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.