It’s kind of incredibly how successful the animated adaptation of Otomo’s humongous 6-volume manga became, considering that it cuts off the plot somewhere around the second volume, drops countless subplots and secondary characters and inserts its own version of what Akira is with a subsequent ending that is pretty weird and yet somehow perfectly fitting.
I love the movie, it’s one of the few I probably have seen more than five or six times in my life, but hell does it not make sense in any way once you start trying to make heads or tails of it. It’s not just that there’s a flimsy plot with a complimentary pseudo-scientific junk theory about hidden energies and powers and stuff (basically the x-men gene done the manga route), the motivations for why anyone is acting the way they do, apart from a few characters, is downright inscrutable most of the time.
Some of it can be attributed to the movie cutting down the complex story of the manga to a two-hour movie, but still, some of those elements were just as puzzling in the source material and never explained. Considering all these flaws, it’s downright magnificent how the movie holds together on style and an incredibly dense world-building alone. The superb animation together with the soundtrack gives the movie it’s immense sense of texture, of place and mood that carries you along like there’s no tomorrow.
Even all those elements that don’t make sense, all those chaotic actions of various characters, the barely hinted at subplots going on, the social unrest that seems to have no reason to exists, gives the world of Neo-Tokyo the appearance of something organic and real. And to top it off, there’s the mystery of Akira himself, of the pseudo-scientific junk theory that tries to tie evolution, superpowers and all of life into the very nature of the universe itself.
Sure, it’s bullocks, but each time I watch the movie I feel like there’s more substance to it, try to unravel it and get sucked in. That’s how you make a good movie, elevate it’s weaknesses to strengthen the overall experience.
Considering that this wasn’t a movie anyone really wanted in the first place (apart from Sony to keep the license to make Spider-Man movies), it’s kind of amazing how well this worked out. Like the first one of the previous trilogy, it retells the origin of Spider-Man, but exchanges the Goblin for the Lizard as the main villain and Mary Jane with Gwen Stacey as the love interest. I never thought much of either villain, but both actors in both movies acted moderately well to keep Parker motivated till the finish line.
On the other hand, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is a big improvement over Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. Really the whole romance aspect was handled somewhat less aggravating than in the other trilogy, since the chemistry between the two main characters never felt forced or unconvincing. Nothing against either Dunst or Maguire, but those two just didn’t work together. Just watch Wimbledon to see Dunst getting it right in that regard.
Anyway, Maguire was swapped with Andrew Garfield, who plays a less dorky Parker. Since Maguire had the whole dork thing down pat, Garfield probably couldn’t have improved in that regard anyway and I never cared much for the whole loser-me and dork aspect of Parker (admittedly one of his major characteristics, so interpret that how you will). Also new actors for uncle Ben and his aunt.
While the movie didn’t really offer anything new, I liked most of the casting choices better than those in the previous trilogy. The main plot, as far as the origin story goes, is the same tired moralistic tale about Peter growing into his role by utilizing his uncle’s death. Likewise the whole self-transformation arc of the Lizard, straight from the comics, is kinda ridiculous and par for the course for those things. But that’s not the thing why the movie works.
In most of his incarnations, even in his most why-me moments, Parker takes up the costume and fights against monsters (often much stronger ones) without ever giving into his darker impulses. He’s not brooding or dark, he’s a normal guy doing the right thing, often at a high cost to himself or his loved ones. It’s something I find both incredibly stupid and admirable and when done well, very watchable. Like here. Well, and it has a guy in a spider costume fighting it out with a human-sized lizard. How can you not love superhero comic insanity like this.
Like the game series that spawned it, the Resident Evil movie series has been treating water like, well, probably the second movie. In dire need of a big villain to focus the entire narrative, the fifth part has come full circle and recycles the enemy from the first one, the red queen aka the evil AI. The fifth one recycles more than that, though, it feels like a full repeat of the entire movie: the good guys are trapped in a gigantic Umbrella underground complex, the red queen is hunting them and the zombies are still merely background noise.
It’s slightly less stupid than the third movie and more coherent and better paced than the fourth, but it’s still not as good as the first one was and I’m doubting Anderson will get the series anywhere interesting with the next and last one. With all the diverting action is easy to lose sight of the biggest elephant in the room: civilization as we know it has been destroyed in the second movie and even the almighty Umbrella will run out of underground bases sooner or later.
The real villain isn’t something you can pound into the ground and kill. It’s getting society back on track, rebuilding infrastructure and stuff. But that’s an entirely different narrative that doesn’t work in the action-focused Resident Evil framework.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Tarantino movie where I could lean back and purely enjoy what I saw on the screen. He’s good at mixing stupid entertainment and offensiveness in a way that always makes me uneasy, not because he’s good exploring social issues, but purely at fucking with the viewers emotional investment with what’s going on, on the screen. That’s a pretty effective skill, though I’m not sure it’s one I admire.
He’s like the ultimate movie troll. And Django Unchained is no different in that regard. Just look at all those discussion on whether the movie is racist, not racist, anti-racist or beyond any of those considerations. Mission accomplished, people are talking, the movie makes money.
I’ve seen the original Django and a few other spaghetti westerns and apart from Sergio Leone’s movies, don’t care much for the genre. Django Unchained hasn’t changed that. Past the sometimes interesting, sometimes irritating surface there’s nothing more substantive here to make me care. This isn’t so much the problem of most spaghetti westerns (cheaply made movies with super-generic plots) but of Tarantino movies specifically.
Timecop looks like an action movie made at the far tail-end of the action decade. It tries to remind you of all the great action movies of the 80ties, but looks and feels far cheaper (and those action movies never looked all that high-class to begin with). Not that it’s much helped by van Damme, who really has no ability to act (at least here) and whose only reason for being the hero here is his physique and his fighting skills (which are at odds with the story and the setting here).
The story is just as stupid and more so as all those action movies ever were: time travel is discovered, a secret, American government agency polices its use, one very ambitious young Senator secretly uses time travel to gather funds for his own presidential campaign (stealing gold in the past, really) and van Damme’s character has to stop him.
Okay, lets rewind that. The evil villain is stealing gold from the past to become president. That’s his highest ambition. Kind of sad, really. And stealing gold in the past isn’t all that effective. How about buying shares of Microsoft before they became big.
Anyway, Timecop, apart from being a stupid movie is also pedestrian and at times feels like whole chunks of the story got cut because of lack of funds. There are moments where you wonder what’s going on, how the plot managed to go from point A to D while you were watching. There are action movies who manage to succeed despite of their inherent stupidity. Timecop is not one of those.
The general consensus last year about Brave seemed to be: rather nice for kids, but not as original as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E or Up. Since I found most of those rather dreary and even the two I liked a bit were hardly anything to cry home about, I think managing to make a movie whose main characters are both female is more brave or daring than any of those other movies ever were (which is kind of sad all things considering).
Sure, the ending is something you can see coming from miles away (love wins out), most problems get solved too easily (the mother’s change of heart concerning matchmaking) and the deeper problems present never get explored (females are nothing but a commodity).
But honestly, that’s exactly like every other Pixar movie and most US-animated movies in general. They hone and repurpose ages old stories, sprinkle a bit of a modern touch, but not too much, not too mature and most of all, not too contrary. A bit is the watchword, it’s fun entertainment, first and foremost.
Brave pretty much succeeds there. It has a smart script, a smart, likable and fierce girl who can kick ass without looking or acting like a Terminator with tits and above all the story really is about her and her relationship to her mother. It’s not perfect, but that is mostly due to the constraints that seem to apply to most US-produced animation features, which while fun in general are so kid-friendly and safe that it’s hard to make anything more serious than what you get with Brave.
Animated movie about Dracula, his daughter Mavis and a very remote hotel full of monsters who all fear humans (partly because Dracula scares them anew all the time). Enter a hitchhiker who somehow finds his way there, falls in love with Mavis (who would love nothing more than leave the hotel and explore the wider world) and thus throws a comb into the finely honed machine that is Dracula’s monster hotel.
This is a movie of many working parts that somehow never gets together into a functioning whole. Taken on their own most of the scenes seem fun, but overall it feels like the movie focuses on the wrong main character (Dracula, when it should have either been Mavis or Jonathan), doesn’t seem to know when to make a joke and when to be serious. This completely undermines both the romance between Mavis and Jonathan as well as Dracula’s slow recovery from human-hating and makes those scenes who need to be earnest into just another goofy joke.
Could have been great, but turned into merely average.
Retired superhero Bruce Wayne comes back out of retirement, gets his ass kicked and rises again to save his city. Nolan’s third and final part of his Batman trilogy is a movie that draws on both the camp of the source material as well as then current events. The outcome is a mess, that is equal parts boring, ridiculous, befuddled and stupid. If one of the messages of the second movie was that people will, given the choice, make the right decision, then the third part completely undermines that by making the people of Gotham into nothing more than helpless and passive observers of their own fate, unable to do anything, unable to even make a decision, whether right or wrong.
If the movie had only been ridiculous, befuddled and stupid, it could have at least been entertaining. But its so overblown, so oddly paced, that by the half-mark you’ll probably die of boredom. The few action scenes seem lost among all the other stuff happening and they also are some of the weakest I’ve seen in a superhero movie for some time. They make Batman look like a dilettante, which seems counterproductive.
Admittedly the most hilarious aspect of the movie is that structure-wise its constructed like a movie with a message, but what that message is never becomes clear. That’s what I mean with befuddled mess, you can interpret the movie in a number of ways, but once you really watch the movie and try to disentangle all the possible meanings, all you’re left with is an empty void. A pretty boring one at that.
A group of so-called scientists go after creator-type aliens after discovering a stone-age wall-painting pointing the way. They arrive at what can only be called a military installation by the precursors that explored bio-weapons and fell prey to them. The usual hilarity ensues as various interests (pure exploration, prolonging life, meeting god, etc.) clash with deadly results.
Prometheus, one of the biggest scifi movie disappointments in recent years, turned out to be less awful than I expected. Primed by all the reviews I expected to be flabbergasted by its stupidity and ridiculous 101 spirital musings, but all I got was a nice-looking, entirely mediocre movie that ended on a cliffhanger and that was never as bad as I expected. Not good either, but I’ve seen much, much worse.
This one will be forgotten in a few years and all the people will go back remembering Blade Runner and Alien.
I really liked Laika’s previous effort Coraline and heard good things about their most recent outing. Sadly, ParaNorman makes all the wrong moves compared to Coraline. Instead of a good story with a fitting morale, it’s a story built around a morale. Instead of a convincing and quirky main character, we have a wussy, whiny and yet strangely bland kid that feels more like a soapbox for the writers than a character in his own right.
I don’t even have anything per se against stories built around lessons, if at least the execution grabs me. But everything was just so dull here. The movie had all the right set pieces: a kid who could see ghosts, a witch curse and yet it all became such a drag to watch. The only moment I really liked was the finale with Norman and the witch, but every other scene was just blah. Which actually explain the big problem with Norman.
Instead of telling a story about him, the writers maneuvered him from plot token to plot token until he got his big moment where he could deliver his message of goodness and being social and not doing harm. Which all things considered, isn’t a bad message, but really, couldn’t they have at least tried to give Norman more profile and the story more tension than what we got here.
Missed chance and all that. Rent and watch for the animation.