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Archive for March, 2011

Sucker Punch Review

Midway through the film, Babydoll (Emily Browning) is mowing down robot solider after robot solider in a spectacular action scene, a thought quickly went to my head….I stopped caring.

Before I get into that, let me give you guys my expectation on the film.

I knew going in that this was going to director’s Zack Snyder’s “Get it out of his system” film. What does that mean? It means that he most likely wanted to make the following  films: A fantasy film, a samurai film, a futuristic film, a musical, a war in the trenches film, a steam punk movie, and some kind of animes style film. He wanted to make films using all those great iconic images, but he figured it probably take him forever to make all those films.

His solution? Make it one movie.

I was down the moment when I heard about the film back in 2008. I was even more excited when I saw the footage at Comic Con, BUT, I was apprehensive about it. It looked good, but will the narrative work? As much as I love Snyder’s other films, I won’t deny that his story sensibilities and characterization tend to fall short.

Sadly, Sucker Punch, more then anything he’s done before, accidentally highlights those flaws that he has as a filmmaker.

The film’s characters are lacking. They’re idea’s of characters. Concepts, not fully fleshed out characters. It seemes like the film’s idea of fleshing out a character is to have them cry. In my opinion the only character with any spark of life is Rocket. Rocket has the clearest motivation, and the clearest character traits. Jena Malone does a lot to bring out that charisma in the character, but I do think she’s the best written one.

Actually, the whole cast of girls I will say did their best to bring the characters to life. It was only because of the fact that Emily Browing, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens and Jaime Chung were good in their roles did I start to notice that they didn’t feel like they were fully written. Hudgens and Chung actually brought a good amount of charm in their parts in which I started to like them, and that is when I noticed that I actually don’t know their characters at all. Those two in particular were mostly left in the sidelines while Babydoll, Sweet Pea and Rocket does most of the heavy lifting both in the action scenes and in the story.

Going back to not knowing the characters, lets look at Babydoll. Babydoll is the lead in the film, and while I knew the reasoning of why she’s in the mental institution,  and why she’s in the mental state that she’s in….I don’t know HER.  Why does she have these dreams? Why is it both a brothel, and then a crazy mixmash of a teenage boy fantasy? Why those images?

That becomes the issue with the story. There is no reason any of these “worlds” that Snyder sets up, the mental institution, the brothel, and the world of fantasy, has any reason for being in the same film. Snyder’s rules of the film aren’t really defined.

The truth is, these aren’t Babydoll’s fantasies….they’re Snyder’s.  The whole conceit of this being his “Get it out of my system” film kinda backfires because he didn’t make a strong enough story and characters to justify this whole film.

But in that regard, the film can work as pure eye candy. If you want to be dazzled by great, stylish film-making, then Snyder does that well.

I can certainly say that I didn’t get BORED while watching this. The interesting use of covers of popular music (the brothel sequences are so clearly MOULIN ROUGE inspired I’d half expected Nicole Kidman to walk in.), the cutting, and the imagery and yes, …the action is great. Every single action sequence is pure Snyder, and if you still like his style, then your won’t be disappointed. The action is fantastic, with the World War I/steam punk sequences being my favorite.

I certainly hope Snyder got out whatever he had to get out of his system. His next film is Superman, and hopefully this time out he can focus on the story and characters just as much as he focuses on his visuals and action.

In the end, I define Sucker Punch for me like this. If I end up getting the DVD, I will just jump to a sequence in the film to rewatch. But will I sit down and watch the whole thing again? Probably not as much. It’s a misfire…but it sure is an entertaining one.

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I didn’t really want to contribute to the discussion of this…but I found this interesting.

I think it’s safe to say that by now, you’ve seen this.

You must have right? Over 50,000,000 people did, at least.

I’m not hear to bash this video. It’s bad, sure, but it’s certainly not the worst video in the world.  If you guys looked at the other videos on this channel, all of them starring wanna be teen pop stars themselves, who’s parents paid for the video (just like Black), they’re all in that exact mediocrity-bad level. For some reason, Miss Black’s video is the one that struck.

The internet is weird like that. BUT, that’s not what’s interest me.

See, I stumbled upon this video starring Miranda Cosgrove (for people my age, that funny/overachiever little girl character from School of Rock, for young kids, the lead girl from iCarly.)

Now…tell me this doesn’t look….FAMILIAR….

Interesting that they share that many images and shots. Who ripped off who? Do I sense a fight coming on?! Is someone going to have to sue the other person!?

….of course not. The truth is actually much simpler.

Looking at the upload dates I noticed that they were uploaded a day apart from each other. Funny enough, Black’s video was uploaded first.  She beat Cosgrove by a day. So if anyone is to blame rip off, that would be ridiculous, and down right impossible.

So what does that mean?  The makers of both the videos and the songs are just generalizing that what they think girls want to hear and see. That’s why the videos are so similar, they’re working off the same model, the same model that’s been used over and over again. Ever saw a Debbie Gibson video from the ’80s? Is it really any better…or any less cheesy?

So really, how much can we really blame Miss Black? Make fun of Black’s video all you want, but the truth is, she isn’t first one to have a video like this, and trust me, she won’t be the last.

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The trailer to the brand new  The Three Musketeer (in 3D :P) is up. Before I show you guys what I think of the new Musketeers film,I thought it would be cool look back on the film history of the Musketeers. There have been many film versions of the famous Alexandre Dumas story. Lets look at some of them….

1921, Starring Douglas Fairbanks as d’Artagnan.

1933, A contemporary revamp with John Wayne (!!) playing d’Artagnan (now renamed Tom Wayne)

File:Three Musketeers-1933-002.png

1939, a comedic version of the tale starring Don Ameche as d’Artagnan.

1948,  with Gene Kelly as d’Artagnan, and Vincent Price as Richeliu.

1973, with Michael York as d’Artagnan, and Charlton Heston as Richeliu.

Interesting enough, it will take 30 years exactly for the next adaptation to happen…

1993, with Chris O’Donnell as d’Artagnan and Tim Curry as Richeliu.

This was my first exposure to the Musketeer story, a movie that was clearly made in a post Kevin Costner “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” world. Notice how everyone is accent less.  I don’t think it’s a secret that the success of the Costner movie was the main reason this movie was made (down to even getting Prince of Thieves composer Michael Kamen to do the score and to have  Bryan Adams to also contribute a song like he did for Robin Hood.)

2001, with Justin Chambers as d’Artagnan and Stephen Rea as Richeliu.

I remembered that I really wanted to like this one, and the idea of combining the energy of asian action cinema sounded like a great idea. The problem is that they couldn’t pull it off, and instead it feels like a limp attempt at best.

So it’s ten years later, Hollywood decides to try it again. The recent success of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie motivated the reason we’re getting another one, and much like how Disney’s Musketeers film resembles the Costner movie, this film clearly has a Holmes influence.

2011, this time with Logan Lerman as d’Artagnan and Christoph Waltz as Richeliu.

I think it’s safe to say this version will not be a straight adaptation of the book. Personally, I have issues with the director, Paul W.S. Anderson. He’s yet to make a movie that I really enjoyed. The cast seems good, and there are some nice looking fight scenes in this. It being in 3D doesn’t impress me, but it is what’s popular now. (They thankfully didn’t go and call it The 3D Musketeers…)

And that’s the interesting thing about having a new Three Musketeers film. All of these versions of the story are clearly products of their time, and I kinda like that. In a way, I’d argue that there should be a new Musketeers film every 10-20 years. It’s a story that can be told again, and again. Each version of the Three Musketeers will be special for that generations film goers, and I’d say why not. If doing  a new film will keep the memory of this story alive, I see this as good thing.

Now excuse me, I’m going to see if I could start my pitch of a reimagined  Three Musketeers film set in ancient china with Shaolin Monks……or my maybe it should be set in ancient Japan and have it be with samurais… or maybe the future…..or maybe…

UPDATED!

Ah, a friend of mine reminded me about Jackie Chan’s Wheels on Meals, which I guess is the closest  to a Hong Kong Musketeers film…kinda…

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I think it’s safe to say that The Hangover can be considered a new comedy classic. It’s got a great sense of pace, comedic set pieces, chemistry between the cast, and memorable moment after memorable moment.  It’s pretty damn great, and many people seem to agree. I sadly didn’t get the chance to see it until it was at the dollar theater (2009, the year I was SUPER broke) so I didn’t get to join the talk until later.

Of course, with a film doing that big, Hollywood planned on…whatelse…a sequel….

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit hesitant on this. Was this screaming for a sequel? Not really. I was totally fine just ending it right were it was. I mean, what? The guys get hung over…again?? I feared that a sequel will just be the filmmakers doing the first movie again. The new teaser trailer did little to convince me otherwise…

Now, don’t me wrong, I do like that teaser. It’s got swagger. I mean, the critic blurbs in the beginning is pretty much swinging confidence. The choice of the Jay-Z song is perfect, and the reveal shot of the boys is great. I kinda wish this is all we see for the new film, just keep the rest of the flick in the dark until it comes out. It’s got the popularity to do so. Also…who doesn’t love a monkey?

But, right away I see some way too familar things. First off, the previously mentioned monkey? That means the boys are stuck with an animal again, probably not sure how they got it. Just like last time. Stu is disfigured again (thought the Tyson tattoo is a nice call back to the first flick so I’ll give them that.) and so far it seems like Doug’s missing…again.

But you know what, this is only a teaser trailer and I’m unfairly judging it on that alone. I’m also not going to lie, I’m watching this. I’m down. I like the cast, and the director, enough to see what they got up their sleeves. I just hope their not going to repeat themselves too much.

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