Monday, December 27, 2010

Swedile's Flips and Flops of 2010 - Top 5 Best Movies

Greetings, faithful Japanese spambot readers (and whoever else may have tuned in)! Well, it's that time of year again - the end of it. And as we have the tendancy to tally up our successes and failures of the past 365.25 days - some of us for the basis of a New Year's Resolution a.k.a. "Setting Yourself Up For A Fall" - I thought it would be a fun idea to put together a record of my success and failures in seeing movies. To say that less convolutedly, this is Swedile's best and worst films (as I saw them) of 2010!

While I won't be reviewing the following films proper, I will employ the "Batman & Robin Movie Gradation Scale" for reference, just to give y'all their final scores.


5. How To Train Your Dragon/Tangled (tie)

I really could not choose between these two. They're both quality, top-notch animated movies, they're both gorgeous and excellent examples of CGI cartooning done RIGHT, and they were both surprise hits for me (we saw HtTyD entirely because the main dragon bore an uncanny resemblance in both appearence and behavior to my friend's cat). When trying to pick between them, I was torn. On the one hand, Dragon was a Dreamworks movie with a lot of heart instead of a lot of pop culture references, and was a complete surprise. With Tangled, on the other hand, the quality was more expected of a Disney flick, especially since they're trying to recapture the good ol' days of my youth lately. But considering that where Princess and the Frog was less than thrilling in that department, this one succeeded. It's no Aladdin or Lion King, but it's still very likable. If I haaaadddd to pick, I'm leaning towards Dragon, but they're soooooo close I wanted to honour them both.

Dragon: 0/4
Tangled: 0/4

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I never really cared all that much about Harry Potter until I learned how dark it gets as the series progresses. Once I heard about the plot of the last novel, I decided it was time to read the novels (back to back, even - finished in a month). Deathly Hallows soon became my favorite of the books. When I heard that they were cutting the book into two movies, I was extremely skeptical. To me it sounded just like a way to stretch this multimillion-dollar film franchise as far as it could. But having seen the first part, I can say cutting it up was the best thing the filmmakers could do. This chapter was so unlike the rest, and so much happens, it really helps the pacing. Furthermore, it's divided in such a way that it feels like it's breaking at a logical point to end as a movie. I was just really impressed overall. The acting and the atmosphere are tortured and sublime. Check it out.


3. Kick-Ass

I was really excited for this one. I am a huge fan of the comic on which it was based, and nature of the production had me genuinely atwitter. Essentially the first independant Superhero movie, I figured the rather controvertial subject matter of the comic would not be dulled my hesitant production companies. And to a certain end, that was how it turned out. It's violent, it's frenetic, it's controvertial. My one real problem with the film, as far as an adaptation goes, is that small superficial changes nullified the source material's ideology (namely, that being a superhero would be shit - I wrote a paper on it). It glorifies the daydream, instead of condemning it. It's realist panache is soon discarded in favor of flying in on a jetpack, guns ablaze. That said, this is a really fun movie. It really does try to capture the original as best it can, and if you recognize this ideological difference, it can be appreciated for what it is. This is a movie for people who want to play Superhero (and judging by the general response to the comic's ending versus the film's, there are a lot of people like that out there).


2. Toy Story 3

Toy Story was a masterpiece, and cemented Pixar in pop cinema forever. Toy Story 2 further explored the theme of loss I think epitomizes the entire Toy Story series, but it's ending left us hanging - someday, Andy will grow up, and the toys will have to deal. Ever since first seeing that movie 13 years ago, I have wanted to see that idea explored, and thankfully, after a lot of careful thought, Pixar delivers. And boy, do they deliver. This movie legitimizes Toy Story 2, in my eyes, and truly completes the Toy Story Trilogy. It's funny as ever, but also touches you more than the first two put together. If the ending does not induce a swell of emotion in you, and you've seen the other two movies, then you are simply not human (or incapable of experiencing empathy, which happens). HIGHLY recommended, for rental or purchase.


1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Holy crap, was this movie awesome on every concievable level. It was well-cast to perfection. The visual effects were stunning. The editing was sublime. The music was extremely catchy and memorably. The writing was pithy and sharp. Even on the level of adaptation it was a stellar success, which is no small feat since they condensed six volumes into a 2 hour movie that captures the heart of the series but trims and splices when necessary. Edgar Wright is a true filmmaker, and he's clearly a man who sits at a computer and is intimately familiar with Final Cut, and as an aspiring editor, I really gravitate towards that. I am literally shocked at how lackluster this film performed at the box office. This is one of those movies that is going to be immensely appreciated as it ages. You are really doing a disservice to yourself if you've not seen this one. Easily best movie of the year, and recipient of my Vesty Award for Best Picture. I'd grade it higher if I could.


Check in for Par 2, my Top 5 WORST Movies of 2010 shortly.

- TheSilentG

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ad Nauseum: Huggies Jeans

After more than two years, I finally return to my award-winning* series, Ad Nauseum, where I tear apart the absolute worst of the worst in televised advertising. I had almost forgotten about Ad Nauseum, until I saw something a while ago that absolutely shattered my belief that the world at least tries to be a sane and rational place. What horrid advert could render me so bleak?

Huggies Jeans, that's what:

Not nearly limited enough, Huggies.

........I don't even know where to begin.

This is, easily, the single most warped and disturbing example of fetishizing I have ever seen in my life, and it's done in an attempt to sell you diapers. I feel like a scat-loving pedophile wrote this. Here's this baby, in a white shirt and blue-tampoed diapers strolling down the streets of Madrid or someplace. Everywhere he goes, he's turning heads. This infant, who may or may not have developed object permanence yet, is clearly the sexiest thing to ever grace God's green Earth, at least to these people. That. Is. FUCKED. UP.

Now, ok, before anyone starts saying I'm reading too much into this and assuming from that what I'm bringing to this ad when I watch it, don't worry. I know where they're going with this. The commercial is saying Jeans look good on people, babies now have Jean Diapers, so they too can look good. I get it. But the issue I take is the reaction ADULTS are having to this kid. Like, in most commercials where they attribute adult mannerisms to infants, they populate the commercial ONLY with infants. If they were doing an ad where a kid's getting diaper rash while sitting at his cubicle filing the finger paints Mr. Georgie wants on his desk by nap time, he's not going to be working in an office with adults. His cubicle neighbors will also be infants, probably holding their hands to their mouths in abject horror at that kid's rash in the cute way babies pretend to be shocked. Had they gone that route here, I'd find the commercial far, FAR less warped. Sure, he's sexy, but to the girl babies. It's appropriate. But adding adults to the equation oddly makes it go from cute to OH MY GOD THAT KID'S STRUTTING DOWN DIDDLER ALLEY! RUN KID!

I'm not done. The other serious problem with this ad is just...the glorifying attitude it takes towards defecation. I'm a prudish, fragile North American. I'm used to innuendo as the language of commercials that deal with topics that are not dinner-conversation-safe. Like, I'd rather hear "When I'm not feeling fresh" than "When I have a smelly yeast infection," or why those Charmin bears really put me off when they show me their toilet paper cling-ons. And of all the topics that are gross to talk about, human feces is probably my least favorite. The reason that blue liquid was invented was so commercials could AVOID using poop and urine in commericals, or even evoking it. Nothing is cleaner, more sterile, and more wholesome than blue liquid.

This commerical, if you will, cuts right to the crap. The whole commercial, this baby is inner-monologuing about how fucking rad he is when he drops a log:

-"My diaper is full...full of chic!" (Is that what we're calling it now?)
-"When I go #2, I look like #1!"
-"I poo in blue!"

Like, wow. No foreplay at all, just right for the obvious. This kid, and by extension YOUR kids, will be shitting in these diapers. Thank you. Thank you for taking that imagery and force-feeding it into my brain. I really needed to picture the contents of a blue diaper randomly and without warning when watching TV.

But the worst is saved for last. Huggies has managed to concoct the single most baffling tagline ever used in an attempt to sell a product, ever. The ad proudly proclaims at the end of this madness that wearing Huggies Jeans will be "The Coolest You'll Look Pooping Your Pants."

Let's allow that to sink in for just a minute.


We good? Good.


That's just....deranged. The coolest you'll look pooping your pants? Allow me to attest, and I think we can all agree, as a society, a species, and as inhabitants of this realm of existence, that no one, anywhere, EVER, has or will look cool pooping their pants. As an act, it is like a cool solvent; it kills the cool instantly. Imagine a big bowl of liquid cool, and much like the water/pepper/oil experiment from 1st Grade science, drop a pi....actually, on second thought, DON'T imagine that. I have a better example:

You're at a party. It's pretty fun. You're mingling. Someone compliments you on your dress or jacket or whatever you're wearing to look presentable. It's all going well. But then you come across that guy. You know, That Guy. The cool guy who's buds with all the guys and the object of lust of all the girls (and some of the guys). His hair has JUST enough product in it. His shirt is plain white with collars but somehow he makes it look like he's wearing sex. He's got jeans on. He's telling a bunch of girls how volunteering for the Big Brother program is soooo rewarding, all the while causing the girls to swoon and/or ovulate with desire. He's just that fucking cool.

And then he shits his pants.

Is he cool now? No, he's not. This commercial is fucking stupid.

- TheSilentG

*Awards may have been self-awarded.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swedile at the Movies: The Last Airbender

Ok, where to start...

How about, "I hate this fucking movie?"

Sorry for the spoiler vis a vis my score (more or less), but man, I really hate this movie. It just...UUUGH. Ok, I'll get into it down below instead of blowing my load here. Just, jeez.

Batman and Robin scale, same as always. Here we go.


In a fictional world of martial arts and mysticism, there are four nations, each one built around an element; Air, Water, Earth and Fire. Some people in these nations are capable of "bending" their national element, and by that I mean that they can physically manipulate these elements by performing martial arts their culture has developed. However, there exists one person in the world called The Avatar who is the physical embodiment of nature, and has the capacity to bend all four elements. This person is as mortal as anyone, but they reincarnate once they die, into the next culture in the cycle. The most recent Avatar, an Air Nomad named Aang, runs away after learning he is the Avatar, because he feels he is not ready for the responsibility to the world that comes with the title. While fleeing on his flying Sky Bison Appa, he gets trapped in a violent storm and falls into the arctic waters below. Shortly thereafter, the militaristic Fire Nation undergoes it's invasion of the other nations to gain control over the globe. They begin by exterminating the Air Nomads, knowing that the new Avatar will have been born into that culture.

100 years pass, and two teenagers from the Southern Water Tribe (Katara and her older brother Sokka) discover Aang, frozen in a sphere of ice and living in suspended animation using his Avatar powers. They awaken him, and he learns what his cowardice has wrought. Together with Katara and Sokka, Aang quests to the Northern Water Temple to learn Waterbending, the first of the three remaining elements he must master before unlocking his full potential, which he will use to stop the Fire Nation. But on the way, he is hunted by the Fire Nation, in particular the scarred and banished Prince Zuko, who must capture the Avatar if he wishes to return home.

The story is excellent. BUT, I say that with a caveat. That being, I love the story because it is the same story as the animated series on which this movie was based, that show being Avatar: The Last Airbender. This show is awesome to the max. It's probably the best North American-made animated series since Batman: The Animated Series, and in some ways, even better. The story is epic, original, and spans three seasons, with a COMPLETE story in mind from the start. The story is written so tightly, I'm still picking up on things I missed the first time around. And what's more, the show has so much heart. The acting is top notch, and every performance makes you feel the emotions the characters are supposed to be feeling. It's just outstanding. I absolutely recommend you see the show.

That said...

Technically, the movie sticks very close to the plot of the first season of Avatar (with the movie planned to be the first in a trilogy, each adapting the full second and third seasons, respectively). But this is actually to the movie's detriment. There are two polar directions an adaptation movie can be taken; either it wildly deviates from the source material and is [Insert Series Title] in name only, or it can be meticulously accurate to the events depicted in the source material and come off entirely rigid or forced. The best adaptations are literally that; an adaptation of material from one medium to another, so as to make it work for the new medium while still maintaining the overall spirit of the original. It's a balance. Now, we see a lot of the kind of adaptations that deviate too much, but we very rarely see the opposite. Well, if you've seen this movie, you've seen just that. The Last Airbender focuses almost entirely on just making sure the major plot points are addressed, with little regard for the flow or the heart of the story. It is Avatar-By-Bullet-Point. Sure, all the things happen, most of the characters are in it, references to things we won't even see until future installments are made, the whole nine yards. But at LEAST a third of this is expounded. Like, in the show's opening, Katara narrates the basic premise of the show, and to the movie's credit, this is more or less how the movie starts (only with a lame text scroll instead of the footage from the show). However, Shyamalan took this idea and RAN THE FUCK WITH IT. Katara narrates throughout the whole friggin' movie. And boy, they couldn't have trusted a worse person with most of the story (but I'll get to that shortly). And the writing. GOD, THE DIALOGUE. It is some of the most wooden shit I've ever heard. And it's mismanaged, even! There was a baffling scene where Katara narrates an event 3 minutes before we're shown the event she's narrating! Like, CONTINUITY PLZ.

In an interview, Shyamalan said he doesn't feel comfortable writing films that are longer than 90 minutes, that's his comfort level. As such, this movie is about that long. THAT is precisely why there is so much exposition! He's given the task, hell, LOBBIES for the task of taking 20 episodes of a narrative-rich epic adventure, and condensing it down to 3 30-minute acts? That's bullshit. This kind of movie needs to be at least 2 hours, if not longer. Then, the story can breathe. You can linger in the moments a bit, instead of dashing to the final battle like the story's being chased by a rabid dog. The story felt like a chore for the writer, instead of a joy:

"I got to the origin? Ok, good. Explained why Aang was in the ice? Well, it's narrated, but it's good enough. Done. Oh yeah, gotta do the Blue Spirit, even though I don't have time to relate the character's motivations in any way. Is it quitting time yet?"

That's what this movie feels like. If something like this is too much for him, which he basically admitted is true, he should have let someone else write the movie. He acts like an auteur, when his steady decline has evidenced that he is so not (and this is coming from someone who has defended most of his movies).

So the story, which he adapted from someone else's work, is great! But the writing is rushed, lazy, hackneyed AND stilted, the dialogue is atrocious and expositional to the point of DEATH BED-LEVEL NARRATION, and overall felt more like a task than a labour of love for the writer. I hope that clarifies my position.


Um, WOW. This movie is RIDDLED with horrible acting, like how a rotting corpse is riddled with maggots. As I hinted before, Nicola Peltz was just awful as Katara. She's just reading her lines, which are horribly written, so double whammy. She doesn't even pronounce words properly (not just the in-series names that were frequently butchered, real words!). Her motivations are completely unknown to me or the audience-at-large. She's just bad.

Jackson "I'm-In-Twilight-So-Strike-One" Rathborne plays her brother Sokka, who in the show is so well acted who brings a lot of levity to the series, as well as being a strong leader to other characters. Guess what? OVERACTING CITY, POPULATION: THIS PUTZ. He takes everything SO SERIOUSLY, while never once coming off as serious. It's just weird.

Noah Ringer as Aang was ooooookayyyyy, and I put heavy emphasis on that. In the realm of child actors, he's average, and child actors aren't usually awesome. He's not as bad as Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, but not but enough. Though I also give this kid credit; much like Justin Chatwin as Goku in Dragonball Evolution, I don't put all the blame on him. See, he wasn't asked to play Aang as such. Aang is a kid, he's fun-loving. Sure, they exposit in the script that he is fun-loving, but he's not asked to actually perform as such. There are hints he could be fun, but he's just not asked to be. So I don't hate this kid.

Asif Mandvi as General Zhao. Huh. This one's kind of tough. On one hand, he was not that good. But on the other hand, he was much better than I was expecting. I mean, he's on THE DAILY SHOW. He was in Spider-Man 2 FIRST, and in retrospect, I can't divorce his Daily Show persona from Mr. Aziz and his 29 Minute Guarantee. Here, I was doing an ok job of playing a character. Sure, he was over-the-top cartoon villain character. Heck, he's more cartoony than the cartoon character he's portraying. But at least he's trying, dammit. Still, he's unintentionally hilarious and removes all the pathos from the original character single-handedly, so take that as you will.

The only two performances I liked were Dev Patel as Zuko and, much moreso, Shaun Taub as his uncle Iroh. Iroh was always an emotional anchor in the show, for Zuko especially, so I'm really glad they got an actor with real acting chops. He blasts through even the shittiest dialogue like a pro. He EMOTES. Holy heck. As for Zuko, he has cheesy moments, but he had good moments too, and he really shone when bouncing off of Taub. These two legitimately felt like they were an honest adaptation of the characters they were playing. Kudos.

Everyone else was HORRIBLE. Dregs of the earth. And the girl they got to cameo as Azula at the end was creepy. She didn't behave or speak like a human being, trying REALLY hard to imitate the show's character, but it was just so beyond her scope as a human being to even sound human. But I also will say right now, at least half of the bad performances I lobby a lot of blame on the script being so wooden and lifeless, even good actors struggle.

Oh, and the whole racist thing? I don't, and never, gave a shit about that beyond thinking that Katara and Sokka REALLY should have been Inuit or something. I really don't think the casting was racist, just lazy. But even if it was, it's the LEAST of this movie's problems.

Special Effects & Art Direction:

This is one of the few areas where the movie is a success. Story, good acting and amazing writing is a major part of what made the show work so well, but another part is the visual landscape of the world they live in (and the animation, which is fantastic). The iconography of the world is very strong and unique, and the physics of the bending looks very realistic in the cartoon. This was adapted very well to the screen. Small cosmetic changes were made to make certain things seem more realistic or detailed (the prime example being Aang's tattoos, which went from solid blue to a series of intricate designs, but still in the arrow shape of the show), but it maintained the spirit of the source material. And ILM brings their usual awesomeness to the project. The bending effects, for the most part, look quite realistic and to be working in the realm of physics. Water looks like water. Earthbenders lift walls from the ground, with sort of loose bricks composing them and shuffling under the dueling forces of the Bending powers and gravity. It all works. Some of the final fight looks cartoony, but I am totally forgiving of it. Point is, this movie LOOKS like the perfect screen adaptation of Avatar. It's just a shame the only way this movie succeeds is entirely cosmetically.


This is the only other part of the experience I enjoyed. James Newton Howard didn't adapt the musical motifs of the show, but his score sounds just as epic, and epic in that "I'm watching an epic Hollywood fantasy and there's totally some whimsy involved" way that pervaded the 90s. I hate the movie, but I'm probably going to download the soundtrack.


Since starting Journalism school, I've learned I have an love and maybe even an affinity for video editing. Since I've started down that path, I've become hyper-aware of editing in movies as I watch them. I really appreciate when it's done well, and it's very noticeable when it's done poorly. And man, THIS MOVIE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE FOR 90 MINUTES WITH IT'S SHITTY EDITING. Stuff was cut. And I say this not just because the Kyoshi Warriors were totally exorcised from the film, but it's just painfully obvious there is a lot of shit missing. In fact, I'm sure at least some of the narration was hastily added to cover for plot points that were cut at the last minute. It's the same way I noticed that stuff was cut at the eleventh hour from Spider-Man 3 and the theatrical cut of Watchmen, only far, far worse. It's akin to a record skipping or a streaming video buffering, only it's skipping at the transition points constantly, so technically you're not being cut off mid-sentence, but really, you might as well be. Truly vile editing. Conrad Buff aka the editor of this monstrosity, if you are reading this, you suck.

M. Night Shyamalan:

Yeah, I went there. I'd talk about direction, but this movie was not directed. There was no director. There's Shyamalan, and he's credited as the director. But there was no direction in this movie. Hunker down folks, cuz I have a bit to say about this, and I may ramble.

So, the reason Shyamalan said he took this job is because one Halloween, his daughter said she wanted to dress up as Katara. M. Night didn't know who this was, so his daughter showed him the show. Soon, watching Avatar became a family event at the Shyamalan house, watching the series conclude together. It was a touching story. But now, having seen the movie, I think it's bullshit. He couldn't have watched Avatar and produced this. Or more accurately, he couldn't have been paying it much attention or caring about it too much. Sure, he knows the basic story, but he didn't understand the characters at all. He didn't get it, basically. He just didn't get it. He probably was more interested in spending time with his kids, which as a human being, is to his credit. My dad used to watch cartoons with me, but he didn't care about them. He was just spending time with me. Honourable, but not a good reason to direct a movie, as it turns out.

Actually, this is the second movie he's done because of his kids, the other being Lady in the Water (a FAR better movie, which says something),which is loosely based off a bedtime story he wrote for his kids. Isn't that a little odd when you think about it? Like, this is where he's drawing inspiration from. Not that hippie "my kids inspire me every day" way a lot of people who work in creative fields say, but like, he gets ideas for his next movie from them directly. I bring this up because here, today, in this review, is where I finally and irrevocably renounce my status as an M. Night Shyamalan Apologist. See, I've defended MOST of his movies to date, even up until Lady in the Water. But slowly and surely, he's snowballed. The Happening was at best hilarious, and at worst amazingly boring, but even then I was like, "even the best director has a bad movie." Not that I ever thought he was one of the best directors, but I at least appreciated his attempt to be creative and play with genre conventions. But this movie, there's no excuse. Absolutely none. When he is GIVEN the story and rapes it so thoroughly, that's your hoarse swan song as a director, or at least as an auteur, which he clearly thinks he is. If there is a second movie, and it's helmed once more by M. Night, I won't see it. That's how bad this movie is creatively. It's just all-around lazy on his end. And the final nail in the coffin for me as a fan of his is that I recently found out the movie that started it all for him, The Sixth Sense, wasn't even an original idea of his. He ripped the twist from an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark", a show I loved as a kid and still think was way ahead of its time. So basically he wrote a movie he basically yanked from a kid's show, it was a huge success (and to his credit, it was well-directed). Since then, he's been riding the coat tails of that success. It's why he's the "twist ending" guy! And in trying to chase that dragon, he's squandered what creativity he had, letting it stagnate in the familiar. Every movie he's ever made, besides this one, has been The Sixth Sense, just in a different genre. I think Unbreakable is the most creative thing he's ever done, which is sad because it's overlooked, but since then, it went from amazing, to mediocre, to dull, to dull and egotistical, to so bad it's good, and now finally, so bad it's caused the last human being on earth who gave him credit to renounce him as a director worthy of attention. I hope this is "The Last Shyamalan," because he's not only hurting himself, but his kids. I can't imagine how much they hate him right now.


3.5/4 -
A horrible movie with some strong points, but they have almost nothing to do with the story and doesn't save it in any way.

I so rarely use decimal points in my scores, but this one is SO CLOSE to a 4/4 it really calls for it. A 3/4 suggests the redeeming qualities make it somewhat worth watching, but this isn't the case here. Not unless you could watch it with all but the music muted. Or maybe with audio from the cartoon dubbed in. Or something like that. This movie is unwatchable. The dialogue is as wooden as a tree, most of the actors can't come off as believably human, the story is treated like a task to be finished as soon as possible, the editing made my eyes bleed, and the directing is a non-factor because the director can't direct. And this is just the surface, people. There's a ton of shit that bothered me that I didn't even get to. The use of Appa and Momo. Shooting in Philly for most of the location shots. Mispronouncing the names and terms from the show constantly (lol Agni KEE). The PLOT HOLES JEEZ. There's much. It has topped so many movies I thought couldn't be out-shitted by anything, and this includes Dragonball Evolution. YES. DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION bothered me less. How something as awesome as Avatar could be turned into something so astronomically shitty is a feat I can't believe was achieved.

So, yeah. I hate this fucking movie.

Until next time,
- TheSilentG

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swedile at the Movies: The A-Team

Well, it sure has been a while since I've done one of these. And by "one of these," I mean both a review and a post on my own blog. Holy Crap! Well, I've been in a mood to review, and I sure haven't got anything better to do lately, so I thought I'd step back into the fray with a movie I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did, The A-Team.

As usual, my Batman & Robin Movie Gradation Scale will be used to judge this movie in the most asinine way possible. Here's a refresher:

0/4 - Perfect or near perfect movie
1/4 - An otherwise good movie that has negative aspects too big to overlook
2/4 - Mediocre; not bad, but nothing special
3/4 - An otherwise bad movie with a few good aspects
4/4 - Bad movie, with almost nothing to keep your attention
5/4 - A special score for movies so bad they dissolve livers

So yeah, The A-Team:


The year is...well, it's not 1972, but it's, like, 2002 or something, and a crack team of covert commandos have a bodacious adventure together, and form The A-Team; inexplicably America's most valuable military asset. What about them makes them so valuable? They're out of their minds and have issues with authority, that's why!

OK, so, cut to present day, and the A-Team are slumming it in Iraq. Internal Affairs or something ask the A-Team not to get involved in some sting to recover stolen US Mint printing plates that are being smuggled out of Baghdad, but naturally, Hannibal (their chain-smoking, plan-loving leader for those who haven't ever heard of The A-Team, played by Liam Neeson) goes to his superior and, while OFFICIALLY he's still ordered not to, the team's given his tacit approval, and they pull off a daring plan to get them back. The mission is a success, but it turns out to be a trap; their superior dies in a car explosion, and in the confusion, the plates are stolen by Black Forest mercenaries (der I wonder if these guys are supposed to be Blackwater?). Framed for a crime they didn't commit, they're sent to federal prison - from which they promptly escape.

So OK, I forgot to mention, but there's this CIA guy named Lynch (Patrick Wilson)who tipped the A-Team off to the whole issue with the stolen plates back in Iraq. He comes to see Hannibal in prison and arranges his escape. Hannibal then helps bust the rest of the team out, which include Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quentin Jackson) and Mad Dog Murdock (Sharlto Copley). Their goal is to get the plates back and restore their good names by proving they were set up.

Now, let me say right now - the story itself, the way it's set up, and the cliches used, are exactly, 100% the same as any other "covert team that doesn't play by the rules must get behind enemy lines to save the President's daughter" action movie ever made. The general who died? He's secretly alive and was in on the whole thing. The most helpful character at the beginning of the movie? You'd better believe he's the bad guy. The hot IA agent (Jessica Biel)? She had a relationship with Face at some undisclosed time, but they broke up and hate each other at the beginning of the movie, but are making out by the end. I could TIME it when certain plot elements popped up. It's entirely predictable what would happen. However, I am totally forgiving of it in the case of this movie, because of one simple element...


...and that element is the A-Team themselves. These people were AWESOME.

Hannibal was played to perfection by Neeson. Sure, he was chewing the scenery pretty bad, but as well he should be - it's Hannibal! His first scene in the movie was probably my second-favorite. He was like a chain-smoking Batman! And you could tell Neeson was loving every minute of it. He really got a chance to stretch and have fun with this one.

Cooper's Face was also pretty entertaining. He was your typical smarmy lady-killer, but within that capacity he did quite well. The film maker's were also smart enough to make him a competent member of the team, too. If he'd just been this playboy making kissy-faces with Biel the whole movie, I don't think I'd have liked him as much. Heck, I can guarantee that much.

Quentin "Rampage" Jackson was the lame duck of the team, considering he's a UFC fighter and not an actor. If I was given the chance to coach Jackson on his performance, and he would be FORCED to adhere to my recommendation, but the stipulation was I had to limit my critique to a single word, it's no contest what word I would choose - ENUNCIATE! Half of his lines were mumbled so badly I had no idea what he was saying. But besides that, he held up as B.A. - he looked the part, he could brandish "Foo's" with the best of them, and he had some well-delivered comedic moments. He FELT like B.A., and ultimately, that's what's most important to me.

But by far the winner of the team is Sharlto's Murdock. After seeing the poster pictured above while waiting in line with a friend to see Iron Man 2 (which will hopefully be reviewed soon), I found Copley's gaze hilariously "come hither"-esque, and have been jokingly swooning over it for the last month. Well, let me tell you, he legitimately earned every last swoon, because he was awesome. I love Copley as an actor ever since I saw him in District 9. It's nice to see him get such a high-profile role so quickly, and totally winning that performance to boot. He's hilarious. He's every bit as crazy in the role as he's supposed to be. And yet, like with Face's character, he never seemed like he was just there to be goofy. He had a part on the team as deserved as anyone else.

That's the big success of this movie, in fact. They got some actors (and a glorified wrestler) to play characters who were not only on a team, but also friends, and you ABSOLUTELY BELIEVED IT. They had this instant chemistry most actors would kill for. They absolutely made this movie.

The other actors were okay. Patrick Wilson's Lynch was delightfully quirky, but then, we've seen so many quirky action villains already, so he didn't really deliver anything new.

Jessica Biel was, frankly, superfluous to the story. She didn't have to be there AT ALL. She was there to be Face's love interest. Otherwise, she was just following the aftermath of the A-Team the whole movie, and they could have had anyone do that. If she was a character in the original series, forgive me, because being born nearly two months after the series concluded, I have not seen any episodes. But if she was a character, she was woefully miscast or poorly scripted (or both). I didn't like her.

The leader of the Black Forest Cheese Cake Brigade was OK - he didn't totally fall into the "asshole competing military badass" stereotype, but he wasn't overly memorable. The rest of the cast is not worth mentioning because they didn't really do much.

The A-Team is the reason you would go see this movie. Without them, this the same movie you've seen dozens of times already.


Speaking of how the A-Team makes this movie unique is the action. I am going to say it right now - the A-Team attempts to fly a free falling tank...AND SUCCEED. The A-Team allow for stuff that otherwise would seem entirely silly and implausible to the point where I would dislike it, because the A-Team is so silly and implausible as it is. It makes it really fun and, again, THEY FLY A TANK. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THAT? It's over the top as hell, but you want it to be.

That said, there were really 4 major action set pieces, and you could REALLY tell when they used practical stunts and when they could use CGI and green screens. Two of the scenes - capturing the plates in Baghdad and kidnapping the supposed-to-be-dead general - were RIDDLED with shaky cam syndrome. It was incomprehensible and it gave me a headache. However, the other two major action scenes - the tank scene and the final, uh, battle I guess - used a significant amount of CGI, and the cinematography was way more steady and manageable. It was still insane but at least I could figure out what was happening. The difference is obvious and frankly, it makes me wish they had used some CG for each scene.


So rarely do I find movies funny, especially when they're trying to be. I so rarely go to see comedies in the theatres because more often than not, I will be wasting my money. So when a movie actually IS funny, and not one joke seems strained or forced or unbelievably stupid, I am overjoyed. I was most certainly overjoyed the whole way through this movie. The A-Team is almost effortlessly funny. It's scary. You will laugh your ass off.


If I had to make a guess as to what one thing made The A-Team such a pop culture staple , I would have to guess it was the theme. Sure, the characters are great and it was surely memorable for other reasons, but that theme song is so damn catchy, it kept its memory alive for 20+ years after being cancelled. So when the movie was announced, I was like, "they NEED to use that theme song." Which they did. Buuuuttttt....I dunno. It was used kind of, to grossly misuse the word, schizophrenically. The general motif was used all the time, which was fine. But then there were times where it felt shoehorned into the score. Like, they'd use the motif, and then the following music sounded so jarring and out of place, it felt really forced. There were a couple of times the music was really well-used, but it felt like the filmmakers had a dozen ideas of where to put the theme song in the movie, and they used them all. It's the opposite of the problem with the Transformers movies and how they implement the classic theme. And lastly, the one place it really NEEDED to be (that being a full version of the song played during the first part of the credits), they totally dropped the ball. Overall, I liked that the theme was in the movie, but I wish it had been more focused in how it was used.

The rest of the score was 100%, completely forgettable.


I found this to be moderate at best. Clearly Joe Carnahan can hold his own directing an action blockbuster, especially considering the scope of this one. It's just nuts (again, I must reiterate the whole "flying tank" aspect). But as I said earlier, the scenes where practical effects were used, it was obvious shaky cam was used to, I don't know, I guess to make things a little more obscure or something. I apologize, but I am very suspicious of shaky cam. It seems like a way to hide an ineptitude in shooting practical action scenes. Sometimes it's used for a certain effect, such as the first scene in Batman Begins where Bruce goes out and fights crime as Batman. But most of the time, it just seems lazy (like the rest of the action scenes in Batman Begins). And boy, when this movie uses shaky cam, it's some of the worst I have EVER seen. It is so disorienting.

I also had issue with some of the editing. For the most part it was fine, but during the final scene, there's a lot of going back and forth with flashbacks. It's clear it's to set up the trap at the end, but I really didn't care for it. For one, I didn't need the recap because I figured out what they were planning before they explained the plan. Secondly, it just seems, I don't know...insulting. Like it doesn't have faith that we would remember. It flashed back to the same conversation TWICE during the scene. I don't know, it just seemed lazy to me.

But I gotta give the guy props - he knew this movie was about the characters WAY more than the plot, and it showed. This movie truly was an A-Team movie because the team was the main point of the whole movie. If it hadn't been for them being so awesome, I would have been very, very bored.


1/4 - Pretty good, but with some minor problems

This movie is absolutely worth a watch. I've heard a lot of people say they want to see it again right away, and I actually disagree with that - I have no need to see it again. But as far as a typical action movie goes, this toppled my expectations. OK, so they were low, but still! This movie is by all accounts typical as hell, but four bad-ass soldiers for hire hijacked it and made it kick ass. And if nothing else, it has made me anticipate a sequel. It sure as hell sets up for one. And in my book, that's a success.

So that's my review. Remember, if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if it's playing in a theatre near you, maybe you should watch....The A-Team.

- The Silent G

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Swedile Delights and Dreads Pt 1: The Top 5 Least Anticipated Films of 2009

Howdy, y'all!

New friend and co-worker Joel Doucet has recently completed a list of his top five most anticipated and top five least anticipated movies for the rest of the year. I've been challenged to do the same. THUSLY:

Top 5 Least Anticipated Movies:

5. G.I. Joe
Rumors of it being the worst movie ever made by Paramount aside, this movie looks like it's going to be a lame duck at best. This movie was only made now becase Hasbro enjoyed such a success with Transformers. I'll probably see it, but much in the same vein I saw Dragoball Evolution - to make fun of it.

4. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Why can't the Ice Age movie series just go exticnt already? The first one as mediocre and best. Scrat became redundant years ago.

3. G-Force

Secret agent rodents, all with stereotyped personalities dropping tired cultural references. That is all.

2. The Proposal

Another lame romantic comedy where two people who dislike each other find themselves being stuck together through "hilarious" circumstances. Spoiler alert! They start falling in love, will have a fight, make up, and get married, thus propagating the nuclear family for another generation. Yay.

1. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel just a sin against man. NO.

Check in for Part 2: MOST Anticipated movies later this afternoon. Peace out!
-Silent G

Monday, April 20, 2009

Swedile at the Movies: Dragonball Evolution

In 2000, X-Men hit the silver screen, starting the Golden Age of Comic Book Movies. But now, with popular superheroes starting to run out, and with Ant-Man dreadfully looming on the horizon, Hollywood seems to be trying to branch out into other adaptation films. With the release of last year's Speed Racer, the race began to start the Anime Movie genre. Not to give away the ending of my much-belated Speed Racer review, but I felt that as a movie trying to be an adaptation of an anime, it succeeded where it needed to, and it probably helped that the anime in question was steeped with Western concepts and tropes. I enjoyed the movie and felt it was a step in the right direction. Then Fox got Dragonball. I saw the Dragonball Evolution movie the other day, and is it the breakout film in the anime genre?

....huh, well. Let's get cracking. As always, my Batman & Robin Movie Gradation Scale shall be used as my meterstick.


2000 years ago, the alien Piccolo and his minion Oozaru decended upon the Earth to reap its benefits and raze its populations. However, mystics banded together to seal Piccolo away. It's present day, and highschooler (*ack!*) Goku just turned 18, and recieves an ancient relic known as a Dragonball from his grandfather. However, Piccolo escapes from his prison (somehow...), and now seeks all seven Dragonballs so that he can summon the dragon Shenlong to grant him one wish; the power to enslave mankind. Goku, along with the hermit Master Roshi, bandit Yamcha, and PhD in...tactical weaponry Bulma, travel across the globe to prevent Piccolo from ressurecting Oozaru.

Umm....yeah. Wow. Before I go on, I want to stress that I am not a huge Dragonball fanboy. I watched it as a kid, and I enjoyed it for what it was, but it was not among my all-time favorite things. As such, know that this review does not come from the perspective of one who's childhood had been raped (unlike the people I went to the film with). This is a review from the perspective of just going to watch an adaptation with no real expectations. That said, this story was shit. It was entirely derivative and largely pointless. The producers of this movie took something pretty original, and turned it into your average hollywood action buster with some vague threat to meet at the end of the movie, and hollow character relationships that struggle to make you care.

To talk specifically about their success at adapting the source material, I'll say that the result was.....conflicted. At times, they did things that sort've surprised me. Little fan nods that only the fans would care about, like referring to Goku as "Son Goku" (his Japanese name) at one point, or showing that Roshi kept a collection of ladies underwear catalogues. This sort of stuff was thrown in to appease longtime fans, I'm sure. Then you've got your basic elements; the Dragonballs, Namekians, Capsule Corp., all the basic stuff that really need to be in a Dragonball adaptation.

However, these little nods often butt horns with the other interests of the movie makers, namely appealing to demographics. Instead of being a socially oblivious little boy, Goku's an awkward teenager with angst and girl troubles. He goes to parties lifted right out of The OC. Yamcha sounds like a surfer. In a better film, the director, writers, and other crew members working together cohesively might have been able to merge the geek and the contemporary and have it flow and make sense and feel, if not right, then at least believable. But in DBE, the two fight for screentime to the detriment of the movie. Never once does the movie feel like it's in agreement with itself, which is ironic, considering how much Goku rambles on about being at one with the two halves of himself (BIG SPOILER GOKU IS OOZARU WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING DERP).

Speaking of Goku being, Oozaru, they don't explain anything in this movie. Piccolo's just....out and about at the beginning of the movie. This is fine, they'll just explain later, I thought. It might have been an interesting plot twi---oh right, the movie needs a plot to have plot twists. As it turns out, it's never explained how he gets out. Nor is it explained how Piccolo's servant Mai can shapeshift...or even who the hell she is. Where the hell did she come from? Was she trapped with him, or did he recruit her? Did she break him out? Nothing at all is explained. Goku's history and the Oozaru thing is equally vague. Was the original Oozaru Goku? Was it an ancestor? Is Oozaru some spirit that overtakes Saiyans (they did say Goku fell from the stars in a meteor)? It's all just very muddled. They often don't attempt to explain anything, and what they did attempt to explain was so befuddling it would have been better left to my fertile imagination.

The one bit of adaptation I actually liked was what they did with Roshi's house. In the anime/manga, he has a little house on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. In the movie, he lived in an old tennament building on a tiny island, where all around has been dug out an excavated, and surrounding that is a giant city. That was pretty evocative of the old house without being a direct translation, and I liked it. The only thing that would have been better is if someone graffito-tagged "Kame House" on the front. That would have been excellent. But other than that, huge flop in both story and adaptation departments. The characters were lifeless, dull, and often entirely unlike their inspirations, and the story was confusing in the way that elements felt missing and other elements were thrown in at the last second. Epic fail.


Wow. Just, so bad. There were three halfway decent people in this movie; Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi, James Marsters as Piccolo, and believe it or not, Justin Chatwin as Goku. Allow me to explain further.

Chow Yun-Fat, for his part, seemed like the only fully-realized character in the movie at all. As much as he didn't look like him, he sort of acted like Master Roshi; a skilled master as well as a perverted old man with quirks. He had moments, however brief, of gravitas. It wasn't an Oscar-worthy performance, but it was at least a performance.

Marster's Piccolo had no overt faults on his part; he was the traditional chilling, heartless villain. His major flaw was that he was barely in the movie at all. He needed more lines, more screentime. I feel he could have done better. He was still a little hammier than I would have liked, but it was not cringe-worthy overall.

As for Goku, my problem with Goku was in how he was written. He was the generic, blank hero from every lame Hollywood action movie. There were moments, however brief, of the Goku we know and love, and I got from Chatwin that had the movie been written with that personality in mind, he could have performed. However, he was asked to be a lame dork with angst and cold feet around girls and just being the average movie teenager, and to that degree, he delivered. I just feel that, were he asked to play, you know, Goku, he could have delivered there too.

And that's all I have to say. The rest of the cast read like they were reading lines translated by Babel Fish.

Special Effects:

Decent. Nothing really exciting, nothing disappointing. Slight Shakey-Cam Syndrome, but not enough to annoy me. The one effect I actually liked were the Dragonballs themselves. I liked how the stars in the center floated around a foggy interior. It was a neat effect. That is all.


N/A (that is to say, not worth my time)

Product Placement:

Actually, none that I noticed. Surprising, being a Fox movie. Ironically, they did stuff in the movie like they were doing product placement, but with non-existant products (ie Capsule Corp, and some...retro Robot or something). This was kind of interesting, and yet at the same time, it makes me feel sick, because even non-products get product placement in a Fox movie.


I don't know, the movie was pretty funny. On, you know, a schadenfreude level. Their actual attempts at humor failed. Except Roshi sneaking a grab of Bulma's ass. I think I laughed then. Maybe. And only then because it was a reference.


James Wong failed on pretty much every level. I couldn't follow the plot, what I could follow was boring, I didn't care about the characters, and the film felt decidedly nothing like a Dragonball movie. It was Dragonball on a cosmetic level only. This has got to be the shortest "Director" section of any of my movie reviews, because there's nothing good enough or bad enough to go in-depth about. It was merely average; lazy and hackneyed as always. Thanks, Fox, for setting the bar so low.


3/4 - An overall bad, useless movie, with a few saving graces.

Yeah, not a 4/4. There were some things I liked. Like I said, Chow Yun-Fat's performance was ok, there were some fanwanks that I appreciated, Kame House and the Dragonballs were adapted to the screen well, and it wasn't like it was boring or sickening. But it's largely a pointless movie. The producers clearly had no love for the property. They just saw something that was popular and thought it would make a popular movie, while at the same time gutting almost everything that made it popular in the first place. When will they learn to stop doing that? Instead of being a decent adaptation, with changes being made only for the sake of storytelling in that medium, they just add as much as they can so it can be minimally appealing to everyone while not being overly appealing to anyone.

So, is this the start of a wave of Anime movies? Well, with the news that Keanu Reeves will be playing Spike in an upcoming Cowboy Bebop movie, as well as the Evangelion movie being in development hell, it seems that it'll be the thing that tinsel town tries to make the next big thing, while not really appreciating the material at all. Well, we'll see anyway. I personally hold out hope that at least a few good movies can be made (Evangelion looks like it's struggling to the surface with the constant efforts of people who truly seem to love the source material). But if this is the "evolution" of the anime movie genre, I'll stick to reading backwards, thank you.

As for me, I'm off to find 7 mystic orbs to wish for...Spider Powers. Yeah, I wouldn't even wish this movie better.

- Silent G

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Swedile at the Movies: Watchmen

Silent G's journal, April 1st, 2009:

This city's afraid of my reviews. I've seen it's true face. Saw Watchmen twice to make sure. Zack Snyder possible communist? Must remember investigate later.

Batman & Robin Gradation Scale as always.


In an alternate history where superheroes exist and have been subsequently outlawed, Edward "The Comedian" Blake is murdered in cold blood. Fellow masked vigilante Rorschach, who's become completely psychotic over the years, investigates his murder and is positive that a "Mask Killer" is going around. He warns his fellow superheroes Nite-Owl/Dan Dreiberg, Silk Spectre/Laurie Juspeczyk, Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt and Dr.Manhattan/Jon Osterman, but they're all too concerned with mounting political pressures boiling over in the Cold War. As the plot develops, we find out what sort of people would really become superheroes, how their presence would affect world events, and ultimately discover a plot far more disturbing than a simple mask killer.

I'll get into more of this when I hash out the "Adaptation" section, but that's basically the story.


Not bad, overall. Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach was pretty damn inspired. He looks like the guy, he sounds like we all imagine he sounded, and he plays the part mostly well. My only gripe here is he didn't seem as detached as he does in the book, but it's a minor disappointment. He makes up for it whenever Rorschach freaks out. Creepy.

I also really liked Patrick Wilson as Dan. Other people were less impressed by him, but I felt he captured perfectly that 80's nice guy I'd always imagined and then some. He was the heart of the film, and he did the character proud.

Malin Akerman as Laurie was easily the weakest link in this group. I wouldn't say she was bad at it per se, but she had the challenge of playing Laurie, who came off as very three-dimensional in the book. In the movie, she was just...there. How she got top billing is beyond me.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian was excellent. He brought the character to life for me. He's such a depraved asshole who you really feel bad for by the end of the film. Easily one of the best performances of the movie.

Billy Crudup as Jon was...slightly mixed. I think he did a good job of portraying this person who really has no connection with people, maybe even too good. But it felt hollow at times. I don't think the film explained as well the little things about Jon that make him matter. But also, often times he was downright chilling how inhumanly he reacted. Not a bad performance, it just faultered in places that may not have been his fault.

Oh, Adrian. Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. Played by Matthew Goode, he was the least interesting of the main cast, which is a shame. Ozymandias has this gravity to him that I wish had been translated over better. I think Goode deciding to give him a German accent was far too cliche for most of us. I will give the guy props, however, during the ending; he kicked ass. The movie really pulled off the way the comics showed how flippin' fast his is well with the use of the Snyder Slo Mo. He also had some good speaking moments in this last act, but a lot of it was still cliche. Really the only part I think was ill-cast. Jude Law would have been great here.

Everyone else was mediocre to bad. Carla Gugino's Sally Jupiter was depressingly bad. Her character is one of the many emotional anchors to the book, and her final scene was touching. Here, she was just a lush, and even the final scene was hammed up. Stephen McHattie's Hollis Mason was decent, though. Can't wait to see more of him in July. I also liked Matt Frewer as Moloch. Slightly goofy, but that's probably how he was ment to be in the book, I could never tell reading it. And just everyone else was mostly meh.

Music (Both Score and Soundtrack):

Score first. It was bloody perfect. Tyler Bates really channeled the scores from 80's movies like Blade Runner, Taxi Driver, and other similar films. It made me feel like I was watching a movie made in the 80's at times, which is just perfect. Absolutely awesome (though admittedly, some pieces were a bit dull).

As for the soundtrack, which consists of period-accurate songs, a lot of people have given it hate (with the exception of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are-A Changin'" used during the opening sequence, that was universally loved, myself being no exception). The complaint is that a lot of them felt out of place for the scenes. I didn't feel this. I barely noticed. The ones I did notice seemed appropriate to me. About the one I had issue with was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" used during the sex scene, and that's mostly because they had the perfect chance to use "You're my Thrill" and they didn't. The soundtrack was good, and I rarely say that.

Special Effects:

Pretty good. Jon was really the main factor here, being made by having Crudup wear a suit that recorded his movements, and put those movements and a digital scan of his face onto a digital skeleton. This had it's really really good moments, and it's bad moments. Sometimes he looked like an actual person, and others he looked like he belonged in Shrek. Still, the times they succeeded were incredible. It seems to me a case of just needing more time to touch up on post production. It succeeded in mostly not seeming like CGI, so I say kudos over all.

The other stuff was ok. Rorschach's mask was cool. Archie the Owlship looked appropriate. Bubastis looked kind've CGish all the way through, but she was in the film so briefly it really didn't matter. Mars looked cool, but there's not much more for special effects to be said, really. If you're the type who goes to movies for their effects, I doubt you'll be disappointed.


This is the big one. Was it adapted the way all the comic book fans wanted it to be adapted? Or was the general public pandered to once again? Well, you know what? On the whole, I'd say they were pretty damn faithful. All of us fans who sat hoping for a panel-by-panel direct translation were, I now realize, being unrealistic. I mean, I never truly expected it, but I had hoped. But looking at it now, some changes they made were okay for the medium of film, and did not detract from the feel of Watchmen. And there were certainly examples of shots taken perfectly from the book (I giggled when they perfectly reproduced the first page of the book). Some things were omitted, and some things were explained more in-depth or made fact where the book only hinted. And I'm cool with that. While I would have loved to see Max Shea or Rorschach's landlady or the "Crime Busters" or the Squid, I think that for the most part, the film still captured that true Watchmen essence.

That is, until Adrian said he did it 35 minutes ago.

I had real problems with the ending. And not the problem I thought I'd have, with the engineered "alien" monster being replaced with a machine that mimics Manhattan's powers. The way they explained why that would bring countries together sort've kind've made sense. Not as much as the squid made sense to me, but enough that I could move on. My problems were with the little cosmetic changes that made the ending feel very Hollywood, where the whole movie sturggled to be so un-Hollywood. Someone had to see Rorschach die and go "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Someone had to hit Adrian and give him a stern talking to and a glare as they walked away. Manhattan had to kiss the girl on his way out (THAT was random).

Just in general, the whole moral defeat of the book is just gone in this version. Snyder promised the same "Moral Checkmate" of the original ending applied, but it did so only on face value. You don't feel like the characters feel like they're morally oblidged. They're just oblidged for some reason. And taking away Jon's final line of "Nothing ever ends" from him and giving it to Laurie was downright criminal. That line was so chilling, and it's what gave Veidt second thoughts. In the film, it's just Dan yelling at him that does that. The whole thing is reworked in such a way that basically all the same things happen, the same things are said, but it's made palpable to the Hollywood execs that believe making people think will affect their bottom line. And that to me is just sad.

But I will say this; it could have been a total write-off. They could have made this movie 5 years ago, and if they used the script they had for that stage of production, I wouldn't have even gone to see this movie at all. So props must go out to the men and women who took a risk on something so different, and keeping it true for the most part. It's just a shame they fumbled in the final quarter.


And the person at least a great deal responsible for the ballsy-ness of this film is Zack Snyder. He says he's a fan, and it certainly shows. There was much love put into this movie, this adaptation, and I know a lot of his changes were made from two vantage points: one of a filmmaker trying to make sure that the property works as a film while still staying as true as possible to the original source, and the other of a filmmaker who has to appease his producers, who are putting the money in for this, and who want to make sure that the film will appeal to many people. Considering that he had to deal with all of that and made a film I am happy to call a "Watchmen" adaptation? I'd say he succeeded on a pretty profound level.

My one complaint with him is he seemed to want to amp everything up, where the book might have been more subtle. In some places this was cool. Adding some screen time to a prison fight is nothing to complain about. But at other times it felt strained or out of place. The sex scene on Archie was uncomfortably long. The fight with the Knot Tops consisted of things like punching a guy's bone through is arm and stabbing another in the jugular. Stuff like this that was overdone just a tad too much made me feel like Snyder was a kid playing with this awesome toy, and just going wild with it. But again, these complaints were pretty small, inna final analysis.


1/4 - A damn good movie with one or more flaws too glaring to make it perfect.

Yeah, as much as it pains me to do so, I really have to give it a 1/4 for now. There's my problem with the ending, which I explained in depth above. But there's also the human element that was missing. The whole movie was about superheros and their lives, and we barely see the people on the street. In the book, we see their lives, their trials and tribulations unfold, and it makes it all the more sad when they're all killed in the blink of an eye. It just made the movie feel kind've hollow. I never once expected the movie to rival or exceed the book; the book is a work of art. But I had hoped the movie would do it's best to portray the human element so present in the original work. In this cut, the movie sort've fell flat. That, combined with the ending, has produced this score.

However, all is not lost.

This cut is merely the theatrical cut of the film, the one shaved down so it would hit the more palatable 2h30m mark. The actual cut is actually close to 3 hours, and this cut will be released on DVD. I am very excited for this version to be released. Most of what was cut was Bernie and Bernard, as well as Hollis's murder, and all the other human scenes I missed. There's also even a super duper cut in the works that will incorporate the animated Black Freighter film recently released. So, dear reader, expect an update review in the coming months, because I WILL be reviewing these other cuts separately from this one. I'm hoping that it will stack up better than this one, because Watchmen, on a moral level at least, truly deserves a 0/4.

This one's for you, Alan!
- Silent G