Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arena (2011)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Arena (2011).

Arena is straight-to-dvd movie. I expected it to be Rollerball remake done right. Premise sounded like that. I was wrong. It could have easily made to be that. In original Rollerball game was so interesting, stuntmen played it during breaks and people wanted to license it and play it for real. Makers of remake didn't want that to happen to remake. So they made game confusing and stupid. That made the movie confusing and stupid. It should have been against sport violence in media, but it missed the point, because game was more of a circus than game.

In this movie, there is internet gladiator games, where kidnapped people fight to death. If both survive, audience can vote, if loser lives or dies.  Audience is not sure, if this is real or make-believe like wrestling. Fights are disgustingly violent and losers are often decapitated. Audience sees how fighters are not there by choice, when they resist executions. I expected this to turn so violent, that audience turns off by it. It turned really violent, but audience got more exited. There was no message, this was just exploitation with blood and violence. You start to feel bad for main character, who is really hurt after every fight and turns more violent animal during the movie. But that doesn't lead into anything. You just watch him being hurt.

Movie's conscience is Milla, woman, who kidnapped main character David Lord. She start to feel bad, when he sees what happens to David. David resisted at first, but then he had to give in and become violent animal. Milla falls in love with David and start to help him. David promises to fight ten fights, if last fight is against the Executioner.  Boss of the Arena agrees, because he doesn't think David will survive past five fights. This start series of montages, where David has violent fights, hurt David is patched back together after fight and Milla start to question what she does.

Then movie gets to tenth fight. Until that point David has been guy, whose pregnant girlfriend gets killed in traffic accident. It looked like other cars deliberately crashed the car. But it is not get back to. After that David became suicidal and he was kidnapped. During fight David gets flashback, where we see, that car crash was hit where hit men tried to kill him. He won following gunfight. Then we learn David is actually undercover agent, that got exposed. After girlfriend was killed, he took suicide mission to infiltrate to these gladiator games.

David was drugged during the fight. It could have been so obvious, their hero was drugged and lost violently fight, that audience would have become angry or lost interest. But David won brutal fight and audience was excited.  Audience never learned anything during the movie. They were happy, they got their fix of violence.

After the fight David goes after the boss. Good guys are attacking the Arena at same time. David almost kills the boss, but good guys wake him up from the trance. Then he realizes, he killed all those fighter. His boss tells they were already dead and he saved other people from dying. When he starts to feel remorse, he is stopped right away. So David doesn't learn anything. Only one who learns anything during the movie is Milla. We don't know what happens to her. She is arrested, but we don't know will they be easier on her, because she helped David and exposed the Arena to good guys.

I was really disappointed how they handled things from last fight. That took the message of the movie away. This movie probably never meant to have message. Story was just excuse to show skin and blood. Violence was done so real and David was so hurt after fights, that it felt movie had anti-violence message. Movie was really brutal, but I liked it, until I realized, it doesn't have same message Rollerball remake tried to have. After that it felt disappointment with potential to be better movie. Movie had potential to be new Running man, but it wasted it.


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