96: Prometheus (and Bob. KABLAM! baby!)

Prometheus – June 8, 2012
Starring: A lot of people
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Directed by: Ridley Scott

The plot: “A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.” – IMDB

[edit]: Yikes! Should’ve posted this a few weeks ago but completely forgot I had it here all ready to go.

My thoughts: I feel so torn about this movie. First off, I feel like I waited years and years to see it. There was so much build up and mystery surrounding it. Mostly “What is that HUGE face thing?!” but all the same, it looked cool in the trailer.

And it looked cool in the theater! Sometimes, I feel jealous that people 20 years older than I am got to see Blade Runner in theaters. For some reason, people always remember sci-fi movies in the theater – maybe because it isn’t a leader in box offices so they’re always memorable? All the same, I was so glad to see Prometheus on a huge screen because it was visually awesome. No doubt about that.

The acting was…okay. Fassbender was excellent doing a weird robot/David Bowie hybrid. And everyone else was just okay. It was weird seeing Trey from The O.C. on a big screen in a Ridley Scott blockbuster. Idris Elba, cool as always, and Charlize Theron just being stoney faced and a boss.

So those were the good parts. And now on to the bad: holes galore! And I don’t mean anything sexy by that. I know everyone is like, “But it’s Damon Lindelof! Of course he’s going to leave you with questions, what’d you expect?” Well, I certainly didn’t expect a movie that appeared to have been written by geeky nine-year-olds who kept shouting over one another saying “Oh! And then what if there was like, goo!” and “Yeah, and like, that’s who Charlize really is!”

PREPARE THYSELF FOR ALL THE SPOILERS

So, Red Letter Media made a fantastic video of things that just didn’t make a lick of sense in Prometheus. I’m going to point out some of the questions I had and expand a bit. Now, prepare yourself for fun.

Why did Holloway assume that the air was okay to breathe in? This bugged me so much. I’m sorry, but if you’re a scientist, wouldn’t it cross your mind that while the air reads as being breathable for humans, it doesn’t rule out the fact that there might be some toxic alien chemical make-up shit in the air that humans don’t even know exists? Wouldn’t the first thought be to run some tests? Or, oh, I don’t know, just play it safe and not breathe in alien air?

What was the point in the reveal of Weyland being Charlize’s father? Because it was completely irrelevant and added nothing to the plot or personality and really, wasn’t even a huge surprise. Which is odd, because the way they revealed it, (with the whole “Hello…FATHER.“) I felt like I should have gasped and yet I felt nothing. Though I did find myself entranced by Charlize’s silky smooth hair and diamond cutting cheekbones.

What was with Weyland being alive and then dead? He could’ve been alive and with them and just said “I’d also like to meet the people who made me. Sound good?” and everyone probably would’ve been like “Yeah, dude, the more the merrier!” But then also, some people were like “Oh shit! You’re alive Weyland!” and others were like “Oh, hey Weyland. How’s it going?”

Why did Noomi and Charlize run in a straight fucking line while a round spaceship rolled toward them? This was actually somehow my biggest complaint. If something is rolling at you, wouldn’t your first reaction be not just to run away, but to disperse to the sides? Because then you could just sort of move out of the way and let it roll right past you and everything would be hunky-dory. Some scientists and astronauts (or whatever).

So…I don’t know. Visually, this movie gets a five. It gave me a lot of Event Horizon vibes (which isn’t a bad thing!) In regard to plot, I don’t even know. I don’t understand what point it was trying to make or what the twist really was or if it was really supposed to be a prequel or maybe just Ridley Scott saying “Hey, kids, I made another movie about aliens a few decades ago. Check it out!” I feel like at the end, the lasting question was “See? Get it?” and my response is “No. I don’t get it.”

**

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94: Snow White and the Huntsman (in which I analyze)

Snow White & the Huntsman – June 1, 2012
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth
Written by: Evan Daughterty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Directed by: Rupert Sanders

The plot: “In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.” – IMDB

My thoughts: I’ll talk about the good stuff before I just ramble on and on about what I didn’t like about the movie.

1. Charlize was badass and beautiful and over-the-top (which I liked). Her costumes were a-maaah-zing.
2. Special effects were really cool. It was absolutely a movie I liked watching. It was visually stimulating. A+ on all that.
3. They made it gritty and that was cool. It was kind of “Game of Thrones”-esque inside the castle. I like that they weren’t afraid to “go there” as it were.

So let’s get down to it. If you’ve read even a few of my blog posts, you’ll probably have noticed that I tend to give movies the ol’ feminist eye when I watch them and I went into the movie thinking “Please be feminist, please be feminist” because it had such an opportunity to make it that way. And it just…didn’t. Not really.

Some people see KStew’s acting as being subtle, quiet, deep, whatever. Other people see her as being boring as shit and having the most annoying ticks/acting habits ever. I fall into the latter category. So yes, I did not read her as having a “quiet strength,” I saw her as being sulky and never once smiling and having zero passion about anything.

This take on Snow White gives the illusion of feminism. It says, “Look! Here’s this totally atypically beautiful girl (not at all), who is gentle (boring), but possessing an inner-strength (she just wants her kingdom back), and she doesn’t need to end up with a guy (the movie is called Snow White & the Huntsman and that lingering look at the end? Try and tell me that we’re not lead to believe that they end up together off-screen. Because they do).” Now let’s break this shit down:

BEAUTY

Great value is still placed on beauty in this movie, but it’s only okay if you’re just naturally beautiful. If you suck it out of anyone, then you shouldn’t be beautiful. There are some women in the movie who have given themselves (let’s be honest, minimal) scars on their faces and suddenly they’re not considered beautiful? What message is this sending? And why must “fair” hold the connotation of “beauty, attractiveness” when the twist could be that it means “just”? This movie could have done so much – had a truly normal-looking girl play the lead and give it a message of beauty only being skin deep and that strong character and will is what makes someone beautiful and worthy of the throne.

VIRTUE

The symbolism in Snow White was just about as obvious as the symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia. In the movie, Snow White is said “to be life itself” and by that they mean she’s pure and by that they mean she is virginal – she is what a woman is meant to be. And it’s sooo obvious what they mean. She only rides white horses (who just appear when she needs them and die for her, no big deal), The Great Stag or whatever (also white) only appears for her and come on, that right there is a God-like figure. When she comes back to life, she is wearing a simple white dress, not unlike Christ and in the typical color of purity – White. She dies eating an apple (naturally poisonous because women are always fucking up by eating apples) and her name is SNOW WHITE. And she’s been trapped in a tower all her life so she’s hardly even been looked at by a man, let alone any human.

MASCULINITY

None. She has no masculinity in this movie. And I’m not saying she needs to, but it’s odd that all of her strengths are distinctly feminine. She connects with animals, she saves people, she cries, men fawn over her, and so on and so forth. Sure, she suits up and goes into battle but does not know how to fight. She is a damsel in distress for a large majority of the movie. When she saves the Huntsman from a troll, she does so with a scream and a calming energy or whatever. So yes, her femininity is her strength, awesome. But the fact that all she has is femininity is gendering her in an odd way.

WOMEN FIGHTING WITH WOMEN

Man, why are these stories about women being terrible to and having issues with other women? We already have men trying to bring us down, why do we have to go after each other? If anything, Ravenna’s revenge plan seems skewed. She hates men who use her for her beauty so she becomes more beautiful and kills other beautiful girls who probably also suffer the same fate that she did/would have? You think she’d be rounding up all the women trying to take down all the men but then this would be a review about all the misandry in the movie. The point is, the core of this story is about one woman hating another woman – not doing a damn thing for a plight, ladies! And over who’s hotter of all things.

Man, I don’t even know. I wanted it to be feminist, to truly have a strong female warrior lead who could blur the line between masculine and feminine and change the idea that “beauty wins” because that isn’t the right message.

Critics are right in calling it a darker fairy tale because it is dark. It’s dark to let young girls or impressionable women leave a theater with this belief that beauty+goodness=GOOD and beauty+evil=BAD because that’s not the point. GOODNESS=GOOD, EVIL=BAD. Beauty has nothing to do with it. God damn Hollywood, just perpetuating the myths of beauty and purity, always pitting woman against woman. How you gonna do us like that?

Stars: 2/5 (1 for visuals, 1 for Charlize)

92: Safe House (spoilers that you could never hope to guess even a little bit)

Safe House – February 10, 2012
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington
Written by: David Guggenheim
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa

The plot: “A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Hold on tight, guys, because you’ll never see the twist in this movie coming. Not in a million years. No other film can prepare you for what you’re in for if you watch Safe House, the most unique movie to come along in nearly three decades.

For the first time ever, Denzel plays an ex-government agent in trouble with the law. But is he really guilty of all those crimes the CIA is accusing him of?

FUCK NO. When is Denzel ever really a bad guy (okay, so Training Day but that’s basically just the opposite of this movie)?

And young Ryan Reynolds. Will he continue to ignorantly love his country despite all of the evidence stacking up in front of his eyes and Denzel being strangely honest and frank with him?

FUCK NO. Ryan Reynolds will begin to doubt anything and despite attempting to see the good in his government/higher-ups, a single, solitary statement by his mentor will change everything. Complete 180! Shock! Awe! Disbelief.

And what about that guy that seems shifty but come on, could it be that easy? Could he really be the one pulling the strings? Surely it’s just a red herring and it’s just too bad that he seems so shady. It can’t possibly be him!

FUCK YES IT CAN BE. The moment he comes on screen and seems a bit too kind and decent and yet oddly secretive, well, sorry David Guggenheim, everyone just figured out all your little plot twists and secrets.

Action? Good. Denzel? Cool as hell. Ryan Reynolds? All-American rippling abs and a heart of gold. Everyone else? Vanilla government agents. I don’t know what I expected. Oh well, at least “No Church in the Wild” played in the end. That song was sick in the trailer.

Stars: 1/5

P.S. This movie is like…an hour too long. The only thing that happens for an hour and fifteen minutes is Ryan Reynolds chases Denzel, catches him, and loses him. Lather, rinse, repeat as unnecessary.

91: This Means War (oy vey)

This Means War – February 17, 2012
Starring: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler
Written by: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg
Directed by: McG

The plot: “Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.” – IMDB

My thoughts: For as much as I generally enjoy the three stars of this movie, God was it a bore. Predictable, slightly misogynistic, verging on being offensive and inappropriate. And I know, what fun am I? It’s just a movie! But why do movies get a free pass to be so…awful?

I get it, it’s all about a girl trying to figure out which guy she wants and which is better for her. Meanwhile, the two friends have to love the girl to grow and change. Tale as old as time. And I get it, they’re spies so of course there are going to be spy jokes which just end up being doorways to saying “Ooh, look at two hot guys stalk the girl they like. It’s fine because they’re spies!” but on some level, it’s weird. Sometimes, the level of absurdity doesn’t help out what’s actually happening.

I won’t analyze it in terms of gender roles, it’s not that kind of movie (but honestly, watch it and check out how masculinity vs femininity is played out. Come on Hollywood, why must you keep perpetuating these stereotypes?)

It was rarely funny, the action sequences were so-so, and I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters. I also feel extremely dissatisfied with the ending. Tuck didn’t really get what he wanted meanwhile FDR (which, let me state for the record that if I met a guy who went by the name FDR, I would either a.) tell him to fuck off or b.) demand he give me a real name. His real name is Franklin. What’s so terrible about that or Frank? What kind of douchebag goes by all three of his initials which just so happen to be the monniker of a famous U.S. President?) was like “check out how charming I am. Now that I’ve met this one single girl who doesn’t crumble on our first meeting (but the second meeting, yes) I guess I’m over my womanizing ways!”

Guh, I just felt so bored during this movie. The acting was fine – I think Reese is cute and Tom and Chris made for a cute spy/best friend team. Chelsea Handler was…Chelsea Handler. And that’s it. So lackluster. The plot was, for all intents and purposes, boring and overused.

*

P.S. What the hell was Angela Bassett doing in this movie? Girl, you were nominated for an Oscar.

90: The Avengers

The Avengers – May 4, 2012
Starring: Everyone.
Written and directed by: Joss Whedon

The plot: “Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Much like everyone else on the Internet, I’m going to go ahead and say that The Avengers was awesome. It was equal parts action, comedy, and heart. I think that comes out to being a third of each, right? Right.

I feel like at this point (the movie having been out for about three weeks and extremely popular) I’m not sure what I can say that everyone hasn’t already said. I think they did an amazing job of making Cleveland (er…represent? I’m from the vicinity) look like New York City. I only wish I hadn’t been so dumb and had gotten up there to try to be a PA or to touch Tom Hiddleston/Robert Downey Jr./Chris Evans/Mark Ruffalo.

As a Joss Whedon fangirl, I of course noticed a lot of Whedon-esque quotes and characterizations (which I loved.) Even Scarlett Johansson was enjoyable. I generally don’t like her and she was sooo boooring in Iron Man 2. I think the fact that Joss headed it up helped to make her a stronger female character – she actually had a personality and wasn’t hypersexualized!

And dare I say it, I think they finally got The Hulk right. Sorry Eric Bana and Edward Norton – two actors whom I love a lot – but your Hulks were just…lacking.

I’m going to wrap it up. You guys know it was good SO AWESOME. You’ve seen it or you read the reviews already.

Stars: 5/5

87: Gone

Gone – February 24, 2012
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Sebastian Stan
Written by: Allison Burnett
Directed by: Heitor Dahlia

My thoughts: As an Amanda Seyfried fan, I felt obligated to see this movie even though I thought to myself, “Self, what is a Lifetime movie doing being released nationwide in theaters?” But in reality, it exceeded my expectations and did not completely suck. Maybe I’m just biased and lean toward liking whatever Amanda does, but I was pleasantly (well, maybe “pleasantly” isn’t the correct word in relation to what this movie is about) surprised by the film.

This poster is strangely similar to the poster for 'Tell No One' which I just posted about. Weird...

This is kind of a spoiler but not totally so stop reading if you’re super worried that I’m going to ruin this movie for you. I was worried that they were going to make this a “Surprise! It was all in her head and she’s crazy!” or “She’s been committing the crimes and has a disassociated personality disorder. Gotcha!” M. Night Shyamalan bullshit kind of movie. Which would have made me mad because to me, it would have given the message about how females always overreact and blame men and blah blah blah. And I would have been mad. But nope, homegirl isn’t crazy and proves the police wrong.

For a movie with a somewhat dark plot, comedy manages to sneak its way in mostly through Seyfried telling ridiculous stories to get people to tell her what she needs to know and by telling people off. She’s just so damn likable. And her hair! Every time I see her it makes me wish I hadn’t cut my hair off.

I don’t really want to spoil it but there is one character that they make seem a little bit shady who you might think “Oh shit, it’s him! He’s been messing with her this whole time!” when ultimately, this is a full-on revenge story. It’s straightforward, it doesn’t aim for a big twist at the end and I actually kind of liked that. The satisfaction comes from Seyfried’s character winning in the end.

Gone isn’t a blow-you-away amazing movie but it’s not a bad flick. I found it satisfying – I wanted to do a little fist pump at the end and say “Fuck yeah!” at the climax of the movie and I found parts of it to be perfectly tense. Amazing? No. Enjoyable? Yes. So there you go.

Stars: 3/5

85: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games – March 23, 2012
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joshua Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
Written by: Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross, Billy Ray
Directed by: Gary Ross

The plot: “Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Yes, I am a fan of The Hunger Games book series (although, I will say that Suzanne Collins’s writing style isn’t exceptional. It’s the plot that’s top notch.) However, rather than blathering on and on about what they did and didn’t do right in the movie in comparison to the book, I’m going to try to keep it strictly movie related.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. Mind you, that might be because I had ungodly high expectations for the movie as I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for it to come out, but all the same, not quite as good as I’d hoped. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the cinematography. I get that it was an action movie and that shaky-cam adds a certain something. However, the second half of the movie was action and even then, there wasn’t a ton of all out running sequences. The camera just seemed too out of focus, too shaky, and like Tom Stern (director of photography on the film) couldn’t figure out what the hell he wanted to look at (I noticed this big time in the scene where Effie is making her announcements and pulling names). For a lot of the beginning of the movie, it’s hard to get a good look at where you are or who’s on screen.

The acting was a bit touch and go. Jennifer Lawrence had some really great moments but her delivery suffered a bit when it came to either crying or acting lovey-dovey toward Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta. Still, she remained a badass throughout. Perhaps she just plays the serious side of things a bit better on screen. But I must say, it was the supporting characters that blew. me. away. First of all, when is Woody Harrelson not wonderful? I swear you could give that man a script covered in shit and he’d make it work. He was perfect as the drunken, but still very wise, mentor Haymitch. Elizabeth Banks (and the entire makeup/wardrobe department) did a pitch-perfect job with Effie. Somehow, she manages to completely likable because of all of her unlikable qualities. Lenny Kravitz was good (not enough screen time, though) as Cinna and the plastic bag guy from American Beauty as the game’s director Seneca Crane was also lovely. And Stanley Tucci…well, do I really need to elaborate?

The set design was incredible. It was exactly as I imagined while reading and somehow better. The one thing I will say in regard to the book vs movie is that they certainly didn’t sacrifice or cut out anything stylistically. All of settings were so well done – something I think fans probably appreciate.

In general, I enjoyed the movie. I can see a lot of people who didn’t read the books enjoying it. However, my one gripe is all of the people (read: the girls sitting directly behind me) worrying only about the love triangle between Gale, Katniss, and Peeta because that’s supposed to be a sub-plot. And later in the books, it might not even qualify as that. The point is, she’s supposed to be a revolutionary and a strong female character. Stop worrying about how the super hot guys feel and worry more about the fact that there’s this 17-year-old girl forced to slay 23/die at the hands of her peers at her governments command. Sheesh!

Stars: 4/5