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Golden Blah – What Fresh Hell Is This?

You know me. Since starting the mystery/writing blog thingy I feel obligated to test the wheels on every new crime show drama thing out there. This is probably a big mistake on my part but someone has to do it. I’m a pretty critical guy and I hate talking about things I don’t like – even though I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. But here’s another one. Golden Boy on CBS Created by Nicholas Wooten who apparently has a long and distinguished career in writing crime dramas; which is why it’s so irritating that in all that time he has yet to do a good one. (By the way, Nicholas Wooten – I loved Chuck. More like that please!)

I’m going to be up front with y’all. I only managed to get through 15-20 minutes of this which is pretty bad when it’s only an hour-long show. Something about the main character just made me want to punch him in the face. From what I gathered of those 15-20 minutes the show is about a junior detective on a homicide squad in some city. I don’t know which city. Maybe they explained that at some other point after I’d stopped watching but who cares? He’s 20 something: boyish good looks, the personality of a clean diaper with ambitions of becoming a filthy dirty stinky diaper. We’re informed that he’s ‘the youngest homicide officer in history’ or something and is destined (through flash forwards) to become the youngest police commissioner seven years down the line. Gee, that’s original. Which means that even in the flash forwards where the same boyish clean diaper is allegedly older he’s STILL only been a cop for a grand total of ten years. And yet somehow he looks like a poorly aged, dippier version of the same kid. Only with a limp and played with an absurd amount of affected gravitas that we’re assuming is his acquired ‘wisdom’.

uh huh.

He’s partnered with the seriously underused Chi McBride who is STILL waiting patiently for a decent cop show to sink his teeth into. Someone give this guy a job. Please. Something with legs. That isn’t hobbled by lumbering plot. Something. Anything. FOR GOD’S SAKE USE THIS ACTOR!!!! I want to see Chi smile again! Remember Andre Braugher as Pembleton? That smile? How you just knew that whoever he was talking to was in trouble? Ahh… those were the days. Before they did the shark thing. Anyway – I digress. Chi was born to play a cop. He did a terrific job as a teacher in the briefly amazing Boston Public and you knew, even back then, that it was just a matter of time till someone pinned a TV Badge on the guy. You just hoped that when they did it would be something worth watching.

It isn’t.

So what was so wrong with the 20 minutes that I watched? Well… I’m not an expert. I’ve never been a cop but it seems to me a bad idea to leave your partner at a diner to dash off to tackle a potential thief without so much as a radio call, or a “hey! That guy might be a thief!” Nope. You see someone climbing out a window carrying a backpack and wearing a hoodie and it’s off to the races. Naturally the 20 something detective with the dreamy eyes, wavy hair and that cute dimpled chin has no trouble chasing down the 15-year-old ‘cute but tough and street-smart’ thief. When he does they discover she has information! A Body!

You don’t say.

They go find the body that the girl found. It’s a girl! Have you ever noticed that crime drama’s really only have two victims? The average age of the drama victim is between 15 and 22 if it’s female and 28  to 45 if it’s a male. And aren’t they just always attractive? Do they have different cop shows that track down the suspects in ugly people’s homicides? They must. It must be on one of those cable channels I don’t get.

Naturally the girl is wrapped in a cloth. Cut to commercial. When we get back to commercial I really started to lose it. We have no idea how much time has passed between the scene in which the body is discovered and that one but it can’t be much as Chi and the Golden Boy are filling someone in on the details of what they found. The body hasn’t been moved yet. It’s about five feet away on a storage rack. And pretty much the whole world is standing there doing stuff. There has to be a word for this scene set up in TV Cop-land. I think I’ll call it the collective circle jerk: where idiots stand around telling people stuff. You see an uniformed cop standing next to the body talking to someone – who knows who? The whoever-she-is is taking notes about something. There are several other folks wandering around looking like they’re trying to find a purpose. There is Chi, the Golden Boy and some superior cop figure in front telling each other things that we already know from watching the stuff we’ve already seen. The only thing missing from this crime scene is a juggling clown. Oh yeah and evidence techs, or investigators or anyone doing anything constructive.

Something else happens. They go back to the squad room where one detective doesn’t like Chi and the Golden Boy and they have words. This guy is a jerk. He’s a hot head. We know because he looks like a cop hot head which we’ve seen a thousand times or more. He thinks he finds out something about the girl who found the body! Oh, she’s holding something back! I won’t tell my fellow investigators about this – I’ll interview her myself!

You can guess what happens next. Because he’s a hot head. He kicks the chair out. He slaps her in the face. We’re shocked. This is SO edgy! He’s out of control! He sure is. He just lost the case, the witness and one viewer who is now blogging about how stupid it is.

Yeah. I know. You have to crunch edgy drama into an hour. Interviews are hours long affairs. I get it. You’re trying to speed things along. But this is writing folks. It’s editing. Use your damned brains. If you’ve ever pulled your hair out over a script or a story – even if you’re a total noob about it – you know that things have to get cut, prodded, folded, molded, punched, beaten, sliced and diced. I admit I’m terrible at it myself. I hate doing it because i always find MORE to the story rather than less. But you have to do it. Particularly in script writing when one line of dialog must stand in for three different plot points. Unfortunately in crime shows you have people who use the interview and interrogation as a beat in an action sequence. They have no concept of how to write something engaging without the violence. And yet they’ve HAD examples of it! I refer you back to the Pembleton smile, how he watched his interviewees. He didn’t smack the crap out of them. He just smiled. And wasn’t that better? WAY more satisfying?

Golden Boy is dumb. That much shouldn’t be surprising. As much as I dislike the ‘consultant’ breed of detective shows I often find them entertaining because it’s about more than the investigation (sometimes TOO much more but that’s a different topic). The consultant shows, insulting as they are, can often lend insight into things: the way Castle just riffs off silly ideas, the way Patrick Jane reads people, the way Whatsisname from Psych or Monk observes things. They can be fun. They can add good stuff to your writing and let you think about things in a different way. But a procedural that is garbage is worse. It gives rise to the consultant shows because who wouldn’t need a consultant if your homicide squad was as hapless as these guys? I mean I presume you will be using that witness in prosecuting a suspect when you get one right? What do you think will happen in discovery when opposing counsel gets a hold of the taped interview? Why didn’t you frigging think about that before you wrote the damned scene?

I get it. Believe me. I’m still learning as much as I can about this whenever I can. It’s not easy. It’s complicated. It’s intimidating – especially if you aren’t now nor have you ever been a detective. It involves all sort of fact based stuff. Sometimes it doesn’t seem terribly dramatic and you really have to fight the old Raymond Chandler urge to bring in the guy with the gun. But go back and look at the scene. Find the drama. There’s a reason you wrote it to begin with. A reason you chose to include it. Maybe that reason doesn’t stand anymore and you can cut it or maybe there is something there that you can punch up but please try to keep it simple and focused. Look hard at the fact based stuff. You’ll find it can be fun and rewarding. Chains of evidence? How do I use that to make things go crappy. Juries? What the hell happened in the brain of Juror number 5 that made this whole thing go pear-shaped?

One way or another these shows all follow a similar pattern: they take something that is inherently dramatic already and then add drama to it. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest sins you can make  as a writer. It’s like Titanic or Pearl Harbor which I’ve written about before. You don’t need anything else. Tell the story well, tell it right and the drama should be right there – without heaping reality show antics on top of things. I’m not even saying i’m any good at this myself. But you really have to try it to get better or hang up the pen.

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Categories: Movies, Mystery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Please Pass the Melon-baller… – A Review of Transformers 3

… I need it to remove my eyes.

I have never hated a movie more. There. I said it. Except now that I said it I’m not entirely sure it’s true. I don’t generally HATE movies. I dislike them sometimes, I think some are an enormous waste of time but it’s rare that I actually HATE a movie. It’s just not worth the effort. As of the moment of this writing I can only think of 3 movies off the top of my head that have kindled a rage in me the likes of which might astound biblical plagues, Mongolian warlords, or alien scourges. Those movies are: Titanic, Pearl Harbor and now Transformers 3. Were I a horrible soviet era tyrant copies of those three movies and everyone responsible for them would be purged and sent to Siberia. Or sent to Siberia and then Purged. or maybe I would simply have them put in a city square and have people hurl grapefruit and insults at them. That would do it. I clearly wouldn’t make a very good Soviet era dictator.

Now, Titanic and Pearl Harbor – as you may have noticed – are different. They are execrable. But their sin is primarily because they ginned up a stupid story where the actual historical story was infinitely more interesting and dramatic. They’re saying: I COULD watch Casablanca but Pamela Anderson’s Barb Wire is on. Sure. I will admit that there are folks (probably teenaged boy’s in the early 90’s) who would take Barb Wire over Casablanca but these people are insufferably stupid. I was a teenaged boy in the early 90’s. I should know. If you want the worlds most obtrusively hackneyed love story heaped on some of the most compelling factual drama you can go that route and watch either movie. Just don’t comment below and please find a different site to read.

Transformers 3 is different. Where Titanic and Pearl Harbor got filthy drunk and stumbled into awfulness, Transformers courts awfulness like a one toothed meth addict scrounging for the last resin caked spoon in the house. It’s terribleness is awesome to behold. It dwarfs Battlefield Earth and Plan 9 From Outer Space and stands proud: daring others to surpass it. It makes the viewer question themselves, their sanity, their grip on life. Dark, twisted, Lovecraftian nightmares from the deep will put this on their Netflix and quietly retire their aspirations for world domination and subjugation unless they suddenly turn the moral corner into charity and opt for domination just to preserve the artistic integrity and heritage of the planet.

This is in clear violation of my own policies I know. I just can’t help myself. So maybe a revision of the policy should be: I will not review anything I don’t like except in cases where the virulent hatred of something has so infected me that I can’t help myself.

I won’t waste my breath on particulars. You needn’t worry about spoilers. How could i spoil something that is so rancid and rank that it passed spoiled a millennia ago? I can only say that in the opening 20 minutes of this piece of garbage we are reintroduced to Sam Witwicky – the single most unlikable, unsympathetic character ever snorted from the nostril of any writer ever. Witwicky, as played by Shia Le – oh screw it. I don’t even want to spell it correctly – is an obnoxious, arrogant, illiterate, whining, sniveling, entitled, uninteresting zombified chipmunk. He chatter’s out dialog like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Like its toxic waste. And it is. Everything he utters for the first portion of the movie just makes you want to punch him in the throat and you can’t imagine why any other character in the movie who shares screen time with him doesn’t do just that. Frances McDormand, an actress i love and respect, has the character to do it and she doesn’t. Josh Duhamel (I liked him in Vegas) could and he doesn’t. Even his walking collagen laced Barbie girlfriend (a prerequisite in any Bay film) has more character and chutzpah than him and SHE doesn’t do it. Hell, I would go for the supposedly noble but idiotically vapid Optimus Prime to squash the little turd like the annoying insect he is but Prime ‘likes’ him. WHY?????????? THERE’S NOTHING TO LIKE FOR GOD”S SAKE. Steaming piles of Chernobyl Bear Poop have more personality and character than Witwicky. JAR JAR BINKS is more likable. There I said it. Phew. I feel better.

And now that I’ve said it I feel obliged to admit that I didn’t finish watching it. I know. People are going to say: how can you review something if you didn’t sit through the whole thing. Honestly. It was self-preservation. In the first half hour we have Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, John Turturro, making complete asses of themselves. Malkovich does what he can but it’s not his movie. Which is a shame really. Between his character (written as a prototypical american boss with prototypical OCD and control issues) and McDormand (written as a ball busting stereotypical government bureaucrat) we may have actually had a fun movie. Turturro has been a lost soul in all of these movies, unfortunately. Nothing you can say about it except that somehow Bay manages to squash a decent actor into another sniveling waste of a character with no function and seeking some purpose.

But we don’t stop there. Nope. When executive producers sat down at the poker table with Bay they couldn’t reckon that he was ‘All in’ on every hand. We have a cameo from Buzz Aldrin allegedly lending legitimacy (and thereby eroding America’s accomplishments in space) to this incredibly moronic plot. Then we have Alan Tudyk. Ahh… Ugh. That one hurts. I’m still stung by the last images of Alan Tudyk’s Wash, impaled on a spear after safely landing the Serenity. But here he’s a former assassin turned bodyguard straight out of an ancient SNL ‘Sprockets’ segment. And then we have the voice of Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime. It’s almost as if the producers of this epic piece of sci-fi sewage cobbled together as many respected talents in Sci Fi Acting as they could and held a gun to their head while filming. I’m still trying to tabulate the amount of respect lost for anyone involved in this mess.

Transformers clearly cost a fortune. If you superglued all of the dollars pissed away on these films you could walk to Mars on a ribbon of green. You could sew them together and make money suits for everyone in the world ten times over. You could use the paper to allow 3 year olds to write better screenplays than this. What you get for this fortune, unfortunately, is a clinic on what is wrong with the world. In that it’s practically poetic and would be admirable if it weren’t so unironic. It intends, and succeeds, in making a crap load of money all the while eroding our sense of the spectacular or even entertainment. If this is what we pay to watch just where is the nearest cliff to jump off of?

It is now on instant streaming from Netflix, presumably so that Netflix can help create the taste by which it is to be enjoyed. To all the boys aged 13 – 18 who are taken up and were relieved of the shrapnel in their pockets to watch this garbage: go play a video game. It’s actually better for you in terms of moral and intellectual development than watching this. better yet read a book. ANY book.

 

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Rise of the WHaaa???? A review

So let’s just out with it as quick and painlessly as possible so all of you die hard, ‘Nolan can do no wrong’ folks can skulk off to mutter amongst yourselves. I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it. I more failed to like it than approached liking it. So there it is. In a nutshell. If you disagree vehemently and think that i’m insane or some pot smoking, know nothing turd, fine. I can live with that. Lord knows i’ve lived with worse.

I guess i want to know what happened? But then i shouldn’t scratch my head too hard. I really like Nolan’s work. I mean really. In terms of directors out there he’s got to be my 7th or eighth favorite of the ones that i can actually name. Okay. I’m lying. He’s more like 16th or something. I like his films but i always feel like he could take them a little further than they end up going. I know, i know. He directed Inception and it was AWESOME!!!! Notice the use of capital letters and multiple exclamation marks. That would be me, being facetious. I didn’t love Inception either and felt that that could go a little further than it ended up going. But that’s exactly what i mean. Inception is mind blowingly amazing. So here’s one of those moments where i think i can say both. It’s amazing. And it’s disappointing because i feel like – as amazing as it was – it could have been even more amazing and i felt like Nolan had some gas left over in that tank but never bothered to push it.

The same thing with the third batman, though in this case i have to say it felt more like he started out in a fully tanked up hybrid on a marathon journey coast to coast and then decided to stop at the local bookstore and pick up a travel book instead. I suppose i’m not making much sense.

I’m deliberately leaving out the actual names of the movies, cuz – frankly – who cares except the die hard fans. Anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the first of the Batman reboots. It had the audacity to completely alter the character into something we had actually seen before but just not quite in that way. In Batman Begins we see Batman/Bruce Wayne as Ridley Scott’s Alien – something that inspires chilling fear in the heart of any schmuck who thinks doing ill is a quick way forward. It was a fresh approach for the cinematic character of Batman – if not the character himself, who has been through that iteration in the pages of comic books before.

But in Batman 2 Shit Got Real (to boil down the entire plot of Bad Boys 2 into a one liner) It was, in my humble opinion, practically perfection. Of all of Nolan’s films i admire this one the most. The interplay between Batman and the Joker and the exploration of their psyches moves that thing forward in beautiful ways that rightly were hailed and feted throughout the land. It was, at it’s heart, a movie about psychologies – very driven personalities that were completely at odds with each other. I could go into rhapsodies about the Joker’s Iagoesque destruction, and the Batman’s lurching realization that they are perfectly suited to each other. It becomes a twisted romance in it’s own way. The Batman may protest this in the final reels of the film but there are a few glimpses that he knows this all too well. Petty criminals just won’t do for the Bat. What’s the point of saving the city if your adversary is little more than a twit with a gun? No. He need’s the Joker and the Joker needs him. And it’s beautiful.

And then there’s Batman the third.

I know. Critics have been going nuts about how brilliantly timely it all is. But since when has being ‘timely’ been the thing we’re looking for from cinema? I thought the benchmark was timelessness? In that regard i’m afraid the new batman will be mouldering away in the curiosity archives ten years from now. Yes it has it’s timely nods to the occupy movement (writ large and idiotically), but it also jerks along it’s timeline in a series of whiplash inducing jump cuts to the point where you may lose track of where you are in the three hour cinematic montage. And really that’s what it is. It shifts so quickly that you don’t have time to engage in the philosophic nuance that Nolan seems to want to lead you to. ‘

Batman trots out a few new Day Saving gadgets much like James Bond films of days gone by – their use guaranteed by staging and their foibles highlighted in neon so that even the stupidest film goer can’t fail to realize when the new gadget will be used and what, exactly, ought to be expected from it. He trots out some new Allies:  Selina Kyle (who, in playing Catwoman to the over the top hilt, becomes the most interesting character in the film even if it is some of the most cringe inducing over acting since… well… Halle Berry’s regrettable turn) Officer Blake – played by Joseph Gordon Levitt – who seems destined for Robin-hood or maybe Nightwing-man. And these new additions divide our attention from the mostly ailing Bat. They give us something new to look at and think about while we’re wondering what happened to our dark avenger that makes him seem like a slightly younger version of one of the Grumpy Old Men. Blake and Kyle are the real centerpieces of the movie. Or at least they should be. They have the most to say about the position the Bat holds in the world as the symbol he has self consciously created.  And realizing that i wish – i really do – that Nolan had focused more on them during the screenwriting process as i feel like that would have made the denouement of the Batman trilogy much more interesting. What would the Batman have looked like – what would the perspective have been – if we watched the whole thing more from their point of view – one a career criminal and the other a dedicated cop? Personally i think it would have looked more like the moving, engaging film it clearly wanted to be but wasn’t.

As it was it was a sometimes exceptionally pretty snoozer – full of an excess of sound and fury and signifying only an exhaustion of imagination. Nolan is a terrific director. Don’t get me wrong. I wonder how much of his vision got turned over in the producer’s office because i often feel that his creativity with his subject matter points to something greater. I really hope that the next time he has a finished script he give’s it one more time on the draft table before jumping in. I think, i know he’s got it because we’ve seen it in The Dark Knight, but it isn’t in evidence here.

Categories: Movies | Tags: , | 2 Comments

I Think This Scene Is Killing Me

I haven’t had a blog post in over a week. This is an admission of writers block. Shocking. Get over it. It’s not that i haven’t been busy writing. I have. The trouble is my ‘busyness’ has primarily consisted of staring at a two page bolt of screenwriting text and asking it far too many questions. As you might imagine this isn’t exactly productive as the text never answers me. It simply stares back at me, though i am convinced the light beaming at me from the computer are mucking about in my brain and twisting it into strange, ugly, shapes like play-doh.

Before i get into all of that let me do what all writers are guilty of: Use a flashback as a cliched literary device. So a few years back my friend and i collaborated on a screenplay. The initial idea was entirely his but due to several circumstances that were tragic and entirely out of my control, i wrote it. So the fault is entirely mine. It was my first attempt at writing a screenplay. I did a little research on how it was supposed to be done (a very little research) and then i just wrote the hell out of it. Literally.

A screenplay is an entirely formulaic affair. There are formal rules on what it’s supposed to look like, the font used, the margins, etc. It turns out that there are very good reasons why these rules exist but at the time i knew nothing of that so i wrote it how i thought it should look and i will say that the result was a predictable disaster of epic proportions. But that problem was fairly easily resolved with the help of some software that can handle that sort of stuff pretty easily. The other formulaic problems, not so much.

For starters the thing rambles on. And on. And on. It’s funny, heartfelt, and very good in parts but to be quite honest – as far as screenplays go – it’s a bloated epic. And that is my blitzkrieg flashback. Not much of one i know. So now we are in the process of revising it. It turns out my friend and writing partner on this project is very good with knowing what to edit. He’s actually put a lot of work into it (so it’s no longer entirely my fault, thank god.) But the fact of the matter is that we have engaged in a wholesale slaughter of our darlings to the point that the screenplay that was is now on life support with a knife in it’s lungs. The screenplay that is is much leaner, much better, and it’s quite capable of fighting back.

This is why i haven’t posted anything in the past week. I have had my fingers around the neck of a set of scenes in the thing but it is resisting surgery, or arrest, or detention, or whatever. In fact it is tenaciously clinging to life and snarling, and biting and trying to gouge out my eyes as i work on it. I have foolishly engaged in days worth of internet research trying to get reality to work with the plot. (don’t ever do this. Proceed in the bliss of complete ignorance until… oh what do i know? It’s too late for me to give advice on that.) This research has led me into interesting avenues about things i should have remained ignorant on for my entire life: North Atlantic Fishing Zones, Commercial Fishing Seasons, Distances from Halifax Nova Scotia to Greenland, the range of the Eastern Canadian Wolf, etc. It’s actually interesting stuff – probably because i have to be interested in it. But the fact remains that the scene has not moved. It is resolute. It wants to kill me.

I understand that it’s all a matter of self defense and preservation. That doesn’t make it any easier. Apparently, somewhere along the way i made the mistake of bringing an eraser to a knife fight. Luckily the screenplay has so far only succeeded in hacking at my hair and turning it gray. I keep trying to reason with it but it may be that i have to take the nuclear option and just blow up a scene or two to get them out of the way so that i can proceed.

The stupid thing is, and if you’ve ever worked on a screenplay before you will fully understand this garbage, the scene that i am currently stuck on is probably less than a page in length. It’s hardly a scene and it isn’t exactly pivotal, but when your dealing with the tiny literary real estate of 100 pages every single page is a critical organ or a vein that, once nicked, will bleed out the whole patient.

So maybe i am making too much of this. A better writer will probably put it on a shelf for a while and work on other stuff but this writer is stubborn and unruly and insists that the operation must commence so i can move it off of my operating table and onto something else. If only i had some ether i could put it out and start the incision. But no.

So that’s my excuse. I have another one but you’ll have to read about it in the next post.

Categories: Movies, Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Piranha 3D Movie Review

Every once in a while a movie comes along with such a brilliant vision, such impeccable timing in terms of world events, such a stellar cast that it seems fated to be an instant classic. You see the trailer, the excitement begins, building slowly until you can’t wait to see this great blockbuster and tell your friends that you were the first to see it. A movie about prehistoric fish devouring a stand in for Lake Havasu all done in glorious toothy 3d should have been that movie – but it isn’t.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this movie. There are the basics of course, Prehistoric toothy fish, body parts, gallons of blood, fake boobs, bad jokes. I suppose it delivered on all of those in spades but for some reason I left feeling a little cheated. The DNA of this movie is obvious and if you think you have seen this before it’s because you have – but not in a while and it relies on your fond memories of how much fun a bucket of blood like this once was. Perhaps a little too much.

To say there is nothing new about this movie is like saying every baseball game is basically the same. It’s true and misleading at the same time. Usually in films like this what works is its ability to paint perfectly within the lines of its genre, adhering faithfully to the rules of a creature feature/bucket of blood type film. In one sense we need the familiarity with the genre – it is what makes it a ball game after all. You wouldn’t play baseball with golf balls for instance. In another it’s just too old a convention and throughout the sixties and seventies and eighties there was such a deluge of these films that you really do need them to revise it in some way, update it, make it relevant again, or at least hilarious.

Piranha achieves none of this. It colors so strictly between the lines that it feels at times like a paint by numbers movie. The humor strains itself too much for a laugh, the action is tired and predictable, the special effects even seem aged not by intent but by stale vision. The acting – well – any fool that would go see this for academy award winning performances by Elizabeth Shue and a cast of cameos should really have their head examined and probably have someone to monitor their bank accounts for stupidity.

I really wanted this to be a fun movie and I guess, in some ways it is, but there really isn’t enough of it to go around. It’s diluted by so much of the same that it’s the cinematic equivalent of looking for a specific drop in an ocean. Unfortunately it isn’t so much an attempt to reboot a much maligned but much adored genre as it is an attempt to add another piece of junk to the pile.

So I’d have to say, much to my chagrin – because I really am very fond of the long lost creature feature – that I probably won’t remember this one next week. Bummer.

Categories: Movies | 1 Comment

The A Team and Ninja Assasin

The A Team

Right. I promised everyone who gives a poop on Facebook two movie reviews and an update on the fiction and by gum i aim to hold to that promise even if the quality suffers because of sleepy eyes. Here goes. It’s a little rushed. I’m not pausing to edit.

The A Team is pretty much exactly what you would expect. If you are stupid enough to expect any more than you’re probably a professional grouch and i already don’t like you. It’s an over the top action fest with caricature acting, meagre plot, thin storyline and who cares? It’s the A TEAM!!!!

Okay. So it isn’t the original A Team. That said the substitutes for the original cast are spot on perfect. Bradley Cooper is probably the only human smarmy looking enough to play Face (my favorite character from the original) and he does it well, exuding the smug pretty boy perfectly. Charlto Copley as Murdock is an absolutely inspired choice. We last saw him in the (still) underrated District 9. He effortlessly makes the transition to bigger budget american action reboot, flowing into the formidable shoes of Dwight Schultz as if they were left for him.

Insofar as nothing in this film actually works in anything approaching reality its a terrific film. Definately worth the ticket. What it aspires to do, creating intriguing and intricate plans that unfold on the screen, it fails at but it’s just so much cinematic fun i didn’t really care. It doesn’t aim at being deep. It aims at being entertaining and it pays off. Even Liam Neeson chomps the cigar of Hannibal Smith like a pro. I don’t know what he’s been doing with his career lately – it often seems like he’s completely gone off the rails of the usual solid, stoicism we’ve come to expect from him – but it’s working. For me at least.

Honestly, he has no business being go0d in the films he’s being good at. Whether it is robbing the scenery of a bloated and otherwise horrifyingly awful greek epic or ruthlessly stalking down kidnappers in another underrated gem, it seems to be working. It’s as if he’s just daring Hollywood to come up with a ridiculous character he can’t play well.

All told, there’s nothing i can say about the plot or the mise en scene or anything that would be worth my time to write. If you are thinking of buying a ticket to analyze these things in the A Team i can recommend a dozen or more things to do with your money that would be more worth your time. This is not a movie for analyzing, if i haven’t said it already, it’s a movie for smiling at and enjoying. You may not remember anything about it tomorrow except a vague sense of profound satisfaction.

four (qualified) stars out of five

Ninja Assasin –

Okay. This movie is FREAKING AWESOME!!!! And i hesitate to use multiple exclamation marks in anything but as long as i am indulging my inner 13 year old i might as well go whole bloody hog with it.

When i say awesome i mean AWESOME! This is the ninja movie every nerd has been waiting for, Black pajama clad nightmares oozing from shadows, absurd geysers of blood spraying abstract paintings of mayhem and vengeance upon a visually stunning landscape. It’s fairly clear that the only direction this franchise can possibly go is down so let’s just enjoy it while we can.

As with the A Team there is nothing redeeming about the  plot but what do you need? They’re NINJAS! Did i mention this movie has ninjas? I cannot stress that enough. Have you ever wanted to see the mystical martial arts nightmare separate the limbs from twelve men without them actually laying eyes on their executioner? Yes. Of course you did. You too attempted to creep from the shadows. You too hid in the tiny sliver of darkness, waiting for your older brother to walk by before jumping out and severing his head from his… i mean scaring him alot.

Perhaps this isn’t quite as gorgeously epic as Kill Bill but then, what is? I will say that i would be shocked if Quentin Tarentino didn’t watch this movie at least once and probably with a big goofy grin on his face. I would put good money on him saying ‘awesome’ at least once during his private screening. Perhaps this isn’t The House of Flying Daggers or Hero but it they share an ancestry and its a proud and often maligned one. One where sense goes out the window in favor of exceptional stylism.

Four out of five. Definately not for the kids. Geysers of blood. There hasn’t been this much blood since the Death Pit scene in Army of Darkness. (or maybe the house of blue leaves from Kill Bill)

Categories: Movies | 2 Comments

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