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Horns: The Movie Review

12 Oct

I don’t know how many people have heard of the movie Horns. I personally haven’t seen any trailers or advertising for it and only knew of it thanks to a random mention of it online. Even then, the only things revealed about the movie were that it starred Daniel Radcliffe and that he has horns. I didn’t even know when the movie came out so it wasn’t on my radar. Until yesterday when an opportunity to see Horns came my way and I thought “What the Hell?”. It was definitely an advantage not knowing anything about the movie. So in order to try and preserve the unexpected surprises in Horns I’ll avoid major spoilers.

Obviously we all watched the star of Horns, Daniel Radcliffe grow up playing Harry Potter. I’m not a fan of the money printing establishment collectively known as Harry Potter. I’ll spare that ranting diatribe for another time, suffice it to say that whole franchise can go stuff their wand up their chamber of secrets. The reason I don’t like Harry Potter has nothing to do with the casting of the movies, indeed the performances were the main reason I paid to see all eight movies in theaters. But it seems clear to me that Radcliffe is doing whatever he can to distance himself from Harry Potter (who can blame him?). He stripped down in the play Equus, and got all Victorian-gothic for The Woman in Black, which is worth watching. He’s also done a guest spot on The Simpsons. I realize that a man in his 30’s who knows this much about Radcliffe’s career may arouse some suspicions. Let me just say that I watched all this stuff, for science.

Anyway it’s refreshing to see Daniel in a different type of role. In Horns he’s all grown up, playing a character called “Ig” who curses, smokes cigarettes, swills liquor, has a one night stand, and desecrates a religious statue, and that’s just in the first 20 minutes. I’m so used to seeing Daniel play Mr. Perfect, I really enjoyed seeing him play someone who’s flawed, confused, and tormented. It must be said however that there are a few instances where he struggles with the American accent and sounds robotic. Other than that it is a great performance. The rest of the cast isn’t as recognizable which is a good thing since you see everybody as the character they’re playing, not as some famous person. There’s two cameos that are exempt; one is David Morse, you won’t recognize the name but you will recognize the face. He’s that man that’s been in a ton of movies and hasn’t aged in like 25 years, how’s he do that? The second is Heather Graham she has some crazy and cliché dialog but she delivers it with such enthusiasm its hilarious.

Horns

 

In fact it’s surprising how funny Horns is, it isn’t strictly a comedy but there are a lot of black comedy moments in it. Clearly a movie called “Horns” is going to have references to religion and particularly Hell, but this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and get all artsy fartsy with subtlety. The devilish images are up front and so obvious as to be funny. Some of the humor comes from just seeing how casually people react to Danielle / “Ig” having devil horns. There’s also a reverse catholic confession thing going on, where people unknowingly tell Daniel their inner secrets whether he wants to hear them or not. The main story of Horns is an interesting spin on a familiar trope and has a crime-drama / mystery-thriller format. So if you don’t have a dark since of humor like me there’s still a lot going on if you don’t get the jokes.

Now it’s time to do what the internet is great at, nit-picking imperfections. Some of the writing almost does what it tries to do. For example a woman talks about sleeping with her golf instructor and calls her lover’s black cock “my 5-iron”. That joke works much better with “9-iron”. This is a small example, but bigger pieces of the movie come so close to hitting their mark and miss at the last moment, it’s hard to describe without spoiling it. The movie uses too many songs that were made iconic by other movies. The moment is lost as the background music starts and you instantly are thinking about Fight Club or Austin Powers or whatever. Maybe I’m getting too old, or have seen too many movies, probably both. But Horns should play more obscure songs the audience hasn’t heard in a popular movie before. I also saw one of the final plot twists about an hour before the movie revealed it. Lastly I hate it when movies use narration to tell the audience what is clearly visible on the screen. Don’t tell me what I’m seeing or what I just saw. Narrators should stop being Captain Obvious and tell the audience what they can’t figure out for themselves.

In conclusion, for me Horns was an unexpected surprise. It was wonderfully twisted and original and the type of movie best enjoyed around this time of the year. I hope Daniel Radcliffe continues to do projects like this. This movie isn’t meant to be taken too seriously so don’t over think it and try to avoid learning too much about it. I hope reading this review doesn’t negate that last suggestion. I tried to only divulge little things.

P.S. Many times I was tempted to write wickedly awful puns in this post; The (blank) was sinful, So and so was devilish, It was a hell of a good movie. But I stopped at two, because it was too easy, and besides lazier people than I need those types of remarks for their tweets and rotten tomato comments.

 

Carl Wells

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Is Gone Girl Good?

4 Oct

The movie Gone Girl is based on the bestselling novel of the same name, that I’ve read of coarse because I read a crap load of books. The novel starts out depicting a husband whose wife has mysteriously disappeared on their anniversary. The local police pursue the missing person’s case, while the husband undertakes his own private search for answers. Both investigations yield increasingly cryptic clues about the whereabouts of the missing wife. As the police gather evidence they have more reasons to suspect the wife met a violent end at the hands of her husband. Secrets about the couple are revealed and the overall tone of the story shifts from a typical crime drama to a dark psychological thriller. Neither of these people are who they appear to be. Then the stakes are raised as the media latches onto the case in a ratings frenzy. I liked the book because it’s pretty dark and twisted and I really couldn’t predict how it would end. The author Gillian Flynn uses this style in all her books (also great reads) meaning they’re all pretty messed up and show what cold and deceptive creatures human beings can be. But Gone Girl is different because it also deals with the media and how it has become a tool to sway public opinion rather than a communicator of facts and truth.

Gone Girl

I thought Gone Girl’s disturbing subject matter and unpredictable story would make a great movie especially when I heard David Fincher was going to direct it. Fincher has proven more than capable of taking a popular book involving violence, betrayal, and misdirection, and churning out a great film, look at Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. My expectations were high, which is a precarious position to be in, as it’s just as easy to disappoint someone with high expectations as it is to impress someone with low ones. With that said let’s explore the question “Is Gone Girl Good?”

If you’re someone who thinks a movie should follow the book as much as possible, then I am happy to report this movie is very faithful to the book. The major differences are things that were left out for time, but the movie is still two and a half hours long. That’s probably because author Gillian Flynn interestingly enough is also the screenwriter, who I’m sure wanted to get as much of her book onscreen as possible. There’s two bad things about this; firstly the beginning runs at a hurried pace, characters speak in fast short lines, and scenes jump quickly. So pay attention or you’ll miss something crucial. Secondly after two hours you’re ready for the end. I’m sure more stuff could’ve been left out to make it 20 minutes shorter and I suspect the author prevented those cuts. No matter how great a book is sometimes less is more. Especially if the story is light on things like action and special effects, but is heavy on things like emotional tension, psychological manipulation, and destructive relationships, which require more mental interpretation. I felt worn out at the end and know it was because the movie was a little too long.

After you get past the first 20 minutes of the movie. The middle part is excellent. Fincher’s signature dark and contrasty shooting style applied to the boring Missouri suburbs transforms the mundane locations into unsettling ones. Trent Reznor’s music doesn’t deviate much from his other two Fincher movies, it’s a haunting score of piano and distorted notes that helps to alter the reality of the film, complete with scratches and over-modulations that you notice but it doesn’t distract from the story.

Gone Girl 2

There’s some really great casting in this movie. Ben Affleck might be a little too perfect as the husband Nick. Not once did I think he was shady or suspicious enough to have harmed his wife, Amy. Maybe that was their point but in the book it’s more fun suspecting he’s guilty of murder. Amy is played by Rosamund Pike who’s English but speaks with a flawless American accent. Amy goes through a couple transformations and Rosamund glides through them effortlessly. When we find out just who Amy really is via montage and voiceover the story really takes a turn and it’s the one time when Amy’s intentions are really clear. I wish Rosamund had more scenes like that because she’s really great being a scheming psycho. I was really impressed with Kim Dickens, she plays Detective Boney, the officer investigating Amy’s case. This was a hard role, she had to be unattractive but feminine and not a cliché hard-ass. She had to be sympathetic enough for Nick to trust her while cleverly building a case against him. This actress turned Detective Boney into a much more interesting person than the book portrayed, good job Kim Dickens. Tyler Perry is trying not to play a Johnnie Cochran type defense attorney. He’s actually more of a media coach and has a few funny lines, my favorite being “You’re the most fucked up people I know, and I specialize in fucked up people.” Oh yeah Neil Patrick Harris is in this movie as a super-rich ex-boyfriend. I’ve never seen NPH be creepy and it’s the uncanny valley seeing Doogie Howser as a creeper. I think it’s because he’s playing a really creepy man trying very hard not to be creepy, it’s weird and it works.

I liked Gone Girl because it’s different and has a lot going on under the surface. It’s also fun to see such different characters interact with one another and see how the media exploits that and also how people can manipulate the media to their own ends. Honestly I felt the ending was unsatisfying and not just because it wasn’t a happy ending. You don’t have to have read the book to enjoy this movie but expect a slightly above average movie not a top notch piece of cinema.

 

Carl Wells

A Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy

4 Aug

I’ve expressed before that I do have a bias against comic book movies. So when I heard about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie a few months back I immediately diagnosed it as another desperate attempt to milk a forgotten comic book franchise. On the surface it looks like an Avengers rip off just with more corny gags. As more trailers came out I decided it was probably one of those movies that’s bad, but still entertaining, if you turn off parts of your brain. When I received a coupon good for Guardians of the Galaxy in IMAX 3D for free I remembered a quote from Roger Ebert “It’s hard to explain the fun to be found in seeing the right kind of bad movie.” (especially if its free). Since two bad movies came out this week, both wildly popular I thought I’d compare them and show the differences between a movie that is so bad it’s good (Guardians of the Galaxy) and a movie that’s just plain awfully bad (Sharknado 2). But you know what? I actually really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and not because it was entertainingly bad, it’s a legitimately fun movie. So fuck Sharknado and its race to the bottom. I’m not going to waste time and energy analyzing Syfy’s recent attempt to reach the stupidest place on TV. Let’s see why Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect end to the summer blockbuster season.

GoG

Guardians of the Galaxy is a comic book movie but to me its way more science fiction. Not that hard science fiction but more in the tone of an edgy cartoon with space ships and Star Trek type aliens. Its also an adventure movie and a comedy. Most movies who try to blend this many genres fail but this time it works great. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t take itself too seriously so there’s no opening narration, drawn out origin stories, or long exposition scenes. It just kind of throws you in the deep end of this universe and takes off from there. This approach benefits the two types of audience members seeing this movie. If you’re someone who read the comic books you already know the setting and the cultures of the different characters and their backgrounds so you don’t need that information regurgitated again. If you are like me and have no idea what the deal is with Guardians of the Galaxy it forces you to pay attention to the characters and the action on the screen. This gets you more invested in the story than any information dump via voice over or flashbacks ever could.

Rocket the Raccoon

The ensemble cast creates a wacky comradery that’s very entertaining to watch. Chris Pratt whose known for being on Parks and Rec plays the main character Peter Quill codename Star Lord “It’s cool to have a codename, its not that weird”. I think that Peter Quill is so cocky and comfortable being inappropriate that you can’t play this character unless you’re naturally like that. Having never watched Parks and Rec I can still tell that Pratt is an authentic Quill, not counting the 60 pounds the filmmakers made him lose to get the role. Zoe Saldana is the go to girl if you’re making a sci-fi movie, this time playing the green skinned Gamora she’s right at home. The very strange walking, talking tree, Groot is voiced by Vin Diesel who I loathe, luckily all he ever says is “I am Groot”. Not since Matt Damon in Team America have I heard a better three syllable catch phrase. Rocket the Raccoon, the best one in the bunch is voiced by Bradley Cooper. The previews make the raccoon seem too over the top and silly but it works in the movie. It’s some of Bradley Cooper’s best work, I was really impressed, he should voice more animated characters. Then there’s Drax who doesn’t understand metaphors. These five round out the ragtag group of ne’re-do-wells that make up The Guardians of the Galaxy.

There’s two ways to approach the plot of this movie. The first is that there’s a big bad blue guy who I know is bad because he says so and we see him kill one person. He wants to destroy planet Nova for some reason and he’s working for an even bigger badder guy named Thanos. I know maybe four things about comics and one of them is that Thanos is bad. I don’t know why he’s bad or what he’s done or wants to do, this movie could’ve explained that but nope. Anyway it throws a bunch of comic book tropes at us about a collector, and a power crystal, and I wasn’t really paying attention. Because the second way to approach the plot is to appreciate how it is basically just setting up scenarios for our heroes to fight their way out of. This movie is about action, snappy dialog, and humor. Paying too much attention to the story reveals all the holes and you’ll miss the excitement.

Gog2

The real reason I loved this movie is because it’s chock full of delicious nutritious eye candy. Every shot is so richly detailed there’s; space ships, lasers, console displays, rocket thrusters, nebulae, tech, aliens, robots, shields, cybernetics and it keeps going. There’s also this retro style, like if science fiction of the 70’s and 80’s had better visual effects. Even the costumes, makeup, and hair is retro futuristic, you get to see Merle from Walking Dead as a gold toothed, aqua, space pirate and a quasi-futuristic Glenn Close (how’d they get her in this movie, oh right, gobs of money). The soundtrack of nostalgic pop songs you remember from the 80’s provides a wacky contrast to the spacey spectacle on the screen. It’s not perfect but this movie is so much fun and embraces the corny moments and Pratt falls (pun intended) knowing full well what it’s doing. See this movie for all the right reasons and be happy.

 

Carl Wells

Possible Page to Projector Predictions

7 Jul

Hollywood’s risk management strategy decreasingly supports originality and favors investing in existing franchises over unfamiliar content. Hence theaters are flooded with regular installments of a movie series. If movies aren’t sequels, prequels, inbetweequels, or reboots, then they’re probably coming from comic books that haven’t been filmed yet. Comics are becoming the preferred source material to mine for storylines. I’ll be complaining about this for years to come. However sometimes movies are based on a “book” these not-comic books are sometimes referred to as “novels”. Since I know a lot more about novels than I do about comics I predict that the following novels will be coming to a screen sometime soon. I haven’t done research on this and don’t plan to, just going from my gut.

 

Dr. Sleep

 

Dr. Sleep – This will be a movie, guaranteed. The author, Stephen King has had almost all his writing adapted for the screen. King has described his work as the junk-food of literature. I’ll confirm this. Like a Burger King Whopper that delivers a manufactured pleasing taste while having negative nutritional value, King’s books deliver cheap thrills and clichés and zero intellectual stimulation. He uses the same ingredients for every story; substance abuse, psychics, paranormal activity, and handicapped characters. Furthermore people buy his stuff on a regular basis because his name is ubiquitous and familiar not because it is worth reading. Although King hated Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it is one of the best movies ever made, going far above the source material. Dr. Sleep’s selling point is it’s the sequel to The Shining. Dr. Sleep is the story of an adult Danny Torrance, he’s an alcoholic seeing ghosts and other psychic shit (what a surprise). The villains in this book aren’t threatening and are almost comical stereotypes. As far as the writing goes, if you divide your book into parts, then chapters, then sections, get over yourself. Excessively segmenting up your book only proves that you have a giant ego and demonstrates how your story doesn’t fit together. But Hollywood loves sequels and loves King so expect to fall asleep watching Dr. Sleep sometime soon.

 

Spider Book

 

This Book is Full of Spiders, Seriously Don’t Touch It – Another sequel but this time it’s a good one. Author David Wong’s previous book John Dies At The End is a great read. But the structure and pacing is not like most novels and overall the book is quite unfilmable. They tried anyway and the John Dies At The End movie was unsatisfying but not a complete waste of time, it had some interesting and funny parts. This Book Is Full of Spiders benefits from smoother pacing and having the classic novel structure while every scene in the book could be easily filmed with minimal CG effects. The story is like a zombie parody that’s genuinely intense and suspenseful with a hilarious blend of dark and sarcastic comedy. The Zombie movie trend is wearing itself out, so it’s a perfect time to mock the format. The book accomplishes this, it’s about an outbreak vs quarantine conflict where everyone mistakenly thinks the problem is zombies because zombies are so huge in pop culture. Plus it’s a standalone story independent of its predecessor, so audiences don’t have to be familiar with John Dies At The End. It’s hard to describe how awesome the movie is that exists in my head called “This Movie Is Full Of Spiders, Seriously Don’t Watch It”. Or why I assume someone else could easily make said movie the exact way I know it should be. Just read the book and see for yourself.

Devil In The White City

The Devil in The White City – Remember that movie From Hell? It starred Johnny Depp and was about Jack The Ripper. What if another serial killer was murdering people before Jack The Ripper? Someone who slayed a great many more victims, in more ways, whose motivations were even more sinister. What if the killer was an American living in Chicago prowling the 1893 World’s Fair? Doesn’t that sound like an amazing story? Well it happened, The Devil in the White City recounts the true story of America’s…nay, society’s first documented serial killer and better yet they actually caught the bastard. This movie would make a great cop and criminal story with a backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair a.k.a. The White City. The movie could highlight the optimism Chicago felt hosting the World’s Fair. Organizers went to extremes making it the grandest most modern spectacle of the 19th century, boasting electric lights, the largest enclosed space in existence, and the world’s first Ferris Wheel. Only to have their white city darkened by a killer who’d built his own three story “murder castle” to better execute his victims. It’s all well documented so the movie should just stick to the facts. The Devil in the White City could be a perfect juxtaposition of the opulent with the creepy. God I want to see this movie.

So I guess that just about does it. The book most likely to make it to the screen is the one that I have the least interest in seeing, maybe if it is some cable channel’s shitty made for TV movie I’ll watch Dr. Sleep for free. This Book Is Full of Spiders is probably too scary to make since the first movie wasn’t very popular. But there’s hope, because I ended up going back on my word and did a tiny amount of research and supposedly Leonardo DiCaprio has the movie rights to Devil In The White City. That may just be an internet rumor from a year ago but it’s better than nothing.

I go through a lot of books so depending on the response this gets I may try to churn out more literary based stupid opinions written poorly, so any feedback is encouraged.

Carl Wells

Edge of Tommorow, Reviewed Today

7 Jun

Edge of Tomorrow has an amazing trailer and lots of good press but it didn’t need those to convince me to see it. I’m not an avid Tom Cruise fan but I think he’s in his element doing sci-fi, maybe that’s because according to some people he’s actually an alien. I don’t believe he’s an alien but I do believe that if he’s in a sci-fi movie with Emily Blunt I’m seeing it. Edge of Tomorrow is based on a Japanese novel titled All You Need is Kill. Don’t worry I didn’t read the book so I won’t be griping about how the book was better. What I will say about All You Need Is Kill is that on a 1 to 10 scale measuring title awesomeness that’s an 11. Why didn’t they call the movie that? Any movie with the title “All You Need Is Kill” is automatically better.

Edge of Tomorrow

Due to how this movie was marketed everybody pretty much knows what to expect from The Edge of Tomorrow. Something the trailer leaves out made me go “Holy Cow, Bill Paxton is in this movie.” He was the best surprise in the movie, other than that, audiences already know the story. Basically Tom Cruise is a fish out of water who’s shoved into a military exoskeleton battle suit and dropped into an alien combat zone. The visuals start off great, it’s like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan where troops assault a beach while taking an onslaught of incoming fire. Its gritty, chaotic, loud, and brutal, only this time there’s slightly futuristic tech warfare involved. Witnessing crashing airships and soldiers twitch in malfunctioning battle armor we know Tom Cruise is a sitting duck. The movie is great at generating that feeling of being exposed, confused, and paranoid, just like Tom’s character. As for the aliens they’re called “Mimics” for reasons I can’t explain since they don’t mimic anything. They kind of look like mechanical cat o 9 tails with dreadlocks and just pop out of the ground randomly and kill you. They could be mimicking antlions I guess. Regardless we never learn what their intentions or motivations are, just that they’re here, they’re bad, get used to it.

It’s not long before a mimic sets its sights on Tom and pounces and they both exchange bodily fluids while dying in an explosion. Tom wakes up the day before he goes into battle remembering what happened / will happen and we get into the main concept of this movie “Live, Die, Repeat”. As Tom accumulates deaths he builds up skills, like outsmarting his commanding officer Bill Paxton who’s portrayal of a stubborn hard ass gets funnier and funnier with each iteration. Tom contacts Emily Blunt’s character Rita whose reputation “Full Metal Bitch” precedes her. She’s a highly decorated military hero who won a previous battle with the mimics inspiring hope for victory in the war. Emily Blunt was spot-on in the movie Looper so I know she can do sci-fi but in Edge of Tomorrow she’s even more impressive. She is a tough no nonsense soldier who kicks ass and never gives up. Emily Blunt makes it easy to sympathize with her character as someone who has lost so much because of this war she’s determined to win at all costs. She’s a merciless ally training Tom Cruise, every time he screws up she shoots him in the head to “reset”. That’s funny too, especially on repeat.

Mimick

This movie is getting compared to the comedy classic Groundhog Day. Okay. But I suggest that Groundhog day is more like Bill Murray living in a rerun of a TV show. While Edge of Tomorrow is Tom Cruise battling aliens until he dies then restarting, which makes it parallel a video game. This is what I find interesting, because I predict we’ll see a trend of video game type movies in the near future. Not movies based off specific video games but movies that use the aesthetics of video games as tools to tell their story. Tom starts with certain goals he has to achieve like learning how to turn off the gun’s safety then dies. Then he re-spawns turns the safety off and sets another goal to work for until he dies. Just like a video game there’s a specific pattern to be learned and once you learn it you repeat the same actions to get to a new situation or level. This replicates some of the fun of playing a video game while also allowing the movie to make fun of itself by having Tom Cruise in on the joke, he knows all the smart ass comments and beats everyone to the punchline. Another thing that makes this movie different from Groundhog Day and keeps it from being too much like a video game is that the ability to reset can be turned off if you’re not careful and can be subverted by the Mimics if they find out you have it. So the resets don’t get boring because this might be the last time it happens.

This movie had a fun concept, a great beginning, and a strong middle, where you learn about the characters and get to watch them grow and pursue different strategies for victory. This often involved lots of fighting between battle suits and aliens and guns and explosions and even a car chase scene. But toward the end of the movie I was very disappointed. Most of the movie looked fantastic except for some shaky-cam here and there. But the end of the movie is very dark so you already have a hard time seeing what’s happening, then it goes full out goddamn shaky-cam, just one long vertigo inducing motion blur. I can’t stand that shaky shit, its only purpose is causing headaches. But that’s what you get from the director of the Bourne movies. I can’t imagine how awful and painful it would’ve been to see the last 15 minutes of this movie in 3D, luckily I didn’t.

 

Carl Wells

X-Men Past and Present Movie Review

31 May

You’re probably expecting me to rant about how much I hate comic book movies just on principal. Then go into nit-picking detail about how parts of X-Men Days of Future Past make no sense. Assuming I have a bias against all comicbook movies is fair, because I do. Except, Surprise I actually like the X-Men movie franchise. I proudly admit to never reading a single comicbook (too busy reading real books) but I loved the ueber 90’s X-Men cartoon. That’s what introduced me to the characters and the themes of X-Men, so while I’m most definitely not an expert, I know more about the X-Men world than some.

Xmen 2000

The first two X-men movies were directed by Bryan Singer and they gave me almost everything I wanted out of an X-Men movie. After that Brett Ratner came along and took a big douchey piss all over the only comicbook movies I liked with X-Men The Last Stand. Seriously, how could someone screw up so much? The first two movies made bank, were loved by fans, and spoon fed a perfect set-up for how the third X-Men should go. Instead our favorite characters die needlessly or lose their powers and the Phoenix we expected was grounded and subverted, then killed. The Last Stand ruined the X-Men name so much they stooped to doing prequels under the rebranded “Wolverine” title. Those movies were pointless and awful too, even for people who appreciate Wolverine as a main character. I respect Hugh Jackman and all but five Wolverine movies was too much, Logan is a much better side character. That’s why when X-Men First Class came out I delighted in how it wasn’t about Wolverine. That was one of many things X-Men First Class finally got right. I liked how the X-Men tied into historical events. The recasting was spot on with James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon was outstanding. First Class had flaws but it turned the franchise in the right direction.

Bryan Singer returns to direct X-Men Days of Future Past. If anyone can save this franchise it’ll be the director who built it. The title is the dumbest part of this movie, “But Carl that’s what the comic is called.” Well, then it has a dumb title too. Bryan Singer further breaks X-Men’s film continuity and gets away with it. For example there’s flashbacks containing scenes from the first three movies. That means Days of Future Past acknowledges that those movies are valid parts of the whole story and thus accepted canon. Then why does Magneto have his powers back? Hell. Why is Professor X even alive? Answer: Continuity Schmontinuity, I’m just happy to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart onscreen. The X-men film continuity was already wrecked anyway, it’s almost a defining feature of the series. It would be strange if Days of Future Past didn’t have its own continuity quirks.

Xmen days of future past

Unfortunately this movie is Wolverine’s perspective again, this time in two time periods. The first; a post-war future where a squad of X-Men fight and evade the sentinels trying to exterminate them. To people who’ve only watched the movies, some of these new mutants are unfamiliar and we’re spared their origin stories (thank God). I really enjoyed seeing them all use their powers to work together as a team and fight the upgraded sentinels. There’s this girl Blink who creates these wormhole portals to teleport people, those portals look so cool in 3D. Looking through them you see different angles, vanishing points, one character in 2 different locations, they look amazing. However Blink doesn’t seem to notice she’s the best weapon against the unstoppable sentinels. A sentinel reaches an arm through a portal, and it closes, severing the arm. All Blink has to do is create portals around the sentinels then close them around their waste or neck, poof, dead. Well that’s too easy so they resort to having Kitty Pryde use her power to go back in time a couple days to avoid defeat.

That’s where Wolverine, repowered Magneto, and resurrected Professor X come in. They decide to send Wolverine back to the 70’s to stop the war before it begins. It’s nice to see how the young characters contrast their future selves. Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is angrier at humanity. While Professor X is walking around with lots of hair on his face. Speaking of hair, Peter Dinklage is rocking some epic 70’s hair and porn moustache. He’s the target of Mystique who’s gone rogue, shape-shifting all over the place, only showing her true self when she’s about to kick some ass. Her legs are her main weapon and of all the ways to die, being killed by Jennifer Lawrence’s legs aren’t a bad way to go. The 70’s are just more fun, there’s pop culture references like Star Trek and making fun of Nixon and his tape recorder. There’s a super speed mutant named “Quicksilver” who steals every scene he’s in. It’s nostalgic going back to the school for gifted students and hearing the door to Cerebro unlock with a “Welcome Professor”. But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in the 70’s there’s plenty of fighting and the climax of the 70’s storyline coincides with the climax of the future storyline and is very well edited to maximize the action.

X-Men Days of Future Past might be the best movie I’ve seen all year and could be my favorite film in the X-Men franchise . There’s always something people can gripe about, like how it left out an important character, or realizing that Kitty Pryde would’ve had to sit motionless for days on end to keep Logan in the past that long. I’m sure fans of the comics have loads of issues with it. Nevertheless, the movie’s 131 minute run time is so entertaining it’s easy to overlook these little snags. Best of all, it negates Brett Ratner’s abysmal X-Men 3 like it never happened and I know we all can appreciate that.

 

Carl Wells

Look it’s GODZILLA The Movie Review

26 May

When I discovered a reboot of Godzilla was being made, it triggered a flashback. Suppressed memories of that wretched movie Roland Emmerich sold as “Godzilla” resurfaced. I recalled the childish Siskel and Ebert insults, the scientist testing an asexual mutated lizard with home pregnancy tests, the Puff Daddy theme song, it was awful. That’s the first Godzilla movie I’d ever seen in theaters, so upon discovering there was soon to be another, I groaned in disappointment. Then I realized there’s no way this new movie could possibly be worse than that 1998 atrocity, and kept an open mind. I’ve seen the last half of the American black and white classic Godzilla, as well as clips and segments from various Japanese movies, like Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. So I am familiar with the lore and have come to expect certain things. This was my first opportunity to see Godzilla in 3D, so I ponied up a couple extra bucks for the 3D, since it was a cheap matinee show during the week. This is how I go to movies, middle of the day, middle of the week. There’s only ever like 11 people there so you can chat with friends without being shushed by the people around you.

Godzilla movie poster

At this point someone seeing Godzilla outta know what it’s basically about. I don’t feel like I’ll be giving anything away but I’ll try not to spoil the few pleasant surprises the movie has. This incarnation of Godzilla has just enough awesome moments to pull you through the illogical nonsense that constitutes the bulk of the film. Like any good monster movie Godzilla starts out by addressing the problems of nuclear radiation. Bryan Cranston works at a Japanese nuclear power plant, his readouts indicate there’s trouble a coming. Who knew Bryon Cranston speaking intense Japanese would be so funny? His wife played by Juliette Binoche works there too. She’s in the wrong place when the shaking starts and they seal up her section to contain leaking radiation. She dies in the first 5 minutes, this movie coulda used more Juliette Binoche, hell most movies could. Having an earthquake cause a meltdown at a Japanese nuclear plant might cause people to grumble “too soon”. Remember it’s just a movie, at least there isn’t a tsunami sequence showing debris of cars, buildings, and people being washed up the coasts of Japan…that happens in Hawaii. Bryan Cranston sneaks back to the quarantined site decades later and learns that there’s a giant cocoon “feeding on radiation” in the remnants of the old plant. The scientist studying it cause it to hatch and a giant surprise comes out. Breaking Bad fans hoping for a showdown between Heisenberg and Godzilla better brace themselves. Cranston dies and with him goes the last interesting human character of the film, that’s okay this movie is about huge monsters.

We’re left with Bryan’s grown son Ford (actual name) if you close your eyes Ford has the voice of an old lady. Ford is in the military which is fighting the monster, sort of. The whole way this movie handles the military is very confusing, they don’t know what to do about Godzilla and when they do it makes no sense. Nuclear bomb tests in the 50’s were actually failed attempts to kill Godzilla. The scientist now says a new monster called “Muto” is the real problem, Mutos feed on radiation and Godzilla preys on Mutos. It’s nature’s way of maintaining balance, that’s why we couldn’t kill Godzilla in the 50’s. So Navy ships are escorting Godzilla to intercept the Mutos, when they do the military plans to bomb all three at once, or something I don’t care about. I just want to see monsters destroying things. On the list of impossible things that would never happen, I do hope if there was some mythical creature that eats up radiation, humanity would have the good sense to not kill it. Instead the military plans to detonate a nuclear bomb to kill three radiation fueled beasts. I don’t know if the movie is trying to be funny with this ridiculousness, same goes for when Ford points his pistol at the 300 foot goliath staring him down, sure buddy that’ll stop it. The worst part is when Ford the “bomb specialist” can’t defuse his own bomb because of a piece of cracked glass mounted over the timer.

Godzilla Bridge

Despite its many problems I still enjoyed Godzilla, here’s why. Godzilla stories are supposed to be over the top and silly. Godzilla is about destruction on an epic scale, we got that, especially since the monsters have their own special weaponry. Godzilla has got some really great suspenseful moments, the beginning scene in the nuclear plant kicks up the pace nice and early. There’s a great scene in Hawaii where Ford is on a train and the power goes out, after a while the lights come back on and Muto is on the tracks ahead of them, everybody is already panicking, then the train starts moving forward again, I thought “Here we go”. There’s just enough fun scenes that are so well put together, and look spectacular that it holds your attention through all the petty human drama. The real strength in this movie is that for all his power and terror Godzilla is who you cheer for. By the end I thought Godzilla was more like a big overgrown kid who didn’t know his own strength. The film only skipped two monster movie clichés I really wanted to see; Japanese people fleeing in horror yelling “Run, it’s Godzilla!”. And having a scientist look up, slowly take off his glasses, and dramatically say “My God”. Other than that Godzilla delivers everything you could want. My interest in Godzilla is renewed and am actually watching Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah on cable as I type this.

 

Carl Wells