Off. The. Fucking. Chain.(more…)
There is good science fiction, and there is bad science fiction. Elysium is the bad kind. Don’t bother.
Elysium is the sort of film that just doesn’t quite sit right with you while you’re watching it–for all the obvious reasons when in the moment–and then later on, as you’ve taken the time to properly digest it, you come to realize that there isn’t really a shred of story that holds together on any level. It’s not necessarily offensive viewing, but the entire concept is broken on so many layers that it’s impossible to be kind about it in any kind of objective analysis.(more…)
About three minutes into 2012’s Dredd, starring Karl Urban, my wife said to me, “This is like a video game.” This turned out to be a fairly apt assessment, though I think my wife only half realized how correct she was, owing to the fact that she isn’t particularly a fan of video games and she fell asleep roughly 30 minutes into this movie. So yeah…Dredd is that kind of film.
This is essentially a beat-em-up game in cinematic clothing. There are no real surprises, so you can go fix yourself a sandwich in the middle of the film, come back 10 minutes later, and the same sorts of things will be happening. The plot doesn’t evolve. Judge Dredd’s goal to ascend to the top of the megablock tower is a constant. We know who the villain is from the start, we know why, and we know Judge Dredd will eventually kill her, not before killing an army of her goons. Dredd doesn’t follow any sort of conventional three act narrative structure. It’s extremely linear. You get the idea.(more…)
Clarification: the rating above indicates only that I did something while watching The Hunt that I almost never do while watching even the most tedious films: I paused it, ranted about it to my wife, listened to her rant to me about the same exact thing, and then we jointly agreed to turn it off and watch something else. So I’m not qualified to provide a rating for The Hunt, since I only experienced the first half hour.
I can, however, give a recommendation I think. But I’m going to make you read my subjective synopsis before I supply a recommendation. The Hunt was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award and currently claims an 8.3 on the Internet Movie Database, so I think I owe an explanation for why my wife and I so fervently resisted continuing past the first act.
So I guess I’m going to have to be that guy who laments for the Chronicles of Riddick series that never was. Without going into extensive detail, I was a tremendous fan of the second (live action) Riddick film (i.e., The Chronicles of Riddick), because flaws notwithstanding (e.g., it tilted toward operatic), it was a tale built upon ideas. Perhaps, in a way, too many ideas, but I admired it on many levels for its storytelling and worldbuilding, and ultimately, for setting up a fascinating arc for its protagonist–I looked forward to watching it play out.
As a star vehicle for Vin Diesel, it fit like a glove, so understandably, it felt like a real labor of love for Diesel, as well as director/writer David Twohy. Almost as if they were so amazed that somebody had greenlighted a science fiction epic as a follow-up to the straightforward Pitch Black, they got kinda giddy about it, resulting in a film that included all but the kitchen sink. I can understand why some critics may have thought it all seemed overwrought, but from my perspective, I loved the filmmakers for what they tried to pull off, and I will forever wish The Chronicles of Riddick had been the hit it deserved to be.(more…)
Awake is the sort of series about which I could probably spend way more time talking than I really want to, so I will endeavor to confine this to essentials. Ultimately, my recommendation is going to be as follows: watch the pilot (currently available on Netflix’s streaming service) and decide for yourself. For my part, I won’t mince words here: Awake was a brilliant, I think.(more…)
Margin Call is a film that features an ensemble cast of talented actors digging in to a script seemingly developed with the intent to provide an ensemble cast of talented actors something to dig into. It isn’t quite the Glengarry Glen Ross of high finance films–it isn’t nearly as over-the-top, nor is it nearly as entertaining–though there’s the sense, perhaps, that the screenwriter, J.C. Chandor, probably watched Glengarry Glen Ross at some point in the planning stages. Make of that what you will.
As an indictment of the investment banking system that over-leveraged itself to the brink of, or even fully to, destruction, ushering the United States (and by extension, basically, the world) into the financial crisis of 2008, it’s pretty damning. Only…if you aren’t already up-to-speed on the finer details of precisely what the hell happened, don’t expect Margin Call to answer that question for you. (more…)
Batman: Arkham City has restored my faith in adventure game ports from the console to the PC. The game plays so intuitively and fluidly that I’m inclined to believe it’s actually quite a bit better suited to playing with a keyboard and mouse than it would be with a game controller. While Batman: Arkham City is a spectacularly entertaining game on its own merits, the sheer playability of the PC version puts it over the top for me.
Just a quick note, I played the Game of the Year Edition, which in addition to the base game, includes a Harley Quinn’s Revenge expansion, a Nightwing bonus pack for the challenge modes (non-campaign), and other sundries. If one were considering purchasing the game, I would suggest this is the version you would want (especially if you can pick it up for $7.50 on Steam, as I did).(more…)
I watched Europa Report because Netflix thought that I wouldn’t like it; I found that suggestion both mysterious and slightly offensive. For the record, I did like the film, but in fairness to Netflix, I suppose that I didn’t love it.
Briefly, Europa Report focuses upon Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and perhaps the most likely place within the solar system to find life outside of Earth. Specifically, the movie follows the journey of an international team of astronauts and scientists that embark upon an ill-fated mission of exploration to the eponymous moon. Is that a generic enough synopsis for you? On the one hand, that’s intentional, in order to avoid spoilers, but it’s also because the film is, to be sure, rather uncomplicated, though it is very sophisticated.(more…)
I’m going to make a statement at the outset that I am sure to contradict at some point in the future (perhaps within this very review!), but here we go: one can only honestly rate a film on a scale that comports with its intentions and the efficacy with which it is executed. Through a critical lens that accounts for the expectations commensurate with a genre film of this ilk, White House Down is a very decent action smorgasbord and much better than many other recent offerings in its weight class.
In other words, if one were to attempt to review a film like White House Down on, say, plausibility…well, you’re doing it wrong. If one were to become flabbergasted by the naive political agenda driving the narrative…well…you’re doing it wrong. Basically, if you’re unable to disassociate the more rational part of your mind from the part of your mind that can simply appreciate technique and style, then you shouldn’t be allowed to watch this brand of explosive, sweaty, guns-blazing, car-chasing action film. To be clear, I don’t mean to imply that White House Down is a dumb film–in some ways (for example, the way it parcels out its surprises), it’s quite smart. But don’t expect it to be a compelling political treatise, because it’s not.(more…)