All posts tagged Sci-Fi

Recent DVD Release: Cloud Atlas

Published June 13, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Xun Zhou, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Davis Gyasi, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant.

Rated: R. Adventure/Drama/Science Fiction. Running Time: 2 hours 52 minutes.

Let me begin by saying, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. We missed it in the theaters, and when it showed up in our Redbox yesterday, I was psyched. Maria wasn’t nearly as excited as I was, but she’s always a good sport, so it was dinner and Cloud Atlas. I knew we were in trouble very quickly. It’s nearly impossible to capsulize the plot, truly. Suffice it to say, Cloud Atlas makes Inception seem like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. It jumps around from one time to another with reckless abandon. The actors all play numerous roles, in some they’re good, in some bad. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you know that series has a dozen story lines that they address in any given episode. GoT is a one man Broadway play compared to Cloud Atlas. And if the breakneck speed of changing ages and landscapes isn’t enough, in one of the settings they’re speaking some kind of bastardized language that’s reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks’ blatherings in Star Wars. Eventually, the movie somewhat ties up all the plotlines, but it’s WAY too late. If you want the “true-true”, stay far away from this nearly endless epic tale, far away and with extreme prejudice.

Fifteen minutes in and I was already feeling overwhelmed, overworked and unimpressed. My brain was hurting from trying to keep track of who, what, when, where and why. I admit when I first peeped previews of this film I was intrigued and excited. For one, it was pitched as a ‘Wachowski’ film (the people who brought us The Matrix). It also seemed to explore certain spiritual themes that I am somewhat familiar with. I’m not a very religious type, but I do believe in something and I’ve found some past lives writing quite interesting. My personal favorite was a suggestion of my good friend Kate Doyle, “Many Lives, Many Masters” written by Dr. Brian L. Weiss (READ THIS!). It’s a fantastic read and raises some important questions about the meaning and mysteries of life. Cloud Atlas courageously explores these same concepts, but fails to make a lasting impression. It has glimpses of greatness, but then drags the viewer into an exhausting montage of times and places. Just enough to drain all of the heart and magic out of this film. What really annoyed me about this movie was that it had the potential to be wonderful, but eventually couldn’t get out of its own way. They missed the mark and apparently missed the day of class when the instructor went over the KISS principle. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

When it comes down to it, I’m a pretty fair Sci-Fi nerd. I love everything Star Trek, The Matrix Trilogy, X-Files, Fringe. To a lesser extent, Star Wars, Transformers, Inception. And it remains one of my favorite genres. Maria mentioned the Wachowski influence, and that was promising to me because The Matrix was fantastic. Cloud Atlas is extremely clever and deeply thought provoking, which is generally a perfect formula for me. However, it is also long and convoluted and despite everything that’s going on; boring. Hey, I’m not MENSA material, but I’m no schlub either. I don’t think it’s conceited of me to say that I’m smarter than the average bear, but Cloud Atlas had my head swimming and my brain just drowned. As I pointed out, near the end the writers did endeavor to make a little sense of the previous two and a half hours of chaos, but by then I just didn’t care. The movie was filled with some of my all-time favorites, Hanks, Weaving, Broadbent, Grant, and they did their jobs as well as they usually do. Unfortunately, the maelstrom that is Cloud Atlas just swallowed them whole. If indeed I’m not intelligent enough to enjoy Cloud Atlas, then I say “ignorance is bliss!”

Obviously, we both did not enjoy this film. However, there were some positive aspects. The visual effects were awesome and the overall theme was meaningful. I also had a special affinity for the character of Mr. Meeks, an elderly nursing home resident who only speaks the words, “I know, I know”…for the majority of the film, until he needs to save himself and his friends from a certainly bleak future. Sadly, these few things were lost in the Uber mindfuck that is Cloud Atlas. I can’t imagine you’d consider wasting several hours on this flick after reading this glowing review, but if you dare – perhaps some research into the plot will benefit you. After conducting a mild investigation to fill in the details for our piece, I read a two sentence synopsis that shed more light on the story. I usually like to have a grasp of what’s going on in the beginning, middle or end of a movie. Yet, even now I have questions. The most pertinent one being, “Why did we watch this?”

Ross’ Rating: 1.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1.5 Gummies.

Movie Review: Looper

Published October 6, 2012 by mrsrag

Starring:  Joseph Gordon -Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segun, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Qing Xu.

Rated R.  Action/Science Fiction.  Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes.

Joseph.  Gordon.  Levitt.  Seriously!  I don’t know if you’ve seen any previews, but honestly I did not recognize him.  I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I am usually right on with putting names to faces in the film industry.  Of course, there’s always that one pesky actor that shows up after major plastic surgery or being on hiatus for several years, but Gordon-Levitt’s face is one that I easily recognize.  I’ve seen it countless times in the past few years in Inception and the lesser known 500 Days of Summer.  But he looks so different in this role.  Ross and I were both speechless at his epic Bruce Willis impersonation.  He must have studied Willis’ work incessantly.  He had his mannerisms, facial features, his coy looks and wry smile down to a science.  In the first twenty minutes Ross turned to me and said, “This kid should win the freaking Oscar for this performance!”

Honestly, Maria wanted to go see this movie much more than I did.  The little I knew about Looper from the trailers, Bruce Willis time traveling and running into another version of himself; made me think, Twelve Monkeys.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Twelve Monkeys, this movie just felt like it might be “been there, done that.”  No way.  Maria told you about JGL’s performance, it was sick!  We’re sitting there trying to figure out what he’s done to himself to look so different.  Is he just getting older and changing?   Is he working out?  Then it hits me, he has Bruce Willis’ exact nose.  I don’t know if it was prosthetic or CG, but beyond the nose, the kid is supposed to be a younger version of Bruce Willis.  He turned into Bruce Willis!  It really is unbelievable.  I was a huge “3rd Rock from the Sun” fan, but I never thought Gordon-Levitt would go anywhere.  Wrong again.  I’m batting a thousand here so far.  Anyway, the movie.  JGL is a looper.  Time travel is invented in the future, but only gangsters have control of it.  When they want someone dead they transport them back in time 30 years where loopers exterminate them upon arrival.  When the gangsters want to “close the loop”, they send the looper’s older self back for him to kill himself.  (Are you keeping up? I know some others that weren’t.  We’ll get to that in a bit.)  The body is strapped with gold and the looper has his severance pay and thirty years to enjoy it.  I don’t think I’m spoiling too much here telling you that Bruce gets away from Joseph and the game is most certainly on.

Needless to say, it was a total mind fuck.  One of those you take with you from the theatre and end up discussing hours later in bed or at a bar.  This innovative science fiction film had my head spinning for hours, which I enjoy occasionally.  I like a film that makes my mind work a little harder.  Looper is the best grown up film I’ve seen in the theatre for years.  The plot was original, engaging and brave.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole film, and although the ending didn’t sit well at first – it has slowly grown on me.  Of course, you’ll have to go see the film for yourself to see what happens.  Hopefully, if you go to view it, the people in the theatre will have some common courtesy and not babble throughout the first hour.  These two old broads a few rows back from us would not shut up.  I realize the plot was a little difficult to understand, but these women were so rude.  I almost applauded when they finally got up and left in the middle of the movie.

I’m guessing they thought Looper was the latest Woody Allen movie, or a Meryl Streep vehicle.  They were totally bewildered, their “months away from the nursing home” brains jangling wildly in their skulls.  They were screaming at each other like 8 year olds.  “But Mildred this movie got such good reviews.”  “I don’t know what the hell is going on.”  Yelling, I’m sure because neither of them could hear a fucking thing.  I was seconds from screaming myself, “would you just shut the fuck up!”, when mercifully they left.  Fortunately they were the only bad part of our Looper experience.  Beyond the aforementioned brilliant performance of JGL and Bruce Willis’ usual professional turn, my favorite character in the movie was the little boy Cid played by Pierce Gagnon.   I don’t know how old he is in real life, his bio says he can play 5-8 year olds, but this kid is pure genius.  I don’t know where they’re finding these kids these days.  A couple of months ago we saw and reviewed The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and that boy CJ Adams was also very impressive.  Pierce Gagnon steals every scene he’s in, and I’m curious to see if we see more of him in the future.  If you like Sci-Fi, by all means go see Looper, but bring your thinking cap with you.  If you’re old and can’t hear, I think they’re having a Mel Torme tribute at the Kravis Center next month.  Wait for that.

I’m laughing to myself right now because Ross went on a similar rant as soon as we left the theatre, but he was right – these women were dreadful.  I understand that it was a hard plot to grasp, but at least give everyone else a chance to view it in peace.  Watching Bruce Willis sit across from a guy doing a perfect impersonation of him was worth the price of admission.  Looper is the type of movie made for theatre viewing, I just hope that if you do go to see it everyone’s quiet and courteous.

Ross’ Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Gummies.