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GodZilla :(

After watching Godzilla I can’t help but feel I got suckered with a bait-n-switch. The trailers depicted horrific imagery of fear, destruction and despair. Ominous Gregorian chants, people running in the streets, and the Glasglow smiling roar of a giant creature as the doors closed the shot- were no where to be found. what we got instead was some really incredibly tedious exposition by actors who were seemingly phoning it in from the beginning. What’s worse , the almost hour and a half of explanatory buildup had nothing to do with Godzilla.

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A lot of what made Godzilla not work for me have a lot to do with the actual story.  Something the trailers attempted to keep covered since many of those memorable trailer shots are completely different from the final movie.. So take this as a heads up. I will be spoiling aspects of the movie that basically ruined it for me… so consider this a warning!

The movie attempts to create a strong sense of tension and build up for the eventual monster reveal. On many occasions it tries to extend that tension with plenty of false reveals, that don’t work. Y’know kinda how in a horror movie there will be a  loud musical chord sound, and a screech, only to reveal it was just some frightened cat? Well this movie attempts to do this for the first hour and a half. Ultimately though, the flat dialogue, and uninspired acting only further frustrated me as I sat there uncomfortably in my seat. Also doesn’t help that the movie hops through characters for that  first hour and a half, so you as the viewer never have anyone to relate to or care about. Its just sequences, of scientists  saying “something is out there!” but none of his family believes him,-of generals looking at maps in control rooms, -army platoons scurrying between positions with guns drawn, (how that would help them against a 600 foot monster is beyond me.) -Nurses trying to care for their patients and frantically calling their boyfriends.. And close tight shots of children looking deadpanningly out towards danger while adults run around with their heads cut off. Good god that must’ve happened like 3 times in this movie. All with children who weren’t even part of the main cast. Are we supposed to feel something? Is this a powerful shot, when the characters are just throw aways? Steven Spielberg does shots like these in his movies, but it usually a pivotal moment when a MAIN character has discovered something. These days its as if directors just grab these iconic shots just for the sake of emotional buildup without realizing, YOU STILL NEED TO DEVELOP THAT CHARACTER for that buildup to have any meaning….

 

So we have all these characters with no development time. Then we have the monsters…. not godzilla, but bug-like creatures straight out of  a ‘Gears of War’  game, with smooth dolphin like skin and LED lit eyes.. Extremely plain and derivative looking bugs, that come from the planets core to feed on nuclear missiles,  mate and breed.Its only then that Godzilla has picked up their mating calls and comes out of the watery depths to kick their ass.. So in comes Godzilla - fashionably 2 acts late, with his entourage of battleships .. Its around this time when the Japanese scientist huddles all the military fools together to give them a quick history on “Gojira”..Thats right, no mention of Godzilla until he shows up, and then we get a rushed history lesson on how he was last seen in the 50s when they attempted to bomb him to hell.. So not only is this really not a reboot/remake  what have you, but its really a sequel of the original.. From this point on, this japanese scientist, insist that Godzilla is here to restore the balance of nature, not to interfere with his mission and “let them fight”…. So after being  blueballed for almost 2 hours, this movie  isn’t even about Godzilla, and to top it off, it isn’t the vengeful Godzilla that was portrayed in the trailers… Totally got suckered… “Godzilla 2014″  is a sad and confused movie, that wants to tell a meaningful story about a Corny giant monster, but regrettably fails…. So really its Star Ship troopers, mixed with Independence day, guest staring Godzilla… No thanks.

 

To the credit of  the CG director and all the amazing artists involved in those last 20 minutes,..  While the bugs were terrible, -Godzilla himself was incredibly detailed, moved with real weight and his atomic Breath and dorsal fin light up details were visually arresting.. Not to mention that breath taking roar.. it is some of the most amazing visuals of Godzilla you’ll see, at least till the inevitable sequel.I just wished they couldve made this first one about.. you know.. Godzilla.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Just when you’d think one would be suffering from movie hero fatigue, in comes the Amazing Spider-man2 swinging his way in from the skyline, and webbing away those dark notions that superhero movies have lost their way from being actual movies with character, emotion, empathy, and you know story. I had zero intention on seeing this movie. The first one was abosultely terrible. It was janky, and awkward with sometimes weird scene and character transitions that gave Peter Parker the unintended douche vibes. Aside from the redesigned suit, which I liked a lot, and the great 90s style cinematography. The first amazing Spider-man, was just bad.

The good news is, just like those clumsy early teen years, the amazing Spider-man 2 moves pasts its origin story, finds itself  and just goes straight into a more mature look into Spider-man’s very complex and dangerous life.
A complicated life of love, lies, and loss. Its wonderfully visualized in this gritty and violent new york city. Ol Spidey definitely has some fun with that PG-13 rating a few times. Playing around that level like a game of double-dutch. That’s where the campy humor really comes in and elevates the movie even further. Spider-man’s quips and playful demeanor really gives you the breathing room to elevate yourself from some of the heavy moments.. Its here when YOU feel NOW you know why Spider-man is the way he is. His humor is a release from his complex and sometimes heavy life. Its reflected in the movie, and thus reflected on to the audience. That’s freaking brilliant.. Comic relief, used as its intended.. Go figure right?

I won’t go too much into the actual visuals of it other than to say, this is the most realistic looking spider-man I’ve seen in action. There is actual weight to his movements ,not always landing so effortlessly as hes done in previous versions.  The camera choices during these moments are exhilarating to watch. Almost made me wish I had seen it in 3D.. The live action segments are shot with the same kind of  passion and sophistication thankfully. (Easily one of my biggest grips of the first 3 spidermans were that the dynamic CG shots seem to differ from the more straightforward live action shots. The transitions between the two would make it feel as if I was watching a movie, then watching a video game.. )

The movie does have a few hiccups though. For starters, Electro played by Jamie Foxx, was a very interesting character, and I really would’ve loved it if he was given more time to develop. His moments are silly, then powerful, and sadly fleeting. Harry Osborne (peters old friend) suffers even a worse fate with even less time, and a rushed transformation into his final character. Ultimately though, this is a movie about spider-man , and his life. A lot of questions about Peter and his past get answered, making you even more emphatic with the hero. So it worked out. Besides Director Webb, handles those slivers of  villain development time as impact-fully and as elegantly as he could have.. I guess the best way would be to compare it to Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.  Penguin was the main villain, Catwoman kinda got shafted with screen-time, but we all got what we needed because her scenes were crafted so well.  One of these elements is  the music. The introduction of Electro had some very unnerving music and whispers that added to the character’s sense of paranoia and islolation. Its also some of the best use of dubstep in a soundtrack so far. Wholly appropriate for a super-being with Electrical powers.

I’m not gonna lie. It was the dubstep in this trailer that gave me the final push to see the movie. I wanted to see if it was used as effectively as it was in this trailer. FUCK YAH IT WAS BOYYEEEE..

The music in general was excellent, grandiose and appropriately melodramatic. Other times it was very synthy and understated. Every character seemingly had their own melody, including the city itself which had plenty of moments to shine. Thankfully the director showed less known locations of NYC,which added  tons of personality. I left the theater and bought the soundtrack in my car.

The other hiccup is the dialogue can get a bit hammy and hard to chew on. Even with the camera swinging skills the director was showing off, and the cast of amazing actors at his disposal, some of the high-school fan-fic dialogue just didnt roll off the tongue.. so one quick look on IDMB and yup sure enough…. The two biggest writing quacks in the biz had put their dirty Sanchez’s  all over the face of this story. It won’t matter. because none of those moments will kill the power and ambiance of the film.

Go see this shit please.

 

Robocop 2014 Review

To not compare the original 1987 RoboCop to the Reboot, is a huge undertaking. Nothing like Robocop 87 has been made since. It was technologically advanced, incredibly raw, and profound.  It was also excellently shot, with masterful pacing, and direction. Inside its adolescent, comic book story was  a movie that was shockingly violent, unabashedly self-aware, and incredibly prophetic.

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Then we have Robocop 2014.  Set about only 14 years in our future it attempts to use controversy over US drone use overseas as the anchor-point to the story. This Robocop is Omnicorp’s  (the robot company that makes all these drones)  answer to having drones here on US soil. Which makes me question the demographic this movie aims for. Its PG-13 because it wants to attract a wider and younger audience right? I find it hard to think there are any kids out there who can peel their eyeballs away from their Iphones to care about drones invading our privacy and freedoms, unless its to look up and see if their Iphone 8 has been air-dropped by one of Amazon’s future delivery drones.
So to circumvent a ban on drones on US, OmniCorp (the movies robot making company) creates  a cyborg cop .  Luckily for them  Detective Alex Murphy gets his ass blown to bits just in time to be considered for project. Also luckily for them Alex Murphy has the right psychological profile that would work for their robotic monstrosity/ public stunt. That is a hot headed detective asshole, who likes to ignore protocol , go into a situation guns blazing and gets horned up for his wife just hours  after his partner was almost critically wounded….
So OCP Robot scientist Dr Norton  (Gary Oldman)  pretty much tells Clara, Murphys wife (Abby Corny or something)- she has a choice, sign over Murphy’s Gibs to them and allow them to make him into a Super Cop Robot or wiping drool and changing diapers for the rest of her life.

Super Cop it is.. 3 months later.. We have Robocop, or the terribly outdated name of “RC-2000″. Just to bring home he is NOT a robot to the public, they save his right hand.  To show it is a MAN pulling the trigger. Which seems totally unnecessary since most of the time hes just going around tazing people anyway. Save for a few no name grunts, bullets hardly fly in this not-so-action-packed movie. Not that it had to be an action packed movie to be enjoyable, but it never delves into any of the philosophical  complications of being a cyborg, or the implications of someone who is totally “jacked-in” to the net invading everyone else’s privacy. Aside from an interesting moment when Murphy is shown whats left of him, and when his son touches his robotic arm-only to hear the hollow sound of brushed aluminum, the movie shys away from going much deeper than that. It instead opts to push the whole, Drones on US soil agenda. Don’t make a shot game out of the word ‘Drone’ for Robocop2014, otherwise your friends would be in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. Its all this movie could harp on. OCP heads, the uninteresting ‘Novak Element’  ( Fox news Bill Orielly Spoof, played by Sam Jackson), are fixated with getting drones on US soil. Which is what ultimately makes this movie dull. There are no ulterior motives. For anyone. Period. Seller’s (played by Keaton) goal is to circumvent the Drone ban by making a Cyborg Cop, then by ultimately changing public opinion on the ban in order to repeal it and get his drones in the States. Thats a lot of investment on a project just to sway public opinion don’t you think? (2.06 billion robobucks  for the RC-2000). The plan was never to make more Robocops, and eventually they were going to put Murphy out of his misery when the ban was lifted. However, as Robocop solves his own murder, and begins to follow the chain of corruption up to his own chief, the higher ups at OCP decide its time to pull the plug on him sooner than later. Why? Its not really explained,the audience is left to assume the level of corruption will eventually lead to OCP heads, but how, that seems to be left on the cutting room floor.

The second half of the movie plays like a cliffnotes version of the original,minus any character development. Since the first half of the movie was focused on Murphy becoming Robocop (as opposed to the 5 minute-becoming-robocop-montage of the original), there just isn’t enough time in this 108 minute movie for characters to develop.Robo has to hurry up and get revenge  before the credits roll. A lot of action elements were lifted from the first two original movies, but sadly they all feel  uninspired at this point since Jon Favreau pretty much picked the meat off of those bones for his Ironman movies years ago
Robocop 2014 is definitely a product of the times. Just like the character its based on, Robocop 2014 had no other purpose than to become a consumable for todays market, create toys and merchandise. This is ultimately the goal of any movie or franchise, the difference is while other creatives in this field have found  ways to work the Hollywood machine in their favor; creating evocative stories with memorable characters, you will find no such qualities in the new Robocop. It’s a paper thin story that stretches itself out  by repeating itself ad nauseam.  There is no layer of satire, or irony to be found in Robocop 2014, as it plays out painfully straight and by the numbers. In-fact if there is any layer of irony, its the fact that much like the film itself, the RC-2000 was created by Committee. From the generic design of the suit down to the painfully lackluster and botched Public event. The similarities  between the creation of this movie and how the story plays out are endless. One can only assume  Jose Padilla was projecting himself as Dr Norton, the hapless Robot scientist who was promised the world, but ultimately lost control of his own creation while getting steam blown up his ass.

I do hope it does we’ll enough for a sequel. Robocop could be a really fun property in the right hands, and hopefully if given the freedom , Jose Padilla could give us the Robocop he really wanted.

Hank Attack.

happy madness day guys.

 

mag

Elysium: Review. (Spoilers)

Now that Its been a few weeks since I’ve seen Elysium, and I really need to update my site anyways, I figured I’d post my thoughts on Neil Blomkamps latest Sci Fi movie.

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I guess I should say right off the bat, I had super high expectations for this film. That probably does skew my view of the film to a degree, but honestly, I’m really tired of being apologetic over my disappointment on a movie that failed to move me. This year has been a barren wasteland of movies that have failed to succeed in accomplishing the simple act of moving the viewer in an emotional way, or linger in your mind  with provocative subject matter. It’s been hours upon hours of amazing scenery and mindless explosions. While Elysuim definitely comes closest to actually being a good movie in a sea of visual tech demos disguised as movies, it’s still not close enough to being a great story. Something I’d imagine what people go to the movies to see normally right?  Games can get away with having subpar stories because the hook is the interactivity. Movies don’t have that freedom. Its their job to tell a fucking good story.

By now everyone should know how Elysium goes. It’s the future, and the world is broken up into two classes. The super rich and elite which live on a giant space station that resembles the habitat from the original Halo game ring worlds,and then there’s the poor who live on earth . Stranded on a decaying planet  the poor have become the cheap labor force for the elite.,creating robots and health bays which can cure a person of all ills. Something the elite have full access to while the poor suffer from easily curable diseases.

That theme pretty much plays itself out throughout the movie without really diverting from it, so by hour 2, its been beaten into your head over and over. The characters are all incredibly flat and uninteresting. The snobbish elite stay snobbish and elite, and the poor are upset and demand access to proper medical care. They risk life and limb to get their sick ones onto Elysium in order to cure them. Its all they really care about. For me it would’ve been all the sushi and mimosas all the rich seem to be always having.. Anyway, the few rebels want justice, freedom, and equality, but it doesn’t get much more complex than that.  Enter Max, played by Matt Damion. Ex-car theif, ex-asshole trying to do the right thing by just working at a local robot factory and keeping his head down. All his old thug buddies are still up to their old tricks and try to convince him to work on ‘one more heist”  which he ignores. That changes when he gets radiation on him, and his only hope is now one of them sick bays on Elysium. So Matt goes back into full asshole mode, buddies up with other assholes and makes a deal to steal data from a major executive in order to get a ticket to Elysium (illegally).  Things gets worse and more complicated than that, but it all eventually comes together in a Big Exo-suit battle between Damon, and Sharlto Copley as ‘Kruger”, the Ex military badass assigned to take Damon down. Just to say a few things about Sharlto, god can this guy act. He really just chews every scene he’s in,(in a good way). Its hard to believe he was just a friend and a producer of Blomkamps original short movie “Alive in Joburg”  His portrayal of Wikus in district 9 was incredible. I can’t wait to see what else this guy does.

So back to the movie, which goes along at a pretty predictable pace.  The story attempts to get slightly more complex with an old love interest introduced . This Love interest has a kid with some other dude, and this kid is sick, so Max is feeling the extra burden of not only saving himself but trying to help out some old girlfriend who has a sick child from some other dude. Yah thats pretty believable…Max finally get’s on Elysium, but finds out the data he agreed to steal is encrypted , and now he has to decide if de-crypting it and saving not just the child but the rest of the planet, or die.  His buddy didnt have the balls to do it so he  hands over the keyboard to Max, who enters Alt-Ctrl-dEL, and ends the movie.

And that’s pretty much it. The movie plays out like very flat cut-scenes from a video game you can’t play. No one , and I mean no one, has any layer of depth to them whatsoever. Max had a one track mind on going to Elysium, and his  buddies are all bout stealing stuff and  freedom, Kruger was always awesome all the time. .. Ok sure Max does make the ultimate sacrifice at the end which ends up opening Elysium to the poor etc, but his character wasn’t subjected to enough foreshadowing to warrant that. I mean sure, he had a very tiny tender moment with his ex girlfriends kid, but it just wasn’t enough. Ironically for as a predictable movie as this one, its pretty funny Im crying out for some foreshadowing, but really there isn’t enough character building here for me to care for anyone. When Sharlto played Wikus in District 9, he was an asshole to the aliens. He started out as this very condescending twit who was forced into a situation he didn’t want to be in, and then finally succumbed to it all and gave up his window for freedom to help save two aliens he had grown with.. There is no growing here with Max in Elysium, its all just implied. Which as been a very gross trend in movies lately,  and frankly I’m getting sick and tired of that.

Some humble suggestions that I feel would’ve made the movie more interesting without changing the  actual story.

1) Ditch Matt Damon.. He’s an old goodie-goodie. I never believed he was this ex-con punk. He stood out in a his group of young latino buddies as the old white guy.
He wasn’t the right person to play max. I read somewhere that Eminem, was first approached for the role. That wouldve been perfect, Eminem has just that right amount of brooding white boy punk attitude that wouldve made this ex car theif more believable. Not to mention he would have not looked a decade or more older than his supposed buddies.

2) Drag out that child moment. When max is getting his arm wrapped up by the child, we as the audience were supposed to feel something,but its cut incredibly short. She needed to be more in the story, they needed to develop a connection in order to give Max a real reason to sacrifice.  Otherwise why would I give a fuck about someone elses kid? I didn’t care if she died. So make me care.

3)Jodie Foster played some kind of defense administrator for Elysium, she was in charge of its security and she had no problem shooting down illegal immigrants  like a game of COD. But why.. There’s a bit at the end where she had her throat slit and as she gagged on her own shit, the love interest of max, who was also a doctor,(and happened to be Spanish) attempted to help her, she refused the help, garbled something like “no thank you” or something and died. So was she power hungry? Did she really have this innate need to keep Elysium safe? Or was she flat out racist? I really still wasn’t sure. There’s a scene where a robot server offers her some sushi and mimosas or whatever and she shoos it away.That scene would’ve nailed home her racism ( if she was anyway) had it been a Spanish servant. Either way  I didn’t get her angle , and if her angle was racial purity or SOMETHING, it would’ve made her way more interesting.

4)Kruger’s about face….(pun intended)..  So after Kruger gets his face blown away and reconstructed, (for some reason )he’s gets pretty tired of Jodie Fosters barking and slices her shit. Why? why then, why now, Shes been an asshole to him for much worse, and now all of a sudden he was done with it?  How about this. Kruger was pretty filthy through out the movie, but after his face was reconstructed and he was all clean and beautiful he seemed super annoyed.. Why not run with that? how about if Kruger had some really deep facial scars. Scars he was proud of, and there were moments where he revealed in each scar, and maybe told stories on how he got them. Then when his  faces is reconstructed- they are all taken away, and what he considers his trophies are gone. Wouldn’t that make him snap more than say, Jodie Foster trying to act tough?

but yah- what am I thinking,

Character development and Sci-Fi movies don’t go hand in hand these days… I read somewhere that Blomkamp  hates when people refer to Elysium as a Sci Fi movie. You know because its really a deep narrative , with rich characters, delivering  a thought provoking message…. Pffft its a Sci-Fi movie dude, go sit over there next to Micheal Bay.