An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Film’

Lefty’s Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

First things first – don’t see this movie in 3D.  I hate so much that almost every film nowadays is in 3D.  This film doesn’t need it, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it.  3D is a cheap marketing gimmick that Hollywood has whored out to.  This film is awesome all on its own.

Going in to the first film of the original series, I had very high expectations.  It was a Spider-Man movie, after all, and I had had a little bit of love for the character.  Sadly, I was incredibly disappointed.  The dialogue was awful, the effects were crappy, and the villain looked so bad that I laughed every time that he was on screen.  It was a corny and silly and outright ridiculous movie.

You won’t find any of those problems here.  This film is, quite simply, better than the first film of the original series in every conceivable way.  This is what a Spider-Man film should be.  But let’s take a closer look.

The story is of Spider-Man’s beginning.  He is starting out as a superhero, and is learning who he is.  The film opens with his parents leaving him with his aunt and uncle, and leaving, obviously afraid.  They are killed, and Peter grows up with his aunt and uncle.  Through a series of events, he finds himself at Oscorp, and winds up being bitten by a genetically mutated spider.  This begins his transformation into Spider-Man.  Meanwhile, an algorithm that Peter finds that his father made helps Dr. Curt Connors find his own inner monster.

So, the good stuff first.  The first thing to talk about is the dialogue.  This movie’s dialogue and character drama flowed so much better than the first film of the original series.  It helped that Tobey MacGuire wasn’t playing the lead role.  Andrew Garfield did his role incredibly well.  He played Parker as an awkward young man, who isn’t some born hero, but just a guy.  And when he finds himself with powers, he doesn’t just immediately become a hero.

Now, there are a lot of plot points that follow the original film.  Uncle Ben getting murdered, Parker hunting for the murderer, but unlike in the original film, he never finds the man.  And the plot is a lot better handled in this film.  The original film was well-paced, and the story wasn’t bad, but the awful dialogue and the one-dimensional characters like Mary Jane Watson were just tedious and boring.  This film suffered from none of that.

Another improvement was the romance.  In keeping with the original comic, Peter isn’t with Mary Jane, but instead begins a relationship with Gwen Stacey.  Their relationship is believable, and very hard.  There is genuinely compelling drama when Stacey doesn’t want to keep in that relationship because she is afraid (after finding out his secret) of Parker dying, like her father, who is a police captain.  Stacey isn’t just a tease romance like Mary Jane was in the original films.  She has a lot of personality, and is pretty tough.

But by far the best improvements of this film, as opposed to the other film were the fight sequences, and the villain.  This film had The Lizard as the villain.  His look was amazing.  This villain was genuinely intimidating.  Unlike Green Goblin from the other film, who was a joke.  Everything from his look, to his voice-work, you were afraid of this guy. And the fight scenes in this movie were so epic.

Not just with Lizard, either.  Spider-Man fighting it out with random thugs, his first car-thief, and the battles with Lizard were just great.  For one thing, they were a LOT faster than the fights in the other film.  The pace of these fights was so fast that there were times that you didn’t want to blink.  For some movies, that’s a bad thing, but in a film about Spider-Man, that’s just perfect.  This is a guy who can move at split-second reaction.  He can shoot web and jump around.  You want a fight with him to be unbelievably fast and acrobatic.  You expect the enemies of this character to be annoyed fighting him, because catching him is like trying to catch a frog with your bare hands.

So, with all this great stuff, are there problems?  Well, yes, there are a few.  This is really nit-picking, but they are worth mentioning.  The first problem is that the Lizard is cool, and the fights with him are awesome, but it is a little bit glossed over in a way.  You do get into Connors’ head, but it could have been given a little more time.  Of course, the focus is kept on Parker and his adventures, as it should be.  So that really is a nit-pick.

Another problem is that the man working for Norman Osbourne, who is obviously a villain, is a very stereotypical Middle Eastern man.  Oh, and another one – they had ANOTHER scene with an American flag shoe-horned in there!  That got annoying by the third of the original Spider-Man movies.  Here, it was absolutely unnecessary, and kind of uncomfortable.

But to be honest, that is all just nit-picking.  There is nothing staggeringly wrong with this film.  It’s definitely a more serious Spider-Man movie.  We all need to thank The Dark Knight for showing that audiences want a more serious superhero movie.  And we got it in this film.  It is more serious than the original film, it is better acted and better scripted.  It flows organically, unlike the completely surreal and cartoon-y nature of the other movie.  The villain and hero are much better.  It is an overall improvement in every way.

Fans of this hero, or superhero films in general won’t be disappointed.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10
Awesome!

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Lefty’s Review: Prometheus

It’s been a while since a Ridley Scott film got me to thinking as much as this one has.  This might seem a little late, since the film has been out for some time, but here’s the thing – I’m what you’d call a “poor reviewer.”  I review stuff, and enjoy doing it, but I rarely am able to see stuff in a timely way because money isn’t exactly rolling in for me.  But, I finally got around to seeing this movie, and man, I am so glad that I did.

Back to the Alien universe, this film fills in some of the gaps from the original films.  The first two.  Not the crappy third and fourth, that were a joke.  But this film fills in some plot holes.  For one thing, it answers how the Company knew about the Xenomorphs.  For another, it gave some back-story to the ship that they found, and the alien lifeforms that were on-board.  It also showed the origins of the Alien itself.  That is very cool.

This film takes the perspective of an actual theory that is floating around that alien life is what got humanity here, also known as panspermia.  I don’t buy it, but hey, it was interesting.  So, a group of archeologists find evidence of alien life interacting with primitive cultures, and they decide to follow a map that they found and go seek these aliens out, hoping to answer the great questions of who we are, and why we are here.  Basically, they hope to answer the oldest questions of humanity.

Like most Ridley Scott horror films, this one is very harsh about things.  It presents what happens as a very raw style of film.  The question of mortality is asked in a very harsh way in this film.  It opens with an alien humanoid sacrificing itself in order to create life on this world.  The head of the Company, Weyland, is dying, and hoping that these aliens can somehow lead him to a better life.  A robot, played by Michael Fassbender, is coming to grips with its own existence.

The best performances in this movie were by far Idris Elba as the captain of the ship, Prometheus, and from Noomi Rapace as the archeologist, Elizabeth Shaw.  One thing about her character was just how hard they went after the concept of what it means to have faith, and what it means to believe in something greater than yourself.  Through the film, she realizes that her beliefs may be wrong.  She still chooses to believe in something greater, even knowing where we all came from, and why.

It is kind of harsh how hard they went at all the themes of this film.  The lack of comaraderie in this movie is one of the things that it draws attention to.  There is no loyalty to anybody.  Everybody is looking out for themselves, and if that hadn’t been the case, I think that there is a real chance that things wouldn’t have turned out so bad.

The theme of questioning where we all came from is one of what I think the weak points of the movie is.  I’ll admit that this partially springs from personal bias, but honestly, where we all came from bores me.  The very thought is kind of uninteresting.

Overall, this was a very fearless movie.  The most fearless that Ridley Scott has done in a very long time.  His last few films have been rather timid and not wanting to really challenge anything.  And don’t say that Gladiator did, because we have seen that story before.  It’s the story of Moses from the Old Testament of the Bible.  This movie wasn’t afraid to take characters, develop them, make them suffer, and have them die.

Another plus of this movie were the sets.  Man, this is what Avatar should have been.  Ridley Scott used special effects to his benefit in this movie, and instead of having them be the focus, they are a plot device, as they should be.

This is one of the best films that I have seen in a long time, and it’s good to see that Ridley Scott can still do a good film.  Hopefully this won’t be his last.  He’s definitely back at his A-game here, and I hope to see more of it soon.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10
Awesome

Politically Powerful Films and Society

There is something about a great piece of film that sends a message about all of society.  Finding out about the great parts of history through good film is something that people often overlook.  But it is a great thing to see.  Most of these films are often controversial, but that is one of the reasons that they are so important.

When the film Green Zone came out, a lot of people were screaming about how this film was anti-war, as if that was a bad thing.  The recent attitude that every piece of film about the war in Iraq must show America as the heroes is actually a little distrubing.  Since when has this country been above scrutiny?  Since when has America been so perfect?  The fact is that the lies that got this country into a war need to be talked about.

Part of what made that such an interesting movie was the fact that it was based on a true story.  All of the stories about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq were lies.  Lies that our government let happen, because, well, the reasons for that will probably never be clear.  It is that way with a lot of our military actions.

Take the film Salvador, which tells the story of a photo journalist in El Salvador.  It is a depressing story about how America is helping dictators stay in power, even though the people tried to free themselves.  At the same time, it showed how easy it is for power over others to corrupt you.  The people tried to take control of their government, but the lies that they were Communists kept the military aid flowing.  It still does to this day.

Another point that Salvador made was the hatred of journalists by the military.  This is an absolute truism.  The fact is that our military and our government hates journalists.  The good ones, anyway.  The corporate media has never been something to fear, because they will never stand firm against the status quo.  Our government has always hated forces that can second-guess them, and show their lies.  Of course, thanks to the corporate media, there is no longer revolt against them.  This is one of the thing that has made the Occupy movement so very cool to observe.  These people are standing tall to fight oppression.  People in this country are oppressed, by a corporate and banking system that answers to nobody.  They are also oppressed by cops who don’t uphold their mandate to protect the people, and instead put them down.

Then there is the fact that politically poignant films tell us the stories about the groups of peole that we don’t want to think about.  Take a look at the film Blood Diamond.  It tells the story of the diamond trade in Africa, and how blood diamonds are driving countries that are hopelessly impoverished, and the people are brutalized by ruthless dictators that nobody seems to care about.  We can talk about spreading freedom all we like about Iraq and Afghanistan, but the fact is that people are being brutalized all over the world, and nobody cares here.  Nobody ever cares about the suffering other places.  We only care when we can blame them for attacking us.

Then there was the film that showed a culture for what it is.  It was called Lord of War.  The monologue toward the end by Nicholas Cage about how the law will fail, because this country is involved in dirt was a very harsh statement about the realities of the world we live in.  America is sending guns to scummy people, and all because we want to remain on good terms with them.

Really, the ultimate statement that is made in these politically-motivated film is that America likes to believe that we are the end of the line, that we tell other nations what’s what.  But the fact is that we don’t.  One of the greatest lines in cinema was delivered in Green Zone.

It is not up to you to decide what happens here.

That’s the truth right there.  America wants to believe that the rest of the world conforms to what we want, but that isn’t the truth.  And until people can wrap their tiny little minds around that very fundamental truth, this nation is going to be the biggest pot of lies, and nobody will care.

Peace out,

Lefty

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