Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Bane's voice, Catwoman, and hope

The Dark Knight Rises has its fair share of problems, even accounting for it being a superheroic action movie: indistinguishable motivations, character traits that bob to the surface and sink with no rhyme or reason, a slew of missed opportunities, muddy plotting, a totally tonally inappropriate coda, and plenty more besides. In Christopher Nolan’s flawed trilogy, the third film easily creaks loudest. However, if you listen closely, two clean notes sound forth, and carry with them hope for the director’s future. That’s a lot of pressure to place on Bane’s voice and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, but if they didn’t want it, they shouldn’t have been so compelling.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Too many questions: on Ridley Scott, Damon Lindelof, aliens, and 'Prometheus'

[Now, any in-depth discussion will probably necessitate a warning of spoilers. You've been properly notified.]

Here's how you enjoy Prometheus: don't ask, "Why?" sit back, and enjoy the gorgeous design of the movie. Because it is gorgeous, and recalls the great design work that marked Alien in so many ways.

The idea of making a prequel to Alien has apparently been kicking around for a while, but it's here now, even though Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof always go out of their way to contend that Prometheus isn't strictly an Alien prequel in promotions and interviews...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Context and mythology in 'The Cabin In The Woods'

In the long-running battle between art and commerce, very little so exemplifies art's inability to compete with commerce like a horror film franchise. Sure, the movies that kick those franchises off can be fresh and fascinating, even unlike much of anything the audience has ever seen before, but once the profit-generating and marketing machines get their claws into them, what was once original becomes paint-by-numbers, a stone from which every single drop of blood gets wrung before it's finally tossed aside. Sure, a bright and shining light can sometimes rear its head unexpectedly (Season of the Witch, New Nightmare, Friday the 13th: Part IV), but those are aberrations, and not anywhere close to reflections of the whole. A horror movie franchise is about as crassly commercial as it gets (and those attempted franchises that don't get beyond a single film? Yeesh), and it's well past time someone made a movie like The Cabin in the Woods in response to it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Diamonds in the Rough: Dan Stark in 'The Good Guys'

Richard Belzer's played John Munch full-time on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: SVU, for guest appearances on Law & Order: Classic, 30 Rock, The Wire, and Arrested Development, and even been offhandedly mentioned on Luther. Munch is a great character, for certain, but why is he so special? There's a legion of great TV characters just as deserving as he of continued existence, and many of them never even appeared on a single great TV show, let alone eight. In this attempt at a recurring series, I'm going to try to spotlight folks from less well-regarded programs, and make a case for their reinstatement on the small screen. To kick things off, let's take a look at Dallas Detective Dan Stark from The Good Guys, played by Bradley Whitford.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"The Other Way Around:" James Gunn's 'Slither' and the Gender/Identity Politics of Horror

In horror films, sexual objectification typically leads to death. The films encourage their audience to appreciate a body for its aesthetic qualities, and shortly thereafter to enjoy watching that body get mutilated and torn/blown apart. The filmmakers focus on getting to their movie's next “body moment” to the exclusion of nearly every traditional element of “story” or “character.” In a genre that so heavily loads its scales on one side, Slither stands out, as it crafts multi-faceted characters, rather than mere objects of repulsion and/or desire. When Starla Grant, Bill Pardy, and even Kylie Strutemyer walk away from the Grants' obliterated home at Slither's end, they've survived not only an attempted invasion by an alien hive mind, but a camera (and an audience) that all too frequently reduce characters like them to cutouts and dolls.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How Not to Stick the Landing: 'Daybreakers,' Metaphor, and Vampires

We live in a world of finite resources. Everything, from water to real estate to energy to even creativity will run out/become poisonously unusable if it's not stewarded properly. It's accepted among most reasonable/sensible people that oil, especially, will run out, and sooner than anyone would like. Daybreakers takes that sense of overconsumption dread and applies it to a world run, and mostly populated, by vampires. It freshens up a largely corpsified genre in doing so, but casts its initial goal aside in favor of pursuing a more well-trodden action movie course in the end. In doing so, Daybreakers becomes the Equilibrium of vampire movies: smart, but not smart enough to save itself from itself.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

'Green Lantern:' A Cavalcade of Bad Choices, so Let's Just Pick One

Well, it took me over half a year, but I finally watched Green Lantern. I had hopes for it, before it came out, but it lived up to virtually none of those (shoutout to Michael Clarke Duncan's performance as Kilowog, the only character who had a presence from the moment he stepped onscreen). From its crummy, exposition-laden script that couldn't have wasted more time telling rather than showing if it'd been trying to do so, to its ineffective villain, one that does virtually nothing before a rookie human Lantern gets it sucked into the Sun's gravity well, to its unforgivable teasing of a cosmic adventure while delivering a movie that's 80% exposition and 20% bad CGI action, to its awful, terrible costume design, Green Lantern put a whole clip of bullets in the head of my longstanding position that you could argue Martin Campbell's never directed a bad movie. Of all the missteps and bad decisions that make up Green Lantern, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: the hero in whom we're supposed to place our trust, Hal Jordan.