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District 13: Ultimatum
Director: Patrick Alessandrin
Producer and Writer: Luc Besson (yeah, the
Fifth Element guy)
Starring: David Belle, Cyril Raffaelli

Three years after stopping the destruction of Parisian slum District 13, things are still craptastic. The government has kept none of their promises and the walled off district festers with five ethnically divided gangs that vie for power, the cops and said gangs holding a tenuous truce. Outside corrupt forces, however, wish to profit from this slum and begin a campaign to break that truce and, with government backing, move in and wipe away the filth (specifically five high rise apartment towers) to build new luxury condos. Lead by a Mr. Gassman, a black ops government agency kills some cops then frames some D13 gang members for the murders, stirring the hornets’ nest and building public resentment. Super cop Damien (Raffaelli), who would normally be the first choice to handle the situation, is framed with drugs and arrested, but manages to get a call out to his friend Leito (Belle), who refuses to leave the ghetto that is his home, to save him. Together, they figure out that Gassman is behind it all and make a plan that brings together the five rival gangs to unite and lead an assault on parliament to stop their home from being destroyed.

Good Guys Things

One is a parkour running hood rat. One is a super cop. Together, they fight crime (and bromance)

Staring 'That Guy' and 'the Jumping Hamster from Die Hard 4!' )
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DreamWorks Animation
Director: Tom McGrath
Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt
Writers: Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons

Super-criminal Megamind (Ferrell), along with his minion Minion (Cross), has finally defeated and (seemingly) killed his lifelong rival, the super awesome hero Metro Man (Pitt), and takes over the city he's so long tried to conquer. However, he finds that with victory comes boredom, as without a hero to stand against him, he really doesn't have much going for him. After an in disguise late-night chat with Roxanne Richie (Fey), television news reporter and frequent kidnapping victim of Megamind, he comes to a solution; create his own hero to fight like the good old days. And he does so, tapping Roxanne's doofus/kinda creepy camera man Hal Stewart (Hill) to be his opposite. Too bad Hal isn't interested in sticking to the script and goes power mad with his new abilities, especially when Roxanne rejects him even with his new totally rad powers. Instead of the Metro City's newest hero, Megamind created an even more powerful villain. Now being bested by his own creation, a fledgling romance with Roxanne squashed due to image inducers and lies, and the city close to ruins, Megamind has to decide if being sticking to being the bad guy is worth it or if maybe he can be more (hint, he totally can and does).

What's Good

...and some other stuff as well )
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That isn't some hip jive title. It's not a snappy, pseudo allagorical pun or some random statement that will only have meaning later. Nor is it a straightforward announcement of what you are about to read.

A Boy and His Dog is a 1975 post-apocolyptic sci-fi movie. With telepathic dogs, whiplash inducing third acts, and a unrepentant rapist as your main character.

What the hell did I just watch.

Oh hey, lookie, it's gonna be a review! )
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By now, if you haven't seen Inception, either you don't enjoy cinema, don't care about the hype attached to the piece, or hate Leonardo DiCaprio. I won't fault you the last one, but he's gotten better; honestly.

My roommate/best friend wanted to see it again, and this time I got to tag along. I'd really been not planning on seeing it, at least not until rental prices, mainly because I'm not a Dicaprio fan and the trailers, while visually interesting to a degree didn't interest me enough to warrent full ticket consumption. But, he wanted to go, I've read good things, was intriged by the supposed mind-warpedness of it, so indulgeded myself (and really I shouldn't've, I really don't have the spare change to be spending like that).

I won't go into the story; much, but that's not the point. It's been done, you can Wikipedia the thing if you so choose, and too many reviews have already been written, blogged, or vlogged about already (these two being my favorites).

No, what I'm going to talk about is the movie concept, dreams and dreaming, and really an issue I have with the film itself. I saw the movie about a week ago, so I've time to ponder my pondering (narf).

As you well know, the core concept of the movie is a reverse heist film, instead of stealing they are implanting, and they do this in your own mind. They enter your dreams, concocking this elaborate story in order to get where they need to be and what they want from you. And they are damn good at their jobs.

The movie itself, I'll start with, is excellent. It really is a well crafted piece of art, brought to you ten years in the making by Christopher Nolan, most notably of Batman Begins and even more notably The Dark Knight. This is his dream project (no pun intended), the whole reason he did the Batman films in the first place was to gain big budget movie experience so he could do this. He picked the best actors for the parts (DiCaprio included) and wrote an almost unbelieveibly twisting plot.

The movie, despite what people may say, is not terribly hard to follow. It asks a lot of you, to actually think and pay close attention, but it does so because it knows it's worth it. This isn't a college experimentational film, this is a craft honed to razor sharpness and it will cut you like a prison bitch if you look away.

That being said, I gave into biological functions and had to use the bathroom in the middle of the film.

But this post is not to lament about the film... well, not meant to praise it, anyway. The chewy nougat center is dreams. How things react, how you react, and what these outsiders will do to get what they want. The whole concept, while incredibly entertaining, leaves me with some qualms.

This is a dream world we're dealing with, residing entirely in someones head; why is everything so damn linear? A point is made early about how in a dream, those you remember, you remember where you were, but not how you got there. I accept this. But, by and large, dreams do not follow set scripts, they teeter-tag across the spectrum of your mind and things get weird. And if you're imaginative, your dreams are an acid trip without the dry mouth.

Granted, this is where the Architect comes in. Should you not know, the Architect is the person hired by the team who crafts the story of the dream, down to the finest detail (if not, that detail can fubar you pretty quickly), and they are responsible for setting the stage of the heist. They must be highly intelligent, for it's their job to make things easy to access yet confusing as well, because if it's too simple the person will figure out they're in a dream. It's up to them to make things seem like they, as outsiders, are supposed to be there, least the hacked mind sense them and attack. So I see how, these dreams at least, flow like set stories. But still...

Something I don't understand is, despite all the planning and such, how does someone from the outside control the dreamrealm of another person? They have to implant that story somehow, and to Nolan's credit he remains incredibly vague on any and most all details of how the process actually works; they go into detail about dreams and very thoughty processes, but the actual technological aspect is kept as a side note, especially how everyone sharing a sedative cocktail somehow mindmelds everyone connected. If it wasn't though, suspension of disbelief would gunk up the works and the movie wouldn't be as good as it is.

But still, they at one point specifically tell the target he's in a dream. Shouldn't that, in theory, immediately put him into a lucid-dream state, where by knowing where he is grant him control?

And this is what, to me as a dreamer and writer, kinda turns the whole ordeal kinda down a few notches. It's a dream world, and expect for a little reality shifting, two specific uses of dream physics, a couple unintended uses of dream physics, and some pretty heady concepts, things are remarkedly normal. Everything is "normal". The mind of a global businessman might not be too exciting, but the dreams are just so... not flat, but scripted. Nobody flies; no one tries to just bend things to happen (well, they explain why that's bad, so I'll give that one up), but it's so... "normal".

I think I lost what I was trying to say. And looking back, I don't know if I'm having the best time describing what I, not dislike so much, but find a little disappointing. I think dream, I think imagination at it's highest limit; there being none.

This is Hollywood, and unless given a literal unlimited budget (though James Cameron can't be too far from achieving this), there are always going to be limits to what a film team can do. They pushed viusal effects for sure, they earned an Oscar nod in that category (among many others). I don't want to take anything away from this movie, it is wonderful and fully worth your time.

But when I think about the concept of dreams, I walk away wanting more.

*Edit note* Underwhelmed that was the word I was looking for, the dreaming left me a little underwhelmed. I wish to be fully whelmed.
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Today, unexpectedly, I saw The Last Airbender. Honestly, I had no plans to see it (in theaters), because of low reviews, low expectations, and just not feeling like it. But some friends wanted to, I was invited, and so here I am.

I don't care too much about spoilers, if you're a fan you've seen the series anyway. If not...Rosebud was his sled.

I rant, I rave, things are said )

This isn't Eragon by any means. That was bad origins and rushed production that managed to to out bad the book, ironically bringing to light all the plagiarism issues given to the book. And there's no comparison, even at it's worst Airbender is better at all points against Eragon.

Maybe it's because I'm a fan of the show, and know how things "should" be. I made many allowances, it being a live-action film, as well as having a only a limited amount of time to tell a story, and understand that adaptations cannot be like the source material. It's not that I didn't want it to be good, too many factors wouldn't allow me to see much of a light at the end of that tunnel.

But just too much was changed where it didn't need to be. Or should have been, where the changes actively weakened the story and characters.

I hope this movie makes money, I want there to be a sequel. I don't want Shyamalan at the helm, and hope that just because this first film made money that they decide he can continue onward. I really hope Nickelodeon, or DiMartino and Konietzko even, hear what fans are saying and realize no one really wants him to have any further involvement. Follow in Bryan Singer's footsteps and listen to the people who also want this to be a good and successful series of movies just as much as you.


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January 2013

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