Hello again, my geeky friends!
I have a confession to make. As you may or may not know, this weeks Theater Thursday column was very short due to me being swamped with work, feeling under the weather and my general lack of enthusiasm for this week’s crop of releases. My confession is this: even though all those things still stand, I started feeling writers guilt that I just hadn’t spent enough time in front of the computer, so I decided to put together a few short reviews for your reading pleasure.
As readers of my Man of Steel review can attest, I can rack up a pretty high word count when I put my mind to it, but that isn’t what this will be. This will be more of a snapshot review of a couple of films that I haven’t had the time to fully write-up.
I hope you enjoy.
I was one of those people who were completely blown-away by the 2010 original film. I thought it was a breath of fresh air in terms of comic-book films. It was about people who didn’t have actual super powers but had decided to make a difference anyway. Or al least try to make a difference. It had sharp comedy as well as social commentary about pop culture and what it means to try to take a stand in a world that is too self involved to really notice or care. It had Nicolas Cage chewing scenery and doing his best Adam West imitation as the single purposed Big Daddy. It also had an eleven-year old girl who cursed like a sailor and gleefully cut bad guys into pieces with a sword and killed more people before breakfast than most people killed all day.
I have stated on many occasions that the film(s) should have been called Hit Girl because that is the character we actually care about and want to follow. The sequel turns up the volume on the violence and mayhem but doesn’t have the interesting character pieces the first one did. It also seems to understand that we, the audience, are there to see Chloe Moretz slice and dice her way through packs of bad guys, so it gives us almost a full hour of…other powerless people putting on costumes and trying to be heroes.
Much has been made in the press of Jim Carrey publicly disowning the film due to its gun violence, but after seeing the film, I think it was more of a ploy to remind people he was actually in the film at all. His character, Col. Stars and Stripes, is really a glorified cameo. Showing up at the forty-minute mark and hanging around for about thirty-minutes, Jim Carrey is all but un-recognizable in the role. He is fine, but doesn’t bring the spark of insanity that Nicolas Cage brought to the original. He is also not in any way important to the plot of the film, which Big Daddy was.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson again does very good work as Kick Ass and he has put on some serious muscle and makes a more convincing hero this time around, but much like the first film, this just doesn’t feel like it’s his film.
We spend almost the entire running time waiting for Chloe Moretz to suit-up as Hit Girl and become the hero the film needs. That could be hyperbole except the film itself builds her up as the hero the city really needs.
Chloe Moretz delivers too. You can tell that she is having a blast playing the role and that might be why we enjoy watching her so much. Every other character in the film (except the villain) is riddled with self-doubt and lack of confidence. Hit Girl is like a pint-sized Batman, bursting at the seams with ability, intent, courage and attitude.
I would almost count the film as a failure except for her. When she does suit-up in the last act, the film just crackles. In fact, whenever Chloe is on-screen, the film comes alive. She has several scenes where she is trying to fit in at school and make the cute boy like her, and when those scenes are playing, I found myself wishing that was the whole movie.
Almost as if the filmmakers (Jeff Wadlow replaces Mathew Vaughn in the directing chair) realize this, the finale sets her up for her own spin-off film. If Chloe is game and if the film makes enough money to warrant it, that would be a film I would like to see.
2 STARS OUT OF 5
The week this was released, I spent an entire segment of the column writing about how the geek community regarded Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 debut film, District 9, the birth of a bold new voice.
Let’s just assume this was a sophomore slump, shall we?
This might be the most frustrating film I’ve seen this Summer. Frustrating because it comes close to being really good. The premise is great, the set-pieces are fair to good, the cast is top-notch. It feels like the script just needed another draft. Or maybe another six or seven drafts. Seriously. There are films that work great while you’re watching them only to fall apart later, this film falls apart while you’re watching it. Simple logic fails are littered through the film that just should not be there.
The film has been out almost a month now, so I don’t think this is spoiler material but on the off-chance you don’t want to know a couple of minor plot-points, skip ahead a couple of paragraphs okay?
A couple of things that just jumped out at me during the film: why doesn’t this state-of-the-art space station, which has been around for decades, have any defenses of its own? How can the station security be sure that their people on earth are going to be able to get to their weapon stash and fire their super-duper shoulder mounted rockets into space and hit the un-authorized ships?
Why would you ever leave the security of your space station entirely in the hands of people you don’t deem worthy of actually living on your space station. And why would you tell them they would never live on the space station? What if they decided to fire those shoulder mounted rockets into space and blow up your space station?
Those are just a couple of the ones that I don’t think will be spoilers. There are several more that have to do with the climax of the film that left me speechless. I am usually very forgiving of wonky logic in a film if I am with the movie and having a great time. With this film, there were so many from the first act to the last scene that they just took me out of the film.
That added to the sledgehammer message (valid as it may be) that is hammered home at least five times more than needed and you end up with a film that had so much promise but just stalled at the gate.
The trailer for Elysium promises a film that Neill Blomkamp just didn’t shoot. I want to see the film advertised in the trailer. That one looks like it had a better script.
1 STAR OUT OF 5
Well, that just about does it for this round of REVIEWS! REVIEWS! REVIEWS! but time permitting, I will try to type out a couple more over the next few days.
Until next time, Keep the Projector Threaded.