Saturday, May 31, 2014

Top 5 Movies I'm looking forward to this year!

I didn't get to see any new movies this weekend. So, I don't really have anything that topical to say. Because of this, I just wanted to do this "off" thing where I shamelessly get to talk about myself.

If it's anything about me, I have this knee-jerk reaction to judge movies just by hearing about it being produced. There's a new Ninja Turtles movie coming out that has Michael Bay involved and the guy who directed Battle LA directing the upcoming reptiles in masks movie. Just from knowing that these two guys are involved, I don't exactly have high hopes for the movie, though I still hope it turns out good in the end. Also, whenever I heard of Maleficent, as it tries to be a dark and gritty take over a Disney fairy-tale, just sounds like a bad idea to me all across the board because...well, these things hardly play out to be good(though, I am hearing surprising things about that movie).

Also, I need to give a special mention to Lucy. I mean, the movie does have an interesting sort of concept, even if the whole "You only use 10% of your brain" is complete bullcrap. But, hey, it's got Scarlett Johansson kicking ass with super powers, which makes me think that this alone might be the quickest way to get me to want to see your movie. But, then I see other things in the trailer that involves her taking out an entire room of bad guys with just a wave of her hand. This is probably going to be something saved by the end of the movie, but I can't help but think what kind of tension this breaks when the main character is able to kill everybody with just a snap of her fingers. Unless she turns into the bad guy by the end, to which the movie will probably end with people trying to stop her. And there's a very likely chance of this happening because the movie pretty much advertises its own theme in the trailer by having Johansson's character saying "It's as if all the things that make me human are fading away" while Morgan Freeman talks about her unlocking secrets and knowledge that humanity might not be ready for.


I mean, really? That's what you're seriously going to do? "Oh, wouldn't it be cool if you were like super smart? But it could come at a cost of ruining humanity, that's why no one should know too much!"

I just really, really don't get it. Instead of coming off as smart and intelligent, which I imagine this movie is trying to do, it comes off as scared because its afraid of not being ignorant.

Anyways, yeah, I think the reason why I wanted to write this was to vent about my thoughts on Lucy, but I will say that it doesn't look like a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, it looks like it'll be a well-made film, even if I feel like its taking its concept from the wrong angle. It's just kind of weird having things in a movie that would make me want to see it no matter what while also bringing up things in a movie that would make me despise even knowing about its existence. It sort of feels like they're trying to do "God is Not Dead" as a science fiction action thriller.

But, believe it or not, there are movies I am excited for. So, instead of venting and complaining, like I would usually do for upcoming movies, here are movies I'm actually excited to see.

5. Edge of Tomorrow

"Edge of Tomorrow" is a really, really dumb title for a movie. It was originally called "All You Need is Kill," which is a much better title but I'm not sure if it would be fitting for this movie. The premise was enough to peak my curiosity. Tom (Runs) Cruise is playing a character where he lives through the same day over and over again and, because of this, he is able to make better combat decisions the more he learns about the consequences of his decisions. If nothing else, the science fiction setting and look of the movie definitely gives it a unique edge on a lot of other action movies coming out, but with the early reviews coming in where people are actually really, really liking this movie is the one thing I need to confirm my excitement for this movie. Even if the title is still the dumbest thing ever.

4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I'm not exactly sure what can really be done with this movie that isn't just treading water until the planet of the apes officially become the planet of the apes. But if there's anything that will get me excited for any kind of movie, it's seeing monkeys horse-back riding. There's really not much  I would be able to say about this movie then just me looking forward to seeing some serious ape battles that are going to look really cool, but I'll be damned if seeing monkeys horse-back riding really isn't one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I liked its predecessor quite a bit as it was being a compelling origin story of how this whole monkey business (I regret nothing) started. So, while I am weary of what could be done with a sort of "In between story" with the humans and the apes at conflict with each other, it's probably going to be at least pretty good.

Also, monkeys riding on horses! I mean, hell yeah that's cool!

3. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

If anything else, I'm more than a little eager to finally get the Hobbit movies over with so Peter Jackson can finally do the next Tintin movie. But, even with that in mind, having these movies while I wait for my next favorite kind of high-budget, well casted, well acted, well written B-movie isn't exactly the worst kind of place holder. Sure, it might be a bit strenuous to have one book stretched out into three movies, but I've been having a little too much fun with these movies to really even care. I even like the stuff in this movie that gets criticized a lot, which was mostly the stuff that just felt like filler. But, hell, I loved the part in the first movie where it takes about 45 minutes for the adventure to really start. I love the sort of complex class disparity issues that dragged out the second movie to be as long as it was. I love the action scenes, the barrel rides, the heads getting cut off, the giant rock monster battle that came out of nowhere.

There's no doubt that there's going to be a lot more to the last movie than there was in the books as this part of the story happens when the book only had a few pages left. But, whatever they have come up with in order to expand on the story, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. The only part I didn't really like was the action scene with Smaug at the end of the second movie. But everything else has been great!

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

I think I might as well come out and admit that I'm not sure if I'm on board with the new Captain America movie as much as everyone else has been. The movie definitely had everything that I should have liked: Captain America, Captain America punching people, Captain America using his shield as a frisbee, a tight spy thriller story that gets political on recent things the US has done, Captain America punching people, and, while there were some editing and shot choices that made me scratch my head, the action scenes were pretty top notch with the Winter Soldier pretty much stealing every scene he was in. And yet...I just don't know about it. Maybe it's the fact that I felt like this probably went too much into the territory of "You better have seen all of the previous movies, otherwise, you'll be lost" that threw me for a loop, even though a lot of people who aren't into the whole Marvel comics continuity experiment ended up really liking this movie. And, because of that in particular, I feel weird about having this sort of disconnected feeling with the movie.

But, pretty soon, we'll get to see space battles, a talking tree, a green alien space chick, and a raccoon with a space gun. So, I'm hoping things will even out with this movie.

1. Interstellar

What is this movie about? I couldn't tell you. Will it be good? I certainly hope so. Could I predict how this movie will turn out? Probably. Would I want to? I just want to see the movie for myself. But even though this looms over every other movie in my mind just by being something that's mysterious and different, it just makes me want to see this movie more. Trailers have a really bad habit of showing way to much to where they leave almost nothing to surprise the audience when the actual movie comes out(I wouldn't be surprised if the trailer for Lucy has pretty much shown everything). But here? They just give you a small taste, a small glimpse, something that will peak your curiosity and see it just to see what this movie is going to be about

I know that with the previous movies I've mentioned on this list, I'm probably starting to sound like some sort of simpleton who just generates saliva by the thought of lazers, robotic suits, guys getting their heads cut-off, monkey battles, and green alien space chicks, but I'm always up for something as intelligent and interesting looking as Interstellar. 

I look forward to Oscar season movies as much as anyone else, they just don't get as much marketing until Oscar season finally does roll around. But a movie that the producers think actually is marketable to a summer movie kind of audience that just teases at what might actually be happening, which probably throw the audience through a loop and make them experience something unlike other movies? I'm a little more than looking forward to seeing how a movie like this turns out. It's not like I think this movie will be too smart for any kind of film-going audience member, rather that I'm surprised that there willing to advertise this movie at all when people are about to see your standard summer action movie. There's nothing in this trailer that doesn't look like something that's out of the normal.

I'm not sure how this movie will turn out or even if its going to be as smart and interesting as it's advertising to be. But with how little they showed and how much they are teasing, I'm really excited about seeing this movie, even if there's a possibility that it'll be crummy. However, knowing which people are behind this movie assures me that this movie will at least be pretty good.

But, if nothing else, it will definitely be the most memorable film-going experience we will have this year!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why Godzilla Fails as a Movie

I don’t do “top worst lists” of any kind of movies ever. And movies like Godzilla are why I don’t do them. Sure, there was that one point where I made that one blog that nobody read which involved what I thought to be some of the worst games of 2012, but the reason I felt they were so bad was because they were soulless, cash grabbing, boring messes. But when something sets out to actually try to be what they thought was going to be special and noble only to just fall short by a lot of levels and make it into the sort of “bad” territory that Godzilla falls into, I would start to feel bad for calling it something like “one of the worst of such and such.” And, make no mistake, if I made the worst of 2014, Godzilla would probably make it on the list. Granted, it wouldn't be in a very high position on the list and they are definitely worse movies out there, but Godzilla’s bad parts are just so bad that the parts in this movie that are actually really good kind of make the bad parts stick out even worse.

And make no mistake, the parts that are good in this movie are just so good. Unfortunately, all of the good parts happen by the end of the movie. Everything before the end is the movie feeding us a mess of a story that’s tortuous and boring to sit through. And those boring moments are the parts that I want to talk about because they miss the mark by so much, it’s really baffling when you think about it.

Oh, and, by the way, this is going to be a thorough analysis of the movie, so there are going to be spoilers.

Anyways, here we go.

The movie starts like just about any monster movie. In fact, the point of reference you can make here is Jaws, where the looming threat of the movie starts at the beginning, but it’s only a small taste of what’s to come. In this movie, it involves a major accident happening in a nuclear power plant in Japan. Bryan Cranston’s character, named Joe Brody, but why would anyone bother remembering the character’s name when just calling him Bryan Cranston is easier,  thinks that this major accident wasn’t from anything natural. This major accident kills Bryan Cranston’s wife, giving him a personal vendetta with what happened at this nuclear power plant. So far, this all works. It looks like we have a clear protagonist where they set up the characters history, he’s being played by everyone’s favorite actor of the now, which is Bryan Cranston, and, best of all, he’s being played by Bryan Cranston. Bryan Cranston is a good actor, and if it were up to him the carry the entire movie on his shoulders as the only good character, he probably could have saved this movie.

But then the movie gets turned on its head when you realize that Bryan Cranston actually isn't the main character as he dies towards the beginning of the movie.

Instead of the only character in the movie that was sufficiently written as a character being the protagonist, we get a boring military guy who just runs around and doesn’t really do anything to affect the plot. Also, he’s Bryan Cranston’s Character’s son, even though this doesn’t really matter throughout the rest of the movie. You might think they were trying to set up a thing where they have the main character act as a surrogate to view all of the main events that happen in the story. You know, somebody like Watson from Sherlock Holmes or Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit are there as a way to help ease in the audience on the events of the story with the same understanding as the main character. 

Bilbo isn't somebody who goes on adventures and he isn't somebody who’s really familiar with any of the strange things that happen outside of his home. Sure, he gets his moments of heroism here and there, but if the story had just been about the Dwarves going off and skillfully doing all of the things without a character that the audience can connect with, it would have been pretty boring. But the Dwarves keep on facing challenges and they need Bilbo’s help every once in a while. And, by the fact that they chose a character who everybody would assume was incredibly inept is something that is used to all of the Dwarves’ advantages. With Watson, he is used because he has about as much as a fascination with Sherlock Holmes as most of the readers or viewers do. He’s inept at solving cases as most people are and he doesn't see things the same way Sherlock Holmes does. He’s pretty much there so Sherlock Holmes can explain how he solved the case.

Explain it to me, Sherlock...explain it to me, hard...

Now, with all of this in mind, why did they choose this kind of character for the new Godzilla movie? It’s pretty baffling, because he’s not really involved with the plot all that much and he’s not really there to view any of the action that’s going on as all of it happens pretty much wherever he isn’t. People have pointed out that the actor playing this character, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is pretty bad in this part, but I’d go as far as saying it’s because he really isn't giving anything to do, even if he is the main character. I would have accepted it if he was there because he was reluctantly following Bryan Cranston around because he didn't believe it when Bryan Cranston was really sure that something big and evil was going on. I mean, it could have worked out this way as he thinks Bryan Cranston is crazy only to find out that he had a point and it turns out that he was right and that the government should be careful when they are hiding things, especially if it involves the safety of passerby citizens. So, Bryan Cranston’s son could have been pulled into these situations where Bryan Cranston is doing all of these things to try to save people and the fact that nobody believed him caused catastrophic events to everybody, which could have produced a direct conflict between the main characters, the government, the citizens, and the monsters.

But, instead of something like that, we get a story that doesn't really have any conflict with any of the characters at all.

Anyways, the movie does a time jump where its 15 years after the terrible event at the nuclear power plant, but, now, we’re following the main character of the movie. As we established, the main character is Brian Cranston’s Character’s son, and he’s an army guy. It starts off with him coming home to his family and I guess we’re supposed to like him because he has a family? Like, he has a caring family he comes home to after he’s done doing army stuff and this is supposed to make us feel stuff? Yeah! Nice try! How about a character who would be interesting even without a family? Or maybe a character with a clear motivation throughout the movie? Oh wait, that’s right! They actually have that character, but he dies.

Anyways, the family gets a call saying that the guy’s father got arrested in Japan because he was investigating something that the government was hiding. It’s up to the main character to bail him out, but Bryan Cranston decides to drag him along in order to prove that the government is really hiding something. The main character doesn't believe him but he goes along with it anyway. They go to their old house in Japan and they get the seismograph record from the Nuclear Power Plant incident. Then, they go off to investigate a place that has been shut down due to radioactive activity. Except, when they get there, they find out there the place isn't toxic at all, which means that the government must be hiding something if they don’t want any people in the area. This gets them arrested but, instead of throwing the guys in jail, they decide to bring them along to the thing they’re hiding because Bryan Cranston has the record from that terrible incident when people thought that any recordings of it had been lost. It turns out that the seismograph records that Bryan Cranston has match with the seismographic readings that are happening in the area. This confirms his belief that they are really hiding something.

And, yeah, shocker! It turns out they really are hiding something.

Who could have seen that one coming, except for everyone...ever?

So, nothing immediately wrong is going on with the plot so far. I mean, yeah, the 15 year jump leading us to boring characters where they skip all of the build up and conspiracy kind of hurts the movie by...well, a lot, but all of things in this movie go by in a sort of consequential order. One event leads to another, which causes something else to happen. It doesn't fall into the “And then this happened!” trap that some other summer movies fall into. But when the first monster shows up, that’s when this movie officially starts to fall apart. The guys get readings from this radio-active egg which hatches and releases the first monster in the movie. And, when this happens, everybody thought the same thing…”That’s not Godzilla! That’s the Cloverfield monster!” But my immediate next thought was actually a pretty positive one because I didn't know the movie was going to handle things this badly, but I was really excited to see that this movie was going to lead up towards monster battles. But, this was the point when Bryan Cranston dies due to all of the destruction which made me realize “Oh...I guess Bryan Cranston isn't the protagonist, it’s going to be the boring military guy.” I realize I’ve only kept on referring to him as the main character but that’s because the character is so bland and boring that it’s really not even worth remembering his name. Only that his last name was Brody, but that’s because it seems like we need all of the guys who fight monsters are named Brody for some reason. There’s Jason Brody from Far Cry 3(he fights one monster in the game, that counts!) and then there’s Adrien Brody from real life.

Well, since the main character is a military guy, they bring him to a military base and fill him in that the giant monster is called a MUTO, which stands for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object, even though they seem to know a lot about these monsters if they calling them Unidentified.  But then they talk about a new monster that they have been researching and trying to kill for years...except they can’t. So, they gave him a name...Godzilla. But then one Japanese guy says that Godzilla is actually a good guy. I guess he knows this because he’s Japanese...oh...I know that might sound kind of bad, but this movie doesn’t really give an explanation of why Godzilla is the good guy other than that one Japanese guy says he is. He says he’s there to bring balance to the force and to destroy the sith.

Surprisingly, Googling "Godzilla with a lightsaber" yielded results

But the main character is sent to Honolulu so he can go back home from an airport. Though, the reason they dropped him off at Honolulu was because they were there because they were expecting the MUTO or something. And the MUTO comes and destroys stuff. And, at this point, in a weak attempt to raise the stakes, the main character gets stuck with a kid who gets separated from his parents. And since this kid is a kid, I guess we’re supposed to hope that he doesn’t die because he’s a kid...I dunno. The fact that the kid got involved did absolutely nothing for the rest of the movie. Forget that a lot of kids probably died when the monster attacked, the fact that this kid survived and made it back to his parents makes everything okay...I suppose.

But, then, it finally happens. A strange but enormous monster appears out of the ocean. The audience feels it coming. It creates a huge wave destroying streets in the city. The creature comes out with each step plunging through the earth. There’s a great shot where they show the camera all the way from the bottom to the top of this enormous figure. There he is! There’s Godzilla in full form! He releases the mightiest of all screams. It’s iconic! You can feel the tension building and you think “Holy shit! This is going to be awesome!” And cuts to a couple of news clips of the MUTO and Godzilla fighting and then...there’s the aftermath of the city.


Everything that’s wrong with the movie is summed up by this entire sequence. For one thing, the Main Character gets caught up in a monorail that gets destroyed by the MUTO, where he has to hold on tight to survive. But, then, after that, all of the action takes place off screen. There isn't any direct conflict with any of the characters we know and the monsters. And the movie doesn't even bother to show us too much of what the monsters are doing, even though, until this point of the movie, everything was building up to this scene. And the fact that the movie just decides to not do anything with the scene where we finally get to see Godzilla in full form, I kind of wonder if Gareth Edwards wanted to make a Godzilla movie in the first place. I almost kind of feel like he had these copy cats of the cloverfield monster that he just fell in love with and, after finishing a script with these monsters, he got called into a meeting and got asked “Hey! This is kind of cool, you think we can add Godzilla here?” So they just shoehorned him into the movie. It may not have happened like that...but it sure feels like it.

Sorry! I'm busy with other movies right now, so I can't be in this one for long.

So, let me compare this to King Kong. “Which one?” you ask. Well, the Peter Jackson one is going to illustrate my point better as that movie and the new Godzilla movie try to paint the main monster as being sympathetic or the main hero. However, the original King Kong does what the new Godzilla movie was trying to do, only a lot better as well. Both King Kong movies understand build up and plotting and conflict. But the new King Kong does what the new Godzilla movie was trying to do, which was make their monster an icon again.

In Kong, there’s talk of a mysterious beast on the island they are going to, but nobody is really sure about it. Also, everybody feels like they are wasting there time by going to this island and they don’t like dealing with Carl Denham in the first place. But, when they end up there, they realize it’s actually a really dangerous island filled with natives who perform sacrificial rituals. In their attempt to escape, Anne gets captured and ends up getting caught up in one of their rituals, where they offer Anne to the mysterious beast of this island.

When the beast collects Anne, we only catch glimpses of him from Anne’s point of view and we see him as being incredibly scary. After an hour of build-up, we finally get to see King Kong in full form, and it all works because everything before this point has been leading up to here. Anne manages to break away from Kong because she still feels she’s in danger in front of him. However, she manages to find herself in the midst of even more scary creatures and ends up getting chased down by dinosaurs. At this point, we’re afraid for her and hope she makes it out alive. 

Suddenly, however, Kong appears out of nowhere in order to save Anne. Whatever Kong is doing during his fight against the dinosaurs, he always makes sure that Anne is unharmed. And when there is a final confrontation with the last Dinosaur, we see Kong and the Tyrannical Lizard standing across from each other with Anne in the middle of the two beasts. Except Anne finds herself siding with King Kong because she realizes that he has been trying to protect her. And, at this point, we’re fully on board on siding with King Kong. He’s protecting a character we've come to know and understand and we know that Kong winning this fight is what is going to help Anne survive.

Huh...I guess we didn’t need a Japanese guy to tell us that Kong was one of the good guys, it was actually the story that told us that.

Even in the original, since Ann's life was determined by whether Kong won or not, we we're still rooting for everybody's favorite giant gorilla monster!

But Godzilla is a story about the humans and how they have to deal with Monsters coming in and messing up their cities, right? That would be fair enough, except...none of the characters we follow in this movie are directly affected by the monsters. Sure, some soldiers die and cities get destroyed, except they are more of a statistic and we don’t really get a feel of the impact on the monsters. Cloverfield had us following characters that were directly affected by the monster that was invading, and we spent the entire movie hoping they would survive. They weren't military guys or they didn't have any special powers in order to help save the city, they just had one goal in mind: to get out of this mess alive.

I guess you could say that the main characters had a goal to destroy the monsters and you could consider every time they failed to save a city as something that would affect them. But they always cut away from action and we never really feel any of the conflict throughout the entire movie. They cut away from the monster battles and, any time they have any direct confrontations with the monsters, anything the main characters do are completely inconsequential and they never really affect the plot all that much. I guess there was that one time when they were trying to transport nuclear bombs to see if they can use it as a weapon, which causes the monster to come by and take one of the bombs as nuclear bombs are a part of his food, so maybe we can consider that part working.

It nearly worked when they finally showed Godzilla in full form because that was the only part in the movie where there was any sort of build up to anything. But everything after that is just people waiting around until they finally get to the final battle of the movie. Because of this, I just don’t remember anything that happens between the sequence in Honolulu all the way up to the final battle. There’s no momentum in the plot anymore and they don’t take the time to really do anything with the already boring characters they have. The rest of the movie is just the Japanese guy saying “trust me, Godzilla is the good guy, he’s our only hope of stopping the monsters.”

"Go fight the monsters by yourselves, I'm napping right now!"

But, we finally do get to the end of the movie and the reason why this part is so good is not just because it’s when we finally get to see Godzilla fight with the monsters, but it’s also because we finally get to see conflict play out. The military is having a direct fight with the monsters, hoping to save San Francisco. And they've finally decided that Godzilla is one of the good guys and we hope to get to see him defeat the monsters in order for the city to be saved. And the military actually does stuff that progresses things like helping Godzilla out, especially with The Main Character being able to distract one of the MUTOs by destroying her eggs, which saved Godzilla's life. And the moments of Godzilla fighting the monsters are so well staged and well directed that it really does almost make the entire movie worth it just for those scenes.

But, in the end, that’s what the entire movie was missing. Any real sense of conflict or drama. The only character with any sort of motivation or personality gets killed off in the beginning of the movie and were left with a bunch of characters that we don’t know much about or really even care about. I think they were trying to go for an angle where nobody is sure that Godzilla is the good guy and the would eventually have to accept that they need his help because any attempts they had fighting against the monsters were futile, but they don’t show any conflict between the characters who trust Godzilla and the ones who don’t. And, because of this, it makes it feel like the movie is waiting around until the very end where they finally feel confident enough to show monster action, or any sort of conflict at all.

Maybe some people found Pacific Rim overly simple and broad, but at least it understood the very basics of conflict. The Kaiju were always a looming threat throughout the entire movie and it was all about doing everything they could in order to stop the invasion. And, as far as build up goes, the reason why Jaws does it so well is that, even though we don’t see the shark until the end of the movie, we feel the impact of what the shark is doing to everybody. It’s causing people to fight, to divide, to get scared. In Godzilla, there isn't any real impact to any of the characters we know. Stuff just happens off-screen without us feeling anything for anybody.

What can be a more noble goal than "Cancelling the Apocalypse"?

So, the movie didn't fall short because there wasn't enough of Godzilla or monster fights, but because it lacked any real or meaningful conflict throughout the majority of the film. However, it does have the potential for conflict. It has all of the ingredients to make a really good movie. But they didn't seem to know what to do with the ingredients other than they knew that people wanted to eventually see monster fights...and that they wanted to attempt the whole build up in order for them to look smart and intelligent in movie making without really understanding how building up to scenes work.

In the end, I don’t think Godzilla is all that bad of a movie. It’s just disappointing and underwhelming in a lot of parts. Things don’t work in the movie and they spend way too long before they finally show any real drama. But, by the time it gets to the good parts, it’s all handled so well that it really does make this movie “almost good!” Here’s hoping for a better future for our hero, Godzilla!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Well, it only took a couple of weeks for summer movies to finally get good.

I'm half way expecting that some of you are eager to know what I think of Godzilla and wondering why I didn't say summer movies didn't get good until last week. Well, honestly, a lot of people have probably seen that movie by now and, by now, it deserves more of an analysis than a review. So, I'll get to it...eventually. Until then, here's the X-Men movie named after a Moody Blues album...probably.

It's pretty weird to talk about a movie that's just so simple and straightforward with any sort of praising attitude. And I'm not kidding when I say that this movie is about as straightforward as stories get, but the sad thing is that all of the things that this movie gets right are all of the complete basic things that most "popcorn flicks" get so wrong on such a baffingly inept level. Movies like Godzilla and the Amazing Spider-Man, to name the most recent movies, are movies that feel like a couple of guys wanted to throw thing that looked cool up on screen and hoped that it would stick. Me saying that this movie is better than most blockbusters by it actually having scenes and characters and a story and even comprehensible dialogue just feels kind of wrong. Has the movie industry gone so far up its own bum that it's forgetting the very, very, very basics of film or story telling?

Well, luckily, X-Men helps bring us down back to a level of a film with clear stakes, a plot, and coherent main characters. Days of Future Past really is a great movie and I'm even willing to call it the best of the X-Men movies so far. And it's not just because this movie understands the basics of story telling(though, at this point, I am kind of willing to take a pretty decent, basic action film over the bloated schlock Hollywood has been force feeding us by calling it a Spider-Man movie), as the story is rather compelling here, even if it does stumble at a couple of things that kind of made me scratch my head.

The X Guys are fighting a losing battle against the Sentinels, so, in order to have any chance of winning the fight, they send Wolverine back in time in order to prevent the battle from happening in the first place. It turns out that the main bad guy, named Dr. Trask(played by Tyrion Lannister), started up the Sentinel program because he felt the mutants were an upcoming threat. However, what triggered the Sentinel program to be finished was Mystique, who has the mutant power of turning into Jennifer Lawrence, killing Trask, which caused the Mutants to look incredibly dangerous in the eyes of the government. Wolverine must go back in time in order to prevent this from happening by gathering the rag tag team of Charles X-Man and The Blue Guy and the Magnetizer.

One of the highlights in the movie was the use of Quick Silver. Even if he was in the movie for only a brief amount of time, the scenes he appears in are really entertaining. His mutant power is being able to move incredibly fast, even to a point where he can slow down time for himself. In fact, the way he uses his power kind of begs the question of why they just sort of left him once they accomplished that one goal for which they needed him. Then again, he is a young kid in this movie and maybe they didn't want to put him in any immediate danger, especially since he's still living with his mom, but, whatever.

Another question is as follows: Time travel? Well, the way they travel back in time is that Kitty Pride somehow has the power to transfer somebody's conscious into their past selves. Through this way, they can alter the past knowing what happens in the future. They don't really explain how Kitty Pride got these powers, but this also seems like a pretty hard thing to do, especially within the place they have decided to do it in...which was out in the middle of Russia where the big battle was occurring. Probably could have picked a better hiding spot then where the enemies were.

Also, this whole thing seems to happen in real time which would make this whole thing seem like a real pain to do. The movie builds up to a scene where the tension comes from "Will Wolverine alter the past in time before his X-Friends get killed in the future?" This had me thinking that this mission they sent Wolverine on took more than a couple of days to complete. So, was the entire X-Group waiting around that long until Wolverine finally completed his mission? Also, Wolverine doesn't really do much when he goes back in time. He just takes a back seat from all of the direct action involving Professor XXX and The Human Magnet. I guess it would have been better than just sending Wolverine back to the past to give them a brief warning and hoping that things work out for the best. But maybe they could have handled that a little better, especially if Kitty Pride had to sit there doing her stream of consciousness power trick for a really long time.

I guess this was inevitably going to happen when you ivolve time travel in a story. Even Back to the Future had a bit of trouble following its own rules in part II, but that movie still wasn't any less good. And the same could be said for this movie, as I'm really just nitpicking at this point. But while I wasn't thinking about plot holes while watching Back to the Future, I was noticing them while watching this movie. The Time Traveling plot device was probably better than finding a sort of "Chemical Zed" in order to beat the bad guys plot device, but this also means that a lot of cool X-characters get short shafted when the movie is more focused on the already familiar characters. And the X-dudes they show at the beginning are incredibly colorful and creative, including a girl who jumped straight out of an anime and is able to shoot portals like in that one video game where a girl shoots portals. In fact, the battle that takes place in the present are kind of a bit more interesting than the things that happen in the past as the Sentinels are really tough bad guys and it involved all of the mutants having to use their powers in creative ways.

Still, even with all of the weird things that are going to happen because they wanted to do a time travel story, a strong, simple plot and some fun action scenes really do put this movie over a lot of other mediocre action movies. I know it sounds like "damned by faint praise" by merely calling it better than the last two summer action movies(The AmaSipdfk[I'm getting sick of typing that title out] really did set a low bar for the rest of the summer), but this movie really does work beyond a basic level. A big part of this is because they like to play with some big issues about "Survival of the fittest" and some conspiracies in politics. These small things help make this movie a little more memorable.

I'm not sure if there's really anything more to say about this movie than that it's just damn good. Out of all the X-Men movies, I was definitely most engaged with this one than all of the others and I'm even willing to say that it's getting up to be Avengers good. Days of Future Past is a fun thriller from start to finish while also coming into full circle of making X-Men relevant again in this day and age. And with the likes of the disappointing, yet ambitious Godzilla finally making its debut and The Amazoinafsd; rearing its ugly head around the corner, a movie like this is more than anyone could have hoped for.

Days of Future Past

So, I'm not entirely sure how this happened. I mean, it only takes until now just to see people start talking about it. I wasn't even born when these guys came around, and though there days of glory are long gone, they've always carried a legacy to which I've known about for a while. So, I'm a bit confused when people are only talking about this now, especially with film critics, and how they found it to be really good. Um, yeah, sure! Didn't we already know that it was good for a long time now? As far as I know, they haven't done anything special in a while, so I'm a bit perplexed as to why people are choosing now to talk about it.

But, whatever. Since film critics are talking about it and that I usually like to fall in line with what film critics are talking about, I'll play along. So, here is my review of Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues.

So, I'm pretty sure we all know about this by now. These guys really put an emphasis on orchestra in rock songs. It has some pretty good songs on here, I have a particular affection for Twilight Time, but this album is most widely known for that one song, Nights in White Satin. I do like the melody of the song and there's a pretty kick ass flute solo in the song. Then, for no reason at all, there's spoken word poetry at the end. And then it literally ends with a bang...of a gong. I honestly think this song is there weakest one from the album, but, for whatever reason, that was the one that took off. Besides a pretty pretentious overture at the beginning(I mean, these guys must have really been trying to sell the idea of making there music seeming just as important and noteworthy as the serious music most orchestra snobs would probably be listening to), I do really like this album. All of the songs are pretty well written and, though I haven't listen to many of the songs on here in a while, I can still remember most of them for the most part. A lot of them are catchy, easy to sing along to, and...yeah, I kind of don't have a lot to say about this.

But, honestly, we all already know about this album, I don't even know why I decided to talk about it...or why everyone else has, especially film critics. You would think they would review the latest movie that came out and not an album that's been out for long while.

Alright! So, I did my part on this. Maybe, next time, all of the critics won't have their heads up their own bums and actually talk about a movie for once...ya know, a movie I could talk about also.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Not exactly a great start for summer movies.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the sequel to the re-boot/re-imagining/re-make that was called The Amazing Spider-Man. And it sucked! Nothing in that movie worked in the slightest. The only thing the movie was able to do was hide all of its flaws, fooling a lot of people into thinking that the movie was better than it actually was. I don't think I really minded the first Amazing Spider-Man the first time watching it, but, every time I've tried to go back and watch it again, I just couldn't do it. The new Peter Parker they've created is a gelatinous blob of a mess, they create a bunch of plot threads they just left hanging by the end of the movie, and all of these problems start making it increasingly clear that the only reason why these movies exist is because Sony just can't bear to let their profitably precious Spider-Man franchise go.

But, it almost started to look like they were about to work it all out...only to reveal new information that just shattered any kind of expectation that this movie might not be bad. A new and improved costume for Spider-Man this time? Great! But a new look for Electro and The Green Goblin that look worse than The Lizard did in the last movie? Not great. Trailers teasing about a Sinister Six movie that might actually be interesting? Hey, that could be pretty good! But having the movie show us everything we already saw in the trailer? It almost kind of makes it seem like the guys are having there movies being driven by anticipation rather than making a movie that actually works as a movie. A mystery story about Peter actually being destined to be Spider-Man by his parents? Eh, actually, that part was pretty dumb to begin with and it gets worse in this movie, but it sort of showed signs of almost getting kind of interesting.

So, there's a story in this movie somewhere, I think, but the problem is that they set up so many things in this movie and they absolutely go nowhere. You'd think that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were behind the screenplay to this movie and that...oh wait, those were exactly the guys behind this movie. Anyways, the stuff that happens in this movie is as follows: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy are having relationship problems as Peter Parker is having to deal with balancing a normal life and being Spider-Man at the same time. Gwen is annoyed because she doesn't like it when Peter gets distracted to go out and save lives because...there wouldn't be any conflict between them or something, I dunno. Also, Peter is being haunted by the death of Gwen's Father in the last movie. Peter sees illusions of Gwen's Father to make Peter feel drama, which occurs a couple of times in the beginning of the movie and then one time at the end of the movie, reminding the audience, pretty forcibly, that "Hey! Wasn't this supposed to be important?"

Also, since this is a super hero movie, we also need super bad guys in order to fight the super hero, because that's probably what most people were paying to see. It definitely wasn't for the romance scenes and chemistry between Peter and Gwen, as they are somehow even worse than any of the scenes with Anakin and Padme from the Star Wars Prequels. But at least the scenes from Star Wars were at least entertainingly bad. So, in the midst of an action scene in the beginning of the movie, Spider-Man saves the life of this guy named Max. Max was a guy who felt like a nobody loser because people around him treated him that way, but Spider-Man saving his life, and also giving a small uplifting speech about how Max is more special than he thinks he is, causes Max to feel a little overly special and obsessed with Spider-Man. When Max falls into a fish tank full of radio active eels that were there for some reason, he turns into Electro where he soon has an action scene with Spider-Man after he feels betrayed for...some reason.

Also, Harry Osbourne gets thrown into the story as well, wanting a cure for a disease that killed his dad because Harry seems to be suffering from the same disease. He thinks that Spider-Man's blood might help, but Spider-Man won't let him have his blood out of fear that it might kill Harry or something like that. So, Harry goes off to find a cure for himself that turns him into The Green Goblin. Getting this cure involved a team-up with Electro, the hooded Smurf, so that these two villains can have an epic fight with Spider-Man.

So, yeah. A lot of stuff happens in this movie, and they did an okay job of balancing it all through out the film as well. Too bad none of these plot lines ever go anywhere or have any sort of decent kind of closure. I'm not joking, once the epic battle ends, nobody really learns anything by the end of the story.

I'm going to have to get into spoilers on this part to explain why nothing in the plot really works. So, just highlight the blank area in brackets to see my take on the whole ending. [Spoilers: So, once Spider-Man defeats Electro, he literally vanishes into thin air and that's the end of his story-line in this movie. You'd think they would somehow tie in his obsession with Spider-Man that caused him to go haywire in the first place, but then it's not hard to figure out that they just wanted him as a bad-guy and they weren't sure how to tie him into the actual story without getting super-dumb on his part. Also, Spider-Man fights The Green Goblin and, by the end of that fight, Spider-Man knocks him out and than Harry as The Green Goblin is never seen again through the rest of the movie, even though they set up a lot about a history of Peter and Harry being friends and stuff. There's just no payoff to any of the story-lines involving anyone in this movie. Also, a tragic event happens that causes Spider-Man to not want to be Spider-Man anymore, but than he becomes Spider-Man again in the span of 5 minutes :End of Spoilers]

Oh yeah, also, if you were really excited about seeing The Rhino fighting Spider-Man, you can just go back and watch the trailers to see all of the scenes he appears in this movie. I am not joking! Rhino is just there to set up the events for the next movie that's inevitably coming out. And, pretty much just like every other damn thing about this movie, it doesn't really tie-in with the overall, over-arching story that doesn't exist. It's just a bunch of stuff that happens, making this movie feel like it's friggin' 500 hours long.

Say what you want about Spider-Man 3, from Sam Raimi, as it was doing the same thing with juggling a bunch of plot threads and trying to tie them all together by the very end, but at least it all came together in the end. Maybe some of the ways things ended in that movie turned out to be a little dopey, but at least there was actual closer. There's nothing like that in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even though there are quite a bit of things that happen in this movie.

And, one more thing. Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. I just hate it. This has a lot to do with how he's been written as a character, but, even as Spider-Man where he is supposed to be clever and snarky, he just ended up coming off as a douche to where there was never a time where I didn't want to beat on his stupid smug-ass face. It was as if Shawn Spencer from Psych suddenly became less funny and lost all sense of self-awareness and decided to become a mopey, teenage kid that dresses up as Spider-Man every once in a while. Him whistling The Spider-Man Theme Song from the 60s while easily taking down a low-leveled Henchman, talking out loud to a bunch of loose chemicals as he gathers them up as if he know he's being watched by an audience, and saying a lot of the things he says as just Peter Parker is just so cringe-inducing.The fact that some people are actually finding this new iteration of Peter Parker as "cool" is...well, a bit unsettling.

This movie sucks. I was honestly about to come out and say that even though this movie is pretty bad, it still actually ended up better than the last movie. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how this movie suffers from all of the same kind of problems from its predecessor. Loose story-lines that never get tied together by the end, a new Peter Parker that just doesn't work(both as a character and as iteration of Peter Parker), and the design of these new villains are just so bad. I'm honestly convinced that the people behind The Amazing Spider-Man movies are placing bets to see how bad they can make each movie while still being able to get enough people to watch them. While there are minor improvements to this new film, it has so many setbacks that make this movie almost kind of worse, especially under the restrained circumstances of being a movie that exists solely for the purpose of a greedy movie studio keeping a franchise.

But, if that's the case, then these guys seem to know exactly what they are doing when it comes to these movies. And that, in the midst of a lot of things, just kind of sucks.