Friday, February 21, 2014

Ender's Game, or Don't Judge A Book By Its Movie

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

The answer to this question depends a lot on the thousand words in question. If the words are describing something visible, like a landscape, you could probably squeeze even more than a thousand words into a good image.

However, what do you do when the image has to convey abstract stuff like ideas, thoughts, or feelings? Well, you fail miserably, that's what you do.

To be fair, there are exceptions to this rule. We call them "masterpieces of art", though, and Gavin Hood's take on "Ender's Game" is by no means a masterpiece of anything. Well, except said failure, I guess.

If you haven't read the novel, the movie goes too damn fast, it makes no sense at all, and you don't like it in the end. It's simply too short to scratch the surface of the novel, and even if it were a couple of weeks long to encompass everything that was cut out, a whole lot of the novel is going on in the characters' heads in the form of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Not a very filmable environment, that.

And if you have read the novel... The movie goes too damn fast, you realize it makes no sense at all, and you don't like it in the end, for essentially the same reasons.

It tries hard to be true to the novel. The cast is well chosen, with the exception of Bernard (what, no French accent, wtf?). Unfortunately, it's all moot. There are few characters with any significant screen time, and they do their jobs fine, but the rest could have just as easily been wallpapers. And there's way too much of Bernard.

Some visuals are spot-on, Ender's scene with the giant in the mind game in particular. Others, not so much. I have a personal gripe with how movies depict space. Why the hell is it always so tiny and jammed with stuff? It really is neither. The technology used, such as the space station, the mid-air touchscreen displays, and even the space ships, looks a good deal more advanced than I remember from the book, but I guess that's fine, considering the current pace of development. It certainly doesn't contradict the story.

In the end, it is the story that is the biggest problem with the movie, not the visuals. The main events are there, but pretty much everything significant for the background of those events has been either abridged out of existence or simply left unexplained, turning the movie into an incoherent mess. I hate to be on the reading-crowd-hating-movies-based-on-books bandwagon, but... I am. If you have not read the novel, do it, then skip watching this movie. This way, you will be spared the disappointment, and as a bonus, you'll have read a good book.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In a nutshell, pretentious bullshit. That's all it is.

There is an underlying story about, essentially, people fucking up. A lot. While that's exactly what people do in real life, the story in Drive is not nearly as engaging as the writer thought. I just can't understand the motivation for half of all dumbass stunts the characters (mainly the main one) pull off in the movie. I actually felt more empathy for the fucking Transformers.

Don't get me wrong, everyone's acting is fine, but that just doesn't cut it. All along, the main character just watches shit get increasingly botched up without any expression whatsoever, and mostly without uttering a word. Was I supposed to root for that reticent asshole somehow? Everything he does is irresponsible, uncertain, stupid, or any combination thereof. And yet, there he is, the focus of the entire movie, as if setting a bright and shining example or something.

On top of that, the whole movie drags along tediously for the most part, with scenes of prolonged silence for dramatic effect. Only the effect is yawning instead.

The whole thing is also riddled with lame and superfluous suggestions that I can't be bothered to care for. Yes, damnit, we know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And what's the point of that scorpio jacket? There's way too much screen time wasted on it. Some reference that should have made the whole movie sensible, or what? Even if there is something clever behind it, I don't get it. And even if I did, I somehow doubt it would make the movie any more enjoyable.

The editing relies heavily on sound and music. That's by no means a redeeming quality, however. While the sound is very good, there are too many painfully protracted scenes without any, and the music is bland and uninteresting. "We made a movie, and we didn't use an orchestra! Look how avant-garde we are!" Uhm, no.

Speaking of avant-garde, what's with the pink shit and Barbie typeface? A drama about a confused getaway driver fucking up at life beyond his imagination with pink credits? Is that supposed to run contrast to the shit-hit-the-fan plot for emphasis, or just there to make my eyes bleed?

Overall, after I watched the movie, I had the feeling that it was made by a bunch of art students who were out to show the world what the art of motion pictures is, and who made the conscious decision that they would make a masterpiece hailed by the critics as the next big thing. Granted, critics are idiots and probably drool all over it, but all I saw was pretentious bullshit.

But hey, don't take my word for it. There's art for you, the fuck do I know.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My overwhelming feeling after I watched that pile of incongruous shit unfold was, basically, "why the fuck did I just watch that?" I knew I was in for a stupid movie from the beginning, so I had my expectations set about as low as they get, but after it finally ended I still had to just sit there and wonder.

And wonder I did; for example, I wondered why was all of Greece just a small stretch of barren wasteland? What idiot builds a village on a total of 50 square meters, dug into the side of a cliff facing the sea? How come a lowlife peasant has a house at the central square with a sea view?

Those and other questions were already fighting for lebensraum in my head not ten minutes into the movie, and all that was before they grabbed Greek mythology by the ass and raped it into pulped mincemeat. I get it, it's a mediocre Hollywood movie, it's supposed to be brainless and shiny and you watch it just so you don't have to use your already stunted imagination, but why even bother using mythological characters if all they are going to be is just a bunch of named trees?

Speaking of trees, the acting was not good and the direction was uninspired and unimaginative... I guess nobody involved was really into making that movie, and attitude like that always bleeds through. This is not surprising given the shallow plot and flat characters. I can't imagine why this project was ever green-lighted, but what do I know about commercial success?...

The only thing that was sorta amusing to watch was the fight sequence between gods and titans at the end. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler; it's obvious it's coming before you've been through three minutes of the movie. Anyway, even with all the entertaining CGI-infused choreography, five gods seemed a bit understaffed for a fight that was supposed to be that epic, especially considering the rowdy mob of Greek gods available to pick from. The titans were also portrayed as a tiny bunch of ridiculous boilerplate copies of one another scurrying around like little cockroaches, and I can't help but think the movie went unexpectedly over budget just before shooting the very scene it was made for, so they actually had to fuck that up too.

Oh well... What they didn't fuck up, of all things, was homoerotic imagery. Homoerotism was taken to lengths unbeknownst to straight men before. There were half-naked men with dancing washboard abs running around all over the movie with pecs jolting... Aand just two hot women. In total. In the whole cast. The cast includes a damn army, so you do the math. Now, I'm not homophobic, but I definitely am heterophilic, and I couldn't help but notice the remarkably unfair ratio. After all, there was not much else in this movie but shiny stuff, I'm just saying they could have popped in a few more sets of tits too, just for the visual appeal, you know.

So, to recap: flat characters, flat landscape, flat story, flat acting, flat direction and a flat movie overall. And not nearly enough tits. Again, why the fuck did I watch that?

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

And the Academy Award Joke Is...

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I realized that the main two contenders in the battle for the Oscars were going to be 'Avatar' and 'The Hurt Locker'. I definitely remember the sensation though. It was like seeing a Volkswagen Beetle among the shiny futuristic bolides at the start of a car race; on a pole position no less. At this point you already know the race is so rigged it's not even funny, and definitely not worth watching. And while I intensely disliked 'Avatar' for its ridiculous story, I can't deny it is a groundbreaking piece. At least technologically. Anyway, 'Avatar' already had its Oscar back in 1991, starring Kevin Costner, and that should be enough. But 'The Hurt Locker' even making it to the nominations was a fucking joke.

There is only one reason 'The Hurt Locker' got all its undeserved hype. It's set in Iraq. Iraq, gay people, or anti-racism - any of these is bound to grant anything a "holy cow" status and virtual immunity to criticism. Well, we already had the anti-racism theme in the shallow beyond belief 'Crash' and the gay theme in the mediocre 'Milk', so Ms. Bigelow's decision to make an Iraq movie turned out to be a lucky break. No one dared to bash it, because that would be unpatriotic, and we have to show the troops our support and whatnot. Next thing you know, every critic and their mother are yapping about the approach, the cinematography, the tension, the portrayal, the character development (all those were notably absent, by the fucking way), the snowball is set in motion, and the proverbial bandwagon is so full it's about to burst.

After that it's pretty much obvious, "You know what, maybe we should give a Best Director Oscar to a woman this time, show off we're not some stuck sexist bunch, it's long overdue, got any nominees?", et voila - Ms. Bigelow is the first woman to be awarded for being in the right place at the right time, nevermind that 'Strange Days', her only good movie so far, was completely overlooked in its time or that anything done by, say, Catherine Hardwicke (bar 'Twilight', of course, but that's Stephanie Meyer's fault) is far better and more powerful. The Academy just couldn't resist and this, still, can be understood to a certain degree. However, this is hardly doing her a favour. Now everyone would remember her as the lady who got the Oscar for being a lady, not for her achievements. This is the trick with special treatment, no matter positive or negative. Give it to someone and you are denying them the recognition they deserve or the equal rights they are fighting for.

Even so, I could live with the Director award. But the only explanation for awarding the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Editing awards is some kind of conspiracy. How is the Locker's screenplay better (or more original) than the one of 'District 9'? Or the screenplay of 'Inglourious Barsterds'? As far as editing goes, I would expect the one of 'Avatar' to be head and shoulders above everyone else's; apparently, I was wrong. With all my hatred for the second 'Transformers', I thought its sound was fabulous (well, it was mostly explosions, but then again, the same holds true for 'The Hurt Locker'). So what the fuck?

Well, fuck the Academy and their awards and fuck the pseudo critics that mistake incoherent and confused for deep and dramatic. I might be the only one yelling "But the Emperor isn't wearing anything at all", but I doubt it - it is still a major failure at the box office, so at least someone agrees with me.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009


Every once in a while, Roland Emmerich comes out and blows shit up. And no small shit, either; he just loves to zap lil' old Earth with some spectacular natural (or extraterrestrial) disaster. Ehh... A grudge there, I guess.

Anyway, visually, there is nothing bad to say about his movies. They are beautiful, and the Earth is, time and again, destroyed with an unprecedented grace. The guy gets better at it every time, I swear. Me likes them pretty color pictures, uh-huh !!1 :P~@. 2012 is no exception and looks like a million bucks. Come to think of it, 2012 looks like many millions of bucks undoubtedly spent on all the eye-candy that's so abundant in this movie; the visual effects are just stunning, and it really is worth going to the theater just to watch the gorgeous raging imagery pound the shit out of everything and everyone on a big-ass screen. This in IMAX would be insane, but hell.

The thing is, 2012, like Emmerich's other "wee!-lets-just-nuke-Earth" movies, has a single tiny little bit of a flaw that just spoils it for me, shiny pictures and everything. Movie makers tend to regularly overlook this little detail; for some reason, they think that it's inconsequential and that people who watch the movie don't care about it, really, and that all they want to see is the action, as if said movie makers were just shooting a cheap porn flick for a bunch of non-discriminating jerk-offs.

I'm talking about the plot.

Why, oh why, can't we, just for once, you know, for a change, have a movie that is at least partially credible? I mean, there's only so much of my brain I can suspend for the duration of a movie... I'm not going to bash the blatantly ridiculous neutrino theory, or talk about the giraffe. The neutrino bullshit sounds plausible enough if you don't listen too carefully. That is, at all. In fact, just forget you have any idea what a neutrino is, just trust the guy. He's trying so hard to bullshit you at the beginning, give him a chance.

But even if, for a moment, we shoved physics down the drain and flushed it with the rest of the shit we don't need, like plot and plausibility, why does every movie with a huge natural disaster in it have to be cheesier than a cheesecake cheeseburger? Can't we just kill everybody already? And, please, without a brand new love story sparkling up in the background amidst disaster, without another love story being warmed up by the microwaving neutrinos from the ashes of a relationship long destroyed, and without a bunch of tiny little barely hinted about love stories just effervescing around and about with no point or purpose other than to fill the gaps between CGI effects.

Speaking of effects, people are made mostly of lukewarm water, so instead of going all soft and cuddly over one another at all the important moments that they should have spent working their asses off on surviving, their bodies should have just melted and their heads exploded. Damn, that would rule so hard!!! Melting bodies and exploding heads were notably absent from the movie, unfortunately, along with any plausibility of plot, characters, or their actions.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

G.I. Joe - The Tale of Plastic Toys and Sinking Ice

By now it should be obvious to anyone that Hollywood is scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas. The same plots are being chewed over and over, sequels are abundant (mildly put), remakes are being made a couple of years after the original, all Japanese/Korean/French/insert-any-country-here movies worth seeing are instantly rendered for the English speaking market, comic books are on the verge of exhaustion (heh, they're instant movies - screenplay and storyboard ready, just pour some sugar and stir)... The reasonable question "what have we missed to turn into a soap opera spanning 30 years" sadly got quite an unreasonable answer - toys. Yeah, the Transformers™ until recently only had an animated feature, so there's a lot of ground to break. Gotta love the studios' assumption that we're all just retards who are dying to see their favorite childhood toy in reeeeeal action. The result? PG-13 starts to seem like an overkill, we need PG-3 - not as a precaution against those toddlers sneaking into the theater and watching some PG-7 movie, but as a warning to those of us who have come of age and who are probably stuffing the most money in tickets, effectively encouraging the shit-regurgitating industry to throw at us Transformers and whatnot... "Whatnot" here being (hold still!) the announced "Monopoly" project to be directed by Ridley Scott (sic!) and what will probably serve as the perfect "I told you so!" target for decades, "Naval battle". Although that pales in comparison to the chilling thought that someone may think of making a full feature out of a naughts-and-crosses game. If that happens, however, I want my share of the income!

Anyway, "Naval battle" may end up in some capable hands and actually turn up at least bearable. This isn't the case with "G.I. Joe", which probably is the punishment for some bad thing I must have done in a previous life. To whatever higher power there is - I got it, I repent, you can safely stop now with the torture. Seriously, it was THAT bad. The PG-13 rating is a fucking joke - do not, I repeat, DO NOT take your kids to watch G.I. Joe, unless you don't care about their mental development and health. The "script", for lack of a better word, was ridiculous, nothing, and I mean literary nothing makes any sense - not one single line. The only enjoyable moments were the inevitable reminiscences to "Team America", which caused several outbursts of inappropriate to the gravity of the respective moment homeric laughter on my part. Not that there was anything original, mind you - for example, you could find a scene quite similar to the exoskeleton chasing sequence in the Japanese anime "Vexille". The acting... well, let's put it that way - Marlon Wayans (of all people) put up the best performance, how's that? As to the "Firefox"-inspired scene with the voice commands on that plane - luckily for everyone it wasn't programmed to take commands in Swahili or Sanskrit, Celtic is common knowledge, you know. Facepalm moments are abundant; the sinking ice is just one of them. There are also plenty of opinions that the movie isn't consistent with the mythos, but I couldn't care less about toys and the marketing stories behind them.

Of course, measures had been taken to keep the interest of the already mentioned in previous reviews wet-palm teenage crowd, these including impressive looking breast-plate armor suits (with accent on breast) - if you stare at them long enough, you may even notice other body parts - and tight latex-looking outfits for the girls. Yawn. And that's bad judgment on the part of the movie makers too - if they are grown enough to develop interest in ladies, they have probably also outgrown the action figures. This is actually good news, as they will be spared this and all future profound movies about the fights and struggles of plastic toys.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Transformers 2: Revenge of the fallen

After watching this, I'm deeply convinced there is only one possible reason why the previous Michael Bay pictures were successful (or at least successfulish, G-d forgive me for coining this word). The way I see it - the amounts of explosives ordered would violate some conventional weapon treaty, so he had to stick at least something else (chase scenes, dialog, whatever) in these never-under-three-hours bloated action flicks. Seriously, the guy's a obviously a pyromaniac and needs to be treated, not encouraged to indulge his passion for all things KABOOM.

Sadly, the Transformers 2 movie somehow slipped under the UN armaments control authorities radar and delivered on-screen the equivalent of what seems like 30 megatons of TNT. There was nothing else in the movie, just explosions, things blowing up, things blowing other things up, detonations, bursts and blasts. That and abundant shots of Megan Fox' bouncing anatomy in slow motion (hey, the movie's PG-13, let's give them teen wankers some jerk off material).

Ok, I got carried away a little (but then again, who wouldn't?), there were also a couple of transformations, but these were impossible to watch without ending motion-sick - too many too colorful parts moving too fast in too many directions, so I had to take my eyes off the screen and breathe deep to avoid adding my own colors to this kaleidoscopic vertigo. Umm, I seem to remember a couple of attempts at humor - not very funny, I mean, the uber-robot got a pair of huge brass cojones and I'm supposed to laugh? The laughs came from other places - like seeing Jordanian territory from the site of the great pyramids at Giza. Now that's what I call good eyesight, last time I saw a map, there was still a Sinai Peninsula in the way (and several smaller obstacles like the city of Cairo and the whole Israel state). Never mind that the three stars in the Orion belt could just as easily point at sun dawn to Libya, depending on the day and the month. Nice to revisit the site of Petra, though, it's been some time since Indiana Jones dropped by.

The Transformers 2 definitely has the best bang-for-the-buck ratio, the downside is you only get bang, nothing else – not even some mindless pop-corn and soda summer fun. Unless you're obsessed with Megan the abovementioned Fox cleavage, but in this case you wouldn't mind some twitching spare parts in the background anyway.
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