Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

I remember wanting to see Hacksaw Ridge in theaters but not following through on my impulse. The film garnered some buzz towards the end of 2016 for a number of reasons, mainly due to its grisly depictions of warfare. This did not surprise me because I am familiar with the work of Mel Gibson as a director and an actor. You could say that Gibson is a bit eccentric in his tastes. I have found Gibson’s films to be entertaining for the most part so I was excited to see how Hacksaw Ridge would fare.

The film tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a soldier who refused to carry any weapons in combat and who was awarded the medal of honor for his efforts during the Battle of Okinawa.  The film focuses primarily on the reasons behind Doss’s decision not to carry a weapon in combat and the consequences that this decision had for Doss.

Hacksaw Ridge has the look and feel of a big-budget movie. There are recognizable actors and the soundtrack is well-produced. Clearly a lot of effort went into making this movie. I would say that this movie did fairly well for itself in the 2016 Oscars. It actually won the awards for best sound mixing and best editing. While Hacksaw Ridge is an entertaining film, it’s probably not the sort of film that deserves a nomination for best picture. Hacksaw Ridge doesn’t really provide anything other than entertainment value.

I came away from this film with a greater appreciation for Andrew Garfield’s skill as an actor. He carries this film from beginning to end. There’s also a feeling I get from war movies that I can only describe as a longing for the bond shared between soldiers. I am clearly the demographic for this movie. If you are similar to me (white, male, interested in movies) then you will probably enjoy watching Hacksaw Ridge. Although it is hollow movie in terms of intellectual depth, it provided enough for me that I can safely recommend to anyone who shares my taste for movies.

You should watch Hacksaw Ridge but please do so with tempered expectations. It’s not that its a bad film. Its just that there’s nothing special about it aside from Andrew Garfield’s performance. Unless you have an interest in war movies, you ought to skip this one.

At this point, these kinds of movies feel more tiresome than anything else. I have seen enough great films depicting World War Two that another one simply doesn’t add anything significant. The best thing that I can say about Hacksaw Ridge is that it shines a light on Desmond Doss who was unknown to me before this film. Hacksaw Ridge is proof that Gibson has settled for low-hanging fruit.

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Colossal (2017) Analysis: Anne Hathaway is an Alcoholic Monster

When I heard the basic idea for Colossal, it was enough to get me excited for the film. The idea is this: Anne Hathaway plays an alcoholic whose actions are copied by a giant monster in South Korea. When she gets drunk and loses control of her body movements, it leads to hundreds of people dying. Going into Colossal I was intrigued to see how the movie would such a unique premise.

Anne Hathaway stars in Colossal as Gloria, an alcoholic who is forced to move from New York City back to her hometown after her boyfriend kicks her out of his apartment. Gloria bumps into her old school friend Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis, who gives her a job working at his bar. Big news hits that a giant monster keeps appearing randomly in Seoul, South Korea and Gloria discovers that the monster’s only appears whenever she sets foot in a playground. Gloria realizes that her actions have lead to many people dying. It turns out that Oscar also manifests as a giant robot when he goes into the playground. When Gloria sleeps with one of Oscar’s friends, he starts to abuse his power to control the giant robot to manipulate Gloria. This culminates in Oscar beating Gloria up and stomping around the playground while she watches. To stop Oscar, Gloria flies to South Korea while allows her to manifest as the monster at the playground in her hometown. She coops up Oscar and throws him into the distance, ending the giant robot’s reign of terror.

This movie succeeds on the strength of Anne Hathaway’s performance. While it’s hard to feel too sympathetic for Gloria, it’s undeniable that Hathaway is doing some superb acting. The same can be said for Jason Sudeikis who is doing his usual straight man routine. Colossal doesn’t completely suck because both Sudeikis and Hathaway are good at their jobs.

Watching Colossal, I felt that the movie was acceptable but not as entertaining as I was expecting. Usually I am good about tempering my expectations but this time was different. I was expecting to be blown away by this film based on some reviews I had read but I felt that the film was simply decent. I feel that Colossal could have used its premise to make for a a more entertaining film. I found myself bored watching Colossal because the stakes were not clear enough. I think the problem is that the film’s central conceit is so obviously unnatural that it becomes hard to take the movie seriously. Perhaps Colossal would have turned out better as a dark comedy instead of a drama.

I am inclined to recommend Colossal because it is an original film. It’s a film that goes against the grain of Hollywood and that is something worth championing by itself. Beyond originality, it’s hard to recommend anything about Colossal other than the performances. It’s a shame that Colossal is not a more well constructed film. We need movies like Colossal to be superb instead of just watchable. At least watching Colossal will give you some insight into what its like to be an alcoholic. The problem is not that Colossal is a bad movie. It’s that Colossal is not as good as it should be.

Power Rangers Trailer Reaction

Hey Guess What?

Power Rangers is being rebooted as a film and its coming to theaters on March 24th of this year. The second trailer for the film was released about a week ago and I am just now getting to watching it and Holy Shit it has my attention. Without further ado, here’s a link to the trailer:

POWER RANGERS TRAILER

I like that the film is not above laughing at its own ridiculous premise in the trailer because the idea of teenagers stumbling upon a secret cave and realizing they are the chosen ones is ludicrous to say the least. The CGI looks pretty good. I am hoping that this become a funnier and less serious version of the Transformers franchise.

Honestly I’m surprised it took this long for Power Rangers to be turned into a film. I know Power Rangers has been rebooted as several different television series but not making a movie is like leaving money on the table. Even if this film is a complete disaster, I still imagine it will make a ton of money because kids eat this crap up. Power Rangers was my favorite show as a young child so I am happy to see it become a major motion picture. It’s easy to make fun of the show but I will always have a soft spot for it because it hit me at such a young age. I hope that a new generation of children can find joy in Power Rangers just like I did.

 

Level Up Trailer Reaction

Hey so there’s a new trailer today for a movie called Level Up, an action thriller about a loser gamer who suddenly becomes a badass to save his girlfriend.

Trailer!

Oldboy and Taken are the two movies that come to mind watching this trailer. The premise is completely ridiculous but who cares? This should be a fun movie to watch. I fully expect Level Up to provide very little plot and a ton of violence.

At least this movie knows itself. That’s probably an indicator that the movie will be at least halfway decent for what it is. It’s weird that movies and video games are beginning to overlap. As video games become more popular, I expect to see movies attempt to utilize their tropes more and more.

They Live Analysis: The most Relevant Film of the 1980s

They Live is a science fiction action horror film written and directed by John Carpenter in 1988. It stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. Roddy Piper plays a drifter, called John Nada in the credits, who discovers a secret ruling class of aliens by wearing sunglasses. They Live is famous for having a great fight scene and great cheesy lines. Carpenter has called They Live a documentary because the world it depicts is so similar to the world of today.

I watched They Live because it was featured on an episode of The Canon podcast. This podcast is a great resource for film nerds. I could tell from Devin Faraci and Amy Nicholson’s thoughts on the film that it needed to be seen sooner rather than later. I don’t usually see every film that they talk about so this one was different. When this film came out, I had yet to be born so how would I have any knowledge of its existence?

One of my favorite things about this film is hard to describe. There’s a certain vibe or feel to some 80s movies that adds to the experience. I wasn’t alive in the 80s but I can feel what it was like to live there from movies. John Carpenter’s films feel particularly grounded in their historical time and place. I find myself wishing that I had lived during the 80s to experience the decade’s great films firsthand.

The premise and ideas of They Live are more relevant today than they were in 1988. The world of They Live is the world of today, except for the aliens. The United States is ruled by money and those with money do everything they can to maintain their power at the expense of those beneath them. The lower classes are kept in check by their need to obey and consume. The truth is painful in They Live. Wearing the sunglasses gives John Nada a headache because reality is physically painful to experience. It is so much easier to succumb to the wishes of those in power. But there is so much to gain from attacking the system. The part of They Live where John Nada and Frank Armitage infiltrate the aliens’ base, shooting them left and right, is such satisfying cinema. It’s the ultimate power fantasy for anyone who has ever suffered from being abused or exploited.

TV is the enemy in They Live. It is the most useful alien tool in keeping the lower classes at bay. Somehow destroying a broadcasting signal reveals all the aliens in their true form. The final scene of this film depicts a woman looking down as the man she is having sex with has been revealed as a ghoul.

I recommend seeing They Live as soon as possible.

If you have any recommendations for great films from the 80s, let me know.

 

Oldboy (2003) Review

I remember hearing about Oldboy all the time. Usually it is presented as the standard for revenge movies, where the main character goes through a long and difficult journey to get justice against those people who wronged him or her. I think I lumped it together with Fight Club and Donnie Darko in the “dark and well-made movies for guys” category. Oldboy existed on the fringes of my perception until last Sunday when Devin Faraci and Amy Nicholson talked about the film on their podcast, The Canon.

Oldboy is the story of Oh Dae-Su, a man who is locked in a room for 15 years by a mysterious figure. Oh Dae-Su escapes from his cage and decides to get revenge on the guy who stole 15 years of his life. Over the course of his journey, Oh Dae-Su hurts a lot of people, gets hurt himself and eventually tracks down the man responsible for his imprisonment.

Oldboy is awesome. The film is based on a manga and watching it reminded me of reading a really superb comic book. The director Park-Chan Wook is adept at mixing humor with dark material. One memorable scene depicts Oh Dae-Su ordering his first meal after escaping. He orders “anything alive” and devours a live octopus. Watching Oh Dae-Su stuff the living octopus into his mouth was hilarious but also tragic for the octopus. The scene cuts back and forth between Oh Dae-Su eating and the waitress watching him with horror, revealing the indifference of Oh Dae-Su’s personality. He is the kind of guy who will do anything to get what he wants without considering how his actions affect other people.

The action scenes in Oldboy are another highlight. One scene shows Oh Dae-Su beating up a team of bad guys as if he exists in a side-scrolling video game. Describing this scene will not do it justice. It’s refreshing to see an action scene filmed this way because I am so used to the typical editing in other action movies. I can’t think of a better way to film this scene. If you have ever seen a style like this used in another movie, please let me know.

I don’t know why it took me this long to watch Oldboy. The film reminded me why I like watching movies, especially those that come from different cultures. Don’t be stupid like me. I am sure that I will watch Oldboy at least one more time and hopefully have more to write about it.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

In my opinion, Mad Max: Fury Road was the best film of 2015. I have watched it four times now and I will probably keep watching it for a long time. When I try to think of something bad to say about it, my mind goes blank. Sure you could make some criticisms, but why would you? The film combines amazing action with amazing storytelling with amazing characters in an amazing world. There is so much to talk about in Mad Max: Fury Road. A blog post does not do the film justice.

Fury Road is straight up entertaining. Often I get bored during movies and find myself thinking of reasons why the movie sucks. This is not the case with Fury Road. The film draws my attention from start to finish. I even relish the slower parts because they provide some rest from the non-stop action. The action is relentless and brutal. There are several moments that are mind-blowing. No other movie released in 2015 came close to delivering the same experience.

If you have not seen Mad Max: Fury Road, I have to assume that you either don’t like movies, or you live under a rock. Please see this movie and give it all the support you can muster. It’s the type of movie that I avoid writing about because I don’t want to influence anyone else’s experience of it. See this movie.