Archive for the O Category

Omen III: The Final Conflict (Graham Baker) 1981

Posted in O on November 1, 2012 by moviemoses

Going against my usual protocol on this one.  Like my Warlock reviews I like to go through a series to have it all fresh in my head before tackling a sequel.  This is one of *those * movies I always saw as a kid and was interested by but never rented.  I mean come on, it is Sam Neill as the Antichrist all grown up.  He is not some kid protected by Satan anymore but fully grown evil dude who is going to be President of the United States.  I always wanted to know how the story ended.  This was a cinematic itch I needed to scratch.

The story for this movie is Damien (Sam Neill) is the head of Thorn Corporation and is on the fast track to a big political career.  He is about to be unstoppable but Damien sees a prediction that a child will come from England to destroy him.  Damien accepts an ambassadorship in England and sends his minions to kill all the recently born male boys.  Meanwhile, a group of monks find the seven daggers of Meggido (the only weapon that can kill Damien) and go on a mission to assassinate him.

Sounds like the potential for awesome for me.  Powerful Antichrist and his legions of minions killing people all over England and monks on a mission to kick ass for the Lord?  Sign me up.  Sadly, what is promised and what is delivered are two completely different things.  Where do I begin?

How about the decision to follow Damien as our lead character.  That’s odd.  I’m not quite sure why we are following the bad guy through the movie.  You might think the writers were trying to add some depth to the character or maybe make him a tragic figure.  You know, make him an unwilling pawn in a cosmic chess match between God and Satan.  But no, Damien is just evil.  He is either giving eeeeeevil prayers to Satan or ordering minions to do evil things.  I don’t even think it’s entertaining evil like Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate.  Neill is giving mass murder orders like he is in some corporate board room telling his subordinates he sent out an email about TPS reports.  Who would have thought Armageddon would be run more like Office Space?

Not like the killer monks story line would have been any more interesting.  I would think if you had one mission in life, that mission being kill the Antichrist or all life dies, you might train a bit.  I would personally move to Asia and only come back when I have in fact become a ninja like Batman.  That being said I do set high goals for myself.  But I would personally be happy if the assassins for Christ were not middle aged fat asses who have gorged on too many communion wafers.  These guys aren’t just out of shape, they are klutzes to boot.  Let me give you an example.  So Damien is getting interviewed on some news program and one of the monks has found a way onto the set.  For some reason the monk thinks he should go on the rafters above the set.  Why?  I guess a thirty foot leap off the balcony with a dagger was a better option than just running up and stabbing Damien but whatever.  While he is up there, he trips, gets his foot caught in some of the rigging and he swings from the rafters.  While this is happening he knocks over some stage lights which set the curtains on fire.  The monk swings around, wraps himself in plastic sheeting, swings over to the burning curtains, then sets himself on fire which simultaneously burns him and shrink wraps him to death.  That had nothing to do with Satan or evil forces; the dude was just a dumbass.  You can see why I don’t exactly have a lot of faith in these guys right?

I remember looking at the timer at one point to see how much longer I had and was surprised I only had ten minutes left.  That is not a testament to how good the writing is, it is because I was genuinely wondering when the climax would come.  It never felt like we were building to Armageddon at all.  Everyone is just going about their business and whole plot lines come and go without much point or resolution.  Let me again go to a few examples.

Damien gets appointed to Ambassador to England because he does the President a favor.  He provides intelligence about a conflict in the Middle East which saves the President media grief.  Later on it is discovered the intelligence was completely false.  Damien’s associates all agree the intel leak in the Middle East must be eliminated before it ties back to Damien but Damien can’t kill him because his powers are diminished.  There are several scenes where they discuss this and everyone is stressing out.  Does it ever get resolved?  Nope, let’s move on.

There is also this subplot where Damien romances a news reporter and makes her son an acolyte of Satan.  I realize this ultimately ties into the climax of the movie but it is a stretch because I don’t get why Damien bothers in the first place.  Why talk to the reporter?   Is it really for romance?  Why think of romance a few weeks away from Armaggeddon?  Why does he think Edward Cullen rape sex is romantic?  Does he romance her to get to the son?  Why?  Does he need a spy?  He’s got thousands of humans who will do his bidding.  Wouldn’t it be dangerous to open up to an investigative reporter when you are trying to keep the whole Antichrist thing a secret?  Wouldn’t making her son an acolyte of Satan make things even more awkward?  Going back to the whole rape thing did he think she wouldn’t take it personally?  Did he think she’d like it?  Why?  Why?  WHY?

This movie both confuses me and bores me.  Despite being a movie about the final conflict between Heaven and Hell it is all waaaaaay too tame.  The action is too slow paced, the writing is borderline laughable, the death scenes are huge steps down from the original Omen, and the plot is poorly paced with many cul de sacs.  On a postscript, I personally find it hilarious there is an Omen IV which is not some prequel but follows after the events of this movie.  I would think that is hard to do since at the end of Omen III Jesus returns, the final conflict between Heaven and Hell is over, and they flatly say peace reigns and no one will know death from that point on.  Kind of hard to hand waive away God coming and stopping death and all that!!!

Ong Bak 2 (Tony Jaa) 2008

Posted in O on April 14, 2011 by moviemoses

I wish I didn’t have to give this movie the time of day.  Some movies are just so bad they don’t even deserve the effort to say “This movie sucks”.  Ong Bak 2 is one of them.  But I suppose I have to give some kind of clarifications.

For one this movie is not a sequel; it is a prequel.  Now this is confusing for two reasons.  For one, the original Ong Bak was not exactly a story that needed more expansion.  The plot was about as basic as you could get: bad guys take sacred statue head for ransom, mute kung fu guy takes it back.  This isn’t like Batman or Star Trek/Wars where we have lingering questions or want to see more about the characters.  I could give two shits about the characters in Ong Bak so why would I care to see two more movies about ancestors of theirs?  Secondly, the movie features elephants as mythical creatures and the characters nearly worship them.  Gee, if only there was a movie where the characters worshipped elephants and starred Tony Jaa…um the Protector?  But trust me, this is just the beginning on a long list of confusing bullshit that is Ong Bak 2.

The movie is kind of the Thailand version of Conan the Barbarian.  Tony Jaa plays, um, Gruntie.  Yeah he has a name but all he does is grunt, show his yellow teeth, and give his war face so I don’t really know his name.  Gruntie is apparently the son of some lord but the land is conquered by the local Thulsa Doom and blah blah blah Gruntie is trained in the martial arts by a group of freedom fighters.  Gruntie becomes the head of the clan but before taking leadership he goes on a revenge spree on whoever killed his father.

And in case you forgot Gruntie’s backstory, you see it twice.  Yes, we get two 20 minute flashbacks where we see the exact same bullshit retread to us all over again.  Yet still after seeing this movie I still have no idea how in the blue blazes this has to do with the original Ong Bak.  I take it back, I know what this has to do with the original: FUCKING NOTHING!!!  Troll 2 has more continuity with the rest of it’s series than Ong Bak 2 does with its.  Just admit it Tony, you slapped on the title Ong Bak just because it was the only popular movie you had in America and wanted to capitalize on the minimal success you had.  There, I’ve just saved you all the trouble of wondering (all two seconds).

The one thing that truly pissed me off about the movie was the criminal use of slow motion.  I swear if you removed all the slow mo in this movie it would be 40 minutes.  Not even Oliver Reed or Peter O’Toole would take you up on the drinking game of taking a shot whenever characters are leering at each other in slow motion rainfall.  Then there are the random WTF moments Jaa throws in that makes you wonder how much opium they smoked on set.  For example Gruntie is fighting the evil emperor in the final confrontation when all of a sudden what can only be described as a bird woman comes down and kung fu fights Gruntie.?  We never see her prior to this nor is she mentioned.  Who is she?  What is she?  What is she doing?  Where did she come from?  Why is she fighting him?  Why can she fly?  Why is she interested in Gruntie’s elephant?

But let’s forget all that bullshit.  And believe me that is a lot to forget.  I’m sure many of you are saying “Yeah the plot sucks (it is rare a kung fu movie that doesn’t).  I just want to see Tony Jaa kick mass amounts of ass like in Ong Bak 1”  Well that is where you are going to get the biggest disappointment.  Tony does not use the same hard hitting fighting style he uses in Ong Bak one.  Instead he uses a more conventional chop socky (Crane, Tiger, Snake style) kung fu you see in old kung fu movies.  Tony does okay during those fight scenes but it’s not what I wanted.  It would be like me seeing Drunken Master 3 and seeing Jackie Chan busting out MMA moves.  Seeing Tony bust out Tiger style kung fu is, well, pedestrian and isn’t worth my freaking time.  It is dull and when you have to sit through so much story bullshit to get to the few fight scenes I really hate this movie.

Skip this movie.  I don’t care what kind of martial arts fan you are or how much you like Tony Jaa or any of that stuff.  This movie is embarrassing.  Ong Bak 2 makes the Protector seem like Enter the Dragon.  It is not even ‘so bad it’s good’.  This movie is just bad.  Tony Jaa is so far the biggest bust in martial arts and it is embarrassing he has even got this much attention.

Offside (Jafar Panahi) 2006

Posted in O on February 14, 2011 by moviemoses

Jafar Panahi is an Iranian director who has recently been sentenced to a six year prison sentence and permanent ban from making movies for “assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”  After doing some research, I really have to admire the sack this director has.  This person will do anything it takes to get his message out.  In the making of Offside (which is about a particular Iranian law) he broke said law in order to film the movie, did shooting behind the back of government monitors, and even presented fake cuts of the movies in order to get approval to make more.  This is a person that really doesn’t care because his message is what is important.

Offside is about a group of women who try to sneak in the 2006 World Cup qualifier match between Iran and Bahrain.  Under Iran law, women are not allowed in football stadiums on the grounds they could be harmed or offended by verbal abuse.  This movie is shot guerrilla style with a mix of characters at the real life locations during a soccer match and in closed locations.  It is an impressive bit of trickery and you can see why some were questioning if parts of the movie were actually shot during the match in question.

The movie of course has its mix of mild humor and social outrage.  There are times when it is clear some of the characters are a mouthpiece for Panahi who is saying the law is completely moronic.  And there are other times when there is a playful mockery of the law and its purposes.  Some of the women being protected from verbal abuse are some of the more verbally abusive people you will meet and give some of the guys a run for their money.

There isn’t a ton of depth to this movie.  We don’t really get to know any of these characters and I can’t say this is a super funny movie.  The best I can say for this movie is that it is charming.  For the purpose of raising awareness and getting a message out, it does it’s job.  I personally find it interesting to see what world cinema has to offer.  I don’t really recommend this movie but it was nice for me to check out after hearing the news about the director.

127 Hours (Danny Boyle) 2010

Posted in O on December 8, 2010 by moviemoses

127 is about Aron Ralston (James Franco) who spends a weekend climbing in Utah. He gets his hand trapped against a canyon wall with a boulder and has to do whatever he can to survive.

It is a challenge to make a movie where a guy is stuck in one place for 127 hours seem exciting. Sure, this was a harrowing and traumatic time in this man’s life. There is no way to ever know the true depth of what this man really went through. However that doesn’t necessarily translate to compelling cinema. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is kind of the standard of how to do a movie like this where it is a clinic of camera tricks. Danny Boyle is certainly up to the task. While Aron may be trapped in a canyon for days, the camera barely rests for a second. We go into illusions, recollections, asides, and whatever else to keep the narrative moving. There is also a nice attention to detail and we realize the gravity of everything Aron goes through. A scene that had a large amount of tension is when Aron drops his leatherman and has to retrieve it by picking it up with a stick in between his toes. If it were to drop any further, any chance of him doing anything to escape would be near impossible.

During the movie we learn about Aron and his relationships. Certainly when you are stuck in a location with the good possibility of death you will reflect on your life. These scenes are very interesting and add depth to his character. James Franco personally carries this movie. I have to admit, early in his career I thought James Franco was a wooden actor. Now with this and Pineapple Express, I see it wasn’t Franco being wooden but more him being cast in very bad roles. He has a natural charisma and is easily likable. It could be easy to dismiss Aron as making a stupid mistake, but the script is great in how we care for him. There is a great scene where he bashes himself for being a rescue worker (specializing in mountain rescue) and was dumb enough not to tell anyone where he is going.

This was an intense movie and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think this would make my top 10 of the year (or 15, haven’t really thought about it) but this is still a great movie. Boyle does a great job in taking a difficult story and making it accessible to just about anyone. I recommend it.