Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pacific Rim: That Was Great, But...


You ever have that moment when you see a great film (or even a marginally good film) and you leave the theater with your heart swollen in your chest and your adrenaline zipping like fire through your veins, and yet as soon as you hit the Exit sign, you hear yourself saying, "That was great, but..."

That happens to me far more often than I'd care to admit. So I figured I'd myself give a platform for it. We'll see how long this feature lasts. Basically, I'll make suggest a rewrite on a film and you guys get to either defend the film, side with the rewrite, or come up with your own. Naturally, I'm not going to do this for films like The Room, because we could spend all day in rewrite hell for that one, but just when I have something nagging at the back of my head, I'll pitch it and see what you all think. Capisce?

I'm starting with Pacific Rim (2013) because I did actually really, really enjoy that film. know. That was great, but...(under read more for spoilers)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Hush. The Devil Will Hear You."

Keep up your everything, good sir.
The more I get into film--and I mean, really into film, dissecting films, writing films, reviewing films--the harder it gets to sit back and just enjoy a movie. It's Einstein's Law of Lovability, you take apart the things you love too much, and eventually you leave every theatre going, "It was great! But...[enter itemized minor nit-picky complaints for the next thirty minutes]." So it's rare a movie can draw me in, really draw me in, to the point where I stop critiquing and remember why I love movies so much in the first place.

Because they're just a hell of a lot of fun. 

Deadfall is just that. It's not a particularly perfect movie by any means. You're not going to finish it with a great philosophical weight lifted off your chest. But it's a fun, shameless movie about two quasi-incestual (aw, who are we kidding, they got all up in the incest) felons (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) who are on the fun from the cops. It's also about a cop (Kate Mara) with feminine issues (and it has nothing to do with her tampon) and a recently-released prisoner (Charlie Hunnam) who's dead set on avoiding his father for Thanksgiving. Basically, everyone's got a chip on their shoulder and, spoiler alert, everyone will have to very directly confront their shit in the third act. So maybe it gets a little heavy-handed by the end, and maybe some characters were redeemed that shouldn't have been, and maybe the CGI snow fell a little too awkwardly...

Whoops, there I go, critiquing again. The point is, while watching this movie, it's very easy to get sucked into the internal drama and--let's say it like it is--general fucked-upness of all the characters. Really, the main draw of the film is one Eric Bana, who plays the wild-card brother who will kill, threaten, and generally do what he has to in order to protect him and his sister (y'know, as long as no little kids are involved). He's a great, well-written character who keeps you engaged in his own internal demons throughout the entire movie; plus, I just really enjoy watching Eric Bana be a resourceful and mildly-sadistic fuck. The movie's honestly not that long (a clean 95 minutes) and it's on Netflix, so there's really no good reason not to watch it. Just sit back, turn off your brain, and enjoy a little good, solid, murderous fun. 

P.S.: This should also be known as the one time Olivia Wilde's face did not annoy me. And by "face," I mean "legs."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Night Of The Bad Judgement Calls.

SAW II (2005)
I know how this works. One good horror movie always breeds a shitty horror movie sequel. It's horror movie law. So after thoroughly enjoying Saw (2004), I didn't go into Saw II expecting anything particularly awe-inspiring. However, it does say something about Hollywood's sewage system when Saw, the based-on-a-student-film with a then no-name director and writer, is a solid horror classic and Saw II is just...well. Something that floated up from the depths of the swamp, right next to the Mob Boss Tony's last hit. 

But, like I said, I expected it, and when you know a movie's going to be bad, you generally have a lot more patience for it. So I sat back, let it run its course, and tried not to ask too many questions like: 

  • Why don't they pull the antidote off the dead guy's body? 
  • Why do the hackers take an hour and a half to show up? 
  • Why do they have two inept cops working the case, one of which is very emotionally compromised? 
  • Why are all the people in the death-house insanely stubborn? 
  • I mean, really stubborn?
  • As in: not making any sort of logical decisions at all?

I have to hand it to the detective's son stuck in the room full of poisonous gas with about five other people: at least he didn't do shit. I mean, if poison is seeping into your lungs, I think the smartest thing to do would be to sit still, keep your mouth shut, and try not to breath. Right? So while he was pretty much a pointless pawn character, he was the only one I really had any respect for because he didn't breath like Brainy. How about that? I don't expect a lot of logic from horror movie characters, but it's nice when at least one of them has some sort of method to their madness.

The only thing that gave this movie any sort of street cred was the ending. While it was predictable, I did make an uncontrollable happy-noise when I saw a familiar set, so that was enjoyable. Other than that, I'm slowly (but surely) making my way through this franchise (so if I see spoilers, I might have to don my pig-mask). Saw III review coming soon!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Making Zombies Roll In Their Graves.

There is nothing worse than watching a movie with a truly great concept fall on its ass. It's a little like a getting box of rich, German chocolates only to find that they're covered in homeless man piss. It's not only disappointing; it's offensive. Because now that idea is done and can never be undone and maybe, maybe in ten years if anyone cares enough they'll redo it and try to re-salvage it, but chances are, it's already left such a bitter, acidic taste in everyone's mouth that they really don't want to touch it again. 

Such is the tragedy of Warm Bodies. I loved the concept. Really, I thought the idea of getting inside a zombie's head and watching them come back to life was very clever. And, for what it's worth, the first five minutes of the film delivered on that promise. We got to see him complaining about moving so slow and we got to see him grunting out conversations with his "friend." Everything was moving smoothly...until the movie actually started. I don't know; maybe something got lost in translation in the book-to-movie adaptation. Maybe someone just fell asleep at the wheel. Whatever happened, the movie moved far too fast, couldn't seem to focus on one plot, and didn't give us any real reason to care about the main characters.

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I hung in there was for "M," the zombie friend portrayed by Rob Corddry. His transition, at least, made a little sense and was enjoyable to watch. Other than that, the rest was just some lukewarm Shakespeare retelling with terrible CGI. I don't know why I thought this was a good idea; time to rewatch Shaun of the Dead (2004).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"My Q-Bertese Is A Little Rusty."

It's been a while since I've laughed this much in a movie theatre. And not just the "haha, everyone around me is laughing so I guess I'll snicker" laugh. A genuine, unflattering bark of a laugh. In a place a least expected it: a child's animated movie. To be fair, something tells me Wreck-It Ralph isn't exactly targeting kids. It's a movie about video-games for video-game lovers, a nostalgic parody of those old school games we once loved. The plot runs like this: Wreck-It Ralph, a video game villain, wants more out of life and starts jumping games to try to win a medal and come back a hero. 

And if you didn't spent the better half of your childhood with a gameboy in hand, don't sweat it--neither did I. Yet I still managed to get most of the references and understood the humor. At the end of the day, it's just a well written, solid script, which seems to be a rarity these days. The characters were great, lovable; the writing was interesting and didn't talk down to its audience; and it was just straight-up fun. Of course, I have to namedrop: we've got a lot of great voice actors in this one. John C. Reilly is Wreck-It Ralph, Sarah Siliverman is the not-so-sweet Vanellope, Jack McBrayer is hilarious as Felix, Jane Lynch is flawless as Calhoun, and Alan Tudyk--yes, Alan Tudyk--makes an appearance as King Candy, though it's near impossible to recognize his voice. In short, I know it's easy to chalk this one up as a "maybe I'll see it, maybe not," but I'm here to tell you the answer is yes. You want to check this one out, if only for nostalgic value. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"What If?"

Considering the fact that this movie has a tendency to attract bad ratings, I'm probably going to get some raised eyebrows on this one. Full disclaimer: I haven't seen the 1960s Time Machine. I haven't read H.G. Wells' novel. And I definitely did not go into this one expecting some full-on, H.G. Wells intellectualism. I just wanted to see a good, sci-fi movie. And I got exactly what I came for. I'm aware that this movie was made in 2002, but to me, it still carries all the innocence and charm of a good, pre-2000s adventure movie. When adventure movies were full of adventure rather than dead cat skins filled with a CGI stuffing. The good guys are good. The bad guys are bad. And there's just something very genuine about the whole film, a certain kind of honest simply hasn't existed in the past decade or so. 

Maybe the special effects weren't always all that great, but everything was much more organic. It was more believable because the actors were able to act with physical people wearing animatronic masks, rather than trying to respond to black dots on a green screen. Not to mention, there's a sense of wonder about it. Nowadays, characters have a tendency to stride onto another planet with a been there, done that attitude. But audiences remember the wonder they felt as they watched the beast of the Brachiosaurus lumber across the screen in Jurassic Park. They remember the awe of the prized artifacts Indiana Jones dug up from the dirt. Now, The Time Machine is in no way comparable to those two classics, but it carries with it that same, unpolished curiosity as we travel through time and get to experience flashes of the world at different times. And since I am a sap and apparently completely nostalgic for a good, solid adventure movie: four stars to you, Time Machine.

As for the content itself, it's just a fun movie. There isn't actually a whole heck of a lot of plot, more like a starting point, some random stuff in between and an ending point. That said, the acting is all on point. Guy Pearce plays a great, obsessed scientist. With a time machine. Orlando Jones is incredibly likable as a hologram librarian. Jeremy Irons is an crazy albino Legolas. Everyone was exactly what they needed to be and pulled together an engaging, creative movie. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"He Doesn't Want Us To Cut Through Our Chains."

SAW (2004)
So here's the thing. I actually avoided this one when it came out. I couldn't tell you why. Probably because it was around the time when the theaters were infested with plotless gore and I was over it. I was getting sick and tired of the same "rotting" green filter and the same heavy breathing in the microphone. So I skipped this one. For much too long. Finally, I sat down to see it. And I'll be the first to say it: I was wrong. 

The brilliance of Saw is that it's just a straight-up good movie. There's a good deal of gore, sure, but that's nothing compared to the mindfuck that this movie puts you through every time Jigsaw gets another victim under his grasp. We have our killer, our hero, we even have the obsessive cop with a chip on his shoulder. It's all the makings of a good, physiological thriller. The acting is, for the most part, pretty solid, and it helps that Ben makes an appearance. It puts a lot of twists on what you expect from a horror film and constantly ups the ante. Case in point: tired of the one man fumbling through his dark apartment to avoid a hidden assailant? Try a photographer fumbling through his apartment, constantly flashing pictures to give himself some makeshift light. Brilliant. The music is epic, the pacing is great, I really have no complaints with the movie as it is. 

Of course, one of my favorite things about Saw is how simple it is. The majority of the movie just focuses on two guys in a filthy room. It was created by two film students straight out of school who wanted to make something low-budget and brilliant. Honestly, it doesn't get better than that. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a Cinderella story that ends in a jaw-splitting torture helmet. 

I'm probably the last person on earth to see this movie, so I highly doubt I have to recommend this one to anyone. Onto the rest of the series!