Sunday, March 13, 2011

BATTLE:LA ...Today!!!

Planning to see Battle:LA today...
Trailer was fantastic, and the definite reason for my interest in the film so we will see...
I like Aaron Eckhart and I looooves Michelle Rodriguez I does..

But so far the reviews are terrible, and it's March release date might mean a lack of faith behind the studio scenes, but I gotta decide this one for myself...

...5 hours later:

Well well well...
That was a pleasant surprise - better part of halfway through I lean over to Josh and say the same thing I said halfway through The Watchmen - "I'm liking this..." to which he responds "I know too." ..and it hadn't changed by the end.
I enjoyed Battle:LA quite a bit actually.

No obvious CG - I just can't stand it - lazy filmmakers replacing reality with pixels - "We'll just CG it out later." I hate you. You imbeciles are ruining movies. I will make a feature film with no fucking CG...
Anyway, the film plays fast and busy, and if that's not your cup of tea - don't go. If you like a war drama with a few solid characters and a forward driven script with no pretension you may enjoy Battle:LA as much as I did. Black-Hawk Down with aliens - yup, that works for me.

No superheroics - Another juvenile trapping of modern action films is the "superheroic human" - annoyingly lame. As soon as someone jumps four stories and hangs onto a moving vehicle with one hand while shooting, I'm kinda gone from it - people die in this one, and die logically.

The Aliens - great design ...weird and new...
There's an excellent scene with our resolute soldiers attempting to "kill" one of the creatures - we get human desperation and real special effects ...allllriiight, this is science fiction adventure at it's best, and I am a real sci-fi fan.

The scene with the kid - you'll know what I mean when I say it goes from predictable to touching in two seconds - it's just a good scene.

The Ending - Excellent for a few reasons - I believe it's the human element that makes good sci-fi - and it's abundant here in an intense, smart finale that borrows from stuff I love while showing me something fresh & new.
Amazing FX.

Michelle Rodriguez - 'nuff said.

Thanks to Aaron Eckhart(are his characters always impatient?) and his faith in Jonathan Liebesman's vision. It was a good one.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Okay, Inception I know why I didn't like you very much.

Right out of the gate, the energy of AB is just better ...faster, cooler..
Smart music choices, here and at the end of the film, bookend it nicely, as the tale of David Norris quickly becomes interesting enough for a film of it's own. It establishes it's own identity in it's first couple scenes, and though we all know PKD is a genius, it's obvious the Screenwriter/Director had to write some pretty damn good stuff to set this story in 2011 - impressive synthesis, and dedicated filmmaking.

Matt Damon turns in a really good performance boasting subtleties I've never seen him display - best role since Bourne 2...
Emily Blunt is sooo well cast here. Obviously not the traditional beauty, she catches you off guard with her presence, skill and style ...perfect balance to Damon's charisma and character. I didn't "want" her so much as I wanted them to be together ...very cool.
John Slattery does his weirdest version of that character he often plays - "Official doing something official" and I liked him in this more than ever before. Anthony Mackie's Harry is great, as is Michael Kelly - really solid performances that just elevate the whole thing.
As for Terrence Stamp - he's Terrence Stamp - of course he's awesome.

The whole shebang looks really good and a couple unique NY location shots make his political campaign feel very real - like places we just wouldn't be if this weren't true ... good direction - why have I never heard of George Nolfi? ..well, turns out he wrote Bourne 3 ...and this is his first directing gig. Fuck, dude - not bad.

It made me feel good. It often is that simple for this guy.
Inception didn't.
It felt like "elevated pretension" in retrospect, having just enjoyed this film five times more. If anything it's the humour that separates it - AB is funny and charming in the moments Inception was informative and sterile.

By the end, I felt a fair bit like David Norris - that forces for years had been conspiring to thwart me, and that only my ultimate perseverance would get me to where I want to truly be.

But that's the point isn't it - association - make us see ourselves - give us strength we believe we have. Raise us up.

Damn good movie - can't wait to watch it again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Superior Sequels: Do they exist?

I think they do...
..but not in the fashion put to me by friends and film aficionados over the years.

"Empire's wayyyy better than Star Wars.."
"Spider-Man is twice as good as part one..."
"Superman's boring ...I like #2 more.."
etc. etc...

I don't think a film that relies on the existence of another is superior. If Spidey 2 introduced the character we'd have been disappointed Uncle Ben origin...
Technical, I know, but these aren't better - might be a more enjoyable adventure - maybe better written, maybe even a better film, which is the case with Star Wars for sure... buuuuut, if you have to have seen the previous story, it's like saying you prefer the second floor of a cool building - sure, but that first floor matters a bit more.

The Exceptions or what I consider to be the only 2 "superior" sequels ever made:

#1 is Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan ...better look, script, better film, annnnd, had this been the intro to the film incarnations of Kirk and Spock, it would still be better, and perhaps moreso as a film sequel to the TV series. We all love Khan.
In fact, Star Trek as a franchise may have two "superior sequels". The new film, with only one cast member of the original characters, may work just as well as STII in that it's a sequel to the TV series. I'm willing to bet you could jump from the 60's show to J.J.Abrams Trek #11 and see it as "better". The film is genius, and one of the best of the past decade. Not bad for a franchise that lived in the shadow of Star Wars for far too long.

#2 is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a prequel, I think this'd be a perfect intro to Indy, especially with his "fortune and glory" stuff that obviously belongs to a younger version of the character. Watch Doom then Raiders and tell me it doesn't feel like Indy is about five years older in Raiders. I happen to like Temple more(just a personal thing, but I have great reasons) and anyone who does can easily see it as "better" than it's Oscar-nominated predecessor. I truly believe Spielberg's disdain for Temple affected it's place in pop-culture. I just don't see Nazi's as "lighter" than grinning maniacal over-the-top cult leaders. The whole film is too light to see as "too dark" ...the script is funny, an action movie's timing, and the 'hero's journey" is clearest and coolest in this one of all four.

If anyone ever reads this and disagrees, please comment - I love this stuff.