Right after the opening salvo of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which we find Captain America and Agent Romanoff displaying their super-awesome fighting skills against a group of mercenaries in a SHIELD vessel, I wasn’t sure if I was in a movie house or if I just watched a perfectly executed tactical/brawler/action-RPG.
Was it the works of an invincibility cheat or was the player just really good? One thing is clear though, Captain America is someone Samuel L. Jackson would call a real bad-ass motherfucker! He was called super-soldier; only now do I understand. He’s better than Scott Adkins’ Ninja, James Bond, Col. Guile, Rambo, Ethan Hunt or all of them combined. He’s super-tough, and also, super-fast—cameramen could hardly follow his punches.
Captain America used to be a bore. Unless he’s got the wise-crackin’ Tony Stark or the brash god of thunder Thor on his side. But pair him with the Winter Soldier, and you’ll get a sophisticated “political thriller” featuring a shield-throwing Jack Ryan on steroids and a bad-hair day Jason Bourne with a cybernetic arm, in a movie that’s less Three Days of Condor and more like The Bored Ultimatum.
There are no Infinity McGuffins in Deadpool 2, no superheroes fighting for the fate of the universe. What it does have is an unkillable motor-mouthed anti-hero, who clearly doesn’t want to get upstaged by other characters inside and outside his own movie. And that makes Deadpool 2, arguably, better than Infinity War. Or does it? Let’s see.
Avengers: Infinity War was years in the making: multiple movies built around the Infinity Stones, Avengers team up and break up, and some Thanos mid-credits teasers. After months of watching trailers, trailer breakdowns and speculations about plot, character deaths and what-not, Avengers: Infinity War is finally over. *sigh* And it left you with more questions than answers, left you overjoyed and exhausted at the same time but most importantly, more hyped than ever.
Avengers: Infinity War, then, is like premature ejaculation. After months of anticipation, it came too quickly just when it’s starting to feel good. And you can’t do anything about it other than wait. Until the the next movie comes.
Praise Nolan for making Dunkirk a one of a kind experience – an unconventional war movie with three separate narratives in addition to its main narrative (the exodus of 300,000 soldiers cornered by enemies in Dunkirk), a supposedly anti-Hollywood war drama that isn’t really anti-Hollywood considering its not so modest budget.
Nolan plays with mirrors, contrasts; that old officer wanting to send his armies home and the other older guy wanting to take them in his boat; Cillian Murphy’s traumatized soldier who doesn’t wanna go back to hell and the eager young boy George who hasn’t been to war and hasn’t seen it all; Tom Hardy’s heroic pilot vs. the cowardly soldier who just wanted to poop. And also, Tom Hardy’s pilot who successfully completed his mission but got caught by the enemy and his buddy who couldn’t finish the mission and got rescued by the friendlies.
Technically, this is better than his Batman movies. It’s a great piece of filmmaking that, I hope was also equally thrilling. An epic filmmaking for a not so epic way of telling a story based on actual events. Nolan wanted to keep it small, personal, but also big and epic at the same time. How did he do that? He spliced the narrative, tinkered with the timeline.
It’s a film that thrills the eyes, the ears, sometimes the brain, sometimes the heart. But not something that thrills the eyes, the ears, and the brain at the same time, and better leave your heart at the door because there’s little use for it. The three way climax makes for very little emotional build up; Nolan wants you to calculate it, time it, instead of feel it. And since I’m not good at math, my biggest emotional response was “Shucks! That guy from One Direction didn’t make it!”
Avengers: Infinity War is far from perfect. But then it could have been worse, like The Matrix: Revolutions or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Good thing it’s more like Back to the Future II. Someone said it should have been a three-part movie. Well, dude’s got a point. Because the storytelling felt rushed. Me, I only wished it was longer. Story-wise, Infinity War is coherent, consistent, but also packed to the gills. It’s too compact. Like, it could have used a few more quieter moment to allow the movie (and us) to breathe and give everything on screen and off screen some time to sink in. It could also use a bit more build up, a few more “hanging moments” to let the punches hit the guts and make the surprising turns really “wow!” But, we can’t have it all, I guess. So let’s just break down the things I like the most about the movie and the things I thought were kinda “meh”. And I’m not gonna complain about all of the deaths being temporary. That’s like complaining that Neo came back to life at the end of The Matrix.
1) No resurrection this time. How to make a dark Avengers movie? Kill Korg (Taika Waititi) before the movie starts. Y’know, that guy who made that goofy Thor and Hulk movie. Now seriously, that opening sequence is definitely one of the most effective, if not the best, in all Marvel movies. Setting the stakes and the tone early on. Thanos and his death metal band, the Black Order, mean business.
2) Goofy in Knowhere. Thanos knows well his favorite daughter hangs out with disco-loving, galaxy-saving group of oddballs and misfits. Why Thanos didn’t use the Power stone in fighting the Guardians? He probably didn’t want to kill his daughter’s friends. So he tried to be creative and used the Reality stone instead. To make bubbles.
Avengers: Infinity War opens with a distress call—actually a massacre, off-screen. And it’s only fitting that after Marvel’s most outrageously hilarious movie comes tragedy. I’m referring to Thor: Ragnarok, of course, which ended with Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Hulk and the rest of the Asgardians aboard The Mastermind’s fancy ship. They all survived Ragnarok—saw Asgard burn to the ground—only to have their refuge cut short by Thanos and his henchmen, the Black Order.
Yes, Avengers: Infinity War takes off right after that Ragnarok stinger. By the way, I remember someone complained that Ragnarok shouldn’t be a comedy, that everyone should have died in the end just like in the comics. My dear friend, you had Thanos’ mercy, your wish has been fulfilled. Are you happy now?
Of course, Infinity War is also, more or less, a direct sequel to Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2—none of which required viewing prior (in case you missed them) except for the last one. Civil War‘s great divide was summed up by Tony Starks with “we’re not in speaking terms”; Spider-Man, who tried so hard to impress Tony only to reject his offer to become an Avenger in the end, now becomes an Avenger; and Killmonger, the most important character in Black Panther, you don’t really need to know to understand this movie.
Just watched the final trailer for Infinity War and I’m stoked to infinity.
Like this: stoked ^ ∞
Oh, I mean Deadpool 2. Sorry. Also, wrong poster. My bad. Anyway, looking back I could say now how I actually felt about the official trailer. It was disappointing. This final trailer feels more like it. It’s perfect in every way that a trailer for a Deadpool sequel should be.
I mean, references to both the best and the worst Wolverine movies? Check. Reference to Thanos and Infinity War? Check. Reference to DCEU? Very fat fuckin’ check. Plus, plus, the plot seems to be a cross between the first two Terminator movies with a bit of Looper thrown in. Well, they might as well make fun of them if this would be the case. Cable as the villain? Is that a Terminator or an Avengers reference? The kid as the ultimate bad guy in the future? Yeah, that’s kind of Looper right there, right? But what if Cable isn’t really Cable, and the X-Force are actually fighting his clone?
Just randomly picked movies that either blew me away one way or another, or movies that somehow stayed with me. Without thinking really hard. Movies I wouldn’t hesitate to give another go around if I can afford the time. Movies I’ll recommend to friends.
Here we go, in no specific order.
Re-Animator (1985). This isn’t really comedy-horror of the Evil Dead-type. The comedy is darker, the horror is much more sinister (i.e., that “undead head between the legs” scene Kevin Spacey’s character talked about in American Beauty). This led me to other Stuart Gordon movies such as Dagon and The Pit and the Pendulum.
Army of Darkness (1992). The threequel that’s usually ranked lower than its predecessors is actually my favorite in the Evil Dead series. Think of it as pre-CGI ancestor of The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of Black Pearl and its money-grubbing sequels, with Medieval Ash as a sober Jack Sparrow. Only, unlike Sparrow, Ash didn’t overstay his welcome.
Couldn’t we just like them both? Be excited for both? Eggsactly. But where’s the fun in that? Also, these are two very different superhero movies. Two movies that operate on very different levels. So let’s contrast and compare.
One is about a Titan’s intergalactic quest for a set of colorful McGuffins, and the resulting powerful one-against-all scenario that would lead to gigantic fights that’s most probably 80% punching. While the other’s just the first sequel in a franchise (as opposed to the former being the 19th movie in the series) that seemingly care less about anything else outside of its titular hero. And Cable. And X-Force. Who’s the villain? We don’t know. That, we will find out come opening day.
Maybe “the real heroes” aka the screenwriters have a few more tricks up their sleeves and subvert our expectations about the movie’s plot. But I don’t want to expect. That’s the golden rule: Don’t expect. And based on the trailer, it is probably more of a spandex-and-sword action movie, with a lot of talking and talking to the camera, and fewer punching scenes.
Re-watched Blade Runner after seeing the sequel, only to be reminded of my mixed feelings towards it. It’s in the “it’s OK, but I don’t quite like it” category. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner plays like a noir set in a futuristic wet market. It’s always raining, there are lots of people, hot noodles, and plastics. Where’s the dust? The production design reminds one of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, but with modern Ziggurats and burning flares. Vangelis’ synth soundtrack already sounded dated when I first saw the movie. And so was Rachel’s hair. Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard looked like he’s either pissed, drunk, would rather be somewhere else, or all of the above. That he’s an android-like bounty hunter who’d later develop empathy for andys, I’m not quite really sure.
Blade Runner 2049, I liked better for a few things. There’s an air of mystery to it and we got K (Ryan Gosling), a real android and bounty hunter, instead of Ford’s android-like human, (or isn’t he an android?) who’s tasked to go after his own kind and to solve said mystery. There’s rain, but there’s also dust as it was in the novel. There’s K’s holographic companion Joi (Anna de Armas) who wanted to become real for K. So one time she invited a female andy and we got a threesome between two andys and a hologram.
Blade Runner inspired the look of Ghost In The Shell, which seems to be the inspiration for 2049 instead of the former. Greenscreen and CGI gives 2049 the advantage of space and scope, whereas Scott had to make do with models and practical effects. Dennis Villeneuve used lots of wide screen shots, lots of empty desserts or crowded but depopulated cities. In Scott’s vision of the future, the streets are always crowded and the takes are mostly medium shots.
Blade Runner 2049 is quite long, but the original actually felt longer. And as someone pointed out, there’s a little more Dick in 2049 than in the original. I also like K’s journey a lot more than Deckard’s. K starts just like Deckard, “retiring” one of his own because it was his job, goes about trying to solve the “miracle”, at one point thought of himself as “special”, and becomes more selfless as the story progresses. And yes, this movie made me feel and care for a flash drive, that’s something.
The plot of 2049 reminds me of another film based on a science fiction novel, Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, arguably better than both Blade Runner films. Cuaron said that his film was supposed to be the anti-Blade Runner, in that there are no flying cars, no androids, just humans unable to reproduce and the world crumbling under authoritarian rule and chaos. When a miracle happens, a young woman gets pregnant, every side of the political divide wants to get their hands on the mother and her baby. There’s the guy played by Clive Owen who plays the role of K in the film, the tragic hero who ended up bleeding lying and nearly unconscious by the film’s end.
Haven’t seen these films yet? Sorry, I just kind of spoiled the ending for you.
A private detective teams up with an enforcer for hire. A missing person’s case, an erect nipple here, a dead pornstar there, kiss kiss, bang bang, the bodies pile up while the two try to solve the crime. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’ve seen this before. Something similar, whether it’s in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon or even the Marvel mega-hit Iron Man 3, where Tony Stark and his buddy Rhodes go on a mission. Shane Black has done this before. It’s mostly the same ingredients, in slightly different permutation, in a movie set in the ’70s. But he’s doing it better, this time. The results are actually good, a hilarious, R-rated action-comedy. And movie looks like it was made in the ’70s rather a fetishized version of that era—that’s a plus.
Despite losing to ‘Captain America vs. Iron Man’ at the box office, The Nice Guys is unarguably the better movie. I’d say it’s even better than Black’s last two movies, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3—both of which features Robert Downey Jr. trying to solve some sort of mystery. The plot is trickier (there’s a missing smut film) and thicker (has something to do with car industry in ’70s), the villain (Kim Bassinger), more memorable, and our main guy, Ryan Gosling’s down-on-his-luck private eye, is just f*cking funny (you might not have expected him to be this good at comedy). He plays off well with both Russel Crowe and Angourie Rice, who plays his daughter Holly. Their little backstory makes Gosling’s Holland March a loser you want to root for and laugh at, at the same time. Russel Crowe, on the other hand, plays Jackson Healy, a man of few words and action. Healy, who specializes in and gets paid for hurting people, is like an older, grayer, stockier version of the cop Crowe played in L.A. Confidential. He’s the perfect foil for March’s clumsy detective, who thinks he’s the smartest guy in LA.
Whereas in Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3, we get super-powered individuals (either thru super soldier serum or some high tech gadgetry or some cosmic powers) punching each other or saving the world, The Nice Guys features ordinary people fighting real-world monsters, trying to solve real-world problems. No, I’m not attaching the word “important” to this movie (let’s leave that word to the fanboys who raves about “relevant” comic book movies). It’s just a good and undervalued R-rated movie. I mean, how many times have you seen a movie where the good guys use the magic combination of pornography, art films, and activism to fight corrupt politicians and greedy car companies?
Wasn’t really planning to watch Black Panther. Afraid that this steady diet of tentpole superhero movies has nothing but replaced my enthusiasm for “something different” with disappointments and lowered expectations. But the hype and raves came overflowing that my Spider-sense started tingling.
Black Panther‘s box office success, just like Wonder Woman‘s last year, within the context of the superhero/comic book blockbusters, is sort of groundbreaking. It’s actually amazing—I won’t deny that. Nor am I going to elaborate on the said achievement here, because with so many rave reviews (initially 100% on RT, then came the few negative reviews, which eventually were met with backlash—it’s the internet, y’know) I’m pretty sure it has already been covered. A lot. So loud were the raves that some black dude has been wondering if majority of white geek dudes are being too lenient in their review for a movie that features an African king from a secret kingdom with advanced technology that’s both organic and alien. As if most reviews zoomed-in on the great things about the movie and zoomed-out when it comes to its flaws. That the critics seemed to have graded Black Panther on a curve—the Marvel grading curve.
In a little over two hours, Black Panther is able to tell a familiar story about family, politics, race, nationhood, and fighting for the oppressed, in a superhero frame that’s all wrapped in vibrant African color. The best thing about it is its narrative: the well fleshed-out characters and clear-cut central conflict. It’s like the first Thor movie actually. Wakanda minus its best-kept secret, is like Asgard. The rivalry between T’Challa and Erik Stevens, like that of Thor and Loki, only twice as compelling. Erik Stevens aka Killmonger also reminds me of Hela’s exiled heir to the throne, only with more humane than pure evil motivations and thus, he’s easily among Marvel’s memorable villains to date. And compared with other superhero/comic book movies that imbued its story with the topical, political and air of relevance—The Dark Knight, The Winter Soldier, X-Men—Black Panther has arguably the most cogent overall narrative. Continue reading “Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)”
Remember Pinoy Blonde? That plot-less Tarantino send up that doesn’t seem like it? Not sure if this was obvious enough, but I’d assume most didn’t realize that Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes weren’t really channeling Quentin Tarantino, unless they’ve read Peque Gallaga’s Playboy interview, in which he also expressed his dislike for Lav Diaz’s films, prior or after watching the film. (By the way that issue has a stunning cinema-themed cover and a popcorn-covered girl on its centerfold.) Some people thought it was cool. Some people said the filmmakers thought they were cool. Some said Pinoy Blonde was to Pulp Fiction as Tataynic (a Dolphy movie) was to Titanic. That we don’t have the so-called “originality”. That we ripped off Hollywood. Again. What does “originality” really mean, anyway? Um, okay, let’s not get into that. Those who liked the film probably said that those who didn’t, just didn’t get it. But the question is, did they? Did they know it was supposed to satirize Quentin Tarantino movies? Sure, it was trippy. With the movie’s point—that Tarantino, in making his movies, just masturbates to his favorite films and that Gallaga, in this movie, is showing him how it (masturbation) is properly done, or, how not to do it—is lost in the movie’s non-sense and pop culture rabbit hole. I don’t know. If I recall correctly, there’s a scene where Ricky Davao’s character suggests that the finest Filipino filmmaker is neither Lino Brocka nor Ishmael Bernal—as the film’s two main characters endlessly argue about—but Joey Gosiengfiao, the guy behind the camp classic Temptation Island. There’s also a short animation a laKill Bill. But that’s it, it was a forgettable movie with a few memorable scenes. Cool soundtrack tho’.
Jolens tagged me in a post, some kind of chain letter. She said “list 10 books that stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be ‘right’ or ‘great’ works.” I did the list, but I cheated—couldn’t make a list of 10 in just few minutes. She suggested that I do movies instead. I said okay, but I made three sets instead of one—in less than five minutes. First, I limited myself to pick only Filipino films. Then, foreign films, which I kind of did already before. For the third, I made a list of movies which I thought have a strong (or at least memorable) female character, or features mostly female characters. Not that the first two lists lack in that department, some of those movies (e.g., Nausicaa, Terminator, Segurista) also belong to the third list.
Kakaba-kaba Ka Ba?
On the Job
Dito sa Pitong Gatang
The Terminator/Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Army of Darkness
The Eternal Evil of Asia
Guardians of the Galaxy
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Back to the Future
The Hot Chick
End of the Affair
Coming up with a list of my favorite books, within a few minutes and without thinking too hard, isn’t really as easy as, say, whipping up my top ten punk/rock records while making peanut butter sandwich or coughing out my top ten superhero movies while reading a white paper on vibration analysis. Which is to say, I haven’t read that much to warrant a top ten list. If you read the list below, keep in mind that there are only a few titles that I left out.
Even though I like the idea of reading books, I’m not really much of a reader. It’s like, you know, like being in love with the idea of being in love with someone, without really loving that someone. Books, like girls, you can smell them up close, only a book would smell paper, instead of cologne or shampoo. You can read, write annotations, fold the pages, decrypt the text to see if you can find some hidden meanings or you could read between the lions (Clever band name!) You could even sleep with them if you want to—the books, not the lions. Just make sure you don’t spoil the pages.
I’ve always find reading books to be more consuming, that it requires a little more (time, money, effort, imagination, thought) than watching movies, listening to the radio, or reading magazines, song hits, komiks or just about anything found on the internet. Also, there weren’t really many books around the house back then, aside from the ones we get from school.
Lucky I was able to read komiks back when there were real komiks (e.g., Funny Komiks, Romance, Aliwan, Wakasan, Horror, heck, even ST Komiks). Heck, I was even able to read a comic version of the bible—yes, most of the books from the Old Testament in comic book form. No, not the monthly publications from the Sisters of Canossa with kid-friendly comic strips that features Jesus, but a real bible. It’s a bible from the kind sisters from Jehovah’s Witness. Believe me brother, there’s nothing more awesome (and religious at the same time), than reading about Moses, the ten biblical plagues of Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea, or how Samson would dispose off his enemies with ease—doesn’t matter if it’s a lion, a beast, or an army—in a way not so different from those in the modern day superhero movies. All those colorful stories had me thinking up to this day: Did Delilah really love Samson? Were there really three tablets instead of two and fifteen commandments instead of ten? Yet, despite all the wars, the killings, the burning of cities, despite all the violence and possibly, hatred, there’s Ruth and her mother-in-law, in a story full of kindness and compassion.
We also had a few issues of Liwayway magazine back then. I remember a serialized short novel called “Paru-parong Burgis” (about a playboy and his activist girlfriend, if I remember correctly) and a comic serial called “Dugo sa Disyerto”, an action-thriller about three Filipino women caught in the Gulf War. I also used to collect clippings from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the sports stories and sometimes, the editorial cartoons. Inquirer used to feature really good NBA Finals stories back when we live far from the city and we didn’t have Cable TV.
My first foreign comic book was this French-Belgian comic Asterix, which my first-grade teacher brought into our classroom when the year was about to end. During free time, me and my friends would browse the books from cover to cover. We loved the artworks, every panel, every page, and we finished the books without really reading them. We loved how the Romans always outnumbered the Gauls, but the Gauls would always send them home flying, bruised, bleeding, with lots of broken bones.
Sooner or later, I was finally able to buy or borrow books. A friend who printed out in the office a copy of Harry Potter from an e-file, twenty to thirty pages each day until he finished reading the book, introduced me to The Silmarilion, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Bob Ong. I’ve read a few Bob Ong’s. But dude, is he prolific. Between reading Stainless Longanisa and Ang Paboritong Aklat ni Hudas, which I didn’t even finish, Bob Ong was able to release more books than I could remember. What’s the use of catching up, I thought, it isn’t like it’s the Hunger Games series. And I don’t even read Hunger Games, or watch the Hunger Games movies even though I like Jennifer Lawrence. But I like Shailene Woodley more than Jennifer Lawrence, so I watched the Divergent one time it was on Star Movies.
Long before I was able to get my hands on one of his books or stories, I knew and read about Nick Joaquin, partly from school, but mainly from a movie where Rica Peralejo’s portrayal of a woman possessed by the fertility goddess was so unintentionally funny, therefore memorable, even if mostly un-erotic. She made it looked like she was possessed by a hybrid of an evil spirit (like something from the Evil Dead movies) and a succubus. The movie was directed by no less than Tikoy Aguiluz, based on a play adapted from Nick Joaquin’s “Summer Solstice”. If I remember correctly, the film was part of that year’s film festival. But my favorite Nick Joaquin short story (among those that I’ve read and I’ve only read a few) is easily “May Day Eve”, where Joaquin mixes romance, superstitions, time travel, and historical fiction in a sad magical story about a failed marriage, a failed revolution and a magic mirror.
Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore A Question of Heroes, Nick Joaquin Heroes & Villains, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho Asterix the Gaul / Asterix and the Banquet, René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo Dylan Dog: Dawn of the Living Dead, Tiziano Sclavi 12, Manix Abrera Elmer, Gerry Alanguilan* Stainless Longanisa, Bob Ong
*You can read Gerry Alanguilan’s first ever comic book Wastedhere. Just a bit of trivia, Barbie Almalbis’ “The Dance” was inspired by and written after reading Wasted.
There are brief moments within its 90-minute running time, where Free Fire succumbs to tedium, which slowly takes you out of the movie while you wait for something to happen. Then it goes back to business, then slows down again. For the most part, the movie alternates between bang and silence, hit and miss, limp and roll, dash and crawl, funny dialogue and stupor. I myself almost passed out one time from all my imaginary non-fatal wounds.
It could have been a one-hour movie. But with its 30 minute set-up and character sketches, and the meticulously planned and staged shoot outs that followed—unfortunately between guys and one girl who kept missing from mid-range—director Ben Wheatley is able to underline what’s wrong with most action films nowadays. They (e.g., Fast & Furious and Transformers series) are overloaded, incoherent, lack suspense and characterization and gives the audience 360 degrees of action every five minutes just to keep those with ADHD from walking out or falling asleep.
Free Fire is a well made shoot ’em up comedy, brought to life by its characters, a handful of rogues trapped inside a warehouse in an unscrupulous arms deal, and Ben Wheatley’s scrupulous direction and attention to details (i.e., there’s a very graphic scene where one character’s head get ran over by a van done with minimum to zero CGI). It absorbs you into the action (otherwise, you won’t get bored when there’s nothing happening for long stretches). Among the cast, Cillian Murphy’s IRA agent Chris, Armie Hammer’s middleman Ord, Sharlto Copley’s South African arms dealer Vernon (whose thick accent is comic gold), Sam Riley despicable Stevo, and Brie Larson’s Justine, whom I thought could have fired a couple of shots more, take the cake.
While Free Fire gives you one hour of gunfights happening in real time (if I remember correctly, slow motion was used only once—in the scene right after the first shot was fired), it never overloads your senses; it gives you time to recover, regroup, before the bullets come zinging again. It never gives you everything all at once, instead Wheatley stretches your patience for a couple of minutes, then rewards you on the next (this is true, especially, when the movie slows down to a crawl).
Some movies use shaky camera and rapid-fire editing to get you “in” the action. Oftentimes, these are used to hide non-hits, weak choreography or poorly staged action. Also, oftentimes, they’re just confusing. In Free Fire, there are also times when you’re not sure who’s shooting whom, times when things just happen so fast that you lose track of things. But not because of nauseating camera movements or poor editing. This, is what I’d assume as Wheatley’s idea of getting the audience “in” the moment. And it just makes sense. There are more than ten people inside the warehouse and it’s not easy to take account of everything and everyone amidst all the banter and the gunfire.
Like that one character in the movie, there was also a time when, “I’ve forgotten whose side I’m on”.
Edgar Wright was supposed to be the perfect director for Ant-Man, the perfect director for comic book movies. His movies are delightful mixes of action, comedy, in some cases, special effects and music. I didn’t expect Baby Driver to be any different. That’s why the grittier parts of the film left me stunned, the in-sync loud music got me distracted, disoriented even. There are times when the characters on screen, whether good or bad, innocent or ruthless, are in grave danger. And I’m not sure if I’m supposed to care for them, or should I just enjoy the ride. I expected something that’s more like a dance, Baby Driver threw me in a mosh pit. I also expected some sort of humor. Too bad Simon Pegg isn’t part of the cast. And only Jaimie Foxx’s Bats is funny… well, because he’s bat-shit crazy. That’s why his early exit came as a shock and there wasn’t enough time to gather fear for the Mad Man, except to take as it is what she said. She, by the way, was extremely hot and dangerous, whether she’s with her two smoking barrels or not. Oh, I’m not talking about Lily James’ character by the way. By the time Brian May’s guitar solo goes blaring from one car’s sub-woofers and Baby loses his ears, I was just starting to find my footing. This movie threw me off balance, to say the least. And yes, that’s a compliment.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver takes its cue from serious stuff: 70’s crime movies, gritty, realistic car chases. On camera effects, no CGI. The only difference is, he does it MTV-style. Which is to say Wright has set himself some pretty tough hurdles. Intense loud music plus intense action sequence doesn’t always work together. The opening sequence featuring “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was easily the movie’s most impressive song + car chase number. Syncing intensely choreographed action scenes with The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat” and “Tequila” could be exhilarating, numbing and frustrating at the same time. It throws you in and out of the movie. Blur’s “Intermission” segueing to “Hocus Pocus” was my favorite part of the film, when the in-sync sound and scenes don’t detract from each other. Barry White’s “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” was also quite perfect for the movie’s quietly intense moments. The rest of the songs work out fine, except for Queen’s “Brighton Rock”, which was distracting, instead of highlighting that one key stunt pulled by Baby near the movie’s end.
Baby Driver had me thinking about Ant-Man—y’know, that small movie within Marvel’s gigantic franchise? I thought Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man would have been so much better than the one we ended up with. But after seeing Baby Driver, maybe not. Assuming it is 100% true that the finished movie we got from Peyton Reed is based on the same script Wright was working on, plus, some “things” added by Reed and Paul Rudd, which I believe improved the movie (e.g., Luis’ tip montage, the quantum realm, Hope Van Dyne, etc.), we can also assume then that if Wright’s Ant-Man would be the better movie, it would be only in terms of execution: style, direction, editing, the action sequence and pacing perhaps. In theory, we would have a better looking, more stylish, more dynamic action movie, but without the things that I actually liked in the movie, like Hope’s relationship with her father, or Scott going sub-atomic to save his daughter. Wright is arguably the better director but Peyton Reed’s movie has the better script.
I missed some pretty big movies this year. Just like the previous year. And the year before that. And the year before the year before that. And the year before the year before… Oh, this could go on forever. By “pretty big”, I mean movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Or the last Star Wars movie. I also haven’t seen Okja and Get Out yet, smaller movies that definitely deserve no less. But I’ve seen a few films, both big and small.
Among the best reviewed films, I thought Baby Driver and Logan were overrated. So was Wonder Woman. I liked Baby Driver but there’s something lacking. I’m not really sure Logan was better than X-2 or Days of Future Past and I liked Deadpool better for sure. Wonder Woman, I liked for having the right balance between humor and pathos, which most Marvel movies lack, but the third act was just disappointing. Speaking of disappointments, Kong: Skull Island was simply the most disappointing movie I’ve seen this year, mainly for wasting the scenic locations in Vietnam for a generic thrill-less CGI mayhem. Comic book/superhero movies reached a new high in 2017. Of the three movies from Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming was OK and that’s the problem, it’s a merely OK movie. I’ve seen three movies featuring Vin Diesel this year and I thought two of them (xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Fate of the Furious) were a total waste of time.
Listed below, in no particular order, are the ones that made into my “best of” list.
Happy Death Day (Horror, Comedy, 2017) The Big Sick (Romance, Comedy, 2017) Tale of Tales (Fantasy, 2015) Take Me (Comedy, 2017) Kita Kita (Romance, Comedy, 2017) Headshot (Martial Arts, Action, 2016) Westworld (Science Fiction, 1973) The Mermaid (Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, 2016) Free Fire (Action, Comedy, 2016) Logan (Superhero, 2017) Baby Driver (Action, Crime, 2017) Continue reading “2017: Movies & Music Year-end List”
Finally got around to watching The Amazing Spider-Man. Oh boy is it great! Not only is it a reboot, it’s also an update, an upgrade, both, of the Spider-Man mythos we’re mostly familiar with. The guys behind this movie definitely went the extra mile (or extra swing) to give the fans more than what was promised.
This version took no time in expanding the Spidey universe, introducing Peter Parker’s parents right in the opening scene and how Peter ended up with Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Then, it also corrected the main deviations in the first trilogy: Gwen Stacy, a much more convincing and sophisticated girl next door, as played by Emma Stone and, the mechanical web-shooters—which is part OSCORP’s product, part Peter’s invention. (Midway thru the movie, I thought OSCORP would eventually hire Spidey to endorse their product, and let the abusive J.J. Jameson, this time as an ad agency mogul, enter the story.)
There are small additions changes here and there. The enhanced spiders and webs were retconned to be made by OSCORP, and it’s also implied that Peter’s powers may have originated from the older Parker’s experiments. My only beef is that they turned Uncle Ben’s famous words into a joke, albeit unintentionally. Martin Sheen’s cool, funny uncle could have been an improvement over Cliff Robertson’s, but without that classic line, he becomes secondary.
The biggest change of them all is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, who’s actually a cool kid pretending to be a geek. He’s a quippy masked vigilante who’s also kind of a dick. He ditches his girlfriend in time of grief, for a promise he couldn’t keep, and then break the same promise just because “those were the best kind.” All in all, this Peter Parker is an affable jerk. (At least he got the girl this time, and is able to actually fork her brains out—for a change.) Continue reading “Looking Back at Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man”