Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Movies 2014, Uncategorized (Some More)

            And of course after writing the last blog which included a large section detailing many movies I had not seen and the reasons why I had not seen them, now I have seen a one of them, and one I had not mentioned.

            If I had known this movie was from the director of "End of Watch" and "Training Day" then I wouldn't have bothered to see it.  His movies are full of bullshit 'be a man' toxic masculinity that I find disgustingly out of place in modern cinema.  The sort of crass sentiment that should be derided but always comes across as lauded in his work.  His bad guys in this and "End of Watch" lack depth or characterization beyond 'Nazi' and 'gangbanger' which would be fine if the movies were trying to be light popcorn fair, but they instead put on airs as being some how "real".  Pretentious is the best way to describe the subject matter.
            Beyond that the movie is poorly made.  It starts with a good cold open as Brad Pitt surprise murders a guy, and we are introduced to the crew... The people we think are going to be the protagonists... They aren't, they are the supporting cast... This is so strange, they just lost a machine gun operator, and the replacement rookie is the main character, he is the one we identify with and follow thru the story, but since we are introduced to these guys first and never knew the now dead previous machine gunner the animosity the tank crew holds toward the new guy comes off as obnoxious.  Here is an idea, why not have us introduced to the original machine gun guy, have him played by a big name actor like Jake Gyllenhal or Matt Damon, feature him prominently in the promotional material, and then kill him off in the opening act, and then introduce the rookie.  The audience will feel the loss of the big actor whom they had assumed would be in the rest of the movie, the shock death will alienate the audience toward the new guy so that we can sympathize with the crew who now have to make due with the rookie.  It is meta-textual.  Then when Brad Pitt forces the rookie to murder a helpless prisoner, in what is certainly a war crime we will see where Pitt is coming from having seen how much worse off they are with a raw rookie on their hands, rather than feeling sickened by Pitt's violent villainous behavior.
            Then there is also the lighting.  I do not know why they felt the need to have this thing look like it was filmed inside Satan's asshole, but it is so dark and lit by flame that I assume it had to be intentional.  The pacing is terrible, at one point the movie stops cold for 20+ minutes so that Pitt and the rookie can have tea and breakfast with a couple women in a captured village (SPOILERS: Even though "Immanent RAPE" is practically written in neon lights over the scene it never happens and mostly it serves to illustrate the differential personas of the various tank men.  However, afterword the women they have tea with are immediately killed by an artillery strike in the cheapest attempt to pull an emotion I have seen in a movie of this type.  Why not just have them play with a dog and then have a Nazi shoot the dog?  YOU KNOW, TO MAKE US FEEL SOMETHING.)
            There is also this odd thing with the bullets.  America's tracer rounds glow a different color than the Nazi's.  One is green the other is red.  So it looks like a battle from "Star Wars".  Was that a real thing?  I can't find info on that, I thought tracer rounds just had magnesium on them that burned white.
            And the last battle.  Unless you are Wolverine or Audie Murphy... This battle is horseshit.  Five guys in a broken tank kill 100+ bad guys who are too stupid to just go around the tank thru the numerous open fields.
            Here is my only two real compliments, I have not seen a movie about tank operations, and the idea of teaching the audience about how tanks worked thru practical demonstrations is interesting, and the fact that the new crew guy was there served as the obvious character to have to explain operations to, but most of it is too 'meh' and 'yeah that makes sense' to be seen as really informative (while I felt the science fiction of "The Final Countdown" was weak, the presentation of naval operation and function was actually pretty informative for its time).  I wish the movie had been more about giving informative to the audience.  The cast was great, Shia LeBeouf and Brad Pitt especially (Though it is odd to think that Pitt is now old enough to portray a character that could have fought in WWI as well).
Overall: 4/10
"More Gloom.  Cause it's war.  No battle has ever been fought on a cloudless day.  And besides if we don't use the color scheme to make people feel like shit... well, the story ain't gonna do it for us."
            As a romantic comedy it has by default an incredibly hack plot.  But, you can look past those sorts of things if the other aspects of the production are good.  This one has good production.  The characters are likable and the dialogue is snappy.  I would have preferred a different ending (something less pat and happy) and I think that there are parts of this movie that could have taken a different turn to make it a more memorable and interesting movie, but it is fine for what it does in the context of a hack plot.  I do feel this movie would have benefited from an R rating, allowing the nudity that is featured in the script to be featured on the screen instead of it just being glanced or hinted at, but that is a minor gripe.  I was too hard on this movie while watching it and I imagine that if you enjoy quirky comedies it will appeal to you much more deeply than it did to me.
            I also find it very strange how short Danny Radcliffe is.  I thought he was working with giants, but really he is just itty bitty.  Good enough actor, guess he would have to be with the decade of practice and growing up in the industry, but I guess I can see why he hasn't been in a Marvel movie.  He is a foot shorter than Thor.  I am getting hung up on this and I don't know why.  Maybe because I get tired of people making fun of Tom Cruise who is taller than Radcliffe, and now I am just reacting in the other direction.
            Major contrast to "Fury" in that regard.
Overall: 6/10
The international title is "The 'F' Word" which doesn't really make any sense.  Honestly I would have called it 'Fool's Gold' which will only make sense if you watched the movie.

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