Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Keep it simple stupid!

This post is a reaction to Tranformers 2. If you're into movies as much as I am then you might of noticed the reviews of this movie are pretty much decrying it as a turgid piece of well you know what. I have gone through several stages kind of reminiscent of those of mourning. I've accepted the movie for what it is and am grateful that it did two things well in my mind. These being the robot fights and the dynamic between Megatron and Starscream. But thinking about it all, this could of been such a great movie if they just kept it simple. This seems to be the problem of so many movies that tred into the domain of the action, the plots are just too complicated for their own good.

My god they got Starscream right.

I won't get into the plot of Tranformers 2 as I'm sure there are people out there who haven't seen it. Needless to say the main drive of the movie is just an overcomplicated plot that at times doesn't really make any sense. A few friends have told me I'm missing the point, that this movie is just about big robot fights, fine but if that's what this movie is all about then why do we need this crappy plot that just adds time to an already long movie?

Let's move onto another adaptation that at time of writing has had three attempts to make a successful movie and I believe is an excellent example of what i'm trying to get out. Based on a Marvel comic this is the story of one man's revenge, that man is Frank Castle otherwise known as The Punisher. I mean how can people screw up this story? A man's wife and child get caught in two gangs crossfire. Man sets out to punish criminals. There done. But as we will see instead of keeping it simple the makers over complicate story destroy the movies.

Strike 1: In 1984 the first Punisher movie was made with Dolph Lundgren and we really can't blame Dolph for this mess. Lets look at the plot. The Punisher is killing all the bad people which causes Gianni Franco a mobster to try and unify the remnants. Now lets stop there. Already we can have a decent movie which focuses on The Punisher maybe trying to destroy the remnants of the mobsters with a final battle with Gianni. This doesn't happen thought. We have the Yakuza also coming in trying to take over the city seeming the mob is so weak. It tries to gain control by kidnapping the children of the mobsters. Enter The Punisher who must now save the loved ones of those who killed his. You know if they were good writers they might of gotten away with this added complication, but really why? Why did they need this extra little bit to the story? Sure I get it but sometimes less is more. I'm not going to a Punisher movie for a dramatic look at how the soul of a man can still find redemption. I just need a simple plot that holds the action scenes together.

Strike 2: The second attempt at the story was in 2004 and starred Thomas Jane and John Travolta. Now I like this movie a little bit but it still isn't the best. Really the only reason to see this movie is Thomas Jane as he's pretty much on the money as The Punisher, Mr Travolta as Howard Saint is a bit of a bust. However on to the plot. This time around Howard Saint is the man first seeking revenge as his son dies in a botched undercover sting that of course Frank Castle was helping on. Que Howard Saint having Frank Castle's entire family killed, and I mean everyone. Father, mother, cousin, nephew, brother in law, next door neighbour, pool cleaner. It's ridiculous, why do they need to emphasise this with the entire family, are we that desensitized? Call me old fashioned but having a child and wife killed is pretty much enough for me to get on board. Anyway I went off on a tangent. Frank Castle survies, becomes The Punisher and decides to exact revenge in one of the most stupidest ways. The Punishers plan is apply pressure on Howard Saint so that he snaps and does most of the killing. The biggest flaw is that this intricate plan for vengeance doesn't allow for much action, which is a problem in an action movie. The only time it really amps up is when a mercenary called The Russian is sent to kill The Punisher, the only problem is that if Howard Saint knows where The Punisher is then why just send one man? How about one man with a rocket launcher cause as the beginning suggests Howard Saint isn't a man who does things by halves. HE KILLED THE FAMILY PETS AS WELL. Why couldn't you have The Punisher shooting his way to the top? I mean lets face it the 1984 version didn't do that so you would be covering new ground. SIGH

Strike 3: Done in 2008 this little chestnut skipped cinemas in some countries and went straight to DVD. Already you can smell the class. Now it's unfair for me to give too much crap as I haven't watched the movie in full, but i've seen some scenes and from that i'm wary to actually hunt this down on dvd. But there is one thing I want to touch upon. In this version they actually go to the comics and bring in one of Punishers big foes Jigsaw. While it's always nice for an adaptation of comics to stick to the source I really think maybe they should of tried to make a good movie with normal foes before they get into the crazy. Oh well lets up Punisher 4 in 2012 is good.

So anyway maybe all this talk boils down to the fact that a revenge movie just can't work on celluoid. Or maybe that's just crap. I have two words for the people, DEATH WISH. Yes that's right Mr Bronson made a great movie, a great revenge movie. To move it back to action movies, in 2007 Shoot em Up was released and it was pretty good. This had a simple plot that really just moved the action from scene to scene. It didn't try to be anything more. Anway i've typed a bit so lets sum this up.

Forget action movies lets moves this to movies in general. Sometimes a movie can be simple and still be successful. You don't to have throw everything into a script. I do think that maybe people are affraid of making a something that is just entertaining but not deep. Also I think that sometimes you don't need to constantly have the world in danger to grab the audience you can make a small movie and still get that audience. The evidence is all around, or maybe that's just me, damn I have too many dvds.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Southland Tales

"This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper but with a bang."

Rotten Tomatoes gives this film 36% fresh which is pretty damn low. A lot of the complaints leveled at it are how messy it is, how it tries to juggle too many themes but never really concentrates on one message. Yet there is another general feeling one can get from the reviews, that only a movie this messy could come from someone with talent. Enter Richard Kelly the man behind Donnie Darko which is a brilliant film about destiny, family, sacrifice and time travel. This movie was confusing yet seemed to keep on track thanks to wonderful performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone and a real grounding thanks to the family dynamic. Southland Tales was to be the big follow up and yet people turned against the man.

Now with that little intro out of the way let me just say I LOVE SOUTHLAND TALES. This would be in my top ten movies and it has pretty much made me a follower of Richard Kelly for life. I will give any movie of his a chance just so I can hopefully see another movie of his that can capture the visual poetry of Southland Tales.

Why does this movie speak to me?

I could go on about acting, etc but really for me it's all Richard Kelly. The future he presents isn't that far from our own, it's an exaggeration of our reality and highlights some of the worst aspects of who we are. Apathy, anger, paranoia, fear. The villains presented in this movie are all too human and the heroes all too flawed. This is the end of the world and we don't really notice at all as it all ticks away.

Really this movie is damn ambitious and I don't think I can argue that it isn't a mess, but I don't think every movie has to move from a to b, and more importantly not every movie has to make sense. When I was at university there were so many artistic movies that were praised but didn't have much structure it was all about the emotions they could illicit. There is structure to Southland Tales but for me what I feel when watching the movie more than makes up for the mess. If a movie can wrap me up in some serious emotions and make me think about important themes then hasn't it succeeded?

People didn't come gunning for Kelly when they watched this movie but I don't think they really gave it a chance. I do hope that in a few years time maybe new eyes can come back to Southland Tales and really appreciate it for what it is. There are a lot of things happening in this presented world and so there are a lot of things happening in the movie, but don't you find it funny that world is still just moving on business as usual? Isn't it weird horrible things are happening yet there seems to be a general apathy in the society portrayed in the movie? Maybe the mess is the message or maybe i'm reading too much into it but I would recommend people giving the movie a shot.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the party is over. Have a nice apocalypse. "

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wrestling Isn't Fake!!!!

Okay I know what the title says but yes I know wrestling is fake but damn do I love it. Fun story lines, fun gimmicks and its just a great thing to watch while chilling out. Now in the world of wrestling there are two men that I greatly admire. One I would class as a hero of mine, the other is just a bright light in the current industry. I'll start with the bright light.

Mike Quackenbush: This man is just a great wrestler, there hasn't been a single match i've seen him in that has bored me. Just the stuff he comes up with is always exciting. He is a great speaker, athletic and intelligent. He also is in the independant circuit and you won't catch him on WWE or TNA, which is a bonus as if he wasn't allowed his creative freedom then you wouldn't see his excellence. Everything that i've heard about him is a positive and unlike some professional wrestlers he will actually put over young talent. Excuse me for a moment.


There I have that out of my system. In 2002 he created Chikara, an independat wrestling fed that has family appeal yet also offers some of the most innovative wrestling i've ever seen. Yes it may not be on television but it beats Vince McMahons WWE in everyway that is important. My hat goes off to this man as whenever some horrible crap is pulled off in WWE or TNA I turn to Chikara and see how wrestling should be.

Mick Foley: He isn't the prettiest, he isn't that athletic, he doesn't have his own federation and people could say he's made some bad decisions but damn it he has heart and he has been able to touch fans with not only what he has done in the ring but also with his writing.

Mick is a hero of mine and his writing is something I always go back to when i'm feeling down. Every success he has earned, and he has shed a lot of blood for his fans. Reading his autobiography he has a great sense of humor and can readily make fun of himself. He has reached many highs (was a WWE Champion) and I can remember when he first captured the WWE Champion title I was cheering as only a kid can do. I think the other thing that I love about him is that if you take a look at some of his matches, especially his ECW and Japanese matches you learn that wrestling isn't as fake as some people believe. Mick has the scars to prove it.

Well that's the two men I admire the most in the world of wrestling. I probably will touch more on wrestling as the blog progresses but I know it's not everyones cup of tea. Also speaking of people I admire in wrestling I don't think I can end this without at least mentioning Victoria. Her real name is Lisa Marie Varon, she wrestled as Victoria on WWE and is now wrestling as Tara on TNA. Now I won't go into her too much as I don't want to be considered a stalker or crazy person but not only is she attractive, not only can she wrestle but she is funny as hell. Her genius knows no bounds. I'll enter the next picture as evidence. Just awesome. See everyone next time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Good Direction To Start

To get a start on this whole blog thing, I thought I would take a look at a Director that I greatly admire and would class as a hero of mine. If you haven't guessed from the photo to the left, that director is Frank Darabont.

Before he became a director he was a screenwriter for Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Fly 2 and The Blob remake. Already at that point I was drawn to his work as I liked The Fly 2 (though nothing can touch Cronenberg), Elm Street 3 is my favourite of the series and I had nightmares as a small child thanks to the Blob remake.

However it was a film he wrote and directed that cemented him as someone who through artistic means could touch me. That movie was of course The Scrimshaw Redemption, um sorry, The Shawshank Redemption. It was a movie that touched many people and was not only a brilliant jail movie but a touching story of two friends. Other movies to his credit are the Green Mile, The Majestic and a movie that completely carved me up inside The Mist.

A little on The Mist. Being older i've grown to appreciate not only the story in the movie but the story of how the movie is made. Listening to Mr Darabont you really get the sense that here is a man who is in love with what he does and with genre pictures. When people come up to me and scoff at horror movies Frank Darabont is someone I point to so they will shut up. The Mist is made with passion behind it, a love a creepy icky monsters and a focused mind that builds upon a simple premise with thought provoking themes.

Finally everytime i've heard the man speak he comes across very intelligent but yet not up himself. He loves what he does, he has his views on the industry and he is able to appreciate movies in all their forms.

Anyway there you have it. This is pretty much what my blog will be. Just a place I can talk about the things I love and hopefully share that love with others.