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Interstellar

Hooray! Another cryptic Christopher Nolan film has graced the cinema! Okay, maybe a couple of weeks ago, but better late than never, right? This time the labyrinthian auteur sends audiences into the depths of the cosmos while exploring singularity, inter-dimensionality, and just plain love, man.

Okay, perhaps I misspoke – though there’s a ridiculous amount of technobabble, I guess I wouldn’t call it cryptic, even if fans have decided to create completely unnecessary infographics (I mean, it’s pretty and all, but learn the difference between a wormhole and a blackhole). On the whole, this is a lovely sci-fi chocked to the brim with dad feels. Now, if you don’t want any spoilers (though I’ll be doing my best to keep them light), so long and thanks for all the clicks.

It's too easy.

It’s too easy.

SPOILERS AHOY

Now, I don’t know a lot of technobabble, but I can tell a scene stolen from Event Horizon when I see one. (Sorry, couldn’t hyperlink that one, but you’ll know it when you see it.)

I freaking loved the walking Kit-Kats though.

I freaking loved the walking Kit-Kats. I want one.

Another thing that really irked me was surprisingly not the “love can do it, man” mentality, but the fact that these NASA scientists were desperate enough to put their faith in the future of humankind to believe they are receiving enigmatic messages from a inter-dimensional space-travelling “They.” I mean, I’m not saying that “there aren’t aliens,” just why would they care about humans?Then again, if I was a scientist living in a future where MRIs no longer exist because the world needs more farmers than engineers, I’d probably take the Deus Ex Machina route too.

Unless, it was actually confirmed that They are future-humans who developed the tesseract in order to save humanity, but that would even be theoretically impossible because there’d be no way to develop that technology in the first place if humanity wasn’t saved. Unless They are from the only successful Colony thanks to Brand, which are still technically humans who would then create tesseract technology with their advanced future-brains (because that’s how things work) in order to send the singularity data to Murph in order to save more humans? But then what would that matter? Whoops, found myself in a tangental Möbius strip.

But as cheesy I thought the love theme was (or maybe more of hit-over-head I felt), I think one of the better aspects of the story was Cooper’s undeniable optimism. Sure, there was Mann’s “survival soliloquy,” but I felt there was something warmer about it.

Kubrickian visuals are also a plus.

Kubrickian visuals are also a plus.

I felt it was more than love (again, which was pushed like crazy), but just plain hope – that warm, fuzzy, “everything’s gonna be alright” feeling in the bleakest of times, even if Cooper had to botch Murphy’s Law to do so. (Not to mention, there were a couple times I thought I would have to step to call my dad.)

Speaking of the mood – I really dug the emotional spectrum on display – I mean, when things were, well, bleak, I believed it. And when the twist hit, well even though College Humor spoiled it for me, there was still something truly wondrous about it – and with that Philip Gla-I mean, Hans Zimmer, score, the whole ordeal was well, awe-inspiring, to be frank. (Even when the Earth stuff felt a little slow.)

I can’t really say it any better: I dug this movie. Sure, I got caught up on technobabble and untied knots, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Sometimes you need to be stimulated as well as just plain dazzled. More or less would have probably bored some people (and that thing was long enough as it is). Just go see it, be captivated, give your ol’ man a call.

Final Grade: A

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Yes, finally, despite the drama and scandal, Bryan Singer, the director of the only two good X-Men films has returned! Finally, thanks to the power of time paradoxes, we can quite literally forget all about The Last Stand. Though, unfortunately, it is cannon as far as some things are concerned – but we’ll get to that later.

This time the team is in the year 2023, where mutants are hunted down and forced into internment camps, as are the humans who aid them. Now it is up to the remaining X-Men to travel back in time to prevent these atrocities from ever happening, that is, if their future selves can survive in the meantime. Disclaimer: I have never read the comics pertaining to any of these film – just a head’s up.

 

...I'll be in my bunk.

…I’ll be in my bunk.

Considering how this franchise has been going, it’s definitely safe to say that Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction (following First Class, of course). Future Past is chocked full of characters and well-paced action sequences that we’ve all come to know and love, as well social commentary on injustice and equality.

And as always, there are a few new cast-members to join the crew – my vote goes towards Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Despite the cheesy commercials, I think Quicksilver’s scenes are probably the coolest sequences of this film – definitely close to being on par with Nightcrawler’s X2 opener.

Also Storm had literally two minutes of screen-time and she gets the worst wig ever.

Also Storm had literally two minutes of screen-time – why did they have to put that thing on her head?

 

My main issue with this film is the villain, Boliver Trask (hooray Peter Dinklage!). I understand that anti-mutant politicians/corporations are not that unusual as far as villains go, but usually there’s some sort of deeper motive behind our villains. For instance, take William Stryker of X2: he had a personal vendetta against mutants after his mutant son caused his mother to end her life. Trask is just an arrogant asshole. I get that he’s concerned about the extinction of the human race, but I felt that his obsession came out of nowhere.

Speaking of “out of nowhere,” how did Charles survive after his obliteration in The Last Stand? He was just some sort of channeled consciousness in the stinger at the end, and then fully materialized in the stinger after The Wolverine – how does that work? It’s not like he returned to his body because if memory serves, it was dissipated. I think I’d rather see the movie where Charles’ consciousness enters a comatose patient and then his physical appearance changes over time. Or surgery. Something. Anything. I guess it really doesn’t matter now, does it?

Days of Future Past is a solid action film. Amidst the booms and pows come times of existential quandary and reflection. The bit between the two Charles’ is probably one of the best pep talks I’ve seen in a while. Now, if we could only flesh out the baddies a bit more, we might have had another X2 on our hands. Oh well, there’s still Apocalypse to look forward to.

Final Grade: B+

 

 

 

This is the Way the World Ends

Where to begin...

Where to begin…

Personally, I feel as if cult classic Donnie Darko has received more than enough recognition as that, a cult classic. Not that it doesn’t deserve it. However, I feel that its all-grown-up cousin film Southland Tales deserves similar cult status. Much like Darko, we’re dealing with the time paradoxes and end of the world – only this time with sex, drugs, and government conspiracies.

After twin nuclear attacks in Texas in 2005, the country has fallen into disarray, and World War III has begun. Our story focuses on three men: an actor, Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) and identical twins Roland and Ronald Taverner (Sean William Scott) and their collision between government agencies, neo-Marxist groups, and a new energy source known as Fluid Karma – thanks to an ex-porn star called Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Confused? That’s okay, because we have reciting vet Justin Timberlake to talk us through everything by means of allegory.

"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted."

“Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted.”

It’s understandable that a film like this can easily fly over a person’s head. It even took me a couple of watches just to get the full picture. This does not mean that I wasn’t the least bit entertained. The performances are earnest as well as over-the-top, creating caricatures of everyday media icons while simultaneously mocking the infotainment industry of our time. On the other hand, some of the situations and dialogue are just too ludicrous – but that’s okay! We’re given a reality that allows us to accept these things. I mean, we’re dealing with the end of the world here – I think a little suspension of disbelief is not too much to ask.

As mentioned, there is a massive ensemble of actors in this picture, and about twice as many cameos – many are beloved SNL alumni. Even Frank the Bunny makes a couple appearances. Additionally, these performances are equally matched by fantastic videography and a score by Moby, creating a most electric atmosphere for this confusion and chaos.

Southland Tales did not receive much recognition…or positive reviews for that matter, but I believe that there’s some sort of oddball charm to this feature. It may not capture the youthful, withdrawn nature of Donnie Darko, but it also doesn’t deserve to be held back by such a comparison. A genuine sci-fi for our time, complete with Orwellian undertones, Southland Tales is a cult classic waiting to happen. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Looper

Aw yeah Willis and time travel.  Together again.

In the future, time travel will first be made possible, then illegal, only operated by the most exclusive crime syndicates.  The year is 2044, an elite group of assassins known as Loopers are assigned to eliminate targets before they have committed their crimes.  You must always hit your mark, no matter who they are – even if it’s you.  Which is exactly what happens to Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – the worst thing is, he lets himself (Bruce Willis) go.

I was totally drawn to this premise – granted, I’m a sucker for time travel but that’s besides the point.  I mean, how cool is this idea?  What would you do in this situation?  Well I was hooked.  And I’ll give it away – Looper doesn’t disappoint.  Apart from a fascinating story (and an interesting universe to boot), it has great performances, great rhythm and spectacular visuals – and they didn’t overdo the lens flare.  Crazy, I know.

I think the only distracting thing was what they did to JGL:

Something’s…different.

When I first saw the trailer I really didn’t notice much, but once I saw him in action…his face seemed a little unnatural.  I expected the jaw prosthetic – which was fairly flawless, but I think it was the creepy green eyes that threw me off.  Admittedly, the transformation to make JGL and Bruce Willis the same person is pretty awesome after it stops being jarring.

Looper is arguably the most solid sci-fi I’ve seen to date, deserving a spot snug against Twelve Monkeys.  I’m glad Bruce is back.

Final Grade: A

Men in Black III

When I heard rumor of a third Men in Black I let out a deep sigh of the ages.  How could they possibly screw up the series more than they did?

The sequel was only made for product placement and a whole lot of boobies.

What made me feel old though was the fact that MIB II came out a whopping ten years ago – and since, director Barry Sonnenfeld had learned a lesson and took some time with the script for this one.  That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.

All you need to know about MIB III is that a space-baddy named Boris, played by Jemaine Clement, is released and then there’s a lot of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.  It just so happens that K royally pissed Boris off, so he goes back in time to prevent K from screwing everything up – now it’s up to J to set things right again.

What’s impressive about this movie is that it keeps the conventions of the series while presenting something new.  For example, there’s still the cutesy banter between J and K, but now we get to see these two more as people instead of talking heads.  Then with the help of the time jump, J learns more about K (aptly played by the incredible Josh Brolin), and in turn learns to be less of a wisecracking smartass and more about the consequences of his actions.  Unfortunately, little time was spent on fleshing out the villain, so it was really hard to understand what his motivations were other than revenge.

What was unusual about the film was that though it seems like a fitting end to the series (at least I hope it is), this was that though Zed was given a proper sendoff, Jeebs and Frank were nowhere to be found.  I appreciated the hints about Frank’s existence, but what happened?  They overkilled him in the second movie so they just stopped using him all together?  And then Jeebs was nowhere to be seen.

Here’s my big problem: The stuff about K and O (Emma Thompson) is absolutely adorable, but what happened to K’s wife from the first two movies?  After all, she was the reason he was so crotchety to begin with, and then he was still miserable because she left him in the second one.  What’s going on here?  K does not seem like the guy to have cordial relations with more than one woman at once.  I guess like anything else, I’ll just go with it because the plot says so.

Overall, MIB III did a good job cleaning up MIB II‘s mess.  The story was fairly decent and it wasn’t like the cast was trying too hard.  If it wasn’t for that massive plot-hole and a bit more character development, I’d say this movie was as good as, if not better than, the first one.  Alas, it wasn’t.

Final Grade: B

I’ll miss you, little buddy.