29 November 2009

Ninja Assassin is a terrible movie.

I wasn't expecting much going into the film. I first saw the trailers a couple of months ago and I was not very impressed. Although lowered expectations have worked out well in the past (especially with GI Joe), this film managed to cause a sort of rage to boil inside of me. A rage of angerful...ness. This is clearly the worst movie I've seen this year. It isn't an easy task considering Transformers 2, Wolverine, and Paranormal Activities all came out in the same year.

I didn't know anything about the plot before watching the film but I masterfully deduced that Ninjas would assassinate some people. I was not disappointed in that respect. Here's a warning: There is a lot of blood and extreme gore in the film. If people being sliced in half with cgi-added blood splattering everywhere turns you off, you might not want to watch the film.

Cinematography and fight correography were done well for the most part. If you're one those people able to watch a film and not even spend one iota of thought, then it would be enjoyable.

My main issue with the film is the horrible, horrible writing, and numerous logical inconsistencies.

I'm extremely familiar with terrible writing, so I get angry when I see it produced on the screen. The main Ninja's betrayal of the other ninjas seem very weak. It just seemed like a weak reason. If the main ninja brought up the idea that he was kidnapped at a young age, became an orphan due to his real parents murder, then maybe there would have been more weight to his betrayal. As shown on screen, he has no problem killing random people that the Ninja Boss says, but he has a problem with killing a girl. Refusing to kill the girl, the main Ninja attacks the Ninja Boss and his thousands of Ninja Disciples. The main Ninja narrowly escapes as he falls thirty floors from the top of a skyscraper into the ocean. The main Ninja has been hunting his former Ninja brothers ever since.

The biggest writing flaw is the inclusion of the whole EuroPolice storyline. It was obviously added as a way to bridge western audiences with an otherwise Japanese/Asian dominated film. The idea that Ninjas aren't enough to sell tickets without adding white and black people is ridiculous. Ninjas can sell anything.
That storyline is about a female researcher finding links between Ninja killings. She visits an old EuroPol agent's wife who was deemed crazy and was suicided. Ninjas don't want anyone finding any information about them. A Ninja Assassin was sent to assassinate this chick. The main Ninja decides that he needs her help to expose the Ninja Conspiracy and fights to protect her.

Now for the logical inconsistencies.

Ninjas portrayed in this film have three special qualities
  1. They're super fast. This helps them to hide in shadows effectively, and they appear as a blur to an average viewer. Fast enough to avoid bullets.
  2. They can regenerate cut flesh just by twiddling their thumbs in meditation.
  3. They are super strong, able to throw Ninja stars faster and with more force than humanly possible. They can wield katanas that can slice a torso into two.
Oh yeah, and with training, they have super senses. Main Ninja was able to hear a conversation from several rooms over. And when he is asleep.

With these abilities, how is it possible that they get defeated by mere gun toting normals? Well, for the first 90% of the film, the Ninja Assassins were able to kill anything and anything they wanted, other than when another Ninja stops them. They pop out of shadows whispering words such as "kill him", and "ninja" in a Lost-Others fashion.
I don't want to spoil the super awesome ending, but the Ninjas get demolished by a group of commandos. Oh yeah, and the researcher lady is with them with her weapon shooting at Ninjas too! Who thought it was a good idea to bring her along. Good thing gets killed by the Ninja Boss so that the Main Ninja enrages and out-Ninjas the Ninja Boss. Except that in the end, she's going to be okay. Ugh.

Oh yeah, and the acting wasn't done very well either. (Except for the Ninja Boss, and some of the flashback scenes)


10 November 2009

Stargate Universe

Stargate Universe is the third (or fourth if you count the abortion that is Infinity) iteration of the popular science fiction franchise.
Set on the Destiny, an Ancient starship that's millions of years old, the crew is focused on survival and finding a way to get home. The Crew didn't start out that way though. Due to an attack from an unnamed foe, an evacuation was ordered and everyone was ordered to go through the Stargate. Doctor Rush, the chief scientist involved with the Icaris Project, decides to dial the 9th chevron address one last time instead of Earth. Everyone was forced to go to the Destiny instead of Earth, stranding them halfway across the universe in a failing starship.

The first couple of episodes dealt with the issue of getting Air and Water. Another two episodes dealt with the ship's power concern. The latest episode was about the crew's relationship with Earth. Scientists on Earth have a plan to bring everyone back, but their plans wouldn't have worked according to Rush. Faced with imminent death, the scientists fled back to Earth.

Fans of the franchise have several issues with the plot.
1) Communication Stones
 - The stones were introduced in SG1 and are magical devices that allow the consciousness of two individuals to switch across vast distances. I understand why the Icaris Expedition would have these stones. It is the only technology they have that can be used to communicate from really far away. I like the continuity aspect of it.
- I really would have preferred if they kept the Destiny Crew all alone with no communication from Earth. I think it adds a dramatic element if they're not able to visit home. Though, being in someone else's body isn't the same, it still feels like a cheat.
- An issue raised is that the people who swapped bodies don't seem to respect the body. Drinking alcohol or having sex is equated to rape, etc. The main problem is that there doesn't seem to be a clear guideline created by the Pentagon. We know that there are rules mentioned by dialogue, but it still doesn't seem clear. It doesn't really make sense for the government to not be watching these people. (maybe they are but they're just in the shadows)

2) Drama / 90210 / Love Triangles
- A lot of screen time has been devoted to exploring the character's psyche or feelings. This is a big departure from previous Stargate shows. In those shows the main characters knew the mission they're there for. At the end of the mission, they get to return home to Earth. In this show, the crew is comprised of evacuees from an exploding base. They're not the ones who would have gone through the stargate. They're the people who are there to maintain the base. Cooks, Janitors, and HR reps.
-TV watchers are wary of love triangles because they're fairly unrealistic and are mostly unsuccessfully dull. It looks like the show is setting up a series of triangles and quadrangles. I understand why this will turn people off, but it hasn't reached a breaking point for me yet.
3) Dark and Gritty
SGU has a lot of sex scenes and unlikeable characters. They're there by design and this annoys a bunch of franchise fans who would prefer their stargate to be lighthearted popcorn entertainment. There's nothing wrong with wanting some more of the old. I just want to see a more serious story like this in the stargate universe.