All that is wrong with the world…

August 7, 2011

Thoughts on Bane and Catwoman pictures from TDKR

Within the last week we have finally seen pictures of Bane and Catwoman in action while the movie was filming in Pittsburgh. They have been both underwhelming and disappointing to say the least. First we saw some pictures of Bane fighting Batman where we get to gauge his size in comparison. Tom Hardy is a whole head shorter than Batman…Venom or not, how is this going to be the guy to break the bat? It was surprising enough that Lazarus pits are apparently going to be in the next movie, but Bane as well? At this stage Bane seems to be working with the police, so I get the feeling Bane is going to be closer to Max Cort from the Prey storyline then..well….Bane. Unless they are using trickery to make Bane look bigger than batman, or unless there is Venom and his growth is exaggerated, I don’t see how Bane is going to be anything similar to the Bane from Knightfall. Which begs the question; if you’re not going to use the Bane from Knightfall why use him at all?

What about the pictures of Catwoman? There seems little doubt that Catwoman will be in this movie giver she is wearing a leather catsuit, riding a batpod and has high-tech goggles. The problem here is….she doesn’t look like Catwoman at all. No ears, not even really a mask. Will she even have a whip? Anne Hathaway was never a great choice for Catwoman…and these new pictures don’t inspire confidence. Heath Ledger was such an unexpected casting yet when we saw the first pictures of him as the Joker everybody started to see that it could work. The same thing isn’t happening with Catwoman where the pictures are simply underwhelming. I really hope that the posters for TDKR have her in more of a traditional costume, or I wonder once again why use the character in the first place?

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June 15, 2011

Obtrusiveness in cinemas

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:07 pm

The Alamo Drafthouse recently banned texting in cinemas. Is that too far? I don’t get why people get so upset about a tiny little screen far in front of them which they shouldn’t be paying attention to in the first place. Do people really lack the willpower to just ignore such a thing and focus on the movie? If people are talking or being obtrusive that is one thing….but people getting upset about just texting or whispering something to a partner is getting out of hand. Some people even have a fit at people talking during the previews….the previews for gods sakes! Regardless of what some people may think, the previews are not the start of the movie and there is nothing wrong with discussing them.

I think it is especially amusing that some people get so bent out of shape as part of the reason people go and see a movie at the cinema is not just the big screen and better sound, but the shared experience. People like to laugh together, to be surprised together, all of that stuff. Given how vocal Americans like to be at movies, I find it odd that being obtrusive in one way is fine, but if someone wants to do something that isn’t inherently obtrusive they have a fit about it. Clapping when a bad guy is defeated? Fine. Subtly checking a text message? How dare you!

I wish I had so little to worry about that I could afford to focus on someone taking 2 seconds to check a screen a few seats away obscured by other people or chairs rather than paying attention to the movie I paid to watch and enjoy. As it is I have enough willpower just to focus on the movie and not blow trivial things out of context. Rather than banning text messaging in a theater, perhaps we could ban the people so petty that they feel the need to complain about it?

February 10, 2011

Thoughts on Shutter Island

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 3:28 am

I saw this movie about 5 weeks ago while I was in Montreal. I had heard mixed things about it but as I like Leo and had never seen a Scorsese film I didn’t like I had good expectations. How wrong I was. What a terrible terrible movie and I can’t understand how it was made by the same director or The Departed and Goodfellas. Many of the comments I had read on the movie stated something along the lines of if Scorsese was not the director the movie would have been rightly criticize and that is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

I had an idea from the previews that it might have been the type of movie where everything is not as it seems and there may be a twist or to. Alternatively I thought that it would be the story of something terrible going wrong on the island and the marshal being imprisoned to prevent exposure. If only that was the story. What the movie was instead was the idea of a reality not being what it seems. The same concept that had been dealt with by films such as Identity, Gothika and The Sixth Sense in far superior ways.

The main problem with this movie is that from the start subtlety is thrown out the window. If you’re going to do the type of film that draws the protagonists reality into doubt you have to do so carefully, always giving reasons to doubt not reasons to draw a conclusion straight away. That’s the problem with Shutter Island. When a US Marshall was forced to surrender his gun to a hospital it was not implausible. But as things continued and occurrences such as two orderlies restraining the marshal not being remarked on at all then the answer was clear. Given that the protagonist loses the suit less than halfway through the film and sleeps with the other patients…well nothing is left to the imagination.

By the time the big reveal comes it has already been painfully obvious to anyone watching the movie, making the hour leading up to that moment a waste of time. The cinematography and acting were fine, just the decision to make the twist so obvious from so early on ruined the film for me. Perhaps Scorsese was going for something that I missed or didn’t end up working. Or perhaps he just isn’t suited to making these types of movies. Even so, one bad movie out of over 20 amazing movies isn’t a bad track record and I hope he continues to maintain this average.

April 21, 2010

Thoughts on Avatar

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 4:36 am

I saw Avatar yesterday evening, finally, almost a full four months after it came out. A lonely little cinema on 2nd and 12th in NYC was showing it for the last time, quite likely one of the last cinemas showing it in the world. At $16.50 per ticket it was costly, although I thought it was worth seeing so I could make up my own mind about it. Seeing it on DVD or so would not have been the same, as I had heard so much that the visuals were meant to be revolutionary – even from people who didn’t like the film. There have been quite a few revolutionary films in in my lifetime…Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, The Matrix and maybe a few others which I all missed seeing at the cinema for various reasons. Given I had one last chance to see Avatar in the cinema, perhaps one of the most revolutionary of the revolutionary movies so far I didn’t want to miss it.

I had mostly steered clear of reading any reviews or peoples thoughts on the film, so my points should not have been influenced by anyone elses reviews or thoughts and are my first impressions upon seeing the movie.

  • Revolutionary? – I really don’t think Avatar is a revolutionary film at all. I’m not sure why exactly – the worlds and Na’vi were amazing to watch, but none of it felt groundbreaking. It felt just like the next step in the evolution of an existing technology. The world of Pandora did look amazingly realistic, but I can’t help but be sure I have seen other alien worlds look just as realistic. The area where Avatar was meant to shine was with the life of Pandora, and while this looks amazing, it still does not look completely real.
  • The Uncanny Valley – I saw a lot of discussion about whether or not Avatar had successfully bridged the uncanny valley with some saying it was the first to do so, others disagreeing and others saying the uncanny valley could not apply because the Na’vi were not human. The Uncanny valley can certainly be applied here because the definition is not specific to humans and in any event the Na’vi are “human enough” to count. So has it been bridged? The loose definition of the uncanny valley is the gap between obvious fake representations of humans or animals and realistic depictions with everything in between looking distorted or making people feel uneasy. While I don’t think the Na’vi or wildlife looked 100% realistic, since they looked believable and did not inflict any feelings of unease I think it is fair to credit Avatar as successfully bridging the uncanny valley.
  • Avatar in 3D – I made sure to see Avatar in 3D, only because I had read much about how James Cameron had properly utilized the technology to make a very immersive movie. Avatar is the only 3D movie I have seen since the fad began, however having seen some at amusement parks and having watched 3D films in 2D they all seem to suffer from things flying at the screen, 3D for the sake of 3D. With Avatar it was rare for something to be popping out of the screen, instead watching Avatar was like looking through a portal to another world as opposed to watching through a window from a distance. It really gave the impression sometimes that you could reach through the screen and interact, and I think that was amazing. I would really hope more filmmakes pick up on Mr Camerons cue and stop using 3D as a gimick, bur rather for the level of immersion it can provide.
  • Ubobtainium – One of the most common criticisms of Avatar I saw was that ubobtainium is a stupid name. Well…I don’t really think so. The word is used exactly once during the film, very briefly by the corporate guy from My Name is Earl rather than a scientist. It is quite likely it was an informal name for the mineral used in everyday language there. Even if it were the term the scientists were using, it is not uncommon for scientists to use nicknames in such a fashion when working on projects with things being formalized at a later stage. This seems like such a silly criticism, and I don’t understand the fuss it caused.
  • If your avatar dies, so do you? – One thing that was not answered in the film was if Matrix or Surrogates rules were in effect. If you die in your avatar, would you die in your host body? The avatars are remote controlled, so it would seem unlikely that an avatar dying would result in your human body dying. When the humans were in their avatars and threatened they seemed fearful of the animals capable of killing them, however this could have been due to simply not wanting to experience the associated pain. For a film with such a strong devotion to scientific detail and consistency i seems like a strange thing to omit.
  • Sam Worthington’s accent – I don’t know what was up with Sam’s accent. It wasn’t American, it wasn’t Australian most of the time…it was like a weird generic mix between the two. Someone needs to pay for him to have some American accent lessons, or in future just make his characters Australian. It wasn’t terribly distracting, but it was noticeable.
  • Blue Na’vi breasts – Why give the female Na’vi prominent breasts as with humans? I get that they are humanoid, but the fact that women have permanantly prominent breasts is a unique trait shared with no other animal. It seems quite unlikely that an entirely different species on an entirely different world who happen to resemble humans would also have this trait. I don’t know why I noticed this i particular or it annoyed me, but there it is.
  • The myth of the noble savage – Many people are probably familiar with the myth of the noble savage even if they don’t know it by that name and/or don’t consider it a myth. The idea basically relates to people less educated and enlightened or who live off the land are somehow more pure and noble. Generally discredited by those knowledgeable enough to have meaningful input with good reason. In Avatar however…the noble savage was no myth, but the reality. This is entirely due to the unique ecosystem, with all organisms having a real and tangible bond and dependence with each other. Indeed in the film it is the humans who appear to be more deserving of the title.
  • The interconnected ecosystem – The whole ponytail-jack thing. That was awesome. It reminded me of the way Gaia was described in Asimov’s later foundation novels. An entire interconnected ecosystem operating as one superorganism. An amazing defense and way to ensure stability. A very interesting idea that I would have liked to have seen explored more. It was unclear to me if there was a constant link on some level with the ponytail link just being more direct, or if the link only existed when a phsyical connection was made. When the final attack was going on it seemed like the Rhinoceros things were called to attack and directed in a specific way although that could have been coincidence. I also thought it was odd that Jake and the princess didn’t seem to join ponytails when having sex. Surely if you could be that close to someone in that way you would…maybe that was a concept too difficult to explore in a PG movie. Even so, I didn’t see any of the Na’vi join ponytails, so perhaps they can only join with certain animals?
  • Anti-corporate/military/human views – I saw quite a bit of discussion that Avatar was anti-corporation or anti-military although I didn’t understand that at all. First of all the soldiers on Pandora are not part of any military, they are just mercenary working for the corporation – guns for hire. So any anti-military can be dismissed. As for anti-corporate…their may be something here. I didn’t really get that from the movie, it was just a story about a particular corporation doing something morally reprehensible. We have no idea what the corporate world is like in general in the Avatarverse. It is interesting to ponder how much power corporations have that they can go to a new planet teeming with sentient life and have the power to make the decision if they live or die or not. I felt it was implied the corporation may have been responsible for first contact as well, which is even stranger. Lastly I don’t really see how the film was anti-humanity. Yes, it shows the horrible things humans can do, but it also shows how much we can care and the good we can do. It was just a film involving people and was not pro or anti humanity in any way. How anyone could think it was is beyond me.
  • Can avatars be permanent? – I wonder if their is a way for Jake to take over his avatar and leave his broken legs behind. I mean it will be pretty hard to be with Neytiri if he has to go back to his human body regularly to stop it from wasting away.

Well, that concludes my thoughts on Avatar. I quite enjoyed the movie although I agree the story was quite simple and the movie did drag on a bit. I will be most interested to see what James Cameron does with the sequels now that he has announced he will be exploring the oceans of Pandora. Their is so much we have yet to learn and see, and it will be interesting to see how the oceans tie in with the whole planet as a super-organism idea and what our group of ragtag heroes has been up to since driving the humans away.

March 12, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s superhero universe(s)

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:01 am

Recently it was announced that Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, the team behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight will be in charge of overseeing the next Superman movie. When I first heard this, I thought it was great news. Instead of the loveletter–travesty that was Superman Returns we would get a proper Superman movie true to the comics setting up the DC universe series of films to counter the Marvel universe films that have just gotten off the ground.

Alas, this was not to be. In a recent interview Christopher Nolan shed some light on his plans for the next Superman movie. The most interesting point revealed was that there was no intention to have the Superman movie set in the same universe as his Batman movies. Wow. This seems like a missed opportunity to say the least. Marvel have only just started getting the rights back to their characters for the main purpose of being able to have all their characters in the same universe and in each other’s movies.

Much like in the comics that these movies derive them, the universe is not limited to one character but is complex with all of the characters influencing or affecting each other in some way. Instead, Nolan has stated he thinks it is a better idea to have the movies set in a universe where the respective superhero is the only superhero of that world as it assures the integrity of the story. This seems like such a huge mistake that I’m surprised, and very confused as to how he could have made it.

Many comics are known for having some of the most detailed and complex stories out there while maintaining integrity at every stage. Saying keeping the characters alone in their own universe helps assure the integrity of the story seems like a very poor excuse that is contradicted by the very medium the movies are derived from, and also disregards a lot of what makes comics comics. I’m sure the Superman movie will still be amazing, but if it is actually setup in a way that prevents any crossover with the other DC movies it will be a horribly missed opportunity. I actually wonder if DC would even allow that.

The other interesting point raised in the interview was regarding the third Batman movie in development. When asked where he thought the franchise was heading, Nolan said he was basically hoping to finish the story. This is a bit worrying, because I think it is likely that in Nolan’s mind he views Batman in a very specific way. Batman was created to give hope back to the people and inspire them, and now that that has been accomplished there is no reason for Batman to continue. I think it is a strong possibility that the third movie will be completing one final task so order is restored and Batman can cease to exist.

Sigh. This is simply the wrong approach to take, hands down. A Batman story over 3 movies where Batman can cease to exist in a few years is not a proper Batman story and does not do the character justice. Batman needs to exist because in a city as huge and fucked up as Gotham, law and order is not enough to keep the baddest parts of humanity in check. What’s more, it was because of Batman’s emergence that many sueprvillians arose. As such Batman has a certain responsibility to continue fighting. Everything that defines Batman as a character as well as the world he lives in would prevent him from hanging up the cowl just because the situation was mostly acceptable. On the other hand the Nolan Batman has not been shown to have all the same qualities as his comic book counterpart.

Ultimately I think Nolan’s decisions and views on where to take the Batman franchise and how superhero movies should be handled show a massive lack of foresight and lack of familiarity with comic books in general. I know he did his homework with relevant comics for both the Batman films so far but I think he has a poor grasp of what makes comics unique. Batman is such a complex character that there is no way to finish the characters story in just three films. Instead, by doing so, we have a story about Gotham where the Batman character plays a main part, but the story is not about him. This is just wrong.

I do hope that he does not deliberately do anything that prevents this movies from sharing the same universe (or the Green Lantern universe) even if he does not make it apparent or acknowledge it. I am very grateful for the universe Christopher Nolan has given us, finally a realistic superhero universe with an emphasis on story. Given his view of how superhero movies should be handled I don’t think he is the correct person to continue the franchises. I hope DC would realize how important it is to have a shared cohesive universe and prevent Nolan from doing anything that would jeopardize that.

March 4, 2010

Thoughts on The Box

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:48 am

I watched The Box today, Richard Kelly’s third film after Southland Tales and Donnie Darko. The Box is a reimagining of a short story by Richard Matheson(also the author of I Am Legend) which was also a Twilight Zone episode. The premise of the story is fairly simple – someone is given a box with a button on it. If they push it they get $1,000,000 at the cost of someone they don’t know dying. I was interested to see how this story would be expanded to movie length. The result was disappointing.

While the film did an excellent job of keeping me interested, towards the end things began to be implied that were preposterous and it was obvious that the questions the film raised were not going to be answered. Towards the end of the film it is implied aliens are administrating tests on humans, one of which is the box. The reason given for these tests is to see if Humans are capable of putting their species above their own selfish desires. There are so many problems with the way this is presented.

First of all, from what we see of the couple the box is presented to they strongly believe it to be a hoax of some sort. Cameron Diaz’s character presses the button in a moment on spontaneity after her husband examines it and is sure that there is no way for anyone to know if the button has been pressed or not. The situation is probably similar for most people who are presented with the offer due to its absurdity. How, then, is this test in any way accurate? Not to mention the sample size of the test is likely so insignificance as to render the results irrelevant. I also found it quite odd that “they” were willing to punish the husband who made did nothing wrong, and to punish the son for the sins of the parents. How does this aid their test?

Many things were hinted at, and many questions raised without being answered apparently all in vain. The entire subplot with the water doors or “triptychs” doesn’t seem to related to the premise in any way, and only hints at a larger story which is never fleshed out or shown how it relates back to the box. Likewise with the bizarre references to “The Light” and the zombie people who stalk James Marsden. There is also a subplot about Cameron Diaz’s disfigured foot and one of her students bullying her which seems their only to fill time. I also found it strange that they gave Cameron Diaz a disfigurement. Why? So they could draw a parralel with the man who made the offer? To give her motivation for her speech near the end? At least there was no eyes poked out, which were present in Jelly’s previous two films.

Ultimately this updating of a simple short story is a failure. While it may work somewhat as a movie and be entertaining, almost everything from the original story or Twilight Zone episode is lost. The examination of people and an interesting moral dilemma is reduced, with the box being considered a hoax the moral issue does not have to be considered seriously by the people it is offered to. Instead the moral dilemma is replaced with a conspiracy thriller and a quest for the truth behind the offer which turns out to be not at all interesting, and deeply flawed.

Also strange was the decision to involve NASA in the plot. Despite the implied alien presence in the film, NASA does not factor in at all nor does James Marsden use his resource their to try and obtain more information. I can only suppose NASA was included due to personal reasons with his father having worked at NASA. I’m not sure what to make of Richard Kelly’s films any longer. I have not seen his two shorts, thought Donnie Darko was amazing if not horrendously overrated and though Southland Tales made no sense whatsoever. His latest effort The Box seems to be a result of trying to hard. If the story was to be adapter to the screen, the focus should have remained on the moral issues and not turned it into a cheap excuse to make a science-fiction conspiracy thriller.

February 26, 2010

Thoughts on The Wolfman

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:38 pm

I saw The Wolfman lastnight. What an oddly subpar film. The film was not really bad in any particular way…it just wasn’t at all good.

I never saw the original, but reading about it on Wikipedia it seemed it did not have at all the same father/son plot of the remake. Remakes often seem to add a family member as the villian, and for why? It did not add anything to the film except to make it harder to suspend disbelief. What was the deal with the feral boy living in the cave? Why did Anthony Hopkins embrace his feral side, rather than trying to get it removed? Why was he so cruel to send his son to an asylum?

I read a few reviews before seeing the film, and they all made note of the CGI bear and deer. Both of those animals are on screen only momentarily, and due to it being set at night it is not so noticeable. I really didn’t have a problem them doing that, and can see it being cheaper than getting live animals as the scenes they were in were so very short. What I did find noticeable was the bad CGI transformations. Did this film just have no budget? The CGI quality of this film is equal to something from the late 90’s. I don’t have a problem with CGI replacing practical make up and effects most of the time, and often think it can do a better job. In this case however it is clear that choosing CGI over Rick Baker’s work was a mistake.

The other thing I found quite strange was moving the setting to Blackmoor near Stonehenge. During the film when Benicio is chasing after the Wolfman, he just happens to get knocked down and bitten in he middle of Stonehenge. What a coincidence. Was the setting meant to add to the mystical aspect or was it just meant to be coincidence?

All in all the film is a 50’s horror movie made with modern technology. That’s it. Just because we can do this, doesn’t mean we should. Nothing is gained by remaking this film without updating it and the end result seems very odd. The charm of the original 50’s horror films is lost and as the film is not updated for modern times the impact the original had on the audience is lost also. I don’t understand why they didn’t update the film for modern times and a modern audience as that would have been truly interesting.

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