06 November 2011
16 October 2011
It's a good imitation of the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name, but it isn't the real thing.
If you aren't familiar with what The Thing is, then you need to go and watch the 1982 version right the heck now. It's better than this movie.
Don't bother reading the rest of this.
Now that you've presumably watched the 1982 Thing, this prequel basically follows the same structure. You already know what happens in this film as it links directly to the 1982 Thing.
2011 Thing tells the story of the Norwegian Camp. They discovered an alien spacecraft by following an ancient energy signal. They discovered a body encased in ice outside of the spacecraft so they fly in Kate, an American paleontologist who has experience with thawing creatures, to the Norwegian Base. Eventually, the Thing breaks free from the ice and starts killing or assimilating people. Hilarious things ensue and people die.
One of the great aspects to Carpenter's version is that all of the creature shots are practical effects. As a result, the creature looks and feels real and the characters respond to it in a realistic manner. In Carpenter's version, the Thing is shown to be an intelligent creature. It only attacks when cornered, and prefers to assess the situation in order to sow distrust.
With the prequel, they've opted to use both CGI and practical effects. I found a couple of cgi shots which bordered on being completely unbelievable and absurd. It didn't feel possible or helpful or realistic for the creature to 'thing out' by splitting in half down the centre and to grow some teeth. Humans are shown to be ultra fragile in that one touch from the thing can cause skin merging and subdue the prey. It makes no sense for the thing to even need to transform out of humanoid shell.
Thanks to modern computer technology, the Thing is now able to move around thing out in gruesome detail. So we get scenes where a ridiculous monster trapezes down hallways knocking everything apart. I guess that's cool. The creature in this film doesn't feel very smart. It feels like an unrealistic, dumb monster.
There's a lot of room for improvement for 2011 Thing. The characters in this film don't feel distinct in either their looks or their behavior. There are really only three or four characters that stood out. I think the main problem is that many of the characters have the same beard. Was this intended to throw off the trail of who ends up on the helicopter at the end? Like some kind of Beard-Plot-Shield? We know that at least two bearded men survive in the helicopter at the start of the 1982 Carpenter film. Most of the characters are merely thing-fodder. Contrast this with 1982 Thing where each character felt real and unique, despite how little screen time they got.
It feels to me like Kate was acting not smart for a lot of the film. Imagine you found living alien cells that imitate other cells under the microscope. What would you do in a facility full of scientists? Kate decides not to tell anyone. Remember, this was before the shower/helicopter scene so she didn't really have any reason to mistrust anybody. When she's telling everyone about the imitation the next day, the dialogue felt like it was ripped straight out of Kurt Russell's mouth. Same with her speech outside in the snow. I was seriously contemplating leaving the theatre when she says she has a test for the thing. If it turned out to be a fire-blood test, I would have left.
As the film progresses, the Norwegian camp looks more and more like the one we see in the 1982 film. We see why weird monster remains are where they are. We see holes get put in buildings, and axes in walls.
It's largely faithful to 1982 Thing and has dialogue which could be lifted directly from that film. No real big plot hole (Norwegians were shown to be using dynamite to uncover the alien ship in 1982!), and everything mostly fits. There's no sense of real paranoia, and they could have used the language barrier better. I think the tension would have been much better if certain lines were not subtitled. Thing 2011 is an entertaining film which adds interesting things to the franchise. It just won't be as well regarded as The Thing 1982.
The 1982 movie didn't leave things very clear. We didn't know if either of the characters we see at the end was human or Thing. There's not really that kind of ambiguity to this film.
So when the Thing escaped from the ice-block, it inflected a dog, which was unseen for the rest of the film until the end credits. It can be used to infect explain any of the characters… including the woman character, and the helicopter doctor guy. It brings up the question… why didn't the dog try and infect Lars during the night? Why didn't the dog thing the suicide scientist?
Why did the doctor guy thing out in the helicopter? There's not really any reason for it to Thing out at that time. It wasn't cornered. For all it knew, they were landing again because they forgot something… but it decided to thing out and cause the helicopter to crash.
There are two possible times for him to be assimilated… after the crash and inside the spaceship. If two humans could survive the crash, then the thing probably could have too. It could assimilate Carter if he's unconscious or something. The problem is that his black co-pilot was with him the entire time and he was human the entire movie (as demonstrated in the breakroom scene.) Would the thing infect one while leaving the other human? It seems like a really weird stratagem. This means that both were human when they attacked Lars and stole his flamethrower.
So he must have been turned while in the alien spaceship. As he's calling out for Kate, the thing tracked him down. So why wouldn't Carter-thing try and convert Kate right then and there in the spaceship. He had the weapons and she's not really suspecting anything. In a one-on-one encounter, it doesn't really make sense for the thing to not engage.
When he's pleading with her to not burn him, I thought it would have been interesting if Carter actually breaks out of character and speaks as the thing. Maybe throw lines like "I don't even care about your world. I just want to go home." Or something.
Now, what if Carter was human right at the end of the film? That he removed his earrings because it's god damn cold and the metal saps heat away. Or that he sometimes wears his earring on either side of his face. Other people say that they heard him scream like a thing as he's burning. I was paying attention to see if he things out with tentacles, which he never did. I think it would be poignant to see Kate burn the only other human due to mistrust.
28 September 2011
|Two guards chilling at a tower.|
|Security perimeter is so poor that people can just crawl outside the gate. If jurassic park taught me anything, is that there are small killer velociraptor everywhere.|
|No guards at all. I guess that's why the little girl was able to feed the brontosaurus some leaves.|
|One guard on tower.|
Is this show worth watching? I wouldn't say so. There's not really anything here that's done particularly well. There's better things to do with your time. Go watch Breaking Bad, or Fringe, or Supernatural. Go back and watch SGU or Alphas.
I am curious to see what kind of storyline they can do to sustain a full season.
25 August 2011
28 July 2011
I think the worst decision in the film franchise is splitting up Deathly Hallows into two parts. I understand that it's meant to give time for the audience to 'feel' the desperation, loneliness, and helplessness of the main trio. What ended up happening is a bunch of close-up shots of the main characters delivering lines. Now, I don't think the acting is particularly bad. The problem is that all the characters, throughout the two movies, are extremely one-note. They're all just acting heroically defiant. The side characters are all heroically scared.
Part 1 was flawed because there was no real resolution. The movie just ended at a point that's not even really the climax. Some people excuse this because it is the first part of "Deathly Hallows", but that argument is bunk. A movie should be able to be viewed in isolation.
Anyway, 7B is much better than the first part mostly because stuff actually seems to happen in this film. Unfortunately, the stuff that happens fall under two categories.
1) Harry/Gang pleads with somebody or something to inspire them to help.
Example: Gringott goblin, Dumbledore's brother, Ravenclaw ghost
2) Harry is put on the right track by some coincidence/external force.
Example: Multiple horcrux visions… first leading him to the room, then more visions telling him exactly which object. Voldemort fucking off immediately after touching Snape, allowing Harry to get Snape's memories.
Harry and gang coincidentally running away in the same alley as Dumbledore's brother in Hogsmead.
Through the entire series, Harry has been told what to do and where to go. He's had this expectation since birth due to his history with Voldemort. Dumbledore has manipulated Harry for years, giving him cryptic hints of what to do. I don't think Harry's really made any important choice by himself. I would have loved to see Harry question his destiny at the end of the movie. He was prepared to sacrifice himself to save the world, but we never really saw him try to weasel out of it. Yeah, Harry Potter's just that good… but even Jesus had doubts about his crucifixion at Gethsemane.
I recall of couple of scenes where there was a clearly more important objective, but the trio decides to do some other stuff first like visiting the main hall and seeing the injured.
Where were the students running to/from after the hall scene? Harry was running to the Ravenclaw tower, and there were tons of kids running down it. In the previous scene, all the students were in the great hall!
I find it hilarious that wizards are battling/running entirely on foot. You have brooms. Probably a harder target to hit while in the air. They'd travel faster too.
After Snape jumps out of the window, but before the shield is put in place, there were establishing shots of dementers/ghosts/death eaters floating around the castle. Good job, guys. They didn't even try to help.
There was a deatheater who said something along the lines of "Maybe we should wait" to Voldemort regarding the attack on Hogwarts. That line was never explained at all and seems out of place. What would waiting to break down the shield possibly do? Voldemort should have killed him for being a dumbdumb.
I like that they never even bothered to explain what happened to Harry and why he didn't die in the Forbidden Forest. Oh? The elder wand refuses to kill him? Good thing it was dialed back enough to kill Voldemort's horcrux, but not enough to kill Harry.
Voldemort knows that the gang is destroying his horcruxes. He doesn't seem to really put any effort in protecting them with his guards. What he really should have done was send one of the objects into deep space. Good luck tracking that down, Harry.
After the movie ended, I asked a friend. "Did you like that?"
"I like that the series is over."
I am glad that the series is over. This movie is way more entertaining than Part 1, so there's that. It provides a conclusion with reasonable answers, but it is clear that certain things don't mesh correctly. (ie. Time-Turner from Book 3, kids teleporting everywhere, the whole disarming wands/new owner thing.) Pt2 is worth the time if you've already seen the other movies. Just sad that it didn't end on the best note.
20 June 2011
Not extremely terrible, just horribly generic, formulaic.
If you are looking for just another superhero film, Green Lantern is great.
So, billions of years ago, there existed a group of intergalactic space cops called the Green Lantern Corp. Their powers come from a magical green ring which uses the power of "Will" to wish anything into existence. The power of "Will" directly contrasts the "Fear" which is yellow in colour. Billions of years ago, the galactic council rulers fought against the evil Fear-using Parallax Smoke Monster. Parallax was all about destroying worlds. When Parallax was defeated, he was imprisoned in an asteroid in the 'lost' sector. Well, six months ago a space ship crashed on the asteroid and accidentally released Parallax. Oops.
Well, Ryan Reynolds eventually gets one of these rings and the origin story continues.
I want to give special props to the bald scientist played by Peter Sarsgaard. He has the most interesting plot in the story… at least before he became horribly ugly. Something that didn't jive with me is the casting of his character's father. IMDB states that Peter is 40 while his movie dad is 52.
There's a bunch of plot weirdness in the film which can be overlooked if you don't attempt to think about it. That's pretty standard fare in genre films though. For example, Ryan Reynolds got teleported to a dock/beach and discovers an alien/ alien ship and calls his best friend to pick him up. His best friend knows about the alien, a magical ring, and a lantern. In the next scene Ryan Reynolds is all alone in his house playing with the ring. Why would the best friend, being a scientist, not want to investigate the ring with Ryan Reynolds? Didn't make sense.
Another example is the prison of Parallax. So this guy can destroy whole worlds and actually wants to dominate and rule the entire universe. He was defeated… but not killed. I wouldn't want to have a threat like that alive, so there better be a reason for not killing it. Anway, the galactic council decided to put this galactic evil on a remote asteroid with security so lame that three dudes in space suits accidentally freed it by stepping on the surface of the asteroid. The deaths of billions are on you, immortal guardians of the universe. Oh, and I love the intro scene where the three aliens were calling for help in an alien language (subtitled), but when Parallax starts to escape, he was speaking English. I understand that the Green Lantern Rings have translator capabilities. That's cool. Why was Parallax speaking in English? They could have avoided the problem entirely if the three aliens were speaking English at the start too. Eh.
Green Lantern isn't bad. There are a couple of laughs in the film. There's some clunky dialogue. There's some neat visuals. In the end, it isn't as deep as 'The Dark Knight" nor as entertaining as "The Green Hornet". Just some mediocre superhero film.
12 June 2011
One thing that Abrams brought from Star Trek: The Star Trek was the lens flare. Film makers in the past dread the lens flare. They believe that it brings the audience out of the film whenever a lens flare pops up in a shot. I'm convinced that Abrams intentionally put lens flares in the film. Super 8 ends on a lens flare. Ugh.
Super 8 is about a group of kids trying to make a movie amidst some chaos in the town. If you've seen the trailer then you can predict all of the major beats in the film. The story felt like an amalgamation of different genre films that ultimately didn't mesh into a satisfying resolution. Evil Government and Evil Military trying to do evil while the a Heroic Scientist (with the help of some kids) stops them. There's another layer of personal story beneath that about accepting loss. The moral is that life sometimes suck and that accidents happen so let the pain/resentment/guilt/necklace/whatever go. Let it go and move on with your life.
The teen actors in this film are good. They acted exactly how kids should act; They were annoying. The female lead (Elle Fanninng) was good but not spectacular.
Overall, Super 8 isn't a great film. The story was mediocre. The visual effects are about what a modern film should have. I don't think I've gained any valuable insight into humanity, or lost any brain cells by viewing this movie. It was entertaining while on but it's just an average movie without anything that's overwhelmingly positive or negative.
Super 8? More like Super 6/10
Spoiler Warning / Other Observations
I can't believe that the military (bad guys) are portrayed as such dum dums.
1) It took them four days to realize that an evacuation is probably a good idea. They knew that the monster was free the moment that the train was derailed. They should have evacuated the town the next day citing some sort of chemical spill.
2) Why would the military ship the Magic Metal back to the town in trucks? If they were intending to study the material, they probably shouldn't send it to the exact place of the monster. That just sounds like a bad idea.
3) How bad do you have to be to let a stoner and four kids get away from a refuge centre? Keep in mind that the Military knows that the Heroic Scientist had accomplices that was filming the night the train crashed. Also, let's assign only one (high ranking) guy to guard a military prisoner. Can't afford to get grunts to stand outside of the prison cell. Nope, that wouldn't make sense.
4) I liked that the monster magic metal bullshit only magnetized selective things. It didn't grab numerous other vehicles that still had people. It didn't suck in braces kid's braces. I saw tons of metal still lying around everywhere, but I guess that the magic metal ship only takes what the magic metal ship needs.
5) Hey guys, did you know that the movie is set in the past? Technology in the past used to be all huge and clunky! You didn't know that huh! Well, walkmans are the latest in technology. Stop.
The audience knows its the past. Please stop trying to spell everything out. I don't want a character to say that such and such is a Walkman and that it's the latest in technology... and that it plays cassettes. Just put it in the device in the scene. No need to explain it. Kids can figure it out.
03 June 2011
This X-Men prequel is less about the First Class and more about the story of Charles and Erik. If you have had exposure to the franchise's history, then you know the basic storyline of the film.
Erik (Magneto) was raised/taken into a Fun Camp during World War 2. When the Nazis discovered his ability, they performed experiments on him. Erik believes that the rest of humanity will try to control, enslave, and exterminate mutant kind. Charles grew up in America (and miraculously retains an English accent) far away from the atrocities of man. He believes that mutants and humans can share the future and co-exist in harmony. Despite the ideological difference, Charles and Erik became Best Friends once they grew up while working on a mission for the CIA. After the mission, Magneto and Professor Xavier are put on opposite sides and sets up the status quo for future installments (hopefully).
The story is pretty hard to mess up and I'm glad that they didn't. The origins of Magneto is forever tied to the Holocaust just like Captain America with World War 2. It would have been disastrous to have changed anything.
I feel that the 'First Class' parts didn't really mesh well in the film as they didn't appear until the 60ish minute mark. This film is 130 minutes long and they had plenty of time to at least give the remaining characters a little depth. I'm sure comic enthusiasts would have gotten more out of those characters but I barely know any of them.
The only big criticism I have about First Class is all the constant 'winking' at the viewer with references. SPOILER ALERT. During the film Charles attaches some electrodes onto his skull to tap into Cerebral. "It works better if you are bald." "I'm not shaving my hair." Charles becomes paralyzed from the waist down at the end of the film, and he's all like 'well at least I'm not bald'. Ugh. "We should give ourselves some cool man nicknames. I'm Mystique, what about you?" " Oh I'm like a Banshee because I can do this." wink "I cause a lot of Havok" wink wink "Hey you should have a cool name like Professor X and you should be called Magneto." wink wink "Even I've got to admit you're kind of a BEAST now." Fuck you writers. We don't need you to throw in names like that. It didn't feel natural at all. The audience can figure out which characters are which if they really cared. I can't forget about the big one. "Oh we're still working along side the G-Men." "No you need to stay independent. You don't work for the G-Men. You're now an X-Men." Fuuuck.
There's also some really bad trope-y dialogue. Charles: "They were only following orders". Erik: "THE LAST TIME I HEARD THAT THEY KILLED SIX MILLION JEWS. NEVER AGAIN."
Anyway, this film doesn't really jive with the established film franchise, but that can be easily forgiven since the later films have been terrible. I understand that this is supposed to be the start of a new trilogy of films. I hope that the sequels don't falter like the last X-men trilogy.
X-Men: First Class won't win any awards in the writing department, but is well produced and well acted. Definitely solid entertainment.
09 May 2011
30 March 2011
I was genuinely excited for Sucker Punch when I heard that Zack Snyder, director for 300 and The Watchmen, was doing a triple (writing, producing, directing) for this film. Girl gets put in an insane asylum and has to escape before she gets lobotomized by her stepfather after her inheritance. It sounded like the perfect vehicle to tell a visually engaging story. Unfortunately the film does not deliver.
Sucker Punch was boring. That's the cardinal sin of movie making. I struggled to find why I wasn't engaged in the film. Hot looking chicks kicking ass in a beautifully rendered world. I really shouldn't have been bored. I came to the realization that I didn't care about any of the main characters. Sucker Punch is similar to the movie within Idiocracy. There's an ass on the screen that farts for 2 hours.
The film starts in the 'real world' when Baby Doll's evil stepfather (presumably) murdered Baby Doll's mother for inheritance. Turns out the mom left everything to her two daughters. Angered, the stepfather decides to go and molest Baby Doll, but when Baby Doll fights back, he goes after the younger daughter. Baby Doll gets a gun and fires at the step-dad, but she misses and hits a light-bulb. The shrapnel from the light bulb apparently kills the younger sister. The stepfather puts her in an insane asylum and pays Blues, the orderly, to arrange for her to be lobotomized. This will happen in five days. The film then does a cool-guy montage and skips to day 5 when she is getting lobotomized. Wait a second. We are suddenly placed inside of a whore house where the mental patients are now suddenly whores. The Insane Asylum runned by Blues is now a Burlesque owned by Blues. In this second world, Baby Doll's virginity will be sold to the "High Roller" in five days. She intends to escape before that happens. She is joined by two sisters named Sweet Pea and Rocket, and two interchangeable characters named Amber and Blondie.
At every major plot point, Baby Doll goes into a third world that is filled with CGI. Once there, she and her team fights demonic statues, Nazis, dragons, and robots to fetch an item that will help them escape. Things go wrong for some of the characters so that in the end only two girls remain. Baby Doll chooses to sacrifice herself so the last girl can escape. That's why she gets lobotomized. At the end we see that events in the Burlesque world pretty much all happened. Blues, the main antagonist of the movie, gets what he deserves.
So, why didn't I care about half the scenes in this movie? Let's start with the third tier worlds. They are entirely formulaic. The characters are briefed by a 'Wise Man' who tells them what they need to do for the mission. They then do the mission. There's absolutely no jeopardy in these scenes because we see these girls do absolutely unrealistic moves. When the robot Nazi punched one of the girls, she was fine. When the girls fall from a plane 200 feet high, they were fine. Once it is clear that the characters won't get hurt at all and that they would (probably) obtain the object that they need, I lost all interest.
Another problem is that the third tier worlds are supposed to represent them doing something in the Burlesque world. For example, one girl is supposed to lift a lighter off of a fat guy. In the dream world, they're fighting dragons and hordes of monsters for magic stones that can create fire. It feels like there's such a huge disconnect between world two and world three that I couldn't care. What does it mean when the bridge fell in the dragon world? What do the monsters mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Five seconds in the burlesque world is stretched into 10-15 minutes in the cgi worlds.
"A while ago I had written a script for myself and there was a sequence in it that made me think, 'How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren't limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it's not, and I don't mean to be mean, like a bulls--t thing like Ultraviolet or something like that... It's as crazy as anything else that I have ever done. It's a movie that nobody can get made with the ending that it has and the subject matter." - Zack Snyder
What's the solution? Merge the insane asylum with the burlesque world. They're similar enough that the story doesn't have to change much at all. Have Baby Doll take some 'medication' which causes her to imagine the world around her as a burlesque. Have characters/elements phase back and forth from their counterparts in the two world. It would have been interesting visually at least.
This film is bad. Easily one of the worst films I've seen this year. I'd rather re-watch The Last Airbender than see this again. The CGI fights are good, but becomes meaningless. It is like watching someone play a video-game with god mode turned on. Cool man you just killed all them monsters, congratulations on your hard work.
Possible Plot hole: Why didn't Baby Doll just tell the female psychiatrist that Blues was planning on forging her signature to lobotomize? Baby Doll was present when Blues and the stepfather were talking about it. That's why she was planning the escape. The least she could have done was raise the concern to the psychiatrist that she doesn't want to be lobotomized and maybe the psychiatrist can stop it. Can anyone explain?
3 out of 10