Bring a winter coat for this one. Trust me.
I am writing the first draft of this review in the cafeteria of my new school, MacEwan University, in between my Human Interaction class and my Introductory Japanese class. I have no idea how my unscholarly self got into one of my better universities in Western Canada, but at this point, I’m just enjoying the experience until they (Whoever they may be) inevitably figure out that I’m a hack and kick my dumb ass out.
Speaking of hacks…
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, hours and hours of both horrifying and hilarious entertainment)
Produced by: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Comedy, horror
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Music by: Paul Cantelon
Plot: 15-year old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her brother, 13-year old Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are sent off to some hick town in Pennsylvania by their mom (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother who’s taking this time taking this time to go on a well-deserved vacation. Becca is a wannabe documentary filmmaker, thus giving an excuse for this movie to fall into the tired “found footage” genre (Although now that I think of it, how many 15-year olds do you know that give a shit about documentaries?), and Tyler is a rapper who is not shy at all about sharing his…Um…. “Talents”
While in rural Pennsylvania, the kids visit their grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) who, at first, seem like regular, kind old folks. However, when the sun goes down, a different side of them emerges… And it’s discovered that Nana and Pop-Pop are completely bananas, even for most people.
I’ll be here all day, folks…
The rise and fall of M. Night Shyamalan has been so well-documented that I probably don’t need to mention it. I will though, because I’m a sadist.
After skyrocketing out of obscurity with the classic thriller The Sixth Sense and following hat up with the great deconstruction of superheroes that is Unbreakable, and fooling everybody into liking the critical and commercial successful crap-fest that is Signs, Shyamalan found himself on shaky ground with the massive cock-tease that is The Village before vomiting out absolute dogshit like Lady in the Water and The Happening. Lessening his tiresome shtick of twists that got less intelligent with each movie, M.Night tried his hand at two mainstream blockbusters: The Last Airbender (Based on one of my favourite TV shows of all time) and the Jaden/Will Smith nepotistic fever dream known as After Earth. Both of them failed miserably critically and commercially, with the former frequently featured on lists of the worst movies of all time. Shyamalan’s propensity for boring, exposition-ridden dialogue, wide-angle shots, pointless, insipid twists, and tendency to to somehow suck the talent and charisma out of supremely talented actors like Mark Wahlberg and Will Smith made him the butt of many jokes told by critics and internet commenters the world over. It didn’t help that Shyami has (Or had) quite the ego, inserting himself into Lady in the Water as a monumentally important writer, and writing a character for the very same movie that is little more than a caricature of a snarky, miserable critic who gets devoured by wolves.
I admit to getting in on the act of hating relentlessly on M.Night for quite a while. For further proof of his, see my angry, incoherent review of After Earth from two-ish years ago (Actually, please don’t). But, now that I’ve blossomed from a misanthropic, untalented and childlike 17-year old into a misanthropic, untalented and childlike 18 3/4-year old, I’ve gained a new perspective on this supremely important issue. While I still think that pretty much every movie that he’s done after Unbreakable is pretty much irredeemable shit, I appreciate that he comes across as someone who really loves his craft and wants to entertain. And with The Visit, Shyamalan seems to be returning to his roots, making a small-budget, semi-satire of horror movies set back in his home state of Pennsylvania.
And it’s not a classic, or anything, but hey, even a merely good movie is a monumental improvement over Airbender and After Earth, so rejoice remaining Shyamalan fans! Your king has taken baby steps towards reclaiming the glory and respectability he enjoyed at the turn of the century!
I found that it greatly increased my enjoyment of the movie when I didn’t think of it so much as a horror movie, but as kind of a dark comedy. Odd that Shyamalan would delve into comedy when his attempts at comic relief in his recent movies are the only parts that DIDN’T leave me laughing hysterically, but there you go.
From what I’ve heard, Shyamalan directed two cuts of The Visit. One of the two is pure horror (Yuck) and the other is pure comedy. Apparently, the finished product is a blend of those two cuts, and in the comedic aspect, it works very well. Not only is the humour very well-written (!!!), Shyamalan also willingly parodies himself, showing that he’s maybe realized some of his mistakes from his past projects…
… And his self-critique proves surprisingly effective. The problem with that is that the strength of the comedy actually exposes the weakness of the horror.
Granted, I really fucking hate 99.99% of all horror movies, so maybe I’m not the one whose opinion you should be seeking out out on this aspect of the movie, but for all the elements of shitty mainstream horror movies that The Visit does a good job of poking fun at, there are plenty of cliched horror elements that do sneak in that kind of take me out of it. There are plenty of stupid jumpscares to go around, to my chagrin and, to be honest, the horror element was extremely tedious compared to the story progression and the humour. I felt like I had to suffer through the horror (And to be fair, there was a fair bit of good humour injected into the horror) until I could get to the humour.
The combination of black comedy works well enough… Until the climax, when things kind of fall apart, tone-wise. At that point, the horror and comedy go to such opposite extremes that it really is extremely jarring.
And while the writing is good, one must always remember that this is still a post-Unbreakable M.Night Shyamalan script, and while it’s not as off-putting as, say, the script for The Last Airbender, of which I have been known to buy multiple copies of to burn in a bonfire while laughing maniacally and mainling pure ethanol, this one, while solid and frequently clever, does suffer from some noticeable plot holes. Nothing that serious, but definitely a detriment.
That said, there are some legitimately touching moments to be found, and the characters are well-written enough that they don’t need massive amounts of exposition. Not only that, but Shyamalan, who hasn’t exactly built up a reputation for being an actor’s director…
… Gets some pretty great performances out of his actors this time around. The older folks are terrific and suitably creepy, but the chi;d actors are really good. Like, Haley Joel Osment good. Granted, this and The Sixth Sense are very different movies, but… Well, you get the idea.
Olivia DeJonge is awesome as a character who I suspect is supposed to be sort of a parody of Shyamalan, but even better is Ed Oxenbould as the younger brother. I know that I lost most of you when I said that his character is a rapper, an believe me, I get it. It is fairly annoying and cringe-worthy at first, but I figure it’s kind of supposed to be that way. Nobody puts a 13-year old rapper in their movie and expects you to take them seriously. That’d be like the inverse of putting a Holocaust scene in a movie and screaming “LAUGH DAMMIT! WHY WON’T YOU LAUGH!!!” when they won’t stop sobbing.
Overall: The consensus seems to be that this is Shyamalan’s best movie since Signs or The Village. These people are under the mistaken impression that Signs and The Village are actually good. While not a great movie, The Visit is Shyamalan’s best movie since Unbreakable and is an extremely welcome return to form for the much-maligned director, One can only hope that he keeps his second shot at respectability going.
If nothing else, this movie taught me the proper way to say “Suge Knight”. Now, I have knowledge to properly say “Suge Knight is a deplorable piece of shit who should’ve been thrown in jail years ago”.
Straight Outta Compton
Directed by: F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Set it Off, Friday)
Produced by: Ice Cube, Tomica Woods-Wright, Matt Alvarez, F. Gary Gray, Scott Bernstein, Dr. Dre
Screenplay by: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff
Story by: S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus,Andrea Berloff
Genre: Biographical drama
Starring: Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Paul Giamatti, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown, Jr., R. Marcus Taylor
Music by: Joseph Trapanese
Plot: Straight Outta Compton is the story infamous rap group N.W.A., from its inception to the aftermath of its dissolution, as well as the relationships between its members, Eazy E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) and those around them, as well as how the group impacted American culture.
We don’t talk much about music here on PKtM, especially ever since all the music experts in my employ were tragically lost in a completely non-suspicious mass suicide the day before I gave myself an enormous raise. All none of you who were around in those early days know that I’m not a huge fan of rap music. I like it fine, but my tastes are a little more, how should I put it, classic.
That said, I do like N.W.A. a lot, I appreciate the impact they had on Western society, and they did have quite the impact. So, especially with race relations being in the state that they’re currently at in the United States, it’s important that N.W.A. gets the biopic that, uh, America deserves, or whatever the fuck. And, while it doesn’t go quite as far as I would’ve liked in showing the, let’s say, unsavoury way some of the protagonists acted during and shortly after the N.W.A. era. But, I suppose that’s to be expected from a movie that’s produced by two N.W.A. members.
Aside from that, though, Straight Outta Compton does a terrific job of capturing that point in history for both American society and the lives of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy E (Because MC Ren and DJ Yella apparently weren’t worthy of screen time).
I literally just learned that that album was made in memory of Eazy E. I feel like a tremendous dick now.
Though the publicity would probably have you thinking otherwise, the movie is only about N.W.A. for, like, half of the runtime, at the most. The majority of Straight Outta Compton is more about the personal relationships and experiences, especially the
five three main characters, who are all portrayed by relative newcomers who, I’m happy to report, are fucking killin’ it. Julliard alumni Corey Hawkins is terrific as Dr. Dre (Even if I personally feel like his character is kind of underdeveloped, but I could just be reaching a little out of my range for criticism’s sake), and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. is also amazing as his actual real life father, Ice Cube, the guy who wrote “Fuck tha Police” and proceeded to play a cop in Ride Along and 21 Jump Street, because irony’s a bitch.
I’m generally against nepotism in every shape and form…
But I suppose there’s an exception to be made for every rule, and this is a pretty great exception.
My favourite performance of the three is Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E. He disappears into the role even more so than the other two leads, which is saying a ton, believe me. I want him to be nominated for an Oscar early next year. That’s probably too much to ask, considering how marred in the 50’s the mindset of the Academy is. I can still have hope, can’t I?
And Paul Giamatti is amazing too as the group’s manager, Jerry Heller because, well, he’s Paul Fucking Giamatti and every time he’s given a substantial amount of screen time, he’s bound to be amazing, something Sony really took full advantage of when casting him as the Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
In addition to the actors, the movie has a terrific atmosphere and tone. You can pretty much reach out and touch it, only to have it bludgeon you to death because the atmosphere of American culture in those days was incredibly intense. You can feel the anger in the air of 80’s Compton and the disillusionment that the lower-class black community of the era was/is rightly feeling. The soundtrack, composed of hip-hop and R&B tracks of the day also help, the fact that they’re kickass jams definitely not hurting. “Kickass jams.”Jesus Christ, my whiteness is showing, isn’t it?
Throughout the first half, Straight Outta Compton is a blaze of righteous fury, and I was seriously considering it one of my favourite movies of the year so far, up there with Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out…
…And then the second half hit, and the movie screeches to a halt, becoming your generic, melodramatic biodrama. Don’t get me wrong, as generic, melodramatic biodramas go, it’s still fairly great, it’s just quite a bit of a let-down compared to the amazing first half. It’s essentially Fantastic Four if Fantastic Four started out terrific and ended up great, instead of starting off as the worst thing ever and ending as a worthless petri dish of awfulness that is now legally classified as a form of torture by the United Nation.
Overall: The second half is comparatively overwhelming for sure, but it’s not bad at all, and the incredible performances and the intensity of the first half more than make up for it.
Hey, if James Cameron approved it, it must be good, right?
Sigh….Let’s just get through this.
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Produced by: David Ellison, Dana Goldberg
Written by: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier
Genres: Science fiction, action
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Lee Byung-hun, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Plot: A retcon of sorts of the original series, Genisys (Ugh) kicks off right at the beginning of the Terminator series, with Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) getting sent back in time to 1987 by John Connor (Jason Clarke) in order to save the human race by protecting John’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke) from a Terminator (Poorly CGI’d Arnold Schwarzenegger). Once he gets back to the era when Los Lobos ruled the earth though, he learns that things have gone completely nutty. Sarah has been hunted by a goddamn T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) for fourteen years, and has been protected by her own pet Terminator (Actual, live-action Schwarzenegger). What twists and turns await Kyle and Sarah in this bizarre reality?
Well, I won’t tell you, but I will tell you this: They certainly would’ve been a lot more impactful if I hadn’t had the big twist drilled violently into my head by the fucking trailers. God, the marketing team really dropped the ball.
In my opinion, the Terminator franchise should’ve ended with the second one (Unpopular opinion, I know). The Terminator is still an amazing movie, and Judgement Day is legitimately one of my favourite movies of all time. Rise of the Machines and Salvation, on the other hand, make no sense storywise (Skynet dies in T2, why are there still fucking Terminators???) and, quality-wise, the third and fourth movies left so little impact on me that I’m not sure how bad they actually are, which, I suppose, is kind of worse than just being a bad film.
Genisys, at least, is better and, yes, more memorable than T3 or TS. Does that make it a good movie, though?
Getting right into the review, the one constant throughout this franchise, besides the constant need to manufacture some new disaster. illogical or not, in order to pump out a sequel, is the Governator (What a stupid nickname) himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As much as people (Including myself) enjoy ragging on his limited acting ability (Though I’ve heard he’s good in Maggie, I dunno) I truly believe that his performances as the Terminator are legitimately great. It would be so easy to just be a stereotypical robot, but Arnie is downright terrifying in the first movie, and even seamlessly added comedic elements to his performance in Judgment Day, to terrific results.
Thankfully, despite it being twenty-one freaking years since his last genuinely good movie…
… Arnold brings it to Genisys. He’s maybe not as intimidating as he used to be, considering he’s pushing seventy and is essentially playing Sarah Connor’s adoptive dad, but he still brings it in the action scenes (….Mostly), has some good comedic lines (Even if most of the comedy falls flat, what with the constant attempted shoehorning of repeat gags) and holds up his end of the bargain in terms of chemistry with Courtney and Clarke… Even if the latter two don’t hold up their end of the bargain.
But, with that out of the way, I just like giving credit where credit is due. While better than the third and fourth movies… Terminator Genisys is really bad. Not unwatchable, but… Yeah, still unmistakably bad.
The first warning that this was not going to be good was the fact that it was rated PG-13. I’m not saying that a Terminator movie has to be rated R to be good, but… It sure helps, doesn’t it? Terminator has always worked best as a scary, gritty sci-fi thriller and it’s hard to deliver on those fronts when you have a quota of blood and f-bombs that you can’t surpass. One would think they would’ve learned that with the last two movies, but on would be wrong.
And what’s with people’s asses getting blocked by shadow? Will kid’s retinas burn off if they glimpse CGI Schwarzenegger’s heavily muscled rear, or something?
So what if I’m shallow? We’ve established that. Sue me.
Genysis also falls into the trap of shoving in a bunch of callbacks to earlier films. Throughout the runtime, especially the first half, there are moments that are tailor-made to look exactly like scenes from the first two movies and, well, I guess it makes sense story-wise, and it’s not like callbacks are the worst thing ever, but these scenes are literally the EXACTLY the same. I don’t care if you’re ripping off Citizen Kane scene for scene, you CANNOT be that lazy. Even if you do make it similar, you can still do something new or creative with the locales and the dialogue (I think the only classic Terminator line that wasn’t rehashed is “Hasta la vista, baby”). Otherwise, you’re just being unimaginative, and fuck you for that.
Even the aspects of the film that should’ve improved from the last movies (The action and visual effects, specifically) show no noticeable improvement from T2, even. The action is completely forgettable, and seemingly built around Arnie’s inevitable semi-witty line, while the visual effects don’t look like they’ve come a long way from Judgment Day and sure, T2‘s special effects are terrific even today (Unlike the Arnie-Matronic in the first movie) but that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve on it, right? Isn’t that the whole point of a sequel (Or whatever the fuck this movie is supposed to be)? To build on the positives of the original?
Since I’ve gone on enough about everything else, it’s time to get to bitching about the things that piss me off the most about the movie, the wasted characters of Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor. Sarah had a terrific arc in the first two movies, transforming from an understandably frightened sadsack into an intense, asskicking badass. In Genysis, she starts off as a badass and… Goes nowhere from there. The only other layer to her character that we get is that she’s unhappy with the fact that her life seems predestined, and wants to do whatever she wants. Wow, we’ve never seen THAT character archetype before!
And as great an actress as Emilia Clarke is, she really isn’t very good as Sarah Connor. It’s not like she isn’t trying, because she obviously is, it’s just not clicking. At least Sarah likes the Ramones. That’s gotta count for something, right?
For being a main character of the first movie, Kyle Reese is a surprisingly underappreciated character in the franchise. In terms of the popularity, he probably ranks under the T-800, T-1000, Sarah Connor, pre-complete and utter insanity Edward Furlong, and that punk stereotype that the T-800 murders at the beginning of the first movie.
So, does Jai Courtney bring Kyle Reese back to the desired level of stardom? Your hint is at 2:40-2:45 in the video below. Also, spoilers for Se7en.
Kyle Reese is so fucking annoying in Genisys. Whenever he opens his mouth, it’s only to bitch and complain at Clarke and Schwarzenegger, yell frantically that Schwarzenegger can’t be trusted when that’s obviously not the case, and hit on Clarke. What a waste.
Speaking of waste, Clarke isn’t the only great, miscast or poorly utilized actor in Genisys. Jason Clarke is perfectly unspectacular as John Connor, Matt Smith appears for two seconds, Lee Byung-hun has nowhere near enough screen time and J.K. Simmons is completely wasted on a character that contributes nothing. What a spectacular comedown from Whiplash.
Overall: It doesn’t usually bode well when Arnold Schwarzenegger gives the most emotional performance in your movie.
(This has nothing to do with anything, but another reason why this post is so late, besides Father’s Day, is because my piece of shit McAfee software keeps sending pop-ups that turn off my Google Chrome tabs. I got seven hundred and fifty words into the review on Sunday and Monday before McAfee struck. It’s partially my fault for not saving frequently, I suppose, but still, fuck McAfee.)
I got out of my French diploma at ten-thirty on Friday. I’m not usually one to compliment Edmonton weather, but late Friday morning was absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful mid-20’s temperature (That’s Celsius for those of you unlucky enough to live in a Fahrenheit realm, or whatever) and the slightest of cool breezes.
Before I gained a barely steady cash flow, I might’ve sought out my friends, or gone home to play catch with my brother. Now? I went on my own to an air-conditioned movie theatre, where I watched a movie aimed at children, where I was the only person in the theatre who was neither a six year old, nor a parent of a six year old.
Needless to say, the minutes leading up to the movie starting were not the most comfortable for me.
Directed by: Pete Docter
Produced by: Jonas Rivera
Screenplay by: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Story by: Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Plot: Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias) is more or less your typical eleven-year old Minnesotan girl. She loves her family, friends, the great sport of hockey and couldn’t be much happier with her lot in life…. That is, until her dad’s job forces the family to move to the relatively hockey-unfriendly (Unless we’re counting San Jose) city of San Francisco, throwing the cartoon emotions inside her head into disarray.
Oh, right, the cartoon emotions. Almost forgot about that tiny detail that’s also the premise of the entire movie.
The five emotions that guide Riley through her tumultuous life are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader) and, when shenanigans ensue because of the move to San Francisco, the emotions have to work together to get Riley through this ordeal emotionally and physically unscathed.
God, this movie is fucking awesome.
I’m not going to surprise anybody when I say that I love Pixar. At this point, they’ve influenced pop culture to almost, if not the same, extent as their parent company, Disney.
That being said, I’m also not going to pretend that they’ve had a perfect go of it. In fact, since Toy Story 3, Pixar has released, at best, Brave, a movie directed by two people with different visions (And boy does it show!!!) and at worst, Cars 2 or Monsters University (Unbefitting of their predecessors. Well, actually, Cars kinda blows, but Monsters Inc. holds up beautifully).
So, I don’t know if I can really be blamed for not being all that excited about Inside Out when the movie was announced. Sure, it was an interesting concept, and the fact that Pete Docter was director, and the concept was intriguing, but… I dunno, the character designs seemed kind of lazy to me, and I thought that child psychology might be a bit of a lofty aspiration, even for a generally smart studio like Pixar. Sure, I get that they’ve done very smart movies before, but… I dunno, as deep as they’ve gone in Up, for instance, I don’t know if you could really call it as profound as, say, the psychology of a prepubescent child.
And then they announced the voice cast. Holy crap, was I ever on board. The casting director for this movie deserves a lifetime supply of coke and hookers. Or, y’know, whatever it is that people besides myself consider to be sources of joy.
You could not ask for better personifications of joy, fear, sadness, anger and disgust than Poehler, Hader, Smith, Black and Kaling.
Huh. I just realized that every main cast member besides Poehler and Black appeared on The Office in some capacity. Cool.
I guess you could make the argument that Kaling, Smith and even Black are underused, but they don’t receive that much less time than Poehler and Smith, and they’re still terrific. So are Poehler and Smith, who do receive the most of the screen time. Off the top of my head, I would say that Smith as sadness is my favourite, although Lewis Black could pull ahead, the more I think about it.
Inside Out delivers on every level that you could ever want a great Pixar movie to deliver on, at least before Larry the Cable Guy voicing a tow truck was considered par for the course Pixar. The animation? Terrific. The score from Michael Giacchino? Terrific. The character design? Actually, despite my reservations, they work incredibly well during the movie, as, while the designs themselves may not be anything special, they’re animated (And voiced, and written) in such a way that gives them way more personality than the designs let on. The comedy, drama and script in general? Well, it’s not laugh-a-minute, but it’s still a brilliant, touching script.
Also, Richard Kind’s character.
Didn’t appear at all in the marketing (That I could tell, anyways), but contributes a lot to the story. He can come off as kind of annoying, but I guarantee that he grows on you.
What I appreciate the most of this whole movie though, is the fact that, not only does it handle the deep elements inherent to a movie about goddamn child psychology, it also refuses to talk down to children. Too often, I think we’re seeing kids’ movies cater more and more to the demographic of “adults who just want something amusing to distract their kids for two hours while the parents pop vicodin in the bathroom.” Instead of making great, inventive fun movies that still manage to teach a great lesson and leave an impression on the audience, it’s becoming par for the course to shit out a movie about cartoon animals and bright colours, load it with adult jokes that wink so hard and often at the adult audience that they would be breaking a blood vessel if they were human, and cap it off with some half-assed, generic lesson that we’ve heard a million times before. It won’t leave any worthwhile long-term impression on the audience, old or young, but the studios won’t give a shit, because people are still going to see movies and because the idiot kids don’t know any better!!!
In that respect, Inside Out is the great redeemer for the recent slew of terrible family movies. Not only is this story all those positive qualities I mentioned above, but it’s maybe the smartest family movie ever made in a long time, and almost certainly one of the better depictions of the elements of childhood and growing up ever put to screen, capturing in ninety-four minutes what Boyhood couldn’t do in a million hours, or however long that fucking movie was. It’s joyous (Pun intended) but also bittersweet. It’s simple and carefree, but also confusing and difficult to get your head around. You can feel on top of the world one day and have it all crumble down in mere seconds. Multiple times. It’s good to see that Pixar not only rebounded from their rut, but rebounded with a movie that is going to mean so much to so many.
That said, I don’t like the character design in The Good Dinosaur. Let’s see if Pixar makes me look like an ass again.
Overall: Brave is no longer the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 3. Thank Jeebus for that.
Oh, what a lovely, lovely day.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: George Miller
Produced by: Doug Mitchell, George Miller, P.J. Voeten
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton
Music by: Junkie XL
Plot: Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is doing the two things he does best: Wandering the wasteland that is the Australian Outback after some catastrophic event, and slowly letting his mental instability and past regrets consume him.
I had to take that shot. I just had to. I’ll be judged for it some day, but I don’t regret it.
During this adventure (Which I hear takes place between the events of The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, but don’t quote me on that), Max comes across a group of loonies known as the War Boys, who, being loonies, capture and torture him. The War Boys are led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played Toecutter in the original Mad Max movie), a terrifying Beetlejuice-Bane hybrid who rules his territory thanks to the personality cult that he imposes on his people.
While in the custody of the War Boys, Max gets involved in a conflict with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a badass warrior lady who has taken Joe’s “Breeder Wives” (Disturbing) with her in a giant truck, in a desperate attempt to get them to a better place. Caught between the two factions, Max is in for the most batshit insane ride of his life.
Raise your hand if you would have trusted a 70-year old man (Whose last project was Happy Feet 2) with a $150 million budget for a ultraviolent, batshit insane movie that includes scenes like, uh, this:
In case you can’t see, that is, indeed, an actual scene from the movie that involves a man that looks like a Mutant from The Dark Knight Returns dressed in a red onesie playing a twin-necked electric guitar that is shooting fire.
So, everybody who raised their hands? Total liars.
Actually, I think that picture is a pretty good barometer of whether or not you’ll like this movie. If you’re the kind of person who thinks that combining Mutants, electric guitars, flamethrowers and giant, threatening vehicles are awesome, then you’re gonna have a great time.
And if you’re not? I couldn’t care less, you should still watch this movie. Mad Max: Fury Road is fucking amazing. The only movies that I’ve seen since I’ve started reviewing recent releases that I’ve loved more than Mad Max are Birdman and Whiplash, and even then, I’d have to think really hard about putting them above this glorious movie. I truly believe that this will go down in history as one of the classic, genre-defining action movies, and I also think that it’s definitely the best action movie of the decade so far. It is that fucking majestic.
Credit for the awesomeness should probably be laid at the feet of George Miller, the aforementioned 70-year old director, who makes ageist jackasses like me look like total fools. Unlike other directors who return to their franchises after a long hiatus and succumb to the temptation of overdosing on CGI…
… Miller wisely decided to use as little CGI as possible, relying mostly on as many practical effects as around $150 million will get you. The result is a veritable goddamned smorgasbord of unhinged vehicular carnage throughout the giant action scene that is this movie.
That last sentence wasn’t an exaggeration, by the way. Fury Road is essentially a two-hour long action scene with some (Very, very well done) dramatic scenes interspersed throughout. You would think that a setup like that would be extremely tedious .
That is not the case with Fury Road. I never once grew tired of the relentless action. Why is that? Well, I’m not sure, but I’ll chalk it up to some combination of the skillful direction of George Miller, the terrific uses of practical effects, my own personal uncontrollable bloodlust, and the score from both Junkie XL and the freak with the guitar, who, awesomely enough, is actually incorporated into the score, to terrific effect.
Aside from being just a terrific score on its own, the music really contributes to an atmosphere of franticness when it calls for it. Believe me, nothing gets your heart pumping like a guiet score getting interrupted by guitars and drums pounding along at a relentless, breakneck pace.
An awesome action movie wouldn’t be awesome without some badass characters fucking shit up, though, and thankfully, Fury Road delivers awesomely on that front too. Tom Hardy is the supposed lead of the movie, replacing Mel Gibson as the titular character. He doesn’t say much, unsurprising, since Mad Max has never been the chattiest of protagonists, but his scowling, brooding, insane demeanor more than does the trick, selling the fact that he’s a goddamned badass who will tear your damned throat out if you so much as squint at him.
Nicholas Hoult is also terrific as a War Boy named Nux, who I’m not going to get into for fear of spoilers. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does a good job of redeeming herself for Transformers: Dark of the Moon with a strong, badass performance here, while Hugh Keays-Byrne is suitably scary as Immortan Joe.
The real standout, though, is the arguable star of the movie, Charlize Theron, who absolutely KILLS it as Furiosa. The rest of this movie could have been total shit, and it still would have been awesome as a whole because of Charlize Theron.
And she pisses off sexists, so that’s awesome too.
Overall: Go see this movie. Just do it. You won’t regret it. Unless you’re epileptic, then maybe wait for the Blu-Ray release. I dunno, just watch the damn movie, alright?
Before Age of Ultron, I had to do four major exams and a French oral presentation. That made May 1st one of those days that was simultaneously the best and worst day ever.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: Joss Whedon
Based on: The Avengers by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany
Music by: Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman
Plot: The Avengers; Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, have been at their superheroing ways for a while now, fighting evil wherever it may rear its ugly head. However, after a somewhat traumatic mission in the fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia or whatever (Where the official language is apparently heavily accented English),Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) decides that what the world needs is not the Avengers, but a super-powerful artificial intelligence whose goal is to achieve world peace by any means necessary. This is a wholly original concept that has never been attempted before in fiction, right?
Stark and Dr. Banner (Mark Ruffalo) accidentally create an A.I. named Ultron (James Spader) who, as anybody with half a brain could predict, is overwhelmed with a god complex, concluding that, since humans are the ones screwing up the world, the only way to ensure world peace is to destroy all humans, particularly the Avengers. Not exactly taking his kindly, the Avengers set out to defeat Ultron, but find themselves contending with divisions within the team, two mysterious twins working with Ultron, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) and the mysterious android named the Vision (Paul Bettany).
If that sounds like a lot of stuff going on, it’s because it kind of is. It’s become a growing trend among superhero movies lately to really up the amount of complicated subplots. I guess it makes sense that an extended universe would have more complicated storylines. You can’t merely have Superman saving Lois Lane anymore, you must have Captain America destroying HYDRA, have that tie in with a damn TV show, and have THAT tie into a movie that stars Vin Diesel as a fucking talking tree.
While I wouldn’t go so far as saying that you needed to have watched the other Marvel movies in order to understand this one, there are still some issues to be found in Age of Ultron. Joss Whedon has said that there is one hour of footage that had to be cut in order to get the movie down to a manageable length, and I commend him for that, because who wants to see a three and a half hour long superhero movie?
That said, during the second act, the movie starts feeling a bit rushed, trying to squeeze in development and plot points that kind of come out of nowhere. There’s an entire sequence involving Thor that tries to serve as both an advancement of the plot and a setup for Thor: Ragnarok (Get hyped for that November 3, 2017 release date!!!) and… It doesn’t work. There’s just not enough explained. I understand part of the conclusion that Thor comes to during the subplot, but I’ll be damned if I know what happened up until that point. Something about Asgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Chris Hemsworth shirtless in a pool of water, whatever. Until the extended edition comes our on Blu-Ray (Please???), I can’t really give this movie points for flawlessly cohesive storytelling.
Also, while I’ll get into Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch a little later, their accents didn’t do it for me at all. Who knows though, maybe the official language of Sokovia is English spoken with a cartoonish Russian accent? Fuck if I know.
I’m done dicking around, though. What did I think of Age of Ultron as a whole?
I fucking love it.
I know, I know, I’m predictable, but this movie…. It’s just so cool, you guys.
Yes, in terms of story, it’s not the most narratively well done, and the “Evil A.I” has been done to death, but if you’re really bothered by that when watching… You were probably too far gone to enjoy the movie in the first place.
While the action is great, as one would expect from most summer blockbusters nowadays, and the CGI is on point (… Save for some moments in the opening action sequence), this movie, even more than the first Avengers, lives and dies on its larger than-life characters and personalities.
Some people assumed from the trailers that Age of Ultron was going to be yet another goddamn “dark and gritty” superhero movie, and while it does have some heavy moments, its not a dark movie. Like, at all. It has more or less the same tone and atmosphere as the first one, just with, you know, a threatening villain.
Again, thanks to the trailer, many people assumed that Ultron would be the most threatening villain in the MCU to date, based on his menacing appearance and penchant for monologuing. Once again, that’s kind of misleading. While Ultron is really cool, and James Spader is downright fantastic, he was also, completely unexpectedly, really damn funny in an appropriately twisted, dark way, which makes sense, when you consider that he was created by Tony Stark. In addition to that, he’s not entirely a creature of logic, he could be seen as a child with a very black-and-white view of morality. That’s a pretty good way to distinguish him from the humorless “Evil A.I.” archetype that fiction has beaten to death at this point.
What I’m most impressed with, though, is what they did with the main characters. Actually, scratch that, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are just as awesome and well-written as they were before, but the secondary Avengers, for lack of a better term, get a whole hell of a lot more interesting. Hulk and Black Widow have a relationship that some people are calling forced, but I think it helps develop their character arcs a little more. especially since we haven’t had a solo Hulk movie for a while, and fans are still holding out for the Black Widow solo movie that is growing more and more unlikely by the minute.
There was definitely a more PC way to phrase that caption, but my point still stands.
The surprising one for me (And a whole lot of other people) was Hawkeye, who was pretty much nondescript in the first movie, was my favourite character in this movie. Without getting spoiler-y… He’s a scene stealer. Hawkeye is a scene stealer. God, this movie is bizarre.
Lastly, the new characters are, big surprise, pretty damn great. The Vision, without spoiling any details, is fucking awesome, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are also good. While I wouldn’t say that this Quicksilver is as entertaining as the one in Days of Future Past, but this one has a pretty enjoyable personality that Aaron Taylor-Johnson has a lot of fun with. (Fun fact: Taylor-Johnson was the star of Kick-Ass, while Evan Peters, who played Quicksilver in Days of Future Past, played Taylor-Johnson’s friend in Kick-Ass. Full circle, or whatever.
Also, I have a crush on Elizabeth Olsen. I didn’t know that before today.
Overall: Age of Ultron delivers as a summer blockbuster on every sustainable level, being almost as good as the first movie. Shame the mid-credits scene sucks balls.