Tag Archives: violence

The Matrix: Reloaded

Okay, let’s think about this logically. I was just reading up (and I’ve been told) that The Matrix: Reloaded is considered a flop of a sequel. The first one set up such a good plot that the second detracted from that and focused solely on action. In essence, a stupid man’s film about boobs, guns, and fighting. Let’s rethink this, shall we? People always say that the

An all-star, stunner cast.

second film in a series flops in comparison to the first. But let’s think about a few trilogies followed the same principle.

The Lord of the Rings. There is an apparent escalation in the amount of action and violence in comparison to the first film. That Battle for Helm’s Deep? That’s a pretty damn good action scene. Star Wars. Both parts. Episode 4 has the Battle of Hoth and Episode 2 has the Clone Wars. Hell, even Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has more action and violence than the first. You wanna know why this is so common? Because the story is set up in the first, and the meaty middle of the story contains most of the action before the crescendo in the third. It’s just the way trilogies are set up. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

Get at me.

So, now that I’m done explaining that, plot.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back again with a vengeance. He has been releasing minds from the Matrix and kicking ass. He and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are a loving couple (I stress loving in the sexual sense of the word for some of the content rating) and are returning to Zion after a meeting with the other captain’s in the Matrix. With the sentinels digging into Zion and threatening the last bastions of humanity, Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity, and Link (Harold Perrineau) must find some way to beat the machines. It’s gonna be an all out brawl.

And this movie delivers on so many levels. Amazingly choreographed fight scenes, mind blowing CG graphics that broke ground, and great stunts throughout. This movie has it all for Martix and action fans

Straight out of anime. Word.

alike. Some revelation-level secrets are released and we all get to see why Neo is the one. What could be better?

The cool and suave acting is just as good in this one as the last. Everything about the movie just screams sleek and badass, but in a cool way. Keanu Reeves improves his performance from the last one in Reloaded as does Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Some newcomers to the film add some spice as well. Jada Pinkett-Smith, one of my Hollywood crushes, performs beautifully as the cold and intense Niobe, captain of the Logos. I loved playing as her in the Enter the Matrix game for Xbox, a game I would recommend re-releasing for the 360 or something. Please?

Wielding, like a boss.

Lambert Wilson was comedically enthralling as The Merovingian, an older program that has survived for years in exile. And Monica Bellucci, the drop-dead gorgeous Mary Magdalene from Passion of the Christ. She’s even sexier in this one, and I’m actually glad she’s in Revolutions as well. Collin Chou throws up a great fight scene (one of my favorites) with Neo as Seraph, the protector of The Oracle (reprised by Gloria Foster, sadly, for the last time). Throw in a cameo from Leigh Whannell, creator of Saw, and you have a great cast of Matrix familiars. A whole world is created with these interesting characters, and I can’t get enough.

Another great soundtrack from Don Davis and various Nu Metal/Metal bands I enjoy listening to, and you got yourself another amazing installment of the Matrix. I may just be a sucker for films like this, but I just can’t find very many flaws with these films at all. It’s a classic tale/archetype of the hero and his transformation/journey, and it just speaks to me on an epic scale of what a good movie and story is. So get at me about The Matrix: Reloaded. It blew my mind, and still does. 9.3 out of 10.

Bang on me!

 

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A Film With Me In It

Leave it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.

A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,

Mark, the fall guy.

David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.

This may look familiar to another film…

Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.

And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of  these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?

That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.

I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.

And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.

There’s some serious criminal activity going down.

This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.

 

 

 

And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.

 


Repo! The Genetic Opera

In a crossover genre that reminded me a bit of the only other big exposure I’ve had to operetta style plays/shows (i.e. Cats), Repo! The Genetic Opera was a twist and melding of something I’m not used to seeing at all. And, big plus, in the form of a movie. And what more could seal this musical deal? Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saws 2-4, was the director. That’s a pretty sweet marmalade right there. And I was surprisingly not bored during this horror/rock opera/film extravaganza.

In a strange dystopian intro scene that may remind those of us who have seen Mystery Men of a similar grimy town flyby, there is a new way of living in the city. And that is prologued by the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). In this new dark and sinister world, people are living longer. How, you may ask? Through the use of artificial organs. You

GraveRobber, the teller of our tale. (Is that a cat from Cats right next to him?)

can pay for these organs with a monthly fee, but it must be paid on time to GeneCo. If not, “Rotti” Largo (Paul Sorvino) will send his RepoMen after you and remove it from you.

The story focuses around a doctor Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) and his sick daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega). In a story of sick and twisted nip/tuck pleasure, betrayal and love, and discovered identities, Repo! The Genetic Opera combines the operatic style of singing with the gruesomeness of shock rock. What I found surprising, coming from a director who has done such a violent and intestine filled series, gave a bit of humor and poise to the blood and guts. I was never grossed out (as if this film or any other could do that) by the events unfolding before me, it was more with the type of music and subject matter. It was a winning combo, to be sure.

Paris Hilton, can you tell?

I liked the subject matter (dystopian world of the morbid) and found it to be a simple enough plot to get across with how many underlying motives were at play. What I was semi-impressed with was the singing. Anthony Head, star of Buffy and featured on my favorite British comedy, Little Britain, was a phenomenal singer. Alexa Vega, a bit weak, which surprised me. Terrence Zdunich was a phenomenally good stage presence in front of the camera. I enjoyed his pop out of a trash can every once in a while. He had the Cats vibe down. His morbid look was appealing and flashy, almost like a Rum Tum Tugger (although this guy didn’t do any theater before this, so far as I can tell…).

Some surprising cast though in this film. Paul Sorvino, star of musicals and dramas and a couple of Italian Mafioso films, was a good presence, but weak as a counter character/villain to Nathan (Anthony Head) the age difference was a bit of a problem for the plot device they had to deal with, and so it just came off as odd. His singing was a bit weak too, but I think that’s something that happens when you have to speak/sing lines in a rock opera. Sarah Brightman, English singing extraordinaire was delightfully pleasant for as small of a role as she was given. Her

A little bit of blood never hurt Buffy…

singing sent a few chills down the old spine.

And there’s even more! Throw in Bill Moseley, actor from a shit-ton of horror films, including a few Rob Zombie vehicles. And Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy (industrial metal band for those of you who don’t know)? Who knew? I could barely put the names and the faces together with this nip/tuck of a performance. Oh, and Paris Hilton for sex appeal. No big surprise there.

Enjoy that open wound, guy.

In an hour and a half of rockin’ and a rollin’, you’re exposed to the world of blood and guts, drums and guitar. I’ve never seen a movie like this before, and this sets the bar sort of high on expectations (and no, I won’t be watching Rent anytime soon). So move aside The Wiz, because there’s a new favorite musical film in town. And it’s got more of an edge to it. So strap in and hide your organs for Repo! A 6.4 out of 10.

 


This Film Is Not Yet Rated: An Opinion

In a different approach that I’ve never done in my blog, I’m going to debate the documentary created by Kirby Dick, This Film is Not Yet Rated. While watching this, a lot of questions and refutes came to mind that I wanted to deal with rather than just reviewing the movie. I gave this film my full attention and open mind, so I’m going to talk back.

This Film is Not Yet Rated deals with the issue of the warped way in which independent and Hollywood films are treated and rated according to the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America). With the issues of homosexual vs heterosexual relations, male vs female sexuality, and violence, vs sexual content, Kirby Dick handles this and the board behind which these issues are debated and rated on. It is quite controversial and sexual in nature, with interviews from people all across the movie making business and their thoughts behind why this secretive establishment was ever put into place. And a lot of attacking of Jack Valenti, the man that started it all.

I have to concede a lot of points to Kirby Dick and the creators of this documentary. It is rather disturbing that an organization is given this much power and allowed to be kept secret and confidential on its workings. To not be allowed to know the peers who judge you (as you are in the court of law), is downright un-Democratic. The board that represents “average American parents” is warped and not accurate in the slightest. And any sort of appeals board that is put into place is just ludicrous.

But I think where a lot of the confrontation comes from is the business world. Hollywood and the movie making machine is a business. A lot of business (especially big businesses that make billions of dollars) are run by the elite “conservatives” that wouldn’t look kindly on the liberal views of sexuality and experimentation. With the movie makers butting heads with the owners who rate the films and distribute them, documentaries like this are going to arise that fight the backwards system they’re involved in.

What I didn’t understand is why there’s such a conflict. If the MPAA rates movies as R or NC-17, that restricts the amount of people who can see the film. And by restricting a demographic from seeing a film that may not be so restricted content heavy, that loses money to a particular age group. Why would the big businesses who run the showing of films do such a thing? It seems backward, and could only be because they feel it is necessary to keep the status quo morals. I applauded this film for fighting “the man” and the “big machine”, but there were things I had problems with.

Coming from someone who loves a lot of different films, I have to be honest. I don’t think that, in 90 out of 100 cases, that sex scenes are necessary in film. What do sex scenes do? They reaffirm a “loving” relationship between two people, be it straight, gay, or whatever. It’s for lust, for some form of artistic representation. But how often does it actually move a plot along? Not often. Sexual scenes of any sense that actually further plot are usually scenes of rape or procreation. If someone’s having a baby or having their lives changed by a terrible experience, those are depicted harshly or beautifully. Sex scenes to “seal the deal” come across as eating up screen time to me.

Let me give an example so I just don’t seem prude. I tried to watch a film recently titled, A Room in Rome. I thought, hmmm, I’ll expand my knowledge in films with this liberating and artistic foreign film about lesbians. It started off okay. They had some thought provoking conversations. Then they hit the showers and I was exposed to sex scene after sex scene. At that point, I realized what sex scenes are to me. They are invasions of privacy, voyeuristic looks into someone else’s private time, be it onscreen or not. They, for the most part, bore me and make me feel uncomfortable. And for a film to claim it’s an arthouse film and just show 90 minutes of nonstop sex scenes? That’s a total load of bullshit. Don’t tell me that. That’s not some form of art that I would never understand. “It’s symbolic.” Are you f$%^&ing kidding me? Hell no.

I’m not ashamed to exasperatedly voice my opinion, and it’s about to get worse. Call me a typical dumb male, but I would rather have a scene of violence in a film than a sex scene. It’s more entertaining and adrenaline pumping than two people doin’ it in front of my eyes. And it furthers plot. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office said it best when he said that what’s more exciting than a gun? What is more exciting and threatening to a character than a gun onscreen? There’s a point to be had there. Martial arts films that depict the grace, discipline, and brutality of fighting really inspire me to be better than myself and protect and defend others. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

There was one point in the film that made me pretty mad in particular. It was quite a leap and a wrong one. To say that violent films and video games inspire more kids to shoot up schools than anything else is not the truth. It is an access to firearms at a young age. It’s those kids who are mentally unstable, picked on, not listened to, those kids who feel the pressures of the world before they even get out of college. The outcasts, the rejects, those kids nobody would ever dream of talking to or hanging out with. In some particular cases, I’m sure violent acts have been done because of what someone saw on T.V. or in movies. But not a majority or a large portion of the time at all. Marilyn Manson said it best in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary. When asked what he would have said to the two young male shooters to try to dissuade them, he said, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”

This film makes valid points about a world I am not a part of, but would one day like to be a part of. The movie world scares me now after seeing this documentary. How much freedom is taken away when you want people to see what you’ve made and how a movie can be banned or censored is against our rights. But the way that sex is seen as something that should be above anything else (drugs weren’t talked about in this film), I falter in my support. I find that to be assuming too much of an “open-minded” America. For parents to have to talk to children about sex, who wants that conversation? (Daniel Tosh paraphrase from a telling joke about Mormons and gay rights.) As a whole, America is a prude machine that doesn’t want to move from where its standing. I stand among those in the action film/horror movie/all around whatever the hell genre it is community and say, “I don’t need sex in my films.” I know it is backwards to say violence above sex, but aren’t movies fake? Don’t they depict things that, for the most part, are an interpretation/exaggeration of the real world? Sex scenes hit too close to home and come from a person to person basis on what is acceptable sex.

So coming away from this with one thing, you should remember I said this. I don’t find sex to be entertaining or necessary in movies. That’s just me, my opinion. You could think I am absolutely stupid and ignorant for thinking that. That’s your choice to think that. But if my voice has any say in the matter, this is what I think. Plain and simple. Let me know what you think, and, as always, I’ll be writing from The Abyss.

So let’s have a poll, shall we?


Marvel’s The Avengers

In this culmination of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk series of movies comes The Avenger’s movie, produced by Marvel and Disney Studios. Okay, let’s be realistic about how much I know or care about the Marvel series and any of its connected works. There’s very little. I never really read  comic books when I was younger, other than Ghost Rider and Spawn. I always had a thing for the darker characters and (other than Ghost Rider) not a lot of Marvel characters caught my interest that much. So I was apathetic as to the plight of the superheroes in this movie. Didn’t mean I wasn’t converted into a huge fan in less than 2 hours. This movie alone makes me wanna go back and watch all the others, just to know what went down.

Now it’s not that I’m completely ignorant of the superhero world. I love Batman (not so much these latest installments that showcase Christopher Nolan as the be all end all of Batman with his same cast from every movie that he loves so much)

Lookin’ good there, Evans.

and Spiderman (again, why are they making another one in less than 5 years of the last one? Yes, it may be “more true” to a comic, but Sam Raimi doesn’t need to be spit in the face. My favorite director doesn’t need to be shown up for no damn reason.) and Ghost Rider (we don’t need to get into the whole Nicholas Cage issue, just read my blog on the second movie). I followed the Blade films and even checked out a Hulk or two. I was a kid once, and cartoons are all about superheroes.

The Hulk. Become a fan.

Which, I find, comes at a fault. To realistically shape and morph comic superheroes into people and set them in a different medium is a bit weird to me. You got these groups of superheroes coming together and nobody finds it odd or strange in a modern society that all of this is coming up out of sci-fi fantasy make believe. To depict these dark characters for what is considered to be something that children collect and watch and slap a PG-13 rating on it so the younger kids who like this stuff can’t see it? It seems strange to me. If my little 5 year old cousin can’t see The Avengers and he loves Iron Man, what kind of a situation is that? Yes, there are those comics geared towards an older audience, but you’re still appealing to something meant for those who are younger. Just something to think about.

Enough of my rant about the paradox that is comics and comic book movies. The Avengers is a particular story that has been in the making for a while now. All of these movies were put out in anticipation of one film that would unite all these superheroes in a huge clash of good versus evil. I can tell you though, I have

Some egos clash right here.

no idea who the bad guys were or what their purpose was in coming to Earth other than to destroy it. Nothing gained, a planet destroyed I guess. But you bring together all these clashing egos and you have yourself a more dynamic and interesting squad than the Justice League or any other huge star superhero teams out there.

Go on and use those “superpowers” guys…

Meanwhile, at some underground base that S.H.I.E.L.D. runs…

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has heard some terrible news about this source of power/reactor thing that is going to change the world, known as the Tesseract. Talk about throwbacks to Madeline L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time. Loki (Tom Hiddelston) transports from this sinister looking purple planet and steals away Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and this scientist, Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard). They plan to use the Tesseract for some nefarious deeds, and take down Thor and all the other superheroes who have done them wrong. Loki has a score to settle with his brother and he is seeking revenge through some freaky deaky alien people.

So Nick Fury decides its time to assemble the team. He gets Captain America (Chris Evans) who was frozen in some ice in the ocean from way back when. There’s Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who has been working on some new energy sources and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who has been helping sick Indian children before he’s picked up by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Rounding out the team is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), come to find his brother and stop him. With these ultimate superheroes (and those like Black Widow and Hawkeye who really aren’t anything special thrown in) comes ego clashing, fights on an epic scale, and one of the coolest final battles shot in Cleveland and made to look like NYC that you’ll ever see.

Looks like Cleveland to me…

I didn’t have a lot of problems with this film. Overall, it set out what it wanted to do, entertain and tell the story of the Avengers, and make as much money as possible off of the series. I mean, a BILLION DOLLARS?!?! That’s pretty redonkulous. The dialogue wasn’t too bad and cheesy like a stuffed Ritz or anything, although Samuel L. Jackson got the short end of the stick in this movie. He was really bad in comparison to everyone else. He came off as incompetent and not a hardass at all. For shame Samuel L., for shame. I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s acting in this movie as The Hulk. He was witty and laid back enough to believe that he was truly holding back a beast. And when he finally let out all that anger, I instantly became a Hulk fan. On the spot when he punched that alien dirigible thing in the face.

Thanks for this one Joss Whedon. Not so much Nick Fury over there…

There were some stunning visual effects in the film and some free flowing action. Unlike other movies that have a lot of cheesy comedy for the fans, this movie was far different than those. This movie has some good humor for a bit of an older audience. And every character has their own comedic scene. This movie is a pretty good balance of comedy, violence, and full throttle action. At no point in the film was I bored, and that’s a good achievement for a 2+ hour film. And a setup for a sequel? I wouldn’t mind that at all. If it’s still in theaters (and at the time of posting, it is) go check this out. It’s got a good range for a film that a lot people will find fun and exciting. So suit up and join The Avengers, it’s a cinematic ride you don’t wanna miss. A solid 8.5 out of 10, perfectly good action/superhero movie.


Leaves of Grass (The Film)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film I had never heard anything about. The second I saw Edward Norton playing twins, my mind jumped to Nicholas Cage in Adaptation. And I love that film because of him and everything about it. So I got a little bit excited once I saw both of them interacting together onscreen. A film that centers around the lifestyle of weed and academia, I know one half of. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. It enhanced it with how intelligently represented both sides are.

I think it was best said by whoever put it on Wikipedia when they said this film has everything of the great tragedies. Mistaken identity, betrayal, violence, loss, and all that good shizz. I was hooked the second Ed Norton stepped on camera as his

Two brothers, one person.

intelligent half, Bill Kincaid. He gives such a convincing performance as the well-to-do, goody-goody brother of the family that went off to college to become a thinker. And that scene is completely contrasted by his portrayal as Brady Kincaid, the equally intelligent marijuana grower. Both sides have an intelligent way of speaking (despite the Oklahoma “Southern” accent) and it comes off as very entertaining to hear their rapport.

A great little cast.

So the movie’s about Bill and Brady, the Kincaid twins. One has aspirations of Harvard and the other aspirations of a lucrative weed business. They parted ways long ago after differences in family experience and got on fine. But things haven’t been going so well for Brady. Brady tricks Bill into flying out by faking his own death and meeting up with Brady’s associate, Rick Bolger (Tim Blake Nelson). After everything gets figured out, Bill finds out that Blake needs him to pose as himself while he goes out on some business. All he has to do is visit their mother, Daisy (Susan Sarandon) and everything will be fine. But, of course, that’s not how things turn out.

There’s a great quality of culture clash in this movie when North meets South, East meets West. Although both characters started out in the OK, they have drifted apart and need to reconnect. There’s a great subtle love/seducing interest between Bill and a small town girl, Janet (Keri Russell). She noodles and ropes them broncos and all that shit, and its strange for Bill to find a girl just as knowledgeable when it comes to poetry. There’s a clash between the greater Christian community and the Jews in this movie as well. Big props for Richard Dreyfuss pulling off the kinky role of Jewish mob boss in this film. And never forget about the little guy, a great job by John Pais.

What a great Jewish badass.

People had a problem with the move from the comedic to the dark and tragic, but it didn’t bother me as much. Moving from quirky to murky isn’t as hard as people take it to be in films. This movie leans in that direction from the beginning with the drug running and gang violence and can’t end well because movies have to have that element of loss or gain. If Bill came down and visited his mother and nothing bad happened and things went off without a hitch, this movie would be about 45 minutes shorter. So I give the benefit of the doubt to this film for tiptoeing around that issue.

I was pleasantly surprised how well Tim Blake Nelson directed and wrote this movie, as well as starred in. He pulled off the trifecta well and made a compelling story all at once. From only knowing him as

That’s some great work you’re doing there, Mr. Pendanski.

Mr. Pendanski in Holes, he made one hell of a movie. There’s not a lot of focus on the life Bill had (obviously this movie is meant to change him towards family) and it’s a lot about going back to your roots. I thought Edward Norton did an amazing job in both roles and made me think (if I didn’t know it was Edward Norton) that it was two different people. Let’s jump back 50 years when filming two people at once was more of an amazing thing and blow some minds. Maybe roll up a joint (this movie is really not about weed at all…) and enjoy some Leaves of Grass. Its limited release and Sundance Premier really secured this as a not well known good movie. I’ll give it a 7.7 out of 10.