Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Review’

I love superheroes as far back as I could remember.

Before I could read, I watched a lot of  superheroes cartoon/movies/tv show. That was how I was introduced to them. Lord knows how many times I used to rent this Hulk cartoon on VHS when I was a kid…

I’d watch any version of superheroes. That crap live action Spider-Man show from the ’70’s? I’d a seen it all. That bad Captain America movie?

I’d rented it a dozen times…knowing that it wasn’t that good.

Hell I even own a bootleg copy of the Fantastic Four movie in the early ’90s…

And when I FINALLY started reading comics, oh boy, did it get worse.

But, why? Why do I love this genre so much?

There is the big question right? We’ve been fans for so long, you take for granted that loving superheroes is part of the DNA of our fan culture.

For me, the answer isn’t so easy. It’s not just one reason, it DOZENS of reasons. First you get drawn to the costumes and powers. A power fantasy of looking cool, and having abilities we all wish we had. Then the battles! Screw guns and regular fisticuffs,  nothing gets more epic then seeing Superman fight someone like the Hulk and witness something awe inspiring.

Then, it’s knowing that the superheroes in these stories are doing this to save US. They don’t have the luxury of having a simple day, they have to fight to ensure that everyone else can  survive to have to those days. It’s that superheroes have this incredible self sacrifice that is inspiring, and it makes you want everyone else in the world to have that same ideal.

That’s why I keep reading and watching superhero tales.

I’m inspired to watch heroism at it’s finest, and to see some kick ass throw downs.

That’s part of the reason why I loved last years Captain America: The First Avenger so much. It’s about a man who, even before he got the powers, was a great man who wanted to do what’s right. Plus, he looked cool throwing that shield.

So, you can imagine that watching a film like The Avengers is only going to make me giddy.

The Avengers isn’t just one of the best superhero films ever made, it’s also the first film that truly nails the the blending of comic book storytelling with filmmaking.

The movies opening is a great example of that. The way that writer/director Joss Whedon wrote, shot and his editorial decisions dictated a  tone and pace that is very much a comic book style of story telling. With out spoiling anything, the way the opening scenes uses a narration that overlaps with simple images feels like reading a comics page. It evokes the pacing of seeing a single panel and reading a word box narration.

The action feels the same way.  Let me tell ya, this film will ruin every other Alien Invasion scene in movies for me from this point on (looking at you BATTLESHIP). Its not just enough to see the destruction, I now really want to see some heroes fly in and and fight back. Which brings me to the fights. Oh man, the fights. The one on one battles between the heroes, the sequence on the Hellicarrier and of course the epic finale 20-30 minutes are just breathtaking. Impacts, hits, punches, laser blasts, everything  is seen clear and crisp. Whedon knows exactly when to speed up the action,  and when to slow down. It’s these moments where it felt most like looking a splash page in a comic, or looking a dynamic fight sequence in a 3 page battle. It wasn’t just great action filmmaking, it’s true superhero comic action on screen.

As a Joss Whedon fan going back as far as 1997 , watching this film felt like Whedon’s graduated. He brought it his all, and for the first time, regular audiences can finally “get” Joss’s sensibilities. I guess it needed to be in a context that they where comfortable with, and after watching the Marvel Studio films for the last five years, audiences where ready.  They just needed to enjoy the story that Whedon fashioned. As Whedon fans, we knew he was not only going to bring in the action, but also the story, characters, humor and the drama. Glad the rest of the world can finally see what we always knew.

It’s been forever seen I’ve seen a true crowd-pleaser,  and every time I’ve seen it ( 3 times as of this writing) the audience is there with the film. It’s the kind of filmmaking that audiences love going to the movies as a big group for. The big laughs and the huge applause from the audience is the kind of magic that makes going to a movie theater fun.  It’s the feeling that audiences got when they first saw Stars Wars and Raiders of the Lost Arc for the first time. (Note: Before you go crazy, I’m not saying The Avengers is THAT great, but the elated joy and entertainment the audience got after leaving the theater was just as close.)

But it isn’t just the spectacle that the audiences are eating up in this film, it’s the characters too.  The film is full of great character interaction, great work from the cast from the previous films, and (of course) Whedon’s script getting every single character right. Of course Cap’s ideals and Tony’s ego will clash, but it’s going to be fun to see them learn how to get along. Thor feels responsible for Loki’s action,  yet no matter how crazy his brother gets, he loves him and wants him back home. Black Widow being insanely scared of the Hulk. Tony and Banner being friends because  of their amazing scientific minds.  Agent Caulson’s admiration of Captain America. Hawkeye’s relationship with Black Widow, and the history they share. It’s just a ton of fun seeing this group together. The fact that we take our time seeing this group interact, means when this moment happens in the film….

…it’s earned, and it never fails to give me goosebumps every time I see it in the film.

Going back to that “comic book” feeling, the moment that made me truly realize I’m watching an “AVENGERS” movie is the moment when Captain America faces off with Loki. Seeing Cap talk Loki down and fighting him made my brain go “Oh wow….it’s really happening. This movie really exist!” Why? Because this is the first cross over moment in the film. When the main bad guy from one movie is facing down the main good guy from another.  It would be like if Hans Gruber from DIE HARD is facing Rambo. It only got better when Iron Man flew in!

Ah, and Loki. After the Thor movie, I declared that Loki was the best Marvel studios villain by far. It wasn’t just Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful nuanced performance, but it was the fact that Loki had a strong motivation. His reasons for turning on his family and his fellow gods just made all the sense you when you find out about his backstory. I love were we find him in AVENGERS. I love how much more twisted he got. I love that he actually has a pretty solid plan and for the most part , it’s working…but as Agent Coulson said, Loki’s one weakness is that he has no conviction. Having Loki being too arrogant is a great way to give another layer to the bad guy.

I also loved how Nick Fury was used. Sam Jackson must of had a blast making this, because he wasn’t just used to be a badass (which he was) but he was the one character that had faith for this group. I loved that Fury had to fight for the idea of this group.

Can I also say thank you to Joss for giving me back the real Black Widow? The sexy assistant/ass kicker in Iron Man 2 was ok, but I would like to thank Whedon for giving me back a Natasha that speaks Russian, has a black past, and giving Scarlett Johansson more to do. Whedon gave us a much more rounded character this time, and I thank you.

Is there something I’m missing?…..

Ah…of course….HULK smash.

Ruffalo had a lot to prove here. The poor guy had to come into this film pleasing a group of people still hurt that Ed Norton isn’t coming back (Eric Bana who?). Thankfully, Ruffalo was spot on. I loved his nervous gestures, his sarcastic tone and his “keep to himself” nature. Whedon gave him a lot to do, and when we find out how dark Banners past gets, it’s surprisingly tough.  Also, this movie Hulk is flat out the BEST LOOKING Hulk from any of the movies. Never feeling like he’s made of rubber or plastic like the previous movie Hulks, he’s got a great design, and when he starts fighting (oh the nerdgasam I got when Hulk started fighting Thor…) it’s so damn entertaining.  I also think it’s pretty safe to say that the Hulk STOLE THE SHOW for a lot of people, and for good reason.

Are their issues I have the film? Small ones, to be sure, hell, some are nitpicks. I wished Hawkeye wasn’t in the “state” that he was in for most of the movie since he’s the one member of the cast that I felt we haven’t got a true sense of his character (though in defense of that, he do get little bits here and there that I like.) The plot is too simple and generic, and there are plenty of moments of “well, isn’t THAT convenient”  in the movie. But, WHO CARES! Say the plots to Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars, Die Hard, Jaws, E.T. and many others and they all have their fair amount of issues…but why do we love those movies? The characters, the humor, the earnest drama, and fun.

For me, this was the comic book superhero film I’ve dreamed of seeing since I was a kid. Look back at the videos I posted in the beginning of this review.  See how far we’ve come?

That’s why I kept watching those bad Marvel movies as a kid. It was “enough” till the day they finally got it right.

After watching The Avengers, I wish I can tell the kid 7 year old version of me…dude….they FINALLY did it. And man, your going to LOVE it.

He then will be heartbroken to find out he has to wait 21 years to see it, but….still, I thik it’s well worth the wait.

Read Full Post »

When it concerns current popular books, I’m really behind. I’m so movie obsessed I tend to forget about books. It’s not like I don’t like reading, on the contrary, I LOVE reading! For some reason I read less and less books through out the years. So when I first heard about Harry Potter, Twilight, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Hunger Games my reaction was always a giant “never heard of it.” Of course, all of these books have been out for years and have amass a huge fanbase…and I was left behind.

Well, late this year I decided to do a better job of catching up on my reading.  I’ve been doing pretty good so far. Read some Sherlock Holmes, the great, fun as hell book READY PLAYER ONE, and the first of The Dresden Files book, STORM FRONT.

Then came The Hunger Games. Ahh yes, the current young adult novel series that is ALSO a world wide sensation (aren’t they all? 🙂 ) Well, the movie adaptation is coming out soon, so instead watching the flick without reading the book , I’ve decided nows the time to jump in.

I can see why this book is popular. I may not get why TWILIGHT is popular (That will be the last time I will mention that series from here on out. I know it has it’s fans but I am just simply not one of them. Lets move on.) but this book, I totally get why people love it.  The characters are good, the world building is fantastic, it’s well paced(for the most part) and the action is sensational.

Katniss is a great character, and a good role model for readers. She’s tough, smart, has a good heart, but she can make mistakes, and she’s short tempered.  I love that she’s got these great qualities but there’s still enough flaws to make her relatable.

I  love the adult characters. Haymitch, Cinna…hell, even Effie. I think Collins does a great job of hinting the deeper characterizations of the adults. Sure, on the surface they are following the rules of The Capital, but I can sense the inner rebellion the characters have.

Oh, Peeta. Peeta, Peeta, Peeta…I really don’t know how I feel about him. Since the book is told from the point of view from Katniss, I don’t quiet get him yet. I always feel cold after reading his scenes. Maybe I will like him more by the second book, but as of right now, I really don’t know.

I’m not particularly fond of all the scenes that take place in the cave. I felt the flow of the book slammed it’s brakes, as it seemed like we where in that cave for a long time.

But, the when the action came back in, it was insanely well written. I see every beat, every moment. Very exciting stuff.

At the end of the book I instantly saw how this can be made into a great flick.

And today, we get a good look at what to expect from the movie version of the film….

Looking good so far. The tone feels right on, and I’m digging how the future world looks.

I also hope this trailer convinces people on Jennifer Lawrence, but looking at some of the comments from my Facebook friends, some of them are apparently less convinced.  That’s a shame, I think she’s selling it really well .  I’m a Jennifer Lawrence fan (and believe that the film, Winters Bone , is all the proof you need) and I truly think she has all the qualities to play this role. Her moment in the Reaping scene was quiet good.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was the only casting I wasn’t sure about, but I think his delivery (granted, the only line he has in the trailer) surprisingly worked on me.  I’m not totally convinced yet, but I’m not writing him off either.

I’m curious to see if the trailer works on somebody who never read the book.  Right now, I’m down. Even if I never read the book, it still looks like it could be a cool sci-fi/action film.

May the film odds be in it’s favor when it comes out March 23, 2011.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes you just need to watch an old favorite.

Today was one of those days where I needed a comfort film. You know the kind I’m talking about.

A film that you’ve seen a million times, yet you know it brings you back to a place that makes you happy.

It sorta funny what films become those movies for me. They sorta sneaked up into my life when I wasn’t looking and all of a sudden I see a movie that represents a part of me.

High Fidelity struck a big chord with me when I saw in 2000(yikes! 11 years ago?) The obvious thing I noticed was how funny it was. I mean, it’s pretty damn quotable (Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?) but what struck me the most was the dialogue.

Whenever I hear geek talk in movies or T.V. it always feels so inaccurate, but in High Fidelity, geek talk has never felt so authentic. Sure these guys are talking about music, but their geek talk is EXACTLY the kind of discussions I have with my friends. Making list, daydreaming about hanging out with creative types, bitch and hate on things that are not of our taste, the need to have endless conversations about the crap we’re passionate about, and even being a bit snobby when we see other geeks who are “worse” then us.

I was so blown away by this. I may not be as big of a music guy as Rob(John Cusack) and the rest of the staff of  Championship Vinyl, but replace “music” with comics and or films and the discussions are exactly the same.Those were the things that drove me to this film.

I also wanted to be Rob when I was teenager. I wanted to have his attitude, his clothes (surprisingly I actually use to OWN the maroon jacket that Cusack wears throughout the film before I saw the movie. )and I wanted his ability to talk to women (I was a super shy teenager). I thought Rob was the coolest.

I of course eventually grew up and realized very quickly that Rob….was a mess. He’s selfish, he cheats, and wears his emotions on his sleeves. You would think that would ruin the movie for me, but surprisingly it made me love it more.

I may not want to be Rob any more, but I love that the story wasn’t afraid to give our protagonist huge gaping flaws. Obviously this was an element that novelist Nick Hornby (in which this film was based on his novelof the same name) had in his book, but Cusack’s own personal charm allows us to still like Rob…even when he’s an asshole. It’s one of Johns best roles (right next to his performance as Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything.)

And that’s really the cool thing to have a movie like this that I can revisit again and again every few years. I get something new each time. As a young adult I saw the cool “older” adult lifestyle and I wanted to be a part of that. As I’m now an “older” adult, I now saw a film about a guy who needs to stop making bad decisions and stop being so afraid to make the right ones. It’s a movie that still gives me things to appreciate and relate to.

That is why this film one of my all time favorite films of all time, and yes…obviously…it is in my TOP FIVE.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Just finished the complete series on Netflix and I had some things I wanted to say about it.

I really enjoyed a good amount of the show. I love the dialogue, I love the cast, I love movies/shows about show business, and I like the idea of a show set around a sketch comedy show.

What I don’t like is that the shows creator, Aaron Sorkin, decided to make the last five episodes very heavily political. I also was not a big fan of the layering of WAY to many intense (some a little over the top) dramatic storylines, and a way to easy wrap up to it all.

I hated the fact the last five episodes of the show stopped being about a dramedy about running an SNL like show and turned into “The West Wing”.

The shows not perfect (the sketch comedy elements of the show were downright painful to watch) but I enjoyed the characters enough to keep sitting through each episode, but the show lost focus too early and it probably couldn’t find it’s footing again.

But, to late for me to get upset at the show…it’s cancelled.

At least the finale episode felt like a proper last episode, as oppose to some other shows I like that didn’t get another season (or even a full season)

Read Full Post »

So, a warning: this will be a long-winded review, more so than most of my reviews. This film worked on me in so many levels that I’m sure by the end of this, you will think that this review will the equivalent  of a Twilight blogger talking about the importance of Taylor Lautners bare chest.  But man,  I have a lot to say.

I think the best way I could put my thoughts together is to break my feelings of the flick down in chunks, explaining the different reasons why this movie worked on me. So like the amount of Ramona’s evil exes, I got seven topics on how I love this movie.

1. It’s a brilliant adaptation: If you’ve read my last two blogs about adaptations,(see here: http://tiny.cc/i9bm5, and here: http://tiny.cc/xopgi) finding the right balance between being true to the source material and finding your own voice is very tricky. I think this film should be a textbook example of how to this right. Future comic adaptations should take note on what this film did.

When the film does the scenes straight from the comic, I smiled at how well they did it (Wallace’s drunk scene with Scott was so perfect I couldn’t stop squealing.) but when the film does deviate, (Roxy’s fight with Scott is completely different from the books) they still find ways to incorporate OTHER scenes, lines, or moments from the series. Even when they don’t go that far, the new ideas they come up with still fit. The change in the Lucas Lee fight(having them fight while Lucas is shooting a movie scene) was a great cinematic change and still fits the tone of the whole series. I mean, they even made the use of comic book sound efx text in a smart and non distracting manner.

2. It’s got a great cast: The casting was so spot on here, and each one giving one memorable performance after another.

First off, Micheal Cera IS Scott Pilgrim. It was the concern for many fans for a while, (even me) but Cera nails it. The first scene in the film proved it for me. The tone of his performance, the attitude, is so spot on Scott Pilgrim. Micheal is playing the role kinda differently then what you would think a “Micheal Cera” role is. He only really slips in to his usual  schtick when the scene calls for it, but I think it fits the film and it doesn’t bother me.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s challenge is to make sure Ramona doesn’t come off as a bitch. If we don’t like Ramona, then the film fails. Winstead rises to the challenge. Her performance convincingly conveys a quiet hurt. Not to spoil the ending(and I’m not) but the look on her eyes at the end of the film says so much.

Newcomer Ellen Wong is going to break the hearts of young boys (and some men). I’ll be honest, Knives Chau was not really a favorite character from the books for me.  She was always in danger of being annoying, but Ellen brings so much charm and heart to the role. Kinda like how J.K. Simmons’s performance as J. Jonah Jameson got me to love the character in the Spider-Man films, Wong made Knives into a character that I loved.

Alison Pill and Mark Webber does great things with their role as Kim Pine and Stephen Stills (with Pill really nailing the sarastic tone of Kim), but  I want to focus on Johnny Simmons for a second. Johnny plays Young Neil, a character from the books I had little reaction to. He was decent character, but not one of much note for me. Simmons took that character and does wonders with him. There’s a scene were Simmons is standing on the side of the stage as the band plays, and he quietly sings a long with the song. That fucking killed me.

I could go on. Kieran Culkin stealing every scene he’s in as Wallace Wells, Chris Evans KILLING as Lucas Lee, Brandon Routh showcasing killer timing as Todd Ingram, Satya Bhabha setting the tone of the Evil Exes perfectly as Matthew Patel, and Jason Schwartzman rules as Gideon Graves. God, I haven’t even mentioned Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman and… I need to go on to the next topic, I could do a whole blog on the cast alone.

3. It’s a good romantic comedy: There’s realistic emotions going on here. When you go out with someone new, you want to believe that their ex is a terrible person, or else why would they dump the person your with right? Whenever you get out of a long and emotional break up, you still want companionship. You want the next relationship to be easy and simple, and that’s what you try to find.

Both the comic and the film found a fun and unique way to exam these feelings and themes. A lot of people have been through the emotions that these characters have been. Yeah, there are plenty of laughs that go with these, but they never forget to take the feelings from a real and relatable place, unlike a movie  say… ANY other romantic comedy in the last 10 years.

4. It’s a rockin musical: One of the hard things to convey in the comics is the music, which the film has a great advantage over it. The music is great with authentic songs from the likes of Metric, Broken Social Scene, Chris Murphy, and Beck(!!). The music sounds like legitimate rock music, the songs “Threshold” and “Black Sheep” being my two favorites.

I also love the detail in the sound design for the songs. Sex-Bob-Ombs music sounds like it was recorded in a garage while The Clash at Demonhead has that slick studio sound. I also love how the music performances were visually interpreted. You can and hear and SEE how the band plays with the great use of the animation lines. That visual look was especially helpful in one of the coolest battle of the bands sequences in films…maybe because of the fact that the bands are actually BATTLING!

5. It’s a bad ass martial arts movie: For a while,  I’ve been obsess with watching asian action films. Hong Kong, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese….I’ve seen tons. In the last 15 years I can name a few films in Hollywood that reach the level of well shot fight scenes that these asian films have. Scott Pilgrim can now be added on that list.

It must be said how good the film is that it’s taken me this long to write about the action. The rest of the movie can be total garbage but I could still say the action scenes are great. I’ve sat through worse films for an amazing action scene. The fact that I love the rest of the movie only makes the fight scenes even better.

They are brilliantly shot. Edgar Wright knew that he had to have  plenty of long, wide takes to see the fight choreography. He knew how to cut in, when to slow down and when to ramp it up. I haven’t seen this much inventiveness in martial arts battles since Stephen Chow. (Director of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer)

6. It’s the film Edgar Wright has been building his whole career for: Well, ok probably not, but I can tell this is the film that Edgar Wright went buck wild!

The film lets Edgar do all the things he loves; his clever editing choices, off-kilter humor, breaks in reality, visual references to other films etc.  He gets to play with all his favorite tools and he gets to use it in a film that perfectly utilizes in one cohesive film.

The inner fanboy in me would like to think that movie exist in the same universe as SPACED, the show Edgar co-created with Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes. The film feels like a big screen extension of the show.

See what I mean.

7. It’s like the movie was made for me: It just felt like this movie contains so many things that I personally love.

It’s full of the kind of humor I love, the visual film-making style I eat up, the kind of music I listen to, and the kind of well-rounded, full of personality that I love to watch. God, I mean,  Scott’s drink of choice is Coke Zero, my favorite soda now a days.

It’s almost as if Edgar Wright, co-screenwriter Micheal Becall and the comics creator Bryan Lee O’Malley went into my head and decided to create a story for me.

Hell, I tried to MAKE this film in 2007.

My student film, Rival Siblings, was full of goofy comedy, martial arts action, people  unrealistically fighting over personal problems instead of talking about them. I was trying to make an Edgar Wright martial arts film basically, and I knew it. In a way, I guess I kinda wanted to see this film so badly, I decided to make one for myself while I waited for it.

Thankfully Edgar Wright DID make his film, and as you can tell, I’m so happy that he did.

Read Full Post »

Dear M. Night Shyamalan,

Should I call you M. Night? Mr. Shyamalan? Night? or just M.?

Well, however you want me to address you, I want to talk to you about your recent film. “The Last Airbender”.

Now I know, I know, you got enough shit on about this movie, so I’m not going to talk about what everyone else is talking about.

I’m not going to talk about the casting issues of casting Caucasians in roles that should have gone to asian actors.

I’m not  going to talk about how the script and directing was shoddy and that the acting was bad.

I’m not even going to talk about the stilted dialogue.

I mean, don’t get me wrong….they’re RIGHT … but that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

You see, you had a job, as a filmmaker, to adapt something for a feature film based on an existing property, to take and leave things for the adaptation.

Not just that, but to also find a way to let in new audiences who never seen the show to understand the vast mythology that the show clearly has.

So, it became very clear to me that within the first few minutes of the film, you failed to do all of that.

First, lets look at the shows opening sequence, the intro that opened every episode in at least Season 1.

http://www.gametrailers.com/user-movie/avatar-the-last-air-bender/20247

Ok, so in 45 seconds, that did the job of  setting up the landscape,setting up the threat, the magic abilities, the type of culture that exist in this world AND sets up the title character pretty perfectly.

Even before I finally sat down to watch the show, when I caught the intro while channel surfing, I knew that was enough information for me to pretty much get it. Also, it was done pretty entertainingly as well.

So, what did you do wrong in the film’s opening?

Well, yes, you did show the different nations, using the same visuals as this…

But just like the video I just linked here there was no narration over it in your film.

You just started the movie with that.  Those are the films first images.

Do you know how confusing that could be for people who have never seen the show? These random images that have no meaning to an audience that just walked in?

Then you had the laziness of having the films mythology being explained in a long text/narration.(ala Star Wars)

This started this whole “Tell instead of Show” issue that you seemed to developed while writing this film.

Think back on the Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Remember how Fellowship of the Ring started? While there is narration, it gave us visuals to match the narration so we start having visual touchstones for the film. Shots of the Middle Earth maps, images of the Kings, the elves, the ring etc. It had a dense and rich mythology, but they never forgot that film is a visual medium and found a way to tell us all of that information without feeling like it’s info dumping.

So how did the shows 45 second intro do a superior job of doing that compared to what felt like the 5 minutes it took for you to explain it in the feature film?

You made it boring and you wrote an intro text that overcomplicated the story.

Look, I’m not saying do it just like the show, but you could have done it far more exciting than the way you presented it the film.

And that’s sort of how the whole film feels like.

Some fans proclaim you don’t love the show, hence the film sucked, I disagree.

To me, it’s obvious that you DO love the show, you love the show so much that you didn’t know what to cut out because you wanted to include everything . Proof of that is this video here (you can jump to 04:18 mark in the video to hear what I’m talking about)…..

Maybe you should have listen to the creators?

What you should have done was looked at the whole first season, and really buckle down and go “Whats the most important story I need to tell for the first film?” Well, maybe you did, but you certainly didn’t have the restraint to know what to get rid and to create new scenes to tell the same story.

I hate to use Lord of the Rings again as an example, but why do you think that Peter Jackson never included the Tom Bombadil stuff in the film? Because in the end, for a FILM, it wasn’t needed.

Want an example of something you didn’t need?

Personally, you should have held off of the Earthbenders in the first film.The way you rushed the Earthbenders slave storyline is nearly laughable. For the first film it should have been ONLY about waterbending.

The most important thing about adapting any martial like The Last Airbender is that you don’t have to be exact, just get the spirit and the tone right.

Great example of a character that you didn’t get the spirit and the tone right was the treatment of Appa.

Appa, to put it bluntly, is Chewbacca, except that you can ride him…and that he can fly. BUT, it was an actual character, a protector of Aang and the gang…a big love able pet.

What you did to Appa was made him into the Millenium Falcon. It’s just this thing they fly on. They show no real attachment to him. They didn’t look they cared about Appa, so I didn’t care for Appa. (Note: Now that I think about it, Millenium Falcon might not be an apt comparison because even Han Solo showed more love to the ship then the kids did to Appa in the movie…)

That was supposed to be your job M. Night. Not to be super faithful to the show, but to make us care, and get to know the characters.

You got too distracted by the special effects, the giant sets, the big action scenes, and the large cast, that you forgot  about the characters and the story, elements that you used to be pretty good at.

One of my favorite recent quotes is from David Lynch.

“Focus on the donut, not the hole.”

So M. Night (was that what we agreed I was going to call you?) you forgot the donut so much, you just became a hole…and for some fans of Airbender, an A-Hole.

 Good luck sir, because your going to need to figure out how to become a good storyteller again.

sincerely,

Justin

P.S. Seriously….white actors as the leads? I mean this shot…

The two white kids in a CROWD of  black-haired, dark skinned Inuit people and not ONCE you didn’t think, “That looks kind of silly”.

You didn’t?

Oh M. Night, we seriously don’t see eye to eye anymore….

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »