Sometimes, you just gotta get out of the house and go catch a movie. Or is that just a Dawn thing? Either way, I'd been spending so much time trapped in the apartment with the post-surgery vampire cat, I needed an extra movie run. And that's how Robocop happened.
I saw the original once recently, and it didn't really stick in my mind too well. I just remember lots of booms and destruction. While I am an action junkie, I find it harder to get into such things at home. And while I'm usually skeptical of remakes, I felt that was a possible argument to be made for updating the technology of this franchise.
Oh boy was the technology upgraded. Now that we live in a post-Transformers world, mixing man and machine is quite seemless. It should be visually stunning, but I'm jaded at this point. Flashy effects aren't enough to impress me. I want the full package. Style and substance.
I was actually a bit impressed by some of the themes and questions the film raised, mostly around freedom and the moral complications around the questions. It hit on that theme in two ways. The first was mental freedom, exploring free will vs machines. At what point does humanity stop and machine begin. Did Alex cease to be human when the computer took over? The other was more around personal liberty. When have you gone too far giving up personal freedoms for security. A favorite song Sons of Liberty by Frank Turner ran thru my head. "A man that trades his liberty for a safe and dreamless sleep doesn't deserve the both of them and neither shall he keep". Are the drones patrolling the streets wroth the safety they provide or are they infringing on our freedom?
While the questions posed were interesting, I actually didn't care much. The film didn't really care either, at least they didn't care about answering them. It wasn't long until it was just Robocop blowing things up. The plot was all predictable and I really didn't feel too much at stake. I cared about his character at the beginning, but once the machine took over and he closed up, I didn't care anymore, regardless of what the resolution may have been.
The one solid aspect of the movie was Gary Oldman as the scientist responsible for creating the technology. He gave the film weight, and was able to capture my attention every time he was on screen. Without him, the whole thing may have been near unwatchable. Although Jackie Earle Haley was also fun to watch, but his was more a bit role. Same with Samuel L Jackson, who clearly was just given a day or two to be himself for some isolated clips.
Was the remake necessary? Eh. They certainly used their budget well as far as effects, and were able to spare a bit for some top actors. Maybe they should have thrown a bit more towards investing in the script.
To be completely honest, I was kind of uneasy at the start of this movie. I was at a 10 AM showing. Normally these are pretty empty, save for the occassional elderly couple and one or two early rising hipsters. This showing was full. Not a sold out, no seats left kind of full, but a all rows have multiple groups of occupants full. I recognized a homeless guy who hangs around Davis and Harvard, and a few others looked (and/or smelled) like they could be his colleagues. I looked around the room after I settled in, and it took some searching to find another woman in the crowd. It was just weird, and didn't bode all that well for the film. I've found you can tell a lot about the film just by the crowd. I see enough films that I sort of transcend demographic stereotypes, but I can see them present around me.
Anyways so the movie. Ugh. It felt like it was trying to be three or four different films at once, with no cohesion. As far as being an action film, it couldn't decide if tonally it wanted to go straight serious, play up the levity (a la Die Hard), or just go over the top (like Machete). But the trite drama overshadowed everything else.
Lemme break it down a bit. Kevin Costner is a top trigger man for the CIA. Upon finding out that he's terminally ill, he decides to retire so that he can reconnected with his estranged wife and daughter. Soon after he reestablishes contact with them, Amber Heard recruits him to get back into the game with the offer of an experimental cure.
So we have some scenes of moderate bad assery (lets face it, Costner is no Statham). But okay, he's good at his job and shows it off well enough. Fine. Let's throw in some humor with the silly ringtone his daughter set on his phone going off at inopportune moments. That's fine. Well placed humor usually works well in action movies (again, Die Hard). Costner's playing it fairly straightfoward. Then you add in Amber Heard, just off Machete Kills, acting like she's still in that other movie. Way overdone, over stylized, over every \m/ top possible. It just did not mesh well. But given that McG was directing this, I can see how he would have been eating it all up and encouraging her to go further. Who cares that it doesn't fit the rest of the tone of the film, she's hot. That's what he was prolly thinking.
You've got all that awkwardly gelled action mixed in with some cheesy family drama. Hailee Steinfeld and Kevin Costner tried carefully not to overact it, but the crap they were given was just so cliche. Somehow, I would still be drawn into it, until I'd take a step back and realize just how obvious it all was. And this is what dominated the film. Until abrupt switch to action. And then back to family drama.
I think there had been a lot of potential in the original idea. Luc Besson, the mind behind recently discussed The Professional, had a hand in it. But I think he let go somewhere along the lines. I think this could have been a Professional-ish mix of drama and action in more capable hands. I just don't think McG was ready to handle something weightier than Charlie's Angels.
Despite all of the cat distractions of the time, I chose to escape to the movies to clear my head, knowing I might not be fully in it. As it was, I was waiting for a call from the vet confirming that preliminary test results cleared Nosferatu for surgery, and I knew that call would pull me out of the movie for a minute. I sat by the exit. Now I'm a few days out from that. Cat is in recovery and the movie's a bit of a blur.
The main criticism I'd heard about the film was that it was more talk than action (and I don't mean I was expecting some Die Hard type action). So much effort around why the monuments men were doing what they were doing (which was rescuing and returning art stolen by the Nazis towards the end of WWII) and little actual rescue. And I agree up to a point. The film did take a while to get going (although admittedly, the timing of when I got more in to it did coincide a bit with the phone call). There was a lot of talk that didn't go anywhere. Much of the film felt like George Clooney et al thought they were more clever than they actually were. Yet the story was interesting, the characters were engaging, and there were some emotional moments.
Clooney assembled a pretty rocking star cast: Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin (who I'm quite happy to see has put that Oscar win to use), Cate Blanchett. Their characters might have been a bit thin on paper, but the cast breathed life into them. Their interactions were fun to watch, and you cheered for these guys. Damon in particular made me laugh with his subtitled poor French, and the "God love him for trying so damn hard" persona that he's often type cast with, or at least portrayed as such on Jimmy Kimmel.
While some of the story telling might have been flat, the story itself was one worth telling. These men were unsung heroes, and their passion was truly commendable. I've always found these smaller, more focused stories to be more compelling than sprawling tales of the war at large. I do feel like I've heard a wonderful piece of history, even if the story took a while to get its footing.
I opted out of catching a matinee of American Idiot (I was already gonna see 3 other performances this weekend) in favor of movie time. Specifically The Lego Movie. Best decision ever.
I've found when I go to the movies alone, I'm less prone to audibly laughing out loud than when I'm with a buddy. I'm just typically an antisocial and quiet person, and don't like to draw attention to myself. For Lego Movie, I was laughing so hard through so much. I was very confused as to what that noise coming out of my mouth was.
Everything about this movie was just perfect. And I'm not just talking about the nostalgia factor, although that was big. To be fair, I was never a big Lego kid. I loved them, but I only had one small ziplock bag full of assorted pieces. I did have a big ol' bucket of Flexiblocks though. I guess Lego was too expensive or my parents didn't trust me not to swallow them or something. But even without as strong an emotional attachment to Legos as other people I know, the film was a magic portal back to childhood.
The animation was fantastic. I haven't seen any, but I'm told that other Lego animations try to go for realism in the sense that they ignore the limited mobility and flat surfaces. This time, they went for realism in the sense that the whole thing felt like it could have been built out of actual Legos. And much of it was. It was a combination of stop motion and computer animation. The stop motion added so much charm and character to the film. I especially loved all of the busier scenes. So many gems hidden in the background.
The voice cast was incredible. Going in, I only knew Chris Pratt was in the cast, so I was trying to figure out who the rest of them were. I got some quicker than others (I can't believe how long it took me to get Will Ferrell), but each one was perfect, even the small cameos. And just hearing certain bits of dialog in Morgan Freeman or Liam Neeson's voice were worth the price of admission.
Also, can I just call next year's Academy Award winner for Best original Song? Please? We know "Let it Go" is a done deal for this year, so can we just get a jump on next year too? Because really, when it comes to Lego Movie, everything IS awesome. I bet I'm not the only one to find a way to work that phrase into my post
The best thing about I Frankenstein is that I found ten dollars on the floor on my way in. So it's like I was paid to see it. I don't think anyone else who goes will be so lucky.
I kinda didn't really wanna see this, cause I knew what I'd be getting myself into. Which means that I then felt the need to prove that to myself by sitting thru those 90 minutes. You never know. It could be silly fun culty bad. it wasn't.
I think I was giggling inappropriately to myself for the first fifteen minutes or so. Aaron Eckhart's over the top I'm-an-emotionally-tortured-monster voice in the narration. How seriously the gargoyles took themselves. The way that every set piece in the "real world" looked dilapidated in a feeble attempt for gothic. Yvone Strahovski as the Christmas Jones of the supernatural world. The. Bad. Science. But then, it got old. Quick.
Cliche after cliche that went nowhere. Plots and characters no one could take seriously, let alone care about. At 90 minutes it just seemed to drag on and on with nary a redeeming quality to be found. Okay, one almost redeeming quality. I did like the sorta fire and icy effects when a demon or gargoyle was killed. I'm sorry, I mean descended (to hell) or ascended (to heaven). Yeah that statement sorta just killed it, huh?
I almost wanted to rate this slightly higher for the sheer (unintended) hilarity of it. But then I realized that I didn't want that to be mistaken for a recommendation. Sorry, Aaron Eckhart, I adore you, but please find better material next time.