruction? And hell, recall how Guardians of the Galaxy even explicitly included a scene calling for a city-wide evacuation in order to save the citizens from the incoming destruction in that movie's climax? So one would assume that we're seeing a pattern of Marvel almost being the anti-DC in this regard, right? At least, until now.

See, there were points during the fight where it appeared like much of it was Iron Man fighting to prevent further damage from the Hulk's rampage, and he even at one time does try to escape the city with him. But then he makes the decision to end the battle by tossing the Hulk through a building in progress, leveling it in the process, complete with blatant 9/11 imagery in tow, and blatantly not only further damaging the city, but putting its citizens in direct harm, if not from debris, then from the ensuing cancer that they'll likely be having to deal with as a result of the ash.

So, yeah, Marvel actually went there. And hell, much of this movie even felt like the type of destruction-porn that you'd come to expect more from a Transformers flick than a Marvel movie, and it's quite frankly just sort of shocking to see them go that route at this point. I mean, I suppose you could argue that Iron Man's decision at this point was one made in order to try and contain the situation as much as possible, and either way, it's not a decision that personally bothered me necessarily. It's just something I happened to notice and that clearly stood out to me as I was watching it for the reasons expressed above, but hey, maybe I'm making too much of nothing. After all, I suppose that the way the last big action scene played out does sort of make up for this entire aspect anyways, so I dunno, but either way, let's move on.

Anyways, so the action was definitely off in this thing, but not only that, but the humor, too, seemed a bit off as well. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some good chuckles to be had in this thing. But where the first Avengers was filled with tons of funny little moments and sight-gags like the Galaga joke, the closest this movie really hit to that style of quick gag was Tony Stark having a "Jarvis Is My Copilot" sticker on his wall.

Also, Marvel has apparently given up on post-credits sequences, as this movie doesn't even have one at all. Yeah, there's a mid-credits sequence, which is just about the lamest (and most obvious) one yet, and which really doesn't do any more to set up the next movies that wasn't already shown in both Guardians of the Galaxy and the mid-credits scene of the first Avengers.

And speaking of, that's sort of this movie's biggest problem, is that it feels like it exists solely just to set up even more future movies. And this is especially odd coming from director Joss Whedon, especially after having just recently read an interview from him expressing how movies should be a singular, stand-alone experience, and how gutted he felt when people proclaimed the mid-credits sequence of the first movie to be a great set-up to the next one. And yet, now here he is making a movie that is anything but a singular movie-going experience.

And as a result, seeing as Marvel has already announced every single movie leading into the next Avengers, there are scenes near the end that are completely devoid of any sort of stakes or tension, because we already know well in advance that certain characters are due to be in the next movies. I dunno, but I do kinda hate how Marvel went ahead and made those announcements, and I do miss how you originally didn't know the next movie until the post-credits scene, which acted as a tease for it. But I guess seeing as now that there's no more need for a tease, of course they don't bother anymore.

But even beyond that, the thing is, there reached a point during this movie where this whole expanded universe idea just began to feel overwhelming, like they're just setting up too much, expanding too far, with no end in sight, and I just don't know that I'm on board for the ride anymore. I mean, of course I'm going to see them and grow excited as we get closer to each new film's release, but just looking out on the horizon now, it just feels like too damn much, and I think this movie may have been the breaking point that really makes me dread this entire "cinematic universe" model that so many production companies are so insistent on moving forward with. The idea was a cool one at first, but the novelty's really beginning to wear thin for me now, and I'm really growing to miss the days of that aforementioned "singular experience".

So yeah, I don't know, there's my rambling review for the latest Avengers movie I guess. And it probably feels like I've been overly cynical of it, but I really can't even say that it was a bad movie. In terms of execution, it just feels like a movie that's content with going through the motions for the most part, which is just a bit of a shame. But outside of some nice character moments, this movie really does nothing especially wow-inducing that makes it stand out on the whole, and that's what's ultimately so disappointing about it. All in all, Avengers: Age of Ultron was just an okay movie.

...

... This movie's biggest sin, though?


Not enough Loki!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Age of Adaline

So I checked this movie out based on its interesting sounding premise. A young woman named Adaline, due to circumstances, loses the ability to age, and thus lives well into her hundreds while still in her twenty-something year old body. The world around her continues to grow older, including her own daughter, who's still around but telling people that she's her grandmother so as to avoid any questioning, but all the while, Adaline continues to adapt with the times, changing her identity and moving around to avoid becoming some sort of scientific test specimen. So yeah, pretty interesting premise, right? It's just too bad that the vast majority of that is relegated to the background, as the main story here is just a typical, shitty romance.

Now, before I get too deep into this impending rant, let me just say that, unlike a lot of other movies that I go into full-blown rant mode against, I actually didn't hate this movie. It has its moments, and ultimately leaves you wondering what could have been had this movie not suffered from so many of the glaring issues that I'll be addressing, as this is one of those movies where, hidden under a pile of poor editing choices and some awful narration, I could definitely see a potentially good movie hiding here somewhere.

But since the movie starts off with it itself, let's first address the awful narration in this thing.

(Spoilers ahead)

At various times, mostly whenever we shift into flashback mode, rather than allow the scenes to play out for us, the movie resorts to having some jackass tell us everything that's happening, as it's happening. And the narrator does so in a way as if he's talking down to the viewer, like he knows their audience is full of idiots, so, in a classic case of "show, don't tell", he's going to hold our hand and guide us through these sections, to make sure that absolutely everybody understands what's going on.


"Somebody shut this guy up already!"

Seriously, every single time this guy's mouth opened, I found myself silently cursing at him. I have never heard such obnoxious narration in a movie before in my entire life. But not only that, but they even go a step further, having him go so far as to explain the "science" behind Adaline's condition, even though the characters in the movie itself don't know or understand the science behind it, nor does the science actually play any factor on the events at hand. So then, what the hell is the point of having all that scientific mumbo jumbo blabbered to us? What, exactly, is this supposed to add to the viewer's experience? Why couldn't they just show us what happened, let the moments speak for themselves, and allow us to come to our own conclusions? This was just so frustrating, and I personally wish the movie would have done away with all of the narration.

The thing about it, though, is that, as I mentioned before, the flashback stuff is honestly the most interesting part of the whole thing. But this entire aspect is just glossed over, and little bits of it are inserted here and there at times when their relevance becomes too little too late. And what I mean by that is that this movie does a hell of a lot of "retroactive foreshadowing".

For an example, somewhere near the end, Harrison Ford's character recognizes a scar on Adaline's hand. Now, this scar means nothing to the viewer at this point, as it has never been shown nor referenced even once before now. But the movie only then decides to jump back into flashback mode, and retroactively provide the context behind this revelation, as we see when Adaline got that scar in the past. The thing is though, had this movie played out more linearly and we had seen that scene play out earlier in the film, then when Ford's character sees the scar in the movie and has that "aha!" moment, the audience can share in that moment along with him. But by only providing context behind that scene after the fact, the moment's ruined, that potential satisfaction robbed of the viewer, and we're instead just left wondering what relevance that stupid scar even has. And this isn't a one off, the movie's full of these kinds of poorly executed editing decisions.

See, I can appreciate a story being told out of order, but if you're going to do it, you have to do it right, and you have to know when to tell each piece of the story in such a way that it not only makes sense, but also gets the most emotional value out of your audience for it, and this movie fails in both of those regards. That's why I keep arguing that this movie shoulda just been played straight, start from the beginning, show this girl coming under this condition of hers and the life she's had to live as a result, all leading to the various twists at the end, now with actual context behind them so that they actually connect with the audience.

But anyways, this brings us to the main story, which starts as our two lovers share a really odd glance at a New Year's Eve party. Based on the glance they share, it would be safe to assume that there's a sense of recognition between the two. And as it goes for the guy, at least, that's eventually revealed to be true. But for Adaline? Not so much.

See, one of the twists is that this guy ends up being revealed as being the son of the Harrison Ford character, who she used to date well earlier in her life, when he was a lot younger. But the thing is, the son doesn't resemble his father in the slightest. Now, that can be easily enough ignored, except that, when this father/son twist is revealed, Adaline is genuinely surprised by this revelation, meaning that she actually didn't recognize the guy all along anyways. So then, what was with that initial glance of recognition on her part? I dunno, perhaps she sorta recognize him but just didn't piece it all together just yet? But considering her Sherlock Holmes level of deduction that she otherwise shows herself capable of (more on that in a bit), it's hard to imagine she wouldn't be able to come to this conclusion sooner.

And that's just the start of it. The more their "relationship" develops, the more we learn that the guy is a total stalker creep, the type who calls her phone off the hook, leaving multiple messages in a single day after they've only been out once or twice, and then proceeds to go to her place of work, get her home address from her employers, and stalk her at home, waiting for her at her doorstep to see why she wasn't calling him back (she just had to put her dog down and didn't have time for his shit, thank you very much). And at first she tells him as such, that he should have been patient, and that what he's doing is extremely inappropriate.

But then, she gets a change of heart and actually goes to his place to profusely apologize for (rightfully) blowing him off after he stalked her home, and to try and make things work with him. Just, what? I'm sorry, but there's no apology necessary for that, and if anything, he's the one who owes her the apology. But anyways, so they get together and have a romantic evening, and now that they've been going out for a little under a week, it's off to meet his parents for a weekend getaway, in which we learn the whole twist involving his dad.

I dunno, I know a lot of movies including romantic plots do this sorta thing, but I just don't buy the whole falling head over heels in love in such a short period of time nonsense that you see constantly. The guy openly admits that he barely even knows anything about her, and yet by the end of the movie, in which he still barely even knows anything about her, he's professing how he can't even imagine living the rest of his life without this woman. This just feels so forced, and considering all the creepy shenanigans that lead to these two even seeing one another, and the also creepy inclination that she's now dating her former lover's son (which, by the way, everyone turns out being perfectly a-okay with), the whole main romantic plot of the movie was just a freaking mess. But hey, who am I to sit here and try and make sense of love, right?

Also, I alluded to this before, but apparently living a really long time is all you need to become the intellectual equivalent of Sherlock Holmes. I can understand her growing wiser than her years would let on, but you're telling me that just living in a younger body for a longer period of time is all you need to become fluent in several languages, become a master of absolutely obscure historical trivia, and grow such an acute attention to detail that you can tell someone their entire life's story upon first meeting before a single word even comes out of their mouth? The movie suggests that living a long life is all that's required to attain such skills, but if that's the case, then why hasn't her daughter attained even a modicum of that? Is it because she's physically aged as well? Yeah, because that makes sense, movie.

But I digress, and at the end of it all, like I mentioned before, I actually didn't entirely hate this movie. It does still have a few emotional moments that actually leave an impact, but just imagine how much stronger said moments would be if we were provided the proper context behind them in the proper order. And like I keep reiterating, the central premise is still a really promising one. So much so that I'm honestly curious how much footage was actually shot for the backstory versus what was actually shown, as I could definitely see a recut of this movie following her whole journey being a pretty compelling watch. But as it is, this movie is a complete and total disaster, with poor writing as far as the central romance is concerned, terrible editing decisions, and the worst narration you will ever hear in a movie.

That said, awful as all of that may be, the one thing this movie has that is so awful that it's actually sort of awesome is the young actor playing a younger version of Harrison Ford's character, who as a result (playing it completely straight, mind you), proceeds to give us his best go at a Harrison Ford impression.


Great, now don't get cocky, kid.

That this hilariously awful SNL quality impression actually exists in a movie in which we're supposed to take it seriously is just a whole different dimension of special all its own. Not quite special enough to where I could actually recommend this movie just to see it, but, well, maybe if someone ever does get around to recutting this thing...

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Top 10 Movies of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)

So since we're a little over halfway through the current decade, I wanted to take a look at what I thought were the best movies of this decade so far. Now, I know that several people have tackled this already closer to the beginning of the year, but I personally wanted to give it a little time and let some of these movies settle in a little more before I went ahead with posting my list. And now that some time has passed, I'm mostly confident enough in my list (probably about as confident I'm going to get at least) to go ahead and share it with all of you. But first, let's take a look at a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:
The Avengers (Joss Whedon - 2012)
Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski - 2012)
Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson - 2011)
Let Me In (Matt Reeves - 2010)
The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson - 2012)
Predestination (Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig - 2014)

All of these were incredible movies that stood the test of time with me. And for those of you who've followed me over the years now may notice, a number of these movies didn't even rank that high or at all when it came time for me to do my yearly countdowns. And the same can be said for a number of my picks that appear on the main list. But that's the thing about time, it really shows you what truly sticks with you through the years, and what drifts away, forgotten.

Above all else, these are the 10 movies that have resonated the best and continue to leave an impact on me in recent years. And they're also movies that I have spoken on so much that I really don't know what else I could possibly say about them that I haven't already expressed, so please excuse the lack of accompanying text with these entries. So with that all said, and without any further ado, here are my picks for the Top 10 Movies of the Decade So Far...

#10

Guardians of the Galaxy
James Gunn - 2014

#9

Les Misérables
Tom Hooper - 2012

#8

The Social Network
David Fincher - 2010

#7

Tangled
Nathan Greno, Byron Howard - 2010

#6

Inception
Christopher Nolan - 2010

#5

Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder - 2011

#4

Drive
Nicolas Winding Refn - 2011

#3

Dredd
Pete Travis - 2012

#2

Interstellar
Christopher Nolan - 2014

#1

Frozen
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee - 2013

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dream Girl

So here's my latest short film, Dream Girl. Give it a watch, and I hope you like it!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Frozen Fever

Yeah, I may have watched the new Cinderella solely to see the short Frozen Fever that was attached before it. And yeah, I may have snuck into another theater and watched it again on my way out, too. What of it?

That main movie it came attached to, however, isn't quite something you'll see me readily trying to revisit a second time anytime soon. In fact, it's actually pretty insulting that a short for a film as progressive as Frozen was placed in front of the regressive likes of this barf inducingly insincere tripe.

And yet, at the same time, it's also sorta funny that they placed an animated short in front of it at all, seeing as Cinderella is clearly desperate to be an animated film itself (the 1950 Disney animated film, specifically), making this movie completely and entirely pointless on top of everything else. But to be honest, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, seeing as I don't think it's a good movie either, but if you're in the mood for a new, live action take on Disney's Cinderella, you're probably better off checking out Into the Woods, which is a recommendation that actually sorta hurts me to make (in fact, one might say that such a recommendation leaves me in agony).

But no, anyways, moving right along, while the new Cinderella may certainly not be worth sticking around for after the fact, Frozen Fever was well worth the matinee price of admission on it's own. It's a simple little story, where Elsa is trying to throw a party for Anna on her birthday, to make up for all her less enjoyable ones she had growing up, and to ensure that the day is the perfect day. And it really just made me love her character all the more, seeing a more relatably thoughtful and sentimental side to her that I felt really added some nice layers to her person.

As the day goes along, we're accompanied by a catchy little tune that feels right at home in the Frozen world, and Elsa even dons a new green dress for the occasion.

Speaking of which, good as she looks in blue, I think green may really be more her color. I've always felt that her coronation attire from the first movie was an underrated look for her, and damn does she look great in green here.

But as the story progresses, we see that Elsa may actually be coming down with a cold, hence the short's title. And I actually loved where this aspect lead to (though her line that "a cold never bothered me anyway" did feel a bit too pandering), as it ultimately gave us what may well be the most amazing thing I've seen in a theater this year so far. And yeah, I know it's still early in the year to be making such statements, but seriously, seeing Elsa stumble around singing in a drunken-like state was just a special kind of magic to behold! (And I demand gifs, stat.)

Anyways, as Elsa grows more and more sick, sneezing through her song, every sneeze produces these cute little mini-snowmen that just sorta scream merchandising cash grab. I guarantee you'll be able to pick up your very own plushies for these little guys soon enough, assuming you can't already.

And speaking on just how hugely marketable a franchise Frozen has become, yesterday the news also broke that a Frozen sequel is officially in the works. Now, my instant reaction to this was to refer people to my recent post concerning the prospect of a Dredd sequel for my similar thoughts on the manner, basically that, while I loved the first movie, and a sequel could very well end up being good, I don't actually think it's a necessary route to go.

And to an extent, I still feel that way now. Yet, on the other hand, purely from a business standpoint, I honestly can't blame Disney too badly for cashing in on such a massive runaway success. And if nothing else, I do find it pretty interesting that, assuming the sequel is done by Disney Animation Studios, Frozen 2 will actually mark only the second time that the studio has ever released an official canonical sequel, with the only other example being The Rescuers Down Under (unless of course the 2011 Winnie the Pooh counts as a sequel, in which case the new Frozen would still only be the third).

But anyways, I also really can't complain too badly, as I'm arguably precisely the kinda person who's a part of the problem in the first place, because I know I'm gonna inevitably get swept right up into all of the hype as its release date approaches. But speaking of that hype, I still find myself coming across so many people commenting how Frozen is such an "over-hyped" movie, and so many people walk away disappointed from it as a result of their over-inflated expectations, which I've come to find a bit of a shame.

I've touched on this in past posts before, but generally speaking, while I do understand that sentiment, I also sorta wish more people would be willing to put either mass hype or hatred for a given movie aside and go into a film with more of an open mind, and to accept it for what it is. And as it concerns Frozen, I'll readily admit that it's not a perfect movie, by any means. And yet, even so, I still think the movie is brilliant and beautiful and wonderful all the same, with its imperfections just being a part of its charm. In fact, I tried to make this argument before in my silly, shameless Queen Elsa Compilation post, but it only hit me a few hours after publishing that post that the movie itself even addresses its own very imperfect state with the song "Fixer Upper". She's a bit of a fixer upper, indeed! And it's little things like this that I just love more and more about this film.

So yeah, anyways, the news of this sequel is bound to induce groans among the many haters of this franchise, and I gotta admit that I let out a bit of a groan of my own as well, though for entirely different reasons. But really, who am I trying to kid, we all know that I'm bound to catch that Frozen Fever (sorry), and I'm so gonna be there opening day. I just hope at this point that it actually turns out good. And if Frozen Fever is anything to go by, then that may very well end up being the case. But for now, if you do get a chance to see the new short and you're already a fan, then you'll likely end up enjoying it quite a bit. It's got plenty of fan-fare, and keeps things fresh enough in its brief runtime to make for a nice, fun little romp for fans, so check it out if you can.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Jupiter Ascending

I usually don't pay the general critical consensus on a movie much mind, as many of my favorite movies have been panned by critics. So I went into this thing with an open mind, thinking it looked genuinely interesting based on trailers and such, and having enjoyed most of the Wachowski siblings' other movies. However, sadly, it would appear that the critics are right on the mark about this one. Jupiter Ascending is nothing more than a steaming piece of dog shit.

Reportedly, when this played at a recent film festival, there were a lot of walkouts from this movie, and I gotta say that I can completely understand, because my god was this movie hard to sit through. I can't even recall the last time I was so antsy at the theater, just praying for it to roll credits already.

And I can't even tell you why I bothered to stick it through to the end. Maybe just to see if it would ever get better? After all, there were two specific exchanges between its stars (Mila Kunis as Jupiter and Channing Tatum as some sort of human/dog hybrid person thing) that I especially enjoyed, and that happened back to back. The first involved a joke where Jupiter wanted some privacy to change her clothes, alluding to a weird scenario from earlier in the movie, and which had some nice comedic timing from Tatum. This was then followed up with another nice little moment between the two and a joke about Jupiter loving dogs, which actually got a good chuckle out of me.

It was around this time that the film started to give me some hope of perhaps having a bit of a turnaround, and I was open for it to wind up being perhaps something decent after all. However, immediately following these two moments, we're then sent on a tedious montage segment of sorts in which our characters keep running back and forth between legal departments to try and make Jupiter's royal heritage official. And after this little departure finally wraps up, Jupiter cracks a joke about never complaining about having to go to the DMV after having gone through all of that, and I couldn't help but agree more. I would gladly visit the DMV over sitting through this shitty movie again any day.

I mentioned the previous scene as being tedious, and really, that word can be used to describe most everything else in this god forsaken thing, not the least of which would be the action scenes. I swear, they just drag on and on and on, and they're so sloppily pieced together, with so much going on so quickly that you can never really register quite what's happening, which isn't aided at all by the fact that they're all so god damn boring that I found my mind wandering against my will constantly. It is very possible that the action scenes in this movie are the absolute most mind numbing and incompetent action sequences that I have ever seen in any movie. Ever.

And the writing, god, lines such as "You're my own personal Jesus Christ" from The Matrix are subtle compared to some of the schlock we get here. The freaking aliens flat out name drop Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, for those of you in the audience too dumb to pick up on some of the "inspirations" (god does using this word to in any way describe this movie make me cringe) behind this plot. And wooden delivery of lines such as a commander telling Channing Tatum to "aim true" will just leave you sighing and rolling your eyes in agony.

But god damn, there's so many stupid and pointless aspects to this movie, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe with the damn bees...

... which is how we initially discover that Jupiter is really of space royalty, by the fact that she can apparently control them. Except, after this initial scene, they literally do nothing else with the bees. No, really, nothing at all. They never return again, they're just randomly there to randomly deus ex machina Jupiter to royalty, and just as randomly disappear for the remainder of the movie. Seriously, why give this girl the power to control bees, and then proceed to do exactly nothing with that?! What is the point?! And this isn't even a one-off occurrence, as the movie introduces several seemingly important characters and plot elements all throughout, only to then completely abandon them without any sort of resolution.

But returning to our royal heroine, Jupiter is also just about the most useless character around, playing the damsel in distress who Channing Tatum has to race to save at the very last second, shit, I forget how many times throughout the entire course of this thing. I mean, not only is this movie a redundancy of just about any other sci-fi flick or space opera you may have seen, it's a fucking redundancy of itself!

Speaking on those other sci-fi flicks for a second, hell, have you seen any of them? Any other sci-fi movie ever? Well then good, then you should be well prepared for what to expect from this movie in terms of its visuals, because this just looks like an absolute mish-mash of every sci-fi movie out there, with some of the least inspired designs this side of the galaxy. The god damn Green Lantern movie (another movie I'd much rather watch again than this) had more inspired character designs and locales than what's seen in this dump heap of science fiction rejects.

And then the movie contradicts itself by having Channing Tatum literally riding a spaceship from the outside to another planet. This was dumb as hell, sure, but from this happening, we should at least be able to ascertain that surely this means Tatum's character can breath and survive in space, right? Except, no, that's not right, because later on, when he's ejected from a ship into the vacuum of space, he desperately scrambles to fit himself into a spacesuit so that he doesn't suffocate and/or freeze to death. Er, 'kay, way to keep consistent there, guys.

And don't even get me started on freaking Eddie Redmayne's character. I'm not even gonna blame that on the actor, though, that comes squarely down to some truly shit direction with what they gave to him, having him speak in "ominous" (emphasis on the quotations there) whispers, only to burst out into screams at absolute random. It was a level of over-the-top that wasn't even entertaining to watch, just groan inducing, like you couldn't believe that you were actually seeing this shit play out like it was. Unbelievable.

Oh yeah, and Sean Bean doesn't even die. I swear, only the worst movies like Silent Hill: Revelation and this shit actually let Sean Bean live. I mean, really, what the hell, how do you fuck that up?

Okay, I might not be too serious about that last offense, but as for the rest of this thing, well, let's just say that I had the urge to chuck my drink at the screen on so many occasions throughout, because this movie was just infuriating. There were no stakes to be had at all, because the movie gives you no reason to give a shit about anything, despite the mountains of expository lines being spewed out at any given moment. No, the only thing this movie gave me was a god damn headache.

If I'm being fair, I should admit that the lead performances from Kunis and Tatum were perfectly fine for the most part, and the sound design was pretty admirable as well. But honestly, that's about all the praise I really have to give this thing, which really has nothing else going for it at all. And after coming off such a strong year for science fiction movies last year, to have to start off the new year with this, well, it's a little disheartening, to say the absolute least.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I don't want to see a Dredd sequel

I love the movie Dredd, and I still think that it was the best movie released in 2012, hands down. That said, and contrary to popular opinion for fans of this flick, I have no desire to see a sequel to this movie.

I felt that Dredd was a perfectly fine film on its own, and one that really doesn't require a sequel. It gets in, it does its thing and tells us a complete story, and it gets out in satisfying fashion. Now, I'm not saying that a sequel to this movie would inherently be a bad thing or anything, just that it feels an unnecessary direction to go.

With so many movies these days being pointlessly split up into multi-parters or drawn out tirelessly with sequel after sequel, I've found myself growing more and more appreciative of the stand-alone movie. Not everything has to be a series, and not every good movie needs a sequel. I'm perfectly fine with letting a good movie stand on its own, and quite frankly, I'd kinda like to see more of that.

But looking at just how bad movies have gotten in this regard as of late, you need look no further than the likes of The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and just about every YA series adaptation whose final film is pointlessly split into two. It's kind of a shame that this trend has caught on, because now there are so many film series that conclude so unsatisfyingly, because their final installments aren't being presented as complete stories.

I went on about this in my review of The Battle of the Five Armies, but I'll reiterate how the last two Harry Potter flicks were especially affected negatively by this. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a great film, until it suddenly ends in anticlimactic fashion, because they decided to split the story in half. And then Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is now merely the missing climax to the previous film, only without any of the set-up, making for an ultimately unfulfilling experience on its own.

And now, as I look ahead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and see that the third Avengers flick is similarly going to be split in half, I'm sorry, but this makes me really not look forward to those far off films. I mean, it really isn't that hard to tell a complete story within the confines of a typical movie run time. And if you, the filmmaker, are finding problems in this regard, then perhaps the medium you should be really working in is television.

Now sure, I understand the financial reasons behind this trend of splitting up big franchise movies, and as long as people keep paying up, then we can expect for the trend to only continue. But in the end, while the studios are making bank with this model, they're also leaving behind a legacy of incomplete movies that, on their own, just flat out do not work. Hell, just recently I finally got around to watching Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, and it was only after watching those two movies back to back that I actually felt that the story as a whole really, truly worked. Because previously, having only seen Vol. 1 separately, I honestly didn't think it was a good movie, and it really boiled down to it being an incomplete story on its own.

But going back to the Marvel Universe again, I would say that in terms of a series of films, on the whole it's done really well, and a lot of that can be attributed to how most of the individual movies within the series also work so well on their own, and in many cases don't necessarily require the other movies to make them work. But they've created a working model that a lot of studios are eager to jump on the bandwagon with, and, well, it remains to actually be seen, but just based on the information that keeps popping up on some of these copycat projects, I don't have much faith that some of these other studios will be able to mimic Marvel's success in terms of actual quality, let alone in actually allowing for their brands to truly exist on their own, removed from their given "universe".

But I digress, and though I do speak of my growing appreciation for the stand-alone movie, that's not to say that there isn't a market for movie series at all. For instance, there's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which really wouldn't work as a one-shot deal. And it's a series of movies that not only tells a full story over the course of the three films, but each film within the series feels like a complete piece of the story on its own as well, which is largely why it works on the whole so well.

Where as, on the other hand, something like The Matrix trilogy doesn't quite work, since the first part feels like a complete story that probably should have been a stand-alone, but needlessly had two sequels tacked onto it. And not only that, but the two new entries weren't even complete stories themselves either, what with Reloaded's obnoxious cliff-hanger ending.

And then, of course, there are those big franchise movies, like the Marvel flicks, that feel like they're naturally setting up future installments, hence the first of these series typically being an "origins" movie of sorts (which also just happens to be another currently over-done movie type that I'd like a breather from, but that's another rant entirely). And in such cases, these movies are being made with multiple movies in mind from the outset. Like, when you watch the first Spider-Man movie, it explicitly uses its run time to establish who this character is and how his powers work in this world, leaving room to be further explored in depth in future installments.

In fact, another recent movie that I've heard a number of people say that they would've loved to see play out as either a mini-series or something expanded like that was Interstellar. And, while I can see where those people are coming from with this mindset, I really couldn't disagree more.

Interstellar was a movie that easily could have been played out as a TV mini-series or, in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, split into a multi-part movie series. But that's one of the things I truly loved about that movie, is that it went in and told its complete story in one go, and it didn't feel the need to leave anything open to return to and revisit in a possible future installment. It was just absolutely perfect in this regard, and it gave the movie such an all around complete feeling to it that so many "open-ended" movies just lack, and it made it all the more intensely satisfying as a result.

But now we get back to Dredd, and, as with Interstellar, that's just one of the things I really appreciated about the movie. Despite being a comic book movie, it didn't feel the need to delve in an origin story for our central character, nor did it feel the need to pointlessly sequel bait itself either. It was perfectly confident in just going in and telling its full story, and leaving it at that. And I really dug that about it.

And yeah, sure, of course there's the possibility for a sequel. After all, the Dredd rip-off, The Raid (that's right, look it up, The Raid copied Dredd, not the other way around), had a phenomenal follow-up, and who's to say that Dredd wouldn't be able to follow suit? But the point I'm trying to make is that it's not a necessary route to take. There's enough series and sequels out there as it is without dropping another one on us.

That said, I do love that the movie has enough passionate fans willing to support a movie such as this. But for me personally, I like to look at my support for the movie as not being towards making more future installments of the same thing, but rather, to show support towards filmmakers willing to take similar risks in order to get their original ideas put out there, even if in this case it took utilizing an established property to do so. But that's what I support, and it's what movies these days could definitely do with just a little bit more of, is some good ol' fashioned originality.