Friday, August 29, 2014

Star Trek: Into Darkness

I’ll start off saying I enjoyed the first installment by J.J. Abrams when I saw it in the theater back in 2009, though I had some issues major issues with the film; Nero’s whole motivation and plan for a start, but I was still engaged enough by the actors and action that I found myself having a rather good time. Over the years after seeing it several more times on Blu-ray I’ve downgraded its likability greatly as the comedy shtick gets more grating with each successive viewing and the lens flares even more absurd. Still its script is genius when compared to that of Star Trek: Into Darkness.

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“Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance!”

If I was to break down this movie into three acts I’d call Act One an atrocious crime against screenwriting and the characters of Star Trek, Act Two was fairly good with some excellent action, and then Act Three was J.J. Abrams pissing down the backs of Trek fans and calling it rain.

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“Run, crazed Trekkies are after us!”

Chris Pine is not at fault here as I don’t think any actor could pull off this version of Kirk who is an ass-hat for at least 80% of his screen time. In the first Abrams film Kirk saves Earth and though he has had only three years at Starfleet Academy training he is given command of the starship Enterprise. Now this is like giving command of an Aircraft Carrier to an air cadet who performed a massively heroic act. No one would do this. Sure Kirk in the original canon was the youngest captain in Starfleet but that was after fourteen years of service. Could you ever picture Starfleet giving command of a starship to Ensign Wesley Crusher no matter what awesome feet he performed? That’s what medals are for.

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Dark Kirk Rises

In Abrams second outing we begin with the Enterprise on a survey mission of primitive planet that is about to be destroyed by a volcanic eruptions and Kirk (Chris Pine) breaks the Prime Directive (something classic Kirk is well known for) to save the native inhabitants and Spock’s life.
Unfortunately Spock (Zachary Quinto) tattles on Kirk and thus Kirk is relieved of his command and sent back to Starfleet Academy. Starfleet gives the Enterprise back to Admiral Pike ( Bruce Greenwood) who pulls some strings to get Kirk to stay on as first officer because that’s how this Starfleet works.

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“I love you like a son, but you’re fired.”

Questions: What kind of organization sends you back to school for breach of rules? In the real world it would have resulted in either “Dishonorable Discharge” or simply “You’re fired!” Also how awful would it be for Kirk to be assigned as first officer on board the ship he was just previously captain of? Talk about awkward. Lucky for Kirk his mentor is shortly killed allowing him to be captain again.
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Stardate 911

Then Starfleet is attacked by the terrorist Sherlock Holmes…no I mean Starfleet traitor John Harrington (Benedict Cumberbatch), oh wait he’s actually Khan. *sigh* Kirk quickly deduces that the attack on the Starfleet Archives is only the beginning and that the villain knows Starfleet’s top brass will all meet in this boardroom (which is apparently on one of the top floors of Starfleet headquarters with massive picture windows. Pish-posh on security I say) and they are probably the real target. Kirk is immediately proven right as Khan appears outside the window in a small fighter and opens fire on everybody. Kirk manages to destroy the craft but Admiral Pike dies and Kirk is sad. Kirk asks Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) if he can have command of the Enterprise again as Pike is dead and so not using it. Admiral Weller agrees because that’s how Starfleet works…oh and because Admiral Marcus is evil.

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“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

Kirk is sent on a mission to kill Khan by sneaking into Klingon territory and shooting a super photon torpedo at Khan’s hideout in an abandoned province on the Klingon home world. Turns out the whole thing is an evil plan by Admiral Marcus as the warp drive has been sabotaged and after firing on the Klingon home world the Klingons will be rightly pissed and will blow the crap out of the crippled Enterprise. But Spock has brow beaten some morality lessons into Kirk so instead of blowing up Khan they capture him alive, and by capture I mean Khan saves them from an army of Klingons and then surrenders.

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“This helmet saves us a bundle in make-up effects.”

On board the Enterprise John Harrington explains that he is Khan Noonien Singh a three hundred year old genetically superior being, who along with seventy-two others, were banished into space for trying to take over the world. Admiral Marcus found their ship drifting in space and awoke Khan to use his savage intellect in the war he is sure is about to happen with the Klingons. Khan has basically been blackmailed to help evil Admiral Marcus to design awesome weapons of war with the life of his still frozen crew in the balance.

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Question: How helpful could a guy be, even a super genius, in the development of awesome fabulous weapons when he has been out of touch with the advances in technology for the past 300 bloody years?

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“A Starfleet Officer once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

Somehow Khan managed to sneak his frozen family into 72 of these selfsame super photon torpedoes that Weller gave Kirk to use against Khan. If anyone can explain how that makes a lick of sense please enlighten me. How would Khan have access to his frozen crew when they are the only bargaining chip Weller has to keep Khan in line? Why would Admiral Marcus give Kirk 72 of these awesome torpedoes when the mission called for him to blow up ONE person. I think even James T. Kirk would find 72 torpedoes to be a bit of an overkill. Yet he never questions it, but Scotty (Simon Pegg) questions the fact that these super-secret weapons are of an unknown quality and could be a danger to his ship and thus he won’t sign off on them unless he can examine them first. For no logical reason at all Kirk basically fires Scotty, rubber stamps the torpedoes and makes Chekov (Anton Yelchin) chief engineer. So not only is Kirk an idiot he’s also a huge dick.

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“Let me show you where you can stick you Nuclear Wessels.”

When Kirk informs Starfleet that they captured and not killed Khan this gets evil Admiral Marcus’s panties in a bunch and he shows up with the USS Vengeance a super dreadnaught that Khan helped design. Weller opens fire, pausing only to retrieve his daughter Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), who finagled her way onto the Enterprise because we needed more references to the movie they are ripping off/remaking.

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Doctor Carol “Cheesecake” Marcus.

Kirk is forced to work with Khan because “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and the two of them sneak aboard the Vengeance with the help of Scotty who somehow managed to sneak aboard earlier because a super-secret Starfleet base that is housing a super-secret weapon of war would have no security whatsoever. They managed to take out Admiral Marcus and his crew, all ten of them, and even shoot Khan in the back because they know he’s evil. (New Spock phoned Leonard Nimoy to get advice on how to deal with Khan. Seriously I’m not kidding)

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“I can’t tell you about my time line…okay, okay you twisted my arm, Khan is evil and not to be trusted.”

Of course phasers on stun won’t keep Khan down and he immediately gets the upper hand. He demands the return of his crew, still frozen in the photon torpedoes, or he will kill Kirk, Scotty, and Carol Marcus and then blow up the Enterprise. Spock agrees and they beam over the torpedoes and Khan sends Kirk and company back to the Enterprise because, “A captain should go down with his ship” and he then evilly opens fire on the Enterprise. But what’s this, Spock had McCoy activated all those torpedoes so that shortly after beaming over to the Vengeance they explode. As McCoy (Kark Urban) is not a monster he removed all the cryo-tubes with Khan’s people.

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Question: How in the hell did McCoy have time to remove all those cryo-tubes and activate 72 goddamn torpedoes in the time he had?

Now is when things get painful. The Enterprise is plummeting to Earth and its warp core is misaligned so they can’t get any power to the engines, to save the ship Kirk goes into the warp core chamber which is flooded with radiation that is at lethal levels. He manages to get the core aligned just in the nick of time and saves the day, but he is going to die from radiation poisoning. Spock races to engineering to say goodbye to his friend. Separated by a pain of glass they have a tearful farewell as Kirk dies. Wait…Spock cries? WTF?

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“KHAN!”

When Spock’s mother died and his home world was destroyed he got kind of upset when provoked by Kirk, but he never even shed a fucking tear. This movie did not earn that moment. This is not two men who have been friends for decades these are two dudes who have kind of worked together for a while and not all that amicably. In the first movie Spock maroons Kirk on an ice planet and in this one he narcs on Kirk causing him to lose his command. How are these two considered friends?

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“I have been and will always be, this guy you know.”

But it gets worse, it seems that Khan’s blood can resurrect the dead (McCoy tested it on a tribble) and so Spock and Uhura capture Khan alive and give Kirk a blood transfusion and he comes back from the dead. Khan is put back into the freezers with his crew and Kirk and company go off on their five year mission. Fuck you J.J. Abrams!
Question: If Khan’s blood is a cure all and Khan’s people are all supposedly the same type of supermen, why couldn’t McCoy have used blood from any of the 72 others he has on ice?

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The Trouble with Plot Contrivances.

Now for people who are not fans of Star Trek, who have not seen the episode “Space Seed” from the original series or seen Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, they may get much more enjoyment out of the fun action sequences, some of the genuinely funny character beats (there aren’t many but I did laugh a couple of times), and the cool whizz bang of the special effects, but any actual fan of the original Trek series cannot walk away from this without feeling insulted. Star Trek Nemesis was always been considered by most fans to be a hack rip-off of Wrath of Khan but now we have something worse a reboot/remake of it but with its balls cut away.
Simply put this film started out terrible, got my hopes up briefly during the middle act, and then angered me beyond belief as it reached its idiotic conclusion.

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“From everyone at the Apple Store, screw you J.J. Abrams.”
Stray Observations:
  • If Khan had broken with Evil Admiral Marcus why did he still go to Klingon space?  This was part of the Admiral’s plot, something that no longer interests Khan.
  • Hiding your crew inside functional torpedoes is a dangerous gamble, especially if said torpedoes are part of the “Start a War” plan.
  • Why do these torpedoes have enough empty space to contain a cryo-chamber?
  • Khan’s desire to destroy the Enterprise even after supposedly getting his crew back only makes sense if he really hated Kirk, but this is not the Kirk from “Space Seed” so there is no history backing up Khan’s actions.
  • With Khan’s blood in hand Star Fleet now has a cure for death.  This will certainly lesson the drama in further adventures.
  • When Roddenberry wrote the episode “Space Seed” saying Khan and his people were in frozen slumber for 300 years placed the Eugenics War in the future as of the airing of that episode, now in this movie saying they were asleep for 300 years puts the Eugenics War sometime in the Nineties.   Alternate timeline bullshit doesn’t even cover this gaff.
  • And finally, they couldn’t get  an actor better than Benedict Cumberbatch to play Khan, a supposed Sikh prince and once played by Ricardo Montalban?  
  • Separated at birth 
  • I mean seriously guys, come on!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Blood: Book vs Movie

The story of Green Beret Vietnam veteran Rambo started way back in 1972 with David Morrell’s successful novel, and then it took ten years for it to make its way to the big screen, but what is fascinating is that though the movie is almost structurally identical to the book, hitting almost every action beat from the source material, tonally its differences are night and day.
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Both the book and the movie start exactly the same way, Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a drifter and when passing through a small rural community he is rousted by the town’s sheriff for vagrancy. The movie adds an extra bit where Rambo is looking for the last surviving member of his outfit from Vietnam only to discover he has died of cancer. This is the first instance of getting the audience on Rambo’s side and screenwriters proceeds to lay on more and more reasons for us to cheer on Rambo, while the book spends much more time and effort balancing where the reader’s sympathies lie.
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Johnny comes marching home.

In the movie Sherriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) sees Rambo and instantly dislikes him because of his appearance, his very existence is a threat to his peaceful community, and he offers Rambo a ride out of town, when after being dropped off Rambo turns right around and heads back into town. Teasle arrests Rambo and takes him in. The book has Teasle offering the hitchhiking Rambo a ride through town only later to find Rambo back in town at a diner, Teasle tells the cook, “Make that to go,” and ushers Rambo out of town a second time. Rambo of course returns to the town and a frustrated Teasle finally arrest him for vagrancy and resisting arrest and when Rambo at first refuses to get into the back of squad car.
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“If you want some friendly advice, get a haircut and take a bath.”

The book is able to get inside Will Teasle’s head to see what makes him tick, he honestly believes letting long haired drifters hang around will lead to drugs and crime. He gives Rambo multiple chances to leave peacefully and only gets hot under the collar when Rambo continues to give him attitude. Movie Teasle is basically just “The Man” and by that virtue alone is in the wrong. Sure both versions of Teasle are profiling an unknown drifter and using the law to remove such an undesirable element but in the book we find out that Teasle wife has recently left him and how stressed out he is over it. Actor Brian Dennehy does a lot to make movie Teasle less of a caricature than the screenplay provides.
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“Hey. If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place buddy.”

At the police station is when the movie begin to tonally shift away from the book, as the character of Deputy Galt (Jack Starrett) is a raging asshole and seems to sadistically enjoy harassing Rambo and it’s his cruelty during the police’s attempt to shave Rambo that causes the Vietnam vet to flashback to his history as a P.O.W. and causes Rambo freak out and violent escape. Now in the book Galt is portrayed as a slightly inexperienced police officer that when Rambo loses it when they try to shave him goes for his gun when Rambo gets a hold of the razor. Rambo guts Galt. Book Galt was not a sadistic bully he was just poor slob trying to do his job and got disembowelled for his troubles.

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A close shave.

The body count in movie is a total of one. When Galt is trying to shoot Rambo, who is clinging helpless to a cliff, Rambo jumps to a tree, crashes through it to the ground and throws a rock at the helicopter causing it to veer and Galt to fall to his death. Sure Rambo injures the hell out of a bunch more cops and National Guardsman but no one else dies, in the book that is a whole different story.
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We find out in the novel that Rambo has been rousted from fifteen towns and he’s sick of it, he admits to himself that this Sherriff wasn’t near as bad as the previous fifteen but that doesn’t matter, he’s through taking it anymore. So basically the town Madison, Kentucky just drew the lucky last straw.

Both book and movie has Teasle and his men chase Rambo up into the hills but in the movie Rambo, as mentioned he accidently kills Galt and then proceeds to use his Green Beret training to take out his pursuers, but with non-lethal means. In the book Rambo acquires a nice rifle from a moonshiner and it’s with that he shoots and kills the police sharpshooter in the helicopter which also results in the pilot panicking and crashing the copter into the cliff face. Adding two more deaths to his score card.

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Book Rambo then proceeds to shoot and kill all the dogs hunting him, the civilian dog handler, and a cop holding some of the dogs. As a storm moves in Rambo begins to pick off the rest of the hunting party. This section of the book reads more like a horror movie than a heroic action flick as Rambo merciless hunts and kills all the policemen with only Teasle barely escaping with his life. Death toll now at thirteen.

Stallone’s Rambo is the underdog, a man unjustly persecuted by the authorities, and one who can use his superior skills to win out against the odds. Book Rambo even outnumbered, with a broken rib and a fever, is a terrifying force to be reckoned with. Teasle scrambling through the brush, his men all dead, and with Rambo on his trail is more akin to a Jason in Friday the 13th than today’s typical action heroes.

First-Blood stalloneNow Book Rambo isn’t actually a monster like Jason Voorhees, he berates himself for killing all those cops when he should have used that time to get away, his pride and anger got the better of him. He just really wanted to show them who they were fucking with. Throughout the book we are party to Rambo’s tortured logic and reasoning as he argues with himself, trying to justify the horrible things he has done and is continuing to do.
Pride is the sin that permeates this story. It was pride that wouldn’t let Teasle wait for the State Police to arrive and resulted in a dozen dead friends just as it was pride that kept Rambo fighting. Teasle and Rambo are very much alike in the book as both given sympathetic traits that swing into one camp then the other. The reader wants Rambo to escape but when he is stalking Teasle you are totally on the side of the Sherriff because asshole or not he doesn’t deserve to die.
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The biggest change from book to movie is the ending. A change so upsetting that when it happened Kirk Douglas, who was hired to play Colonel Trauhtman, left the picture and was replaced by Richard Crenna. In the both the movie and the book Rambo eventually returns to the town to wreak havoc and “let slip the dogs of war” and kill Teasle but in the book Rambo dynamites a gas station, the police station and the court house as distractions so he can make his escape, but he’s on Teasle’s turf this time and the Sherriff anticipates his moves and he cuts off Rambo’s escape, the two begin a grim cat and mouse game, that is if both cats where horribly wounded and on the brink of death. At this point Rambo is just going for an honorable death, suicide may land him in Hell (he’d briefly thought of blowing himself up with his remaining dynamite), and so with shaky hands he shoots at Teasle, giving away his position with the assumption that Teasle will than be able to fire the killing blow and end Rambo’s pain, but no “good” deed goes unpunished as Rambo, to his complete surprise, actually hits Teasle. Now too weak to even blow himself up he collapses, but is then surprised when his head explodes. Colonel Trautman had blown the top of Rambo’s head off with a shotgun. Traughtman returns to tell Teasle it’s over just in time to see the Sheriff die, and strangely enough Teasle’s last thoughts being of actual affection for Rambo.

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“God didn’t make Rambo, I made him!”

Things end radically different in the movie. Rambo enters the police station knowing that Teasle is on the roof lying in wait for him, he fires his M-60 up through the skylight causing the Sherriff to fall through and land at Rambo’s feet, but before Rambo can fire the killing shot and finish of Teasle good ole Colonel Trauhtman enters to tell Rambo that he is surrounded and there is no chance of escaping alive. We then get a long rambling monologue about the horrors of war and of how Rambo witnessed the gruesome deaths of his friends, he then surrenders to Trautman and the two walk out of the police station and Rambo is taken into custody.

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“It wasn’t my war! You asked me, I didn’t ask you!”

Your two main characters living when they originally both died is a very dramatic change but the movie ending works better for the vehicle it is in, if the movie had kept the books body count of almost two dozen people they would have had to end with Rambo dying, but as in this case with him only indirectly responsible for one death, and that of a complete asshat, the audience is able to remain on Rambo’s side right to the end. Rambo and Teasle in the book play out like Greek tragedy; two men from different wars and different backgrounds but still very much alike. They die because neither of them wanted to lose. They both had something to prove and as we all know “Pride goeth before destruction.”

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So basically the book and the movie are two different animals, one is a dark tale of two men hell bent on destroying each other while the other is the beginning of the Modern Hollywood Action Hero. Both good on their own merits and well worth checking out.

 SPECIAL NOTE:  If director Ted Kotcheff had ended the movie the way the book did there never would have been a Rambo franchise and Stallone’s career would have been quite different because other than the Rocky movies his box office results were rather poor at the time.  Rambo: First Blood Part II was screenplay was written by Stallone and James Cameron and funny enough the novelization was by none other than David Morrell himself and contains one of the best authors notes ever, “In my novel First Blood, Rambo died.  In the film, he lives.”

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Once again we visit the dark and rain slick streets of Frank Miller’s Sin City and along for the ride is our old pal Robert Rodriguez, so “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.
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If you’ve seen the first movie you know what you are in for and if you haven’t basically Frank Miller tries to outdo Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler in a very stylized graphic way. Based on several stories from the Miller’s graphic novels, as well as two written for this movie, we get an interesting anthology mix of timelines as this movie is both a sequel to the 2005 movie as well as a prequel. If someone was to try and cut these two films into some kind of sequential continuity they’d probably develop an aneurism. Godfather II this is not.

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“I’ve got a condition.”

Marv (Mickey Rourke) is back and laying waste to near do wells in his usual brutal fashion, he’s still in love with Nancy (Jessica Alba) but in a rather platonic way. It’s fun to see this gladiatorial monster tear through all opponents, but after a while even that can grow tiresome. Nancy is still the most famous stripper who never takes off her clothes, but now she’s getting drunk and taking target practice to get revenge against Roark (Powers Boothe) who is the man responsible for the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) who now watches Nancy from beyond the grave.

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“I see dead people.”

Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a cocky gambler that claims “I never lose” but when he goes up against Senator Roark in a backroom card game he finds out that the cards on the table aren’t the only things in play.  Sadly this story goes nowhere, returns to add no further information, and then abruptly ends without a point.

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Dead man’s plot.

Dwight (Now being played by Josh Brolin) has tried to leave Old Town but a call from old flame Ava (Eva Green) drags him back to the bad ole days. She is the titular “A Dame to Kill For” and because she is being played by Eva Green we completely buy that. Ava claims that she is trapped in a horrifying marriage by her abusive billionaire husband. Does she truly love Dwight or is there a darker play at hand?
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“I loved you in Goonies.”

Ava is the quintessential Frank Miller character as she is cold heartless bitch from which there is no escape. The amount of times women in these films are called either a whore or a bitch certainly lends one to believe Mister Miller may have issues with women. This is Eva Greens second outing in Frank Miller adaptation, she played the chief villainous in the abysmal 300: Rise of an Empire, but this time out her character is slightly more interesting though even more underdressed. Seriously, she is naked a lot in this movie

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This film is also littered with an excellent selection of character actors with the likes of Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Stacy Keach, and Christopher Lloyd filling out the cast, and for the most part they were entertaining if not a little wasted. Rosario Dawson is back as the dominatrix hung up on Dwight, and Jamie Chung has replaced Devon Aoki as the Old Town’s resident ninja. Dennis Haysbert steps in as Manute the evil chauffeur previously played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan, now as much as I like Haysbert as an actor he doesn’t have the same physical presence that Michael Clarke Duncan possessed and that is greatly missed here.

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“I may have lost a little weight…and an eye.”

The cast performances vary from decent to phoning it in, but given that many of the performances are buried under the incessant Mickey Spillane narration that goes on for bloody ever that is to be expected. The acting is not the real problem here but the pacing is, though with only a running time of 102 minutes it felt like I was in the theatre for over two hours.

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Eva Green and Stacy Keach are Beauty and the Beast.

Visually the film does pop, like it or hate it the digital back lot provides unique visual tools in bringing a graphic novel to life. Now in the 3D it even works better, but what was interesting to me was the fact that the 3D segments that used actually comic panels worked even better. This leads one to believe a Sin City movie may have always been meant to be animated. Though I’m guessing Hollywood is currently not up to bank rolling adult animated features.

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If you enjoyed the first Sin City movie you more than likely will enjoy this outing and if you didn’t then there is nothing here to change your mind.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Company of Wolves (1984)

 
CompanyofwolvesposterWerewolf movies have never reached the popularity of vampire films but for me the curse of lycanthropy has always been a more interesting idea than vampirism. The werewolf is an intrinsically more tragic figure than the vampire, and visually a man transforming into a ravenous beast certainly beats a guy in an opera cape turning into a bat.

In 1984 Neil Jordan, who funny enough later directed Interview with the Vampire one of my Top Ten Vampire Movies, teamed up with writer Angela Carter to translate her werewolf stories to the big screen. This pairing certainly created one of the more interesting installments in the genre as narratively it does not follow the conventions of most Hollywood films and is more a true phantasmagoria of images centering on budding sexuality and the dangers inside us all.
The movie is bookended with a modern section where a young girl named Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) who, for reasons unspoken, has been hiding in her room for quite some time, much to the consternation of her sister who repeatedly calls Rosaleen a “Pest!” Rosaleen tosses and turns in her bed as a nightmare unfolds; her sister is seen fleeing through a cobweb shrouded forest, stalked and attacked by large versions of the toys in Rosaleen’s bedroom.

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Nightmare fuel.

She finds a dollhouse and grandfather clock infested in rats, runs by a giant moss enshrouded flute, but then the nightmare reaches its peak when a pack of glowing eyed wolves begin to chase her as she flees for her life. There is no escape.

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A company of wolves.

Young Rosaleen smiles in her sleep, she sure must have serious issues with her sister, as the dream shifts to the main meat of the story. It’s here in this dream world we find a small fairy-tale village where Rosaleen and her parents (David Warner and Tusse Silberg) are standing together at the funeral of their recently killed eldest daughter. Rosaleen is told to go stay with her grandmother for the night as her mother is too overwrought with grief.

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Angela Lansbury as The Grandmother.

It is from her grandmother that Rosaleen learns such important lessons as, “Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple, and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle.” The movie structure becomes almost an anthology as we are treated with several dark tales as told by Grannie and Rosaleen.
The first tale told by Grannie is of a young couple on their wedding night. The groom (Stephen Rea) leaves his bride to answer “The Call of Nature” He does not return and soon the house is surrounded by wolves. The Bride (Kathryn Pogson) apparently had failed to get the “eyebrows meet in the middle” warning as she thought that aspect of her new hubbie was charming and thus she assumes he was eaten by the wolves. Later she remarries and has three children with her new husband, but while he is away her first husband returns and is furious that she has taken up with another man. She tries to fend off his enraged attacks and is horrified to see him tear off his own face and transform into a wolf. Lucky for her the new husband arrives home in just the nick of time and he handily lops the wolf’s head off. It lands in a bucket of milk and turns back to its human aspect.

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Face….off.

Grannie’s second story is of a young man who encounters a Rolls Royce in the heart of this medieval fairy tale. The car’s beautiful blonde chauffeur (Sarah Patterson in a blonde wig) beckons him over and he meets with The Devil (Terence Stamp) who gives him a potion and tells him to “Use it wisely. Waste not want not.” The boy rubs the potion into his chest and hair quickly sprouts. So we are guessing the poor lad wasn’t happy with his current stage of puberty. Vines begin to creep up his legs and our last image of him is in Rosaleen’s mirror as he screams in terror.

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The Devil.

The third story is told by Rosaleen to her mother and is about a woman who was wronged by a rich nobleman. She turns up at said nobleman’s wedding looking quite pregnant and she magically transforms the entire wedding party into wolves. Well she doesn’t transform the servants because though she may be a powerful sorceress it doesn’t mean she’s a bitch. The story ends with the sorceress in the wood with her babe where the wolves are forced to serenade them each night.


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The fourth story is one Rosaleen tells to the Huntsman and it is about a she-wolf that climbed up from the underworld through the village’s well. She has no ill intent but is still shot by a villager for the crime of being a wolf. She reveals her human form to the local priest who, not carrying if she be good or evil, bandages her wound. She then returns to her world via the well.

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She-Wolf

Now in and amongst these stories we follow Rosaleen as she deals with the trials and tribulations of being a young girl in a fairy tale. A local boy (Shane Johnstone) has amorous feelings towards her and invites her for a walk in the woods. After a little bit of kissing Rosaleen runs off and when the boy tries to find her he stumbles upon the torn up carcass of a cow. The men of the village lay a trap for the wolf but when they slay it the beast transforms back into a man.

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The movie then slides right into its version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Wearing her red hooded shawl that her grandmother made for her, Rosaleen sets forth one morning to bring a basket of goodies to her grandmother’s house, but on the way she encounters The Huntsman (Micha Bergese) who is handsome and charming and of course whose eyebrows meet in the middle.

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Dude, she’s twelve!

They make a wager that if he can make it to grandmother’s house before she does, with the aid of his wonderful compass, she will have to give him a kiss. The Huntsman arrives first and devours poor dear Grandmother. Or I should say he knocks her head off and it shatters like porcelain.

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What?

When Rosaleen arrives to find the Huntsman has beaten her there she also notices the carnage and remains of her dear old grandmother. A brief fight ensues, but when she shoots the Huntsman and he transforms into a wolf she feels pity for the wounded animal as she sees that his pack outside has now abandoned him. She tells him the story of the She-Wolf while petting and stroking his soft fur.

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“What big eyes you have.”

Eventually the villagers arrive and Rosaleen’s mother sees a large wolf burst out of the cottage window, she enters the cottage to find another wolf calmly waiting for her and around its neck she sees Rosaleen’s crucifix. Rosaleen’s father enters, sees the wolf and has the rational response to seeing a wolf in grandmother’s cottage, and tries to shoot it. Realizing it’s her daughter she knock’s her husband’s gun aside and watches as Wolf/Rosaleen escapes out the window to follow her mate and to join the pack.

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Happily ever after…I think not
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The pack of wolves’ race through the dream forest, into the modern world of sleeping Rosaleen, race up to her bedroom until she screams awake as a wolf burst through her bedroom window.

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The End.

To say this movie is on the bizarre side would be an understatement, but the gothic dreamlike quality of it cannot be denied as it hauntingly pulls the viewer in. The wolf transformations are what most people will remark on as they are bloody and uncanny. No lap dissolve transformations here but instead we get people tearing off their skin in bloody chunks or the beasts themselves ripping their way out of their host. They may not be the technological marvel that is the transformation in An American Werewolf in London, but these scenes are ones you won’t easily forget.  So if you are looking for a bizarre and dark fairy tale, told in very unconventional fashion, this could be the film for you.
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A beautiful film and worth tracking down.