Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dawn's February Movie Roundup

My name is Dawn and it has been more than one month since my last movie round-up. What? I'm feeling Catholicky. Okay, that word disturbs me. And now, I'm sure that's been the title of some really offensive plaid-filled porno. Anyhoo.

Away We Go

I knew nothing about this movie going into it. This, I think, was a plus. If I had known it was the story of Maya What'sherface from SNL and Jim from "The Office," shacking up, getting pregnant then roaming the globe in search of a place to raise said spawn, I don't think I would have seen it. Probably. Which would have been too bad, as I thought the movie was okay. I liked Jim's parents. They basically trigger the wandering with their sudden decision that they didn't want to be the kind of grandparents who "help raise the baby." So much so, they decide to move to Europe and leave Maya and Jim the house. But Maya and Jim were only staying in the North East because they thought his parents would be helping them. (Her parents are dead.) Their first stop takes them to Arizona where Maya's sister lives. This does not work out as her sister is about to enter into a marriage with a loser guy. Then they go to Canada to stay with college friends. This almost works out, but they discover their friend is infertile and it has made her crazy. Away they go to Miami, where Jim's brother has been left by his wife and now wonders what he's gonna do with their seven year old daughter. Um. *blinks*
Ultimately, the couple decides to make their own way in the world and everyone lives averagely ever after. This movie is very realistic. Although it features the grossest pregnancy test EVER. EW.

Up In the Air

I snuck into this movie after being disappointed by Avatar. The movie is about confirmed bachelor, George Clooney - not gay, just unmarried, having a grand old time being single, like Liberace...okay, bad example, but...ugh...forget it. There's no gayness involved. The movie is not at all what I thought and even now it's hard to put into words. He's a veteran company man, the company sends him out with a novice to give her on the job training. She is appalled by his untetheredness and tells him so. Meanwhile, his younger sister is getting married and he plans to go back for it, even though they aren't close. This movie is also very realistic in feel. You know, slow pace, lot of talking. Much misery and settling. You know who will love this movie, people who have settled. They'll be all "see? I knew it! Those confirmed bachelors are really miserable. HA!" You know who shouldn't see this movie? Me.

Dark City

Alceste loan this disc to me and he touted it as a "better Matrix." Now, I loved the Matrix. The first one, not the garbage other ones; though, those did have more black people in them and you know how much I love black people. So, a better Matrix?! What up! Alceste is a liar. A mean, dirty, low down liar! Actually, the movie is intellectually interesting, but I don't think it holds together. The main characters look like a gaggle of stage IV cancer patients and Kieffer Sutherland is a stuttering hunchback. It's very very bizarre. In the end, I didn't hate it as much as I did in the middle when I was thinking up creative ways to kill Alceste, but it's no Matrix. It's not even a better bad Matrix, like Matrix 3.

Saw VI

Sigh. I keep watching them because they keep making them, but they keep making them because I keep watching them. Someone's got to give. Um...not much to say--well, actually, this one was much better than Saw V-which was just horrendous. But, it still wasn't good. I don't like that the series is trending in the direction that makes Jigsaw out to be a madman bent on revenge, rather than the extreme measures teacher that I believe him to be. But that may just be me revealing too much of my own psychoses for a movie review post.

Evil Dead

Alceste makes up for Dark City, with this Sam Raimi classic. I don't know how I've never seen it before. It's about five friends who go camping. (LOL...why do young white people still insist on going camping? Does it ever end without one or more people getting chopped to bits with an axe?) Then I think one girl gets raped by the trees and well, then people start getting stabby.


Bright Star

This movie was so boring, it angered me. Now, I guess it's my own fault. Why should a movie about a 19th century British poet starring no-name actors be interesting? It shouldn't. It wasn't. I was mad. They didn't even use any of my favorite Keats poems. UGH. Nothing redemptive about this movie. At all.

St. Trinian's

This movie was SPLENDED. Mind you, it made no sense in terms of plot or motivation - but it was classic slap schtick, adventure heist genre at its best. The cast is great, the setting is perfect, the jokes make you laugh days, nay weeks, later. I highly recommend it!

Zombieland

Hmm. I thought this movie was going to be awesome because of all the buzz. And in truth, had I not heard all the buzz, I might have been one of the people buzzing about how awesome it was. However, it just couldn't possibly live up to the amazing word of mouth. It's only 88 minutes for goodness sakes and stars the poor man's Michael Cera -- you know, the kid from Adventureland. It is funny. It is a quirky answer to traditional zombie movies AND Bill Murray makes a classic cameo. But don't build it up in your head too much.


Whip It!


Um, this movie is "Bend it like Beckham on roller skates!" Now, I either just made that up or I read it on the DVD box. It stars the Juno girl, who I like very much. It's about chicks with sticks (wait...no...I take that back, there are no sticks...roller derby is more like NASCAR racing, each team tries to get around the track fastest and cause the most suffering to the other team.) There are some cool injuries. I like most of the cast, the story's not annoying, so...yeah, I recommend it. Oh, it's about a teenage beauty pageant contestant, who has grown tired of that circuit and discovers roller derby. She enrolls without her mom's knowledge, lies about her age and turns out to have a real talent for it. Everything goes swell until a member of the rival team, Juliette Lewis, finds out her secret! (One of my favorite moments in the film is when Lewis is all talking to Juno and she's like "I know you little girl, I used to be you!" Cause she totally used to be the kid in the roles that the Juno girl gets now. Ha!


Michael Jackson's This Is It


:-( I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. His death made me very sad. That said, this movie did not make me happy. Yeah, I got to see Michael Jackson singing and dancing...the This is It tour looked crazy cool...but in the end, he's still dead. I'm still sad. If you're a Jackson fan, you should probably see it, window into the genuis and all that; if you're not a Michael Jackson fan, well...poo on you.

Amelia


I didn't like this movie. At all. But I cannot exactly articulate a reason. I love Amelia Earhart hmm....you know, that may be it. I was a huge fan of hers as a kid, I liked her spirit and daring and that she was a woman. This movie kinda focuses on her "as a person." She is very very flawed...almost to the point of being irritating. It's also not that exciting and COME ON, it's a flying movie!! I blame Richard Gere. He ruins everything.


The Hurt Locker


I LOVED THIS MOVIE. I am still struggling about what to make of it, and what its message about the Iraq war is, but blah blah blah this movie kicked ass! There's action, emotion, interesting characters, interesting relationships...okay, one weird ass scene in the middle of the desert, with the actor from Taken, but other than that, the movie hangs together, keeps you interested in the lives of these American soldiers who have to diffuse bombs in the middle of a war. Of all the Best Picture nominees I've seen, this is the only one that I kinda sorta want to see win. (I don't care about the Oscar's on principle. That principle being that Crash sucked and its win taints the Academy with a stank that will never wash away.)

The Invention of Lying


I don't get Ricky Gervais' humor. At all. Not even a little bit. If I could, I would like to dissect him to find out why others find him so funny. At the experiment's end, I would know! And Ricky Gervais would be dead and unable to make any more irritating "comedy." Um...so...that's a "no, I did not like this movie." It was such a GREAT premise too! What would you do if you were the only one who could lie and EVERYONE had to believe you. Aw, man. Give me that world! Tina Fey is in it and she's so wasted in the movie. Everyone is wasted in the movie. Except Gervais and that annoying fat kid from Knocked Up. This movie is just about what I expect from them.

Bruno

I was hoping Astin had already seen and loved/hated this movie, so I could take the opposite and know what to expect. Alas, he hadn't, so I went in blind. It was pretty good. I preface that analysis with this warning: IT IS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF GROSS. But at times, the movies shines as some of the finest mockumentary satire I've seen since Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine." That's the kind of humor, by the way. He takes unsuspecting Americans and sees how they will react to him staging a recreation of the crucifixtion using babies. Or filming a MMA-like audience as they watch the wrestlers in the ring go from death match fighting to making out and gay sex having. It's not so much "ha ha funny" as "makes you think funny" with a lot of gay sex. And matchy matchy clothes.

Home Room

This movie stars a couple of actresses who are famous now, but probably weren't famous when the movie was made. Um...they are also not so famous that I know their names: the white girl who has sex for drugs in Traffic and the younger girlfriend of Courteney Cox in Cougartown. The movie is a panoply of A-list tv actors, though! The Chief from Grey's Anatomy, Jack Bristow from Alias...and others. It's about a Columbine style killing and whether this one weirdo girl with black hair had advance warning that the massacre would happen. The principal then forces her to become friends with one of the survivors of the shooting. With a little help from each other can they both put the horror behind them and begin to heal? Yes. Yes, they can.

9

A Tim Burton cartoon. And yes, I LOOKED IT UP TO MAKE SURE! Here's what the official description of this movie said: "a story about a sentient rag doll living in a post-apocalyptic world who tries to stop machines from destroying the rest of his eight fellow rag dolls." Uh huh. You know what it is in reality? The not-so-exciting adventures of the socks you lose in the dryer! This movie is weird and not good weird. Bad weird. And boring and did I say weird? Cause it's weird. Run away.

Ash Wednesday

Since it is Ash Wednesday and there's nothing else to do... why not watch a movie? And why not one with a title of the actual day? hmmmmmmm?

I have mixed feelings on this movie. It is an enjoyable type thriller so it won't leave you bored. Plus the language, the dialect, the period, and the story are good enough to keep you there for a couple of hours without disappointment in the end. I just think it was missing something. The cast is good, but Elijah Wood plays a little bitch. I think his character should have been a little more pragmatic.

Either way, here's the trailer...


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not THAT Revolutionary

Our most humble of hosts on this here corner of the Intarwebs commented in Dawn's Avatar rant that Avatar could be the Jazz Singer of our time.

No.

Similar themes have been voiced during the run of this inconceivably popular movie. It's going to change movie-making as we know it! It's a technological leap forward!

At best, Avatar is evolutionary. It introduces new methods of motion capture, 3D technology, and possible the most important tool for the filmmaker - live view. Cameron and the crew were able to view a rough cut of every scene as soon as it was shot. Effects, graphics, etc, applied moments after he yelled "cut!"

But will it change movies? Will they all be 3D, mo-capped, computer-generated worlds? No. Sure, for the next season or two, every big-budget blockbuster will be re-done in 3D, but it's too late to film most of them with Cameron's tech, and that is a key component to why the 3D worked. By the time the movies that DO license his new-fangled gadgetry are made and released, the world will have remembered that just because a movie is in 3D, doesn't mean it's worth watching.

Plus, not every movie will have a $200 million+ budget to do this with. Cameron pulled it off because he had Titanic behind him. He was allowed a risk. Now, with another $2 billion in the bank, he can pretty much do whatever he wants. That doesn't mean Jon Favreau gets to do The Avengers in 3D mo-cap.

Look at a few other "revolutionary" movies from recent history - The Matrix and Toy Story. The Matrix gave us that 3D panning effect. It was TOTALLY AWESOME when we first saw Trinity leap up and kick some ass. It was played out completely within 2 years. Why? Because every movie in the world used it. Something explodes? Freeze and pan around it! Jump to light speed? Freeze and pan! It was gimmicky and is now rarely seen.

Toy Story showed everyone that a CG movie could be good. Pixar has a pretty solid track record since then. Even their movies I'm not fond of (Cars, Wall-E) are still full of heart and technical wizardry. How long did it take for the rest of Hollywood to catch up in quality? Well, if you forget about the first Shrek, it finally happened last year. That's 14 years before the playing field was Pixar vs a bunch of really terrible CG animated movies, made simply because studio heads thought it was the CG that made the Pixar movies popular, not the quality stories and directing.

The Jazz Singer rapidly turned what was largely a silent medium (there had been synchronized sound films before it) into a multi-media experience almost overnight. Within a couple years, silent film was dead and everything had dialogue. Hollywood never looked back. For the technology of Avatar to have the same effect, it would mean the death of traditional filmmaking. That's just not going to happen. The risks are too big to make on every movie. The bankable directors are too smart to use the technology uselessly (even Michael Bay still prefers real explosions and stunts over CG). Sure, it will creep in to some enjoyable flicks, but what's far more likely is a bunch of useless 3D-as-an-afterthought, and terrible, TERRIBLE CG mo-cap films that try to cash in on the gimmick.

I remember Cameron saying how he wanted Avatar to be a good 2D film that 3D added depth to. He succeeded in spirit - the movie doesn't NEED the 3D to be viewable, but it's not good. Sadly, most of those rushing to the tech will make movies that fail completely on a 2D level, just the audience can have buckets of blood thrown on them while they duck flying axes.

And between those? A bunch of movies that will ignore these tricks completely. And they'll greatly outnumber the others. Eventually the live-view of effects and fantastic motion capture will find its way into regular movies. The former of those will be invisible to the viewer, but should result in better direction. The latter will be more subtle than now, like so many other formerly amazing effects.

Revolutionary? No. Just another gimmick that will get played out, with the better points eventually being taken for granted. In the meantime though, James Cameron is going to make more on licensing his new technology than he'll ever make from Box Office. The guy is an expert on that chapter of George Lucas' playbook.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No, Astin, Avatar TOTALLY sucks

This is going to be one of those posts where I say “okay, first of all” A LOT. (Yes, I know.) The phrase “oh AND another thing” will also be used liberally. There will, of course, be much swearing.
Onward.
Okay, first all, how pissed am I that when I finally manage to see five best picture Oscar nominees before the award ceremony, the Academy doubles the nominees to ten?!
The answer you're looking for is pretty darn.
SO... AVATAR.
AVATAR AVATAR AVATAR.
Sorry, I keep hoping there is a hidden message in the word that might reveal itself if I stare at it long enough and from a variety of angles. You know, like "Paul is dead" or "the real movie starts after the credits to this silliness roll."
RATAVA?
Nope.
Okay, first of all, if you want to see Avatar and don't want to read movie spoilers or have it ruined for you, do not read any further. Though, I will say you shouldn't see Avatar.
I expected this movie to fail. Blue people, epic jungle space movie that cost a bajillion dollars to make -- exactly big enough to fail, I say!
I was wrong.
It is a massive success.
However, my decision not to see it was unchanged. I didn't get sucked in by District 9, I would not be bamboozled by Avatar.
But then really good reviews started pouring in. My friends were telling me that I had to see it! HAD TO! And NOT just on my couch when the DVD comes out.
NOW.
IN 3D!
"IT'S AMAZING, DAWN," Fisch squealed breathlessly. Yeah, that's right buddy, I said you squealed! Like a little girl.
Fine. Okay, let's do this.
I had an unexpected day off from work, so I headed to Manhattan's biggest IMAX theater and got the glasses and the seat right in the middle of the theater's center row.
Wow me, James Cameron, WOW ME.
And he did. The visuals were incredible. The whole floating barracks thing with the floating people and doctors...coolness.
And then, it all began to fall apart.
First off, the hero, Sully, is in a wheelchair. That he rolls with his hands.
It's 2054, they have robot soldiers, colonies on planets in other galaxies, but they can't hook this kid up with a motorized wheelchair?
Seriously?
Sully has been chosen to step into his brother's shoes (not literally, of course, ha ha because he's all paralyzed and in a wheelchair, see? Not my bad joke. The movie's. Eyeroll.) because they are twins and the expensive government Avatar will meld to him because he has the same DNA as his brother!
Sigourney Weaver is in charge of the unit. She has her own Avatar. Now, the whole point of these Avatars is that the Americans - oh, whoops, I mean the Sky People - can slip into the indigenous world and blend right in. Except, Sigourney Weaver's Avatar wears a tank top and hot pants! Say what?
WHAT?
Anyway, Sully is all anxious to try out his Avatar because he controls the thing with his mind, so it can run and jump and make the love that his broken real life body cannot.
As soon as he's strapped in, he runs all amok with the thing and ends up being chased by a jungle dinosaur, falling off a cliff and losing contact with his team.
Actually, the scene where the dinosaur chases him to the waterfall and he jumps in, actually made me laugh out loud because I totally thought he'd hit jagged rocks and sever the Avatar's spinal cord and be paralyzed in the Avatar world too.
That did not happen.
However, once you get that thought it your head, it never leaves. Every time Sully gets in a jam during the next 140 minutes of movie, you will immediately wonder if this is the scene where he winds up in an Avatar wheelchair?
Ok, back to the plot.
There he is, lost and all alone, separated from his unit, completely unprepared for the jungle planet and he's scared.
He gets attacked by a pack of wild dogs and basically begs them to tear him apart quickly.
But no!
He's saved by the love interest in the movie...I will call her Pocahontas. She kills a few of the dogs and sends the rest scattering.
Sully is all "yahoo! You saved me! You kick ass. Oh, wait do you speak English?"
"Shut up! You ignorant fool!"
Yep. She speaks English! Of all the luck!
She calls him names and says his stupidity forced her to kill those poor dogs. She spits at him and storms off.
But Sully's no fool, he recognizes his love interest in the movie when she swoops in to his rescue, so he follows her.
She tries to ditch him and he correctly asks the question we're all thinking:
If you're going to be all snooty, why didn't you just let the dogs eat me.
"Because. You have strong heart."
Fuck the what?
Well, she tries to ditch him some more, but then some butterflies land on him and she's all "oh, it's a sign from Yahweh!" I'm personally thinking Axe body spray, but what do I know?
So, Pocahontas does what she always does despite hundreds of years of experience which unequivocally counsel: let the dogs eat him. She brings him back to her village. Of course, she has a proud father and a wise mother and a protective older brother. Aw, don't they always? She tells the wise mother about the Yahweh sign and so they agree to let Sully stay with them in the village. His avatar bunkers down with them and his real life self wakes up back in the lab.
Everyone is relieved that he's alive and the expensive Avatar is safe. Bonus that he seems to have gotten an in with the tribe!
This last bit is of particular interest to angry head military guy, we'll call him Lt. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup. So Jessup wants to kill the injuns and he's all "Look Sully, you tell me everything about them and help me kill them injuns and I'll get you your legs back. Your *real* legs," he adds with sinister emphasis to remind Sully that the Avatar he's been running around and jumping in waterfalls with is just imaginary.
"Deal!" Sully says shaking Jessup's hand.
And so begineth "montage number 1." Pocahontas teaches Sully all their ways, Sully goes back and tells Jessup, Jessup plans Operation kill the injuns. The movie explains that America just wants the injuns to move a little ways inland, so they can dig up the oil from under the Injuns' tree of life. (Why is the oil ALWAYS under the most sacred thing EVAH? This whole movie doesn't even happen if the oil is underneath the Detriot Lions Stadium! They'd just tear that crap down and suck it out. (Um...for my Canadian readers, that's like the Maple Leafs rink.) Anyhoo, Sully gets in real tight with the natives, he passes all their tests, gets initiated into the tribe and ends up mating with Pocahontas. Even Sigourney Weaver gets brought into the fold, hot pants be damned!
But, oh no! Jessup's unhappy with Sully's progress in getting the injuns to move, so he decides to just send the robot soldiers down to the planet to bulldoze the tree of life and get the oil.
"No! You can't," Sully cries, his eyes filling with water, "it's the tree! Of life!" He then throws a rock at the bulldozers. But his girlfriend is pissed that he supplied the army with all the information in the first place and his avatar is shunned from the tribe!
Oh my gosh, I am totally making this movie sound exciting. It's not. However, my exclamation points and return key spaces have more range and convey more emotion than this entire cast put together. Even Weaver looks like she's phoning her performance in from the set of Aliens IV. Oh and another thing: remember, the whole time you're waiting for Sully's avatar legs to get crushed, forcing him to be fitted into an Avatar wheelchair. Okay.
So now Sully has gone rogue. Jessup's pissed. He goes straight to Sigourney Weaver's lab and unplugs all the dream pods where the real bodies are kept.
"This experiment is finished!"
Sully goes to the head guy, Giovanni Ribisi, for help. But Ribisi is all "the only thing we care about is the bottom line at the end of the quarter. I need that oil!"
Jessup has Weaver and Sully jailed as traitors.
Then Michelle Rodriquez and the black psychic from Drag Me to Hell break them out of prison and Sully and all the women and people of color with more than ten speaking lines, spearhead a counteroffensive against the Americans.
Jessup is all "Bring it on! We'll smoke 'em out. If you're not with us, your against us. Terrorists!"
Oorah!
So Sully tames the mightiest beast in the jungle to prove that he IS one of the Natives now and can connect with the space jungle and all its creatures. Pocahontas is impressed.
"Oh, Sully, you're not just a sky person dressed in an injun mask to have the sex with the native girls and fly our indian dragons! I love you forever."
Sully rounds up all the injuns on the planet. They come by thousands! He prays to the tree to send help and it does! The animals on the planet mobilize! The birds attack from above! The wild dogs and land dinosaurs attack by land. The warriors come...um...bows AND arrows blazing!
"Jessup doesn't know these skies. These are Injun skies!" Bows and arrows versus robot rocket ships AND THAT'S his rallying cry!
Oh, and Jessup shoots Sigourney Weaver! Yawn. I mean, Nooo, not Sigourney!
The problem with the movie is this: the only person that shows passion in any believable way, is Jessup.
He's a company man.
His company has told him to get this oil, he figures out how to get it and executes the plan. I understand Jessup. I can get behind Jessup.
The motives of every single other character make absolutely NO SENSE.
Pocahontas knows Sully is basically wearing a rubber "Injun suit," but takes him back to her village anyway. It's like Hector opens up the Trojan horse, sees the Greeks inside and goes, "okay, you boys sit tight, we'll wheel you in in a minute...can I get you anything? Lemonade? Crackers?"
The proud parents who have already kicked out Sigourney Weaver and her colonial school rewelcome her back? Why? What'd they think would happen this time around? Sully, who took the mission to honor his dead brother and get his real legs back suddenly goes "nuts to that! I want the hot Amazon Indian girl more." All the tribes then decide to follow the guy wearing the Injun mask into battle? DUDE.
I'm telling you right now, if Martin Luther King Jr. had been a do goody white kid in black face delivering exactly the same lines, that I have a dream speech would NOT have gone over well at all.
And, ANOTHER THING, Sully doesn't even try to get the Injuns to just give the Americans the oil. He got the tree to mobilize an animal army, but he couldn't just ask for the tree to spit up some unobtanium every few days to keep his bosses happy?
Please.
If Cameron wanted to relitigate the Iraq war he should have made the Hurt Locker.
In the context of these Natives, if they wanted to be left alone, free from the Sky people, they'd have killed Sully on the spot. Or let nature take its course with the visitors. If, however, they wanted to bring the Sky people into the fold, they'd have coughed up the unobtainium as a show of good faith. Instead, we get a movie where tree hugging hippies bring the American marines to their knees? And animals kill humans and blow up our planes? And I'm supposed to cheer? Hell to the no.
Plus, Avatar Sully never does get paralyzed.
Blah.
Oh, but the silver lining?
When I went to get my 3D glasses, the usher made me throw away my still nearly full cup of vanilla latte. I did so. Then she checks my bag and makes me throw away my uneaten bagel. I protest. She's a prick. I comply. But in between expectantly waiting for Avatar Sully's legs to be crushed, I plot my revenge. First off, there's no way they're getting these glasses back. Secondly, on my way out I noticed "Up in the Air" starting in the theater next door! Ha!
Suck it, AMC theaters.
Who's got two thumbs, isn't blue and has gone rogue? This guy!
Unfortunately, the message of "Up in the Air" is that if you're single, childless and don't have a permanent job, you should kill yourself.
So, um, we'll call it a Pyrrhic victory.

Avatar Kinda Sucks

I finally got around to seeing the $2 billion success story that is Avatar. Went full out with the IMAX 3D.

Can I get the last 40 minutes back to do something that sucks less?

I'm fine with derivative storylines, movie clichés, and things being telegraphed days in advance, as long as those unoriginal shortcuts are superseded by something that makes the movie worthwhile. Avatar tried very hard to make the technology the thing that did this. It wasn't enough.

Not because the tech wasn't impressive, but because the story and some terrible acting got SO bad, that it overwhelmed the positive aspects.

If you can think of a cliché from any movie featuring nature-loving natives and evil white people, it's there. If you can think of one from a film with an outnumbered and outgunned army vs superior forces - it's there. If you pride yourself on figuring out how pieces fit together, you'll feel insulted by how obviously things are telegraphed. If you've ever written anything, even a to-do list, you've put more thought into it than was put into this plot and script. It was purely A leads to B leads to C.

And while you'd think Cameron would at least be able to wink at his audience for being so derivative, even the hackneyed use of "unobtainium" lacks the sly smirk that would get it past. For those unaware - it's an old sci-fi placeholder, often used when something impossible needs to be done. Unobtainium is the material that can do whatever can't be done. "The Core" uses it with a wink to the audience, Avatar doesn't. It's just lazy. Why not just call it Cameronium or something?

Nope, James spent 5 minutes thinking of the story and 30 minutes on the script, and then started inventing his toys.

And this is the movie's major strength. Avatar IS visually impressive. Think of every video game on an alien world where you went "woah!" when you saw the first cut-scene. Avatar took them all and made a world. Floating mountains, iridescent plants, giant trees, familiar-yet-alien creatures, unbelievable biologies, and the rest. It's a very pretty place. It's a shame the number of cute creatures is limited to... none.

It all lives to serve the new 3D technology developed for this. It gives the world depth, perspective, and a richness that does come through. THIS is why it's so popular, because people can't see past the pretty forest. Yes, Cameron excelled in the 3D. It's the best 3D I've seen in a major movie. There are nearly no 3D "tricks" like things jumping out of the screen or a finger pointing at the audience. Instead, there are subtle uses of it that immerse the audience. Ash falling in front of you, swooping shots through vistas that create a sense of wonder. Water splashing on the front rows. It's all very effectively blended into the viewing, without taking you out of the movie.

The motion capture is also fantastic. I wonder if Robert Zemeckis is cursing Cameron for doing in one movie what he hasn't achieved in three - motion-captured actors who aren't dead-eyed zombies. The movements, the facial expressions, and even the eyes are all alive and realistic. The uncanny valley looks to have been bridged, although it will take a movie with mo-capped human characters to be sure.

And for two hours, that was almost enough. I snickered at the worst parts of the dialogue and plot, but was so impressed with the visuals that I let them slide. Then came the switch from "sledgehammer" to "jackhammer" in terms of the message and the love story.

Sam Worthington was terrible in this. No charisma. No emotion. No personality. Nothing. He was an animated wooden plank. Problem is - he's the star. He has to make rousing speeches and convince us he loves someone. He fails in inspire. In fact, once he had to ramp up the drama, I ramped up the laughing. I tried to be polite and keep it to a giggle, but at least once I let out guffaws at the terrible lines I was being fed.

Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi were both solid in their roles. Weaver might have phoned it in a bit, but she's such a pro that even that performance is better than most. Ribisi offered the only depth to any of the roles, and the more I think of it, the more I feel that it was a choice by the actor, and not what Cameron had intended. It offers the only shade of grey (think charcoal) in a very black-and-white tale.

There is no doubt who the bad guys are. From 5 minutes in, we're shown, in no uncertain terms, that everyone is a cookie-cutter character and they won't breach those edges. I'm not asking for a lot of moral quandaries or character backstories, but I'd like SOME believability. Are we really to believe that the industrialists and military are THAT stupid? That the scientists just figured out the most obvious fact of the planet just at the climax? By making these characters so two-dimensional and stupid, you only insult your audience.

But hey, it's pretty. It's good 3D and mo-cap. The action scenes are well-directed, frenetic, and exciting. And it's made $2 Billion so far... so what do I know?

I know I won't be seeing it again.

And I know they're talking sequel.

Quotes? We Don't Need No Stinking Quotes

Let's go through some of MY favourite quotes. I promise no diversity of movies. In fact, I promise large groupings from a small sample size!

Army of Darkness

"Well hello Mister Fancypants."

"I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things, right now: Jack and shit... and Jack left town."

"Maybe. Just maybe my boys can protect the book. Yeah, and maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot."

"Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

"Don't touch that please, your primitive intellect wouldn't understand alloys and compositions and things with... molecular structures."

"You found me beautiful once."
"Honey, you got reeeeal ugly."

"Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?"


Galaxy Quest

"Quellek... by Grabthar's hammer... by the Sons of Warvan... you shall be... avenged." -- this one works because (a) The character has resented this line the whole movie, (b) it's Alan fuckin' Rickman saying it, and (c) He then proceeds to kick all kinds of alien ass.

"I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm just 'Crewman Number Six.' I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I've gotta get outta here."

Jason Nesmith: You're not gonna die on the planet, Guy.
Guy: I'm not? Then what's my last name?
Jason Nesmith: It's, uh, uh - -I don't know.
Guy: Nobody knows. Do you know why? Because my character isn't important enough for a last name, because I'm gonna die five minutes in.
Gwen DeMarco: Guy, you have a last name.
Guy: DO I? DO I? For all you know, I'm "Crewman Number Six"! Mommy... mommy...

That would be where I decided that Sam Rockwell is my favourite actor ever.

"What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn't have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?"

"The animal is inside out. And it exploded."

Ah screw it, I love this movie and will rewatch it ASAP now. Basically, nearly every line is golden, ESPECIALLY if it comes out of Tony Shaloub's mouth.

And finally....

UHF

"You took the box? Let's see what's in the box! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! STUPID! You're so STU-PIIIIIIIIIIID!"

"For those of you just joining us, today we're teaching poodles how to fly."

"Badgers? Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers." -- Quick name the movie the ORIGINAL version of this quote came from.

"Today we are going to learn how to make plutonium from common household items."

"Oh, Joel Miller, you've just found the marble in the oatmeal. You're a lucky, lucky, lucky little boy. 'Cause you know why? You get to drink from... the FIRE HOOOOOSE!"

"Ghandi II. No more mister passive resistance."

"Not many people know this, but the turtle is nature's suction cup."

"Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System?"

"Supplies!"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Favourite Movie quotes, Kat Style

I love a challenge like this on Monday; it lets me procrastinate just a little bit longer. In no particular order, my favourite movie quotes are:

"There can be only one!"
~ Highlander

"Inconceivable!"
~Princess Bride

"Could be worse.:
"How?!?"
"Could be raining."
[immediately starts to pour]
~ Young Frankenstein

"Birdy Num-nums!"
~ The Party

"One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires."
~ Lost Boys

"I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."
~ Monty Python and the Holy Grail

"And finally, a wafer thin mint."
~ Monty Python and the Meaning of Life

"This is information retrieval not information dispersal."
~ Brazil

"Since you wish to die, I will assist you."
~ Hero

"A mental mind fuck can be nice."
~ Rocky Horror Picture Show

"Me fifth element - supreme being. Me protect you."
~ Fifth Element

I'm sure 'll think of more as the day progresses....

Greatest Film Quotes

Over on Formspring I got asked about the greatest movie quotes of all time, or, if I liked, the top five or ten. Naturally, I went to fifteen.

Here's mine. What are yours?

ETA: Can't believe I left out The Princess Bride, and probably will be reminded of a dozen others before all is said and done. For something this broad, you probably need 100.

_______________



15) "I'm sorry, did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue, you were saying something about best intentions. What's the matter? Oh, you were finished! Well, allow me to retort."

- Pulp Fiction


14) ""Major Strasser has been shot. [pause] Round up the usual suspects.""

-Casablanca


13) "If you wanna know something and he won't tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb's next. After that he'll tell you if he wears ladies underwear. I'm hungry. Let's get a taco."

-Reservoir Dogs


12) "Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!"

- Donnie Darko


11) "I know."

-The Empire Strikes Back


10) "Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

-The Third Man


9) "Yes! We're all individuals!"

-Life of Brian


8) "I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days. And the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days. And the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day, and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half. I have it written down, but I can show it to you tomorrow if you want to see it."

-The Jerk


7) "So, what am I doing? Oh, I'm chasing this guy. No . . . he's chasing me."

-Memento


6) "Son, you got a panty on your head."

-Raising Arizona


5) "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

- Say Anything


4) "Don't call me Shirley."

-Airplane


3) "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."

-Animal Crackers


2) "Duck, I says."

-Unforgiven


1) "SAN DIEMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!!!!"

-Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Friday, February 5, 2010

Superbowl, the movies

For all of the football and movie fans out there...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Best names in Movie History

No not actors... actual character names. and this doesn't come from another site or article. This list was born of booze and poker during a neighborhood game with some friends a couple weeks ago. The kind of game where the stakes dictated silliness and stupidity.

What ensued was a discussion between no less than 5 movie buffs about what was the best character name in movie history. Now, this will be up for debate of course because I'm sure a ton were missed. The booze had an effect on clarity. But it was a good discussion (reads argument) and I offer you several of those names. Feel free to agree, disagree, expand on, or offer you own...

Not in any particular order:

1> Apollo Creed - might possibly be the coolest name ever.

2> Layne Myer - This isn't really a very cool name in and of itself, but the movie offers the pronunciation of the name with a very cool Howard Cosell esque accent. THAT is what makes the name hawesome.

3> Lt. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup - Not Colonel Jessup. Not Nathan. Lt. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

4> Josie Wales - This name was considered the best name of all western characters. Maybe because of way most pronounced it in the actual movie with a very soft "s". Kinda like jossey only with a hard O. Spelled more phoenetically like Jocey. I liked William Munny as well, but Josey eventually got the nod.

5> Jake Plitkin - Jake the Snake is a must in any name list. Especially with a last name that rolls off with such measure as to allow the listener to KNOW that this dude is a bad ass.

6> Morris Buttermaker - This name is synonymous with old drunk dudes who turn a bunch of rugrats into championship little league players. And most don't know his first name. Anytime you have such an epic character that can go, or be known by only his last name... It's a win.

7> Zep Hindle - This character is from the movie Saw (2004). Not a particularly big role. You were made to believe that this guy was the villain. Plus he plays a big part in L O S T. For that reason, it gets a mention.

8> Maiximilian Largo - Obviously we had to pick a name from one of the Bond movies. This was a very rough discussion but it seemed like this is the one that won out. FWIW... I disagreed.

9> Coleman - This may not be as obvious to all, but Coleman was the butler in Trading places. It was decided that this name couldn't have been more perfect to define the character, thus giving it a nod as a best name ever.

10> Pussy Galore - If I really need to explain this one... The timing and period of naming this fictional character is what it's all about. Pure Gold.

There were a ton of others, and like I said, there are so many more I am missing. Ones that weren't thought of at all. Of course the booze most likely deleted most of my memory the following morning. Feel free to add your own.