Monday, August 29, 2016

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

I'll be honest. When I first heard about Cowboys & Aliens I hated the idea. I didn't find idea of cowboys fighting flying saucers appealing. After seeing the movie I can see how it could work but Cowboys & Aliens is not the movie.

Gunslinger wakes up injured with weird bracelet. He don't remember anything. He goes to near by town. Sheriff learns he is outlaw and arrests him. When they are taking him away aliens attack the town and abduct town folk. Gunslinger joins town folk when they search for abducted people. This starts journey where our heroes have too many things conveniently happening to them at right time.

Cowboys & Aliens is ok movie. Idea works but they don't take the idea far enough. It is average modern western with average alien invasion part. They should have gone more into western style. Best moments are when movie is more western like. Then aliens appear and movie loses its momentum. When movie gets back to western it starts to work again. Problem is they went for alien invasion instead of science fiction horror.

Cowboys & Aliens would have worked much better as dark western with science fiction horror elements. I think it was written as such. Then they didn't dare to take change with movie which could be very niche movie. Harrison Ford was miscast. He is Indiana Jones and Han Solo. I can't see him as grumpy old racist. Someone like Ron Perlman or Michael Ironside would have been better in role. Or they could have turned racism part down. It was part of his story arc but they didn't need to go that far.

Cowboys & Aliens is forgettable because it mixes two genres by taking away what makes those genres interesting in first place. What we got was watered down version of both genres without substance. I would have forgotten I have seen the movie if I didn't have this blog post. When you watch it is ok movie. Afterwards You don't remember much about it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Silver Hawk (2004)

I wanted to review something fun for a change. Silver Hawk didn't disappoint. It is like Moore era Bond movie with Bond replaced by female kung fu version of Batman. It takes inspiration from everywhere. It is stupid. It uses almost all superhero clichés. But it is fun and that is most important.

Michelle Yeoh plays vigilante Silver Hawk who is famous model by day. Male lead is her childhood friend from kung fu school they were in. He wants to capture Silver Hawk. Silver Hawk got involved into evil plan when man who tried to hit on her is kidnapped. Evil plan involves villain from fighting games, Bond villain level evil lair, 60's Batman style henchmen and and lot of kung fu fighting.

If I have to complain about something fighting scenes are not as good as I expect from Asian kung fu movie. I remember Michelle Yeoh being better in fighting scenes. Probably fighting was toned down for movies lighthearted feel.

Silver Hawk is fun stupid action movie. It doesn't try to be anything else. If you want lighthearted action movie and like kung fu movies it is good choice.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is such a mess I don't know where I should start. So I start from the beginning. I wanted to see this because it has current Superman Henry Cavill. Zack Snyder has got lot of blame for his Superman movies. After seeing this I don't think he is only one to blame. Henry Cavill goes through this action comedy same way he goes through Snyder's dark and gritty Superman movies. Is current Superman what it is because it is only thing Henry Cavill can do?

Henry Cavill is not only one to blame. Another male lead is just as bad. Armie Hammer plays totally emotionless soviet spy. If that is all he needed to do he did fine job. But this was supposed to be fun action comedy based on 60's tv series. It is not fun action comedy when one male lead just walk through his part and another does his best as a guy whose only emotion is anger.

Female lead Alicia Vikander seem to be only one of main characters who knows the movie should be fun action movie. But she can't carry two male leads who has bigger role than her. When Hugh Grant comes to movie we have second actor who is trying to do fun action movie, but at that time it is too little too late.

When you don't care about your main characters and they seem to do their best to destroy the jokes, movie becomes very boring very fast. There are scenes where you see how the joke should work but actors don't do anything to make it work. I liked the style they were after. Script had enough of 60's spy movie feeling but two male leads totally destroy the movie.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

If video is not shown you can watch it here.

You should check video above if you want my spoiler free review. I will go into spoilers in this one.

I don't get why Suicide Squad has so low score in Rotten Tomatoes. It is not masterpiece but it is not Batman V Superman like disaster. Do critics have something against DC superhero movies? I can understand hate against Batman V Superman. Suicide Squad has flaws but it is not as bad. Maybe it suffers being released after really bad movies.

Suicide Squad suffers from common DCEU problems. It is super dark and serious. It shows guards abusing their power and Suicide Squad members being like animals. Most of the time movie wants to be most depressing movie ever. Some jokes were added during reshoots. Some delivered super seriously, some feel later additions. Who wants to have fun superhero action movie?

I couldn't go into my main issue on spoiler free review. Main villain is Enchantress. I don't know her from comics. I have no idea what she could do. Here she was god like creature who built machine capable to destroy the Earth. Movie put mostly street level guys and normal humans to fight against her. She went from her god mode to street level mode when she fought Suicide Squad.

What was the deal with her heart? First it was told you could control her with her heart. When Enchantress turned evil the heart didn't matter anymore until the end when she was killed by destroying her heart. Probably brother had something to do with it. Enchantress didn't need Suicide Squad angle and she didn't need to be this strong as villain. Her god mode was just stupid. I guess only reason for it was it needed less cgi. Written differently Enchantress could have been good villain. She has few moments but that is not enough.

Amanda Waller was good character except in couple scenes in which she is like different person. In first she shoots everyone who worked for her in secure room. Why? Didn't she look tough enough before. She told others didn't have security clearance. Why would you have anyone without security clearance working in top secret project. Were they to be killer at the end of work day anyway?

Another was mid-credits scene where Waller was scared. She wasn't scared during the movie in much worse situations. She shouldn't have been scared with Bruce Wayne. She was almost always in control. She should have been in control in that scene too.

These were the biggest issues. There are others too. There are two scenes back to back which are almost the same scene. Waller is selling Suicide Squad idea to others in both. These should have been combined into one. They only have different location, different group of people and little bit different information. There is one scene where Deadshot should hit Rick Flag but he tells him he will help him. Suicide Squad escaping Flag plot was forgotten completely. As was Harley Quinn's disabled bomb. Batman looked creep when he kissed passed out Harley Quinn.

Even with all this issues it is still best DC movie since Dark Knight. Tells how many good DC movies we have had since Dark Knight. I have talked about issues movie has. It has some good too. Amanda Waller and Deadshot were good characters. Joker and Harley Quinn were ok. I like the premise. Movie used it properly few times. Enchantress was good when she wasn't in her god mode.

Suicide Squad ends up being average movie with potential to be much better. It is best movie in current line of DC superhero movies by far. I want to see sequel but done right. This got many things right but suffered same problems current DC movies have.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Sometimes I wonder why something good becomes popular and something better doesn't come as popular. Game of Thrones is everywhere. Almost everyone seems to be a fan. I can understand why it is popular. How ever I found number of characters too much. It is hard to follow story arcs when show jumps to another when one starts to get interesting. This gives many characters to choose favorite from but make following the series feel like work.

To me Penny Dreadful is everything I liked about Game of Thrones without things I didn't like. I like 1890's Gothic dawn of industrialization better than might and magic setting with epic battles. There are less characters. World is bad place but Penny Dreadful doesn't go overboard showing it.

Penny Dreadful is three season 27 episode long fantasy horror series. It has public domain characters from 1890's along with original characters. It follows explorer Malcolm Murray, fortune teller Vanessa Ives and their team as they fight against supernatural foes. Each season has own villain but they are connected to series long arc.

Penny Dreadful is term for 19th century cheap sensational topic fiction. Series is poetic and beautiful. Some story elements are pretty weird like from cheap quickly written fiction. Series is well written. Characters have real story arcs. They are not clearly good or evil except some of the villains. There are no good characters. Everyone has their dark sides.

I liked first season most. It was most compact and shortest. Later seasons felt they had to top previous seasons.They introduced elements which felt they were invented after previous seasons. Main story arcs were good even with their flaws. Shorter character related arcs worked better. Best moments had nothing to do with main story arcs.

Penny Dreadful was announced to end after three seasons. There is petition to save the series. I can see how they could continue after third season finale. I can also see why they shouldn't do it. Series concluded main story arc but left some minor story arcs open. I am not sure if closing open story arcs would be enough after what happened in finale.