Forces of Geek have allowed me the space and time to ramble on about the history of science fiction cinema. These bi-weekly columns, will make an attempt, however feeble, at discussing the history of this often chided cinematic genre. From its birth to the latest CGI box office hits, I will take a look at the films that have filled the genre, as well as their literary influences and TV offshoots. In this episode, my twelfth in the series, I take a look at the space babes and ass-kicking hotties of science fiction cinema and TV. Ooh La La, my fellow sci-fi geeks.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
I have to admit that I did not like this film all that much. It was okay, one could even say it was meh, if one wished to use a more hipstery type of language, but nothing to write home about, as they say. I also must admit that I was not all that big of a fan of the first Kick-Ass film either. A bit less meh than the follow-up, but still quite lackluster. Now the comics, I like. The comics by Mark Millar are lots of fun, but the film adaptations leave much to be desired. The hard hitting sardonic, and yes, quite dark and disturbing, humour of Millar's comics are lost in the more, for lack of a more apt term, family friendly filmic translations. Yeah yeah, I know, this R-rated film is far from family friendly, but really, it could have gone a lot farther than it did in trying to recreating Mark Millar's scripted comics. Then again, people like the film's co-star, Jim Carrey, think the film went too far, but more on that in a bit.
As a bit of a background check here, Kick-Ass is a comic book series written by Mark Millar, with artwork by the great John Romita, Jr., and was published from 2008 to 2010 by Marvel Comics' more mature imprint, Icon. A film adaptation was released in 2010. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, and was a bit controversial for its depiction of violence, especially as it had teenagers, including the then 13 year old Chloe Moretz, in its cast. As I said, I thought the film just average, and the violence should have been kicked up a notch or three. Damn the controversy! With the second series, published in 2011 and 2012, and again published by Marvel's Icon imprint, and written and drawn by Millar and Romita, Jr., respectively, a sequel has been released to the movie going public, and again, the cries of too much violence has erupted, and again, when compared to the comics (which incidentally portrays toddlers being gunned down and teenage girls being gang-raped), said violence is not really all that. But maybe that's just me.
As I alluded to earlier, after the tragedy of Sandy Hook happened, and those kids were killed (a few months before the film's release), Jim Carrey, who portrays mob enforcer-turned-superhero Captain Stars & Stripes, came out and apologized for making such a violent movie. Really, Jim? You act as if Sandy Hook was the first school shooting of its kind. Like there were no other tragedies, many of them with larger body counts, that happened before you signed up and made such a "violent" movie. What a hypocritical bastard! But I digress. I am not here to talk of some self-absorbed actor spouting off idiotic statements to the press. Although I will quote co-star Chloe Moretz, now sixteen and playing the murderous vigilante Hit-Girl in the film. She said of the violence controversy, "It's a movie. If you are going to believe and be affected by an action film, you shouldn't go to see Pocahontas because you are going to think you are a Disney princess. If you are that easily swayed, you might see The Silence of the Lambs and think you are a serial killer. It's a movie and it's fake, and I've known that since I was a kid... I don't want to run around trying to kill people and cuss. If anything, these movies teach you what not to do." Anyway, I digress once more.
I've spoken so much about the violence and ensuing controversy of the film, but not much on the film itself. This is probably because I really have nothing to say about the film. It is a lackluster adaptation of a far superior comicbook series. Sure, there are some fun moments throughout (Christopher Mintz-Plassse is especially fun as the supervillain known as The Mother Fucker), but overall the film just sort of lays there in a state of self-confusion. Some say it is too violent, others, like me, say it is not violent enough when compared to the comics themselves, or to other auteuristic action films by the like of Scorsese or Tarantino or Park Chan-wook. I am not advocating violence, but when it is needed to tell a story, and it is here. The whole fucking point of the story is to show the differences between what is a good guy and what is a bad guy, and how that lined is constantly and rightfully blurred all to hell, and one needs violence to show that. But then, maybe that is just me.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
As creative and extraordinary as Neill Blomkamp's first film, District 9, was, that is how non-creative and unextraordinary his second film is. As exciting and groundbreaking as District 9 was, that is just how pedestrian and generic Elysium happens to be. It's a shame really. A big shame. A huge shame because the potential that District 9 handed out (it was on my best of 2009 list) for the South African director's next film was seriously through the roof. Through the freakin' roof. And this potential just makes it even more sad that Blomkamp's follow-up is so...um, ordinary. Quite sad indeed.
Elysium is the story of a future Earth where all the haves live on the titular rotating space station and the have-nots reside on an overcrowded and dystopicstars Earth. Matt Damon, as buff and as bald as can be, stars as a down-and-out Earther who must fight his way off-world to save himself, the daughter of a long lost childhood love, and pretty much all the other 99 percenters doing their time on bad old Earth. The story is rather ordinary, and has been done better before, most notably in the 1990 Total Recall (forget the remake from last year), and the way it is presented could not be more cliche-addled than it is. Full of mediocre action sequences and oh so obvious so-called twists and turns, Blomkamp's film ends up being nothing more than a sad mirror image of the greatness that was District 9. And even worse, that potential that came with District 9, shoulda, woulda, coulda been exploited here, if only given a better treatment.
The film is full of stereotypes and all the usual tired tricks and tropes, including a strangely accented Jodie Foster as the sternly frigid Secretary of Defense (seriously, does she need the money this badly?), an arrogant villain that will stop at nothing shy of death, and an inevitable one at that, and the aforementioned little girl at death's door and her mother, the love the hero's life that he will be forced to sacrifice himself for in the end, again, inevitably so. To beat the proverbial dead horse, as fresh as District 9 was, Elysium is that sour, or to be more precise, that bland and expected. Perhaps if Blomkamp's film, instead of being the pedestrian creature that it is, was more of a mitigated disaster, it might of at least had some much needed oomph to its belly, even if that oomph was rotten. Instead we get just another tired mainstream actioner - a creature with no oomph whatsoever. Sad really, and a shame indeed.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Forces of Geek have allowed me the space and time to ramble on about the history of science fiction cinema. These bi-weekly columns, will make an attempt, however feeble, at discussing the history of this often chided cinematic genre. From its birth to the latest CGI box office hits, I will take a look at the films that have filled the genre, as well as their literary influences and TV offshoots. In this episode, my eleventh in the series, I take a look at the robotic arm of the sci-fi genre, all those cwaaazy robots. There is, of course, not enough time to talk about all of 'em, but I cover the biggies
For links to all the parts in this series, go here, and scroll down to the Forces of Geek section.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
As some of you may already know (but, probably many of you do not) I have put pen and ink (and pencil, and marker, and eraser, and other stuff) to paper lately, and taken up the mantle of cartoonist, to go along with the mantle of film historian and critic. In doing so, I have created a comic strip titled La-La & Lu-Lu. Said strip can be viewed here, and all my comics (there is more than mere La-La & Lu-Lu, ya know - much much much more) can be seen at my new blog, Brain Tumor Comix. With all this said, I give you the latest La-La & Lu-Lu, and appropriately enough, it has to do with the movies. I also did one based around Citizen Kane, but you will just have to go to the above site(s) to read that one. See, that's called marketing. Anyhoo, here ya go. And as for my duties as film critic, one need not worry, as I will be back soon with brand new reviews. I ain't goin' nowheres my peeps.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Sofia Coppola has made a career out of taking misunderstood young women, and making us feel both compassion for them and revulsion for what happens to them. From Kirsten Dunst and her fateful sisters in The Virgin Suicides, to Scarlet Johansson's lost soul in Lost in Translation, to Dunst again, as the infamously oblivious Marie Antoinette, to lonely woman-child Elle Fanning, making her way through her empty, and most likely autobiographical life in Somewhere, Coppola's women have always been wandering girls, lost in a world that they do not understand, and which does not understand them. Perhaps it is a bit harder to find any compassion for the jaded, seemingly amoral wannabe jet setters in the director's latest, The Bling Ring, but in a way these young women (and one gay man, if we are keeping count of the main protagonists-cum-antagonists), no matter how unlikable they may very well be, and they are all quite unlikable, are just as lost as any of Coppola's previous female doppelgangers.
Coppola's fifth feature is based on the oh so true tale of a group of L.A. teens and early twentysomethings who would burglarize celebrity homes throughout the Hollywood Hills in 2008 and 2009, just so they could dress and accessorize the way their Reality TV heroines like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, and Rachel Bilson, among many others, dressed and accessorized. Coppola digs into the whole idea of post-millennial celebrity culture (and I use the term culture quite loosely) , and the vapid, TMZ-watching, celeb-obsessed youth culture (again, a quite loose use of the term culture) that has grown up around it. These are young men and women who have no real use for knowledge or intelligence, no use for morals or integrity, absolutely no use, or probably even understanding of common sense. All they know or care about is celebrity and the banal idiocy of reality television. The real Bling Ring (the names have been changed for the film, but each character is still based upon real-life counterparts), after their respective arrests, have become just what they have always wanted, reality celebrities. Granted, celebrities of less than c-class, but still, celebrities of a strange new world of media culture.
The film stars a slew of relative unknowns, headed by Harry Potter alum, Emma Watson (she is not the lead, but certainly the biggest name involved, and thanks to her small role in This is the End, spends her entire cinematic year, running around the Hollywood Hills, evading capture), and Coppola brings her usual flare for melancholy angst, and it all comes together to become what, granted may be the director's least fully formed film, but in a way, perfectly suited for its own subject matter. We may look upon the young morally-adjustable individuals in this film as mere trash or idiots or losers, or what-have-you, but really these are just children raised in a modern media-heavy society, where emphasis is placed on the shallow idea of what we consider celebrity in this day and age. No, I cannot imagine a similar group of wannabes performing these acts back in the days of Gable and Lombard, or Monroe and Brando, or even during the hey-day of "newcomers" such as De Niro and Pacino, and so one may be led to think that it may very well be a cause of the celebrity culture of today's modern world. I am not lily-livered enough to believe that everything can be blamed on society (for, one must take blame and/or credit for their own lives), but one has no choice but to see how warped today's youth has become because of this celebrity culture, and Coppola shows that warped sensibility in The Bling Ring, and does it damn well.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Forces of Geek have allowed me the space and time to ramble on about the history of science fiction cinema. These bi-weekly columns, will make an attempt, however feeble, at discussing the history of this often chided cinematic genre. From its birth to the latest CGI box office hits, I will take a look at the films that have filled the genre, as well as their literary influences and TV offshoots. In this episode, my tenth in the series, I take a look at everybody's favourite giant-ass, radiation-breathing lizard/dragon/dinosaur thing - the phenomenon known simply as Godzilla.
For links to all the parts in this series, go here, and scroll down to the Forces of Geek section.