4 Stars Movies

Sit on my interface: Hackers is a 90s treasure

I can’t believe I haven’t had the pleasure until now. Energetic, funny, quotable, and scattered with fantastic montage sequences. The moment when Johnny Lee Miller sees Angelina Jolie for the first time is choice. And check the surreal imagery and avant-garde editing of its characters’ erotic nightmares — seriously; more than one!

It’s all laughably preposterous, but in a good way. And I’m not even talking about its hilariously fantastical vision of internet technology — I’m talking about: Miller’s accent, Lorraine Bracco’s horny sexbomb lawyer, Fisher Steven’s hair, the floppy discs tucked in trousers, the animated cityscapes of cyberspace, the rollerblades. Most of the actors playing high school kids are too old, and most of the actors playing grownups are too young. I could go on. A delight.

“Eww… hard copy.”

Movies The Dork Report

Exclusive! The Expendables 3 Poster

Carter. Grier. Hamilton. Jolie. Jovovich. Thurman. Weaver. Yeoh. The Expendables 3 movie poster

Coming summer 2014 — The Expendables 3! Starring Lynda Carter, Pam Grier, Linda Hamilton, Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Uma Thurman, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Yeoh.

This movie does not exist, but should. Hollywood, call me.

2 Stars Movies

Every Day is Exactly the Same for James McAvoy in Wanted

The Nine Inch Nails song “Every Day is Exactly the Same” is so thematically perfect for the early part of Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted, that it seems to have been composed especially.

But Wanted is weighed down by an overly extensive backstory that goes back thousands of years, and an approach to violent spectacle that borders on the sadistic. It’s hard not to sense a trend, as I’ve had the same complaints about a couple other movies I happened to see recently: Hancock, Speed Racer, and Southland Tales.

Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy play assassins with superhuman abilities, directly tied to the action choreography and special effects: the power to “throw” bullets and slow down their perception of time in order to move superhumanly fast. All of this is framed in close and medium shots, a bad choice for an action film that ought to display its stunts and derring-do in full. It’s more visually disorientating than even the hyperkinetic Speed Racer, but the slow-mo sequences paradoxically render the proceedings rather boring — even when something that ought to be impressive is happening, a bullet sliced in twain by sword.

It’s difficult to feel sympathy for a protagonist who, when causing a literal train wreck, resumes his murderous mission instead of aiding the countless innocent bystanders he has turned into collateral damage. In the end, Wesley smugly asks, “What the fuck have you done lately?” So, becoming a superhuman assassin has granted Wesley self-actualization: he’s free of his botched relationship and dead-end job, he’s physically fit, and he shoots people in the head for a living.

So, Wanted flirts with the nihilistic themes of David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, but without the irony. What many surface-level admirers of Fight Club seem to forget is that while it initially seems to celebrate its unnamed protagonist’s decisive break from the supposedly stifling bounds of society, his self-help credo attracts the wrong kind of followers and spins out of control to its ultimate logical end: anarchy.

2 Stars Movies

By Zeus’ beard, Oliver Stone’s Alexander is bad

Ugh. I should have listened to the myriad critics and friends who warned me off this one… it is indeed quite bad. Everything you’ve heard is true: impossibly long, unintelligibly edited (can anyone explain to me Alexander’s supposedly brilliant scheme in the first battle? Running away and coming back will allow greater access to strike the enemy king exactly how?), and schizophrenic with regards to its sexual politics. So Alexander was bisexual, fine. But in this day and age, doing anything to avoid showing an onscreen kiss just calls attention to itself. Two pretty men gazing at each other and saying things like “By Zeus’ beard, you are indeed a great man” is just comical.

And most amusingly: if accents are to be judged, Angelina Jolie’s character hails from Transylvania, and Alexander and his father came to Greece by way of down the pub. In fact, the kid who plays the young Alexander sounds more Irish than Colin Farrel himself!

I rented the director’s cut, which bucks the trend in actually being shorter than the theatrical version (the only other director I know of to do this is Stanley Kubrick, who would often continue to abridge films even during release). At 3 hours, 55 minutes, I am quite glad I didn’t decide to go with the theatrical version.

What was good about it? Angelina Jolie is always a pleasure to watch – an old-school movie star in the sense that her presence and beauty are so overpowering that she might as well be from another planet. I’ve always thought Val Kilmer was a fine actor (especially in the underrated Spartan). And in a suprisingly plain-looking movie for Stone, it’s a great relief when he finally cuts loose in the surreal, literally blood-soaked sequence of Alexander’s near-fatal wounding in India.

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