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All is forgiven, George
We have to give JJ Abrams credit here for he has done something that no Star Wars fan expected... he made the prequels look good.
If there was one stand-out aspect of Star Wars that made it so great it was its almost unparallelled imagination. Lucas created a hugely detailed and original universe with an epic story line. The prequels, whilst flawed in their over-use of mediocre CGI and themselves Disney'fied to a degree were still based on a deep, interesting and highly original story line. Abrams utterly failed in this respect with The Force Awakens.
It's hard to even know what TFA is even supposed to be. A complete and pointless rehash of Episode IV with bits of V and VI thrown in. Zero originality and by far and away the worst dialogue of any Star Wars film - absolutely cringe-worthy in places. Almost every scene or story aspect of any note is plagiarised from the original trilogy and reproduced in a hugely inferior way.
We all took George Lucas for granted when we saw the prequels. We saw the flaws and didn't appreciate the brilliant story beneath the surface, the original characters, ships and locations. TFA stands in stark contrast to this GL's brilliance... a pointless, corporate, plagiarised piece of unimaginative rubbish.
** TFA is probably worth about 5 or 6 out of 10, but it gets a 1 to balance out the corrupt IMDb rating system.
I am a big fan of LOTR and whilst I thought AUJ was poor, I was willing to let that one go as a blip. With that in mind I had high hopes for TDOS which appeared from the trailer to be darker and grittier that the first instalment.
Unfortunately, what was presented was an absolute shambles. The plot is truly terrible and a mere shadow of the original book; the HFR 3D serves to visualise most of the film as a cheap, made-for-TV soap opera; there is virtually no character development and the CGI fight scenes are so bad it's just laughable.
In AUJ I found HFR 3D passable. It didn't distract me too much and maybe even enhanced parts of the film. However, in this instalment it was awful. The very first scene is almost unwatchable it's so bad and this is a theme that continues throughout most of the film. The character closeups are like watching a badly made TV show with all the limitations of costume and make-up clearly visible and the large-scale CGI scenes are like watching a computer game intro sequence. It just does not work.
The plot is only loosely based on the book. The great character of Beorn is just glossed over and the gorgeous Murk Wood is presented as a mere triviality. I was looking forward to a sinister spider scene but all that we got was some Disney-style nonsense that was not in the least bit scary.
The entire thing is conducted as if a child has written it... "...and then the dwarfs go into beorn's house and then beorn tries to kill them and then he's not bothered and then he hates them and then he doesn't and then we're bored of beorn and then they go to murk wood and then gandalf goes to find the necromancer and we don't really know what that is or why but just cos and then there are spiders and then the dwarfs are stuck in the webs and then they're not stuck anymore and then they box the spiders and win and then some really really good looking elves come along and one of them is legolas and he's not really a wood elf but we'll just pretend he is cos he's really really good looking and the other elf girl who's really really good looking gets the hots for one of the dwarfs erm yeah erm hmm and that probably seems a bit weird so then the dwarf tells her a story about the moon and then and then..."
And now for the the fight scenes. Oh my god. Please just stop it. Please. If I see Legolas surfing around like some deranged beach bum with a bow and arrow one more time I think I'll throw up in the theatre. "Pathetic" doesn't even begin to describe the nonsense that is on display here.
And why, when PJ or GDT or whoever started saying "... and then the dwarfs bait Smaug into lighting the furnaces and then hundreds of tons of solid gold melts in a few seconds and then the gold is made into a giant gold dwarf and then the giant gold dwarf splurges all over Smaug and then that's pointless anyway cos Smaug just shakes it off and then Smaug doesn't want to kill the dwarfs anymore just cos and then Smaug just flies off instead..." did someone not just stand up and slap whoever it was very hard in the face and say: "No. In then name of Gondor, I will not let you defile the work of the great Tolkien such"?
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
The Emperor's New Clothes
As the title suggests, I feel it can only be a case of the Emperor's New Clothes when reviewers commend this as a classic and brilliant film. In a discussion with a friend of mine I was also treated to the same rhetoric when I disagreed - that I must be some kind of unintelligent heathen who only likes simple action films. Not so, unfortunately. Rather, I just spent the last two hours being bored to within an inch of my life. Only because I thought there must be something coming that justified said glowing reviews did I not leave the theatre, but it turned out to be as bad a decision as going in there in the first place.
The film setting is pretty much the most dismal and dreary image of 1970's England imaginable. Everything is brown or grey, dirty and uninspiring, as if looking through the eyes of a severely depressed individual. We are treated to endless scenes of characters simply moving from one dreary location to another, and then sitting there not speaking. Smiley, whilst brilliantly acted by Oldman, seems incapable of responding to any dialog without first a 30 second pause of suspended animation. The majority of the rest of the characters comprised a bunch of sour, rude and miserable old men, none of which I developed even the slightest compassion for.
The basic story of the film is the discovery of a mole in MI6, except that since MI6 appeared to consist of the most miserable human beings on the planet then really, who cares if they find the mole or not? In fact, why not leave the mole there since he's the only thing that's even vaguely interesting. The mole is, of course, finally uncovered in a scene that typifies the film: another brown room, two miserable old men not speaking and not moving.
Cinematography also seems to be another buzzword to use here, so let's address it. To be fair, some nice use of the camera does add a modicum of style, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before, and if anything it's overused to the point where it gets in the way of the film and becomes tiresome.
It's not that there aren't some good points, there are. There are a few well done scenes, the acting is good, and the younger characters do infuse some life into the plot. However, unfortunately these islands of relief are few and far between, and the result was two and a bit of the most dreary and uninspiring hours of my life.
Sucker Punch (2011)
A Misunderstood Movie
There are a lot of bad reviews for this film, but it seems that these reviewers have generally completely missed the point, mostly referring to it as a pointless, titillating, wet dream. Yet in actuality the movie is an interesting take on a particularly deep philosophical message.
Firstly, it does amuse me how much sexy girls get slated by reviewers. Of course this is simply jealousy. Either the reviewer is a thoroughly unsexy female, jealous of what she wishes she could be, or a man who believes he has no chance with such beautiful girls and prefers to simply dismiss them as worthless. Me, I am a mid-thirties male (which probably puts me in the so-called "demographic") and I like women. A lot. I especially like sexy women. If they are wearing next to nothing, even better. And if that next to nothing is latex, better still. Add some weapons and martial arts and that suits me down to the ground. But then again I don't feel threatened by them, and I guess that's the difference.
In terms of special effects you get exactly what you would expect from Snyder, and you won't be disappointed, but what I particularly liked was the quite original take on what constituted the bad guys and how the action scenes resembled a computer game. Certainly an original concept with some very nicely executed sequences. Some of the acting could have been a bit better I suppose and the dialog was fairly basic. It's never going to be a classic, but it's a fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable watch.
But now back to the guts of the film. If you thought this was simply an action film then you completely missed the point. As revealed at the end, the message of this film is that life is what we make it. That all of our fears, insecurities, happiness, love, feelings and so on are simply what we perceive them to be and that we can change all of this if we want to, it's simply up to us. This is Baby Doll's reality; life as she has made it. The depth of this message cannot be underestimated. In fact it is the essence of life. Snyder summarises it with a particularly nice quote: You have all the weapons you need, now fight.
If you don't understand this movie, then you have a lot to learn.