Movie Review: King Arthur and the… Something Something Evil Ghost Rider Skeletor Barbarian

It’s been out for a bit. Guy Ritchie’s foray into fantasy was a spectacle to behold, being full of amazing and awesome and… Pacing issues. And CGI. On Rotten Tomatoes, critic score of 28%; viewer score of 78%. Quite a discrepancy between those numbers. I’ll chuck it up to the growing rift between gatekeeping “experts” and the overwhelming input of Average Joe voter: the masses currently mean more than the “critics” to me, especially when it comes to historically important lit.

First off. I’m a King Arthur purist. In BOOK form. And if anyone knows the legends, the tellings are multiple, complex, and likely not nearly as historical as one would think. You know. Because Merlin was a mage. If you aren’t able to step around the idea of a fantastical retelling of anything historical, when you walk into a theater, you have no place being in a theater. IMHO.

Spoilers ahead. I have a bit to say. Continue reading

Jupiter Ascending is Twilight on Steroids

Jupiter-Ascending-Concept-soldier2d

I’ll start this post by saying I had a whole entry written up about being spoon-fed stories, and how tired I am of baby-stepped storytelling. I figured I *expletive deleted* too much, so I slept on it and decided to ruminate on the subject.

I found the best way for me to distill and digest my thoughts would be to read (or watch) something that doesn’t spoon-feed me a story. So I turned to a movie I’ve wanted to see for a long time: Jupiter Ascending. Given the Wachowskis don’t play by the rules when it comes to telling a story, I figured I couldn’t los anything by watching. 

It galvanized my thought process on the matter, and allowed me to step into a place to properly compare and dissect. The movie also got so little attention once released, and I heard so little about it, I figured it’d be a great, beautiful, luscious movie. I wasn’t wrong.

Spoilers contained within. Do not read if you want to watch and enjoy it as new. Continue reading

Follow-up on my previous Post

Maybe I’ve been out of the “critique” circle for too long, or maybe my interests have dumbed down since I embarked on this great quest to pay off my debts working a non passion-filled job. I don’t know.

The past week was filled with reading critiques on the Batman V Superman movie, having conversations with friends concerning what they liked or didn’t like, and boning up on “background” for the movie that I might have missed. I’m a little humbled, a little confused, and perhaps even feeling a little tenacious about my stance on the movie.

I’m usually in the minority with my perspectives. This is the first time I’ve been alone. Haha

So I’m writing a follow-up to try and put my thoughts on paper. Continue reading

Batman VS. Superman was Phenomenal

…despite so many critiques to the contrary.

SPOILERS SPOIILERS SPOILERS.

Why did I feel BVS was phenomenal? This will probably be a long post, so grab some popcorn and be aware of spoilers. BECAUSE I WILL SPOIL IT FOR EVERYONE.

For those of you who don’t care about lengthy one-sided discussion, I’ll lay it out nice and clean, without examples, so you may continue on your way.

Multi-faceted protagonists, including Superman; strong, aware antagonists, including Doomsday (Kidding about Doomsday. Dude was just straight up mad); complex plot that allowed characters to develop, including non-super ones, a world that existed before the movie began; philosophically sound motivations that were succinctly explained and developed; appropriate insights to characters through skilled storytelling; great filming, particularly in the beginning and at the end.

After explaining all this, I’ll try and hunt down why people are so disgusted by the movie.

Continue reading

Movie Review: Oculus (Spoilers)

I don't get the pic, but it's the best I could find without taking a pic of the movie with my own camera.

I don’t get the pic, but it’s the best I could find without taking a pic of the movie with my own camera.

I love a good story. I heard a lot about this movie before I bought it, from word-on-the-street insights to the amount of effort being put into the thing. The previews were also amazing to watch, and enticed me: a movie that promised to be The Shining, The Yellow Wallpaper, AND some twisted timeline take on IT?

Yes, please! I’ll take seconds. Given it’s Halloween, Magnolia and I took an evening to sit back and enjoy the show. Here’s my thoughts on the movie. (SPOILERS A-COMING) Continue reading

Thoughts on Cloud Atlas

People don’t like it. Yet I’m not sure if I can write about it, because if I do, I’ll be dumped in the, “IQ Snobs” category (which is apparently a personality type, given how so many “average joes” use it to identify someone with a liberal arts education). It’s apparently easy to compartmentalize the Other I guess (again, using capital O-ther makes me a Snob because real people don’t do that).

They spent 100mil on the project, only grossed 10mil in the Box Office, and the majority of the reviews I’ve seen (imdb, for one) says it’s pretentious garbage.

I think people just want to hate it.

In fact, I found it so incredibly easy to follow, that was going to be my only complaint: directors created a Good character, a Bad character, and an Undecided character for each storyline, then ran with it to flesh out and develop a philosophical thesis. Near the beginning of the movie, a character says, and I paraphrase, just like Love and Fear, Belief has its own way of moving things forward.

Maybe I’ve simply spent my life too focused on understanding myself and how I fit into the world, because this is what I call a “self-aware” movie. It knows itself. It adheres to my worldview, my philosophy, and my mindset: people are God. Spirituality aside, religion aside, this movie is brilliant.

So with this movie picking up a bad overall review, I’m upset. Angered, even. The complaints range from “terrible acting” to “gratuitous violence” to “pointless boredom” and “meandering plot” and everything inbetween. Someone even complained about the stilted one-liners. I personally cried about 1/3 in to the movie due to one of those statements, because it hit so hard and from a vulnerable direction that I nearly lost my breath. It’s tough to do that to me, a seasoned critic and dedicated self-searcher.

Plot was amazing. It’s a story that surrounds several people that are reincarnated over and over throughout history, and in telling their stories, also tells the story of civilization’s struggle–a repeated battle for survival, and a violent mistake that occurs over and over again. Pieces and oddities and aspects of each story connect to the next in specific ways–as if the knowledge of the person who made it is imprinted to the piece in question, be it a diary, a series of letters, a symphony, or a broadcast–so it feels the people in each time period answer their own questions and are able to pass them forward.

Plot is complex. Behind identifying characters, which seemed one of the hardest things for the casual observer to do, the thesis this movie develops (and yes, truly, it is a work worthy of academic study) is one the average person won’t understand if he doesn’t care. It is a topic of late-night conversation between my wife and I. It is one topic of a budding movement in America and ancient in Pagan belief systems. It’s a belief that, just like in the movie, has surfaced, died, and resurfaced again and again throughout the world’s history–this world and not a scifi big-screen creation. Anyone can walk away from this storyline. Nobody can walk away from the real-world parallels that truly exist and shape this world even when we ignorant try to brush it away as UnAmerican.

The Characterization fascinated me. Every story seemed inspired. Hanks’ performance was incredible. Quick note: the final storyline, one of a distant future, Hanks’ family speaks in what one critic called “pigdin English created for the story.” It isn’t pigdin. It’s a southern dialect that’s still spoken in the deep South, with a few words added to the vocabulary. “Some demon prayin’ on you?” “Suss ‘im out.” My favorite storyline invovled New Seoul (of course) and the final story (mostly because of the Jack-esque character that plagues Hanks’ character, the “demon” everyone’s afraid of).

Makeup was incredible. The directors got a lot of heat by changing Halle Berry’s myriad characters from African to Indian to White Jewish, etc., along with every other important character to the movie. I found it refreshing and perfect for the movie, making the character’s race (and in some cases, gender) wholly unimportant to the person inside. Lana Wachowski, co-director with her brother, stated the movie was most about role and gender-bending: the individual’s skin is unimportant, and what ultimately played the role was the person inside. New Seoul’s characters’ were brilliant–evolved just enough to look nearly elfin in difference while holding onto racial identifiers. (Spoiler in the next sentence) Powerful, too, because Lana’s statement of gender unimportance is shoved home when the Replicant, a perfect human replication used in a form of slavery, sees a factory reminiscent of 1930’s pig slaughterhouses, only using–you guessed it–Replicant corpses to “feed” the living  ones. Scary scifi stuff.

People stated the violence was gratuitous. I believe the violence was exactly how violence is in the real world. When a man blows his head off, his head blows off. It doesn’t get sleepy and the eyes don’t close in a peaceful rendition of a perfect death. The violence in this movie was artfully applied, and in low doses. Unfortunately this movie deals extensively with the Human Condition, which means death, war, violence, and abuse is part of the game. Kill Bill was gratuitous violence. Jet Li’s The One was gratuitous. The Matrix was gratuitous. This was people struggling to survive.

This is a complex movie that probably requires some advanced study in philosophy, pagan religious practices, and/or, you know, a “pointless” liberal arts degree. It develops a story that bounces seemingly chaotically through several historical periods of time.

It is a humanist’s story.

Another quick note: some critic also stated the movie is “clearly anti-Christian.” Given my knowledge of Christianity and my understanding of Jesus’ message, this movie is about as Christian a movie as you can get. You won’t get Jesus Reborn reading from the book of New Mark, but that doesn’t mean it’s propaganda against the Bible or its messages. Again, this statement angers me. No. No it isn’t clearly anti-Christian. In any way, shape, form, or function. Any person who states otherwise adds his own bias to the soup. (Another quick note: one of the characters is asked, straight-up, if she believes in the afterlife, heaven, or hell, and she says as a reply, “I believe death is a door closing, and birth is another one opening.” This message falls mostly within a Buddhist or Hindu pagan belief, though it doesn’t say anything about the overall message of the movie.)

I’d absolutely love to hear others’ thoughts on the movie. It’s currently in my top two favorite movies ever made, with the top spot possibly being The Fountain.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Chris

Movie Review: Dark Knight Rises

Apologies for the  scattered posts. Still in transition. Still no internet at the apartment.

The Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger’s final acting role, is probably my favorite super hero movie ever. Ledger captured a Joker I didn’t believe possible. But this isn’t about that movie. It’s about the next one.

Note: anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, and wishes to, please do not read this. It details the movie and will ruin many surprises.

Quick overview with a few spoilers: Bruce Wayne shoved the Batman persona in the closet after his  girlfriend blew up, and for eight years he’s locked himself in his manor. Catwoman comes along and steals his mother’s pearls (and his fingerprints) and Bruce goes on an investigation. Long story short, Bruce has an admirer in a Gotham Police officer, Catwoman plays a part in framing Bruce for selling Wayne Enterprises, and Bane, some Luchadore-looking british dude ends up taking over Gotham. Oh, and Bane steals almost all of Batman’s stuff.

Side note: Christopher Nolan, director of all three of these Batman movies, is also the director of Inception, a clever, limited-view movie about hacking–and stealing information from–dreams. He has no interest in directing any more Batman-universe movies.

Plot: Complex. Lagging in pace. Most of this movie is setup for Bane and Wayne’s lagging sense of interest for the community. He has given up, and Nolan picks up the daunting task of re-igniting Batman’s flame. Unfortunately, consistency issues abound. At the beginning of the movie, Wayne is walking with a cane and a limp, which is fixed by some kind of undetectable hydraulic brace, and then disappears for the rest of the movie. As the viewer, you’re expected to forget he ever had the limp in the first place, and assume Bane doesn’t do anything with the brace after a *cough* encounter. The Bane backstory is holed from the start–an astute observer will notice they said Bane’s face was irrevocably disfigured, while the individual escaping the pit has face intact. Nolan tried–and failed–to sell details about some mystery aspects of Bane’s background.

Characterization: Wayne is consistently emo, self-destructive. Alfred is insightful and harried, as usual. Hathaway was a terrible choice for Catwoman–she had the look, I guess, but exhibited a “Princess Diaries” princess-to-pauper mentality. She acted as if she wanted to return to somewhere she once was and had grown envious of not having it. She didn’t have the physical flexibility required for the part, which led to closeup shots of her legs above her head, and although she was suitably cold and dedicated to petty thievery, she shared absolutely no chemistry with Wayne. Wayne wanted to fix her. She wanted to get away with as much as she could. Blah. Neither had interest in each other, personally. Drake, the police officer, stole the show: having dedicated himself to the “protect and serve” mentality, followed orders even though, repeatedly, he disagreed with them. Commissioner Gordon also gave an incredible performance, as usual: pragmatic, charismatic, wily. Finally, Bane  exemplified an intellectual evil sitting almost exactly opposite of Joker. Where Joker created the chaos he believed in, Bane created obsessive order and totalitarianism.

Also, Evil Villain Girl death was laughably overdramatic.

Setting: I sat in front of a father/son duo that belched, farted, screeched laughter, and bellowed pseudointellectual commentary throughout the movie. Wait, movie setting: Gotham is cold, its people a direct social commentary on American, and perhaps Western society as a whole: rich people trying to remove wealth/power from the poor; dedicated, hardworking people being replaced by Good Ol’ Boys; Bane’s uprising striking surprisingly similar to an Occupy Wall Street gone terribly militant. With all that said, Nolan still failed to pound the notion home. While Bane was suitably extreme in his reaction to the oppression of a lethargic government, his means to control (Wayne Enterprises’ nuclear fission project) was a little over the top, even for my taste. Any sympathy I garnered for Bane, which had been developing over the course of the movie, dissipated when the execution of his intent fizzled. Five months of patrolling the streets in batcars and “judging” the wealthy in an ad hoc mock courtroom ran stale, fast. After taking power, Bane did nothing but sit around for five months, feeling dispairingly like an over-the-top plot device to allow Wayne to recover and return. Even to the end I felt the whole city existed in a societal bubble, where the rest of the world didn’t exist and Gotham had turned into a microcosmal America. The United States wouldn’t allow a terrorist to hold an atomic bomb over the heads of an entire city for five months. That just isn’t how it works. Bane, if he was so intelligent, wouldn’t stand around for five months “torturing” Wayne by showing the city Hope.

This movie tied off all the loose ends, in the end, and completes the trilogy nicely. It accomplished what it set out to do. This movie is in no way as good as The Dark Knight, and perhaps even not as good as the first movie, Batman Begins. Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5. Middle of the road. Probably won’t watch it again (in comparison to The Dark Knight, which I’ve seen, oh, about fifty times).