4thofeleven: (Default)
So, I didn't get a chance to write about this immediately – was away over New Years, and I've been kind of mulling over what I wanted to say since then.

I've got to say, I wasn't exactly a fan.

Part of it's subjective, of course. This wasn't exactly the Star Wars I wanted to see after 2016; Star Wars can be many things, but it should be fun, it should be exciting. I was expecting something of a heist film, what I got was a grim and gritty war film. Points to the writers for trying something different, but I really don't think we needed a Star Wars where rebels against the Empire are visually identified with mujahideen extremists, where the Alliance condones assassination in the name of expedience, where X-Wing fighters are harbingers of destruction and tragedy...

It's a film that tries to end on a note of hope, but seems to think the only way to get there is by wallowing in despair in every scene leading up to it. It's certainly an interesting approach, but not really an enjoyable one.

From a less subjective point of view, there's the issues with the characters and story:

(Extensive Spoilers) )
4thofeleven: (Default)
So, the alternating pattern continues, as the abysmal “Into Darkness” is followed up by... hell, probably the best Trek film since Undiscovered Country? The reboot finally steps out of the shadow of the original series, and is all the better for it, finally feeling fresh and exciting. Hell, that's practically one of the movie's themes, letting go of the past, and I can only hope that carries through from now on.


Spoilers and specific comments below:
Read more... )

The title is still terrible and means nothing, though.
4thofeleven: (Default)
I'd like to thank whoever it was at Qantas who decided to add Alien to their list of in-flight movies. Because, really, when stuck on a plane for 10+ hours, nothing's more relaxing than claustrophobic horror...
4thofeleven: (Default)
So, general thoughts? I'm not exactly disapointed, but I can't help but be reminded of the quote about someone's work being both good and original, but the parts that are good are not original and the original parts are not good...

Alright, maybe that's a bit unfair, but the movie really struggles when it's not following A New Hope beat for beat.

The Good, the Not-So-Good, and the Baffling (Contains Spoilers) )
4thofeleven: (Default)
Look, I told myself I was going to keep an open mind, I said I didn't care about the old EU going away, I wasn't going to be one of those fans who just complains about how things aren't the way they used to be, but some things... somethings are just beyond the pale.

[Spoilers follow] )
4thofeleven: (Default)
Was thinking about Star Trek 5 – because somebody has to, right? And it occurred to me – why is it a terrible Star Trek movie? Because it’s actually a Star Wars movie!

Think about it. Who’s the villain? Well, he’s a renegade from the group of powerful psychics who repress their emotions and avoid strong attachments. He’s been cast out because he delved into ancient forbidden philosophies, and decided to follow a different path, one all about gaining strength through embracing pain and revelling in emotions. Using this power, he gains power over the minds of the weak-willed and forms an army to carry out his monomaniacal obsession.

The plot draws everyone inexorably to the desert planet with the city full of scum and villainy that is somehow both a total backwater and also the most important location in the galaxy. Everything’s sort of worn out looking and broken down – even the good guy’s ship is a malfunctioning, unreliable hunk of junk.

There’s a lot of weird mystical babble going on as our heroes fly across the galaxy. The villain tries to tempt the good guy psychic into joining him, but fails, even after a contrived family relationship is revealed. Eventually, however, the villain sees the light and sacrifices himself to save the heroes from the real evil, who at the time was busy shooting lightning at everyone.

The movie ends with our heroes celebrating as night falls over a Californian national park, and a childish song wraps up the adventure!
4thofeleven: (Default)
"And then, the moment arrives—the moment when the movie spreads its wings and reveals its truest self: Noah gives Claire a gift. A first edition of the Iliad."
- In Jennifer Lopez's The Boy Next Door, The Trashiest Moment is a Real Classic, slate.com
 

A first edition. Of the Illiad. It's... pfft... heh... BWAHAHAHA!

Is it signed by Homer?

4thofeleven: (Default)
It's long overdue, but it's good to finally have a decent sequel to The Matrix.
4thofeleven: (denny crane)
Everyone knows the old thing about the even-numbered Star Trek movies being better than the odd-numbered ones. Some people might think this pattern was broken when the forgettable Insurrection was followed by the dreadful Nemesis.

I would argue, though, that the pattern holds – provided you count Galaxy Quest as the ‘good’ movie between those two. And really, why wouldn’t you?!

And, unfortunately, with that addition, the sequence continues perfectly, as 2009’s rather good, if flawed reboot is followed up by Into Darkness, a film that manages to make all the mistakes the reboot avoided. I really can’t recommend it.

[Spoilers follow] )

4thofeleven: (Default)
A quick comment on getting back from Into Darkness: Can someone please, PLEASE, turn off the recording of Wrath of Khan that seems to have been stuck on loop at the Paramount writer's studio for the last decade or so? Why not rehash Undiscovered Country or the Voyage Home for once? Or try doing the Motion Picture or Final Frontier properly?

You're never going to top the original Wrath of Khan, please stop trying...
4thofeleven: (Default)
Had the urge to watch the Wrath of Khan last night (New movie? What the hell are you talking about?!), and I think I’ve got a new contender for my least favourite Star Trek character:

David Marcus.

I mean, what is he even doing in the film? Alright, there’s the themes of death, resurrection, growing old – but you’ve already got Genesis, Kirk’s birthday, the Enterprise being literally crewed by cadets to illustrate those themes, having Kirk’s literal son pop up seems to be just an overly literal way of handling that.

Then there’s his characterisation. He fears Starfleet – “Scientists have always been pawns of the military” – but I have no idea where he gets that from; Carol Marcus basically rolls her eyes at that, so he’s not getting it from his mother, and considering how much his project relies on Starfleet to do the grunt work, it’s more than a little hypocritical. But then, at the end of the film, after watching Kirk risk his life, save the day, and lose his best friend, he decides to magnanimously admit that hey, his dad’s not such a bad guy after all. That’s not a character arc; that’s being a dick for 90% of the movie then at the end being slightly less of one!

And all of his dialogue feels like it should belong to other characters – hell, in his last scene, he’s literally quoting Saavak! The scene would have been so much stronger if it had actually been her talking to Kirk; Spock’s protégé and friend mourning his loss together. He has no reason to be in the movie. He has no arc, no motivation, and steals time from better characters.

Alright, maybe I’m just overly harsh because the rest of the film is so close to perfect; David feels so much like an afterthought, he sticks out like a sore thumb…

An unrelated quibble: When, exactly, could Khan have possibly learned a Klingon proverb?!
4thofeleven: (Default)
An odd thought: I was still in my mid-teens when I saw Fellowship. I’ll be thirty when the last Hobbit film comes out…

Anyway, I liked the film. Compared to Lord of the Rings, it seemed a little more… light-hearted isn’t exactly the right word, but certainly a fair bit less serious or weighty – which fits the difference between the books. I thought the film handled the difference in tone quite nicely by framing it as Bilbo’s account of his adventure, and much of the early scenes is word-for-word from the book. I do hope the rest of the trilogy keeps up that mood, and the attempt to expand the story into a trilogy doesn’t result in attempts to make it too serious or ‘epic’. I liked the cameos from Galadriel and Saruman, but I wouldn’t want the movers and shakers of Middle-Earth to overshadow Thorin and company…

Regarding Thorin and the dwarves – I found it interesting that the film seemed to take Tolkien’s comment that his dwarves are vaguely analogous to Jews and ran with it – some of Thorin’s company seemed to have a very eastern/central European look to them, there were a lot of references to Dwarves as a people in exile, victims of an involuntary diaspora, outsiders wherever they go. Of course, there’s problematic attitudes in associating dwarves with Jews – but, on the other hand, it’s pretty much impossible to adapt Tolkien’s works without carrying over some problematic content, and a fantasy film with Eastern-European Jewish analogues as the heroes makes for a nice change from the usual Anglo/Nordic cultures. And the Hobbit ends with everyone consumed with greed for Smaug’s hoard, not just the Dwarves…

There’s also a nice sense that Thorin’s band are fairly ordinary people – not as unaccustomed to adventure as Bilbo, of course, but hardly on the level of Aragorn or Legolas. A few orcs on wargs is treated as a serious threat, and they avoid combat whenever possible. I liked that – Smaug should be an utterly terrifying threat once we get to see him in full, a year or two down the line.

Things I disliked – Radagast was a bit too goofy for my tastes, and seemed rather supurflous. Everything he said was repeated by Gandalf a few scenes later anyway, his appearance seemed more to make up for him being cut from Fellowship, less a useful addition in its own right. The escape from the stone giants dragged a little too – then again, they’re slightly out of place even in the novel, never being so much as referenced again anywhere else…

An odd realisation – outside of the brief glimpse of Dale-town at the beginning, I don’t think there was a single human onscreen in the entire film. Certainly none with lines…

Anyway, bring on the Desolation of Smaug! Next year in Erebor!
4thofeleven: (Default)
Been doing research for my thesis on the American occupation of Haiti. One thing that struck me was noticing that, as late as the 1920s, ‘Zombies’ were still unknown in America – a fair number of writers, talking about superstition in Haiti, seem to think zombie is a type of ghost.

It’s weird to realise zombies have only been part of English-speaking pop culture for less than a century. They don’t feel that recent – zombies feel perfectly at home in medieval European-style fantasies, they don’t feel like foreign intruders like monsters from middle-eastern or Asian folklore would. They’ve certainly lost any specific connection to Voodoo or Caribbean culture.

Then again, most of the modern ideas about Vampires and Werewolves entered popular culture through film at about the same time; the 1930s was a remarkably influential era for horror. One wonders if the Zombie would have gone on to have the same impact had the early film industry developed in another country, or if the United States hadn’t been occupying Haiti at the time the industry was looking for new supernatural beasts…
4thofeleven: (Default)
Anyone remember “Tom and Jerry: The Movie”? The misbegotten film where Tom and Jerry are friends and have to help an orphan girl escape her evil aunt? And they talk and sing all the time? Well, you’re in luck, because you can buy the DVD from the Warner Brothers website! And they describe it as thus:

Tom and Jerry return to the big screen in the 1990s, when the Cold War is over and the whole world is a kindler, gentler place to be...almost.

The Cold War? Of course! Tom and Jerry wasn’t just slapstick, their battles represented the constant struggle for control between the two superpowers! The seemingly bizarre decision to have them as friends in the movie represents the zeitgeist of the 1990s, the sense of optimism and hope that so many felt following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union!

Perhaps we can see the film’s new villains, the greedy relatives and dogcatchers, are representative of the growing rise of corporations and financial institutions at the expense of the traditional nation-states represented by Tom and Jerry?

And, of course, there is the film’s coda, where Tom and Jerry revert to their antagonistic ways. A criticism of Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’? An implied return to cold war rivalries, that would prove prophetic of the more hawkish foreign policies of George Bush and Vladimir Putin? Or perhaps an allegory for the Yugoslav wars, and the way they returned the spectre of war to a Europe that had thought such things long buried?

Truly, Tom and Jerry: the Movie has far more political depth than I had given it credit for! Thank you, anonymous Warner Brothers blurb writer, for opening my eyes!

Deja Vu

May. 4th, 2012 12:59 am
4thofeleven: (denny crane)
So, hey, I complained a few weeks ago about how the ’09 Trek reboot didn’t really add anything new to the franchise. But, hey, it had to establish the new universe, get the characters together, and try and tell a vaguely coherent story. Sticking to the tried-and-true was a safe option, I’m sure the sequel will try and break away from-

What’s that? Star Trek 2 will feature Khan? Why does that sound strangely familiar?

(On the other hand, if they take the opportunity to kill of Nimoy’s Spock in their Trek 2, I’d honestly have to give them points for sheer audacity when it comes to rehashing the original series…)

Problems I see: Well, they can’t use the revenge plot from Wrath of Khan, since, presumably, this’ll be new-Kirk and new-Khan’s first meeting. They can’t even really use Khan’s backstory from Space Seed without some modification, since, you know, genetically engineered supermen didn’t seize power in the 1990s after all. So what, exactly, is left that makes it worthwhile to use Khan?

Oh, and they’ve actually managed to find a less-Indian looking actor than Ricardo Montalban. That’s… something, I guess. Reboot Trek – making the galaxy even whiter than the original series!
4thofeleven: (Default)
Pros: Hilarious, fantastic movie. If you don't enjoy it, you have no soul.

Cons:It's been more than a week, and I still have the Mahna Mahna song stuck in my head...
4thofeleven: (Default)
Very entertaining film, certainly managing to avoid most of the pitfalls that could have otherwise sunk it. Spielberg is, apparently, a big Tintin fan himself, and the film manages to get across the atmosphere and charm of the comics almost perfectly.

I was a little disappointed with the choice of story to be adapted - The Secret of the Unicorn isn’t one of my favourites; I’d have preferred Tintin in the Land of the Soviets The Blue Lotus. I understand they wanted a story with Captain Haddock (and Andy Serkis is excellent in the part), but I’ve always preferred the Tintin stories with more of a political theme to them to the simple treasure hunt story here. Still, the story’s engaging enough, and the use of elements from The Crab with the Golden Claws helps flesh things out a little.

(If nothing else, using a story with Haddock reduces the number of scenes that consist of little more than Tintin talking to himself. It’s true to the comics, granted, but it is something of a relief once the story gets started and these exposition scenes are left behind…)

The CGI looks a hell of a lot better than it has any right to; I was sceptical based on the trailers, but in the film it allows the characters to occupy a sort of middle ground between real people and cartoon characters that is perfect for Tintin – which, after all, switches gears from realism to cartoon physics all the time. The visual style ends up working quite well in emphasising how seriously a character should be taken – Thompson and Thomson are more cartoonish and can safely indulge in slapstick, while Tintin is more human, and so is at far more risk of taking serious injury during fights.

I was, however, a little disappointed that, for all Haddock got to indulge in his habit of shouting obscure epithets, he never uses my favourite, ‘Bashi-bazouk’. And there are a few minor bits that irritated me - an anachronistic reference to the 'Third World', a few shoe-horned lines about believing in yourself...

But overall, though, a very enjoyable movie.
4thofeleven: (Default)
Disappointment of the day: Finding out that the Immortals film I saw a poster for the other day isn't a remake of 300 from the Persian point of view...

Incidently, while checking on Wikipedia, I found the Byzantine Empire at one point fielded units known as 'Immortals' in reference to the Persian soldiers - because, apparently, being a Roman Empire based in Greece defended by an elite force of Viking mercinaries wasn't enough of an anachronism stew for the Byzantine emperors.

Going Ape

Aug. 2nd, 2011 08:49 pm
4thofeleven: (Default)
Hey, look, I like the original film, but I somehow feel the world stopped needing new Planet of the Apes movies many decades ago.

And if you're determined to remake/reboot/reimagine/whatever one of the sequels, why not Beneath..., which at least had bomb-worshiping mutants and Charlton Heston destroying the world in a futile attempt to kill the franchise, instead of Conquest..., which had none of those things?

4thofeleven: (Default)
Staring at a poster at the bus stop today, I finally realised the new Transformers film isn't called "Dark Side of the Moon", it's just "Dark of the Moon".

I realise one shouldn't expect quality from a Michael Bay film, but is it too much to ask for at least a title that makes sense?

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