Monday, January 6, 2014

Movies of 2013, Fantasy, pt3

... And a bit of an emphasis on Romance... To wildly different levels of success.

Oz: The Great and Powerful, or "My expectations... They've all been blown away."
Overall: 8/10
It is a movie that really emphasizes "fun".
            One of the best movie going experiences I had all year.
            I did not think James Franco was going to work... Turns out he really worked he had good timing, clearly has mastered working with every manner of blue screen and special effect in the industry as he talks with and handles CGI characters easily and acts wowed at all the gorgeous visuals the movie offers.  But Mila Kunis was... a less fitting match... Something about her laugh didn't work for me.
            I really liked the visual change going from Kansas to Oz, not only from black and white to color, but also from a narrow square screen to wide screen.  I liked the goofy slapstick, and I liked the supporting characters.  Not a lot of problems in this as it does everything one might want with a movie set in Oz.  It actually does something I wish they would do with "The Hobbit" telling a story that is for the most part original that ties into known events but mostly just does its own thing in the universe.

Beautiful Creatures, or "Twilight, the Good Version.  Admittedly, not a high bar to clear."
Overall: 6/10
Watch and marvel, as a film nearly makes up for its shortcomings.
            "Beautiful Creatures" was picked up with the lowest possible expectations.  I thought this was going to be nothing, another movie given the go because of the Supernatural romance genre being a thing.  It was slightly more than nothing.  The male lead is interesting and I can identify with him, he goes out of his way to be more interesting than the people around him, reading banned books, targeting distant universities to go to after graduating, and generally being up his own ass about how he is better than the hicks that surround him (I am frequently up my own ass about how stupid the people who surround me are).
            The female lead is pensive, as one would be knowing that there is a count down to her either becoming a supervillain or not... I can imagine that being stressful.  Even though I will freely admit that the idea that men in this universe get to chose whether they are evil while women are slaves to their passions... Whatever.
            The real prize in this movie is Jeremy Irons walking around like gods gift to hammy acting and there are really potent scenes in which he makes the male lead see how his life will go nowhere and for all his blustering and pretentiousness he is still just a hick with delusions of grandeur (again, I can relate to the male lead).  Irons also has an acting competition with the whole town and then the main antagonist of the film in a massive southern style assembly hall, like somebody said that Jeremy Irons was going to call everyone out on their horse shit and everyone showed up...  Irons is great and makes the movie worth seeing... And that scene I mentioned in which he bawls out the main villain and the whole town, the central figure of evil in the movie is played by Emma Thompson, who is a Southern "holier that thou" possessed by an evil witch... WHICH MAKES ACTING HAPPEN.
            I went in expecting nothing and instead got a ham sandwich.  Mind you I had to chew through some of the lame aspects to get to the good scenes, but they are scenes worth watching.

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (turned off), or "Trite Modern Fantasy"
Overall: 1/10 (One of the worst movies I saw all year)
This movie can go fuck itself.
            I turned this shit off.  There are good ideas certainly, I like that the protagonist is suddenly seeing a mysterious symbol she can't stop drawing.  I like that she starts seeing magical and even horrific shit.  I like that she calls her Mom out on friend zoning her would be step dad, and the Mom calls her out on friend zoning the nerdy guy who follows her around (I actually found that to be hilarious, "Who taught you how to emotionally string along boys?"  "YOU ALRIGHT!  I learned it from watching you!").  Though I will say that the Mom is well cast, Lena Headey is a good actress and looks a lot like the young protagonist (very expressive eyebrows on both of them).
            But then the whole thing starts to turn to shit.  The problem is that the whole thing could be wrapped up pretty quickly if the magical blonde pretty boy would just explain to her what is going on instead of demanding answers and obedience from a teenage girl who is obviously confused and scared.  He is a dick... and thus is immediately a love interest.  I had been marathon-ing "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" the gold standard in supernatural romance/action, and I kept thinking back to how Buffy would handle the various situations, she would get answers, gather her resources, create a plan, and then act.
            Even when outmatched and without a lot of information Buffy would take possession of the situation and have agency in the story, the main character in this seems totally out of her depth at the best of times and surrounded by people who will not give her even the most basic of information.  The whole point of having a fish out of water protagonist is so that they can have things explained to them... and in turn the audience can too.  Logically as she encounters new layers to the  mystery that surrounds her she should ask simple logical chains of questions that help the audience keep pace with the narrative... But since nobody will tell her anything in a coherent or non-confrontational way nobody knows what the fuck is going on.
            There is a point in which she is in a room with a witch that knows her back story, and a demon hunter that knows a lot about the world, perfect time for a quick set of explanations to what has been seen without cryptic bullshit muddying the waters.  If you can't make the mystery engaging without people being intentionally obtuse then your story is boring.

            I gave this movie a chance mostly because of "Beautiful Creatures" and "Warm Bodies" being alright.  This reminded me of what this sub-genre is about and why I will continue to not bother watching "The Host".

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