Monthly Archives: August 2016

BVF Round 2: The Martian

This week’s feature is the second chapter of one of my ongoing projects, Book Vs. Film. BVF was born out of necessity and birthed to coordinate a discussion of what truly is better: the book or the film?

Today, Andy Weir’s The Martian, a New York Times Best Seller, battles with the redemption and rebirth of one Ridley Scott.

A computer programmer by trade, Weir put together a novel that compartmentalizes character and legitimizes Martian space travel. He conducted extensive research to accurately summarize a vacation on Mars. This research has and very well should be applauded by critics. This is the type of intellectual material that we don’t see too often in literature. Writers create and certainly do some fact-checking of their own but I would wager Weir spent as much time in the library as he did at the computer typing out his manifest.

Meanwhile, Scott had some bones to pick himself here. As I mentioned in my review of The Martian, Ridley Scott’s usual finesse with the directorial baton had lost its touch in his most recent products. In The Martian, we saw that deftness again. Scott has an array of talents in his quiver and critics, myself included, were concerned he was heading for a downward spiral. We’ve all calmed down since our return from space.

Where the book shines is in Weir’s attention to detail and praise of Watney. He clearly put a lot of time into the character, crafting a specimen unique to the environment he encounters and not just because he’s the first official inhabitant of Mars. As expected, the film can’t compete with a book’s thoroughness, though Matt Damon is a more than substantial comparison. I’ve always enjoyed Damon’s work and come to think of it, I can’t think of anything I disliked with him present. Portrayed admirably and with as much tenderness as the book suggests, Watney is a blunt, sees-it-as-it-is individual.

Weir is marveled by the scientific process, the engineering and the mechanical work that goes into space exploration. This is probably why he spends so little time painting his pictures on the page. He does a superb job explaining everything that’s going on, though I’ll admit to having to read some passages three times before being able to wrap my head around it. I only wish he had spared the same focus with his scenery.

The term “Schiaparelli crater” is a geographic coordinate correlating to a valley on Mars’ surface. It doesn’t mean anything more than that. It is a foreign term to an everyday person. The phrase doesn’t do it justice either. It’s a lot more visually impressive than a crater but we’re never gifted to that picture.

Where Weir’s amateur ability as a writer is demonstrated is in his lack of imaginative description. Having read all 369 pages of Weir’s novel, I know a lot more about astronomical technologies than I do about Mars. I feel that should be the other way around. I can’t tell you anymore about what Mars looks like than I could before I opened the cover.

This is why Scott was such a great choice for the director’s chair. He’s a visionary. Where Weir’s a novice in this regard, Scott is a former wunderkind and experienced cinematic magician, crafting portraits and narratives for decades.

The supporting characters are as submissive as they are in the film, a key change I was looking for but never saw. Watney’s personality certainly shines in the novel’s pages but the side characters are so far to the side that I can barely see them in my peripherals. Even if I could see them clearer, there’s not much substance to really pull my attention when so much commitment and dedication has been invested in Watney. He’s highly personable, certainly more relevant and leagues ahead of any other interest I might have been able to gauge from the experience. The problem is that he’s the only thing and as bright a light as he is for the novel, the lack of atmosphere is problematic. The film’s supporting cast, despite all the high-profile names on the list, is just as irrelevant, aside from the casual punctuation of a joke or the service of a plot pusher.

At the end of the discussion, only one Martian can be at the top and in this case, I have to side with the film. Visually gratifying and an experience that garnered seven Academy Award nominations, Scott’s film held the necessary components of Weir’s novel while maintaining its own singularity.

BVF Round 1: I Am Legend

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: Suicide Squad

DC couldn’t help themselves.

The same way they made Batman v Superman mimic The Avengers, they had to turn Suicide Squad into a game of Pictionary.

Suicide Squad is DC’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy. The character parallels are visible but the actual characters less interesting, the story yet another doppelgänger of something Marvel has already done and to a better degree, and the synopsis as depressing as I’m making it seem.

Not horrid but certainly not good, Suicide Squad is yet another mirage in the deserted streets of DC Comics that presents false hope yet again to the fans who have been waiting since the early 90’s for something that can universally be called good theater. DC had little to no role in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, I’m not sure I would call V for Vendetta a superhero film and while I would make an argument for Man of Steel, there are plenty who wouldn’t.

Since we’re on the topic, let’s take a look at what DC has churned out since 2004: Catwoman, Constantine, V for Vendetta, Superman Returns, Watchmen, Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and this. That’s a shoddy list, folks.

That’s more than a decade’s worth of missing the target. At first, it was laughable. Catwoman and Constantine back to back? Superman Returns, Watchmen, Jonah Hex and Green Lantern in a cage match of incompetence? Now, it’s just sad.

DC has become a vacuum for disappointment and a magnet for mockery. It’s become a charade of itself, a mime of Marvel that all the practice in the world can’t make convincing. DC used to be dark, one of the reasons Nolan’s Batman saga received so much praise and why I think Man of Steel is the closest that DC has gotten to being themselves. Like an adolescent girl, DC is preoccupied with being someone she’s not, unsatisfied with the talent she possesses and jealous of what the other girl has. This attitude isn’t the end of the world if we’re talking about a prepubescent teen. It is a problem when we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company.

Suicide Squad is sad because it makes me acquiesce that DC may never be what it was again. It may and looks likely that it will never return. The dreams film journeymen and DC fanboys have had will never come true. All hope seems to be lost. DC seems preordained to fail us. We’re actively frustrated now but it won’t be long until that agitation breeds lackadaisical indifference and further down the road, complete neglect.

Suicide Squad‘s first half is a never-ending music montage flavored with a roulette of character expositions. Every three minutes, we’re moving on to the next stage and putting the next guy on a pedestal, giving us a brief backstory synopsis before the timer reaches three and it’s time to move on to the next contestant. It reminds me of a first-time driver who continuously pumps the brakes when there’s no reason to, the instructor heaving back and forth from the momentum shift. That is what the first half of this movie is like, disrupting any natural flow that could have been manifested.

I was looking forward to this film and I was hoping for the best but there is an active depression taking hold of me right now as I write this. DC has become obsessed with taking a razor to the fine points of their products and an ax to any tree that bears fruit. The only respite offered is that we never got to see what could have been and watch them drain the life out of it, though sometimes our imagination can be much more crippling than our eyes.

Suicide Squad should have been a chimerical bacchanal, a chaos-torn environment with unchecked villains to invest some of their own chaos. Instead, we get something that is far too well-coordinated and formulaic as we watch villainy transform into heroism. Our characters lack interest for this very reason. Will Smith’s Deadshot is never shown as a pure serial killer nor El Diablo painted as a mobster with anger management issues. Killer Croc is a vestibule for one-liners more than a character and Jai Courtney has gone completely off the deep end with his role as Captain Boomerang (what a stupid name). Jared Leto’s Joker is disappointing and a sideshow, words that no one should have had to ever communicate regarding the Joker. The Joker is not meant to be a sideshow character, ever, but you can bet your salary DC managed to pull that off, too. Rather than the Joker, we get a gangster who seems unhinged rather than a true psychopath.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the true highlight, accompanied by Smith’s Deadshot and Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller. Robbie’s performance is a breathing fantasy, a temptress who uses her appearance to her advantage. It’s one of the few things from this movie I will miss. Smith’s Deadshot turns into a buddy cop and while it makes no sense with the character we’re gifted, Smith is likeable enough to keep his character on the radar. He’s also slipped some of the film’s best one-liners.

None of this comes comparatively close to delivering what we should have had: an unbridled fun house. Instead, we get a film that’s far too neat and orderly, the opposite of what we are led to believe these characters are.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ghostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield Lane)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Batman ForeverThe CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and Zombies)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Suicide Squad: 66.

The trailer promised so much and the film delivered so little. As expected, 2016 has been yet another year where Marvel has taken a collective dump on DC and remember Marvel still has Doctor Strange coming in November to increase the size of that dump. The DCEU is in real trouble and no, I’m not looking forward to Justice League.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I can’t recall a blockbuster that received so much hate prior to its release. I really can’t. Let’s be honest for a minute here. Ghostbusters is not a franchise enshrined in the hallowed halls of Hollywood. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Ghostbusters was a great experience, Ghostbusters 2 noticeably less so. That is the end of the story. Seems short for a franchise, especially when we are readily acknowledging that 2.0 didn’t have the same charm as the original. Remaking the Lord of the Rings would be criminal. Remaking Star Wars would be criminal. Remaking Ghostbusters? That’s just expected.

Do not confuse the words expected and necessary. They’re on opposite sides of the track. The world would have moved on without Ghostbusters 2016.

Alas, Ghostbusters 3.0 isn’t apocalyptic in quality nor blasphemous in its execution. What’s great about Paul Feig’s film is the long chain he affords both his writers and cast. It leaves him little stopping power if his project descends into madness but the free roam approach in this comedy begets natural growth with some appropriate artifacts left through the screenplay to rekindle the 1984 experiment.

Ghostbusters otherwise hardly resembles the classic. It shares a title and the premise of ghosthunting. An organic dialogue transcript that is character (not plot) driven ensures a first time tour that carries a pinch of nostalgia. Feig wanted a similar, not linked, feature, a film that could succeed on its own.

Unlike Independence Day: Resurgence (thank God), the newest Ghostbusters relies on its own value, displaying a self-confidence that requires no special effects crutch. If anything, I would say at times the visuals are purposely average, almost a direct slap in the face to all of the critics, myself included, who have come to expect a remake/sequel to stutter step its way in front of the stage and display a silent dance behind a seizure-inducing light show and green screen extravaganza.

In what has been a dismal year in cinema, Ghostbusters is a welcome addition. A comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously is certainly a treat these days. Ghostbusters has the advantage of being released during a down year for movies, which may make it more appealing to me than it really is, but I don’t think so. I think Ghostbusters female edition is genuinely good.

The cast is fine. Melissa McCarthy is not as large a presence as she usually is. She’s sharing the camera, allowing everyone to get their licks and kicks in. Kate McKinnon impresses me the most, presenting one of the most awkward and quirky characters in recent memory. You never know what’s coming from her. Easily the movie’s most likable character.

Although, the argument could be made that Chris Hemsworth is the star of the show as the bumbling idiot secretary. This is probably my favorite Hemsworth role. He, as well as the rest of the cast, reflect a laid-back attitude that relaxes audiences’ fears early on that this is going to dissolve into a massive taxicab pileup in Times Square.

Feig’s film is light on its feet, bypassing any possible themes this production could have suggested, which I was okay with for this outing. Sometimes, a comedy with no message is just fine.

That doesn’t mean I plead ignorance here. There are a few items that are bothersome, especially when our villain is painted as a bully victim. The word “superficial” comes to mind. His character is drawn on tracer paper. Look, I loved tracer paper when I was a kid. As someone with little artistic talent, I found gratification in drawing something decent, even if it wasn’t my own. I stopped doing that because I grew up and realized how much more rewarding my own achievements could be.

Feig’s lack of caring in his characters’ nemesis would be startling if this wasn’t a comedy. With comedies, I can’t say I’m surprised by a general refusal to create character depth. At their most basic, comedies are meant to make us laugh. They often skip the story part. When taking into account how disastrous 2016 has been, I’ll take Ghostbusters for what it is: a fun time to the theater.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreed)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Batman ForeverThe CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and Zombies)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Ghostbusters: 73.

Ghostbusters is an average film that I wouldn’t praise so much if I didn’t have such an entertaining experience with it. The cast is funny, Hemsworth unabashedly so, and overall has the wit and charisma to succeed on its own scripture. Considering what the summer has had to offer, Ghostbusters has been one of the highlights.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Movie Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day. It is this country’s greatest holiday and a classic film. What film is more suitable to watch on Independence Day? It was yet another trampoline for Will Smith’s career, a film that cemented the name Bill Pullman and a blockbuster in which our country became unified during one of its most desperate times. Inspiring, explosive and dark yet hopeful, Independence Day is one of the best action films ever made.

This is why Independence Day: Resurgence should have caused an uproar. I will never understand the hatred for this Ghostbusters remake. Is Ghostbusters a classic? Yes. Should it have been remade? I’d have to say no because its originality alone defies the term “franchise”. Ghostbusters 2 wasn’t able to churn out the same delicacy despite following the same recipe. I’m unsure why this new crew thinks they can do what the original ensemble couldn’t but I digress. We’re talking about a film that is far worse than Ghostbusters 3.0. We’re talking about Independence Day: Resurgence.

Resurgence is a fun one, let me tell ya. An aged Goldblum, a pretty face Hemsworth and an elderly Pullman.

I will give 20th Century Fox some credit. They made this film look enticing.

For two minutes.

In the trailer. (It’s been one of the best trailers of the year)

It looked like it was supposed to look: a big visual snare.

No one expected Resurgence to be better, at least no one sensible. Classics can’t be remade. That’s what makes them classics. They are truly one-of-a-kind. While we may see films steal components, no one will ever be able to put together another Independence Day. There will never be another one, which should make us cherish the 1996 jewel that much more.

The best a remake/sequel, or in this case, film’s version of a defibrillator, can do is shock some life into a dormant fan base. There will always be a fan base for Independence Day. One of if not the only way a film can try to best its superior is by using the skills it has been born with. Those skills, in 2016, are special effects. Believe it or not, film hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years. The writing hasn’t magically gotten better. Actors haven’t become more talented. The only element that’s really changed is a studio’s ability to birth visual splendor. It might not be pretty but we can make it look pretty sometimes.

Independence Day: Resurgence is not pretty. It is an action film that leans far too heavily on its special effects team. Few computer squads can bail out a roster of filmmakers. Visuals can astound and mask glaring faults but no amount of makeup can cover the mistakes that protrude as far as the ones exhibited in ID2.

Characters with no heart are especially troubling and overly calm, leaving little reason to invest in the experience or be alarmed that a rather bland looking spacecraft just wiped half of the planet like duct tape on chest hair. You would think this scene in particular would give us cause to be concerned but there are no shots except for one of people fleeing from the chaos. We have shots of apparent empty streets being obliterated by a monstrous vessel and of course we can’t forget the landmarks, a fourth wall breaker that serves a very slight smirk but is overall consumed by my lack of amusement with everything else here.

There’s also Emmerich’s thirst for obliviousness. For instance, this spacecraft, which keep in mind is bigger than the Atlantic is wide, stops its razing of the Earth’s surface on the White House lawn. Such convenience, that a ship that rivals the size of a continent took it upon itself to stop feet short of the White House masonry! That is quite something! So considerate these aliens are.

The thing about convenience in film is that you need to build something first before dabbing convenience all over like a preschooler finger painting. If you don’t, absurdity is more readily noticeable and audiences are far less likely to overlook it.

One of the biggest scenes in the film should be the boundless obliteration. Instead, it breeds indifference. It can’t even birth hate. It’s just there and nowhere close to interesting enough to gauge a passing glance. Liam Hemsworth again demonstrates he’s not worth top billing, Goldblum and Pullman pick up little more than cameo checks and the rest aren’t even worth mentioning.

It’s near impossible to root for characters that resemble mannequins, the action has a dog collar, strait jacket, life vest and seat belt on it’s so constricted and Emmerich’s direction has the control of a man on crutches trying to cross a pond of ice and the attentiveness of a cat with ADD. Subplots arise to include original characters that aren’t needed and we can’t forget about a romantic twist of course and the conclusion that is far too perfect.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreed)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Batman ForeverThe CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and Zombies)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemption)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Independence Day: Resurgence: 31.

Without fervor or thrill and action without punch, dialogue without zing and wistful explosions, Independence Day: Resurgence is a disgraceful piece that serves as a blight to Emmerich’s reputation and more importantly, a mark on Independence Day. It will always be great, that’ll never change, but now we’ll all remember that one time someone thought its story needed continued and made failure look so effortless.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
CCY's Movie Reviews

Movies Worth Sharing!

Days Gone

Meeting the insanity that is reality

epileptic moondancer

Imperfection is Perfection.

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

emmakwall (explains it all)

Film & soundtrack reviews, good humour and lists

pickoftheflix

EMPIRE'S 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME REVIEWED - to watch or not to watch?

Shit Jon Gruden Says

"Spider 2 Y Banana Shake?"

kylerehm005

I will show the world( or whoever reads this) my passion for movies, sports, life and Jesus

ramblingsofsam

A place for sharing, fleshing out, and fine-tuning thoughts and ideas

Mr. Movie's Film Blog

Film and Anime Reviews, new and older releases!

Thomas J

My Journey Through Film

Snap Crackle Watch!

A blog dedicated to television and movies

The Cinema Monster

unparalleled film reviews, news, and top 10s

Silver Screen Serenade

Praising the high notes and lamenting the low notes of all things film and television

Cinema Parrot Disco

Musings on Mainly Movies from a Table 9 Mutant

wordsofwistim

For those searching for wistim regarding life, sports, movies and more