Fantasy Gaming, SciFi and Irreverence

Blogs Blogs * FAQ  * Search
It is currently Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:25 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 801 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 33  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:12 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
So a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I don't go to see enough movies. Oh I catch the occasional flick here and there, but only when someone else suggests that we go, which limits my viewing horizons somewhat. There have been many good or great movies recently that I always meant to go and see, but never were able to because I never made the time for them.

As such, I've resolved to correct this matter and expand my horizons through a new resolution. I shall from now on (into the foreseeable future) attend the movies every week and see a different film. As not every week has a movie which I would normally go see coming out, this will result in me seeing films which I otherwise would not. And because I am an insufferable bastard who likes the sound of my own voice, I've decided to post my opinions of the movies in question here, in brief, for such purposes as people may find them suited to.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:05 pm 
Avatar of Confusion
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:28 pm
Posts: 3769
Blog: View Blog (0)
I will now take bets for the contents of this thread. Blind movies have the followin odds:

Hate: 1:1
It was okay: 1:2
It was good: 1:3
Really liked it: 1:6
Loved it: 1:12
Movie of the Year contender: 1:36
One of the greatest movies of all time: 1:128

If the movie announced prior to posting, the odds will shift accordingly. Minimum bet is $5, max is $30. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Magi memorial college fund for technology adverse marines. Havok will receive a stipend from the house following signing a contract forbidding I'm from betting or benefiting in any way from bets made against the house. Bets must be in before the sabbath.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:35 pm 
Pleasure Kitten Foreman
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 13196
Location: In your lap, purring
Blog: View Blog (0)
Gimme $5 on a "it was ok"

_________________
Image


Dogs are Man's Best Friend
Cats are Man's Adorable Little Serial Killers


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:30 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
I'm not certain if I've mentioned this before or not, but I hate you all. Particularly Hotfoot. And also those who are not Hotfoot. But mostly him.

Ahem: Anyhow, let's get to the first few of these then, shall we?

True Grit

Alternate Title: The Dude, the Bad, and the Ugly

One sentence synopsis: A teenaged girl hires a US marshal and a Texas Ranger to track down her father's murderer.

Things Havoc liked: There's a reason I started with this one. I've never yet seen a Coen Brothers' movie I didn't like, nor for that matter a Jeff Bridges movie I didn't like. Neither one of them did me wrong here. The movie is brilliantly shot, gorgeous (a requirement with westerns), and extremely well written, with that crazy semi-high-register dialogue that I loved from Deadwood and other modern westerns. The acting is uniformly excellent. I was afraid Jeff Bridges might try to play John Wayne playing Rooster Cogburn, but instead he plays the character as a slurring, ornery, dangerous bastard who is nevertheless a hell of a lot of fun to watch. People seemed to give Matt Damon shit in the reviews I saw for not being the equal of the rest of the cast, but honestly, this is the best thing I've ever seen him do. It was certainly the only time I can remember where I didn't think I was watching Matt Damon, rather than his character. His ranger is witty, put upon, and hilariously incompetent at times. The villains are also well done. Josh Brolin has very little time on screen, frankly, but Barry Piper, surprisingly, turns in a great performance as a gang leader and stage robber who does what he has to, but without seeming either evil or stupid. One really gets the sense that not only do all the participants in these events know one another well, but that the question of who is the good and bad guy is somewhat circumstantial.

But the key performance is Halee Steinfield, who simply blows everyone else off the screen in almost every scene. What she's doing in the Best Supporting Actress category for the Oscars is entirely beyond me, as she's in every single scene of the movie, and clearly the main character of it. Not enough star power I guess. Seriously though, the scene of her haggling with the horse trader left me laughing out loud, as did the brief reprise.

Things Havoc disliked: When one goes to see a Coen brothers' movie, one expects a certain right angle style. Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Hudsucker Proxy, and No Country for Old Men all had a sort of strange style to them which felt like reality had been tilted slightly. Odd characters with strange agendas did weird things because their world was just slightly out of alignment enough to permit those things to pass as normal. In this movie, the Coens seem to rely on the oddness of the story (a 14-year old girl hiring bounty hunters to track a killer) to provide that tilt. It doesn't. The movie certainly isn't bad, but it does seem a bit pedestrian, given everything. It's a bunch of excellent actors and great directors effortlessly nailing material that is frankly a bit beneath them. It almost feels like the Coens are selling themselves short on this relatively formulaic and lightweight western.

The pacing of the movie was a bit slow as well at times. Some sequences (like the one with the hanging body) really never go anywhere, and seem to have been included for no reason. The denouement is satisfying to a point but somewhat contrived (I understand it's the same as the book's, but that's really no excuse). Overall though, while there are no major flaws, nothing really elevates the movie into greatness, nor do the events that take place seem to have much in the way of major meaning, even to the characters themselves. As such, it doesn't reach the heights of excellence that I've seen these directors and actors reach.

Final thoughts: By no means is this a bad movie. The acting is superb, the writing sharp as nails, the directing sure and confident, and the cinematography sweeping and epic, as any western should be. Given those things, what more can one really ask for? Well, one can ask for a film of greater weight and high concept, as this movie just isn't about anything important enough to merit all of these wonderful assets it has. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and would see it again.

Final Score: 7.5/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:34 am 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:01 pm
Posts: 7998
Location: "Here," for varying values of "here."
Blog: View Blog (0)
I find myself disappointed - I was expecting bilious hate.

Nonetheless, a good review of a better-than-mediocre film. Since you're planning on doing this once a week now, I find myself expectant for when you inevitably see a stinker of a film.

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

- William Gibson


Josh wrote:
What? There's nothing weird about having a pet housefly. He smuggles cigarettes for me.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:05 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
Biutiful

Alternate Title: No Movie for Old Men

One sentence synopsis: A cancer-stricken Spanish hustler tries to put his life in order for his business partners, ex-wife, and young children before he dies.

Things Havoc liked: This one came very highly recommended from critics and foreign film aficionados I know, and while it turned out to be completely different from what I expected, it was still a really good film. I loved Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, and expected to see something of a similar note here. I did not. Bardem plays this character as an essentially good man with an insanely deep sense of responsibility who is desperately trying to stay unbent under the pressure of illness and business/family crises. It's a quiet, understated, almost desperate performance, one that I was not at all expecting, and which impressed me even more than his turn in No Country. The character isn't perfect, but he's incredibly human in his flaws and mistakes. Only once or twice do we catch even a glimpse of the viciousness that Bardem displayed last time, and as a result, even with barely any actual violence (This is not an action movie, and I don't think Bardem ever so much as hits anyone), when he gets angry even for a split second, we sit up and notice.

The rest of the cast is just as good, though I've never seen a single one of them in my life. Bardem's bipolar ex-wife makes you want to cringe every time she's onscreen. His playboy brother is a patently sleazy bastard, yet you like the guy anyway. His relationships with his business partners, the Senegalese street hustlers, the Chinese illegal immigrant workers, everything is done in such a real fashion. No scenery chewing, no bravado threats, not even any violence really. These are characters who know and work with one another, and even trust one another to a point, such that when something goes wrong, they all immediately come together to try and find the right way out, rather than pulling out guns or screaming at each other. And through it all, Bardem moves in something approximating a daze, trying to hold himself together long enough to do right by his kids, his wife, the criminals he works with, and even their families. The movie takes its time, with a muted score, flashes of magical realism that could perhaps be supernatural or just hallucinations or imaginings, and an almost lugubrious pace that lingers over moments of deep introspection or weariness.

Things Havoc disliked: Jesus Fucking Christ, this movie is depressing. It's a cliche of European cinema that every movie they make is a black and white film wherein everyone dies while crazy or cursing God for inflicting terrible misfortunes on them. Well this one's in color.

I hardly require that all my films be uplifting. Some of my favorite movies of all time end badly. But the glacial pace of this movie turns it practically into an exercise in self-torture. I went to see this one with a couple other people, one of whose comment after leaving the theater was "I'm going to go home and shoot myself." It's that depressing. Every single scene, practically, could be subtitled "and then it got worse". There's no real villain in this film except the filmmaker, who seems to hate all of the characters and wishes to dwell on the misery of their lives for inscrutable purposes. It simply gets draining after a while.

Moreover, while I get that they were intentionally making a slow film, it is certainly possible to speed it up a little bit. The Magical Realism sequences, as well as all the stuff about communing with the dead, really didn't seem to go anywhere. Again, I don't need movies to give me all the answers, but I couldn't ever figure out what the point of any of that was. It didn't seem to have anything to do with the story itself, nor the setting. Perhaps it's just a Spanish thing.

Final thoughts: I've seen Javier Bardem in precisely two movies to date, and the distance between them is like night and day. I was very much impressed by this movie, almost enough to forget the torture that it was sitting through it. If only for him, I have to report that I am glad that I went to see this film. I also have to report that I never want to see a single frame of it ever again.

If there's altogether too much happiness and cheer in your life, you'll love this movie.

Final Score: 7/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:10 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
The Eagle

Alternate Title: Fuck Scotland

One sentence synopsis: A Roman Officer and his Briton slave try to recover the lost Eagle of a legion that vanished north of Hadrian's Wall

Things Havoc liked: I'm a classicist at heart really, and so any movie with Romans in it has already done one thing right by me. Moreover, it's clear that they did actually try with this one, which is more than I can say for a lot of Roman movies I could speak of. There are subtle details that they did manage get right, such as the tendency of roman helmet straps to cut the necks of their wearers (they actually make a plot point out of this one), the purpose and utility of a testudo (one of the better versions of that I've seen), and the fact that Roman decorations took the form of armbands, not medals. It's something at least. Moreover, this is perhaps the only film I've seen wherein the Romans use American accents, for the simple reason that the Britons are already using the British ones. It sounded strangely jarring.

On other fronts, it's always good to see Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong, even if Sutherland's character is more or less pointless, and the two lead actors at least made a credible job of it. If the Scottish parts of the film wasn't on location, then it certainly fooled me. It certainly looked bleak enough to pass for it.

Things Havoc disliked: *Sigh*

Okay, let's get this out of the way:

A Cohort and a Legion are not the same thing. The terms cannot be used interchangeably. Neither one was commanded by a Centurion. The Brigantes lived in the north Midlands, not Scotland. Hadrian's wall wasn't built until 122 AD, two years after this film supposedly took place. Any Roman unit that ran away from scythe chariots deserved to get massacred. It is not physically possible to outrun a horse on foot, not even if you are a barbarian warrior. The Emperor Hadrian was ruling the Empire in 120 AD, not the Senate. Individual Romans ventured north of Hadrian's wall constantly, for trade and exploration purposes, as did northerners crossing south of the wall. The Ninth Legion's disappearance from the records occurred in 117 AD, not 100, and it was never reconstituted, not by the Senate or anyone else. Thumbs down in an arena meant spare the prisoner, not kill him. Painting oneself blue with woad was done only on special occasions (such as a battle), and neither Picts nor Celts nor anybody else in Scotland went about so-painted all the time.

If your claim to fame for your movie is historical accuracy, you might want to look into some of these things. That being said, even if we ignore all of the historical anachronisms and mistakes made in this film, we have some serious problems here.

To begin with, while the two main leads (Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell) do a reasonable job with the material they're given, the fact is that the material they're given is pretty lackluster. We establish that the Briton slave (Bell) hates Romans in general and Tatum in specific because the Romans slaughtered his tribe in some revolt. Fair enough, but then why does he suddenly turn around and decide to be the Roman's loyal friend midway through the film? Did I miss some scene of them bonding that got cut for time? When the hell did these two become buddy buddies? At no point should this slave have done anything but slice the Roman's throat open the instant his back was turned.

Moreover, I hate to bring this back to historical anachronisms, but Romans did not fight like fucking ninja assassins, and neither did their enemies, for the most part. Yes, there's handwaves towards actual roman fighting techniques, the testudo and javalin and so on, but for the most part, whenever a fight breaks out, the Romans (at least our heroes), break formation immediately so as to go off and do crazy jiu-jitsu shit with their gladii and tower shields. News Flash guys, there's a goddamn reason why nobody broke formation in actual Roman battles. Formations were what permitted the Romans to take down armies of screaming barbarians five times their size. It wasn't the secret Roman praying mantis kung fu styles.

Plus, in an action movie that is supposed to be about guys killing one another in awesome and cinematic ways, shakycam bullshit is not to be tolerated. Braveheart was sixteen years ago, guys, why the hell can we not make a fight scene that looks anything close to the quality of the ones in that movie? I cannot admire a fight scene if I have no fucking clue what the hell is going on in it.

Finally, while I'm not one to shy away from gritty realism in films, and while I accept that Scotland was not the most civilized place in the second century, there's an awful lot of child murder in this film for a story that's supposed to be a historical adventure with pretensions of realism. One episode in particular is nothing but a transparent kick-the-dog moment for our main villain, just in case we missed the fact that he was a bad guy. It would come across as mustache-twirling stupidity if it weren't so gratuitous.

Oh, and where the fuck did the Briton slave manage to find all those fucking ex-Roman soldiers in about twenty goddamn minutes? And how exactly did he convince them to come and fight?

Final thoughts: Look, I'm a sucker for movies set in Roman times. Spartacus, Gladiator, Ben Hur, even legitimate pieces of crap like "The Last Legion" will get a good word from me. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel just the slightest thrill at hearing the words "Prepare to defend the Eagle". But this thing plays like a Buddy Comedy Action Flick where they forgot the buddies, the comedy, and the watchable action. The movie consists of a whiny prat of a Roman "officer" doing stupid shit and somehow not getting killed for it while his Briton slave decides for wholly opaque reasons not to gut him and use his skull as a drinking cup. There's nice touches here and there: The Celtic and Pictish tribes all speak in Gaelic, Mark Strong (whom I didn't even recognize) is fun to watch, and some of the earlier battle scenes are at least halfway decent, albeit nothing close to what you'd find in Gladiator. But nobody does anything in this movie for any logical reason other than the fact that the scriptwriter needs them to. And I've seen more historical accuracy in a Mel Brooks film.

Final Score: 3/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 7:45 am 
No
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:30 pm
Posts: 4913
Location: On my boat, as always.
Blog: View Blog (0)
I do really need to go see True Grit...

Hey Havoc, did you see Centurion at all? Came out a little bit ago, also about the loss of the 9th Legion. Goes around the actual loss of the 9th and the survivors of the event trying to get home. It was an alright movie in my opinion, not another Gladiator, but plenty of good points for it. At the very least it gets things more historically accurate.

_________________
Moderator of Philosophy and Theology


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:03 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
I actually missed Centurion, sadly, though I'm told by those who saw it that it was a better film than this one. I really don't know why all these movies about the Ninth Legion appeared all of a sudden. The Ninth is one of the most famous mysteries of the classical world, as it simply vanished from the records in or around 117 AD without a trace, as though the entire Empire simply forgot that it existed. Theories abound as to what actually happened to it, though frankly, I think a massacre is unlikely. Massacres happened, certainly, but were usually mentioned after the fact. Still, debate continues.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:02 pm 
Dragon Death-Marine General
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2005 11:03 am
Posts: 14717
Location: Alone and unafraid
Blog: View Blog (1)
I'm seeing the Eagle tonight actually (no worries guys, frigid doesn't pay to see movies perks of his lousy job). I'll have my own review up and we'll see how close our opinions match.

Also planning to see I am Number Four soonish.

Side Note: Have you seen the King's Speech yet Havoc? That's suppose to be pretty good. No Strings Attached and Just Go With It are popular but frankly the parts I've seen led me to believe they're rather banal. I'd wouldn't see Hall Pass if you paid me. And there's Drive Angry with nicky cage (theater nickname for him) which will be awful but a good chunk of us have vowed to witness it anyways.

_________________
"it takes two sides to end a war but only one to start one. And those who do not have swords may still die upon them." Tolken


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:37 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
I did manage to catch the King's Speech, and it was a spectacular movie, just spectacular. As aforementioned, I'm a sucker for historical movies when they're done well, and this one was brilliant. Colin Farrel was superb, as was Geoffrey Rush and even Guy Pierce, whom I normally can't stand. The movie was brilliantly written, wickedly funny in that tremendous british understated way. I loved it.

Haven't seen the others yet I'm afraid.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:20 pm 
No
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:30 pm
Posts: 4913
Location: On my boat, as always.
Blog: View Blog (0)
General Havoc wrote:
I actually missed Centurion, sadly, though I'm told by those who saw it that it was a better film than this one. I really don't know why all these movies about the Ninth Legion appeared all of a sudden. The Ninth is one of the most famous mysteries of the classical world, as it simply vanished from the records in or around 117 AD without a trace, as though the entire Empire simply forgot that it existed. Theories abound as to what actually happened to it, though frankly, I think a massacre is unlikely. Massacres happened, certainly, but were usually mentioned after the fact. Still, debate continues.


It's an interesting movie that is not without it's flaws, but it's worth at least one viewing. If you've got Netflix it's on there. I've gotta agree with the idea that it wasn't a massacre. Roman history has plenty examples of their armies getting slaughtered, and if anything it usually seems to just piss the Romans off when it happens. I see no reason then that they would want to hush that specific one up so completely.

_________________
Moderator of Philosophy and Theology


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:17 pm 
Dragon Death-Marine General
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2005 11:03 am
Posts: 14717
Location: Alone and unafraid
Blog: View Blog (1)
I actually wonder if the 9th maybe turned coat. Maybe they mutinied or there was just a mass desertion?

_________________
"it takes two sides to end a war but only one to start one. And those who do not have swords may still die upon them." Tolken


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:41 pm 
No
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:30 pm
Posts: 4913
Location: On my boat, as always.
Blog: View Blog (0)
If I had to guess, that would be it. Mass desertion seems somewhat unlikely for the sheer scope of such a desertion to happen all in one go. Mutiny seems more likely and them simply disappearing from the records was a punitive measure.

_________________
Moderator of Philosophy and Theology


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:05 pm 
Pleasure Kitten Foreman
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 13196
Location: In your lap, purring
Blog: View Blog (0)
Charon wrote:
If I had to guess, that would be it. Mass desertion seems somewhat unlikely for the sheer scope of such a desertion to happen all in one go. Mutiny seems more likely and them simply disappearing from the records was a punitive measure.
I wonder if the Legion's CO mutinied ala Caesar, but failed miserably.

_________________
Image


Dogs are Man's Best Friend
Cats are Man's Adorable Little Serial Killers


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:55 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
The Fighter

Alternate Title: Rocky Mark and the Crazy Bunch

One sentence synopsis: A working-class boxer tries to get a shot at the title while dealing with his crazy family, domineering mother, and drug-addicted, ex-boxer brother.

Things Havoc liked: I've seen Christian Bale in bad films. Terminator Salvation and Reign of Fire come to mind. But even in the worst of films, no matter how much of an asshole he may be off-screen, Bale is always good, and often amazing. In this movie, he is the latter. He plays a crack-addicted washed up ex-boxer lowlife who once knocked Sugar Ray Leonard down in a fight and is sufficiently delusional that he thinks he's going to make a comeback. It is painful to watch him, but that's the intention here, so I can't fault it. He looks emaciated, sunken, and in a perpetual drug-addled stupor from which periodic flashes of the competent boxer he was occasionally manage to bubble to the surface. I didn't see all the movies nominated for supporting actor this year, but he was good enough in my book.

I'm not a Mark Wahlberg fan, by and large. Once in a while, he turns in a really good performance, such as his showstopper in The Departed. Usually though, whenever he plays a nice guy, it comes across as schmaltzy. In this case, however, while I don't think he was as good as Bale, he sold me on it. He underplays the role considerably, and yet he sells it, locking up all his anger, an odd choice for a boxer, but one that feels surprisingly real. Moreover, he looks the part, having reportedly trained for four years in order to convincingly play this character (he is a personal friend of the real-life boxer). He didn't make me a fan, but he convinced me for this role.

The rest of the cast varies between adequate and excellent. Melissa Leo (who won best supporting actress) is the latter. She is an evil harpy of a woman who clearly doesn't recognize what a cancer she is. There are scenes where I wanted to set the screen on fire just to get rid of her. Amy Adams has some of the best lines in the movie, and does a very good job.

Things Havoc disliked: I know that I'm supposed to ignore hype walking into a movie, but this thing was pitched to me as an academy-award level film, nominated for seven awards, including picture, and winning two of them. People I respect told me this was a superb film.

It is not.

To begin with, the direction is amateurish and sloppy. I'm no film student. I don't get a hard-on over walk-and-talk shots or novel uses of New Wave technique. But even I could tell that the pacing in this movie was crap and that many of the shots were badly put together. There are glaring moments where the shot is artificially constructed so that we never get a good look at the participants because an obvious stunt double is performing them. I don't object to the use of stunt doubles (and to be fair, none of the boxing is done by doubles), but a child could manufacture the scene so as to hide it better than that. The movie's pacing, particularly towards the end, is terrible, racing through payoff scenes that are desperately important to the plot and padding out others that don't matter at all. Subplots (such as Wahlberg's daughter) are simply dropped after they've provided their emotional punch, spoiling the generally realistic feel that the movie maintains throughout.

Moreover, while Wahlberg does look like a boxer, this movie has some of the worst boxing in it that I've seen since the bad Rocky sequels. I'm not a boxing fan, but I've seen a fight or two in my time. What this movie shows us instead is about as realistic as rock 'em sock 'em robots. Boxers stand in the middle of the ring and trade blows, or bunch one another up against the ropes and wail against one another's defenses, making no attempts to duck and weave, never sidestepping or circling, and shrugging off punches to the face that, from a professional boxer, could lay a man dead on the canvas, as if they were in a hollywood fistfight. Yes, it's nicely photographed, and there are a couple of nice moments (Wahlberg's knockout kidney punch in one fight is actually kind of awesome). Yes, movie fights are unrealistic normally. But this is a movie about boxing with a boxing match that has maintained a credible line of realism all the way through, not Indiana Jones. Rocky Balboa (the most recent one) had much better boxing in it than this film.

It also had a better plot.

Yes, this one is a true story, yadda yadda yadda. True stories do not obviate the need to make your movie work. Not to say that this movie doesn't work, but it doesn't work totally, and tragically, it's the last third or so that falls apart. The ending is way too pat (no spoilers), and the movie itself, after being so serious and real, turns, at risk of sounding repetitive, into a Rocky movie at the end. The final boxer that Wahlberg must face is arbitrarily and for no good reason at all, turned into a bad guy (more kick-the-dog moments, though mercifully less overt), and all the usual cliches are there. The only thing that keeps those scenes from reverting to utter dreck is the excellent performances by Wahlberg and especially Bale.

Final thoughts: This is not a bad movie, by any means. It's not even a mediocre movie. But it never rises above the level of "decent". Excellent acting and writing, particularly in the first two thirds, are let down badly by the bad direction, the poor quality fighting, the horrid pacing, and the trite storyline. How this thing got so much critical acclaim, I will never understand. Still, I would recommend it if you're looking for something to see, particularly if you're a fan of Bale or (god help you) Wahlberg.

Final Score: 6/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:30 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
Tron: Legacy

Alternate Title: Abort. Retry. Ignore.

One sentence synopsis: The son of the original Flynn goes back into the world of Tron to find his missing father.


Things Havoc liked: I love Jeff Bridges, and I love Bruce Boxleitner. Seeing them in this film, even if Boxleitner wasn't used near enough, was fun for me, I have to admit. Boxleitner was almost unrecognizable to me, in fact for a second, I thought he was Rutger Hauer. As to Bridges, I have to admit, the age-reducing technology they used in this film was nigh-flawless. I was impressed when this stuff was rolled out back in X-men 3, but this time around I literally couldn't see any problems.

The movie does hit the notes that a sci fi action movie absolutely has to. The graphics were good, not great but good, and the soundtrack did rock, I have to say. I wasn't wild about some of the stylistic decisions made, I thought much of what was going on felt way to analogue for a Tron movie (Tron movies are supposed to be somewhat sterile, in my opinion), but it wasn't terribly distracting.


Things Havoc disliked: You know you're in trouble when that's all I have to say for the good stuff.

The writing in this film was terrible, worse by far than the original, worse even by the standards of dumb action flicks. Every line grated, every piece of exposition was a clunker. I could almost picture the smug face of the "writer" behind this thing as he wrote the plodding, stupid sentences that he made his characters recite. The plot would be stupid if it weren't completely nonexistent. The original Tron was no Shakespeare, but it was innovative in many ways, and gained a cult following for a reason. This movie has no system of thought involved in its creation, an excuse to give us action scenes with bouncing disks and light cycles. You would think that a movie about entering into computer networks made in 2011 would have something to say about the minor alterations that have happened in the world of computers in the last twenty five years. Apparently you would think wrong.

But you know what? I get it. This is not supposed to be some kind of overwrought Matrixy philosophy movie, it's an action movie, right? Nerds like me need to stop whining on the internet about how it's "letting down the original" and just enjoy the action, right?

Okay, then answer me this, why does the action suck?

Oh BOY does it suck. The action in the first film was miles better than this crap. Needlessly complicated wire fu jiu-jitsu bullshit on the melee fighting, none of which is filmed with artistry, competency, or even real interest. Normally I get up in arms when someone uses Shaky-cam to completely obscure the action scene they have lovingly wrought, but there's no shaky-cam to blame it on this time. The action here sucks completely on its own bullshit merits. There's no sense of pacing to the fights, no cleverness, no spectacle, not even any moments of "awesome". It's nothing but boring, routine bullshit, not even to the level of gratuitously vapid spectacle action as in Equilibrium or Hitman. I've literally never seen action scenes this lifeless. They simply happen and are over and done with.

The lightcycles are particularly terrible. No, I don't mind that they shook the formula up a bit with a 3D grid, that's not the point. As with the melee fighting it has no sense of drama or mystery to it. It's simply a series of events that occur and then are over. Not even the participants seem to give a shit. Moreover, and I truly am at a loss as to how you can screw this up, Light Cycles are supposed to feel like a video game. There's a certain quality to the original that feels very gamelike, perhaps it's ineffable, I don't know. This version feels like stupid action tricks. I was bored to tears in even the "biggest" action scenes.

Finally, a word, please, on 3D. I have seen, to date, precisely one movie that warranted 3D, and that movie was the IMAX version of Avatar. Say what you will about Avatar's recycled plot and stupid characters, it was a spectacle to behold. Tron's 3D makes the film worse in every way. It makes the film murkier and harder to see, costs you the focus in even middle-foreground, and does nothing except distract from the movie itself. I actually took my glasses off about two thirds of the way through the movie and watched it, to greater effect, with my unaided eyes. This was nothing more than an attempt to extort four more dollars out of the viewing public.


Final thoughts: Oh this movie is bad. Oh it is bad. The plot is absurd, the characters and action boring, the leads, male and female both, instantly forgettable and stupid. Jeff Bridges' original protagonist in the first movie was a nerd who was irreverent and interesting. This guy is as plain as paste and twice as boring. I could not wait for this damnable thing to end so that I could get up and leave the theater. I thought that at the very least, this movie would be an enjoyable mindless action film. One out of three ain't bad, I guess.

Final Score: 2/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:35 am, edited 3 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:10 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
The Adjustment Bureau

Alternate Title: Would the Junior Senator from New York please cease fucking up reality?

One sentence synopsis: A congressman running for Senate meets the girl of his dreams, only to find that a shadowy organization that secretly runs the world needs to keep them seperated because of the 'plan'.


Things Havoc liked: I've mentioned before (in True Grit) that I'm not a big fan of Matt Damon. Most of the time, when I watch him, I find myself watching Matt Damon, not his character. While he's had good performances before, I have never found them to be as good as most people thought. I have to say though that in this movie, as well as in True Grit, I had no such trouble. Damon plays his congressman like a guy who is smart, driven, rational, and who never crosses the line into cariacature. If not an outstanding job, it is at least a very very good one. The same can be said for Emily Blunt, whom I've seen before but am not as familiar with. Both of them sell their roles well, and don't dive into overacting hysterics, even when the script would nudge them that way.

But the real surprise for me in this film was the plot, the style and the villains. The trailers for this film indicated (to me at least) that this was going to be some kind of high-speed chase thriller movie, and more specifically, an incredibly generic high-speed chase thriller movie. Already tepid in my enthusiasm for Matt Damon starring vehicles, I could not have been less interested in seeing what appeared to be "Jason Bourne vs. the Illuminati". Yet to my surprise, the film was nothing of the sort. The pacing in this movie is slow and deliberate and takes its time to let the characters act reasonably towards one another and towards the audience. The chase sequences, which are obligatory of course, are more than just people running/driving away from other people. They resemble less a typical car chase and more of a running game of chess, particularly one about halfway through the movie where we see Matt Damon trying through wit and ingenuity to get somewhere while two Adjustment Agents try, through equally careful wit and ingenuity, to stop him. There's no stupid distractions of stunts driving or parcours to get in the way. Both participants are smart people trying to outsmart one another in the heat of the moment. They don't stop for kung fu brawls or gunfights, and even talk to one another, civilly, along the way. When one person wins the race, the other does not scream to the heavens or swear eternal revenge. He takes stock and decides what to do now.

And that leads me to the biggest surprise, for me, which is the bad guys. Indeed, it's hard even to call them bad guys. For one thing, they're played with great charisma and screen presence by Anthony Ruivivar, John Slattery, and the always magnetic Terence Stamp. What they are (angels) is never explicitly stated (angels) but is broadly hinted at (angels) repeatedly (angels) and at length (angels) early in the film. The film takes great pains to portray them however as anything but the illuminati. The very first confrontation between the Adjustors and our hero results in the chief bad guy capturing the hero, taking stock of what he's done, and deciding on the spot to level with him completely and tell him the truth about everything that's happening. And then once they let him go, another bad guy stops by to answer the questions he undoubtedly has about what he's just been told. All without scenery chewing, without stupid villain tricks, and without even any real palpable malice.

Indeed, there's no malice in these guys at all, which I think is a brilliant move. We see Adjustors doing their jobs to the best of their abilities, warts and all (one of them oversleeps, and then gets hit by a car trying to fix his mistake). There are never any pretensions of omniscience for them. They react to circumstances as best they can, working out plans on the fly that sometimes fizzle unexpectedly, trying to fix the ever-expanding messes that result as best they can. When they fail, their reaction is not to execute the hero, but to file paperwork and call for backup. While there are handwaves in the direction of an "ultimate penalty" for those who transgress very seriously against the plan, their modus operandi is to prevent the issues from arising in the first place. Punishing the transgressor for violating the plan makes no sense, because the plan wasn't supposed to be transgressable in the first place. The Adjustors seem to take Damon's continued meddling as evidence that they're not doing their job properly, not as evidence that he needs to be silenced/liquidated/whatever. After all, killing Damon wasn't in the plan. When Damon's antics finally get his file pushed up to Stamp's level (A really senior official whose nickname is "the Hammer"), his strategy is not thunder and lightning, but sitting Damon down in a parking garage and reasoning with him.

I cannot insist enough on how refreshing this approach is. The Adjustors come across as Celestial Bureaucrats, and not necessarily indifferent ones. Even the "uncaring" ones are given lines and scenes that show how seriously and with what diligence they take their work, and how they deal with the inevitable thoughts of remorse or doubt about enacting a plan that most of them are not even party to. When Damon and Stamp discuss free will and predestination, Stamp's arguments are devastatingly effective and brilliantly written. He neither raises his voice nor makes threats, but efficiently and logically spells out just why he does what he does, not merely to justify himself or chew scenery, but to give real, moral reasons for the Adjustment Bureau itself. Most villains who bother to explain themselves in movies do so just so the audience can be spoonfed a parable about how "just following orders" or "ends justify the means" leads to disaster. It's rare to find a movie where you find yourself conceding that the villains are right because the movie is written well enough to permit them to be. When the movie finally ended, I found myself actually rooting for both sides.



Things Havoc disliked: Seriously guys, magic hats?

Look, I don't mind non-standard mythology, and I don't require that everything be explained. The stuff with the doors (Adjustors are able to use doors to travel to anywhere else with a door, essentially) is fine. It works on solid mythological grounds, but more importantly, it's well within the suspension of disbelief and doesn't require explanation. But some of the mechanics of this world, such as the water stuff or the hats, are so transparently arbitrary as to render it impossible to accept, at least for me. While God may work in mysterious ways, he generally doesn't work in ones this absurd. What explanation goes into the magic hats only serves to make it worse, frankly. If you're using arbitrary magic, don't try and handwave it as though it wasn't.

The above is just a nitpick. What's more serious however is that the plot starts to disintegrate in the last third of the movie. The arbitrary rules that govern the world start having to get more arbitrary just to enable the plot to function. More unforgibably, the characters' behavior becomes more arbitrary as well, discarding the wit and intellect with which they had been acting previously. It doesn't totally throw it out the window, but there are several specific scenes wherein the characters act in a totally unrealistic manner because the plot requires it. Were this a lesser film with less well-drawn characters, it wouldn't be so obvious.

Finally, the ending, which I will not spoil, while it makes logical, and perhaps a degree of inevitable sense (and has a pretty neat camera trick to it as well), is somewhat unsatisfying. I can't really say more without giving the game away, but it felt... beneath the film somehow. Just a feeling.



Final thoughts: I really wasn't expecting to like this film at all. Hell, I originally opted to see Tron instead, which was not the best decision I've ever made. Maybe it was my lowered expectations, but this movie impressed me with its intelligence and compitancy. It wasn't a mind-bending movie like Inception, nor a tour-de-force, but it was a damn good little flick, and one that should teach me not to necessarily judge a film by its trailer.

Unless that film is Battle: Los Angeles. Fuck that noise.

Final Score: 7.5/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:43 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
Black Swan

Alternate Title: Crazy Bitch

One sentence synopsis: A crazy ballerina gets the lead in Swan Lake and tries to meet its requirements while going more crazy.

Things Havoc liked: I know nothing of ballet, in essence, but I do know at least of Swan Lake, which is considered to be the most difficult role in existence for a starring ballerina. Though artsy bullshit does tend to bore me, this movie gets across why that is very well. It's not ballet torture porn, but it does quite effectively portray just what makes ballet so difficult, both on an artistic and a physical level.

The acting is generally excellent. Natelie Portman spends half the movie bound up like a straitjacket and the other half batshit crazy. She won an oscar for this one, an award she probably deserves for sheer insanity if nothing else. Vincent Cassel (who I love, but I often see in shit movies) is hilariously sleazy without being a complete cariacature of a jackass. He clearly wants to lord power over the ballerinas, and yet wants to make great art even more. Barbara Hershey is devilishly good as Portman's also-crazy possessive mother. She and Portman do this crazy one-upping dance throughout the movie where you constantly re-evaluate who is the crazier.

But really, the acting is just a vehicle, if not an excuse, for the psychodrama. I'm not usually fond of psychodrama, but this was supposed to be oscar-calibre psychodrama, so I figured why not. Well I don't really know if I'd call this psycho-stuff oscar calibre, but it's pretty damn good, I have to admit. The movie makes no attempt to play the "is she crazy or not" game. She is plainly, obviously crazy, and the game becomes sorting through her insanity to determine what is actually going on. If that sounds annoying, I must report that it never becomes so, a tribute to skillful direction, writing, and editing.

The imagery in this movie is fucked up. Granted, my tastes in such things are distinctly weird. I don't go in for horror movies, particularly the crazy kinds. I'm not saying the movie is scary or horrifying, but it is unsettling in the extreme. The overall psychological thriller style of the film makes these weird fantastical elements starker. Several scenes in particular, or rather images from those scenes, stand out even now, several weeks after the fact. Any movie that leaves such an impression can't be doing everything wrong.



Things Havoc disliked: The pacing in this film sucks. Entire sections of it were added, in my opinion, just to make the thing long enough to qualify as a feature film. The entire nightclub sequence was un-necessary, and while yes, I enjoyed watching Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis having lesbian sex (I am human), I wish it was actually associated in some way with the actual film.

Speaking of Mila Kunis, you might have noticed that I left her out of my listing of how awesome the cast was. There's a reason for that. In a movie where everyone else is top form, it would be nice if she had played a character that was from the same planet as everyone else. I don't know that it's her fault, but 'who gives a crap' California irreverence doesn't work all that well when you're trying to portray ballet as a hotbed of insanity and dark passions. She seems stupid, and consequently Portman seems stupid for alternately being attracted to her or resenting her. Yes, Portman is crazy, but crazy and stupid are two very different things, and she pushes us towards the latter.



Final thoughts: Someone asked me what I thought of this movie when I first saw it. I said that I was going to write this review in the following manner:

Quote:
Things Havoc Liked: ?????????

Things Havoc Disliked: Pickles.


Like and dislike really don't enter into this one in the way that I assumed, when I started doing this, that all movies would. This movie was weird, not in an artsy theatre-of-the-absurd way, nor in a fuck-with-the-audience way, neither of which I care for. It was weird in that time-honored manner, in which a movie is populated with weird characters in the reasonable expectation that weird shit will happen. It isn't precisely a dark film, though it is very dark in parts, nor a thriller, though it is very tense. It isn't really anything specific, and I left the theater completely baffled by what I actually thought of it. Even now, after several weeks to think it over, all I get when I think of the movie is a few striking images and a deep sense of unease. Perhaps that's a testament to a good and well-made film. Perhaps it's a complete mess. I really don't know what to say otherwise.

Final Score: 6.5/10

Could be a 4. Could be an 8. At times I've considered giving it both.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:52 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
Kill the Irishman

Alternate Title: More Reasons to Avoid Cleveland

One sentence synopsis: An Irish gangster moves up the ranks of organized crime while waging war on rival Mafiosos.

Things Havoc liked: There is a certain cast one rather automatically turns to when it comes time to make a gangster movie. Some of them are occasionally in other films, but not most. They play almost exclusively gangsters, and they are so good at these typecast roles that they could do so with their eyes closed. This movie has almost all of them.

Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, Vinnie Jones, Tony Lo Bianco, Bob Gunton, I love watching all these guys. They could do this movie in their sleep, and it's a lot of fun watching them do it. Walken acts like he isn't entirely sure what movie he's in, but then it's Walken. He can get away with that. The rest of them play (surprise!) gangsters of various sorts, who shoot and blow up and beat the crap out of one another in all the right ways. I could watch these guys all day...



Things Havoc disliked: ... and in fact I'd have much preferred to watch them all day instead of the main character.

I loved Ray Stevenson in Rome (then again, I loved everything in Rome). I even liked him in both Punisher Warzone, and King Arthur, both of which were terrible films. But here he was just awful. Not only did I not even recognize him (I had to look up who he was online), but he was stiff and wooden the entire time he was onscreen. Even his Irish accent was terrible (Ray Stevenson is Irish, how the hell is that even possible?!). When he's not overacting (the opening scene, good lord...), he's sounding like a complete prat, assing about spewing thoughtless bullet points and pretending to be some kind of semi-secular saint.

I really shouldn't blame Stevenson for this. He was badass and awesome in Rome, and thus I turn my attention to the writers of this hopeless film. What they think they are doing here is completely beyond me, but there are sections of this movie where I literally cringed. At one point, Stevenson is at a backyard barbeque with his working class buddies, and makes a speech wherein he complains about the fact that there aren't enough vegetables and low cholesterol foods on offer, declares that he is in opposition to the Vietnam war, lambasts deficit spending as something that will destroy the US economy, argues in favor of the Gold Standard, and declares that his friends don't read enough philosophy. He does all this in ten seconds, all in a movie where he is supposed to be a working class guy that is set in 1968! It plays like a shopping list of "good political bullet points" meant to establish his character as a thoughtful and properly liberal guy. Later on he claims that he's a "celtic warrior-prince" from the old days of Ireland, but that he doesn't drink because he respects women too much.

This is a movie about a working class Irish gangster boss from Cleveland, not Saint Patrick. The effect is to make the movie sound completely fake, as though the screenwriters, conscious of the fact that the material wasn't selling itself, decided to "spice up" the fact that we're supposed to like this guy by ad-libbing in everything they imagined "people should like". Not only is it totally out of place, even laughable in a movie supposedly about a hard-boiled gangster who fought a mob war with the Genovesse Family, but it's borderline insulting to the audience. You don't drop the Gold Standard (which I doubt most people even understand) or cholesterol in a throwaway line without any establishment or explanation. And even if the real gangster in question (this movie's based on a real person) was a teetotaler, I need some explanation as to why this Irish Celtic Warrior doesn't drink. And that's coming from someone who actually doesn't drink!

Oh, and whoever keeps putting Vincent D'Onofrio in movies that require him to be a badass (as opposed to simply crazy), should really have his casting license revoked. When not playing Private Pyle, the man has all the on-screen intimidation factor of a bowl of wet noodles. This was true in Law & Order, and it is true here. His voice breaks while trying to threaten people, for christ's sake. Nobody could find a better take of that scene? There was no time for ADR?


Final thoughts: When Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, and everyone else I mentioned initially can't save a movie collectively, you know something went horribly wrong. I blame the screenwriters and the casting director, who twice made me want to leave the theater rather than listen to the claptrap they called dialogue. It's a shame, really, because the movie isn't totally terrible, and has sections, even entire sequences, that are actually fairly well done. This movie came out of nowhere for me, didn't get a wide release, and generally seemed to be slipping in under the radar. Now I know why.


Final Score: 3.5/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:35 am 
Omnipotent Overlord
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2005 12:15 pm
Posts: 5445
Blog: View Blog (4)
after discussing with B4, we've decided on a better alternate title for Black Swan

"Your Mind: Not the only thing getting fucked here..."

_________________
Allen Thibodaux | Archmagus | Supervillain | Transfan | Trekker | Warsie |
Image
"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
"According to the Bible, IHVH created the Universe in six days....he obviously didn't know what he was doing." - Darek Steele bani Order of Hermes.
DS's Golden Rule: I am not a bigot, I hate everyone equally. | corollary: Some are more equal than others.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:45 pm 
No
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:30 pm
Posts: 4913
Location: On my boat, as always.
Blog: View Blog (0)
Ray Stevenson seems to have a disturbing trend of being in bad movies...

_________________
Moderator of Philosophy and Theology


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:37 am 
Mr. Party-Killbot
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:12 pm
Posts: 5244
Location: The City that is not Frisco
Blog: View Blog (0)
Sucker Punch

Alternate Title: Dancers in the Dark

One sentence synopsis: A traumatized girl imagines herself into various fictional worlds with her friends while concocting a plan to escape their imprisonment.

Things Havoc liked: I was not going to see this movie at all, as I thought it looked stupid. The previews and the "Behind the scenes" look I saw at various other films I've gone to see were all idiotic. Zack Snyder is obsessed at the best of times with his own style, and it's one that gets old pretty damn fast. In my own defense, I will simply say that I was talked into seeing it by a combination of an entreaty from a friend of mine, and the fact that I simply couldn't find any other damn thing to see. After Tron and Kill the Irishman, I was very much not looking forward to this, but I sucked it up and sat down.

...

...

... so I'm just gonna come out and say it. This is the best movie I've seen all year.

...

No, this is not a joke.

Trust me, I'm as stunned by this as anyone reading this review. I sat through the entire credits of this film in a daze, not because I wanted to see them, but because I could not believe what had just happened. This movie, which looked so terrible in the previews, which has gotten excoriated by largely every major reviewer I know of, which should have been godawful in every way, this movie, was awesome.

Zach Snyder is known for over-the-top stylized action sequences. See 300 for details. It gets old after a while watching him speed up and slow down and speed up some more as his invincible heroes slaughter defenseless mooks. Or at least that's what I thought. Snyder here presents action scenes that simply boil over with energy and life. No shakycam, no camera obscura, no bullshit. This is a man who knows how to create gorgeous action spectacles, and presents them to you relentlessly and with verve and vigor. Every single action sequence in this film could easily serve as the centerpiece of any major big budget action movie, and yet they just keep coming. We go from steampunk WWI to Robo-Samurai duels to a fire-breathing dragon chasing a B-17 through the air and on and on and on it goes. You'd think that after a while, battle fatigue would set in, and yet, for me at least, it never does (okay the last one did go on a bit long, but still). The surreal style of the action, which is not something I'm usually fond of (Sky Captain anyone?) fits here so well, and the fighting never seems sterile or uninteresting, the way that a lot of effects-laden action sequences often are (Star Wars Prequels anyone?)

On the level of a stupid action film, this movie works and works brilliantly, and yet to my surprise that's not the only level it works on. The acting is, even in the non-surreal sequences, almost entirely excellent, with the lion's share of the props going to the villain, played by Guatamalan actor Oscar Isaac. I've seen him before in a thing or two, but I've never been impressed before. Here he delivers a performance that's just spectacular. He's menacing and witty, erudite and slimy, incredibly threatening and also wormlike and toadish when he needs to be. The girls are generally very good, particularly Abbie Cornish, another actor I've seen before but never really noticed, and Carla Gugino, who seems to be doing a sendup to Nathasha Fatale. Scott Glenn, who is always a pleasure to watch, is plainly having fun this time around, and does a terrific (if not terribly demanding) job.

The soundtrack rocks. I don't notice that sort of thing usually, but it was done so brilliantly well this time. The entire opening scene of the film is told with no dialogue or words at all, just the music and the pictures. It remains uniformly kick ass throughout the entire film. Who would have thought that Bjork goes well with swordfighting?

The plot is perhaps nothing to write home about, it's a fairly simple story, after all, but told with great care and skill by the director. Moreover, for those who think they've seen the entire film in the previews, you could not be more wrong. This movie managed to surprise me more than once. It's not Inception, but it does have some twists to take you on, more than one might expect from a movie of this sort. I was impressed.



Things Havoc disliked: Sadly, the only weak link in the cast is Emily Browning, who unfortunately plays the main character. She's not terrible certainly, she sells the action scenes perfectly well, and it's actually her music on the aforementioned rocking soundtrack more than once. But her acting is too wooden for this part, and frankly, her makeup is ridiculous. Her character's name is Babydoll, and she is made to look the part, complete with too much blush and pigtails. It just looks absurd on a girl her age. Compared to the other actors, especially Isaac, she just doesn't have the firepower to compete in the tense or dramatic scenes. Still, one can't have everything.

Everything else I could object to is nothing but nitpicks. The last action scene does drag on a bit, and is probably the least inventive of all four, which is a great shame. The color palate is all browns and sepias in the fighting scenes, though that is much less of an issue in this film because the scenes in reality are usually in vibrant color, providing an effective contrast. The plot is fairly simple and the some of the characters aren't terribly... well... characterized, but not enough to be really offputting. The movie is not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I would be lying if I said that there was more than ten seconds where I was consciously aware of any flaws while I was watching it.



Final thoughts: I'm at a loss for words here. This movie should have been terrible. In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that it was terrible, and that I am insane. Every single major film critic I know, every one without exception, hated this film. I've seen it called "The Last Airbender with Bustiers". I read these reviews and I question what movie it was that these reviewers saw. This movie is a triumph of style and directorial skill, gorgeous and satisfying and astonishingly competent, not merely in action, but in acting and dramatic tension. It is badass when it needs to be, coy when it needs to be, tense when it needs to be, and completely off-the-wall when it needs to be.

I am not a man who indulges in stupid action flicks by and large, unless they are done with wit and skill (or are from the 80s). I hated Shoot Em Up, loathed the Blade films (other than the first one), and despised Tron Legacy (as you all know). Yet this movie sold me in a way that I did not believe I could be sold. The closest comparison I have for it is the Kill Bill films, movies I loved, and yet others who are aficionados of the genre hated.

There is no more defense that I can make here. I do not know what else to say. Every critic in the country who saw this film hated it. Many of them are erudite film scholars who can and do defend their opinion at length. I cannot ask you in good conscience to believe that all of them are crazy, and that I am right, and yet it is what I am ultimately saying. The year is still young, but this movie is the best one I have seen so far, and I give it my highest possible recommendation.

God help us all.

Final Score: 8/10

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:56 am 
No
User avatar

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:30 pm
Posts: 4913
Location: On my boat, as always.
Blog: View Blog (0)
You're actually the second person I've heard of that said this was a good movie. I may have to check it out now. The other person was a film critic who posts his reviews on The Escapist. He got a very cerebral idea out of the film apparently, which is something I definitely wasn't expecting.

Two opinions is enough and I now plan on checking Suckerpunch out.

_________________
Moderator of Philosophy and Theology


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:08 am 
Initiate
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:17 am
Posts: 410
Location: Wandering
Blog: View Blog (0)
I saw it in IMAX, I was not disappointed one bit. And yes the sound track we worthy of a download when I got home. And though it is a PG 13 movie you would swear at parts its R.

_________________
"Sir, are you classified as human?"
"Negative, I am a meat popsicle."
Corbin Dallas - The Fifth Element


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 801 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 33  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group