Tag Archives: review

As both an American and a Los Angelino, I’m a little bit worried (American Me – 1992)

An interesting film for those from Los Angeles and who have a desire to see a visual dramatization of modern gang activities in the American prison system.  Altogether, I find it difficult to recommend this film to a general group, but those who satisfy the aforementioned qualities. 

My fellow Americans:

Now that I’ve hit the weekend (and I have the ability to procrastinate on a scale unparalleled by college students since the last draft), I’ve begun a Netflix binge (probably two or three movies).  And, because of my collegiate status (meaning that I don’t know how to receive mail), I’m usually the actual Netflix as opposed to Qwikster.  To further explain myself, I’m currently cycling through my Instant Play queue.  So I can’t exactly see any particular films that I want, more often genres of interest.  Which leads me to today’s movie, a member of the crime-drama genre, American Me.

This movie’s kind of up and down for me.  In any sense, it’s not a bad drama.  But what’s being portrayed, who’s being portrayed, heck, the overall plot prevents me from empathizing with the characters (neither the protagonist nor any other member of the cast).  Still, allow me to begin my review:

First of all, the movie is interesting for the sense of history involved.  It begins with the Zoot Suit Riots (which I like because I’m currently going through a Neo-Swing phase in my music) and the growth of Los Angeles from the 40s to the 80s.  Furthermore, the portrayals of East LA and Folsom are not unbelievable.  That said, these images make me glad that I don’t frequent East LA (actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been there) and have me worry for the state of our prisons.  But this was the 80s.  Things must have gotten better, right?

Moving away from my fear of people and urbanities, let’s look at our leading actor.  James Edward Olmos, as always, is excellent in this film.  While the idea of a gang member growing hardened by jail and then softening seems a bit odd, Olmos does well in the role, going so far as to gain the audience’s sympathy for a drug trafficker/murderer.  While this role was towards the earlier end of his career, it was also his directorial debut, and I believe he performed greatly in the dual role.

The remaining cast, while participatory, often seemed uninspired or their characters lacked anything near the depth of Montoya Santana (Olmos).  Ergo, I can’t say whether they were good or bad as the writing left them with little.

Quickly moving onto the writing, it was impressive for it’s ability to be gruesome without being gore.  Activities transpiring within the prison are graphic in nature and appearance, very gritty, and much further thought on said activities may leave some feeling nauseous.  From raping and murder to the acquisition of drugs and gang member initiation, there were quite a few disturbingly criminal acts.  But I suppose that’s reality and, in portraying it, this film does well as a drama.

Finally, in connecting with the audience, the emotion of the film is really pushed by familial sentimentality.  With the beginning narrative describing Olmos’s parents, the ending with Puppet killing Little Puppet (Puppet’s little brother), and the continuation of La Primera (Santana’s gang) with Olmos’s little brother, it’s the connections and acts perpetrated by or against them that evokes such harsh feelings within the audience. 

To wrap this up, the film is harsh.  It seems calm in the way that the characters speak and act throughout most of the film (interspersed with the occasional murder or riot), but those occasions have actions that are universally painfully and threatening.  So, while I won’t recommend this film for most and I cannot say that I particularly liked it, I can say that it was still a good movie.

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THE HELP (2011)

Look at the title.  Now look at the date.  Look back at the title.  Look at the date once more.  Sadly, you ought to recognize that this film came nearly four weeks ago.  So why am I reviewing it now?  Why am I not reviewing one of the films that came out two days ago?  Well, in the simplest sense, because The Help seemed better than any film released this week.  I had considered seeing The Debt, being a fan of stories about secret agents and intrigue, it seemed like it would be a good fit for me.  But then The Help shot up to the number one position in last week’s box office totals.  So, I decided to finally see the movie my mother had told me to go see weeks ago.

THE GOOD

Let me begin by saying that this film was incredibly well written.  And that was expected.  Why?  Because it was a novel before it was a film.  While readers of the original literature may always find issues regarding the move from text to motion picture, it’s virtually guaranteed that whenever you have the book-to-film scenario, an excellent story will be told.

While I say an excellent story was told, unlike many of my other posts (especially those involving Emma Stone), this has nothing to do with clever dialogue.  What was truly great about this film was that it told a story that mattered, a period piece taking place in Jackson, Mississippi of the early 1960s, using people that were real.  These were not human caricatures based off stereotypes, nor were they fabrications made to present the image of one side being better than the other.  They were constructed of narrative voices and histories that, in tandem with good actors, made the characters into people we’d recognize and cheer on or despise.

These characters and the many men and women who played them performed very well in this film.  Of all the talented actors and actresses, a few deserved special commendations.  The first of these is Viola Davis, who played Aibileen Clark.  She is, if not the protagonist, certainly one of them.  Her character was incredibly balanced in terms of emotion and intelligence, and Davis performed the role so well as to have me completely believe she had always been a maid as her mothers before her.  The second is Octavia Spencer, the actress and basis for the character Minny Jackson (author of The Help claimed that Spencer was who she pictured Minny as when she was writing).  Next is Emma Stone, who portrayed the writer Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan.  Stone is beautiful as always (which is a slight conflict that I’ll discuss later) and retorts with snappy quips to any negative situation as she does in all of her movies.  Then there’s Bryce Dallas Howard, who was the film’s antagonist, Hilly Holbrook.  She perfectly assumes the role of "the character we love to hate".  After Howard, we have Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek, mothers to Stone’s and Howard’s characters, respectively.  Both were incredibly funny when the film called for a laugh, and otherwise acted as women in their positions would.  I applaud them both.  Finally, and a bit of an oddity for how little we see of him, is Nelsan Ellis, who takes the role of Henry the Waiter.  That’s right, we see so little of him that he doesn’t receive a last name but a job position.  Still, I thought he was one of the most impressive characters for being eternally kind and pleasant in a time of strife, and being a vehicle in order to move the plot forward. 

THE BAD

It’s difficult, though not impossible, for me to find elements within this film that I did not enjoy.  The first, and probably most important, is the absolute ending.  Or rather, the lack of such a thing.  To spoil the film, though nobody should watch this film for the ending, it’s about the humanity displayed.  So, it ends with Skeeter’s book, The Help, being published and recognized by Hilly.  Hilly has Aibileen’s mistress fire her and threatens to call the police.  Aibileen has an emotional moment with the child she has been nannying for years, and then leaves the house with a few tears as the child screams.  Then we have a voice over by Aibileen saying that she retired at that moment and is ready for whatever the future may bring.  But that’s the biggest issue.  She has just lost her job, the people of Jackson are slowly realizing that the book is about them, Skeeter is leaving for New York, and black people are being killed during the tumultuous years leading up to the civil rights movement.  While the final image you’re left with, Aibileen walking down a street flanked by large trees, is pleasant, it leaves you wondering if there is any sort of happy future for her. That said, this is probably the best ending as we could hope for as fleshing out the rest of her life (or the next few years) would have been a real detraction from the plot.

My only other qualm is the choice of Emma Stone for Skeeter.  While I adore Emma, Skeeter’s character is supposed to have image problems.  Supposedly unattractive in high school and having issues with men throughout the film, it seems off that such an attractive actress (especially recently if you’ve seen Jim Carrey’s recent confession) would be chosen for the character. 

THE UGLY

Only one item can be placed under this heading.  And it’s when Spencer’s character feeds her mistress a chocolate pie into which she has mixed her own excrement.  (Even writing that is painful, at least as I try to remain even remotely professional.)  So, while the concept is a little disappointing for such a good film, it was done (I’m going to regret this next word for many, many reasons) tastefully.  You only come to know what’s in the pie through dialogue and it’s the reactions to this event that are truly hilarious, particularly Spacek’s laughing at her daughter.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I highly recommend the film to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.  It’s enjoyable to watch and particularly so for being an impressively human and balanced drama.  Lastly, it’s a rather long film, about two and a quarter hours, meaning that you get your money’s worth without it feeling overly lengthy.

IT ALL ENDS

Well, it was supposed to.  So, I just got back from the theatre about fifteen minutes ago after viewing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 in 3D.  And, well, this is what I thought:

THE GOOD

I’ll try my best to do this chronologically, which has me start with Gringotts Wizarding Bank.  I thought the visuals in this scene were brilliant and exciting, coming in stark contrast to the scenes that had preceded it.  I was particularly fond of the rotating rail-car that Harry and the group used to access Bellatrix’s vault.  I thought the dark and wet cavern they travelled through was well designed.  Finally, I thought the vault looked good, as did the multiplying gold trinkets and cups.

After this scene…well, we skip like half the film, and I pick up enjoyable moments in the fortification of Hogwarts and the main battle scene. 

First, I enjoyed the reunion of Harry with McGonagall in the hall.  I felt that, like many characters in this film and throughout the entire series, she was underrepresented.  She’s one of my favorite characters and, while there was considerable emotional depth whenever she came onscreen, there could have been more had she more dialogue.  Listening to her welcome Harry back to school, telling off Filch, or explaining to Flitwick that Voldemort would kill him regardless of the name he used conveyed more emotion than most other characters throughout the entire film.

Second, I enjoyed McGonagall enchanting the statues of the castle to life.  While the CGI wasn’t absolutely perfect, it was certainly fun to see a stone soldier leap from a pedestal and land on one knee.  Furthermore, the visual of the soldiers standing at attention, guarding the bridge to Hogwarts was well done. 

Third, and likely the best scene from the film, was Molly Weasley’s battle against Bellatrix Lestrange.  Beginning with Molly’s best line (EVER) “Not my daughter, bitch!” at Bellatrix’s provocation, they duel upon a set of bleachers with Molly killing Bellatrix about fifteen seconds after the duel began.  Bellatrix’s death, however, was a bit off.  Instead of leaving a corpse like a normal dying creature, she explodes into a cloud of shards. 

Fourth, Neville Longbottom slicing apart Nagini the snake.  Simply an epic image, standing out in the minds of those who’d seen the previous films as being in stark contrast to the Neville who tripped over his own robes and was paralyzed by Hermione when trying to stand against her. 

After the main battle, there are two endings.  The main ending in which Harry destroys the Elder Wand and then the epilogue.  I enjoyed the main ending as it finally redeemed Harry’s character for me.  Often he would complain of his fate as the boy who lived and simultaneously steal attention from everyone else on Earth.  However, in this one moment, Harry destroys the Elder Wand, leaving behind a guarantee of greatness and/or excitement.  As for the epilogue, I felt that it was unnecessary both in the book and the film.  In the film though, it left the realm of unnecessary and entered that of confusing.  I’ll get to that in the next section, however.  What I liked in this scene, was the conversation between Harry and his son, probably the most understandable example of emotion throughout the film and certainly the most welcome in my mind.

In general, I felt that the actors did well.  I recognize that most, it not all, of my issues with this film lie in the writing.  So I applaud the actors on ending the series well.  I feel that they did excellently, save for a few whom I’ll point out in the next section.

THE BAD

As a fan of the novels, this could be quite long, but I’ll try to keep it short. 

My first issue was with the dragon guarding the vault at Gringotts.  While others have told me that this is the better rendering of a dragon done in any of the Potter films, the image left me feeling off.  I kept finding issues with the animation that may or may not have truly existed.  This left me with the thought that, at some points, I think the dragon had too much detail. 

Now, I’ve decided to depart from chronologically naming individual issues to sweeping generalities. 

The romance between Ron and Hermione was rushed and therefore comical.  After having ignored it for much of the first film, the second attempted to rush the romance between Hermione and Ron, creating and hour and a half of poorly timed kisses, much hand-holding, and lost screen time in hugs.  The most noticeable of these was the long kiss between Ron and Hermione in the Chamber of Secrets after a wave of water flows over them.  It just randomly occurs, then it cuts to Voldemort screaming over his just-destroyed horcrux.  The follow-up of screaming to the kiss just made the scene hilarious.

Next, major characters were either completely ignored or had single-line cameos in this film when they should have delivered pieces of instrumental or at least memorable dialogue.  Case in point, Lupin and Tonks.  I hardly remember seeing Tonks in the first Deathly Hollows film and, in this one, the only times I saw her were walking, stretching her hand to meet Lupin’s, and then as a corpse.  Now, this seems like a fan-based issue, but it also to do with the characters being alienating if one considers this a stand-alone film as well.   

Beyond ignored characters, many of the deaths were undervalued.  Now, in any major battle, the casualties will prevent much grief being spared to individuals.  That said, certain deaths should have stood out more.  Fred’s death was undervalued because it’s forgotten almost immediately after the eight seconds of wailing on-screen.  Lupin and Tonk’s deaths are undervalued because they’re not mourned by anybody, merely noticed by Harry.  In a strange twist of fate, the most notable deaths seemed to be Goyle’s and the head goblin of Gringotts, both of whom perished in large fires.

To my few qualms with the acting, it mostly comes up with Voldemort.  I’m not sure if the blame lies with the actor or the writers, but virtually all of the actions that took place in this film felt awkward.  Everything from witticisms to movements felt forced and out of character for what is supposed to be The Dark Lord.

Finally, the epilogue.  I remember having issues with this when I first read the book and thinking, before the movie had began, that I’d detest it here as well.  Yet, as I wrote above, it contained one of my favorite moments.  That said, it had more than it’s fair share of issues.  First, if this had been a single film, the epilogue would have been completely pointless, extending simple characters far beyond that which they should go.  Taken as a series, it makes a bit more sense.  However, it was largely unexplained as to whom the children were, Teddy Lupin being left up to the novel fan to recognize at all.  Beyond that, whether you’ve read the novel or not, the scene feels forced, like the film could have ended just before the scene began.

THE UGLY

(This is where the fan of the novels notes the inconsistencies in a calm and eloquent manner.)

WHAT HAPPENED TO NEVILLE MCBADASS?!?!  In the final novel, Neville Longbottom is supposed to assume leadership of Dumbledore’s Army, basically become the unsung hero defender of Hogwarts, and essentially look like a young Mad-Eye Moody by the end.  Instead, we have a slightly taller version of the bumbling Neville we’ve always known, who has really only taken the helm of leadership because nobody else would.  It was less the alternate boy who lived and more of a temporary stand-in for Harry while he was out.

I’m still pissed about the crummy death sequences.  Lupin and Tonks, Fred, even the Creevey kid were more or less ignored.  I recognize that a lot of people died in the seventh book, but Hedwig and Dobby were mourned for minutes, not seconds.  I feel that the other major and minor characters deserve at least some semblance of this.

The epilogue.  Like I said before, it was bad in the book because it left you too happy.  Or it tried to do so.  Here, it left you with a bunch of faces you wouldn’t recognize if you weren’t looking for them, and portrayed the adult original cast rather cheaply.  After almost two decades, the only real changes are that Ginny has a terrible haircut and that Ron is fat. 

Now, the point I’ve been waiting for, creative license.  Specifically, Harry jumping off the bridge while hugging Voldemort.  Everybody who has seen any of the trailers knows exactly what I’m talking about.  What the hell was that?  “Let’s finish this like we started it, together.”  It’s a great action line, but seriously, if the movie ended with them both falling to their deaths, I’d have laughed my way out of the theatre.  Instead however, Voldemort flies around a bit, their faces become one, and they land to finish the fight.  It was a pointlessly added scene that upset me the first time I saw it in the trailers and it upsets me now because it was funny when it shouldn’t have been.

There are countless other inconsistencies I could be upset about, but I’ll try to end it here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As a film, and only as a film, it was pretty good.  In fact, while this is news to nobody, it’s a must-see of the summer.  But then again, people often don’t have good taste.  However, taste is a nonissue here.  The movie is a spectacle worth viewing and is likely to entertain many.

Stricter fans of the novels will obviously have their qualms with this film as they had with its predecessors.  Beyond the norm though, they may have more issues with this one than some of the others. 

In the end, the very end, as this is where it all ends, it ended well.  I think they (the actors, writers, producers, etc.) did a good job and left me satisfied with the way this eight-part series concluded.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (FILM REVIEW)

Writing in a mild state of delirium with the image still fresh in my mind, I have to say that the movie was good.  It did a lot of things I liked, a few things I didn’t like, and then just made me feel like I’d watched a previous Transformers’ film with a slightly different plotline.

THE GOOD

This movie follows the previous movie in terms of story and characters.  The only continuity break that was truly noticeable was the departure of Megan Fox (see THE BAD for more).

As expected with any Michael Bay film, and doubly so for his opus, the Transformers franchise, we’re treated to two hours of explosions and car porn.  Now, if you take a quick look at IMDB (it’s okay, I’ll wait) … (not), you’ll see that the movie runs just over two and a half hours.   So, why did I say two?  Well, this follows the Transformers’ model of providing a semblance of background story in the first twenty to thirty minutes to enable the film to revolve around a central concept or event.  This is then followed by the fire effects everybody bought tickets for.

THE BAD

Remember that little note after the departure of Megan Fox above?  This is where it comes back.  Now, I remained completely ignorant of the growing feud between Fox and Bay, only understanding that she would not be in Transformers 3.  I understand that and naturally assumed, for continuity’s sake, that the film would briefly allude to her absence and then proceed with the story.  In fact, I’d previously spoken to some friends about the exact situation.  I assumed the characters would bring her up (not by name) and say something about her dumping him.  That would have solved the problem completely.  And the scene began just so.  But then something a bit unprofessional happened.  Two of the autobots made comments about her, one saying that he didn’t like her, and the other calling her mean.  Perhaps this was prompted by history I missed, or written for comedy’s sake.  However, if it wasn’t, it seems more than just a little bit petty.

THE UGLY

After that obnoxiously long rant, what more could I possibly have to say?  Well, there were a few final details that stood out. 

First, this movie seemed to be making a lot of references that were funny to notice, but then immediately diminished the quality of the film.  For instance:

  • The “Boomsticks” (one of Wheeljack’s weapons),
  • “There can only be one” (uttered by either Sentinel or Megatron during the final battle),
  • and Optimus’s “Fight for Freedom” speech (not sure if this is original or not, but it has an Independence Day feel to it).

Second, the racism equilibrium.  If I remember right, a group of people claimed two characters from the previous Transformers film were derogatory towards African-Americans.  Well, this time the tables were turned with what my friend pointed out as being a few Nascar Transformers known as The Wreckers.  Sadly, I thought they’d been Scotsmen.  Not sure just how bad that is for my North-Western European heritage, but whatever.  Upon further investigation, it seems one of the three voice actors was British.  I feel slightly less wrong.  (God save my ignorant American soul…)

Third, this movie vaguely held a plotline similar to the previous films, but made the characters considerably more static.  In fact, the characters, having been caricatures in the past, became caricatures of caricatures.  The parents were painfully, disgustingly unaware of any impending danger or what matters of their son’s life should be left alone.  The new girlfriend was a standard damsel in distress for the entire film, not the tough-girl we’d come to expect from Megan Fox.  The human villain was evil to his own death, just progressing from casual jerk to harbinger of destruction.  Worst of all though, was Shia LaBeouf’s character, whose most consistent emotion was a temper tantrum involving screaming and poor displays of violence. 

Finally, this film seemed darker than the previous two, even when accounting for the death of Optimus and Sam in the last one.  Instead, this one goes over the top with betrayals and the utter destruction of Chicago.  It also makes use of guns similar to the weapons employed by the tripods of War of the Worlds.  Furthermore, the story doesn’t try to reconcile the thousands, or perhaps millions dead at the end of the film.  The loss of life isn’t even recognized after the final battle.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, looking at what I’ve written here, it seems that I felt negatively about the film more than anything else.  But that’s not really true.  The movie is not a cinematic classic and has plotholes that must’ve made the script look like swiss cheese.  That said, this film does exactly what it promised to do:  It gave you transforming robot-cars and explosions to satisfy even the most deranged of pyromaniacs. 

I would recommend this film for teenagers (probably not the best film for children under 8 ) and anybody else looking for an explosive action film that doesn’t require great thought.

IN BRIGHTEST DAY, IN BLACKEST NIGHT… (GREEN LANTERN FILM REVIEW)

Yeah, that was far from an imaginative title, but who could blame me?  This isn’t exactly an imaginative film.  Nay, it’s based off a seventy-or-so year-old comic book hero.  And that’s brilliant.  Green_Lantern_poster

IT’S NOT BAD

I’d like to start this by taking on the critics that said this movie was poorly written or lacking plot. 

Well, what did you expect?  The film was based off 32-page pulp comics whose prime audience was children from 12-18.  This movie intended on commercializing an audience of families with children, teenagers, men of all ages, and young couples.  This was not a film for Roger Ebert and his ilk to analyze the character development (or lack thereof) over the 105 minute runtime.  It was the faithful reproduction of a golden age comic book. 

What does that mean?   Simply, that the colors should be vibrant and the characters be caricatures.  Your hero will be glowing green and he’ll battle a foe who’s bent on destroying the planet without reason.  The hero will be the edifice of good, whilst the villain hates everything he stands for.  The villain will only become more villainous as the hero becomes more heroic. This was expected and delivered.

BEYOND THE CRITICISMS

The film was enjoyable, certainly, but that should be a given if I’m defending it from the critics.So, plot issues aside, what did I think of it?

610-green-lantern-2I thought it was fun to view.  In more words, the images stood out.  Hal Jordan wore a glowing green, skin-tight suit.  Parallax was a giant, city-sized smoke monster with a dreadful face.  Giant fists, artillery cannons, and race cars made of “will” were entertaining CGI constructions.  Furthermore, the fish-like creature, Tomar-Re, creates a magnificent cyclical construct that I could have stared at for much longer than the fifteen seconds for which it was on-screen.

I thought the acting was enjoyable for Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Tomar-Re’s voice over.  Ryan Reynolds pulled the goofy playboy act that he’s known for, Mark Strong looked good embodying a soon-to-be foe, and Geoffrey Rush was as supportive to the fresh Lantern as we hoped.GL_tomar-re_Crop

WHAT DIDN’T I LIKE?

The female characters were painfully underdeveloped.  Sadly, anything I say here is more or less negated by my comic book explanation.  The female characters were often minimal and static.  Likewise, the women in this film did not develop beyond being something to save or attracting the eye of certain male characters.

Also, I could have done without the screaming.  Not of damsels in distress, but of Dr. Hammond.  I understand that his character was experiencing nightmarish pain and probably envisioning horrors unheard of.  That said, watching his writhing and listening to the screams left a bad taste in my mouth.  To that same end, I applaud Peter Sarsgaard for fulfilling the demands of the role.green-lantern-hammond-poster-thumb

FINAL THOUGHTS

This film was fun.  It was a comic book brought to the big screen without losing anything. 

It was fun.

It was cheesy.

And it was green.

greenlantern-440x440

I’m only eleven years late (Kitchen Confidential book review)

jody-bourdain-7996841I’d like to start this book review by noting that at one point in his long, miserable life, Anthony Bourdain was a wreck of a human being.  And, while he may be upset that some random college student is saying this, he cannot disagree.  That said, I would like to follow it up by saying that I truly like Bourdain.  I find him funny and believe that his cooking and attitude is deserving of his celebrity status and notoriety.

But that’s the man.  What of the book?  Well, the book is the man.  Often touted and cited as a guide to life in commercial kitchens or an insider-exposé of what goes on behind the counter, Kitchen Confidential is truly the memoires of a middle-aged Anthony Bourdain.  x4800

Beginning with the tales of a childhood trip to France, inspiration for his lifelong love of food, we’re presented an alien Bourdain.  Beside the obvious age difference, this child dislikes foreign food, commenting distastefully especially on the cheesy butter served in the French cities.  All this comes to a head though, when his parents abandon him and his little brother (in their car) whilst dining in on of France’s most acclaimed restaurants.  Bourdain decides to turn this on his parents by being the first in his family to eat a raw oyster, offered to him by his uncle. 

Thus began his relationship with food.  That said, it would be long before he became a chef.  Rather, he was a delinquent for the younger years, up through college, and then some.  However, at some point in his degenerate life, he went to a beach town over the summer and was forced to work lest he starve to death.  So he got a job washing dishes at a rusty spoon called the Dreadnaught.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Actually, it’s the next two hundred and fifty pages of this three hundred page book. 

So what’s the rest of it?  Well, a lot of it has to do with Bourdain’s addictions to pot, heroin, and a slew of other controlled substances, tales of sexual antics and gratuitous acts of violence, all while travelling through various kitchens up and down the eastern seaboard.  Their are anecdotes of hilarious hijinks and tales of his mentors, interspersed with tips on professional cooking and advice to never join the restaurant industry. 

Final judgement:  The book is certainly funny and engrossing for anybody who enjoys biographies or food.  Bourdain’s flippant tone and acts of self-deprecation help to lighten what could otherwise be a dark recounting of a life that’s seen some great highs and disappointing lows.  I recommend it for anybody who has enjoyed one of his shows (or never wishes to eat again in a restaurant).

Sucker Punch(ed)

Preface: I went and saw Sucker Punch this afternoon.  After returning to my dorm, I wanted to write something about it.  I originally wrote this elsewhere because I didn’t think it was fit for atbreaksix, but after seeing how much I’d written, I decided to post it.

Sucker_Punch_poster

I really, really wanted to enjoy this movie.  I’m not kidding, I really did.  The commercials looked incredible.  I thought ‘OH MY GAWD! Scantily clad girls with weapons in a fantasy Matrix!  This is gonna be epic!’  How could anything go wrong?

Well…

This movie was two hours of sitting back in my seat, cocking my head to the side, and wondering if the actresses were laughing at the idea of people watching this film.  In the worst way, it brought back memories of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  (I think we all hate that movie…)  Actually, it seemed like main difference between the two (discounting premise) was that people actually died and cursed in this film. 

But what was the real problem?  Problems?  Disasters? (Warning, spoilers follow.  However, I recommend reading them as they’ll likely persuade you to save $12)

1.  I did not care about a single character.  No, that’s not true.  I liked the old guy who kept giving advice prior to the fantasy adventures.  And the only reason I liked his character was because the didn’t annoy me as the others did.  As it was, there was somewhere between little and no back-story or character development for the overwhelming majority of the cast.  So, in the scenes where characters show some sort of emotion, it’s completely out of context and you wonder why the movie took a faux-turn for the dramatic.

2.  The conclusion of the movie only goes on to affirm the thoughts you had ten minutes into the film that you have no idea of what’s going on. 

(Plot: Girl (Name=Babydoll, but I don’t really care) loses mother.  Stepfather tries to kill her and her sister to get money in mother’s will.  Succeeds in killing sister.  Girl attacks stepfather.  Stepfather has her thrown into mental asylum.  —MAJOR SHIFT IN PICTURE/STORY— Girl (original) is with a bunch of other girls in what seems like an Atlantic City-esque strip club/brothel.  And they’re all dancers.  And now Girl has to dance.  So zones out and enters the place where Black Mamba killed Lucy Liu and takes out three gigantic CGI man-beasts with a sword and a Desert Eagle.  When she comes to, she’s apparently performed an incredibly seductive dance and is now being applauded by everybody except for one girl who’s jealous or something.  Over the rest of the film, she performs this dance in which she zones out and imagines herself killing people while in the “real” world, everybody is entranced by her motions.  As she’s doing this, a ragtag group of other inmates are stealing tools to make their escape from the asylum.  By the end of the film, all of the teammates are dead save for Girl and the girl who hated her from the dance.  (Real original)  So they make their escape just getting to the exit before realizing that they’re trapped by a group of men.  So Girl sacrifices herself and jealous girl escapes.  —MOVIE SHIFTS BACK TO ORIGINAL VIEW OF REALITY—  And Girl is lobotomized.  Literally.  And jealous girl is on a bus, narrating some sort of message of…destiny?  I dunno.  Seriously though, watching Jon Hamm (Mad Men’s Don Draper) lobotomize your protagonist is kinda messed up.)

2 (the sequel). So at the end, you start thinking: ‘Okay, so none of the dancing was real.  That was probably just jealous girl’s projection of reality.  And within that we were able to see the fantasy murders… which was Girl’s projection’s of reality?  Or was it Girl’s reality within Girl’s reality within actual reality… DAMNIT WTF IS THIS?  INCEPTION?!?!?!

e.  (That should warn people to why this is upsetting to me)  This movie pushes physics and storytelling to the point where I was having a headache trying to rationalize why the special effects guys didn’t laugh at the writer (And WTF was the writer doing?  I bet it was a 12 year old boy who watched 16 hours of action/adventure films in one sitting and then started writing this “great idea” for a movie.  Then 10-15 years later, he had enough clout or dumb friends to get funding for it.).  It’s not Kill Bill.  It’s not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  It’s not The Matrix.  It’s like if you smashed them together… And then gave it crack.  It’s just…painful.

3.  This movie leaves me thinking that I witnessed the crackbaby of the Wachowskis, Michael Bay, Quentin Tarantino, and M. Night Shyamalan.  

That’s about it.  Sadly, this venting session has not left me feeling any better.  Maybe I should watch MacGruber again to put it in perspective…

—Follow-up:  According to wikipedia, I’m not the first person to compare this movie to The Last Airbender.  It can be found here.  I recommend clicking, the critic’s line is pretty funny.—

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