Archive for the G Category

Green Lantern (Martin Campbell) 2011

Posted in G, G on June 23, 2011 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $200 million

Worldwide Gross: $219 million

 

It’s ironic that a movie based on a superhero who’s power is derived from his imagination, is so derivative and unimaginative. I also like producers are scrambling to cover up the lackluster box office of this movie by saying it is because the movie is based off of a smaller read superhero. Maybe it is because despite spending $300 million dollars on this movie, you still can’t make this movie any more interesting.

I was just bored sitting through this. I know when I’m bored when, in the middle of a movie, I stop focusing on the movie and try to think of all the ways the movie is losing me. Let’s start with the story. The story is a big ball of evil is coming toward Earth. That’s about it. Usually in better superhero movies, we have a a larger theme which gets us into the story. Spider-man has Peter going through his tough teenage years and all the struggles therein to become a better man. This latest X-Men movie was about the struggle for equality and a battle of ideals personified as Xavier and Magneto. In Green Lantern we don’t really get any of that. True in the story Hal is trying to fight his fears in addition to fighting a monster feeding off fear, but again there doesn’t seem to be any effort behind it. It doesn’t feel like Hal learned anything of value except to nut up and act like a man. It’s not exactly on par with “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Another thing which hurts this movie are the lack of compelling characters. To use other superhero movies as an example, in Batman you have Harvey Dent, Joker, Alfred, etc. In X-Men you have Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine, Cyclops, etc. Hal Jordan doesn’t have anyone to play off of. His villain is an expressionless ball of evil, he has no real friends, and his love interest is a cardboard cut out. I thought that void would be filled with other lanterns such as Kilowog, Sinestro, and Tomar-Re, but they are barely in this movie to provide any kind of personality. They also seem to tone down the usually wacky Ryan Reynolds

I did like when Hal actually got to use his powers. I don’t think the action scenes had too much tension behind them, but hey, at least something is happening. The lantern effects looked good and I liked any attempt to take the story into outer space (which had more interesting things than the dull Earth scenes). And also for $200 million for the production, the special effects SHOULD look good. Frankly I wouldn’t care if they made this at a quarter of the cost as long as it had a good story.

Now maybe I’m being too harsh on it. I’ll admit that. It’s true that I can’t look at this movie and tell you anything that is dreadfully bad about it. At best this is a serviceable origin story for Green Lantern. This movie introduces all the characters, establishes the universe, and does everything it can to get the franchise going. At worst, if you have seen ANY other superhero movie, then you have seen this one. This movie takes no chances, and follows every other cliché superhero script line for line and note for note. It is dull and uninteresting. By the end, I was not excited to see the further adventures of Hal Jordan, I was not interested to see what new villain was around the corner, and I was not interested in seeing this film ever again. I don’t think Green Lantern fans will really like this movie, nor do I think the general public will accept this half-hearted attempt at DC trying to shove their way into a genre already dominated by Marvel.

Gods and Generals (2003) Ronald F. Maxwell

Posted in G on July 1, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $80 million
Worldwide Gross: $13 million
Subsequent Earnings: $1.3 million

Gods and Generals was the dream project of Ted Turner, who invested most of the $80 million to get it made.  I guess with the lack of studio support, you could call this an independent film.  G & G is a kind of prequel to Gettysburg and its supposed to be very historically accurate (I honestly have no idea).  So Turner rounded up many of the usual re-enactors (many called as reserves to the war in Iraq) and the film in total cost about $55 million.  A good chunk of the movie went to re-creating the Southern states.  Another $30 million was put aside to market the film.  The problem was people didn’t want to sit down for four hours and watch a boring history lecture (most people anyway).  Critics hated the movie for its length, its two dimensional characters, its self-righteous ramblings, and what some perceived as a pro Confederate slant.  Poor word of mouth has given it zero life on DVD.

Is it any good?  This is actually the first movie I have listed that I haven’t seen all the way through (my copy was so scratched up it locked up after an hour). Maybe I should thank that man for ruining the disc because the first hour was sooooo slooooooooooooooooooooow.  You wanna know how slow it is.  I was staring at a shot of an open field for a full minute before I realized the movie locked up.  I thought it was another long shot.  The direction is sloppy and slow.  The dialogue is dreadful, I don’t care about the characters, and the writer’s attention to detail, while it may be a Civil War buff’s idea of a wet dream, is tedious and boring to everyone else.  I would rather watch all of the Ken Burns Civil War documentary before picking this up again.

Revisit

This movie took over three weeks to watch.  Three weeks!  It is bad when I have to schedule time to watch a movie like I’m putting away 30 minutes to do exercises and whatnot.  It was with only with complete resignation I would pull myself from anything more interesting (in this case everything) to sit through all 4 hours of Gods and Generals.  Or what I like to call “Ted Turner’s Wanking Material”.

Now I criticize many people when they just say a movie is boring because that is not descriptive.  Many times people refer to length when they mention that although that does not fit.  There are many long movies that are engrossing all the way through because it is so well written and you need all that time to tell the complex story.  So why do I find this movie so boring?  Well, it’s because this isn’t a movie.  Ok, technically speaking it is but it’s not at the same time.  I swear I’m not trying to do some Zen riddle.  What I mean is this is more a dry college lecture with some action scenes spliced in.  I don’t care how many squibs you set off, I’m still gonna fall asleep to Ben Stein talking about voodoo economics.

This was done by the same director of Gettysburg (as part of a proposed trilogy) and you would think he would have a firm grasp on how to handle the material.  So what went wrong?  Hoo boy, that is a long list so let’s get started.

I believe a major issue is they were trying to put the entire civil war in one movie.  Gettysburg was, well, just about Gettysburg.  Well that is not completely trueIt is a character study with the battle as a backdrop.  But here they want to go into Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville.  It wants to talk about Lee and Jackson and Chamberlain and wants to go into historical background and the reasons for the war and talk about the constitutional issues with secession and what the true debate topics were and *head explodes*.  One of those topics is enough for a feature film.  All of those topics is barely enough for a Ken Burns documentary.  You see endless shots of people marching around showing off all the period costumes and there are even more text cues of “This is the Maine’s 225th brigade” and “Gen. Whatthewhoozitts Fightin’ 35th from Virginia” and we spend so much time on minutiae.  I’m sure there are dozens of Civil War buffs that were fapping to this in the theaters as it came out.  Meanwhile you are wondering to yourself what the big f*cking deal is.  I’m sorry I’m being so insensitive but as long as there aren’t incredible gaffs like people wearing Ray Bans I don’t care.  You shouldn’t care about that either because ultimately it doesn’t matter.  Learning history isn’t so much about the microscopic details but it is still about the story.  At the end of the day, this is still a movie with characters and a plot.  It’s like making a movie about Caligula and focusing so much on the actual togas they wore and what chariots they rode around in that you forget all about the incest and the horse f*cking.

The movie feels dry and stuffy as if the dialog is out of a textbook and acted by re-enactors.  Yeah, I said re-enactors and not recreationists or whatever the hell you call yourselves nowadays.  I got sent a few emails correcting me like I used some un-PC term.  A person who colors in a drawing without doing any original work is a tracer, and someone who dresses up in period clothes and wastes a weekend playing soldier is a re-enactor.  Where was I going with this?  Oh yeah, this dialog doesn’t work with real people in the real world.  Take this quote of a mother saying goodbye to her children who are going off to war:

“We must not fear the final result of this war but many a loved one will fall and many a heart will throb in anguish before we can breathe the exhilarating atmosphere of freedom and feel the sweet assurance of safety and peace once more.  There’s nothing in this life more dear to me than my children except the memory of your once father.  When you go to Richmond and wherever this war takes you; you must not fear for us.  We will be with you wherever you will go. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”

What mother would say that to her kids who are probably going to die in a war?  You may have found something like that in a letter (which they might have recreated).  But there is a difference between what people write and the prose they use, and simple language used by regular people.  I don’t care what age I lived in, if I were going to war my mother would not be saying stuff about her heart throbbing or feeling the “exhilarating atmosphere of freedom” but telling me not to get killed…and to always wear clean underwear.  But mostly about not dying!

Another problem with this movie is we don’t really have a main protagonist.  Welllllll again we do but we don’t (more Zen).  Despite Robert Duvall getting top billing he is really not in this movie.  He says like one speech and then he’s out of the movie.  And even though he has been in movies after this and has looked younger, he looks like he is one step away from the nursing home in this movie.  Jeff Daniels is in this movie as Lt. Chamberlain and they do absolutely nothing with him.  The only person I can say qualifies as a protagonist is Stonewall Jackson who is played by Stephen Lang (Avatar).  The reason I say Stonewall isn’t a protagonist is because his character is stark raving mad.  Lang does a good job, but I think the director needed to reign his performance in.  Jackson is supposed to be a quirky, uptight but lovable individual but here he is nuttier than a can of Planters.  He literally believes he is on a mission from god to kill Yankees and has the intensity that can only be matched by a psycho from a Kubrick movie.  Now this may be accurate, but it doesn’t exactly make him someone we want to follow for the majority of the movie.  The performance is more an oddity which I never really related to as the movie played out.

Now onto what most people seem to have a discussion about when they talk about this movie.  Every review seems to start off in the exact same way.  In fact, when I was bitching to a co-worker about the movie I was seeing his eyes lit up and he gave me the same freaking spiel.  “We finally get a movie that gives the REAL reason behind the civil war instead of what Hollywood shoves on us!”  This movie is pro south with the thesis being the Civil War isn’t about slavery as it is about state’s rights.  Now, I’ve had some discussions and asked for advise from some fans so I am fairly confident in that this is a lot of hot air about semantics.  True, Lincoln never declared an official war on slavery.  Nor do I think Hollywood (faceless straw man that it is) proposed that also.  It is about states rights, but the topic which drove those discussions was about slavery.  The South was worried the federal government was going to abolish slavery and the debate was about states being able to rule for themselves without the meddling of Congress.  So while the war wasn’t ABOUT slavery, it was the impetus of many actions which led to the Civil War.  It seems a lame debate topic and it doesn’t make this movie any more entertaining.  It is still painfully dull.

I just kept wondering through this movie why they just didn’t make a documentary.  Why couldn’t you spend all the time you want talking about the Civil War in however much detail you want and you can even put in the re-enactors in as a real life simulator of what the battle was like.  Hell, most of the History channel you see now is exactly that except the battles are done using computer mock ups.  The makers wanted to have their cake and eat it too.  They wanted an exhaustive study on the Civil War but also have good acting and cool action scenes.  In the end, they get neither.  The acting is stilted, the action isn’t all that memorable, and the factual stuff grinds all action to a dead stop.  In the end, I’ll just put a Civil War doc in my queue before ever watching this again.

The Grey Zone (2001) Tim Blake Nelson

Posted in G on February 10, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $5 million
Gross: $500,000

I really only gave this film a chance because Roger Ebert put it in his Great Movies section.  The movie is about the Sonderkommando: a group of Jews in Auschwicz picked out to assist the Nazi’s in execution and cleanup in exchange for a few more months of life.  The longest any of these groups last is about 4 months.  A plot is devised though to destroy a few of the crematoria of the camp to slow the killing down.

The reason Ebert pointed this film out above other Holocaust films is the moral ambiguity and the bleak tone of the movie.  Movies, even say Schindler’s List, try to leave the viewer with something to be a little uplifting.  Grey Zone simply and flatly tells us there is nothing to feel good about this.  There is also the question of morality and whether the Sonderkommando should have been complicit.

The direction by first time director Nelson is very good 9and it is based on his play).  Even though we have such a large cast of characters, we get to know them and understand their actions.  The acting, even from former WCW Heavyweight Champion David Arquette, is quite good.  I actually do prefer Grey Zone to another movie of the same theme of The Counterfeiters (a movie which was nominated for Best Foreign Picture).

This is a very good movie.  That being said, this is another Holocaust movie in a very congested genre.  People are tired of the subject.  Hell, even I had problems watching it.  It’s hard to pop in a 2 hour movie that is intended to be the most depressing Holocaust movie ever made.  So when it comes to a recommendation I guess it kind of depends.  If you are interested in the subject then by all means; this is a great movie.  But to everyone else, it is extremely hard for me to say you have to watch this movie.

The Great Raid (John Dahl) 2005

Posted in G on January 27, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $70 million
Worldwide Gross: $11 million
Subsequent Earnings: around $3 million

There’s actually not much to tell on this one.  John Dahl (Rounders) was set to direct a movie about the greatest rescue in American history.  The movie follows three different plot threads: the prisoners, the American soldiers, and the civilian resistance.  As far as I can tell, there were no problems on set, no fights among the actors, no overblown budget.  This was simply a film at the wrong place at the wrong time.  This movie was actually done in 2002.  At the time, however, there were tensions between Miramax and Disney.  There were many layoffs and many films were put on the shelf while the two companies battled it out.  Two years later when the two companies finally split, Miramax gave the movie a small (really small) release.  Miramax never gave the movie a chance.  When a movie spends that much time on the shelf, it’s usually because it sucks and they want to release it quietly.  In this case, it was because Miramax was in a legal battle.  Miramax also never really promoted the movie.  I only knew about it because I saw it reviewed on Ebert & Roeper and I thought it looked good.  The movie doesn’t really have big star power, and that probably didn’t help draw people in.  It may also be that people were tired of WWII movies and didn’t want to see this one.  But I feel that if Miramax didn’t have so many problems, this movie would have done much better.

Is it any good?  Yeah.  The movie is not groundbreaking like Saving Private Ryan, but it is still a very good movie.  The cast (while there is no big name stars) does a very good job.  The best part of the movie is the raid itself, which takes up the final 30 minutes of the movie.  The direction is well done, and the movie kept my interest the whole way through.  If there might be a complaint, it’s that the romance between Nielsen and Fiennes might take up too much time.  But I would recommend it.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) Jim Sheridan

Posted in G on January 27, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $40 million
Worldwide Gross: $33 million

Just doing some research on this movie I could not believe this movie getting SLAMMED by the people on IMDb.  Usually IMDb is pretty forgiving to movies so it was strange that I went through pages and pages of 1 star reviews.  All of the reviews basically revolved around Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson: he is a flash in the pan singer, he is not a real artist, rap is destroying America, 50 Cent is the worst actor ever, blah blah blah…

The movie is a loose (very loose) autobiographical account of Jackson’s life.  Jackson plays Marcus and his later rap persona of Little Caesar.  Marcus grows up as a drug dealer, then later when he is incarcerated, turns his life around for his family and writes rap music condemning the drug dealer he worked for.

Immediately when you think of this movie you think of 8 Mile.  8 Mile succeeded and was good where everyone frankly thought it would suck.  The biggest surprise was probably the fact Eminem wasn’t embarrassing on the big screen.  Now I am not going to be talking about Curtis Jackson as an actor because he isn’t.  All Sheridan wanted was for Jackson to play Jackson just like Eminem played Eminem.  The problem is Curtis Jackson is not an interesting and compelling person to look at.  Eminem kind of has a showman persona as a rapper and that translated well to the big screen.  50 Cent however, always has a deadpan, sleepy eyed face and does not express any emotion at any time.  He shuffles around on screen like a zombie and mumbles and slurs his lines to the point I needed subtitles to really get everything he was saying.  Now he is more animated in his rap concert (which we never really see him in action) and the events in his life are interesting, but the man himself is about as interesting as watching paint dry.  The writers try to explain there is more to him and that he is some storm of emotions hiding behind a stoic exterior.  But when he is in just about every scene and he is the MAIN CHARACTER, and he shuffles around everywhere like a mindless automaton, it is just disastrous for your movie.  I am not objecting on the basis of his music (I haven’t heard it so I can’t really tell) or the fact we are glorifying a gangster.  I think Sheridan does an alright job of showing 50 turning his life around to be a good father for his child.  I object that he cannot be the driving force of a movie.

The story is your standard rags to riches success story and it really makes me wonder what drew Sheridan to this story.  There are some nice scenes about the realities of being a drug dealer but for the most part, this is a story we have seen a million times before.  This movie has Terrence Howard, and it just reminded me I would rather be watching Hustle and Flow instead of this.  What is also odd about this movie is a strange murder mystery subplot.  50’s mother is killed early in his childhood and throughout this movie 50 is trying to find out who killed her.  This is a bizarre addition and sticks out in the context of the rest of the movie.  And the movie just kind of ends and it isn’t as satisfying as it should be.  And I have to ask again: why did Sheridan want to make this movie?

You all know how this movie plays out without even watching it.  Get Rich or Die Tryin’ does not take any risks and it is frankly dull because of it.  Now this isn’t a horrible movie.  There were some parts that I kind of liked.  But there is nothing that makes it stand out and nothing that I can really recommend it for.  Its utterly bland and forgettable.

A Good Year (Ridley Scott) 2006

Posted in G on January 21, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $35 million
Domestic Gross: $7 million
International Gross: $34 million
DVD Sales: $7 million

I understand why Ridley Scott made this movie.  It is a diversion from all the elaborate and head imploding action movies he has made in the past.  Its a feel good movie that the New York Times described as “a three-P movie: pleasant, pretty, and predictable”.  It is also kind of Scott’s attempt at a Frank Capra-esque movie.  It is hard to do a Capra movie without critics and audiences turning on you for very openly manipulating their emotions.  I remember people ignoring The Majestic when it came out for the exact same reasons.

The plot is about Max Skinner.  Max is a greedy douche.  He finds out his long lost uncle died and he left him his French chateau which Max spent his childhood summers.  Max soon finds out that money isn’t everything and that you need to appreciate the finer things in life instead of toiling away at a job.  All those are fine morals…when you inherit a F*CKING FRENCH CHATEAU, ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF WINE, A SEXY NEIGHBOR THAT WANTS TO BONE YOU TO DEATH, AND SEVERAL HUNDRED ACRES OF FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE!!!  Sh*t, if I inherited all that, I would have a permanent smile on my face the Joker would be envious of.

But I am thinking about this too hard.  Its a pleasant distraction.  My main problem with the movie is this is something I have seen a million times before.  Now I don’t mind movies with plots which are derivative as long as they do something that makes it stand out among the rest like witty comedy, a strong acting performance, some kind of twist on an old formula.  A Good Year is just so by the numbers in every way, shape, and form.  The direction is good (its Ridley Scott after all), the acting is fine (its Russell Crowe after all), and the scenery is nice.  There is just nothing which makes it stand out: the humor is bland, the characters are flat, and the story is beyond clichéd.  This isn’t a “bad” movie: I won’t go that far.  I can see if you have never seen a movie like this that you would find it pleasant.  But to anyone who is even an average moviegoer will find everything in this movie just tired and mediocre and bland.  I wouldn’t recommend it.

Glitter (2001) Vondie Curtis-Hall

Posted in G on January 19, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $22 million
Worldwide Gross: $5 million

This was a project for Carey, long before any studio showed interest.  In fact she made a soundtrack for the movie and shopped it to several studios before one finally picked it up.  The story is a kind of biopic instead Carey plays Billie Frank.  Frank gets discovered on the club scene and quickly ascends to superstardom but she has to remember to appreciate all the friends who got her there.  The film won six Razzies including one for Carey as Worst Actress.  The movie and the soundtrack tanked which got her dropped off her label and even hurt a few of her subsequent albums.  The bad backlash on the movie even got Carey hospitalized for stress and exhaustion.  To this day she won’t really talk about Glitter.

When we get biopics of music stars, it is usually due to their historical significance or how they completely change a genre of music.  You can make that case for Elvis or Ray Charles or Johnny Cash or hell even Eminem.  Granted that is not a true biopic, but Eminem (whether you like his music or not) was significant in breaking through the rap genre despite being a middle class white boy.  Now I’m going off on a tangent but I will say that Mariah has an incredible singing voice and that has probably been the main reason for her success.  However that does not change my opinion in that her music is some of the most unoriginal and uninspired corporation produced lifeless pop I have heard.  She may be one of the best selling artists but you can’t really point to her and say she has changed trends.  Unless you are pointing to the trend that money and marketing make artists and not actual talent in which case I don’t know why you would be bragging about that.

It just goes to show how bankrupt the writers of Glitter were when writing the script.  They obviously can’t point historically to her changing the culture of music like other artists so the focus now becomes on Carey’s personal struggles in life.  Even focusing on that aspect, it is very dull and uninteresting.  Billie gets taken away from her mother because her mother cannot support her and I think because she is an addict (can’t really say, the writing is terrible).  The main dramatic element is Billie trying to deal with that and asking why her mother would do such a thing.  I’m sorry, but contrast that to what Johnny Cash had to go through in his life I look at this movie and say “so f*cking what?”  Oh and maybe a “boo freaking hoo” thrown in for good measure.  This does not really qualify as an underdog story and I’m not going to sit through two hours of melodramatic camp about how bad you had it.  We all got it bad lady and your story doesn’t exactly qualify as being all that special or a hard knock life.

The dialog and hamminess of the script is amazing.  Take for instance when Billie gets her first big music video with the evil/corrupt/faceless corporate recording label.  The smarmy director cuts into the video going (I shit you not) “WE NEED MORE OF HER BREASTS!” and saying of her two lifelong friends/backup dancers “Ugh, just get some strippers already!”  We then get Mariah in a bikini surrounded by a cast of men in leotards in tribal Indian paint with the director screaming “Yes, this is what I wanted!  Like fire!!!”  How bout when Dice and Billie break up, and they somehow psychically link to write a ballad about each other.  I’m not kidding.  There is no explanation for this scene other than they have telepathy and both write the same song while separated and on different parts of the state.  You would not think in Glitter of all movies, they would have the balls to try to seriously give us telepathy during the story.  Or when Billie gets a pair of over the top publicity agents.  One is a loud mouth cutthroat bitch and she has a lapdog who is one of the creepiest yet flamboyantly gay men ever.  I swear the Crispin Glover like stares this guy gives makes me think he is planning on cutting my balls off and using them for earrings to match with his skin dress.  Where the hell was I going with this?  I dunno, I suppose this will lead to the acting.

The acting, no surprises here, sucks.  It’s strange that Mariah really can’t play Mariah all that well.  Her attempts at “acting” are terrible.  She has this strange modest look she has all the time where she will tilt her head down, look up with puppy dog eyes, and clamp her lips together in a smile that looks like she is covering up for the fact she has braces.  We get it, you are trying to act modest about your success.  Now stop it, it is creeping me out.  Everyone else is a broad stereotype.  Dice (her boyfriend) is a Stephen Doriff jealous dick, everyone in the corporate record company have eeeeeevil smiles and are even more soulless dicks, and her childhood friends are offensive stereotypes.  Gone unnoticed is Terrance Howard (who was also in the failure of Get Rich or Die Tryin’) as some violent record producer and possible pimp.  It says something about this guys acting when I am rooting for Howard that he can somehow make Carey his bitch.

The directing is embarrassing to say the least.  It is bad when the bare concepts of framing a scene and simple cuts seem to elude the director.  Curtis-Hall is love for example with fast forward; he uses it all the time.  If characters are walking down the hall, he simply doesn’t cut away or allow them to walk the excruciating long distance of 8 ft.  No, he has to have them speed forward like he it the fast forward button.  As Cinema Snob would say; congratulations, you’ve mastered the power of VCR.  It doesn’t stop there though.  There are times when things are in slow motion for no reason whatsoever and there are spastic cuts to different scenes that would give you whiplash.  We are not talking about action scenes here; we are talking about basic cuts between scenes and exchanges in dialog!  There are also little things which are bizarre and just confusing.  Like for example Carey has this three inch streak of silver paint on her right shoulder at all times during this movie.  WHY!?  What the hell is that thing?  Why is it there?  Or there is another scene where supposedly Dice is too busy to come to Billie’s award show and you see her all dejected with the sad puppy dog face now.  Spastic cut then to her coming out of the award show with, you guessed it, Dice!  What…fuck…not logical…f*ck…bullsh*t!  It seems like a small thing but that’s just it; it’s all stupid sh*t.  There is not any competence in any part of this movie.

Everything about this movie sucks: the acting, the writing, the dialog, the original Carey soundtrack, the directing, the cinematography, on and on and on.  I would say this is so bad you could riff on this movie because believe me, there is a lot to laugh at during this movie.  This is one of the funnier pieces of sh*t I’ve seen in a while.  However that would mean admitting to people you have rented and paid good money to see Glitter.  I have spent money to see Glitter.  The things I do for this thread…