Archive for May, 2009

In the future we are dead! WE ARE ALL DEAD!

May 24, 2009

There is no getting around what a turd Terminator: Salvation is. Dismissing the camp and fun of the previous two Terminator installments, we finally see the post Judgement Day landscape of the world, and lo it is unoriginal and scraped together from other, better films. Terminator: Salvation follows in the grand tradition of the Star War’s prequels of supposedly giving fanboy’s what they want in exchange for all the reason’s anyone liked the franchise to begin with. Y’know what everyone loved about those Terminator movies? Arnold Schwarzenegger. Truth bomb.

Along with Arnie, people loved the dynamic of the boy and his robot buddy taking on another robot that just….won’t…fucking….die. Claire Danes even has a great bit in T3 where she says as much. About a robot that won’t fucking die. And that it won’t. Terminator: Salvation gives us the much ballyhooed dark future and fuck it. Let em all die. What’s the point? Everything is dirty and dusty and no one smiles. There is no culture, because they spend every waking moment fighting fucking robots that want to kill them except when they don’t because this movie is fucking dumb. Everyone hates on the Matrix sequels but at least those characters had a community and a society and culture(remember the rave?). Everyone pretty much hated those scenes, but they actually justified all the fighting and sacrifice the characters were making as they evaded machines and tried to defeat the Matrix. If these people are just fighting to live in this hellish landscape, then what’s the point? The Matrix, which Terminator: Salvation so wishes it was, presented a full scenario where the A.I. uprising makes sense, where their use of humans as batteries is a neat development that actually makes some sense. Why is SkyNet trying to kill all the humans? Cause fuck ’em, that’s why. Except when they’re capturing them and putting them in camps, because nothing says Summer Time like Holocaust references. Totally Earned.

Terminator: Salvation hasn’t a single interesting character to speak of. This is thanks to it’s overreliance on action sequences and a script rewritten so many times by so many different scribes that all that’s left is cliches. Sample dialogue: “Everyone get’s a second chance”, “Hold on!” and of course, “Come with me if you want to live”, which of course someone has to say, it’s a Terminator movie. One character even utters “I’ll be back”, but it’s the first time it’s uttered and isn’t a joke. Remember how it came to be such an iconic line? Let me refresh your memory:

See what happened there? Hilarious! Totally didn’t see that coming, because good writing and directing. Terminator: Salvation doesn’t have time for jokes, because “WE ARE ALL DEAD!”(Terminator: Salvation‘s
idea of a catchphrase). John Connor is a humorless choad who totally believes his own press and would probably kill himself if he didn’t think it would make SkyNet happy because SkyNet is like that bitch in high school who always wins. What am I trying to say? Terminator: Salvation is completely missing the point of it’s own franchise, which was built on ideas of time travel, destiny and our own uncertain futures, not what it means to be a robot man. Also, T2 and T3 were kinda campy and fun. Terminator: Salvation spends an inordinate amount of time with Marcus Wright, a guy who thinks he’s a man out of time but is actually a Terminator(spoiler that was spoiled in the trailers). This might have actually meant something, but the movie doesn’t really care that much, because Giant Robots! Also, the actor portraying Marcus, Sam Worthington, isn’t what one would call a presence. He also can’t keep his Austrailian accent in check. A star is not born, kids.

Touching back on the fanboy wants and needs, I read a review of Terminator: Salvation at that makes a bunch of concessions for the film, with numerous mentions to things that were changed and cut in development and editing, and includes this sentence

“And despite initial misgivings, I loved the MotoTerminators who eject from the shins of the giant robot.”

Who cares if these are robot noses that shoot out robot boogers if there isn’t an interesting story and characters? All the action sequences in the world don’t mean a goddamn thing if they don’t have some sort impact or relationship with characters we care about. Just calling some character Kyle Reece and then blowing up a building do not belie the foundation of a character. According to the IMDB, Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reece wears the same type of Nike’s as Michael Biehn in the original Terminator film, and he also carries a shotgun, just like Reece does in T1. Who cares? These are the wrong details. The filmmakers are so eager to reference the other movies but ignoring anything beyond surface images. Kyle Reece in Terminator: Salvation could be anybody and I don’t care about him. John Connor runs around saying Reece is important and that appears to be enough.

From the review:

“The other character who fascinated me was Blair, played by Moon
Bloodgood. I think Bloodgood is an interesting actress – for one thing
she’s a grown up, with all of the confidence and sexuality that denotes
– and while her biggest moments got left on the cutting room floor
(this film was at least partially gutted in editing), her character arc
intrigues. She’s willing to betray her own people for… love? Justice?
The movie never quite comes down on an answer, which is a problem, but
she’s the character whose next steps I’m most interested in following.”

The writer here is doing plenty of projecting. Yeah, girl is hot, but aren’t we giving bad writing too much credit here? Why did the hot chick fighter pilot betray her people to help a supposedly kind Terminator escape? Because Terminator: Salvation is a badly written movie, that’s why. The review runs back and forth talking about how bad the film is but cutting it so much slack with inside baseball references to the writer’s strike and early drafts. Don’t matter, nerds. You don’t owe this movie anything, and it certainly doesn’t give a shit about you. I’m getting off topic here, but check out this gem:

“Bale is welcome to shoot as many scenes of him Bat-voicing
orders into a walkie-talkie or headset as he cares to. That’s where
Connor belongs now. He’s set the events in motion, and now it’d be
great to sit back and watch Kyle Reese wield his newly acquired stripes
as a badass field agent or see where Moon Bloodgood’s character finds
her way in this resistance with the distrust she’s sown. Maybe McG can
catch up with some normal types like the kindly old lady who briefly
gives refuge to Reese and Marcus. Introduce a new resistance fighter or
two. Whatever. Just keep Bale to the margins of the story even if he
gets a lot of screentime.”

They’re talking about the next movie! What? You want another one? And you want these thinly sketched “characters” to run around and do more bullshit? At this point I guess we’re just dealing with people who love
the “mythology” of the Terminator series, which is not the best part of this franchise. You don’t give sequels to non characters. You know who deserves another movie? The T-1000. That dude was incredible. And Robert Patrick is absolutely available.

Great films are built around interesting characters first. Hoping that Moon Bloodgood’s character might be interesting(she’s not!) and that Kyle Reece might also say something of worth(probably not!) is
irrelevant. You might remember that Star Trek movie from a few weeks ago. It was really entertaining with interesting characters being placed in extreme circumstances that test them as people. When it was over I wanted another Star Trek movie right then and there.
Terminator: Salvation ends with a note of fake uplift promising nothing but more misery and gritted teeth. Which and it’s readers can’t wait for and are already hard at work on their slash fiction. But I guess we’re two completely different audiences. One who wants well written characters and story, and another who wants to make sure John Connor rides a motorcycle at some point. Because y’know the motorcycle in T2? So important, yo.

I got completely off topic there, but that’s what happens when you have passion. A passion for a good story told well about interesting characters doing interesting things. Terminator: Salvation is about some fucking jerk who fights robots who wear bandannas.

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Crank: High Voltage. Hyperbole can suck a dick.

May 8, 2009

The first time I saw Crank: High Voltage, I left the theater giddy and exhilarated. The second time I saw it, I was winded and
beaten. I’m pretty sure a third theatrical viewing would leave me an empty husk, swept up with the discarded popcorn bags after the screening. Crank:High Voltage is a film of great fury and ingenuity that it’s almost impossible to write about, like describing traveling at the speed of light. Which no one has ever done(that I know). Crank: High Voltage contains so many “they just fucking did that, can they do that?” moments it’s almost like having a genie grant you unlimited movie wishes. Besides it’s predecessor, Crank: High Voltage‘s closest film relatives are Army of Darkness and the last ten minutes of Dead or Alive(which is the craziest fucking thing I’ve ever seen).

Of course, ‘Merica has turned it’s back Crank: High Voltage, because sometimes things are just too awesome for people. Over one hundred million dollars was thrown into the new Transformers movie, yet I’m certain not a single moment will equal the sheer insane glee of Jason Statham, on fire, beating Clifton Collins Jr. to death, then screaming into the sky in triumphant fury. Someday, a boy will watch that scene and become a man. Then he’ll conquer the world(or show Crank: High Voltage to his friends).

Justin sent me a script a few months ago called Balls Out, a very funny riff on workplace comedies that was insane and thus
unfilmable. I mean, we have the means to make it, but not the guts. C: HV has guts and then some, making it the Balls Out
of action movies. Chev Chelios isn’t a good guy deep down, he’s actually a deeply traumatized person who handles just about every situation with extreme violence. And he has sex! In public! All the time! He feels no remorse, and he’s actually insanely self centered. When he extends sympathy at the death of his friend Kaylo, it’s less empathetic, more “Shit happens.” Chelios probably thinks Kaylo got off easy. He didn’t fall out of helicopter and live! I mean, why does Chev keep fighting and killing people? To keep himself alive, so he can continue to hurt and kill people, which he likes to do because he’s great at it. Chev Chelios is a man without regrets, and America, you can’t handle that. Rambo goes home at the end of Rambo, Chev Chelios can’t go home because it’s full of cunts(I assume he’d say this). Chev’s relationship with Eve is based around lies and sex, and that seems to be fine for both of them. Remember when Charlie Murphy called Rick James a “habitual line stepper”? Crank: High Voltage is the Rick James of movies.

Where a surprising film will zig when you think it will zag, Crank: High Voltage refuses to even acknowledge those terms, operating entirely from a set of rules that only it knows and has no interest in sharing. Godzilla fights, childhood flashbacks, Crank: High Voltage has no time for the “way things are supposed to be”. When you expect a zig or a zag, a man cuts off his nipples. Real Talk.

Crank: High Voltage sets a startling precedent for movies. Can you out-crazy Crank: High Voltage? Can you surprise like it? When you film your movie, will it make the extras shit blood(this is true!)? If not, then you haven’t come close. Arguments will be made that a truly great film engages ideas of personal sacrifice, the impact of choices in a person’s life and the hopes and dreams of a people. Sure. But have you ever watched Jason Statham drop kick a severed head?