Hellboy II

Jul. 19th, 2011 02:50 pm
Yeah, I know, I'm way behind on movies, what can I say? So I just finished watching Hellboy II, and it was pretty good. There was one major thing that bugged me though, the part where (spoilers) Hellboy rescues the baby and defeats the giant forest god thing, and... the cops and the lady whose baby he rescued turn against him because something something. I mean yeah, there was just this huge wrecking of that street, and they all witnessed something miraculous (in the sense of divine/supernatural intersecting the regular world) but I'm not sure why they turned against Hellboy.

There were some other bits kinda like that, where things just seemed a little sloppier than necessary. And I really with the princess had challenged her brother at the end, or done something a little more than she did. Or if they'd just made her into something more than Ms. Exposition and a girl for Abe to moon over. Maybe they're not really flaws, just places I would have done things a little differently.
Very short category review:
Lots of: explosions, and giant robots fighting each other, plot holes, tasteless jokes, generically "hot" women, war porn, missed opportunities, badassness for Optimus Prime, macguffins
Few of: character arcs, names for new characters, characterization for new characters, lines for new characters
Way too much: Man ass, testicle jokes, humping jokes, length of time

So, basically, it was just what could be expected for a Michael Bay sequel to the Michael Bay first movie, turned up to 11. Entertaining if you're not expecting anything more than giant robots fighting or are a thirteen year old boy. It was pretty much what I expected, and I was entertained in the theater, though afterwards the plot holes started to irritate. But I didn't expect more than it was, so I got what I expected.

Deja Vu

Mar. 23rd, 2009 05:21 pm
Okay, so there's ads for this new Nicholas Cage movie, where there's a random string of numbers that correlate to disasters and how many people are doing to die in them. And they're almost at the end of the numbers *DUN DUN DUN!*

Now, am I crazy, or wasn't there a movie a few years back with that exact same premise? I don't remember the name, or actors, or anything, but I could have sworn there was already a movie with the same idea.
I give you: The Futurama Movie Trailer.
The other day I read the prequel comic for the Transformers movie. It was not so impressive, on several levels, since it didn't cover or explain much of the stuff you'd expect from a prequel. Nothing in it added anything that I'm sure won't be covered by the movie.

But that wasn't what really irked me. No, the part that really irritated me was an almost throwaway line. There's an Obligatory Secret Government Agency, and said Obligatory Secret Government Agency is studying an alien piece of tech they've found. So one of the new guys looks at the pictures on the wall and wonders "Is that Robert Oppenheimer?" And then they go through a couple of other names, and one of the old hands says "How did you think we won the space race?" And in the end they give credit to almost all modern tech, from microwave ovens to digital watches to breakthroughs from studying the alien tech.

Yeah, I bet if we did find alien tech, even broken alien tech, it'd probably lead to a number of breakthroughs. Even if the aliens aren't super-duper advanced, their tech would probably have advanced along slightly different paths and so on. But the writer gave credit for pretty much all of modern society to this alien tech, and that just pisses me off. It's totally devaluing the cleverness and genius of the human race. It implies everything we've done is just from taking things apart and making monkey copies of somebody else's stuff, instead of developing and discovering things for ourselves. Some great respect for the abilities of humanity there, guys.

Come on, we can discover stuff on our own. We're clever monkeys.
In several ways, this should have been a movie I hated. Mainly because a large part of the plot is almost all of the characters' lives getting worse. Not just in small ways, either. And at the end of the movie, many of the big problems are still there. But the thing is, it's not. Man, that's a horrible sentence. One of my friends described the movie as "cute", which really doesn't seem like an apt word at all. And it's not "hilarious" or any of the overused comedy marketing words. The movie is funny, there were a bunch of times when I laughed out loud, but that doesn't feel like the point of it. The best word I can come up with I guess is "nice." And it's very good.

It reminds me a bit of the Addams Family movies, I think for the family interaction. The family in Little Miss Sunshine is a lot more realistic, and more fractured, but there's the same feel of things there for me. It also feels kind of like a Flaming Lips song, though that's probably influenced by the fact they used a Flaming Lips song in the trailer. But the blend of emotions and stuff in songs like "Do You Realize?" matches fairly well for the movie.

This has been another episode of Inarticulate Stretched Metaphors Movie Reviews. We'll be here all week, tip your waitress. And it's a good movie. Rent it if you get a chance.
I don't really complain about happy endings in movies. Sometimes, I'll complain about lame or "typical Hollywood" endings, when the ending's so out of sync with the rest of the film or its theme or something. But, honestly, I like happy endings. The hero gets their love. The bad guys get caught. What was wrong at the beginning of the movie, or broken along the way, is set right. Or at least right-ish. People can change, even redeem themselves. I like that in my stories. Maybe I'm an optimist, maybe I'm a sheltered American, maybe I'm one of a dozen other things. I don't know. I don't think it matters.

This comes to mind because I just finished watching Sixteen Blocks. It was a good movie, I thought. A lot less action-ey than I'd expected, a lot more suspense. But it was really good. I really liked it. On the DVD, they have an alternate ending, that isn't completely sad, or a complete loss or anything, but I didn't like it as much. I guess in some ways it fit better, since it tied together with the characters initial opinions about whether or not people can change. But by doing that, it undercut what I got as one of the themes of the whole movie, which was that people can change.

But in the end, it was a satisfying movie I'm glad I saw, and it's probably silly of me to be trying to read too many deep themes into an action movie at almost three in the morning.
So, we watched the second D&D movie at the dinner/Christmas/geek get together I was at tonight.

It sucked, majorly. There were so many plot holes, stupid fights, stupid bits of dialogue, things that just happened for no bloody reason, it was sad.

But not as sad as the part where we started watching the special feature about making the movie. Because that had the actors and writers and director talking about how much care and work they allegedly put into it on trying to make it match the gaming experience, and be accessible, and all this other stuff, and it just WASN'T. Which made watching that kinda painful, because I knew at least a couple of the people in that had to be sincere about how hard they'd tried, and this was the result. I suspect most of them hadn't seen the actual finished movie before the interviews.

But it makes me boggle, every time I see something like that, and knowing how many people it had to go past, and all of them approved it. I imagine there were a lot who figured "Well, if nobody else spoke up, it must just be me..." or didn't want to be the person who said "Okay, we've wasted those millions of dollars, this is shit."

It's just... Why? Why do things that are so bad get made, and approved, and things that are good get canceled? There's something wrong with the incentives here. Or the feedback mechanisms, since the people responsible for the movie aren't the ones making the decisions much of the time. It's a mess.
Okay, so, The Incredibles. Really good movie. So, Syndrome, the villain. He's obviously a villain, what with the killing supers to perfect each generation of his bot he was gonna send to attack the city. Right, got that.

So, his secondary motivation, though, was to sell off his inventions after he used them, and then "when everyone is special, no one is."

That's quite frankly one of the stupidest lines I've ever heard. Okay, yeah, when everyone can fly, being able to fly isn't unique, but it's still special. And damn useful. That's not really a villain motivation. For all that it'd overthrow the current status-quo, something most heroes don't do. Or maybe I'm just weird and reading too much into it.
(This is going to contain spoilers for Fight Club. If you haven't seen it and want to, go watch it. The Internet will still be here. If you haven't seen it and don't want to, I'd recommend it. But since I'm probably the last one on my friendslist who actually hadn't seen it, I'm not gonna bother to LJ cut. You've been warned.)


"You're trying to overload that poor interjection with too many shades of meaning."

I shut off the DVD player and looked toward the voice. The buddha was sprawled out on the back of the couch, almost exactly like a cat. "Does Brad Pitt know you have his jacket?" I asked.

"He's beyond such concerns now."

"Hang on, isn't that leather? Can't that get you kicked out of the Buddhist club?"

He pulled one of the sleeves up to his nose and sniffed it. "It's fictional imaginary leather. No animals were harmed in the making of this jacket. Why do you care, anyway?"

"Nerd. Internal consistency is one of the things that irritates me," I said, then realized something else, "Wait, did you try and do the haircut too? It didn't work. You look like Rod Stewart."

"Appearances are as much illusion as everything else in the world. Perhaps more," he said.

"That's... Wait, I don't care enough to go through this whole argument again. If you stopped by on your way to a con dressed as Tyler Durden, hey, good for you."

"There's more than a few parallels."

"Yeah, yeah, imaginary friend. Only to the best of my knowledge you're not flying around the country selling soap. But that's not the point, either. Fight Club's a good movie. A very good one. And I can see why so many people went all OMG AWESOME at it. There's been a couple things I've read and seen lately like that, where I know if I'd seen or read it sooner, when I was a teenager or so, it would have blown my impressionable little mind. But now I'm not quite so impressionable, and I've run into other things that blew my mind at the time, a lot of which covered the same kind of stuff. Or maybe I've just seen some of the flaws in their philosophies."

"Or you're just old."

"I feel old sometimes. But mid-twenties isn't old. It's really not the age, it's the living. Or lack thereof. Which is sorta the other thing that's bugging me. Like, a lot of the reason I never saw the movie before was because so many people were squeeing about it. And partly because I don't watch that many movies by myself, I usually waste my time on the Internet now. But there's things I avoided not so much because they were bad, but because they were popular. A lot of the people who liked things just because they were popular were assholes. Still might be, I don't know what happened to most of them. I don't know if it was more a matter of being like them, or a matter of admitting the might be right about things once in a while. You never want your enemies to be right, it's so much more annoying."

"It's so much more satisfying to write your enemies off as always wrong and deluded and evil and stuff, isn't it?" he asked, "Because then you don't have to listen to them or deal with them as human beings."

I raised a finger at him. "Or you could just lump them all in as illusions and deluded by the illusionary world."


"So, yeah. I was wrong. Not that Tyler Durden was right either. But that's not even the point, because there's other things kinda related, that I've been thinking about, that I realize now I was wrong about when I was younger, and now I feel stupid about them. So I end up sounding like an old man or something, talking about how young and stupid I was."

"The folly of youth becomes the wisdom of maturity," the buddha recited.

"Sure, why not? Being wrong sucks though. Especially when it's something you've been wrong about for a long time, because then you're used to thinking that way, it's habit. Your thoughts are used to running that way. And you, well, I, have no practice in other ways, so I'm gonna keep being wrong and screwing up."

"That was extraordinarily vague," he said, "Which probably means it's about women. I'm deliberately obscure to make people think, what's your excuse."

I shrugged. "Partly, I said, but women are hardly the only thing I've been wrong about. I wish it were. I wasn't being vague, I was being expansive. Or generic. Whatever."

"But what about the movie?"

"It was good. I've been told there's two groups of people who like it, ones who like it for the testosterone cult fight part, and ones who 'get it.' I'm not sure that's the only things people can get out of the movie though. The thing is, the Fight Club stuff started out as a decent idea. Not for everybody, obviously, but yeah, a bare-knuckle brawl would probably do a lot to make all the other little hassles of everyday life seem a lot littler. But Tyler Durden's an asshole. A charming and mostly likable asshole, but still an asshole."

"Are you sure you're right?"

"Sure enough," I said, "Yeah, I could be wrong. But just because I can be wrong doesn't mean I am. The whole corporate homogenization and making people into wage slaves part I can totally understand. I had the sad realization I'm a sales-drone for a megacorp the other day. And I can totally empathize with the trickster side of things, throwing things into confusion to make people think and knock them out of their routines. But that's not where his ideas went, he wanted to get rid of civilization. Thought it took away everything that made men men or something. They even spelled it out in the movie. When he started ranting about climbing up vines growing on the Sears Tower, and looking down and seeing women doing laundry on an abandoned superhighway."

"Would you really mind seeing vines on skyscrapers, or superhighways abandoned?"

"No, I wouldn't. But here's the key thing. They'd be there on purpose. And the superhighway would be abandoned because we'd have moved on to something else. None of this primordial primitive romantic bullshit. Civilization all the way. Sure, there's romance to the hunter-gatherer life, but that's all it is, romance. In real life, it pretty much sucked. There's a reason the main thrust of history has been to get as far away from the 'natural state of man' as possible."

"Paraphrasing Gaiman and Pratchett again?"

"Yup. They got to me first, before Mr. Durden. The movie makes it clear he's totally batshit insane, though. Even aside from the split personality part of it. I guess he's supposed to be all the repressed stereotypically male parts, with violence and sex and taking on the whole world. But having just that's no more balanced than having none of it. I think I'm thinking about this too much, because it's late at night."

"Do you think you're supposed to think about it?"

"I think the studio doesn't care as long as they get paid. Hey, are you going to do anything other than ask questions every so often so it doesn't seem like I'm monologuing?"

"What would you like? Do you want me to tell you to hit me? A final metaphorical showdown to represent the conquest of your inner something-or-others?"

"Nah," I said, "I'm not that impressionable. Besides, when it does come down to metaphorical inner conquest thingies, it's not going to be a fight. Or maybe by then I won't even have to bother. I'm definitely not going to bother tonight, though, it's late and I'm tired. You can find your own way out."

He was still sprawled there when I flipped the lights off. Like that meant anything.
Man, I've not really been online for a couple of days. And since it's late and my brain's being weird at me, a movie review.

Last night, me and some friends watched Grandma's Boy, because two of the friends had seen it and said it was hilarious. And we started watching Munich, but unanimously decided we didn't want to spend our hanging out and having fun evening watching a depressing movie all about people dying. I'd seen the movie poster way back when in the theater and it looked stupid.

Overall, I'd say my impression of the movie poster was right. It wasn't very good. It was a bunch of set pieces strung together on the bare semblance of a plot. But it was surreal watching it, because a good chunk of it was about video games. And even though they were the "heroes" of the story, it was still depressing, kinda like how Napoleon Dynamite was. It wasn't nerdspolitation, quite, but I was watching these people doing incredibly stupid things, and some of them reminded me way too much of things I've done, or people I know have done. And it wasn't even that funny.

And yeah, way too many weed jokes. Not worth seeing.
I finally saw Howl's Moving Castle the other night, and... honestly, I wasn't that impressed. It probably didn't help that I had read the book already, but my friends who were watching it with me hadn't read the book, and they weren't that impressed either.

It started out pretty good, then it went off into this war tangent, and then melodramatic love, and at one point there was time travel, I think, and it was just weird. Not really the cool kind of weird, either. And there were gratuitous airships. I'm an airship junkie, and these were cool, but I'm not quite sure why there were funky fish-like airships flying around bombing the crap out of everything. Well, I know WHY, but I'm not sure why the plot needed it. The war was mentioned VERY briefly with a "A neighboring nation's prince is missing and blames us! They're going to go to war!" line in a background conversation you could easily miss. It wasn't really necessary, and wasn't in the book, which was a lot more of a fairytale and character development thing.

I've come to suspect a lot of anime is about World War II, even when it's not. I think that's part of why Steamboy and Howl's Moving Castle both went into the "lots of people die, but not everyone, and not the main characters, hurrah!" style of happy ending. World War II in Japan was a lot different than WWII in the US. They're the only country that ever got nuked in war. (As opposed to all the ones nuked for testing) They lost, completely, and had their empire, their army, and a lot of other things taken away. And they were the aggressors, forced to admit their wrong. That's a lot different than the American experience. And makes a good reason for valuing narratives of survival amidst destruction, and that sort of thing. But even so, it's not always necessary, and can hurt the narrative. Like here. Or maybe that's just my American cultural bias talking. But I enjoyed all of Miyazaki's other movies I've seen. Well, I had to wonder "WHY do they always blow up the awesome source of ancient knowledge?" in one, but that's a failing in lots of fantasy.

Japan hasn't been involved in a war since. In the US, the defining wars are WWII, and Vietnam.
I saw V tonight. It was very good, though I have a few minor quibbles which are mainly related to the fact the Wachowskis/Hollywood didn't seem to get the comic the same way I did, so several of their changes basically missed the point. But those aside, it was great.

And Hugo Weaving was an amazing V.
I finally got around to watching Kingdom of Heaven and I wish I'd done it sooner. It's a really good movie. I'd heard really mixed reviews about it, but I really really liked it. Yes, it's not completely historically accurate. Yes, it's not an action/adventure epic love story. It's not supposed to be.

But it was really well done. All the actors did really good jobs, and it felt right. The siege reminded me of the siege of Gondor (not just because of Orlando Bloom), except you know there's no ghost army coming to the rescue, and you know the other side's not orcs, either.

A lot of the best parts were done without dialogue, which I find really impressive. And on the whole, it reminded me of Discworld, especially Jingo. Not in humor, but the other kinds of themes and characters. And coming from me, that's a really big compliment.

But much of the disasters could have been avoided (maybe), if Orlando Bloom's character had been willing to do one evil thing. But I don't know that I can fault him for it, either. It's firmly in the kind of grand epic Greek tragedy, where disaster comes because of the hero's flaws and character. Even if it had a sort of happy ending, many many people still died. And they didn't romanticize that at all, which impressed me. The fights weren't romantic, and they weren't pointlessly gory, either. They happened, and people died, and it wasn't glory, it was just fighting to stay alive. And when the armies fought, it wasn't heroes rampaging through, it essentially came down to a giant shoving match.

Between The Iron Giant and this, I've been reminded of the things that make actual heroes, not just someone shoved into the hero slot because the script demands it.
There's exceptions.


Feb. 8th, 2006 12:01 am
So in my Speech class, we just finished watching Crash.

It's a very good movie. It's well written, well acted, well filmed. And I think I may need to watch it a second time to get everything. But I don't think I'd watch it more than twice. It's not a fun movie. And in a lot of ways, it's depressing. Maybe it's more "realistic" that way, but there's only maybe two characters that don't get a chance to be total assholes at least once. It's unsettling, and the whole movie long I kept wanting to smack some of them upside the head.

I don't know. There's a lot to it, and I still need to finish digesting it. But at the end of the movie, almost nobody's better off when they started. But not because of any big evil, just because of things happening. And it's not written so much as a story, because most things aren't really resolved at the end. Things keep happening, which I guess is one of the points. Life doesn't have pat endings where all the threads are tied up and such.

But stories work better that way.


Jan. 28th, 2006 11:40 pm
The Iron Giant is made of awesome. That is all.



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