Netflix Follies: Let Me In, Cargo, Pandorum, Predators, more

August 12, 2013

FOLLIES

 complete viewing  ♠ partial viewing   television series 

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 Let Me In: A relatively faithful American adaptation of the Swedish vampire film Let The right One In. So faithful—at times seemingly shot-for-shot—it begs a series of questions: 

  • Why bother to set it in America?
  • Given change in location, why keep it set in 1983?
  • If you’re going to be so faithful about certain aesthetic aspects, why jettison the element that made the original so intriguing ambiguity?

Though it’s laudable Hollywood didn’t Hollywoodize the film, it’s ultimately a kind of pointless exercise. Rather than bringing this story to a wider English-speaking North American audience, they still ended up making the kind of film that would generally appeal to people who aren’t turned off by reading subtitles. Only this time they did it with two leads who, though really pretty good, are just a few ticks less interesting than their Swedish counterparts. At best, anyone who sees this version first will probably want to see the mesmerizing original but will have had the experience spoiled for them slightly.

I had the unexpected sensation of actually wishing they’d bastardized Let The Right One In into some kind of Near Dark meets Twilight mess because then at least I’d be able to say, “Well, I guess they really did have to dumb it down for American audiences,” and then just enjoy it for whatever piece of crap it is.

Of course, if they had gone that route, I’d probably actually have been pissing blood on it, calling their version a travesty. So…

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 Cargo: This is a Swiss mash-up of Alien and The Matrix. Yeah, that second reference is a spoiler but they telegraph it so far in advance you’re spending half the film clawing at the screen willing the characters to figure out the obvious. Definite pacing issues. Also, the horror/suspense “hunted by something unknown in dark corridors” element should have been cut in favour of the main sci-fi story. It felt entirely shoe-horned in like they thought you simply can’t have a space voyage movie without it. Since it was ultimately inconsequential to the over-arching story, it wasn’t even thrilling. Otherwise, Cargo is not a the worst twist on the something-goes-terribly-wrong-on-a-long-space-voyage trope—but the bar is set pretty low.

 Pandorum: This is another something-goes-terribly-wrong-on-a-long-space-voyage film, of course recommended to me after watching Cargo. Reading the synopsis, I wondered if it was actually a Hollywood remake of Cargo so I gave in to my curiosity. It’s not a remake, but it’s another film in this sci-fi sub-genre that probably could have done without the “hunted by something unknown in dark corridors” element and been stronger.

Of course, then it’d be more Silent Running meets Event Horizon and less Aliens meets Event Horizon. Maybe that wouldn’t have been significantly better. Still, as with Cargo, it felt like they were making two different movies and sandwiching them together. The titular space madness “pandorum” didn’t add much to the sort of Noah’s Ark gone Planet of the Apes story, only distracted from it.

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Netflix Follies: Hot Fuzz, Knight and Day, Transformers 3, Arena, more…

July 4, 2013

FOLLIES

 complete viewing  ♠ partial viewing   television series 

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 Hot Fuzz: I’d seen this before and thus had been deflecting Mandi’s suggestions we watch it on the assumption I’d remember every single gag and the “who” in what there is of a whodunit. Or ANYTHING about the film at all. Other than the “our hoodies problem” and the two leads watching Point Break, I didn’t remember a thing. At any rate it’s silly, it’s charming, it’s a nice play-up of american style cop movies in a distinctly British manner. It’s got some nice gore even. Must see? Hmm, must see eventually. And then eventually watch it again.

♠ Beverly Hills Cop III: On the other hand, not a good cop/buddy movie is Beverly Hill Cop III, which I was under the impression I’d never seen before despite the first film in the series being my “favourite movie ever”. For at least a whole two months in 1984. I suspect I really might not have seen this one as you’d think I’d remember the surreal, Spy Kids-esque theme part sequence which contains a baffling series of events that include:

A) an extended mash-up of the “disaster movie” and “Battlestar Galactica” segments of the Universal Studios tour; and
B) a fucking GEORGE LUCAS cameo. I turned of off at this point.

But not before deciding Jason Segel has basically made a career out of stealing Judge Reinhold‘s schtick.
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Netflix Follies: Battle Los Angeles

June 7, 2013

FOLLIES

Battle: Los Angeles

Under the impression it had been universally panned by critics and audiences, I’d been avoiding Battle: Los Angeles. Also, I’d heard the words “shaky” and “cam” associated with the title which meant I had to wait until Mandi was out of the house to watch it.

Perhaps it was a case of low-expectations engendering a forgiving attitude, but I was impressed. It’s a by-the-books war movie though, not strictly an alien-invasion story. The enemy are aliens but they could easily have been Nazis, Viet Cong, Iraqi insurgents or even Red Dawn era Soviets. It doesn’t matter who they are. The film is really about a platoon of grunts thrown into a relentless FUBAR situation for about an hour and a half.

After watching the film, I wasn’t sure why it’d gotten panned so I looked it up

Rotten Tomatoes: “Overlong and overly burdened with war movie clichés, Battle: Los Angeles will entertain only the most ardent action junkies”.

Roger Ebert:  “Noisy, violent, ugly and stupid… Generations of filmmakers devoted their lives to perfecting techniques that a director like Jonathan Liebesman is either ignorant of, or indifferent to. Yet he is given millions of dollars to produce this assault on the attention span of a generation.”

Time Out: “… flat military characters… hackneyed dialogue and corny sentimentality”.

Well, I can certainly see where these reviewers are coming from but I also have to cock an eyebrow at them. It seems almost like they were rating the film using The Hurt Locker as a standard and not summer popcorn movies like Aliens.

I think The Miami Herald got it about right:

“Not so goofy as Independence Day, not so terrifying as War of the Worlds, and it utterly lacks the imagination and emotional resonance of District 9.”

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