Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic movies

Movie Review: The Road

Image result for the road movie poster free useSomething I’ve been paying closer attention to in recent days are color palettes, lighting and sound design. It is easy to overlook these things. I recently watched Zack Snyder’s 300, which still holds up rather well, and Man of Steel, which I’ve been a fan of since its release. Both films highlight Snyder’s knack for the visual flair of filmmaking, though his reputation has taken a major hit of late with train wrecks Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. His use of color palettes in 300 is especially noticeable.

These elements should be recognized and appreciated because they usually play a strong role in establishing tone and texture. Such traits tell a lot about the atmospherics of a story as well as where that story is likely to go.

This brings us to 2009’s The Road, a film adaptation of the Pulitizer-prize winning novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. If you haven’t read the novel, you really should. It’s classic literature. Sidenote: I plan to do The Road for my next installment of Book vs. Film, so look for that in a month or two when I finish rereading the work that predicated this.

Some of the film was shot in my hometown of Pittsburgh on the turnpike outside of the city and along Presque Isle beach, an old stomping ground of my childhood. Viggo Mortensen, a near perfect cast for our man, stars our central character. If you haven’t read any interviews with charming Viggo, you really should. He’s standoffish and avoids the spotlight at all costs, the polar opposite of what you would expect of someone who’s made a life in front of a camera. His seclusion is rather noticeable but his dedication to his craft is still highly regarded. Any true diehard Lord of the Rings fanatic is well-known to how immersed Viggo got in his role of Aragorn. Someone who takes method acting with the utmost seriousness will always have my respect in some form and Viggo certainly has earned mine. He feels right for this role, just on paper.

Anyway, The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale about a father and son going through a starved planet while fighting for survival themselves, all while the man tries to both teach the boy the deepest meanings of life itself and the tactics and tools he needs to survive once his old man is gone. It is a very barren concept and it takes the hands of a true craftsmen to make a tale so sordid and uninviting feel so contagious to a reader and listener.

To put things on the table, the boy in this tale, to those who are not picking up the least subtle of subtle hints, is a metaphor for childhood innocence. In the novel, McCarthy does not give his characters names, instead referring to them simply as “the man” and “the boy”. The boy’s youthfulness and ignorance to not only his current predicament but to the nature of human beings is especially precarious for the man, who is fighting inner demons, the harsh physical burden and dragging along literally the only reason he can chalk up to worth living for. In this scenario, we are literally watching a man carry a boy, his own dark thoughts, his doubt, his environment, his hunger, his heartache…dude’s carrying the world on his shoulders right now and for what? If it wasn’t such great writing, the book would be called Masochism: A Story of Hating Yourself (Think I’m gonna use that title for my autobiography).

This type of emotional desolation brings a reprieve of intellectual fulfillment, wringing lines of true dialogue gold in McCarthy’s penmanship. Sadly, those nuggets got lost in the gold rush of this film’s production. While a modicum of valuable utterances may appear during its near two-hour run time, the picture lacks the same cognitive prowess of its original maker. John Hillcoat may have directed Lawless, a western/gangster ode I really need to revisit sooner rather than later, but that came after this direction. He’s out of his league here and it’s all too easy to see before you look at the finer details of the film. It’s clear he put a high priority on the three things I mentioned at the beginning of this review: color palettes, lighting and sound design (the film actually got critical praise for its cinematography). It’s a film with a continuous overcast that’s begging to be cast in black and white, though Hillcoat never goes all the way there, instead using a paintboard of different shades of grey to compound the seeming meaninglessness of our characters’ actions and inactions.

It is more a dire canvas than a traverse through the bare bones of human companionship. It’s a work that characterizes its setting with disturbing normalcy and a lack of apathy, the mindset one would expect when such horror is so repeatedly seen. It is certainly visually competent.

The Road is not about the road itself though, the road to freedom or some secret clearing where the world hasn’t keeled over. The Road is about the people who transgressed the path, about the humanity or lack thereof illustrated in its pages and in its steps. It’s about the tragedy that humankind has seen fall upon it, the diminution of their resolve and the endless slaughter of the concept of hope. This is a dissection of the human brain and heart as much as it is an autopsy of the psyche of an animal pushed to the brink of extinction. These are bricks of substance we’re talking about here. These are the types of discussion, the styles of theme you would expect in an adaptation of McCarthy’s work, but you will find yourself thoroughly starved by the end of it.

The backbone of this film, the meaty morsels shall we call them, simply are not there. Again, the presentation is well-done and I give the crew credit, but the foreground, the thing we came to see, is nearly transparent. It is not because the background is that enticing. It is embracing but not to the point that this deserved an Academy Award nomination or the most strident rally. No, the writing desk simply shortchanged us. The same depths that I hoped to see on-screen are simply not approached with the most ardent of efforts.

Imagine being a photographer and having a career-defining image laid in front of you. You take the picture and capture a large part of the glory in the back half, showcasing the texture I mentioned at the beginning, but in the pursuit of that panorama, that snow globe effect, of being seized by this little pocket of nature, you forgot about the central subject in your photo. What you captured is out of focus.

That feels like the most appropriate metaphor for this viewing experience. It’s a product that delivers on one of its founding principles, visual storytelling, but dramatically fails in shipping the essential contents of the story alongside it.

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. (The ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the Woods)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Doctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

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. (Tommy BoyDeath NoteTrue Memoirs of an International AssassinThe Great WallRobin Hood)

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. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

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. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 The Road: 62.

When it comes to the genre of post-apocalyptic dramas, you could do worse than The Road but you could also do much, much better. Viggo keeps this boat afloat, dedicating a capable effort to the cause whilst brief appearances from Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall feel like yet another headwind Viggo has to plow his way through. By the end of it, Viggo looks like a man beaten to a pulp physically but with plenty of emotional and cerebral punch left in him if only he was given the material to work with. I can’t help feeling like Viggo was waiting for the art to come and I couldn’t help feeling the same way.

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Movie Review: Terminator: Genisys

Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World was crowned champion as my worst of 2013. With plot holes at an astronomical level, action scenes that were disappointing visually and conceptually, and acting directionless and talentless, Thor: The Dark World is easily the worst film that has come out of Marvel in recent years.

Had I known Alan Taylor directed this, I would have cringed but it would not have deterred me. Terminator Salvation was such a bad sequel, such a u-turn from the franchise’s previous direction, that James Cameron’s creation was begging for a rebirth. Sadly, they gave it to Alan Taylor.

Something else that the Terminator films have been doing lately is spoiling their own films in their trailers. Terminator Salvation had an awful, spoiler-ridden trailer. If you’re reading this review prior to seeing the film, DO NOT WATCH THE TERMINATOR: GENISYS TRAILER 2. Luckily for me, I don’t watch much television so I never saw the second trailer, for if I had, the film would have been spoiled. However, I am one of the lucky ones. There are millions who were not so lucky and had their experience destroyed before they purchased their ticket.

The purpose of marketing is obvious: to market, to sell a product. How do we sell a movie? Well, highlight the main actors, the director, maybe a few minor plot points, and a strong emphasis on visuals. I wrote a piece entitled The Art of the Trailer that you might check out to explore the world of film marketing further.

To sell a film, what should we not do? Well, let’s not divulge any plot twists. Can you imagine how awful The Sixth Sense would have been if Shyamalan had revealed one of the best plot twists of all-time in the trailer? That would be incredibly stupid, wouldn’t it?

Someone on the staff of the marketing department for Terminator: Genisys heard this argument and said, “You know what? I don’t see what’s wrong with that.” I don’t know if this was the boss that decided this and all of his subordinates just decided to play along so as not to incur his wrath or if the whole department was brimming with incompetence, but this was a poor decision from an entertainment and financial standpoint. If you reveal what’s going to happen, why would we pay to watch it?! It is the simplest argument in the world, yet in two consecutive films, the marketing department managed to play dumb and get paid for it. Think about it: some guys got paid, healthily I might add, to spoil a film connected to one of the most well-known franchises in film history. Wow.

So there’s that.

However, as I said, I avoided the stupid and for that I’m thankful.

Yet another stupid however: the marketing department and the script writers collaborated at the beginning of this film.

I had never seen The Terminator, the first film, until last week and that was because I suspected it to be closely tied to this film. I will kid you not, the sets and shots are exactly the same as the first film. Whether this was meant to be an ode to the one that started it all or not, it’s irritating. It went on for at least ten minutes. The intrigue of such a strategy lasts a few minutes, but ten is far too long. No one likes verbatim material. No one.

Once Terminator: Genisys decides to start being its own creation, it’s not awful, but once again, time travel is incorporated, a feature that I think needs to be removed for good from this saga. The franchise is an endless loop: send terminator back, send someone to aid the Connors. Kill terminator. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There’s only four repeats instead of five because thankfully, Terminator: Salvation avoided that concept. That was one of the only pluses to the movie.

If Skynet can continue to send terminators back and the resistance can continually gain control of a time machine to send someone back themselves, without that sequence of events ever changing, this war will never end, making myself all the more irritable when a character says a variation of, “If we do this, Skynet is done.” No, it is not. No matter what you do, that won’t happen. The Skynet of the future will somehow realize you are trying to destroy its existence in the past and will send one of its killing machines farther back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Then the resistance will send someone to protect John Connor from a young age. Then Skynet will send someone to kill that young John. Then they’ll send someone to kill older John. Then they’ll say, “Screw it” and send someone back to kill a young Sarah. The process is monotonous.

For me, the Terminator franchise is a prime example of why films should avoid the concepts of time travel. With as many variables, equations and results that such a theory carries, it is impossible for everything to be accounted for. The first two installments demonstrated a thorough evaluation but delve any further into it and complications arise. The continual usage of all-too similar story lines is why I believe the franchise is overrated, but that’s a discussion for another time.

The writing is fair but introduces another fatal flaw to yet another Taylor-directed work. James Cameron’s endorsement of this movie strikes me, because Genisys falls not in left field, but in a ballpark on a different continent.

Describe the Terminator franchise. It’s a simple enough task if you’ve watched any of the films: post-apocalyptic, a world covered in grunge and desolation and seemingly hopeless. They are films foreshadowing the end, brewing technology’s deadly capabilities and artificial intelligence’s problem-solving and creativity. Character bonds are built on survival but remain distant from emotion. There is no time for that. This is war. There is violence. There is destruction and chaos. There is termination.

At no point would one say the franchise epitomizes excessive humor, romance, character reversals or feel visually out of its element, but I assure you that Terminator: Genisys has all these characteristics.

Alan Taylor is such a talentless hack, he tries to jump on the coattails of Age of Ultron and the more recent Jurassic World (which I strongly recommend), films that can get away with precisely dispatched humor because the element was never blacklisted from the franchise. Perhaps a handful of one-liners could be gathered from the four films combined, but Taylor is incognizant of the Terminator franchise’s semblance in cinema and decides to make a film comparable to an action-filled sitcom. Did he watch the franchise?

Taylor’s lighthearted attitude is the antagonist to a serious action film and contradicts everything that the franchise emboldens. In an age where film now heavily relies on visual effects, Taylor’s visual editing is awful, from major scene transitions that I’ll mention in the spoiler’s edition to fights that don’t have the dominant punch the Terminators are known for. The action is performed, not executed with the element-defining quality that Cameron’s two installments remain famous for and even Rise of the Machines and Salvation attempt to replicate. The action does not hold the gravity that the Terminator franchise has stamped on it.

Alan Taylor, I hate you. Here’s to hoping you never have a managing job again in any field of work, especially cinema.

Thankfully, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally got back on the horse and demonstrated he might have some gas in the tank after all and right when we were pulling into the car dealership to trade him in, too. Jokes aside, I’m happy for Arnold. As an actor, Arnold deserves better performances than The Last Stand and Sabotage, both colossal failures. He owes it not just to his audiences and fans, but to himself. After a laughable governorship and a quite possibly more laughable career re-ignition, I was begging for Arnold’s retirement in Winners And Losers: Round 1 (WAL). Watching athletes and actors struggle with something that was once so natural for them is hard to watch and in some cases, diminishes their legacy and unless I hate you, I don’t wish that for you. So since I’m saying that, Taylor, I take back what I said. Please continue making movies you and only you think are good and continue to dig yourself into a hole of negligence and unending criticism for your inadequacy and continual carelessness.

If Terminator: Genisys has a great thing going for it, it’s Arnold learning how to breathe again in front of the camera. He’s entertaining, his humor works and his stage presence is finally present again. Terminator Salvation missed its leading man badly and the franchise did well to return him. Bravo and welcome back. Try to stay back now and please be cautious of what you choose to star in next.

Why Jai Courtney continues to get roles and especially in big-name productions, I’m unsure, but thankfully, he remains tolerable and develops some chemistry with Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor. It’s not mind-blowing or particularly engaging but it’s there and it is what it is.

Arnold’s Terminator plays a father figure to Sarah and the bond that has grown for years that we sadly don’t get to take part in is admirable and at times, touching, if once again misplaced. Jason Clarke as John Connor also plays a substantial role if not the one he should have ever been tasked with. Once again, I’ll touch on that in the spoilers.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibrium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

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. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

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.” (CyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. Evil)

My score for Terminator: Genisys: 65.

A case of mistaken identity, Terminator: Genisys is nowhere close to what it should have been but Taylor’s best efforts to suck this film dry of life or entertainment are stifled by Arnold’s first true comeback role and Jason Clarke’s portrayal of Connor against the unbeatable odds stacked against him. It is a fun sequel but certainly not a good one. It’s fair and it’s better than Terminator Salvation, but a film this poorly directed has no invitation to compete with Cameron’s imaginations. Perhaps it can compete with Rise of the Machines, but I’ll have to watch the series again before I can decide. My disappointment notwithstanding, please put a much-deserved win on the board for Arnold.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

The big spoiler that the second trailer highlights is that John Connor has been taken over by the terminators…or decided to destroy the world. One of the two. I don’t really know.

The thing is, in both the movie and the Wikipedia plot summary, it says something to the effect of the terminators captured John and infected him. What he’s infected with I don’t know but he’s now made of nanorobotics. It also seems improbable that John is under mind control because he tells Kyle Reese, Sarah and the Terminator what happened to him and that he’s been tasked with the survival of Genisys.

Regardless of what actually occurs here, the Terminator franchise essentially killed their star hero that has been the focus of all these films from the beginning. Not since Spider-Man 3 has a film taken its main character and disfigured him in such an extreme way. This, I assume, is the biggest reason that Genisys has tanked at the box office and has been mercilessly assaulted by critics. They took the hero, the cornerstone of this franchise’s legacy and they destroyed him and to make matters worse, turned him into the villain to continually remind us of their horrible experiment. It did not ruin the film for me, but it definitely took 15 points off the top and for many fans, much more than that.

Now, to editing. When Kyle and Sarah first time travel to 1984, the Genisys clock says 11 hours. They are transported in the middle of the highway and cause a lot of accidents, are arrested and taken to the police station. When they get to the station, we see the clock says 4 hours. It took 7 hours for the police to arrest them, which happened almost immediately after they got there and to take them to the station…

In a later press conference at Genisys, the clock says 21 hours till initiation. This is one of the most notable, unintentional plot holes I’ve seen in a long time. I have no clue how everyone missed that.

In a scene later in the movie, Connor pulls the ignition out of a school bus Sarah, Kyle and Arnold are in. The bus is driving along the Golden Gate Bridge and is shown flipping front first, vertically, along the bridge, but in the next shot, the bus is shown flipping horizontally, spanning side to side, something that is physically impossible.

Finally, in Sarah’s flashback to when her family is killed, she jumps into a lake and hides under the dock and hears her house explode with her parents inside. Arnold comes walking along the dock and sees her through the boards, picks her up and carries her away from the danger. It is worth noting he is carrying Sarah Connor with one arm and in his other arm? A bazooka. You would think a correlation between an exploding house and a terminator carrying a bazooka could be found, but Sarah never notes any suspicion of that, nor is the flashback mentioned again.

That, my friends, is stupid writing.

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Movie Review: Equilibrium

Hey everyone, it’s been a while, I know. Working on it.

You get this gem today and then the new series I’ve been talking about for weeks will finally be getting under way on Friday: Winners & Losers. Enjoy!

“To seek out and eradicate the true source of man’s inhumanity to man: his ability to feel.”

I would argue the true source of man’s inhumanity to man is insensitivity and the inability to feel. The above statement doesn’t make much sense to me. Alas, that is how Kurt Wimmer’s sci-fi unfolds.

Dystopian films are becoming their own genre these days, a genre that I readily engage myself in at every opportunity because I, like most people, find myself obsessed with the future. What does it hold in store for me? What will go wrong or right for the world? Lots of trivial and not so trivial thoughts swirl through the endless recesses of the mind searching for clues to questions that will remain unanswered.

And all of the above is why the genre never gets old for me. The same goes for post-apocalyptic material. Lots of pandering about civilization, societal norms and the necessity or lack thereof for law and order. What would happen if the world went haywire always seems to keep my attention, partly because it allows the viewer to explore the unknown. As much as I love dramas, original scripting is paramount to making an original story and original scripts seem to become as rare as items in the U.S. that read “Made in America” at times. Therefore, land unexplored, such as the futuristic action hook we see here, are much more profitable and entertaining.

To return to my original point though, Equilibrium didn’t start out that great, running with a shoddy premise at best that was a “just go with it” element and if you’ve been reading this blog fairly regularly then you know that I hate such elements. Movies should not require realism to go on a Sheetz run in order to be entertaining.

Laughable stunt choreography emulated lazy work behind the camera and further agitated me, which brings me to my next point.

Thank God for Christian Bale. The guy is cinema gold. Sure, he has a blunder here and there but Bale is one of Hollywood’s brightest stars right now, plain and simple. He’s got plenty of potential and I can’t wait to see what he churns out next.

Here, John Preston (Bale) has the spotlight and will retain it from curtain to curtain, leaving little room for anyone other than expositional characters, narrowing our focus to Preston’s inner turmoil. Preston lives in a society where signs of emotion are a deathly offense and anything that channels emotion, such as love, art or literature, must be destroyed. Medicine must be taken to suppress feelings and individuality is frowned upon. When Preston decides to not take the dosage and begins to feel, he’s unsure which path to choose.

Another Kurt Vonnegut spin-off. Yay!

Jokes aside, Equilibrium isn’t stealing from Vonnegut, although the argument could be made that Equilibrium really wanted to be The Matrix. The idea has a Swiss cheese complexion (filled with holes) but still finds a way to be tasty on occasion. Note that on occasion does not mean regularly.

Because as much as I wanted to like Equilibrium, there wasn’t enough substance to hold me over despite its modest run-time. Christian Bale is great and the highlight of the film, but a lack of secondary depth hurt the final product when a few stand-ins could have ignited the dormant coals in the oven.

The tools to start the fire were there, too. William Fichtner and Sean Bean were present for filming. Giving the guys roles where they did something significant would have been a good start. Instead, Bean plays dead, again and Fichtner’s given a role that could have been given to some guy off the streets it was so meaningless. Wasted talent in films is like benching your star players for the big game. If you benched Mike Trout for the World Series, you’d never have a job again. Even McDonald’s would be like, “Sorry dude, but you’re too stupid for us.” Why directors continue to get away with giving fourth-string roles to capable actors is one of the most perturbing questions on my mind when it comes to cinema. That shouldn’t be a thing.

Something else that shouldn’t be a thing? These action takes. Impossible to be taken seriously and choreographed to be mocked by yoga instructors and physical therapists, Bale’s robotic ligament movements and odd postures make it look like he’s posing for a photo shoot. If anyone actually tried to fight like this, they’d get shot in the face and be left to rot. It was original, Wimmer, I’ll give you that, but the answer is no. No, I’m not watching that with a shred of seriousness and no, it was not a good idea to try to put that on film. You made the great Christian Bale look like a porch monkey. Nice job, idiot.

I laughed at the stupidity and got some entertainment out of it, but it stilted the tempo and the tone of a film that was clearly aiming at a dramatic payoff and missed the mark because of it.

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. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Dead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk Down)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (Run All NightRageZoolanderThe Expendables 3Homefront)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Equilibrium: 76.

Critics bashed the film for stealing material and the argument could definitely be made, but Wimmer tries to flavor Equilibrium to separate himself from his predecessors. In some ways he succeeds, but standing alone on stilts is a hard trick to pull off on a character-driven story and Christian Bale. That said, Bale keeps the film standing long enough to create a fair impression but not one that will grasp to my memory strands for too long.

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Movie Review: The Colony

Another Netflix film that proved to be a waste but isn’t that the secret of Netflix? I watch a crapfest, I go back to Netflix anyway. I think it’s a love/hate relationship.

At some point in the future (the Wikipedia page says 2045, but the film never mentions that), climate control becomes a problem. The people of Earth make machines to control the climate until one day, Mother Nature responds with snow. Forever. The world freezes over and only a select few are able to survive in bunkers below the ice.

It’s almost the exact same thing as Snowpiercer except that Snowpiercer occurred on a train and we knew why the train was created, whereas The Colony says there are bunkers because there are.

Our main star is Kevin Zegers from Air Bud. There, I said. It bothered me the whole movie. I thought I might have seen him on an old Disney TV show or something but no, it was that kid that got outperformed by a golden retriever.

Laurence Fishburne decided to tag along for this film as well, which I wasn’t wild about either. The Colony had The Tragedy written all over it.

Watching films like this has actually been depressing recently so I’m going to start watching some “real” films over the course of the next two weeks. Films that make me smile are on the agenda now. I can only make so many sacrifices for you guys. I give, give, give and now I’m taking, haha.

The Colony is the one that pushed me over the edge because geez this movie is boring, uneventful and unintelligent.

Our welcoming party is a couple of guys running down the hallway screaming with a monotone score in the background. Whoop, don’t care about them. Have fun in hell, you two.

Then here comes Sam (Kevin Zegers) to see Mason (Bill Paxton) about to kill some guy for having the flu, saying he has a choice, that choice being to walk in the freezing temperature or take a bullet.

So Mason says he’s got to protect the colony and shoots the guy despite Sam’s protests. Sam goes to Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) and tattles on Mason and Briggs is like, “We must address this immediately.” The film then forgets all about that and never mentions it again.

That’s far more information then I normally include, but it’s a prime example of how unsatisfactory this opening scenario is. Narration to drop some context feels tacked on rather than required and the “perilous” conditions that Sam consistently comments on during his monologue don’t look that sickly. What’s the big deal? Flu is a problem because of a lack of medicine but aside from that, it looks like you’ve got your own farm and garden down there. Looks like a good enough setup to me.

Substandard scripting is a fatal flaw throughout this film’s 93-minute running time. I’m thankful it was only 93 minutes though. The script was begging for a sitcom-length film.

I say sitcom length because that’s what The Colony reminded me of: a sitcom. I’m a huge fan of Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen. Sorry, Ashton Kutcher, but the show isn’t the same without “Duh, Winning” Sheen.

If you haven’t watched this show, I guess you won’t get this reference but Charlie (the character Sheen plays, not Sheen himself) in my opinion, was one of the best comedic acts of the last decade. A dirty sense of humor and an unabashed personality, Charlie welcomed the spotlight like a greedy kid on Christmas and bloomed in it.

However, Charlie was not created in thirty minutes. I only watch the show on re-runs on TV so I have no way of knowing what the show was like at the very beginning but I think I can safely assume that it wasn’t amazing but was adequate enough to keep people around.

The reason I’ve always preferred movies to television shows is because it takes so long for shows to form characters. TV shows bring events over the course of a day or two in a 30-minute segment, including commercials, so really it’s like 22 minutes. It’s a long and tedious process. Which details about this person am I including in this episode or am I just delving into some good ole’ entertainment? How do the writers demonstrate this trait in under 22 minutes because it’s unlikely this character will have the screen to himself for all of the episode?

TV writing is a delicate process and also a tedious one for the audience. Television drags on into four or five seasons minimum, meaning people like myself are pouring hours upon hours of our time into the product. So, when our story turns to gunk, like Lost did in its latter seasons, it’s not just depressing. It’s offensive. If a bad movie is like slapping the audience in the face, a TV show that spirals to hell is like a stab in the jugular. “Not pleasant” does not accurately describe this experience.

I watch movies specifically because I actively avoid being stabbed in the jugular. I can sustain a slap. A stab in the jugular? Well…

When I watch a movie that forgets what form of media it’s in, I get disconcerted. Makes the crew look like they don’t have a clue what they’re doing and more often than not, that’s the case.

A movie is afforded the time to develop a character in a little over two hours, which in my opinion is far more difficult than producing a character over the course of multiple seasons. Imagine marrying someone after knowing them for two hours? Sounds rash, doesn’t it? You’d prefer marrying someone after knowing them for a few months, wouldn’t you?

That’s an accurate analogy to the movies vs. the sitcoms. If you prefer being rash, you pick the movie. If you’re more careful, you pick the TV.

It’s just an analogy and I would never recommend marriage after two hours, but that’s the task scriptwriters are gifted with. This isn’t peas and carrots. It’s more like doomsday clocks and ink pens.

I understand the tripwires and minefields involved in script writing but completing something this reprobate is disrespectful to my time and my intelligence. Don’t understand why everyone wants to slap me.

Ironic as it may be, it still sickens me that the characters in The Colony held the same interest over me as the snow blizzards, which involved some rushed sound editing. My ability to genuinely not give a worm-filled apple for this film proceeded unhampered throughout and once again I can add another loss to Laurence Fishburne’s record. If you don’ understand this reference, in the coming weeks, I’m going to write win-loss records for a bunch of actors/actresses/directors, with a win meaning their performance was great, memorable or didn’t brew angst in me and a loss meaning the exact opposite- eternal damnation. Fishburne’s been in eternal damnation quite a few times with me.

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. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for The Colony: 26.

The film suffers from seemingly uninvolved director Jeff Renfroe, but the woes don’t stop there. The characters are like paper-thin napkins trying to conceal a clearly soiled table and no acting prowess is unfurled for something that is this much of a shenanigan. That, along with some blatant foul plot points, makes The Colony a “wow, just wow” burrito of unprocessed ingredients.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Now let’s talk about these failing plot points!

The colony receives an S.O.S from another colony that they’ve been keeping in radio contact with since this all started. Sam, Briggs and another character of zero importance leave the colony and go on a one and half day journey to rescue those who may still be left and discover what all went wrong.

And the big reveal is: cannibals. Yep, that’s it. Just cannibals. No crazy monsters or aliens or a disease or arctic zombies or rabid animals. Just cannibals. Feeling the letdown already.

How the cannibals got there is sketchy too. A signal is sent over the airways that a heat spot has begun. This random dude on the camera shows that there’s soil and of course if there is soil, that means there’s a chance for new life. So this colony, colony 5, led an expedition to where the signal originated and the search party never returned. The cannibals found their tracks in the snow and followed them back to the colony where they proceeded to kill everyone.

Of course, one major flaw with that: IT IS POURING SNOW ALL DAMN DAY 24/7! Unless those cannibals were able to track miles in less than an hour, they would have lost the trail and frozen to death, which also makes you wonder where they were before this illogical convenience dropped itself into their lap but I guess that’s not important.

So the character of zero importance is killed by the cannibals and Sam and Griggs escape through a large windpipe the size of a coaling factory exhaust  cone and drop a bunch of dynamite down there so they can’t follow. They take shelter in the night inside a medical evacuation helicopter next to a bridge to get to the other side of a thousand foot drop canyon. Keep in mind it is pouring down snow hardcore and it’s freezing. Sam and Briggs have passed many people frozen to death in the snow.

The next morning they wake up, come outside and pull out their binoculars and look at that, here come all the cannibals.

IT HAS BEEN A SNOWSTORM ALL NIGHT LONG, IT’S BEEN PITCH BLACK AND YOU DON’T HAVE ANY DAMN FLASHLIGHTS!!! Does a lust for human flesh make you nocturnal?! Like, what?! It’s also important to mention that if you’re a cannibal, apparently you can’t speak because there’s no dialogue spewing out of any of these guys and the leader is bald and doesn’t wear a hat. I don’t care if you think that’s cool or not, producers, that guy’s freezing to death.

Briggs gets Sam to the other side of the bridge and then sacrifices himself, demolishing the bridge with a stick of dynamite.

Sam gets back to the colony and the cannibals somehow track him. I guess they just long jumped that 100+ foot gap but at this point, who really cares?

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