Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sorry about the profanity, folks but this movie is "whack, yo!" That means it is not good.
Now that I got that out of my system let us talk some DOOM. Why do these video game movies miss the point on what we gamers want to see? In the case of DOOM the movie deliberately goes out of its way to completely insult the audience by changing the whole concept of the game. DOOM the movie has almost nothing to do with DOOM the game. They both take place on Mars and they both have marines but that is it.
Most of the time I have a hard time deciding where to begin when it comes to the sucktasticness of a movie. With Doom it's no problem. There is no gateway to Hell and there are no demons or demon possessed marines walking around accidentally shooting each other and getting into fights. Think about it. They had the coolest most simple concept for a game that could easily be transferred to film no problem and they poop it up. Instead of a gateway to Hell being opened up and hundreds of demons come spawning out to eat peoples' faces we get people turn into monsters because of some extra gene or chromosome or whatever that also can turn certain people into super warriors. By certain people, of course, I mean Carl Urban. Does that even for a second sound interesting to you? What movie would you be more interested in? The one about the gateway to Hell or the one about gene science mumbo-jumbo? A doorway to Hell opening up in an outpost on Mars millions of miles from Earth sets the imagination to work. You wonder what kind of demons you are going to see. Gene science mumbo-jumbo is uninspired, predictable and overly used in science fiction horror. How many genetic science run amok movies are out there? The answer is 3....Oh, no wait. I just discovered that the SyFy channel exists. The new answer is now 11,258,259,003.
Story wise there really isn't much to say. These marines come to Mars to investigate these missing scientists. Instead of doing that however they just roam around in poorly lit corridors getting bumped off one by one in traditional ALIEN fashion. I guess I could say something about Carl Urban being the nice guy marine who is trying to find his sister who is one of the archaeologists on the planet but, nah. Too boring. The marines look like actors on a real bad SyFy show too. None of them look like real military soldiers. Didn't one of them have a wrestling match with a monster in a pit somewhere? I don't remember that happening in DOOM the game.
Impressive deaths. That's a simple one, right? Apparently not. The deaths in DOOM are weak sauce. They just kind of happens with no visual impact. They are kind of forgettable. At least I don't remember them very much. Most of the time you aren't even sure what just happened. When you see some guy get murdered up super hardcore in PREDATOR you say something like "Man, that looks like that would suck." When you see someone die in DOOM you say "What just happened? The movie is too dark. I can't see what is going on. Oh, no! My eyes! I've gone blind! PLEASE SOMEONE. HELP ME! SOMEBODY IN THE AUDIENCE PLEASE HELP ME. I'VE GONE BLIND! THE MOVIE IS DEFENDING ITSELF SOMEHOW!" Then you touch the back of people's heads in the row in front of you as you feel your way to the aisle. Be sure you fall and roll your way down the aisle too before you leave. That's a great and dramatic way to piss people off in the movie theater. What was I writing about again?
B.F.G. The three most important letters in a DOOM game. If you find the B.F.G. in DOOM you know some demons are about to eat it. B.F.G. stands for BIG FROLICKING GUN. It shoots little bunny rabbits out of it's barrel and they run around and frolic in a nearby meadow. Nah, I am just messin with ya. It really means BIG F&@KING GUN. It kills everything on the screen. Use it and use it often. In DOOM the movie however apparently the writers think B.F.G. stands for SOMETHING YOU SHOOT WALLS WITH. I say that because all they shoot with it are walls. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson makes a big deal about finding it and you think that he is going to shoot the crapola out of some monsters but he doesn't. He shoots some walls and that is it. No monsters die by the B.F.G. in DOOM the movie. What did the film makers think we wanted to see? Did they actually think we didn't want to see monsters get their heads all explody-like by the B.F.G.? It's called bad writing and it tends to happen a lot in American action movies. Remember in Jet Li's THE ONE where Jason Statham shows off his super-cool-mondo-badass gun that he somehow magically brought with him from his dimension even though we never saw him have it before. The movie made such a big deal about that gun and the first thing that happened was that he lost it from a big explosion. He didn't even get to fire it once.
I think it's cute when the movie tries to be clever by having the big "star" Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson die near the end. Did anyone not see that coming? Maybe the wrestling fans. They had a hard time keeping up with what was going on in THE MARINE. True story. Johnson says "I am not suppose to die" like the film has suddenly become self aware SCREAM style and we are left with Carl Urban. But don't worry though because Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson appears at the end and fights Carl Urban in this way out of place wire-fu matrix wrestling match. Remember that in the game? That's way better than a total-badass-scary-as-hell twelve foot tall demon goat god with a rocket launcher for an arm. No, please don't show that! I like Carl Urban. I think he was a great lead in the DOOM movie. Too bad the whole movie sucked around him.
I guess I have no idea what is going on in this movie. There are all these people that haven't been turned into monsters yet. Why did they only send some marines in? Why didn't they send transport ships in as well to evacuated the people? I am sure it is possible some how. Didn't they use some kind of warp to get the marines to Mars quickly? Instead the people are put into a giant room where they turn into monsters for the finale. What a terrible excuse to have a large amount of monsters in the movie. A gateway to Hell is a better way to explain why there are so many monsters. You never know how many there are. That would add to the horror of being alone on this planet millions of miles away from the nearest help. In DOOM the movie, however, there can only be a set amount of monsters because they are the population of the people.
My favorite dumbest thing about this movie though is the fossil people that the archaeologists find. Apparently they find a mother holding her child with her arm stretched out to fend off something that is attacking them. Obviously this is inspired by all those people who died by a volcano in Pompeii and everyone is buried in lava so fast that they are statues positioned in what they were doing in the moment they died. These fossils are suppose to foreshadow the monsters. What was she trying to fend off? That is what you are suppose to be asking yourself. Not me though. I was asking how do you fossilize yourself in a moving motion as you are being attacked by a monster? It doesn't make any sense. The idea is that they were killed by a monster and that is how they fossilized. So instead of the monster killing and eating them it kills them and uses rig amortise to position their bodies to show what they were doing when they were killed. Yea, that makes sense.
I know this isn't a very good review but then again this isn't a very good movie. Maybe this isn't the worst video game movie ever made but there is no way it should be this bad. Its a simple idea that should have been a great B-movie. Not some boring sloppy waste of my time snore-fest. What a poop-trocity. Now if you will excuse me I am going to sing the "doom song" now. Doom-doom-doom, Doomy-doom-doom, DOOM-doom-doom-doom, doom doom...................
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
THE GREAT SILENCE is a strange film to say the least. It embraces many of the cliches of its time. Most Italian westerns at the time (the late sixties) had the same kind of story with the same kind of characters. They usually had a stranger show up to a town run by a corrupt rich land owner and starts trouble intentionally or not and in the end has a showdown with the land owner's fastest meanest gun man. THE GREAT SILENCE has all of that and at first this movie is nothing new. You can see how everything is building up. You can see the foreshadowing. Everything is going fine and then the ending happens. If you have never seen this movie don't read anymore and just rent it if possible.
Everything comes together in this film. Even the stuff that should make this movie bad actually helps. The director, Sergio Corbucci is at times very sloppy with his camera. There are shaky zooms, poor framing, shaky cam, and at the beginning you can see the filter clearly covering the camera lens. But all of this helps not hinder the film. It gives the film it's own unique character. The film takes place in the snow which is unusual because most Italian Westerns are filmed in the desert. The cold, the snow, the wind through the mountains are all part of the film's character. It sets the roughness of the film's environment. There is a lot of imagery referencing death too. At one time there is a scythe rising above the hill carried by a "bandit", and another time in a graveyard there is a murder of crows flying above. All of it foreshadows what is to come. But not the way you expect. The music is perfect too. The theme music is Ennio Morricone's finest work.
The stranger's name is Silence (Jean-Louis Tringnant) because he can't speak. His throat was cut by bounty killers. That is what they call bounty hunters in Italy because they assumed they killed all their bounties. Silence spends his life killing bounty killers for a price. He shows up to a town called Boot Hill. There he takes a job to kill the local bounty killer Loco (Klaus Kinski) who is employed by a greedy Justice of the Peace who put unjust bounties on the local homesteaders in an attempt to steal their land. It is interesting to note that both Silence and Loco have a similar code of conduct. Both kill for a thousand gold pieces. Both kill for money only. Both will make the other draw first. But Klaus is more likely to break those rules because he is smart enough to know that Silence is far too fast for him. It is important to note that Silence never misses a shot. He always hits his target no matter what. He always shoots them in the head and if they surrender he shoots their thumbs off so they can't fire a gun anymore. The fact that he is so good with his gun indicates how much he hates bounty killers. He has done nothing with his life but shoot that gun.
What THE GREAT SILENCE is is a anti-western. I guess more specifically its an anti-Italian Western. All the conventions of the Italian western are present. Everything is pointing to the good guy overcoming overwhelming odds to save the day with the help of the goofy sheriff who rides in at the last moment. The last time we saw the sheriff he was taking a swim in a frozen lake supposedly dead but we never see his body. Silence's gun hand has been burned beyond use. He has to save the homesteaders from the bounty killers. Loco has challenged him to a one-on-one duel to the death. So Silence shows up to the saloon that Loco and his men are keeping the homesteaders. Loco stands at the door. Silence stands out in the open in the middle of the street. At anytime you just know the goofy sheriff will show up to help Silence kill the bad guys. Instead reality steps in. Before Silence can pull his gun to shoot, one of the bad guys shoots him dead from the saloon's window. As Silence is dying Loco puts a bullet into our hero's head. Then Loco shoots Silence's new girlfriend as she tries to shoot him. Then with all the heroes dead the bad guys massacre horribly all the homesteaders and ride off into the sunrise to collect their reward. Loco even steals Silence's cool pistol. How bleak and horrible. Its probably the darkest ending I have ever seen especially for an action western. It is a very ugly ending. Yet without this ending the movie would be nothing but another low budget Italian western. It's the ending that makes this movie stand out. I hate the ending but love it at the same time.
What Sergio Corbucci did was shatter the standard Leone western. Usually in the Leone westerns the hero and villain would have a fair fight where the two would stand out in the open and see who was faster. The hero is always faster by far. Corbucci opens our eyes to the reality. In real life if the hero stands out in the street in the open like a damn fool (but he looks cool, right?) the bad guys would just shoot him in his stupid face from the safety of the indoors. Not a pretty sight.
Watching THE GREAT SILENCE is a unique experience. It shows us what would happen in DIE HARD if John McClain died trying to save his wife. What would happen if Rambo died in RAMBO part 2 trying to save the P.O.W.'s? Now you know because you have seen THE GREAT SILENCE. This film should have made Sergio Corbucci as famous as Sergio Leone. Rumor has it that Clint Eastwood saw the film in Italy while promoting THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY. Apparently he wanted to remake it in the U.S.A. The film was not released over here because of that. The result was JOE KIDD a mediocre western that had nothing in common with THE GREAT SILENCE except for Silence's gun makes an appearance. I don't think that story is true. I think the film doesn't appeal to main stream American audiences. It's that plain and simple. Interestingly enough there is a "happy ending" that was filmed and played in certain parts of the world and it appears on the DVD without audio in the extras.
I have read from one review that THE GREAT SILENCE is about who is really good and bad. The idea is that Silence is really the bad guy and Loco is the good. Silence kills those who work for the law so he is bad. Loco kills bandits so that makes him good. This is probably the dumbest interpretation of the film and I feel that such an idea is created to come to terms with the film's dire ending. THE GREAT SILENCE is a film about evil triumphing over good. Loco is a liar. He bends the rules and has no problem killing in cold blood. He looks like the freakin Devil for crying out loud with those large bewildering eyes and dominant forehead. Silence on the other hand looks like an angel. He has a young handsome face that is heavily sympathetic. Silence sacrifices himself trying to save the homesteaders. He didn't have to. He could have left. There was no reason to return except he had to try. He knew he didn't have a chance but he tried anyway. He died a true hero's death.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is a similar film. It sets up a cat and mouse modern day western story where eventually the hero and villain meet for a final showdown. But that showdown never happens. Reality steps in and the hero is gunned down in his hotel room by a bunch of drug dealers trying to get their cash back. But that film is more about Tommy Lee Jones being too old for his job than evil defeating good. If you are really into film especially the ones that fall into the genre of "badass" then I highly recommend THE GREAT SILENCE. It puts a different perspective on every film you watch from then on.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
We all have seen this movie so I am not going to waste time writing about the story of AVATAR. Instead I am just going to write about why I am so disappointed in this movie. There is nothing original in this movie. Pandora is the planet that most of the movie takes place on. I keep hearing about how unique and wonderful the visuals were for the planet. Everything is so beautiful and awe inspiring. Only such a place can exist in my dreams. What puke! When I finally saw it I thought the whole movie looked like the first level of HALO 3 and that level is a jungle level that TAKES PLACE ON EARTH! The flying mountains were kind of cool, I guess. All the animals of Pandora look like different variations of animals you see on earth only they mixed and matched different characteristics. There are panthers with beaks, monkey lizards and giant dinosaurs with hammer-head shark heads. Is any of that really original?
The start of the movie is quite good. You see all these people moving around in space ships and giant mechs and you really start to get to know the characters. Visually everything is larger than life with the huge trucks and Empire State Building sized diggers and you feel like you are getting sucked into this whole new universe. Most of the people characters are interesting with their little quirks like Sigourney Weaver and her need for a cigarette after avataring.(That's a real word, I'm sure.) Even the bad guys are something to talk about. Stephen Lang is the evil colonel and he is a badass mother trucker. I was rooting for that guy to win. Yea, I know. Us Republicans suck. Everything movie wise is going great until you see........the blue fishy glazed people. These are our protagonists? Instead of rooting for the the space marines to take down evil aliens wearing cool mechsuits with awesome weapons we have to root for the bow and arrow aliens? How boring. Haven't we seen similar scenarios in other lower budgeted films? In fact, if you watched a lot of direct to video or pay-per view movies back in the day you would see similar plots in almost all of the action movies. Usually the movie would be about this hit man who is sent out to kill some guy but after doing so and killing a bunch of other guys he realizes that he just killed the good guys and now he goes back and kill the bad guys. These writers always think that they are making something different but if they would just pay attention to the other movies being made around them they would realize that they aren't. Almost every scene in AVATAR seems lifted from other films. Every character, every scene, every dramatic point feels like nothing more than going through the motions of other films James Cameron should have been paying attention to movies like DANCES WITH WOLVES, FERNGULLY, THE LAST SAMURAI, BRAVEHEART, STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE MATRIX, SOLIDER, TITANIC, ALIENS, and AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER.
The Na'vi look terrible. Let's face it, folks. They are just awful to look at. They immediately take me out of the film. They are tall, lanky, cat faced humanoids. They are so hokey looking. "Photo-realistic" my butt! Kids on the back of milk cartons look "photo-realistic" too but that doesn't bring them back to life. The way they move and speak makes it hard for me to take them seriously. "Unconvincing" is probably the best word to describe them. They don't look real AT ALL! I have a hard time sympathising with them. Its easier to root for the real people who are bad rather than the cartoons that are good because people are complex creatures that have different emotions and motivations even if they are portrayed as one dimensional villains.
AVATAR is way too long for such a simple story. Ninety percent of the film is one big montage of Jake Sully getting in touch with nature. The movie becomes this roller coaster ride in cartoonville with riding on dinosaurs in the air, or falling from trees or running around the jungle. None of it really means anything or adds to the story. All of it could be told in a matter of minutes instead of hours.
I guess overall AVATAR isn't about the story. (Maybe other people's stories.) If anyone says otherwise they are kissing Cameron's bottom. It seems like (to me anyways) that Cameron won't put out a film unless new technology is created to make his grandiose vision come to life. I think that started with T2 with the whole morphing liquid CGI technology. That would explain the lack of originality and why it took ten years to make. All he did was invent a different way to create 3D. The whole movie is pretty much just standing in front of a blue screen. Tell me how this movie is any better visually than the new STAR WARS films. In fact, the original STAR WARS films look a billion times better.
If you aren't into movies that much and see them as merely something to entertain and not art then AVATAR is probably something you will like. It was made for you. But if you watch tons of movies and see them out of love for the art or craft then you will most likely view AVATAR as a this huge vanity project made simply to claim the highest box office spot on the charts. I am a huge fan of ALIENS and the first TERMINATOR but now I can say that I no longer look forward to a James Cameron film.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
THE ALIEN FACTOR is a late seventies sci-fi movie about three different aliens that escape a crashed U.F.O. They roam around killing people and the sheriff isn't sure what to do. Then this guy Ben Zachary (I think) shows up and starts talking about aliens and everyone believes him, of course. He knows how to kill them. Each one has a certain weakness which he is able to exploit to kill them. After killing them it is revealed that Ben Zachary is an alien too but the good kind. Doesn't matter though because he looks like left over lasagna that has been left out on the street for days and baked under the hot unforgiving sun but with eyes. At least he is wearing pants. So because he is scary looking the Sheriff shows up out of nowhere and guns him down. How was he suppose to know he was a good guy? I can't rightfully fault the sheriff for that. He didn't look like a good alien like those good looking blue aliens from AVATAR. Yes, I know the aliens in that film where the humans but so what? I don't live on Pandora so they are aliens to me.
I knew this movie wasn't going to be as scary as it was back in the day. However, I was shocked on how amateurish the film is overall. THE ALIEN FACTOR has that "some friends got together to film a scary movie in their backyard" feel to it. Most of the actors are not real actors but friends that are available. The dialogue is terrible and tries too hard to sound smart and is delivered as awkwardly as possible. But everyone is trying to be good though. There is also a lot of filler in this movie. In fact at one point there is a band playing in a bar and the whole movie stops just so they can sing the entire song. Not a bad song either by the way. This movie was on t.v. so I expected better in those departments. But in no way shape or form is this a bad movie.
THE ALIEN FACTOR has two things that make it better than AVATAR. Heart and originality. THE ALIEN FACTOR has a simple story but it's original. AVATAR is a remake of DANCES WITH WOLVES. The monsters are the real highlight of this film. Great care is applied to the look of each of the four or five aliens you see in this movie. They are somewhat believable and not just actors colored over with blue computer graphics to look like cartoons. The aliens are each unique and are quite good for a low budget movie. There is a crab monster, a chewbacca on stilts with an ant face monster, and a stop-motion invisible lizard monster that shows up at the end. (Now that I think about it I don't know how that one died. It just dropped dead for no reason.) You can see the love for sci-fi. In fact THE ALIEN FACTOR feels like a love letter to the old 1950's sci-fi films only with better monsters. The wooden acting and that stop-motion monster at the end really add to the retro style.
I love THE ALIEN FACTOR. I have watched it three times already since I bought it last month. This is a great monster movie that has a lot to forgive but it is never dull even with all the filler. Its kind of cool to compare the real movie to what my memory was of the film. Its neat-o.