Self/Less: Review

Self/Less is a film which reminds you constantly not to suspend belief. The plot in Self/Less isn’t bad in itself but paired with bad writing/dialogue and a flat performance from Ryan Reynolds it pushes the film from being a promising B-  film to a soulless cash in on tried formulas. An over reliance on action movie tropes ,such as exaggerated military training capabilities, makes Self/Less fall into the category of outright silliness at times.

Characters behave and react to events in illogical and absurd manners. We are treated with a relatively disappointing and weakly written female supporting roles in a post-Mad Max society. A thoroughly unscientific plot attempts to prove that it is grounded but falls painstakingly short and expounds the gullible nature of Ryan’s on-screen “wife” even further. What could have been embraced as a distant undiscovered possibility is squandered by unconvincing narrative.

This movie had an intriguing premise which would be better suited to relish in its obscurity. It focuses on tried and overused devices in Hollywood filmmaking. With a lack of rational characters and motives, Self/Less fumbles while searching for it’s identity. While there is an obvious protagonist and antagonist, there really shouldn’t be. The audience is essentially forced into an opinion which would be fine if there was some sort of reasonable payoff.

We are given a glimpse about a debate on who is really right and wrong but ultimately do not care due to lack of execution. Self/Less isn’t a terrible movie but it certainly isn’t one that treats its audience as though they are remotely intelligent.

Verdict: 4/10 (Skip)

 

Elysium: Review

The last summer blockbuster has arrived in Elysium. District 9 director and writer, Neill Blomkamp ‘s continued run in the sci-fi genre provides an enjoyable experience. The setting of the story, is 2154 on a severely over-populated and diseased world. The rich and powerful abandon earth for an man-made utopia named Elysium. Elysium entertains with visceral action sequences and a futuristic and unique story that keeps you on your toes.

Matt Damon who portrays the main character of the film, delivers another good performance in his role as Max Da Costa; a man with nothing to lose. Matt Damon is no rookie to action films. He is widely known for his tough bad boy persona in his roles in the Bourne films. He trained four hours a day to get physically and aesthetically equipped for the film. He certainly shows that he isn’t out of practice in the art of asskickery. The weakest performance in the film came from Wagner Moura who played Spyder; a human smuggler who takes people to Elysium. It wasn’t that he had bad acting necessarily but there was an apparent and jarring language barrier. Just seemed sort of forced and a better option probably would have been to to have him speak his native portuguese/spanish tongue especially considering that Max actually had an Hispanic ethnicity.

The highlight of the film came from Sharlto Copley who plays the vicious and psychotic character C.M Kruger. Copley gives a powerful performance and steals the spotlight from the rest of the veteran cast. Even the cold and calculating Jodie Foster, who plays the secretary of defense of Elysium, doesn’t stand a chance to his ruthless and unhinged personality. He takes command of his role and puts a choke-hold on every scene he is in. Even though he is a mercenary who gets paid for his job he he takes pleasure in it all. Neill Blomkamp might be one of the only people in the film industry to acknowledge his talent so far, but that’s sure to change.

The dense over populated and dirty sprawls of Earth are visually stunning. Wide angle shots of the swarming city of Los Angeles on Earth offer a stark contrast to the perfect and clean-cut nature of Elysium. The use of handycam is present in the film but it doesn’t distract me as much as it did in District 9 . The security/surveillance drones are masterfully crafted and have a sense of realism to them. Their design balances just the right amount of finesse, stiffness, and weight to be believable. The highlight from the cinematography and VFX team had to come from the combat and weaponry of the film. It was a truly a blast to watch the way some of the guns and gadgets worked.

The plot and setting of story takes a look at the hardships of a possible future without proper medical care. This system only affords the wealthy and those with influence. Neill Blomkamp was quoted saying that this story was not an alternate future but it was actually a look at the present. Though the story was probably a bit more action oriented then District 9 its still offers some room for thought even if isn’t as deep as his previous work. All in all it was thoroughly entertaining. It’s the one of the best sci-fi films of the year and I recommend it.

Pacific Rim Review

Guillermo del Toro’s robot vs. monster blockbuster crashed into theaters this weekend. Toro is known for a variety of of films, ranging from animated family movies, to horror, and fantasy. It’s really interesting that he can have his hands on such varied material. One year he is directing Hellboy, the next Pans Labyrinth. His offering to theater goers this summer from his latest film delivers for mech and science fiction fans.

A portal in the bottom of the pacific ocean opens and giant monsters (Kaiju) emerge and wreak havoc on mankind. The world truly comes together for the first time to combat the invaders. The world’s most talented engineers and minds collaborate to invent colossal human shaped mechs. These mechs are controlled by humans in real time. To alleviate the mental strain of this connection to the Jaeger, two pilots sync their minds together and share the load.

The story is cheerful and generally upbeat. The film goer is presented with some amazing action sequences and fights. I didn’t watch the film in 3-D but I was thoroughly entertained by the action. It was fast but not too fast that I couldn’t keep up with it. Plot and character developments come at a generally acceptable pace. The story never becomes too gloomy or have too many highs or lows.

The visual aspect of this film was one of its highlights. The movie felt grounded despite it’s large use of computer generated imagery. The backdrops never felt too green-screeny and there were actually some very cool sets. The ambient lighting in Hong Kong in particular was superb.

Idris Elba brought some good acting to the film in a role he is becoming known for; The Zen-Master like authority figure/leader. And we get his british voice –a nice change from the norm. Some of the comedic relief from Charlie Day(Always Sunny in Philadelphia) seems a bit too much at times but it works in most cases. The best performance in my opinon came from Rinko Kikuchi. Her character Mako is quirky, shy, demanding, and full of vengeance;all at once. How she pulls it off?, I’m not so sure but its really entertaining to see her interact with the other cast members. And of course we get a cameo from Ron Pearlman as a black market vendor for Kaiju parts— a sort of signature addition to the cast from Guillermo del Toro, that got plenty of laughs from his fans.The dialogue of the characters wasn’t revolutionary or exceptional in anyway but it was just so fun to let go and watch the story unfold.

In many ways this experience felt like I was watching a live action anime movie. The inner geek in me took hold. Mechs? Check. Monsters? Check. Akward romances? Check. Bizarre and at times stereotypical personalities? Check. The film was exciting and managed to keep me entertained for 2+ hours. Go to see it. It’s surprisingly satisfying and has the potential to be del Toro’s new big franchise.