Tag Archives: Rachel

beautiful-creatures-featured

Beautiful Creatures Might Make You Grumpy As It Fails To Exceed Expectations – Review

beautiful-creatures-character-poster

Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Adapted from the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

Oh, man, so many reasons. Probably mostly because it looks like it will be epic to make fun of, and Rachel and I have been stymied on all attempts to find anything to truly laugh at since Twilight Part Call Me, Lee Pace.  So here we finally find the same genre (young adult paranormal romance) and questionable effects just from the previews (though at least no one sparkles) and the same sort of overblown life or death or end of the world! theme except, oh wait, it’s just a shitty small town no one gives a shit about where nothing ever happens.  Beyond the mockery fodder, I can’t lie, it looks like it might be sort of interesting to the teenage Elena who still comes out sometimes. I mean, it’s Southern Gothic, about some kid who hates living in a small town and wants to leave. I can totally relate to that!  And Emma Thompson is in it. She can be relied upon to either lend appropriate gravitas or be the best part of the wackiness.  The only actress I’d be more excited about seeing in an adult role here is Helena Bonham Carter.

So, if I’m being honest, I expect this to be terrible but in a way that actually kind of appeals to me.  There. I said it. I’d rather watch Southern Gothic witch drama this month than zombie romance.

Rachel-

I’m coming at this from a different place. I actually sat through the Beautiful Creatures panel at NYCC last fall and let me tell you, it was a train wreck. Sandwiched between a bunch of horror panels and before The Walking Dead, the audience was not into it. (Except for this one guy who yelled out, “I LOVE YOU EMMY!” every 2 minutes. We all hated him.) The cast was pretty lackluster in their answers. They didn’t seem very chummy or excited about the film they had made. Only Emmy Rossum seemed to have read all the books. But I had a friend with me who had read the books and said I should read them before judging the film. I figured it would probably be best to read the book because the trailer had already established this as a film full of one of my biggest pet peeves – totally inaccurate southern accents.

And that is what I have tried to do, dear readers. I read the damn book. It was awful. IT WAS SO AWFUL. Full disclosure – I am also coming at this film from the perspective of a girl who went to high school in South Carolina. I can’t even begin to eviscerate the novel for all the stereotypes it reinforces. I think it fancies itself some kind of To Kill a Mockingbird homage, except that’s like calling a dump I took an homage to Moby Dick.

I am interested in this movie because I want to know why that guy from NYCC loves Emmy Rossum so much.

Elena-

Ooh, ooh, I can answer that one! Emmy Rossum is slowly revealing herself as an actual nerd with a string of well-chosen (er…mostly well-chosen) roles in SF/Fantasy movies. You don’t take roles in multiple adaptations of time-travel stories without being somewhat of a genre fan.

What will make it suck?

Elena-

Uh…if the effects in the commercial weren’t just whipped up before post-production to advertise, and are actually what the film looks like.  If there are terrible Southern accents everywhere.  If it presents a totally false sense of how important the events are in the scheme of the world. If what drives someone in this family to the dark side is as lame as what Lucas tried to tell us drove Anakin.

Basically…if it moves.  I mean, come on.  You’ve seen the trailer, right?  How can it not?

Rachel-

I think my eyes looking at it will make it suck. You guys, the accents alone should be a red alert for you. But I know that there are lots of book fans excited about this film, and so I will try to approach the film with that in mind.

It will suck if they leave out Boo Radley the dog. Or Ethan’s weirdo aunts. Or all the obviously unresolved issues Ethan has with his mother.

What will make it awesome?

Elena

This movie might actually be awesome if it captures the sort of over-dramatic gothy impossible love story well.  I am a sucker for a good forbidden love, and I don’t necessarily mind intentionally overblown plot elements if the whole is something that resonates with me and looks good en totale.  I mean…it’s witches in a swamp who tromp around in ball gowns and too much eyeliner.  I am not sure I need to explain further why it has potential.

Rachel-

Despite the accents the movie COULD get HS in SC right. It has a chance of resonating with me since I, too, was the weird new girl once. I hope they go for some quip-y humor and not take itself as seriously as the book. We’re dealing with really dramatic, obvious storylines and super powers and pretty much every witch cliché you’ve seen on the Vampire Diaries plus some voodoo. It could be cray.

Additional thoughts on casting/production?

Elena-

Honestly?  The adults here are what really made me want to see this movie. I’m not sure that Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis can make something truly awful even if they try.

I don’t recognize any of the teenagers, which is probably a good thing.

I know it was filmed in Louisiana, in part around New Orleans, so that always offers me a fun game of Name That Plantation.

I have not read the book yet, though I did download a Kindle copy to read.  I thought about starting it (or finishing it) before going to see the movie, but then I thought…no.  I’m going to see what the movie does on its own two feet, and save the book to read after to see if it is (1) any better as a story than what the movie presents to me and (2) see if it explains things better than the movie does, if I am left with questions after I walk out of the theater.  Unless, of course, I hate everything about the movie, in which case, I dunno, maybe I will return it with a “did not mean to purchase” excuse.

Rachel-

WHY are all these people in this film? Jeremy Irons? Emma Thompson? Viola Davis? I don’t…? Why would…? Huh? Did they lose a bet? Did they sign papers while drunk at the Golden Globes? DOES ANYONE KNOW? Even Emmy Rossum in a relatively bit part doesn’t make any freaking sense to me!

Reaction to film?

Elena:

Pretty much exactly what I expected.  The teenagers cleaning up the theater as I walked out asked me if I liked it, and that was what I said.  “Did you read the book?”  “Nope.”  They were in the midst of exclaiming how retarded it is to see the movie without reading the book first when I went through the doors.  Well, kids, it’s like this…when you get older, and your life is a little busier, sometimes you prefer to get a sense of the material with only two hours of your life wasted as opposed to the six or eight (or twenty, if it’s GRRM) it would take to read the book.  Also, sometimes you just want to take the film as its own entity.  You know, like film critics do.

So, checklist:  Effects – obvious CG.  Filming – not creative.  Editing – nothing to notice, therefore shitty by way of being merely serviceable in a film whose cinematography is merely serviceable.  Storyboarding – inefficient. How the F was the movie 3 hours? (Was it 3? Or did it just feel like it?)  Setting – not a bad depiction of the South, although it felt more like Louisiana than SC….  Acting – way better than Twilight, so that might count as a positive.  Concept – as engaging as I expected, which is to say, I was hooked. I just wish the overall experience lived up to it. Story – kind of confusing and unexplained and full of coincidences that made all of it feel sort of half-cocked.

That said, nuts and bolts.

Can we get this out of the way first:  What. The. Fuck. Was. Up. With. The. Accents.  Oh my God.  Rachel told me she didn’t hear an authentic SC swamp drawl among them.  Was…there an authentic Southern accent among them?  I did enjoy Jeremy Irons pronouncing Lena like it was a shortening of my name, with the long A; that felt…legit.  At the very least it was a truly unexpected affectation, and his character was such a creature of affectation that it worked for me.  Otherwise, it felt like they were all over the map with every character having a different sound, which maybe made sense for Lena’s family but not really for the townfolk.  The main guy?  Jesus Christ.  He sounded like he was half-retarded.

Also am I the only one who didn’t find him all that cute?  Like…I sort of think I know what they were going for, that young Johnny Depp broody cheekbone look, but it didn’t work for me.  His friend was 10x hotter and cooler and funnier.  So it was either really terrible casting decision or really brilliant casting.  I mean, does the weird Goth chick who moves into town *actually* go for that guy as he was cast if it’s not destiny?

And by the way…why was every person in their class good-looking?  Y’all.  Have ya been to the rural South?  NEVER HAPPENS.

Speaking of the townfolk…HAVE EITHER OF THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE THIS BOOK (OR MAYBE JUST THIS SCRIPT) EVER BEEN TO THE RURAL SOUTH?  This felt soooooooooooooooo coastal projection of what they think small Southern towns are like.  The depiction here felt beyond over the top.  Like the town and everyone in it was a plot device, not an actual peek into what a town like that really is.  (If you want one, by the way, go watch Bernie.)  Although this set-up DID feel remarkably similar to what Rachel said happened to her when she moved south of the MD. IS THIS HOW IT HAPPENED, RACHEL?  IS THERE SOMETHING YOU NEED TO TELL ME?

Okay, story.  So she and the boy are fated to meet and fall in love?  Why then was his mother BFF’s with her black-magic uncle?  And his mother’s BFF just happens to be the librarian for the witches?  I mean, I guess those family connections explain his ability to just take that kind of discovery in stride, but unless the connection between her uncle and his mother had something to do with why she and he were so drawn to each other, it’s kind of an uncomfortable coincidence.

It was also a total cop-out on the part of the authors for her to not be claimed for one side or the other after that being set up as a fundamental rule of the world.  Unless the curse itself was why the family members got claimed for one side or the other, but if that was the case that causation was really poorly drawn.  But for her to just be like “oh, hey, yeah, I’m not gonna do that” is kind of ridiculous.  Don’t we think other family members have tried that?  Don’t we think every person has a measure of both light and dark in their hearts, such that very few people could ever be claimed for one side or the other?  I can’t believe everyone in her family was so polarized that she was the first who fought a claim.  Also, her uncle proved that dark doesn’t mean evil, since he was obviously principled and loving and spent his time hanging out with the light side of the family.

I also didn’t get much sense of the actual natures of the light and dark here.  I kind of got the impression that “dark” was more chaos than evil?  It seemed like when she was going “dark” it was letting her anger rule her (cough * Star Wars * cough) and acting on it, but, come on.  Anger is not intrinsically evil.  You can have a righteous anger.  I would have liked a better explanation about what was actually involved in being light or being dark.  All I got was that light meant throwing boring dinner parties and dark meant killing cops running speed traps.  (And the problem is…?)

Speaking of Star Wars – “Lena, I am your mother” = bahahahahahaha.

Speaking of cop-outs…all that had to happen to break the curse was someone she loved had to die?  I…am not sure that’s really how magic and curses work.  Seems more like it would need to be a mortal lover who died and didn’t get resurrected in order to complete that loop, you know?

Overall this movie just kind of made me grumpy.  I was engaged by the set-up against my will (damn those Romeo & Juliet stories), once I got over the hero’s speech impediment and the shitty effects, so I really hoped the story would make up for those deficiencies.  I wanted it to Exceed Expectations.  This movie (and the story) did not achieve an E.  It didn’t even get an O.  Such a missed opportunity.  But at least there were no vampires. Or zombies.

Rachel-

Confession. I watched this movie hammered.

I brought some good ol’ South Carolina Firefly sweet tea vodka.

Elena-

OMG that shit’s the bessssssssssst

Rachel-

Right?

Figured I would drink whenever I had the urge to roll my eyes out of my head. I was done with that halfway through the film.

Bless my drunk little heart.

For one –  WHY did Ethan sound like Forrest Gump? WHY? It. Was. Distracting. Is that the best southern accent that poor boy could do? Not to mention every other cast member was doing their best (but sadly terrible) Texan or Alabama drawl. Not even a Georgia accent was heard! Emma Thompson might have come closest (and I, too, appreciated Jeremy Iron’s, “Leeeyyna”) but dayuuum. Not a person involved with the dialect coaching (ok, fess up. There wasn’t a dialect coach) even bothered to Google the Accent tags on Youtube for Christ’s sake!

When I wasn’t twitching at all the terrible accents, I was bothered by the way this whole Confederate/Civil War/ Black people in service positions shit was going down. I had a huge issue with this in the novel, as well. Pretty much the only “educated” black person in the novel is a character that they cut out of the movie (and merged with Amma the housekeeper). But even that character was a woman without much power of her own who was bound to serve anyone who asked (she was the librarian and research partner of Ethan’s mother. Who despite being described as dressing like a Professor spent all her time alone, being crazy at the Gatlin Library).

Elena-

Correction.  She is not the only educated black person; she is the only black person in town other than Ammie. At least the movie tried to put more in at school.  Again…have you been to the South?….

Rachel-

Then there’s this total appropriation of the Gullah people in the character of Amma, who raised all the Wate boys, cooked their breakfasts, did their laundry and sometimes performed voodoo rituals in the swamp with no shirt on while old crusty white plantation owners yelled at them.

ARE. YOU. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME.???????

Yes. There are people that do Civil War reenactments. Yes, there are plantation tours. Yes, there are even white people who still have black nannies. But the responsible way of using these details in your YA paranormal romance novel is to not just relegate issues of social justice, slavery and the highly contentious subject of the Civil War as tropes to further your sad, special snowflake characters towards their inevitable (or not) copulation.

Or whatever.

ARGH.

I’m just…argh. There are A LOT of things about the South that I hated (thus my current residence of NYC), but there are some great things. The hypocrisy and duality of the Confederate South is the most interesting part. These authors, whose educations should frankly have prevented them from participating in such rank cliché, have done nothing to give the place that their story lives in any character at all. If you can’t make a place a pivotal character in your story…you should start over. The filmmakers tried. Oh, did they try. They used New Orleans as the best swampy, Savannah-like recreation of a town outside Charleston that they could, but I think there was more character in the inaccurate as hell flashbacks.

What an exercise is self-torture was reading this book and then watching the movie. Sorry guys, I tried. But that there… that was crap.

And now the part wherein Elena and Rachel talk themselves out of liking it even a little bit in a series of chats:

On Setting:

Rachel: what am i doing?

Elena: existentially? or literally

Rachel: Gatlin sucks. lets burn it down

Elena: yes. Please. the sign fire accidentally took out the whole town of implausibly restored mansions. oops

BURN IT OFF THE MAP

MY ENEMIES LIE IN ASHES

Rachel: Team Sherman

Elena: also i love how they thought plantations were like, right next to each other

Rachel: omg that is so annoying. Like houses in the suburbs!

Elena: some of them where long and narrow but most of the time, the neighbor’s a mile or two away. there is no running from house to house watching them all burn!

Rachel: It’s like they forgot about the plantation part they think it’s just a style of house

Elena: especially not in fucking hoop skirts

Rachel super small town SC is hell. and it certainly doesnt have any freaking colonial mansions and an unused library and a halfway decent school and a population rich enough to do elaborate town wide battle recreations for tourists. blegh.

On the voodoo thing:

Elena: the more i think about the voodoo thing, the more i think THEY think it’s like…a folklore thing. like it doesn’t really exist and maybe never really did.

Rachel: Oh yes. That shit was just.. insulting to voodoo in general. And Gullah people in particular. am i being a weird white person about all the voodoo service characters and their deeply held love for their oppressors/employers?

Elena: i too am really bothered by the voodoo thing. mostly bc any self-respecting Voudon priestess has way better things to do than clean up after idiot white people.

On Plot:

Elena: i kind of want to go off on a rant about how giving your kids ALL the information is the best way to keep them from doing stupid shit that you otherwise have to kill yourself to keep from being a disaster. like, kids aren’t stupid. give them info and expect them to be responsible, and most of em will be. those that aren’t, well, that’s what the darwin awards are for.

Rachel: i was super annoyed pretty much all the time while reading the book. all the characters were.. actively passive? they knew shit was stupid and lame but they just let it happen… for no discernible reason other than the authors wanted it that way.

Elena: what did we learn from mythology? prophecies only become fulfilled when you try to hide them. oedipus would never have done what he did if his foster father was like “son, you aren’t my real son. there’s some crazy prophecy about you killing your father and marrying your own mother, so why don’t we do this: set you up with a nice younger woman whose birth age we can verify, and you just kick it here with us and take over my throne when i die of natural causes. Deal?” Aaand the prophecy is thusly avoided.

Rachel: oh yea. the whole “we didnt tell you all this incredibly relevant information for your own good” shit is NEVER GOOD. its always just evidence of a bad book. look at buffy (perfect example that she is). giles keeps the whole “the master will kill you” prophecy from her. shit.. does not get done. she finds out. is emotionally scarred and hurt and betrayed. but hey.. ya know what else that KNOWLEDGE helps her do? KILL THE FUCKING MASTER.

Team Eve, bitches. Adam can go die. 

On comparing the book to the film:

Rachel: im thinking the film ending.. was dumb?

Elena: um, god. in comparison to the book the whole erasing his memory made no sense. it was all about making her more likeable as a character

Rachel: it made all this nonsense about the claiming make even less sense than it did in the book

Elena: bc in the book, her angsty teen “even though this totally cost my greatx3 mother her soul it will work for me!” was retarded. it was a little more clear in the book that the no-choice claiming was because of the curse which i am not sure they really lifted?

so i can’t see how the movie sequels (if there are any) don’t diverge wildly

Rachel: yea my friend that has read the entire series said that the film ending basically makes it impossible to continue the series. which i assume revolves around the curse and ethan’s mother’s involvement with these casters. and what happened to seraphine

Rachel: they really sat down and wrote cheasy YA tropes down on pieces of paper

me: yes

Rachel: and drew them from a hat whenever they got bored

me: over lunch, no less. i guess they took the same farland course stephenie meyer did, about how to write the best selling YA book ever

impossible love!

whiny self absorbed heroine!

abercrombie model hero!

did we say impossible? we meant you die if you have sex

bahahhahaha

facepalm

Rachel: as for the movie – i keep picturing emma thompson flouncing around in her ruffles doing that weirdly young sounding american accent. FREAAAAK. love her. she was drunk, right?

Jason Statham Is The Only Good Thing About Parker (And Maybe Daniel Bernhardt) – Review

Parker-Movie-Trailer

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

Adapted from: Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

Jason Statham.

Also because my choices were this or John Dies at the End, which I really want to read as a book first. And also because JDATE looks like it might be, you know, GOOD, and it’s been since Twilight Part Lee Pace Is Awesome that we had something to mock. So, you know, entirely too long.

And…Jason Statham.

Rachel-

So let me take you back to teenage me. She was a plucky sort. She spent long hours riding around in her friends’ cars (because she didn’t have her own) listening to movie soundtracks and eating Cheetoh’s and cookie dough while watching said movies. One of her favorite movies was Snatch. Which she could recite line by line. Much of that love was for the character Turkish. Which (1) led to eager consumption of all Guy Ritichie films and (2) also led Teen Rachel and her friends to watch every single Jason Statham movie that was ever released ever. (Transporter FOREVER!)  Also (3) to scour the internet for pictures from Statham’s Olympic diving days. (srsly)

Elena-

Wait.  He was making movies when we were in high school? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?

Rachel-

Lockstock was 1998 and Snatch was 2000 and Transporter was 2002. (Waits while readers attempt to figure out how old I am.)

Elena-

Oh, that’s right. High school was before I started going to movies all the time. My Great Awakening with film came in college.  This makes more sense now.  Sorry for derailing.  Ahem.  Go on.

Rachel-

So yea. Because Jason Statham. Also because in the trailer he wears a giant cowboy hat and attempts a terrible southern accent, and that’s just something I have to see. Also punching people economically, strategically, and brilliantly. Also also hopefully shirtless and covered in grease or something. (TRANSPORTER FOREVER AND EVER!)

What will make it suck?

Rachel-

Probably JLo. I KNOW. But from what I can tell from the trailer, she’s going to be the hard-working damsel in distress type, and that’s BORING from a plot perspective. I don’t care if JStath saves anyone. I JUST WANT HIM TO PUNCH PEOPLE. JLo should play a villain. I think she’d be tremendous as a villain.

Elena-

If it isn’t funny.

What will make it awesome?

Elena-

If it’s as funny and awesome-death-ful as the live-action Looney Tune Shoot Em Up.

Rachel-

Other than Statham in a cowboy hat, for which I am already eternally grateful, this movie will be awesome if it has lots of slick suit-wearing, and terse dialogue, and the punching of people, and maybe some high-speed precision driving. As close as this movie can get to the Transporter. That would make it awesome.

Additional thoughts on casting or production?

Elena-

No. I know nothing about this film except it’s got Jason Statham being Jason Statham-y. I feel like I got the impression of inept hitman, but honestly? I didn’t really pay attention to the trailer. I am zombie-consumering my way into this one. So, no, I have no additional thoughts.

Rachel-
So this is an adaptation of yet another of author Donald Westlake’s novels (others include Point Blank and Payback which were adaptations of The Hunter), titled Flashfire. Standard crimey/thriller/vengeance fare that your dad probably reads on the toilet. Fine. At least it’s not another Expendables movie. Michael Chiklis is in it, and he’s not a bad actor. JLo seems like some stunt casting to get ladies interested in seeing this film with their husbands instead of the latest romcom. Statham is always a solid choice when it comes to anti-hero crime films. He does it well. He’s been typecast, I’d love to see him try something different. But no one can hit a man with more gymnastic thrust than Jason Statham.

Reaction to Film?

Rachel-

Oh, wow, where to start. The opening was hilarious. Did you come to watch a film with slick moves and jet -setting locations? You’re in the wrong place. Welcome to the great caper at the Ohio State Fair! Statham in a salt and pepper wig with the 60s glasses…what? If I had to identify a cult leader or a serial killer at the Ohio Fair, I would have picked him. The introduction of the anti-hero by creepiness! Hopefully not a new trend! Or maybe he was creepysexy? Especially when he snake-charmed that panicking guard. It almost got kind of sexy? No? Maybe I was already writing the fic in my theater seat. YOLO.

And I didn’t even know it was Chiklis in that clown makeup until he wiped it off in one swipe with that dry towel in their getaway vehicle. Then I noticed poor Statham, returned to his muscle tshirt and buzzed head, smashed up against the passenger door and that is actually a sight  I’ve never seen because THAT DUDE SHOULD BE DRIVING IS WHAT I AM SAYING. *shifts into Party Mode*

Then the movie got all boring because a bunch of creeps beat up Statham and he does not look as good laying halfway in a bog waiting for hill folk as he does when he’s driving nice cars and punching assholes IN THE FACE! Although, I am still very worried about that old man at the hospital. He needed to get to his radiation treatment! So after probably killing a poor old man by making him miss his radiation treatment, Statham attempts to drive cross-country via GTA-style auto thievery. Only he steals a bunch of minivans, and that isn’t fun to watch for 45 minutes. But I did. I watched it for 45 soul-killing minutes.

Fortunately after all the minivan driving you get to the best part of this flick. Statham in a cowboy hat and linen suit driving a nice car around Florida. There’s even a zoom shot of his sweaty ass crack? And he has an absolutely horrible, uterus-shriveling approx of a Texan accent (it’s … not.). And JLo should get an Oscar for successfully pretending to believe his bullshit accent for five minutes.

I’m not selling this at all. HE’S IN A LINEN SUIT AND A TEN GALLON HAT, YOU GUYS. IT’S HILARIOUS. BECAUSE HE’S TERRIBLE.

After what seemed an eternity of fake Texan-touring of mansions with Realtor JLo (during which she figures out everything about the plan because she reads the gossip column in the paper. Whatever.) there’s a toilet fight. A. TOILET. FIGHT. And some assassin guy stabs Statham’s hand, and there are far too many close-ups of the stabbed hand and the skin splitting and all manner of horrors and really this is something Iwould expect from The Following (<3) and not a Statham punch-em-up movie. After the knife and the hanging of a hotel building there’s the lying bloody on JLo’s back porch (where she lives with her mother), and her mom is totally OK with a bloody dude on the back porch and compliments his manhood while offering him soup.

I’m not even going to talk about the jewel heist climax of Parker (it wasn’t the Toilet Fight?), but I have never been more bored about a jewel heist. Seriously, watching Statham gummy guns to the undersides of tables was more interesting than the jewel heist.
Back to Statham eating chicken soup in JLo’s Mom’s kitchen. It was an interesting scene because it encompassed a lot of what worked for the film. The well-behaved bull in the china shop. Blood and gore covered killer eating chicken soup in an immaculate kitchen while being stitched up by his (kind of useless from a plot perspective, but I’m sure she’s a character in all the novels so that’s why they kept her) girlfriend. The dog likes him. Mom likes him (“he’s a real man!), and JLo can’t have him, so why all this sexual tension, it’s weiiiird that he lets her make such a fool of herself! COME ON, PARKER. You have rules!

But it’s also why this movie was so mediocre. Lame jokes, unsatisfying conflicts, a female lead we aren’t rooting for (in fact, I’m worried that her potential b/f copdudebro will get all suspicious about all that cash and get Parker in trouble!), and not so impressive capers are all a snooooooze. Statham carries the genre well, and when he’s allowed to do what he does so well (be terse; hit dudes in the face) then the movie approaches Sunday afternoon Netflix fare. Perhaps if I were a fan of the existing novels it would have been so much more satisfying than an enduring image of Statham in a Cowboy hat. (Though, I will take a gif of the ass sweat shot. I’m not picky.)

Elena-

So…I forgot something at home, and I have to drive back for it.

(Reverses hard.)

Right. Let me tell you a little story about High School Elena.  She was still feeling her way out of the cave she grew up in, the cave of No Pop Culture After 1975 that her parents decided was where they wanted to live for the rest of their lives. And it took her many years to come fully into the sunlight.  She was very pale.  She couldn’t stay out in the bright light of modern culture all day without burning for many years.  Not until college.  So high school was a very delicate time for our intrepid heroine.  She was learning many things. Rom-coms, teenage movies, funny movies—anything anyone could teach her. She learned about MST3K.  One fateful night she watched the MST3K rip on Future War.  It was the best terrible movie of all time, and even in her ignorance of the broader genre of Great Terrible Movies she could recognize that.  It…also contained a very studly kick-boxer who had an amazing round-house kick to the face, the tightest ass she had ever seen on a man, and gems of dialogue like “I am a tool.”  So she sought out via the mystic interwebs a list of all the movies this man had ever made.  They were few in number and low in quality, but she watched them all.  This man had a name, a name you have never heard.  That name, my friends, is Daniel Bernhardt.

Flash forward a good…thirteen years.  Moff Elena is sitting in a theatre, amused and somewhat detached by the spectacle unfolding before her, when who should appear but the greatest tool of all time.  Yes, my friends, that assassin?  The crime-boss’s best man, the real professional, the one he sent to make sure his yokel jewel heisters didn’t fuck anything up again when it came to making people dead?  That was none other than DANIEL BERNHARDT OMFG THAT’S DANIEL! IT’S DANIEL, RACHEL!  DANIEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I…don’t remember the next five minutes of the film.  Really I don’t think I remember much of anything about any scene he was in except that Daniel randomly showed up in a movie I had noooooo idea he was going to be in (he stopped making movies regularly a long time ago, alas), and I spent every second he was on screen blushing and tittering like a school girl.  Probably what Rachel did when Statham’s sweaty crack came on screen (I don’t know; I wasn’t there with her. Alas.)

Um, so, yeah, this movie was amazing. It was totally great! Everyone should see it!  See it and learn the glory that is Danieeeel—

Oh, wait, what’s that?  He wasn’t actually all that awesome in the fight scenes?  Because they were lame fight scenes that were built on smashing heads into toilets instead of roundhouse kicks to the face?  DANIEL WAS CRIMINALLY UNDERUSED! I’m sure it was in Statham’s contract that no villain gets to use a move he can’t do better, and since no one—not even you, Statham—can equal Daniel’s roundhouse I guess that’s why we didn’t get to see it.  Hmph.  Ass.

Anyway, I think we’ve about sped back up to where we should be by now in the reviewing process so let’s get to what I thought about this movie.

It…wasn’t awful?

In the typical scheme of my reviews, that reaction means THIS MOVIE FAILED!  It wasn’t awesome.  It also wasn’t awesome to make fun of.  Humph.  I feel sorely ill-used by this caper.

Rachel called it, this really wasn’t a very exciting heist.  In fact not much of anything about this movie was very exciting.  I will admit, during the prologue at the Ohio State Fair I had a huge grin. That shit was hilar.  State Fair! Best place to make a score of all time, wut.

And then we got into the serious part about they try and kill him, and do a piss-poor job of it, he has to get revenge. And his money. Bam!

Can we talk about the women?  I love Statham’s girlfriend. I am so glad she was there, even if she had no purpose to the plot except to fulfill JLo’s contractual demand of not doing a sex scene (or maybe that was Statham’s!).  But she was a brilliant contrast to JLo’s character.  See, The Girlfriend knew what was up.  She knew how to tell when her house had been infiltrated by a mob boss’s best tool (yessssss! I love you, Daniel!) and how to get herself out alive, keep him from following, and then get the hell out of the way.  She was not going to wind up getting held hostage or get herself killed; she was not a “too stupid to live” crime-girlfriend.  She was the real deal.  So put her in direct contrast to dumbass JLo running around like this wasn’t really happening, like it was a sorority prank or something, and nearly getting everybody killed.  I did appreciate that, once in the hostage situation, she kept her shit together, found the gun, had no compunctions about emptying the chamber and was actually a good shot.  So she wasn’t irredeemable…but she was kind of annoying.  I would not be stupid enough to go to the house.  I’d write it off as a lost cause and then be happily surprised a year later, you know?  So I couldn’t really relate to her.  But I could totally relate to world’s best enabler Girlfriend—“I can’t control him” pretty much sums up how I deal with relationships in real life, friends or SO.  Therefore, pointless or not, I nonetheless appreciated the girlfriend!

And I sort of wondered, at the end…what is JLo going to do with the money?  She can’t use it, except to buy coffee every morning (which, I don’t know, maybe Starbucks’ every day for a lifetime would add up to a decent chunk of that bounty).  Especially not if she got romantically involved with the cop who seemed to think she was still Jenny from the Block.

So, um, yeah, Parker was…well, Parker…was.  Yes.  This movie was.  It happened. I watched it. It wasn’t terrible.  It was an entertaining enough way to spend 118 minutes.  But really I’d have spent that time better either watching Dredd again (which is actually TOTALLY fucking awesome on a re-watch, if we didn’t convince you to see it the first time, let me convince you now) or watching Lee Pace kick ass all over Twilight Part Killmenow again, so in the end I have to downgrade this viewing experience to a waste of my time.  I could have just waited for the .gif of Statham’s sweat-drenched linen-covered bum.

Except then I’d have missed Daniel, and what a shame that would have been. So, upgraded again to “worth it for Daniel and Statham’s bountiful manly good looks”?  Yes. I think that’s where I’m going to leave it.

The Hobbit: For the Fans, by a Fan

The-Hobbit-Part-1

Rachel –

Ahh The Hobbit. Here at last. Remember back when we started this column for Optionated? The anticipation post for The Hobbit was our first piece. Even more than a year ago we couldn’t wait to see this film and now it is finally here!

I am ready.

Oh I am soooo ready.

We’ve had a lot of changes since our original post. The production videos have brought me back into full-fledged Middle Earth fangirlisms. I feel extreme nostalgia for kiwi accents. I desire hours and hours of extended documentary footage following every goddamn employee that worked on this film. ALL OF THEM. I’ve re-read the novel. I still can’t remember all of the dwarves’ names. LET’S DO THIS.

Proper preparation for viewing The Hobbit:

  1. Peruse “Randy Thrandy”, “Dwarf Racist Party Dad” and “Party Time Thranduil” tags on Tumblr. Become obsessed with totally inaccurate internet interpretation of King Thranduil.
  2. Purchase “Party Thrandy” tshirt to wear to the film even though Thranduil will occupy about 5 seconds of footage.
  3. Dramamine even though it will make you fall asleep because everyone is saying the 3D 48fps will make you sick to your stomach.
  4. Coffee to counteract the Dramamine.
  5. Obsess over the novel again and try to figure out when the best time will be to take a pee break.
  6. Get really uppity with people excited about The Hobbit – I WAS THERE IN ’01! Realize you are an asshole. Quit it.
  7. Get side-tracked on the Smaug-Cumberbatch/Bilbo-Watkins Tumblr tag.
  8. Totally forget Evangeline Lily is in the film. (Probably not. Probably the next one) Remember suddenly while walking down the street. Realize, you are totally OK with Middle Earth getting more bad-ass lady residents. Be at peace.
  9. THERE ARE THREE MOVIES FOR THE HOBBIT? THE HOBBIT IS 200 PAGES LONG. YOU WOULDN’T GET ENOUGH POINTS TO QUALIFY FOR A SLICE OF PIZZA IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL READ-A-THON! HOW CAN THERE BE THREE FILMS?
  10.  Party Time
  11. Secret Step: Get your replica of The Ring of Power out of your jewelry box. Polish it. Love it. Post a picture on face book that instantly convinces your mother you got secretly married. (Obv. To Sauron.) Never let anyone handle your replica. Or touch it. Or do anything with it because it is MINE. MY OWN. MY….. PRECIOUS.

Elena-

My preparations were slightly different. I spent the week leading up to the film:

  1. Resisting the urge to reread the book at the eleventh hour (I haven’t read it since college, AKA closer to a decade than a year ago at this point), because rereading the book JUST before seeing the film never goes well for me. I like to take a film on its own terms.
  2. Laying out my Randy Thrandy power tee for the viewing. Blessing Rachel for giving me an easier alternative than actual cosplay to wear.
  3. Brushing up on my Sindarin so I won’t have to read the translation of every word King Thranduil the Beautiful whispers sweetly to me in Elvish. This way I will know that, whatever the words on the screen are, what he is really saying is “Come to me, Starfire Brightmaiden” (this is my Elvish name. Don’t question it.)….
  4. Illegally downloading the soundtrack to the cartoon version because, seriously, WTF iTunes, WHERE IS IT?
  5. Wondering how the hell there will be a third movie if they get all the way to Mirkwood in this one. Deciding I don’t care because it just means I get to see Thranduil sooner.
  6. Taking Rachel’s advice and falling down the rabbit-hole of Tumblr tags into the Wonderland that is the (Party) King of the Wood Elves as seen through the internet.
  7. Going from resigned that the film is actually going to exist to “epitomizing Beatles meets Tolkien” in 60 minutes flat (it’s all Lee Pace’s fault. He shouldn’t be so awesome).

I did not expect to get excited about this film. I grew less enamored of LOTR as the trilogy went on and as I have revisited it in the decade since.  I was enthused about a Del Toro version (thinking of Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro, let me be clear) and sort of resigned to a PJ version that would be pretty much exactly like LOTR, except based on the book that meant just a little more to me than even the trilogy did.

But I broke down at the end and got really pumped about this movie in the last week before it came out.  Thanks entirely to the fandom and the ridiculousness that is Tumblr and meme-generator and all of it.  And even though the film wasn’t, for me, as fun as the excitement, I am still so happy I got that week of pure anticipatory pleasure.  A very sincere thank you to all the people who wrote crazy shit about Thranduil on the interwebs.  And Lee Pace, for existing and taking this role and putting up with having his face associated with Dwarf Racist Party Time Thrandy Who Sparkles and Carries a Wine Scepter While Riding a Moose.  Y’all are all awesome and I love you for it.

So.  About the film…

Reaction

Elena-

Yeaaahhhh…about the film.  I…didn’t hate it?  In fact I even kind of liked it, despite myself, because it’s the fucking Hobbit and that’s the first non-toddler book that was ever read to me and it will always have first place in my heart and this was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book onto the screen and so I couldn’t entirely dislike it even though I feel that, objectively speaking, it wasn’t great.

I wrote a really long and really boring diatribe about what I didn’t like about this movie.  Bored the shit out of Rachel and made her threaten to disown me.  (Ha! She’d cry for days if we didn’t speak again.  Wait.  This is Darth Rachel. She doesn’t cry about things. She’d just send her pet dragon to eradicate all traces of me from the Earth so she would not have to be sad, because how can one mourn what never existed?  I guess it’s a good thing I have had a few days to let my criticisms simmer down to small but potent matter.)  I am not going to run that first version of this review.  It was long.  And boring.  And, most importantly, pretty inarticulate because it still didn’t say quite what I wanted it to say.

Here’s what I want to say, verbatim from an IM with Rachel.

Elena: my take on this movie, my problem but why i understand the people who love it for this reason, is that he made a film for the fans and not for the sake of making an objectively good film

different goals drive different executions

i think he met his goal

i wanted the other goal

the end

Rachel: ah. yea.. i’m a fan. so. yay.

Elena-

The Hobbit isn’t bad.  Not bad bad (shut up, Tom Hardy as Bronson, you weren’t even in this movie! Although you would have made an excellent addition to the Hot Dwarves ’13 calendar…).  For the average movie-goer it’s going to be a lot of fun, nothing to complain about in terms of structure, acting, effects, etc.  It’s a pretty faithful rendering of the book to the screen, if with a ton of added stuff that was going on in the background that you don’t learn about in the book but later, when you read LOTR (or even later, when you read the appendices of LOTR).

And while I guess a big studio film that is true to the book is better than a big studio film that isn’t, I find I’ve become a little bit of a film snob in the last 10 years, and it’s really hard for me to actually like a movie that I don’t find amazing as a piece of cinema.  Again, it wasn’t bad.  It just wasn’t…art.  PJ is not Paul Thomas Anderson or Tomas Alfredson or Terrence Malick. He makes solid films in a predictably cinematic way, corrals large casts and big budgets with confidence, and puts together inoffensively easy to watch movies.  Fine.  For me to thoroughly love a movie I need more.  This was a B movie for me because the style of moviemaking was just solidly there, not something deep and profound on a cinematic level.

Also, I got bored in places.  I will freely admit I get bored watching the extended editions of LOTR.  They are too long.  This felt like PJ  just went for it and put the extended edition out in theaters (hence the third film).  So for me it was 5-10% too long across the whole movie.  I was ready to get to the point and move on about 2 minutes before that happened in almost every scene.

While I enjoyed the back-stage (versus what we see in the book) story, I felt like the movie swings between two extremes, the cartoonish Radagast and the full-on Nazgul darkness of LOTR, and the two do not work as being part of the same film.  I think there are ways to include Radagast and make him weird and eccentric without making him Looney Toons manic.

Finally, my biggest issue, was the high frame rate.  It. Looked.  Terrible.  Maybe the opening scenes in Bilbo’s hobbit-hole and the Hobbiton set looked good with it, sharper and clearer than they otherwise would have, but the rest of the time the movie looked like a soap opera daydream of a fantasy adventure.  I can’t watch movies on TVs that have the soap operatic effect (it’s a real thing, Google it), and this whole thing was intentionally filmed that way?  I wanted to see it thinking maybe intentionally filming it at that speed would make it better.  Nooope.  Call me a luddite, but I’ll take the speed of real film to my dying day.  I feel like everyone’s afraid to call the film out on this because it’s new tech, ooh, isn’t it shiny and special?, but I am not afraid to call bullshit.  THE EMPEROR HAS LOST HIS PANTS.  I REPEAT, THE EMPEROR IS NOT WEARING CLOTHES.  High frame rate sucks.  Also so does 3D.  Let’s get the fuck over that trend already, too. The end.

There were things I liked.  I appreciated the faithfulness to the book story. I enjoyed seeing the additions played out on center stage instead of discussed in the abstract of history.  The Gollum scene was everything I could have hoped for.  Best section of the movie, by far.  The dollar per second of Thranduil was worth the cost of admission just by itself.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I was disappointed with this film aesthetically but was still somehow okay with it because in the end it is The Hobbit and at least PJ didn’t ruin the story by changing it and Lee Pace is awesome and he rode a fucking moose and was pretty and vaguely sad like Elves always are and I think he must have muttered some Elvish spell under his breath because, swoon, and in the next one I get to see him drink wine and curse dwarves and talk about dungeons and I would totally be okay with getting thrown in his dungeon because it will be like Fifty Shades of Green with Randy Thrandy the Elvish Party King and ohmygoddidIjustsaythatoutloudI’mgoingtostopnow.

Rachel-

I’m a hater. I’m a hater who decided prior to seeing The Hobbit that I was going to hate it because three movies was unjustifiable and the new cameras were a gag.

I was wrong. I loved it. Elena is dumb.

I’ve seen it twice. Once in regular 24 fps 3D and once in the Director-intended 48 fps 3D. It’s much better (at least in 3D) in the high frame rate. So shoot me. The high frame rate rendered the 3D clearer (3D sucks, but if I have to watch it, this might be the best way). Any discomfort or weirdness was gone by the time Frodo (haha, his FACE) ran off to the East Farthing Wood.
Also, after seeing the first part of this trilogy, I kind of hate myself for ever doubting that PJ would approach the story from the same place of respect and love that he did for LOTR. Only a man truly in sync with the subject matter would give us Party Time Thrandy on a giant Elk going “is…is that…DWARF waving at me? Gross!” and rabbit sleds with the 7th Doctor and a complete tour of Bag End, and SEXY DWARVES (Looking at you Fili and STOPPITKILI and Thorin and you, too, Bofur. You minx. Call me.)

I’m a fan, I will take all of the Middle Earth that PJ presents to me. If Radagast wasn’t explicitly needed for the plot I’m sure glad I got to see him! Saruman muttering about mushrooms and Galadriel on a turn table is just what I needed to help me through my continuing affliction: Missing Tom Bombadil Disorder. (Sometimes, when it’s quiet, I sing his songs to myself while weeping. Bright blue his jacket is/And his boots are *sob* yellloooow.)

When it comes down to it…The Hobbit itself wasn’t necessary. We know how the story ends. LOTR was already made. Already successful. If an unnecessary (and… let’s face it, all book adaptations are unnecessary because THE BOOKS EXIST) film was made because a fan wanted to make it and fans want to watch it, then well you’re just kind of a jerk for bitching about 20 extra minutes of run time than you’re used to or the fact that PJ can’t go back in time and make six LOTR movies.

You also can’t complain about the rabbit sled…BECAUSE IT WAS AWESOME. OK, ELENA? You can’t hate on a movie because it “panders” to the fans. Joe on the street wants to randomly see a fantasy movie, fine. He’s not going to see a bad movie if he sits down in front of The Hobbit. He’s not. It’s not a bad movie. Just because you watched a film that did not instantly become your most favorite movie ever doesn’t mean it’s bad. We have SEEN bad movies, and this is not one of them.

You probably like that crazy Russian adaptation of The Hobbit don’t you? DON’T YOU? In this instance, you are Radagast knocking back a bunch of mushrooms and I am Saruman muttering in the corner about how much you piss me off. (No, I’m sorry, I luff you. Don’t leave me.)

Elena-

Mushrooms would probably have improved my experience.  Actually I feel like I just took some after watching that…I don’t even know what to call that.  Is it a movie?  Is it a play?  Is it just a bad dream?  What have you put in my brain you awful child?  (Never stop putting the craziest shit you can find in my brain, I luff you, too!)

Rachel-

Gollum looked absolutely incredible and uncannily like Anthony Serkis. Bravo, guys. That technology has certainly come a long way. So has the Goblin King’s goiter. HA. KILL HIM. Herding 14 and 15 people per shot with all those dwarves must have been exhausting for PJ, but it wasn’t exhausting to watch. In fact, I kind of give more of a crap about the dwarves now since PJ spent the time to show us their backstory. I know who else’s back I’d like to make stories on…wait. No. Where am I?

The only thing this film needed was more Mirkwood. More Elk-riding, party having, douche bag elves, please. I assume this will be the title of Part II.  I can’t wait to hang out with some of Middle Earth’s biggest douchebags (waves at Legolas. I will always fancy you, baby) and see a Mother. Fucking. Dragon. I will take three movies over two any day as long as PJ fills them with rock smashing giants, muttering crotchedy wizards, fuck twat elves, and sexy…sexy…sexxxxy dwarves.

Elena-

What this film needs…is more Mirkwood.  I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is, More Mirkwood.

BRING ON PART 2!  The Hobbit: A Perilous Detour Through the Greenwood. Starring Lee “I’m Not Gratuitous This Time!” Pace as Thranduil, King of the Wood Elves.

“Lee Pace is a god amongst men.” “The best 10 seconds a man has ever given me.” – Reuters

I’m serious.  Bring it.  I wants it…I wants it, precious.  It will be my birthday present.  My…precious….

Twilight: Part WTF (A Review of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2)

Why are you interested in this movie?

Elena-

Because I love watching train wrecks!  Oh, god, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this part of the saga play out.  I just…the baby thing was bad enough, that was the point when I knew the ending of Twilight was going to be bad, but the second half is where the switchman flipped the track to cracktastic.  It’s so ridiculous it’s awesome (in the schadenfreude sense), and I can’t wait to see it play out on film…I can’t wait to see how they deal with Jacob being in love with Bella and Edward’s seven-minute old INFANT and the most anti-climactic final battle EVER and will we finally get to see some hot vampire sex now that Bella’s properly married, devirginized, and delivered of a child (no).

Also, Lee Pace.  Even if I didn’t know the books or have an investment in finishing the film series, I would see this because my boy Lee is in it.  In fact, if I were not going to be dressing up as Bella with a ripped bloody T-shirt and a bloody-mouthed Edward on my arm, I would be wearing my Randy Thrandy t-shirt to this film to show who I’m there for.  Alas, in this cruel world one must choose between fabulous and fabulouser.

Rachel-

This shit isn’t done yet? How could there possibly be more? We watched her birth her horrorbaby, she died, she became a vampire, the wolf-guy got a pedo-boner. WHAT THE HELL ELSE IS THERE? Here I was minding my own business thinking I would never have to watch another Twilight movie. Did I do something to you, Elena? Did you guys conduct some kind of secret Optionated poll called “Let’s torture DarthRachel” ? Everyone voted… “Let’s make her watch more Twilight.” ? Is there even another book? Is this movie totally made up? Is it fanfic? IS THIS 50 SHADES OF GRAY?

Wait… Lee Pace is in this movie? Which vampire is he? Did we see him already? I’m just going to assume he is one of the vampires because there are no humans in this story. It’s like The Vampire Diaries only… not as good (let’s face it, TVD isn’t good anymore, sigh). So which vampire is ThrandyPace? Is he like…some super ancient Roman vampire? Is he a newborn French Revolution vampire? Will I recognize him at all? Will he have character development? WAIT. LET ME GUESS. HE IS IN LOVE WITH BELLA SWAN. Because… WHO ISN’T? *WEEPS* At least I’ll get some not at all quality Thrandy time into this viewing.

What will make it awesome?

Elena-

Um…if this one is more honest than Part 1 was?  I felt like that movie really glossed over a lot of the questionable parts of the storyline (again I refer you to Edward’s mouth cesarean of demon-vampire-baby).

Also if this condenses the bloat of the second half of the book, which was 800 pages for no real reason…it should’ve been the shortest in the series based on how much actually happens in it.

Or if Carlisle busts out a Mike Dexter reference. I’m sure he could do a nice “I’ll kick everyone’s ass in this field!” when the Volturi show up.

Honestly, what will make this movie awesome is if it gives me lots of opportunities to laugh at it. So since that’s why I’m going in the first place, I’m pretty much guaranteed a good time, right?

Rachel-

Alcohol.

What will make it suck?

Elena-

If Lee Pace is only in it for like 5 seconds. He might be…I seriously cannot remember who his character is from the book, which I read once and promptly burned.  So since I’m kind of depending on him to be my saving grace here, this could go badly for me.

Otherwise…if they rewrite this part to be that terrible sort of not awful but not good, just not good to make fun of kind of thing. That would suck. I demand the opportunity to heckle and jeer! 

Rachel-

If I run out of alcohol.

Additional thoughts on casting or production or trailer?

Elena-

Not really.  I’ve already brought up Lee Pace twice so I’ll lay off him…I think that was the only memorable casting for me for the new characters.  I always enjoy Jasper, although I know I won’t see much of him since he and Alice run off and aren’t going to be in this film much.  Actually, add this to the “make it awesome” tally—just watch Alice and Jasper run around South America looking for other demon vampire babies who grew up instead of staying with boring-ass Bella and Edward.

Rachel-

My favorite person in the Twilight movies is the snarky normal one that made fun of Bella’s ridiculous wedding. The one played by the actress that got the Oscar nom. Anna Kendrick. That one. Is she in part elventybillion? Or are there really going to be ZERO humans?

Also, someone please tell me why Dakota Fanning is in this monstrosity. That girl is a real actress who does not need to slum it by having two lines in a vampire movie. I know Kirsten Dunst was adorable in Interview… but Dakota cannot possibly have more than a couple of lines. She was in the other one… she could… make people’s head’s explode? Right? That was her? I hope she’s making absolute PILES of money. 

Reaction to film?

Elena-

I was sadly nowhere near as drunk as I had planned, but I was even more covered in fake blood in the uterine area than I had anticipated! (Note to self: fake blood is super-viscous.)  I had Edward with me, still sporting his blood-stache from delivering Renesmee, Carlie Spork Cullen, and Jacob creepily holding a baby doll and whispering about his “precious” and birthday presents.  (Note:  I…was with two female friends so this picture now becomes even more hilarious.)  Do I need to tell you how much fun I had?

Good.  Let’s just talk about this disaster, then.

Wow. This movie was pretty much everything I hoped for in terms of being excellent to make fun of.  There was something new every ten seconds or so.  Man.  But I will let Rachel call out those moments in her live blog for you. I’ll try and focus on the bigger picture stuff.

GIANT DISCLAIMER:  RACHEL AND I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS. WE ARE NOT GOING TO STOP AND CALL OUT “SPOILER.”  YOU ARE WARNED.

Where to start.  Okay, I’ll start with some positives.  I really liked the way they handled the ending with the Volturi which, let’s face it, is super-lame in the book.  It’s basically one line of throwaway dialogue from Alice, and the problem is solved.  Because Alice solves all problems?  Hrmm…seems like she causes them more than solves them throughout the series.  Anyway.  Here she gets to be the Big Damn Hero and save the day. I mean, her and Jasper basically rolled onto that snow-covered field like Mal and Zoe (though I’m not sure who that leaves to be Jayne hanging out of the ship…random Brazilian Savage?).  But what was the awesome part was we actually GOT a final battle. Even though I knew it was going to be an Alice vision, there was a moment when I questioned that, when I was wondering what if they DO change this up and this is really happening? Like whoa, damn, that would be epic. I was getting ready for a standing ovation (didn’t happen).

Other things I enjoyed:  Jacob’s strip-tease for Charlie.  Oh, holy shit.  I mean, of course they were going to take every opportunity to let Jacob get naked, but, I mean…they went for it with that scene. Taylor Lautner went for it.  And Billy Burke did his job of being Bella’s awesome, hapless dad, and how else would a dad like that react to his daughter’s ex-suitor, whom he had tried to push her toward, getting naked in front of him to “tell him something important” than to try and run.  The lolz abounded.

Also great?  EVERY SECOND LEE PACE WAS ON SCREEN!  Nola gal that I am, I was so pleased that they found him in New Orleans. I mean, of course reckless vampire Lee Pace hangs out here and eats drunk tourists (closest thing vampires can get to a buzz, what?) and tells Civil War stories to the locals.  Shit, now I’m wondering if the guy who made me toast to General Lee (no joke, that really happened to me in a bar here once) was RandyThrandy in disguise!  And, man, they just gave him every one-liner everyone will want to quote later to make fun of.  “Woman, I’ll follow you anywhere!”  “Name a battle.  I was there.  I helped win it.”  Lee was great.  He knew what this role was.  He went after it honey badger style.  He just really didn’t give a shit.  He knew he was better than this, and he came out with his dick swingin’ and owned it anyway.  So much fun to watch.  Now I am even more pumped for the Hobbit Part Whenever Lee Pace Shows Up.

And finally in things I liked—LANCEL LANNISTER IS ONE OF THE VOLTURI?!?!?! What?  How did I not know that?  Oh, god, every time he was on stage…more wine, sir?  This was like…Lancel got made into a vampire and was really determined not to be anyone’s bitch after suffering Cersei and Tyrion’s rule for so long.  He was all about taking names and taking heads.

Those were the good points.  Considering this movie was what, three hours long, that’s precious few.

What can I say about Bella and Edward’s (or any of them’s) acting that hasn’t already been said?  It isn’t very good.  Edward’s expression moved from constipated for four straight movies to sickeningly proud of himself (guess he  finally dropped that deuce?).   Dude…stop smirking.  Just because you knocked up your wife and she survived it, and your kid is special…you still don’t get a pass for being that self-satisfied.

I was disappointed with the producers for STILL not giving me a Mike Dexter line.  COME ON!  We all know the only reason anyone recognizes him is from being Mike Dexter.

The plot (“plot”) of this part remained as ridiculous as I remembered from the book.  Watching Jacob bonding with Nessie on screen was even creepier than it was to read about.  Maybe because the movies have just gone so far out of their way to sexualize Jacob, with the bulging muscles and shirtlessness at every chance and bedroom eyes.  I still hate the idea that the only reason he and Bella ever liked each other was because of her ovaries.  The military has a word for that:  FUBAR.  Also, can I reiterate that Nessie will apparently be full grown when she is SEVEN.  SEVEN.  Oh my god that is beyond fucked up.  So far beyond it comes around behind and kicks super fucked up in the ass.

Also what the shit was that with Bella buying them secret identities so they could run off and disappear from the Volturi?  It was…look, in the book there is a whole thing about how the werewolves and Nessie share some chromosomal abnormality that make them (1) genetically compatible and (2) immune to vampire mind tricks, so it almost made sense that she do that because then they would actually be untraceable.  But here it was just…one more plot point the movies refused to cut even though they didn’t make sense in the context that has been presented via film.

The vampire variety show was painful.  So United Colors of Benaton, so United Nations.  How does Carlisle make all these friends if he actually spends all his time parked in small towns hiding from vampire society?

I need another drink. Let’s see what Rachel thought.

Rachel-

I present to you the best of my live blog (because it’s 7 pages and I love you guys. I don’t hate you.)

On the opening scene:

No dialogue yet. Just staring. Oh I think he spit mumbled to himself just now.

“WE’RE THE SAME TEMPATURE NOW?” THAT WAS THE FIRST LINE OF THE FUCKING MOVIE.  More staring.  I think she just stabbed him…oh no just a hug. Kill him. Squeeze him until his head pops right off. Omg vampire super-fast hand job? What is going on?

Jacob’s first scene:

Hi Jacob. ‘You’re still here.’
‘Well yea…gotta bang your infant daughter while you’re out.’

Renesmee’s fucking nickname:

EW HE JUST CALLED THE BABY NESSY. “YOU NICKNAMED MY DAUGHTER AFTER THE LOCHNESS MONSTER?!!!” uncontrollable hackling laughter.

Also, can we go back to the idea that the only reason bella ever liked jacob was bc the potential fetus she hadn’t conceived yet was the one into the wolfboy? WHAT?

The Sex Scene:

“vampires dont sleep” youre right. VAMPIRES BONE. SO GET TO IT.

Boring blurry sex scene. TIME FOR MORE BOOZE. (don’t forget to get a close up of the wedding ring. This is god approved boning people. Between soulless demons.)

“I’m never going to get enough of it. How are we going to ever stop?” – literally would rather an asteroid hit the planet before I ever had to hear that line.

Prepping Bella to meet Charlie:

Did the vampire family just teach her how to do a Kristen Stewart impression?

The Soundtrack:

I think the music is so bad bc no one can actually sit thru this film sober. So they had a robot approx a soundtrack.

Jacob says something snarky about wolves being cooler than vampires:

“She wishes she was that awesome.” Yea jacob. Bc she wants to turn into an animal that can lick its own asshole. Why? When she’s got Edward for that?

Vampire Arm Wrestling:

IS IT TIME FOR VAMPIRE BASEBALL?

Oh no…LAMER. Vampire ARM wrestling.

KILL ME. 

Random Volturi Flashback:

“The Voltori are coming for us.” THANK GAWD. It’s been 2 hours right? Everyone dies. The End.

I know I’m getting super awkward backstory but all of these famous people in blond wigs look the same and … I just don’t give a damn. Oh look… a beheading.

Jacob and Renesmee (and some Italians):

Oh look Nessy can talk. And Jacob is sitting next to her in the car. I AM SKEEVED OUT. THIS IS WEIRD.

Oh good now he’s carrying her around. This is the most fucked up.. .weird ass… this is like.. .and the fact that the actress playing Nessy is all eyelinered up like a child bride… ughhhhhh. STOPPIT. PEDOSHIIIIT.

Ok so some people are teaching Nessy to control weather and then some amazon Xena princess sidekicks show up? This is the type of shit that should be CUT OUT of a film adaptation. Cluttered weird stuff that just confuses an already muddled weak storyline. Some random dude just made a beatles joke. Why do I care about this guy? 

Does Nessy have some kind of brainwashing ability? I don’t. Get. It.

Oh good now we’re adding more werewolves. Jacob really DOES only like younglings.

The half hour of gathering the various X-men Vampires is BORING. I AM BORED.

Good a fight. For no reason that I can discern.

UGH… they totally CGId this poor child actress’ face so she looks like…older and more like a sex doll for a perv.

I feel like I just blacked out because suddenly cgi wolves are chasing a bunch of italians who are VERY OBVIOUSLY running in place

Prepping for the Boss Fight

I feel myself overcome with a sense of narcolepsy. Like in order to save myself my brain is turning off. Just powering off. Rebelling bc I can’t fucking WATCH all these plastic, over makeuped barbies flap their gums at each other ANY. MORE.

Bella is a vampire dampening net. “Dude, you’re not motivating her.” I… dont think this is about motivation ,guys. I think its more that no one explains anything and there dont seem to be rules so it looks impossible to teach anyone about their mutant abilities. Where’s Professor X?

Wouldn’t it be fucking hilarious if Edward just burned up and died right now? And the credits started rolling? Or is that just my deepest desire? 

Kstew is reading the pedo-doll some kind of pornographic novel about wolf sex.

Did Kstew just say “physical. I feel like I could demolish a tank.” She has experience with being the Hulk then? Bc looks to me like her ass is sitting on a couch.

This Plot You Guys:

Now I’m in a mall. Jesus Christ. I’m in a mall restaurant with yet another nameless character that will talk more than the protagonist.

Can we go back to the whole idea that the reason the bad vamps are after everyone is because they want Alice to complete their freakshow? SO WHY IS THE MOVIE STILL GOING ON? WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE LOCH NESS MONSTER?

Somewhere in the snowy North:

Hey we’re in iceland or some shit.

Why are they even here? Was there some kind of agreement that everyone was going to meet in this snowy field in Iceland? Theyre about to battle some motherfucking … time lords? Dementors? Extras from the jersey shore?

OH GOD OF COURSE WOLVES TOO. Lets make the inevitable CGI nightmore even WORSE. 

Omg is that jake? IS LOCH NESS MONSTER GOING TO RIDE AROUND ON TOP OF JAKE LIKE A BIG WOLFY HORSE?

They do know that Alice isn’t even HERE right?

Ok they’ve been walking back and forth on the snow talking to each other for at least 35 minutes now. Can’t they just kill each other so I can stop watching this shit?

Michael Sheen just figured out he was in a Twilight movie. That is the ONLY explanation for the muppet noise he just made.

Heyyy… bitch from Lost. What’s up? Haven’t seen you in 5 days or so.

Bahaha… this is why vampires need CELL PHONES. Just like… call people “did you make a vampire baby?  No? Ok cool.”

NESSIE IS RIDING ON JAKE. PLEASE SHOW US A CLOSE UP OF THE AWKWARD ROCKING CGI HORRORFEST.

“So no laws broken. Let’s just disperse, cool?” “Nah…we all came all this way to get here so I think we should kill each other for no reason, k?” “Yea… I guess.”

UGHHH. …. ALICE JUST SHOWED UP… wtfffffff.  MORE BORING TALKING SHIT. They were gonna kill each other you dumb whore.  YOU’RE RUINING IT.

OK geezus. Finally. CGI FIGHT OF DOOM AND ILLEGIBILITY. LET’S DO THIS.

The Battle:

I think I’m supposed to care about these damn wolves that are dying but I actually have no idea who they are.

KICK BELLA in the HEAD. BAHHAA

Still haven’t decided which team of dead people I’m rooting for.

EDWARD GO DOWN THE HOLE GO BYE BYE .

Is there Lava down there? WTH?

Oh…Edward can fly I guess. Guess that means Dakota is left to get her ass killed by Alice the Wig. FEAR THE WIG.

I assume Alice the Wig giving Dakota to the black wolf was significant for some reason? Oh hey the Albino is still alive. How’s Lancel doing? Did Lancel Die? Or did guy who used to date Ginny Weasley die? Are they both in this movie or did I make one of them up?

The Final Blows:

Bella and Edward are fighting Michael Sheen – its kind of incomprehensible. Oh Bella just pulled his head off. Ok.

WTF.

WE JUST WENT BACK IN FUCKING ASS FUCKING SHIT FUCKING TIME FUCK?

What a mother fucking ass cop out. THIS. IS. BATTLE. THIS. MUST. HAPPEN. You can’t have a whole series end with a bunch of jerkfaces IN A FIELD just be like “cool, peace out. Donzo. See ya at Thanksgiving.”

Remember when the Mayans showed up?:

Why are there native americans? Is this bc I typed Thanksgiving? Bc they appeared AS SOON as I typed it.

Oh gooood. Half Human Half Vampire Mayan or something.  Confirming to Jacob that he can start boning Nessie in 7 years… probably 4 if no one is looking.

Hey Mayan Dude… YOU ARE IN ICELAND. You ain’t cold?

They will never forgive what happened here? WHAT ARE YOUT ALKING ABOUT ITALIAN GUY AND ALBINO BOY? NOTHING HAPPENED. NOTHING.

NO. THING.

NOTHING HAPPENED.

This was 5 hours of people zooming around in the woods and pedophilia and talking about bullshit and THEN NOTHING HAPPENED. A wolf howled.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The End:

No one has ever hated this movie as much as I hate it, Bella. With one exception. These two fucking actors. Kstew…RPatz… you have my eternal mocking to take with you to the sparkly bank.

Cloud Atlas Is Better As A Trailer – A Review

Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski

Adapted from the novel of the same title by David Mitchell (published 2004)

Why are you interested in this adaptation? 

Elena-

Oh, wow, I am interested in this movie for a lot of reasons, none of which have to do with the book itself which I have never read or even heard of until this movie was announced.

Probably the biggest reason I’m interested in seeing this one is the idea that drives it—a web of stories of the same souls meeting again and again, sometimes as lovers and sometimes as friends, but always looking for each other.  That kind of reincarnation/affinity has always resonated with me; regardless of whether I believe it, the idea is powerful and beautiful.  It perfectly suits my aesthetic of High Romance.

Otherwise, the film looks visually stunning.  I was sold on seeing it after the first 10 frames or so of the preview (so maybe my primary interest is the visuals).  I am especially interested in the future sequence, and would see the movie for that storyline alone even if all the others looked terrible.

There is also the matter of who is involved in it…I trust Tykwer as a director, and I think the Wachowski brothers shine much more brightly as producers rather than directors (unless they go old school Bound style and stop using CGI).  I think they all make a great pairing of artistically conscious directors who have experience with fragmented narratives, large casts, and Butterfly Effect nuances of how big a difference one change can ultimately make.

Rachel –

I’m not particularly interested in Cloud Atlas. I guess you could say I have a chip on my shoulder about novels that are talked about as “Literary Fiction” when they are clearly frakking SciFi. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE when genre stories are embraced by the literary elite. They need to realize that genre stories are just as relevant, hard to write and hard to read as any other piece of fiction. (I mean…the good ones. Let’s just admit there is some pretty bad genre stuff AND some pretty bad “literary” stuff. But mostly the resistance to genre is all about pretensions and outright prejudice.) Cloud Atlas was short listed for a Nebula Award so, ya know…SciFi. Accept it.

I was also pretty epically disappointed in The Matrix Trilogy. I’m expecting this to be a bit of a mess. A pretty one with a couple of good fight scenes and a lot of heavy-handed appropriated mythology.

Elena-

The last Matrix movie pretty much ruined me on the trilogy. The first one was pretty good, and the second was mostly good.  The third just free-fell down the black hole of letting the CG nerds do anything they could jizz out onto the screen. Also the behind-the-curtain mythology got stupid.  So I agree there is definitely mess potential.

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

If the movie lives up to its preview, it will be awesome.  I expect it to look beautiful throughout, tell interesting sub-stories, and weave together into a sweeping epic where everything truly is connected by the end.  Also I expect there to be some creativity in the filming and editing (hallmarks of both Tykwer and the Wachowskis as directors).  If they can deliver that…I will be satisfied.

But that’s just the technical side of things. What would take this movie over the top is if I also love the characters (or at least some of the characters) and their stories.  If we get some Fountain-esque tale of spending 500 years trying to save someone that just pushes all my button about impossible (but maybe not!) love stories that span space and time…you know, all those glorious True Love motivations that the pragmatic German in me just couldn’t do in real life and hence must live out vicariously.  Yeah.  Give me that, and the technical spec’s I asked for, and you have made an awesome movie.

Rachel –

Girl, did we even watch the same preview? I watched a trailer that was 6 minutes long and made no damn sense except I got to see Tom Hanks and Halley Barry wear a bunch of terrible wigs…

FOR SERIOUS WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?

LOVE.LIFE.KISSING.

DEATH.TOMHANKS.SUNSETS.

I gave up and read the Wikipedia synopsis of the novel just now. Nesting novels! Dystopian futures!!! The structure of the novel is the most interesting part about it; I hope they keep that structure in the film. That would make it awesome.

What would make it suck?

Elena-

A movie of this scope carries a number of inherent risks:  having to rush through the various storylines to fit them all in, having one weak sub-story/sub-cast that brings the whole to a screeching halt because it just doesn’t work, getting so lost in the sub-stories that the main story/overarching story is left undeveloped.  This is a bigger cast and set of storylines than either Tykwer or the Wachowskis have handled before, so while it might not be beyond their reach to pull off, it will be a stretch.

Beyond that are a couple of risk factors specific to this project.  First is the possibility that the story is built on an idea that seems profound at first glance but, when examined, turns out to be nonsensical or totally shallow.  I haven’t read the book, so it might be that the book is based on a not-so-profound idea, but there is the secondary risk that an adaptation of the book will dumb down a great idea into a trite one.

The other danger I see is how the stories are woven together.  I actually really enjoy tapestry movies when they are done well.  Crash was a movie that, I thought, did it well, whereas Babel was terrible.  The sub-stories have to be intimately connected for the whole to work; otherwise they just look like coincidences, and coincidence is weak storytelling.

Rachel-

I’m having all sorts of The Fountain flashbacks, I really am. And I didn’t enjoy that film like you did. I fell asleep.

I get really bored when movies try to preach at me and say “everything happens for a reason.” I am emphatically against that mindset. I think it’s a huge problem in our society…but I won’t start ranting now.

The way the novel ends, with a reminder that no matter what your contribution to the human race – it can affect someone. I think that’s nice. I think it’s even nicer that such effects are not based at all upon having children and spreading a philosophical legacy via them. I like that it’s more particular and individual. (Okay…the whole society on Hawaii things (no Spoilers) is just…fucking hackneyed, but everything else seems interesting so I will let it slide.)

This movie has a high “total mess” probability.

Additional thoughts on casting or production?

Elena-

I have really high hopes for this film.  I know my expectations are high, but I don’t think they’re unmeetable, and I trust the people involved enough to be capable of pulling off a movie like this.  While I do have some fears that this one will ultimately be a disappointment, I am hopeful for a movie-going experience that sweeps me off my feet and never lets me down.

Rachel-

Eh… there are lots of people in this movie that will appeal to my mother (but I love Tom Hanks!!! I luff him I dooooo). Casting is whatever. I heard that there was some yellow-face going on in the film (when a white person plays an Asian person, a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but I didn’t see any evidence of that in the trailer. Some of the actors play different characters indifferent time periods…I sure hope they don’t have any white people playing Asians in the dystopian Korea. That…would be a terrriiiibllleee idea. 

Reaction to film?

Rachel-

I’d like to tell you a story. A story about a couple generations of highly evolved mammals on the planet Earth that douched around using up fossil fuels and screwing with several world eco-systems until said planet Earth started becoming another planet altogether – Planet Hurricane.

One day Planet Earth (not quite yet Planet Hurricane) conjured a Hurricane as big as an ocean and sent it blasting along some of that planet’s most heavily populated shores.

One of the cities on those shores was called New York, and New York functioned almost entirely through a maze of subterranean electric trains. In the days that followed the Ocean-Sized Hurricane’s visit, New York was renamed THUNDERDOME, and it didn’t have those subterranean electric trains anymore. It didn’t even have food anymore. No, all it had were diseased migrating rats, block after block of cold, dark buildings, and a halo of ash floating in flood waters that used to be where the latest generation of highly evolved mammals lived.

THUNDERDOME was not a place of frivolity. THUNDERDOME didn’t have such establishments as Movie Theaters.

THUNDERDOME ONLY HAD THUNDERDOME.

Elena-

I think the moral of “Welcome to Thunderdome” there is, Hurricane Sandy happened in order that Rachel would not have to watch Cloud Atlas.

Truth be told, I almost envy her.  I liked this movie so much more before I saw it.

I really, really, really wanted to love this movie.  Obviously.  I walked out of the theater not sure how I felt about it.  A movie with this many storylines and messages does take some parsing out.  Unfortunately, the more I thought about it the less I liked it overall.

Technically, this movie was up to my expectations for it.  Beautiful to watch, varied and creative without being distractingly so, just a treat to look at.

However.  If you did more than look at it, by which I mean, paid attention to the stories and characters, then problems arose.

First of all, ugh. This movie was so politically correct! Big evil oil trying to control the world’s energy! Misunderstood ghey lovers! The slave with career skillz and a heart of gold who convinces a man to become an abolitionist!  The evil government overlords who want to control everything and kill anyone who opposes them!  A slight complaint, really, but it did make me roll my eyes, like “Really, that’s the best you could come up with?”

I didn’t mind the multiple castings.  I don’t know if there would have been a clear way to delineate who was who in each scenario without something even hokier than repeating actors, like always putting the “same” character in one particular color or giving them physical ticks or habits like smoking, reading the same book, eating the same thing, etc.  That would have been worse.  None of the parts really stood out to me as amazing character work on their own; Tom Hanks definitely differentiated his characters better than Halle Berry.  The others played such different parts, in such different stories, that I sometimes forgot they were the same actors.  But the real scene stealer was Hugo Weaving.  Mr. Anderson was a fucking fabulous villain, playing the, or at least an, antagonist in basically every storyline and nailing each one—even the comedic one in the most light-hearted of the stories.

To address Rachel’s concern about the yellow-face—in the context it did not bother me at all.  This was because it was applied consistently, and to characters who were from a different race than Somni.  She was a fabricant (cough *replicant* cough), while they were not.  So I don’t know if they were actually meant to be Asian or if they were meant to have some odd forehead deformation that was part of their physical characteristics as a race at that point.

Honestly, the two biggest problems I had with this movie is that there was no real philosophical or emotional payout from the film as a whole, and most of the relationships didn’t really work for me.

The two that moved me were the gay lovers and the dystopian city genetically modified girl/natural “full human” man.  Interestingly enough (or perhaps this is so expected it’s not interesting) those were also the storylines that engaged me the most.  I didn’t really like the publisher’s story. It seemed needlessly frivolous, like it was comic relief for a movie that really wasn’t intense enough to require comic relief.  The reporter/scientist storyline seemed built mainly on their mutual sense of déjà vu, and the plot was a pretty tried-and-true evil corporate cover-up gone murderous.  The future, post-apocalyptic story was just sort of there.  The sea journey was painfully cliché.

I did really, truly enjoy the composer’s story.  That was a very compelling storyline, and I enjoyed the characters and their relationship. Definitely the most complex of them, and the story that will stick with me the longest.

I also enjoyed the future story.  The city was definitely in the mode of Bladerunner dystopias, and the events carried the sort of desperate romanticism I was expecting.  The girl’s philosophy, of only needing to convince one person of the truth of her words, was a nice twist away from the typical over-the-top rhetoric about telling “the people” the truth and giving them enlightenment.

But that leaves a tally of 4-2 stories I didn’t like to stories I did, and in the end I really didn’t feel much of a connection between the stories and characters other than being told these were reincarnations.  Small pieces were woven together—the composer is reading the journal of the abolitionist, the reporter knows the composer’s only work, the publisher has a manuscript for novels written about the reporter by her friend, the future girl watches a movie about the publisher’s time in a nursing home, the goat-herder’s religion is based on the girl’s “revelation.”  To Rachel’s point above, it actually is a clear representation of things we leave behind us, marks on the world, that have nothing to do with children.  A positive, but in the end much more a Babel than a Crash in terms of weaving stories together and making them necessary to each other.

So for me, this movie is better in the 6-minute version than the 136-minute version.  The long trailer captured many of the most beautiful scenes and most of the best lines.  It hinted at an idea that was really never explored more deeply in the film than it was there in the trailer, and thus done better with the brevity that allows your own imagination room to breathe.

I’m not saying this movie was a bomb.  It wasn’t terrible.  It had a lot of redeeming qualities.  But for all the glitz on its surface, its heart was made of tin, not gold, and so I have to come down solidly on the ground, having been let down, after all.

Scarface and Assumptive In Love Heat – A Look At CW’s Beauty and the Beast

Lionman Scarface and Shoulderpads Assumptive In Love Heat

AKA, Beauty and the Beast on the CW

Elena-

Boy, where to start with this piece of work.

Actually let’s start with me.  I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale reworkings.  “Beauty and the Beast” was always a particular favorite of mine, probably because it dealt in consequences—everything that happened to the characters was a direct result of something they did.  They don’t suffer misfortune, they suffer karma, and that idea has always resonated with me.  Learning to take responsibility for one’s own actions and their consequences is effing hard, which is why some people have to get turned into a beast in order to appreciate that lesson.

Rachel –

I like fairy tales when they are as weird as possible. Turn them into cartoon musicals with anthropomorphic wall clocks? Gold. Reinterpret with Ron Perlman dressed as Lion-O in an 80’s hair band? THE BEST AND PUREST OF GOLDS. CW had a few choices to make when they decided to re-make George R. R. Martin’s (yeah…let that process for a bit) Beauty and the Beast, which ran from 1987-1989 on CBS. Let’s just say they haven’t impressed me with their choices thus far.

What I liked about the original (which I have dubbed Lionman and Shoulderpads in Love) was Vincent’s physical inability to be anything other than a Lionman. Sure, Catherine fell in love with him and learned to see into his heart and beyond his (totally hot) scary Lionface cleft lip, but there wasn’t any cure or magical potion that would turn Vincent into Ron Perlman.  That is what made that show so addictive. Watching those two interact with each other around the apparently insurmountable species sexual incompatibility was addictive and cheesy. OK, mostly cheesy, but yelling at Linda Hamilton about how she’s just being a prude because hot lionman sex is something she should TOTALLY go for (your mom watches this show…haaa) is pretty much the best viewing experience ever. *

Anyway, it seems like the CW has gone the absolute opposite direction. The new Vincent is not beastly at all in appearance. The tiny scratch on his face is LAUGHABLE. The Beast is on the inside, and that is just boring. BORING BORING BORING. That is all the ex-boyfriends any of us ever had! I AM SERIOUSLY UNIMPRESSED, CW. There better be something else going on, like Catherine’s utter lack of likability being because she is the Beast in this version. That would be interesting.

But then there’s the plot…

Elena-

Oh, you mean, the “plot.”  This storyline?  Not so much about actions and consequences. Not at all about that, in fact.  All these characters are complete reactionaries.  Something happens to them, and they react to it.  Unless there is a complicated backstory to be revealed later, the “detective” did nothing in her past that caused her mother’s murder, just like there is nothing in the beast’s choices that showed why he deserved to become a monster on the outside. Yes, the events that follow from those two life-altering moments are connected, but they are a string of events that derive from things that were done to the characters, not from some choice the characters made for themselves.

Just in the basic set-up, therefore, this fails as a reworking of the fairy tale.

But it fails in other ways, too.  First of all, the beast is way too studly to make a believable beast, as Rachel pointed out.  Even when he gets mad and kills things he just looks like manbearpig, and the rest of the time he looks like a tittybaby for being all emo about his one little scar. Wah, wah, wah.  Go tell it to the one-legged man, so he can hump it on down the road.  It’s no wonder she’s all, “Who WAS that hot beast that saved me in the woods?  Oh, it’s you! Let’s bone.”

Rachel-

Can we also talk about how far-fetched it is that a super-hot and well-educated doctor guy who joins the army after his brother is killed in the 9/11 attacks (seriously, CW…WTF is WRONG WITH YOU?) would then be chosen for a super-secret Gamma Ray project in the first place? One of my favorite parts of the story is that Vincent the former Doctor, when asked what was done to him…has no idea. BUT YOU ARE A DOCTOR. Did they put the gamma rays up your butt? Was it a pill you swallowed? Did a withered old lady shove a rose in your face and cackle? YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME IDEA!

Elena-

Exactly.  It would have made more sense if he had done it to himself, you know, performing illegal medical research. At least that way it would have been his choice and his consequences, instead of being victimized and hunted by these evil government agents. Yawn.

Rachel-

The script is so poorly written that the cliché lines “Needs a new decorator,” “Do you know what the definition of insanity is?” and “We are going to save each other!” ARE THE BEAST LINES. It’s like the writers let Yahoo! Answers write the script!

Elena-

I want to go back to the theory Rachel posed above, that maybe this entire show is a switcheroo and she is the beast, hence why he doesn’t need to be beastly.  This idea makes so much sense to me that I hope it’s true, even though I think it might be unintentional.

See, her character seems like a pretty standard female lead, hence why I think her beastliness was not intentional…but she really set off a lot of my civil rights bells.  She’s either totally corrupt or totally incompetent as an officer of the law, and either we are supposed to accept this because she’s like all cops or we’re supposed to admire her as the main character and overlook her flaws (like so much urban fantasy asks us to overlook completely bullying behaviors by the heroines, because that sort of thing is okay when you are 5 feet tall and 98 pounds). Sorry, no.  Let’s look at a checklist from one episode of Detective Catherine behaving badly:

  • She doesn’t enforce laws impartially, but according to her own whims (arrest the guy who just dumped me, he has pot)
  • She uses her authority as an officer of the law to trespass by lying about having a warrant (oh, hai hot doctor beast, I just knew you were in here after my first legitimate visit…guess I smelled your hot beastly pheromones or something)
  • She steals evidence from a suspect’s property without a warrant or permission or proper forensic documentation (beauty sample log)
  • She leaks information about an ongoing investigation to someone outside her department and steals evidence to release to someone outside her department (secret subway meeting with…CIA? friend).
  • She happily goes along with it when her friend steals evidence that implicates her and no doubt erases the log entry for it.

…this is our model cop heroine?  Frailty, thy name is Catherine, indeed.

Look, I apologize for getting so serious, but it’s a topic that really matters to me, and I get up in arms every time I see a positive portrayal of cops behaving badly. That means people see the actions and don’t realize what the behavior is or write it off because she’s “really the good guy and not hurting anyone,” which makes it more likely that people will tolerate such behavior from public officials in real life…which is how innocent people end up imprisoned, bankrupted by asset forfeiture despite never being convicted of a crime, or on death row.  What this show needs is Judge Dredd (or even just Rookie Anderson), clearly.

Anyway.  I didn’t like her, found her to be vacuous and self-serving, and corrupt on a small scale that could grow exponentially because the only moral calibration she seems to make is whether following a law or protocol makes her feel good and acting according to her own emotions.  The Law is above that!  (Can you all see the annoyed Judge face I am making right now?  Can you picture it?)

Rachel-

Yeaaaah, she’s lame. She’s too young to be a detective, and she has this super false way of speaking like every word in the script is a revelation to her brain. I’ll blame that on a combination of writing, directing, and acting. It’s like when Christian Bale went for the Batvoice and no one stopped him. Lana Lang decided to try a phone sex operator voice. It doesn’t work. Catherine also seems extremely physically capable. She throws three grown men around on a subway platform without mussing her hair. It’s the Buffy-effect maybe. Or maybe they did that because the writers wanted a strong female character that wouldn’t need constant saving from Vincent…even though she does actually need constant saving from Vincent. I like that they didn’t go the rape route like the original did (It was a “violent attack” with a sexual assault implication). I’m so sick of female protagonists in fantasy stories being raped. I’M SO SICK OF IT. So points to CW for leaving that the hell off the table.

I’m worried this show is going to turn into the capable girl gets all lame and helpless around her boyfriend and then when he hits her (it is INEVITABLE that he hits her, guys, accept it. He even screamed in her face that he would) becomes really dependent and apologetic a la Bella Swan. PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

Elena-

It’s funny you bring up Bella Swan, everyone’s favorite robot bride impersonator, because I got very little sense of him except that he’s basically Edward Cullen.  Creepy stalker protector with a saving people complex and a self-loathing hatred of the monster within.  Got it.  I had trouble believing his claim of being imprisoned there for fear of getting caught.  He could totally be wandering around New York without attracting attention because he’s not a beast except when he’s upset (maybe he just gets really terrible sidewalk rage?).  Everyone thinks he’s dead.  Stay away from the military recruiting centers and the UN, and you’ll never run into anyone you shouldn’t.  No need to stay in the rusty, filthy post-industrial loft unless you just LIKE being emo and tragic and broody (cough *Edward Cullen * cough).

(Speaking of his rusty filthy post-industrial loft with the crazy science experiments being run by his biochemist friend to try and cure him…LAMEST MAGIC CASTLE EVER.  That is all.)

Rachel-

I miss the mist-filled NYC sewers full of libraries and homeless people in Renn Faire gear.

Elena-

Me too, and I didn’t even watch the original!

So let’s sum this one up:  the fight scene was pretty bad, the dialogue was terrible, the plot was thin, and the murder investigation seemed tacked on. She should be something besides law enforcement, because then they wouldn’t have to do a murder of the week thing—news flash, Castle already has the market on the buddy-cop/we want to get nas-tay show.

I will confess that, for some reason I can’t explain, the last scene made me want to watch next week, just to see if some of these issues were pilot shakes.  I think I’m a sucker for dudes who stand on top of buildings and stare torturedly into the night inwardly screaming about fairness and true love.  But I don’t hold out much hope for redemption.

Rachel-

I might actually check it out next week just to see what the show looks like when it’s not a network executive-pleasing pilot. I highly doubt that Catherine will turn out to be the beastly half of this pairing (even though it would be AWESOME) just because the manbearpig has already flashed its CGI face to the audience. Maybe the CW will surprise me. I thoroughly enjoy The Vampire Diaries (yes, that’s right, I have eyeballs and ovaries. Sue me.), and they’ve done a lot to that show to make it genre subversive.

If not – may I suggest ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Another horrifyingly bad show with questionable costumes and a Beast who is oddly hot despite his moss-covered teeth.

ENJOY.

* Yes, Catherine has Vincent’s Lioncubbaby but that was only because she quit and the writers had to kill her off and still maintain a connection with the last two seasons. It’s the worst only because they never show them MAKING THE DAMN BABY. Which is all we ever wanted.

Dredd Is The Perfect Blockbuster To Close The Summer – Review

Directed by Pete Travis

Based on 2000 AD‘s character of Judge Joe Dredd

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

I…am not?  Can I admit that in a column about going to see a film?

I’ll be honest here, when Rachel said she wanted to see this movie I thought she was joking.  Then she demanded it in exchange for Lawless and I knew she wasn’t.

It looks terrible. Derivative, mindless dystopian action flick with the requisite battle-hardened commander who has to learn to believe in his troops and rookie girl who will be the only one of the team to survive.

Also the premise is a blatant rip-off of The Raid: Redemption, in that it’s a small group of soldiers going into a building full of criminals that gets locked down until they either fight their way to the top, and out, or die trying.

I will be generous and say some of the effects look like they could be interesting, but I will have to see how they are played out in the wider context of the scene.  Let’s hope this one is better than I think it will be.

Rachel –

I’m interested in Dredd because IT IS THE LAW!

Okay, because it’s a comic. A long-lived, crazy, sometimes brilliant comic that examines and critiques modern ideas of law and justice in the most hyperbolic way imaginable. In a way that could only be done via comic book (and now that the world accepts them…comic book movies). Plus, anything to get the Stallone version out of my consciousness.

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

If it’s got as much absolute badass action as The Raid: Redemption and as little concern for the plot and characterization.  Seriously, that film managed to set up in about 2 minutes the rest of the movie, and while it did manage to make you care a little about a couple of the characters—and learn not to care about others—mostly it was about how many different kinds of badass fights they could fit into 87 minutes.

Alternatively, if the filming is really interesting and shows me something I haven’t seen before with slow motion effects or relies on film technique instead of CG, then I will probably not feel like the whole thing was a waste of my time.  That is as close to awesome as I expect this one to reach barring some amazingly creative fight scenes.

Rachel-

Judge Joe Dredd IS awesome. This movie will be awesome if they just…let him kill bad guys and be really grim. I’m hoping it’s not a rehash of the super dramatic (and used for fodder in the Stallone version ((sobs))) storyline about Joe’s brother Rico being BAAAAD. I haven’t seen that in the trailer, mostly I’ve seen a set up for a Rookie and Dredd party. I’m okay with that.

What would make it suck? 

Elena-

If this movie tries to focus on a story that turns out to be cliché, predictable, and something SF fans have seen done better elsewhere.  There is nothing wrong with being a pure action movie; that is, a movie of pure action.  As long as you recognize that’s what you’re making and commit to it, the results can even be objectively good.  But you have to commit to that.  Alternatively you have to build a really compelling story and characters and sacrifice some of your action.  If you try that, and fail, it’s going to suck.  Actually if you try for straight action and fail it will also suck.

I really hope the people who made this movie watched Shoot ’Em Up and Sukiyaki Western Django a few dozen times before they started filming….

Rachel-

Aside – I don’t know what Sukiyaki Western Django is…but I assume it was extremely important to Tarantino’s latest Django Unchained…and that makes me want to watch it because I love me some Tarantino but I like to be able to watch his movies AND get the references. So put that on my list. Where does one acquire it?

Elena-

Actually it has nothing to do with Django Unchained, although it is a film Tarantino was connected to. But you would love it—lots of crazy, choreographed, over-the-top action. So Netflix it anyway.

Ahem.  Carry on.

Rachel-

Back to the question at hand – It’s going to suck if it’s too fluffy. If it’s one of those boring, plodding, predictable action movies. BUT I would love if this were a straight up action movie. Robocop is coming out, the Expendables franchise is a clear nod to the 80s/early 90s action movie golden age, so if it’s a liiiitttle cheesy 80s action grind, that would be fine.

Additional thoughts on production or casting?

Elena-

Well, it has been a while since I watched a good bad movie. I’m kind of hoping that even if this one is shit, it’s at least the kind of awful that is super-fun to mock.

Rachel-

EOMERRRRR! I love me some Karl Urban. That guy loves a role in which he is utterly unrecognizable. Remember his part in The Chronicles of Riddick? With the Snape-punk hair-do and the 40 pounds of armor? Plus he’s got a sexy voice. And when it comes down to it…Dredd is going to be all about an actor comfortable in armor with a sexy voice. DONE, MR. URBAN. DONE AND DONE.

Reaction to film?

Elena-

I have to eat my words on this one. Dredd was actually really enjoyable. Legitimately good, if you are down with retro sci-fi dystopian action, which I am.  I think the preview for this movie was terrible—it made it seem cliché but unaware of its triteness, whereas this was obviously a throwback movie.

What it reminded me of in tone and approach was Doomsday.  I loved that movie.  It was obviously derived from Mad Max, but it took pride in getting the small things right (since everyone knew the big idea going in).  Dredd pulled off a similar feat, treading familiar ground in a way that was pure existential enjoyment.  After seeing it I do think there was a connection to The Raid: Redemption…as with Hunger Games and Battle Royale, there was just one scene too many that was staged the same way for me to think this was convergent creativity.  But Dredd could have done much worse for inspiration—for example, the original Judge Dredd movie.

So what did this movie do especially right?

First, I loved the slow motion scenes.  I expected them to be kind of lame (I mean, “slow-motion lame” is not a saying for nothing), but instead they were a visual treat.  I did not see the movie in 3D, so I can’t speak to how the scenes of water or shattering glass looked through the glasses, but I thought they were quite beautiful in digital 2D. I have not seen very much digitally enhanced slow motion like this, with such a focus on the small things.  Those scenes were really quite fantastic.

Another bonus was that they left Dredd an inscrutable badass (Badass Alert!) and let the rookie be the character you sympathized with and got a backstory on.  The truth is, whatever drove Dredd to become what he is will diminish him as a character.  Does anyone in the universe think Vader is more of a badass now that we know his story?  Fuck no.  Dredd is the same kind of figure.  If you know the human emotion or loss or anguish that drove him to become the best and most honorable judge in the mega-city, he will seem kind of pathetic for not being able to get over it and move on with his life.

I enjoyed Lena Headey in the role of head gangster bitch in charge.  If I had seen her in this before starting GOT I might have been less skeptical of her as Cersei.

I liked the ending.  It was not what I expected—minor spoiler, I expected a huge fight the way martial arts movies build up to, and the final conflict was not that—but it was a satisfying climax.

I really don’t have a lot of complaints about the movie.  I’m sure I could find plot holes, but I walked out disinclined to dwell on them.  Judge Joe Dredd took me out and showed me a good time and never pretended like he was going to be more than a quick and dirty fling.  There’s a time and place for that kind of film, and this was mine.

Rachel-

“MOMMY I WANNA BE A JUDGE JUST LIKE DREDD!” I screamed the moment the film was over. And then went home to practice my frowney-face.  What do ya think?

For swears. That flick was awesome! And yes, it was a straight up action movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the comic, don’t worry. You will not be required to know any of the story-line or characters. All you need to know is what you are presented with, and you will enjoy yourselves. It’s a hyper-violent, live-action video game of a movie. It’s funny in parts but not silly. I defy you to watch it and not think Dredd is the coolest dude in the universe and to wish for a sequel so you can get to know him better. It’s the perfect adaptation. It totally stands on its own, it’s true to the feel and characterizations of the comic for fans, and it allows for the adaptation of more complicated storylines should the movie be a hit.

For a Dredd fan the movie is pretty perfect. It was SOOO Judge Dredd! It wasn’t a direct adaptation of any Dredd story-line I know of. It was more like “Here’s a day in the life of Judge Dredd.” Perhaps a direct adaptation of the CHARACTER of Dredd. Someone on Twitter said that they liked Dredd more than The Dark Knight Rises, and I think the reason for that is that Dredd felt like the character from the comic book, while TDKR didn’t really feel like Batman. Not really. I’ve read that the original scripts were populated with all the robots and villains from the comic but that they ended up being a bit surreal and hard to introduce to a new audience quickly. This approach is smart. Most of the people I know have no idea who Judge Dredd is and establishing this character, who he is when he isn’t in some dramatic story arc, is the best way to start what I assume the studio hopes will be a franchise. Reviews are good for the film, though the box office gross was disappointing in its opening weekend. The franchise idea may be killed, but at least we’re left with a film that stands on its own.

Dredd does a lot of showing instead of telling. What do Judges do in Mega-City One? They are police. Police that can arrest, sentence and carry out that sentence all in one go. They have rules. They have standards of procedure. They even go through training to find out if they have what it takes to be a Judge. This may be post-apocalypse, but by God order will be restored via the Law. This is where they introduce Judge Anderson (a character from the comics) as a Rookie who is shadowing Dredd for the day in a field test to see if she can rise above her substandard test scores. Off they go to a mega block 200-storey complex. A buildng so large residents can live and work inside of it for their entire lives. The particular mega block they are called to has been taken over by a gang run by a woman named Ma-ma who is flooding Mega-City One with a unique drug called slo-mo. Their drug is in high demand, so Ma-ma and her gang have a lot of fire power. Once Dredd assesses the situation, he decides to go get Ma-ma for sentencing, and our movie commences.

The plot is pretty simple, and you won’t see Dredd go through any revelations about himself or what it means to be a Judge. That’s the Rookie’s job. In fact in an interview in Empire writer Alex Garland talks about how slowly the character of Dredd changes over time that he evolves “in the way that a glacier moves: you look a year later and something actually has shifted! I tried to be true to that.” Even the structure of the film itself reflects the unyielding, unbreakable march of Judge Dredd. The action comes fast and hard.

There ARE a few low spots in the film. I was hoping Judge Anderson’s psychic abilities would be integral to the plot (considering the character eventually heads up her own title), but I see that the writers wanted to keep the focus on Dredd. He is the hero of this story. Lena Heady, who I thought would be fantastic as the psychopath drug lord Ma-ma, was actually a letdown. I do not find her to be a particularly subtle actress, and Heady chose to play Ma-ma quietly, to let her malice exist in her silence and slow movements—but she just kind of came off as sleepy.

Elena-

I disagree…I thought she came off as drugged-out and yet still malicious enough to slaughter people.  None of her henchmen seemed like they were using, so the fact that she was became a testament to her badassery and why she was running the gangs and the building.

Rachel-

The design for the film is pretty great. They made the Judge Uniform cool but didn’t adhere so slavishly to the comic designs as to appear…well…hilarious (see the Stallone version if you don’t believe me). The weapons were cool, the helmet was plausible, and the ghetto interiors of the mega blocks were claustrophobic. Dredd was shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and it actually LOOKS hot and sweaty even in the interiors.

Besides the faithful adaptation of character and intent, Dredd is amazingly violent, but the violence is so over the top that it’s not disturbing. The script plays with the idea of justice, it’s not totally mindless, but the over the top violence was more action movie and less horrifying shit I never want to see again. Just the way I like it.

The perfect kind of action blockbuster to close out the summer. I hope you like it too. Embrace the LAW!

Lawless Is A Film To See Again and Again – Review

Director: John Hillcoat

Based on The Wettest County in the World (2008) by Matt Bondurant.

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

I want to see this movie because John Hillcoat is directing it.  I cannot overstate how profoundly I love The Proposition.  I will probably watch every movie the man ever directs just to see if he can match that one, even if the brilliance of his Western was an accident.  Lightning can strike twice in the same place, right?  But I feel like The Proposition was not accidentally brilliant; I feel like The Road, his other directorial effort, will more likely turn out to be the anomaly in his catalogue of films. That movie was controlled by a studio who did not want to risk a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel’s adaptation on a film with “atmosphere.”  R rating or not, they weren’t going to allow any barbecued babies or long, lingering (what they thought the pleb’s would consider “boring”) shots of a burned out world, and that lack of those shots and details were what caused The Road to fail as a film.  So I would be interested in seeing it only because of the director.

However.  Other reasons:  Tom Hardy. Gary Oldman. Guy Pearce. Shia Labeouf. It’s pretty much a man-doberge cake.  Yum.

Rachel-

I’m actually not into gangster movies unless they’re directed by Guy Richie. They tend to be a little too much “reality” for me. The “reality” of just how horribly and creatively violent people can be. I also don’t like war movies. (Hyperbolic violence is my flavor. Tarantino. I like it when it is highly choreographed.)

HOWEVER, I’m a sucker for Piedmont movies about hillbillies because it’s where I’m from (ish). I enjoy parsing the accents. This is why I suffered through the bleakness of Winter’s Bone and gained a whole lot of respect for Jennifer Lawrence before the atrocity that was The Hunger Games put her on everyone’s map. Plus Gary Oldman. I’m also willing to let Tom Hardy mumble his way through another movie in my presence and to watch him and Shia mumble at each other while sweating. They’re basically both the same guy, right?

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

It will be awesome if it lives up to my expectations as a proper follow-up to Hillcoat’s debut.  The reviews I’ve seen give me hope.  “Atmospheric” has been tossed about—a good sign.

So, for those of you who have not seen The Proposition, what I am looking for from this film is a beautifully framed, visually expansive movie with unapologetic brutality and thoughtfully gray morals.  No heroes, but no all-black villains, either.  And gloriously violent.  That combination of elements, well-constructed and well-executed, would catapult it to the top of my best films of the year so far list.

Rachel-

Aw hell, I don’t know! I saw the trailer, and it looks like it’s going to be hillbillies shooting gangsters and drinking moonshine. Sounds great! I take special joy in “period” movies that have really accurate sets and costumes. So, it will be awesome if everyone looks especially smelly.

What would make it suck?

Elena-

It will suck if the movie is all action.  What makes any really epic revenge tale (which this one looks like it will be) great is the slow burn.  I am patient with films which take the time to breathe but bored by movies that should take the time for character/setting development and don’t. I mean, it’s one thing to give me a movie like The Raid: Redemption which sets up a plot inside of two minutes and proceeds to be nothing but action for the next 90—I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with is a movie that is more than gimmicky action but doesn’t take the time to develop anything; Public Enemies comes to mind as a recent disappointment in that style.

Rachel-

If all these non-Southerners (and non-American, sheesh!) really SUCK at their regional accents. That shit will send me right over the edge if I have to listen to True Blood style accent mangling. I’m talking Ewan McGregor (whom I love and adore, forever!) in pretty much any movie in which he was required to have an American or American Southern accent. WTF?

Additional thoughts on casting/production?

Elena-

I’m really curious to see how Tom Hardy does playing an American, and if this role is a bit more nuanced for him than most of his recent ones have been…more of a character and less of a smart-ass action hero.  He sold me on his acting skills with Bronson and has not done much that required a stretch since.  I’m curious as well to see how Shia LaBeouf handles a grown-up part in a film made for grown-ups.  I will forgive him any number of Transformers sequels if they enable him to make artistic movies, and he turns out to have a knack for character work.

Nick Cave wrote the screenplay again (he also wrote the screenplay for The Proposition) and will no doubt have a hand in the scoring.  That makes me happy. Nick Cave is a weird dude of many talents and perversions, and his involvement ups the odds of my getting what I want from this movie.  Also I expect the music will be extra-fab with him arranging it.

Rachel-

Tom Hardy yada yada snore. I’m interested in seeing that kid from Holes do his best to pretend he was never in Indy 4 or Transformers 11. Gary Oldman is always a huge draw; it’s a pleasure to watch an actor like him transform himself. From the trailers I gather he’s going to be rather despicable, that’ll be fun!

Mostly I am seeing this movie because Elena wanted to, and I’m making her watch Dredd later this month so she’s making me see this one. Full disclosure, folks. You like it.

Reaction to film:

Elena-

LOVE.

This movie was what I wanted it to be.  It was full of characters, it was richly set with beautiful, lingering shots of the back-hills scenery, it was shockingly violent, it was funny in ways a movie with this storyline has no business being funny…I just enjoyed every second of it and want to see it again already.

Lawless felt like the less awkward, more commercially viable cousin of The Proposition.  It had the film-making elements that made me love Hillcoat’s first movie so much, but it was less bleak, and less ambiguous as to who was hero and who villain.  And it was set in America in a time that is currently in vogue rather than making a Western out of the Australian outback.  So the gorgeous cinematography, the patient pace, the spot-on musical selections, and the unexpectedly quotable script were all there, but in a packaging that the average moviegoer will respond to.

I was surprised to see Rachel call this a gangster movie, because it seemed to me like more of a back-woods resistance fighter movie—if nothing else because the obvious heroes were not gangsters themselves.  This instinct turned out to be correct, as the Bounderant brothers were certainly not gangsters.  They made charming anti-heroes, of three local boys making good in what was theoretically an illegal operation but which the local law bought into, until they got bought by some townies.

Shia LaBeouf had the traditional coming of age arc, from trembling youth to suave and unrepentant outlaw.  He was fine in the role, though it didn’t seem like it held many challenges (nor was it meant to).  He shone in the comic moments, but probably the best scene was the climactic ending, perhaps because he was so effective in the more light-hearted moments.  Tom Hardy stole the show for me, though, as the taciturn Forest.  He said as much with grunts and “hm” as other characters did with monologues and soliloquies.  I thought the whole production was well-cast.  I didn’t notice anyone’s accent at all, so that tells me they were competently to well-handled, though I confess I don’t know enough about Virginia hill accents to tell you how nuanced the linguistic performances were.  I could have used more Gary Oldman just for the sake of more Gary Oldman in pinstripes and bowler hats, but he wasn’t really called for in the story.

As I hoped, the movie runs a slow burn to an epic conflagration, though it does have moments of conflict and action in the run-up that keep layering the tension and upping the ante.  Happily, the ending delivers on the promise of those scenes.  The violence never feels gratuitously gory, but it is shocking and visceral.  You don’t always see it coming, and even when you did the scene plays out in a way that wasn’t how you expected.  Hillcoat pulls no punches in those moments, and he excels in making you feel what is happening on-screen.  Can’t lie; I squirmed more than once.

Also the music was awesome. Not as weird as I expected, though the score is full of Cave’s consonant sounds to ratchet up the tension, but most of the music was traditional or intentional replicas.

All in all, Lawless succeeded for me on pretty much every level, and it has enough commercially friendly elements for me to give it an unqualified recommendation.

Rachel-

Hot damn, y’all! I liked it!

It’s beautifully filmed in what looks like North Carolina? It’s got old timey cars, rattletrap huts, sweaty hats, hypnotic hymnals, and A MAGICAL CARDIGAN. Yes, folks, this is not a film about bootlegger hillbillies in Virginia as you were promised. IT’S BETTER. It’s a film about a magical cardigan that renders its wearer immortal!

Yup! Mystery Solved! Frodo’s almost forgotten mithril armor has been forged anew! It is now The Cardigan of Immortality!!! Capable of keeping its wearer alive through all manner of plausibly red-neck near death experiences! Never knew a cardigan was standard issue during WWI, did ya?

Why, it is SO impressive that had Joey the War Horse been given a standard issue US Cardigan (oh, England!), the damn horse would have FLOWN around Europe in his search for the boy Albert, and we wouldn’t have had to sit through tedious friend-making in France or tank-vaulting in…Germany?

What was I talking about?

Oh Yea, Lawless. It was good. The accents weren’t half bad. Sometimes they got a little yeehaw, but for the most part I was OK with them. They weren’t exactly Piedmont accents, but they weren’t twangy bullshit noises, either! Huzzah!

Art direction was stellar. Acting was top-notch, though there was very little Gary Oldman (saaadness), and Tom Hardy didn’t have that many LINES, though his physical acting was great…except for when he tromp-walked around like Bane. Is that just how he walks? Shia played the same earnest kid he always does, but with a southern accent. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska’s characters seemed tacked on for plot development, but their scenes were generally welcome respites from the grimy, sweaty gun-toting scenes.

Surprisingly this film has some genuinely funny moments. Tom Hardy’s character “Forest” is a man of sometimes comically few words. Enjoyable and well-made. It IS a little slow…but not tedious. The tension builds and builds and builds some more, and you squirm a little in your seat in horror of what is to come. I checked my watch exactly once at the hour and a half point just to see if I could make it until the end of the film without having to leave my seat. I have a hard time watching movies that keep you in that extended state of tension. Masterfully done.

If westerns and “gritty” anti-heroes with limited vocabularies isn’t your thing, then you can skip it. Gary Oldman makes only one gangster appearance, tommy-gun in tow. Guy Pearce’s villain is tragically forced in a cast of much more nuanced characters, but it has a satisfying ending (a surprise ending for me! I was sure it was going to be bleak) and a lovely romanticizing of 1920s hill country living. Less gangster and more Piedmont Western.

Let’s hope Elena can enjoy Dredd as much as I enjoyed Lawless!

An Illustrative Review of The Dark Knight Rises

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Rachel-

No one who reads our column will be surprised that I am a huge Batman fan. I think I was introduced to Batman through the excellent Batman: The Animated Series as a kid, but since Saturday morning episodes weren’t enough for me I was also picking up whatever comics I could get my hands on.

I love Batman. I love the whole Bat Family! They’re all so DAMAGED!

Needless to say, I’ve seen Nolan’s Batman Begins (I FELL ASLEEP in the theater watching that, you guys…I own it, though, so I’ve since seen it several times. I hate it. I HATE IT), and it’s not my cup of tea. Nolan’s obsession with making Batman realistic, the made-up character of Rachel…. The Dark Knight is much better and far more watchable, but I still feel like Nolan’s take on Batman is more like a Bond film with a different suit and not a comic book movie. I’m interested in The Dark Knight Rises because I want the Nolan trilogy to end. That’s kind of harsh. But it’s true. I’ve sat through the other two and I’m going for some Batman kicks.

Elena-

Can we change the question to be “why are you not interested”?  Because I am not interested.  Do you guys remember how when The Dark Knight came out in theaters, everyone loved it—and I mean everyone—except there was always that one token friend or friend of a friend that you had who didn’t like it, but they were such a minority they were almost the exception that proved the rule?  Y’all recall that?  I was that one friend.  I was the one person I and all of my friends knew who didn’t like the movie.

I liked the first one okay.  I don’t have a strong attachment to Batman or any of the old manifestations, so I didn’t mind the attempt to make it more realistic and less comics.  Whatever.  The directing was good, and the story didn’t piss me off.

The Dark Knight was awful for me. Too long by about an hour, waaaaay too many ancillary and pointless plotlines, and I guess it made me dislike Batman’s entire ethos because it is clearly not preventing awful people from doing awful things but rather punishing them for doing awful things.  Totally different thing.  Drop the Joker off the building, city-destroying disaster averted.  Oh, wait, what’s that, it would be immoral to do it?  Look, I’m as libertarian as it gets on civil liberties, I respect things like due process more than 99% of politicians would like, but that’s if you’re acting within the law—it’s to prevent the government from trampling your rights.  In the context, Batman has SEEN the Joker plan atrocities and LAUGH.  And his decision as a goddamned vigilante is to not kill him when he has the chance?  THE FUCK?  And then that shit went on for a whole nother 90 minutes before it was over.  It’s the closest I’ve come to walking out of a movie in recent memory.

I’m still traumatized by that one.

So I was only enthused about TDKR in the abstract, in the sense that if it exists to finance Nolan’s next Inception then I am all on board with him making it…I just don’t want to see it.  The one thing that would make me want to see it would be if it turns out to be, as the title suggests, Batman giving up his morality to actually be a dark knight who kills the motherfuckers before they can burn his ghetto to the ground.  Give me THAT movie, and MAYBE I will go see it.

What would make it awesome?

Elena-

I believe I just answered that question.  Abstain from redundancy.

Rachel-

What would make it awesome is if Batman is in the movie? The other two films show Bruce having to discover then rediscover Batman. If Batman has to re-Batman again in another hour and a half of “inner struggle” about how Gotham doesn’t need Batman…I will freak out.

I’m hoping for some Catwoman action. Out-smarting all these tech obsessed boys would also be great.

What would make it suck?

Rachel-

I know already that it’s going to be three hours long…so that will probably suck. Only because I know how the Nolan Batman films can DRAG, and sitting there for three hours while Batman batrasps at me and moons over dead fakeRachel will suuuuuck.

I’m really nervous about Bane. Why is Bane British? Why can I not understand him in the trailers? What’s going on with his aerosol mask?  Is this movie going to be one unintelligible guy shouting at another unintelligible guy with Anne Hathaway making stupid jokes in between?

Elena-

It will suck if it is as needlessly overcomplicated as the second one was.  That many plotlines that are ancillary to the main story are basically masturbation fodder.  Which, fine, if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’m not, so save it for the director’s cut and let me skate out of this with only two hours of my life lost and not three, k thx bye.

Thoughts on casting/production?

Rachel-

I am ambivalent about Tom Hardy. He’s cloned Captain Picard from Stark Trek: Nemesis. He has puffy lips. Those lips will supposedly never be seen as he is playing Bane, and Nolan’s version of Bane is a dude permanently hooked up to Darth Vader’s respiratory machine. I don’t know why. Will we learn why?

Elena-

Wait, Tom Hardy is Bane?  Suddenly I almost want to see this!  Hardy is still on my automatic-cred list because of Bronson.  It’s going to take a few more stinkers from him for that glamour to wear off…although he does seem to be trying pretty hard to just play the same character every time now.  I guess that’s ergonomic.  Maybe Bane will add some range to his recent portfolio.

Rachel-

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is both really interesting and really terrifying. Hathaway has that old-fashioned brunette with a round face look that Nolan casts IN ALL OF HIS FILMS. The Catwoman costume I’ve seen is OK. It’s a black jumpsuit with stupid-ass goggle cat-ear things. There appears to be no whip. She also wears RIDICULOUS shoes. Nolan is so obsessed with making everything hyper-realistic, but he’s got Catwoman in shoes she wouldn’t be able to climb around buildings on. So I’m going to assume that she doesn’t climb around buildings and she just wiggle-walks everywhere…hopefully while flipping everyone off. Her casting is definitely a callback to Julie Newmar rather than the Darwyn Cooke design with the head gear, goggles, and short hair.

Elena-

Gotta be honest, Hathaway is a challenge for me. She is one of those actresses that I can never see as the character; I always just see her as Anne Hathaway, even though I think she actually is kind of okay at acting?  Maybe?  So she seems pretty much like a terrible choice to me for Catwoman.  But I don’t know who would do it better so why not?

Reaction to film: ***Spoilers Abound***

Elena-

So.  Convince me to see this one. If you can.

Rachel-

Welp….

That was…that was, well actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, Batman did have to re-Batman his Batman for two hours. WHY? WHY CAN’T HE JUST BE BATMAN?

Bruce has spent the last eight years being a shut-in with a cane (why he needs the cane is unknown, because he seemed FINE at the end of the last film…I guess he was shot?) even though, and this is the fundamental part of Batman that Nolan seems to not understand, Bruce would never STOP being Batman. This is an issue that comes again and again in the film, culminating in an ending where Bruce permanently gives up Batman.

WHAAAT?

That’s just a Batcation, right? Bruce is going to get bored in about 12 seconds (five seconds after Selina realizes spending all her time with a no-longer-super-rich dude not stealing things suuuucks) and head back to Gotham and the mansion he left to the city for a Vigilante Orphan Boys Home. He’ll go down into the Batcave and let notRobin know how to sign in to the Batcomputer and then call out to Alfred, who would also HAVE NEVER LEFT BRUCE, “Alfred! Bring me another Orphan Boy!”

And all will be well with the world.

Wedging Bane in as Talia’s protector and tying it all back to the League of Shadows in Batman Begins felt a little forced, an attempt by Nolan to bring his trilogy full circle. (I see what you did there, you Lazaraus Pit hater! GHOST LIAM NEESON CAN BITE ME!)  However, I still appreciated the fact that Nolan dipped more into the comics for TDKR than in his previous Batman films. Several scenes seemed pulled straight from the comics, if not in meaning then at least in visual language.

I still found Bane to be absolutely unintelligible.  I got maybe every fifth word. It was incredibly frustrating. Nolan’s attempt to make Bane more intelligible seems to have been to just up his dialogue track by 200 percent and give us the finger. Thanks. That didn’t help at all! It just made Bane seem like he was being dubbed in and mixed by a telenovela team.

Elena…I know you are not into Batman, so I want to make it clear: ROBIN’S NAME IS NOT ROBIN. His name is also not John. I…don’t understand how this happened. Nolan is so anti-Robin that he’ll make up a dissatisfied cop character and…NAME him Robin? IT’S SO WEIRD! There are plenty of actual Robin name’s to choose from but…well, what’s wrong with naming him Richard?

If he was worried that his heavy-handed foreshadowing throughout the film was ruining the surprise, then keep the John name and change the “actual” name stupidest last line for a movie ever from “Robin” to “Richard.” What? Was he worried that people who didn’t know DICK about Batman wouldn’t get the reference?

Here’s a thing…

…How about you shouldn’t CARE! If my mom watched that movie and didn’t get why having him named “Richard” (assuming “Dick” was too old fashioned) was related to the character taking on the Batmantle, as it were…WHO CARES?! My mom isn’t watching this film. You know who is? FANS. People for whom the reference is a Google or a lean over to the person next to them away if they didn’t get it already.

ROBIN IS NOT HIS NAME. That would like me becoming “Rachel Gal” and then attempting to have a secret identity.

UGH. THAT WAS REALLY ANNOYING.

I think the people who are really into the Nolan Batman films are fine. I’m glad they enjoy them. I’m glad that they can watch those films and read the comics and not have issues. I’m not one of those people. I don’t think an adaptation should slavishly follow the source material, but I do think that the main identifying characteristics and personality of the most important characters should make it from page to screen.

Nolan’s Batman has always been a tool for Bruce Wayne to go from damaged child to well-adjusted adult. Batman is something that holds Bruce back, if Nolan’s Alfred is to be believed. In actuality Batman has always been more than a mask and more than a symbol. Batman IS Bruce Wayne. The play boy, the rich kid…he is the tool of Batman. Bruce is the mask. Nolan doesn’t think this, and so I’ll never like these movies as much as some of you, but I respect that Nolan has ushered in an era of comic book movies as more than comedy action flicks. They should be as topical and inspiring as the comics. Hopefully though, the next Batman reboot won’t take it QUITE so seriously. I’d like to see a Gotham that has room in it for a Batman that never gives up.

Elena-

Even your fake enthusiasm was not enough to sell me on this one.  Maybe some pictures might help?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Spider-Man Reboot Is Surprisingly Fun – Review

The Amazing Spider-Man

Elena-

As a Spider-Man fan, you obviously think the world needs another manifestation of Spidey. True or False? Discuss.

Rachel-

Well…this is kind of a trick question for me. While I was OK with the first two Raimi Spidey flicks, the third one was so heinous that I’m all for throwing all of them out and pretending they never existed. IT WAS THE MOST HORRIBLE THING. THE MOST. Plus I was never really sold on Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker anyways, mainly because HE ISN’T FUNNY AT ALL.

So yea…I guess we did need a reboot of the Spiderman franchise if only to make something better. Do I think we needed ANOTHER origin story? Absolutely not. Everyone gets Spiderman. Nerd bit by a spider is now a super hero. LET’S MOVE ON. Let’s just make movies out of some of his better story arcs. Like THAT is a novel idea.

But that didn’t happen. We got another origin story.

Still. SPIDERMAN! Do you even like Spiderman? Or are you a DC person?

Elena-

Ha!  You can’t trick me with your false dilemma!

The truth is…NEITHER.

There. I said it. I admitted it in public after three and a half long years:  I am a nerd who doesn’t do comics.

Look, I have nothing against them. I just didn’t read them as a kid, and they have never grabbed me as an adult, and so I have no intimate knowledge of or attachment to any comic book heroes.  As a general rule of thumb, superheroes bore the shit out of me.  I think I just don’t like the amount of disbelief I have to suspend in order to accept the stories is too much to bear.

Spiderman is…um.  At least he’s not Superman?  At least he’s supposed to be nerdy and lame and kind of smart so at least he’s better than dumb jock whose only power or relevance is that he’s an alien?

Rachel-

This Spidey is British and his girlfriend is Emma Stone. Do you like this better than Tobey “SadSack” Maguire and Kirsten Dunst? <—- I almost typed Kristen Stewart…the horror.

Elena-

Shudders.  Oh, god, the horror indeed.  Heart of Darkness style, “the horror…the horror.”

Anyway, yes, I like this pairing better. I don’t know why Tobey didn’t do it for me, but I was never interested enough in him or KiKi to actually see any of their movies.

When I saw the studio was making another Spiderman movie, I just assumed Tobey wanted to get paid too much and they replaced him.  Instead it’s a complete reboot, which I guess I am actually the person they were after?  The one person on the continent who might have been caught by an origin reboot but would have ignored Spiderman 4: The Amazing Face-Lift? So, congrats, Sony, you reached me.

I quite like Emma Stone, and while I am skeptical of Andrew Garfield—I liked him in whatever movie was our introduction but found him a weak-ass in Never Let Me Go (or maybe that was just what the character was written to be and he played it brilliantly)—I figured if nothing else I’d have a laugh picturing the Bachelor contestant from a couple seasons back who looked exactly like him. Seriously.  She exists. Her name escapes me, but it was the season that happened right after NLMG came out, and that was all I could see every time she was on screen.

What did you think?  Did Andrew Garfield make a better nerd cum dark avenger than Toby McGuire? Did starring in Never Let Me Go give him more nerd cred coming in?

Rachel-

I didn’t think I would like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker as much as I did. True, he was a little less nerd and more hipster guy, but whatever. He’s skinny, he gets tongue-tied around girls, he cracks really lame jokes. That’s the Spiderman I know and love! Rock on, Andrew. (It helps that he gave a pretty heartfelt speech at last year’s Comic Con in a poorly fitting Spiderman costume about how much Spiderman meant to him growing up.) So I think he’s worthy. I think he is definitely worthy. Plus… DUDE DOES HIS OWN STUNTS.

Go cry somewhere else, Tobey…no one likes you.

Elena-

With a franchise that has been rebooted as many times as this one, do you still hold out hope for something new?

Rachel-

I’m just grateful I don’t have to sit through another Green Goblin story. (yet) Here’s the thing – a lot of Spiderman’s classic enemies are FUCKING STUPID. The rhino guy? Sand man? Mysterio? (OK, Mysterio could be cool…) So they don’t have a lot to pick from when it comes to appealing to the douchey masses. And no, we can’t have Venom or Carnage in the first movie of a trilogy. That would never happen.

I thought it was smart to bring Gwen Stacey back. It distances the franchise from the Raimi films, and it gives the comic book fans a character we love. I also liked the way they handled the Uncle Ben and Peter dynamic. We got to know Uncle Ben and they modernized Peter by taking away the embarrassing early amateur wrestling story line while still keeping homage to it in the film. The bullshit with Peter’s parents is a retcon we’ve all seen before, and it’s just as boring now as it was then. JUST FLING WEBBING AND BAD GUYS AND BE SARCASTIC. It’s all we want from Spiderman. Everything else is just bullshit.

Spiderman is a uniquely city-dwelling super hero. His power basically STICKS on the fact that there are lots of tall buildings around so do you think Spiderman is an ALL AMERICAN hero? (This movie came out on the Fourth of July and so this is fucking relevant, no?)

Elena-

Um.  Uniquely American?  No.  Uniquely urban?  Yes.  But London has tall buildings.  L.A. Tokyo.  Hong Kong. Dubai. Uniquely Manhattan might be a better way to put it, since I am not sure any other city has the sheer length and breadth of skyscrapers crammed together that Manhattan offers a man of Spidey’s proclivities.

I do think since superheroes tend to be vigilante crime fighters they are all drawn to cities just because that is where the higher concentration of people are and thus where the higher concentration of crimes and/or potential targets for domestic terrorism are. I am guessing that Spidey flinging from pine tree to pine tree along the western Louisiana/eastern Texas meth corridor would be less interesting to watch for most people.

So tell me about your viewing experience. How many drinks did you need to get through it? Were you able to make up a new drinking game for this new franchise?

Rachel-

I was fairly entertained actually. I thought it was OK. I thought the middle was too long, the crane scene was embarrassing to watch and the soundtrack was HORRRRRRIIIIBBBLLLLEEE. Distractingly bad? Especially during the Lizard boss fight in the high school. Did you notice it? It knocked me COMPLETELY out of the film it was sooo bad.

Other things that were weird:

The film eventually gave up on a bunch of early storylines, like how Peter’s parents were basically super-secret genetic scientists who may or may not have genetically engineered their son to become a super hero if were ever bitten by one of their super special engineered spiders. Or something.

It also dropped the illegal experimentation on people story line (did that evil corporate douche ever make it off the bridge on his way to the veteran’s hospital?)

Lastly it dropped (but I think this time on purpose) the storyline involving Peter finding the man that murdered Uncle Ben. This was pretty smart, though, because it’s just more origin story shit, and I’m glad it went away. I didn’t want to watch Peter get all sad in the rain after he brought the killer to justice. I just wanted to see webslinging across the NYCscape. So bravo on that.

Everything else I assume was taken out because they realized in the editing room THAT IT WAS LAME.. Or they are planning on bringing it back for the sequel…which would suck.

E tu?

Elena-

I, too, found this movie surprisingly enjoyable.  I basically walked in with the resolution to leave after an hour if I was not engaged by then.  I wanted a popcorn flick; what I did not want was to feel like I’d have had a better night on my couch with Uncle Redenbocker and a True Blood catch-up marathon.

I…stayed till the very end and will probably see at least the first sequel.

Yeah.  It was pretty fun.  Not brilliant or original in any way, and I had to stop myself from thinking about it too much as I watched, because…oh my god, so many holes to poke about the world-building and medical tech.  I think my biggest issues were (1) Peter’s reluctance to go all civil libertarian on Gwen’s dad and make a crack about how the NY po-po was too busy harassing minorities about Mary Jane (see? There was a place for her in this film, after all!) to catch actual criminals versus victimless crime facilitators, and (2) the super-fast genetic changes, and (3) the super-fast lizard-limb growth.  Because, you know, lizards and starfish grow back their limbs spontaneously and not cell layer by cell layer over the course of months.  And resequencing someone’s DNA can happen in a matter of SECONDS.  You know, how viruses do it.  Except OH WAIT, NO.

What. The. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

I also felt the limits of the genre as I watched it.  Like, there were a lot of interesting places a movie like this could have gone but to go there would have meant it was not an action film.  When Uncle Ben died I almost walked out, because I just cannot deal with any more guilt-driven angst “Oh, no, if I had only stepped in and stopped that guy RIGHT THEN Uncle Ben would still be alive, ergo I must never refuse a call for help againnnnn!”  Luckily they did not use that tactic.  The whole “with great power comes great responsibility” bit was annoying but not as much.

See, Peter here reminded me of a guy I knew in college. I could use Simon Tamm’s speech about River making him look like an idiot-child for this guy. Everyone we were friends with would talk about how he needed to use his “gifts” for the world, like he owed the fucking world something just because he was born with this hyper-intelligence.  He just wanted to play music. And I have no issue with that. I don’t believe in the idea of obligations to society just because of what you were born (or in Peter’s case became by accident). I think it would be a more interesting story to me to have someone like him who just wants to be normal.  Like I kind of thought halfway through that Gwen’s being a researcher and super-smart herself would lead to him asking her to cure him.

I think he likes being special too much, though. I really appreciated that they touched on the angle of how much of an asshole Peter was to Spark (or whatever the Jock’s name was)…how easy it is for bullying to go both ways so there is no clear victim and no clear bully.

I…don’t want to talk about the lizard man.  That whole thing was awful.  I could understand why the scientist gave himself the therapy but the fact that he suddenly became a boring super-nanny villain was just the lamest thing ever. The voice-over thought process in the sewer…oh, god. That was just embarrassing.

Name what (if anything) this version did better than any of the other Spiderman movies (recent or otherwise)

Rachel-

Speaking of webslinging…I really liked the way they did it in this film. They restored the man-made webslingers and really took advantage of Garfield’s athleticism to recreate moves we see in the comic books. I wasn’t a fan of the first person webslinging. That felt pretty gimmicky, but the rest of it was great. I also felt like this film was actually set in New York whereas Raimi’s films always LOOKED like they were filmed on a lot somewhere, probably on purpose, knowing Raimi.

I also got really, really happy when Peter was studying in his room while sticking to the wall. It’s the little things.

Elena-

And tell me about what this version utterly failed to achieve.

Rachel-

They certainly didn’t reinvent anything. The Lizard design was pretty bad. I’ve said it before and I’ll always say it – he looked like a goomba from the Mario Brothers movie. A goomba in a lab coat. Same grin.

I don’t know how rewatchable this film is either. I’ve only seen it once, so I can’t say I won’t enjoy it again, but the middle felt so long that I left the theater doubting whether I’d ever really want to watch it again.

That’s probably a terrible thing to say about a movie that I didn’t think was all that bad, but it’s true.

Elena-

I think that’s a really fair assessment, actually.  It was enjoyable to watch at the time. Not something I will dwell on or watch multiple times.  Any sequels will be subject to the same test this one was: is it more entertaining than being on my couch, yes or no?

I didn’t see anything here that could be iconic…nothing that will inspire this generation of kids to love Spiderman above all other superheroes.

Rachel-

I also thought that they really jumped the gun on rebooting the Spiderman franchise NOW. I think if they had waited even a year or two they could have rebooted with Ultimate Comics Spiderman – Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker. This new (he first appeared last year!) Spiderman is a young kid from Brooklyn. A young black kid. He may not be an icon yet like Parker, but Miles is important, and a super hero film featuring a big time title character played by a minority actor would have been HUGE. Sony and Marvel missed the boat on that one, but I’ll bet it happens eventually.

Of course…maybe we’ll see a John Stewart Green Lantern or a Justice League movie first! If DC can EVER GET IT’S SHIT TOGETHER.

What will you do if Hollywood forces yet another superhero origin story down our throats next summer?

Elena-

What I always do: ignore it unless it proves itself more interesting to me than its genre.  Yeah.  That’s pretty much how I handle them, always.

Do you see any hope for the future of this version of the franchise?

Rachel-

A fangirl can dream that Sony will work out something with Marvel and we can at LEAST get a little Spidey cameo in the next Avengers film?

Pretty please?