Category Archives: Film

Cars 2

Mater and McQueen

I think when Pixar announced they would be making a sequel to Cars, everyone over the age of 10 was unhappy. While Pixar consistently makes some of the best films, Cars was one of the few failures. Financially, Cars was a huge success, but cinematically it wasn’t a very good film. Since Cars 2 came out, I’d been wanting to see it, just because it’s Pixar, but never really having the desire.

I finally watched it, and I have to confess, it’s a good film. It’s not as good as most Pixar films, but it’s certainly better than its predecessor. Cars 2 is a spy film. Like the Bond films, the audience is immediately introduced to a spy mid-mission, and we get to see into that world. Shortly afterwards, we see that McQueen has returned from the racing circuit to spend time with his BFF Mater. McQueen takes him on the road to Japan where he’s racing, and Mater gets caught up in the spy world accidentally.

McQueen

It’s a fun romp, but I’m glad I didn’t spend a lot of money to see it in theatres. The film uses the only good character from the original, and the rest are supporting characters. The rest of the cast is filled out with Eddie Izzard, Michael Caine, and Emily Mortimer1.

The best way to make this better would to have had the film not be a Cars sequel and instead rework the plot to just be a spy drama.

  1. Who? []

In Review

Going through my old blog posts to see how it looks with the new theme. It all seems to be working well, but I came across a lot of posts that are a month in review. I had set up a goal for how much media I’d consume in that year and tracked it. I liked that. I’m going to start doing that for the rest of the year. So here are my goals from July 9-December 31…

Books I’ll read (5):

Films I’ll see (20):

Albums I’ll buy (20):

Concerts I’ll attend (15):

Plays I’ll attend (3):

Man of Steel

Let’s take a brief break from discussing NXNE and talk about the new Superman film, Man of Steel.

Superman

In 2006 Bryan Singer decided that the best way to return Superman to the big screen was to acknowledge the brilliance of the 1978 Superman film and its 1980 sequel Superman II by ignoring the remaining sequels and telling the story from that point onwards. After seeing the genesis of Superman time and time again, did the audience really need his origin story, again? Singer apparently thought not. What it did need, however, was a good film, and Superman Returns was not that. Hell, Superman III with Richard Pryor was a better film. Now seven years later, after the incredible success that was the Christopher Nolan directed Batman trilogy, it’s time to bring Supes back to the big screen.

Batman

So why did Nolan’s Batman work so well? It’s dark, but has none of the comedic charm that even Tim Burton’s dark Batman had. It was a big action film, but even through all the violence, and the ridiculousness of Christian Bale’s Batman voice, the film is about a man, his foibles and his fragility. Living in a world corrupted by man, he must save it through acts of vigilantism. This is what the audience saw, this is what the audience connected with, a man trying to save his world (Gotham).

Amy Pond

Though his name might mislead you to believe that Superman is a man, he is, in fact, a god. And cinematically, Gods are boring to watch. Any film about a world of others needs a human for the audience to see through the eyes of. In Doctor Who his human1 companions allow the human audience to see into his world. In Back To The Future, the modern ’80s kids see the 1950s through the eyes of Marty McFly. In Away From Her you get to see the world of Alzheimer’s through the eyes of the healthy Grant (Gordon Pinsent) whose wife is deteriorating2.

Gordon Pinsent in Away From Her

In Superman, the human interaction is through Clark Kent. While Kent might technically be an alien God, he wants to be human, he strives to fit in and live a normal, yet geeky, life amongst man. Kent wants to be a part of this world, he wants to hold onto the normality of the household he grew up in. He wants to be the small town boy from Kansas, not the immortal man of steel from Krypton. The audience connects Kent, not Superman. Man of Steel fails at this. Clark Kent is Superman in a way he’s never been before, the two are inseparable to the point that it takes 3 minutes of screen time for Lois Lane to follow Superman’s path to his Kansas home. General Zod knows Superman is Kent, Lane knows Superman is Kent, the U.S. Army knows Superman is Kent, the only ones who don’t know Superman is Clark Kent is are the billions of red shirts who barely know of Superman’s existence.

Red shrits

I’m calling the general human population red shirts for a reason. I’d guess hundreds of thousands, if not millions of humans die in this film with little care or sympathy. Because of Clark Kent’s identity issues, we just watch this God-like character grow his super powers and have to face others like him. In this battle between Gods, there’s no regard for humanity, no character play, and no reason for the audience to even fein interest.

Clark Kent

The vast majority of the film was watching shit fly into other shit. Whether were watching a plane fly into another plane, a super hero fly into a super villain, a super villain fly into a super hero, a missile fly into a building, Gods flying into and out of buildings, debris being thrown at air vehicles. It was tedious. As inane and repetitive as the action was, at least there was one concession, no matter what was going on in foreground, you always had a clear and perfect shot of the corporate logo in the background. Sears, IHOP, and 7-11 will feel their money was well spent.

Sears

What did the film get right? I think they made the back story of Krypton more interesting. In previous versions, we knew that Krypton was dying, and Jor-El wanted to save his son’s life. In Man of Steel we see a dying planet due to overuse of natural resources, leading to a military coupe against a government. The planet is going to die, and Jor-El must get Kal-El off the planet. Shortly thereafter we were into Superman’s adulthood. It felt like an uncomfortable jump, but what interested me was that when we finally got to the plot of the film, I hadn’t noticed. It seemed to flow so seamlessly. They continued with flashbacks to get us the info we needed as an audience, and there’s where the seamless transition into plot failed. Once the movie was really going and we jumped back in time to see young Clark, it felt forced, and uninteresting.

Simpsons

Forced and uninteresting is a good point to talk about romance in the film, and by romance, I mean that Lois and Supes kissed. Yup, they snogged. Supes be all over Lane! Why did they kiss? I’ve been wondering that since. There was no romance, no relationship between the two… it just happened. Much like the rest of the film. It just happened. Shit was blown up.

& Clark" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark-300x234.jpg" data-large-file="https://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark-450x351.jpg" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-3488" alt="Lois & Clark" src="http://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark-450x351.jpg" width="450" height="351" srcset="https://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark-450x351.jpg 450w, https://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark-300x234.jpg 300w, https://www.neverhadtofight.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LoisClark.jpg 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px" />

 

This is not my Superman.

  1. Mostly human. []
  2. It’s not often you talk about superhero films and also talk about amazing small Canadian films, too. []

Bond 01: Casino Royale vs. Bond 21: Casino Royale

I’ve decided to slowly read all the James Bond novels, then rewatch the film, review the two.

casino royale 02

The first James Bond novel is “Casino Royale,” while there are numerous films based on this novel, I’m going to focus on the Daniel Craig one. The novel isn’t very good. It’s a quick read, that’s certainly positive, however the negatives are great in this book, such as numerous chapters devoted to informing the reader how to play baccarat, something that’s never interested me. To the point that when I think of baccarat, I think of the scene in A Hard Day’s Night where Paul’s grandfather steal’s Ringo’s casino invite.

The book’s portrayal of women… well Vesper… the only woman, aside from a brief mention of Moneypenny, is ridiculously patronizing. Worse still, the character of Vesper is so one dimensional and serves no purpose in the plot, other than to be the traditional damsel in distress. Passages such as these show how little Fleming cares to include women in his macho fantasy.

She kept on patching up the edifice of her deceit until Bond wanted to spank her and tell her to relax and tell the truth.

Or even better:

“Now in order to tell the difference between good and evil, we have manufactured two images representing the extremes – representing the deepest black and the purest white – and we call them God and the Devil. But in doing sober have cheated a bit. God is a clear image, you can see every hair on His beard. But the Devil. What does he look like?” Bond looked triumphantly at Mathis.


Mathis laughed ironically.

“A woman.”

Worse still, this macho hero, James Bond is a wizard at the casino table, and supposedly one of the world’s best spies, but he gets himself kidnapped pretty easily. There’s a quick car chase which gets his car destroyed and him kidnapped by the Soviets. There he’s only saved from torture and death by pure luck. Then the book carries on for way too long as it follows his recovery. We have chapters dedicated to his hospital stay with no apparent reason. We learn he’s been a dick to Vesper this whole time and won’t let her see him… why she cares, I don’t know, but he continues to treat her like garbage for no real reason. Then she takes him on a romantic getaway.

Bond goes to the beach, Bond swims, Bond gets naked. Bond comes back to the hotel. Bond and Vesper eat. Vesper mothers Bond. Bond is a dick. Bond wakes up the next morning. Bond goes to the beach. Bond goes skinny dipping. He decides he’s going to propose. Bond catches Vesper making a phone call. Their relationship ends. A stranger comes to the hotel. Vesper thinks the stranger is after them. Bond doesn’t believe her. He leaves. She continues to fuck him… you know for Queen and country1. Stiff upper lip! The stranger comes back. She panics. He tells her he was going to propose. Bow chicka bow wow. She kills herself. Bond calls her a “bitch.” The end.

Casino-Royale-casino-royale-25397045-1152-864

I didn’t realize the film follows the story of the book so closely. While the film starts quite a bit before the book, giving the viewer much more information about Le Chiffre, the main antagonist, the book delved into this weak plot to gamble him bankrupt, and suddenly he wouldn’t give a shit, and surrender himself… what? Well, that’s in the film, too. The difference being that while the book is dry and boring, the film is exciting and interesting. They were able to tell the story in a manner that really sold the film. It’s still a weak story, but it’s presented in a “flash boom bang” way that keeps you interested.

While the book goes to pains to trap Bond by stopping the chase, getting out of the car, dispatching a carpet of nails from the trunk and watching his car speed over it. In the film, you’re in the middle of a high speed chase, then you see in Bond’s car’s headlights is Vesper tied up and gagged in the middle of the road. You see Bond’s car flying off the road and toppling. It’s little things like that which make it so much more worthwhile.

In addition in the book there’s a much better and convincing reason for Vesper’s death than the book. The line “the bitch is dead” still seems uncomfortable and forced, as if his love is suddenly gone. In the book I never believed Bond loved her, but in the movie they actually seem to have a connection. Also, Bond isn’t a dick. Sure he’s a mechanical killer, but he genuinely cares about Vesper as you can see when he comforts Vesper.

Next time: Live and Let Die

  1. Yes, I actually looked up the publication date of the book (1953) and the start of Elizabeth II’s reign (1952) to make sure it wasn’t for King and country. []

Take This Waltz

Once again, Sarah Polley exhibits her uncanny ability to rip your heart right out of your ribcage and give it a thorough thrashing. Polley’s second film as director is a tale of a Margot (Michelle Williams) a woman who in Cape Breton mets Daniel (Luke Kirby). They get to know one another en route back to Toronto and opt to share a cab back to their homes. Turns out they’re neighbours in West Queen West, and while they quickly fall for one another, as Margot leaves the cab, she feels the need to inform Daniel that she’s married.

Her husband Lou (Seth Rogen) is a chef working on a cookbook, and invites his very Jewish family over to test out his recipes, and the audience meets his sister Geraldine (Sarah Silverman). A recovering alcoholic, wife, and mother, Geraldine is Margot’s closest confidant. She’s also an eagle-eyed friend and sees the trouble brewing before any other third party. Sadly, Margot and Daniel are falling in love.

Take This Waltz shows very human relationships as these characters struggle with communication issues, and struggle to find happiness in their lives. They don’t know where to go, and Margot doesn’t know how find her happiness. She goes looking for it in another man, but it only amplifies her own inner turmoil, but at least it brings it to the surface to be addressed.

The film is shot beautifully and shows Toronto in a fantastic light. The romantic pool scene between Daniel and Margot is shot so well, that you could watch hours of that footage without getting bored. As Margot and Daniel take the monorail at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, you’re just looking at pure beauty… at an airport. Polley, an accomplished actor, proves once again that her skills as a director is not limited to her work with her performers, but has an all-around skill that is so rewarding to the audience.

Besides a few geographical inconsistencies1 this film is absolutely fantastic. I cannot recommend this any more.

Now I think I’ll go watch her previous film Away From Her and cry some more.

  1. Someone can actually fall asleep on a flight between Montreal and Toronto? Really, you walk from West Queen West to Little Italy and only THEN get on the TTC? Going for a quick coffee in Kensington when there’s tons of coffee shops just west in Parkdale? []

The Avengers in Glorious 2D

On a whim, I went to see Joss Whedon’s latest film Marvel’s The Avengers! Yes, “Marvel’s” is in the title, ugh!

The Avengers is the story of superheroes joining forces to defeat the evil Loki. The heroes are Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Captain America, and The Hulk.

The previous films were mediocre to bad films starring these superheroes, then ends of each film had Samuel L. Jackson as Director Fury trying to cobble together the Avengers.

The end is near, so the heroes must come together and kick some ass.

For those unfamiliar with Joss Whedon’s work, he really likes writing about heroines; from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Echo from Dollhouse to Dana from The Cabin In The Woods. To see such a sausage-fest in one of Whedon’s films is very different. However he did start off the film with both Black Widow1 and Cobie Smulders’2 character kicking some serious ass.

One thing I found interesting about the film, was how unWhedonesque it was. There were a few moments of comedic gold which will remind you who wrote the film, and a few interesting shots to remind you who directed the film, but overall, it feels like a generic action film… a good generic action film, but not the brilliance I was hoping for.

Overall, the film was good, and much better than any of the individual Marvel superhero films that were the precursor… except maybe Iron Man. However, unlike The Cabin In The Woods, I have no desire to rewatch this film.

  1. The only lady Avenger. []
  2. Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother. []

Cabin In The Woods

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXMfTm2Hbig&w=450]

I will start by saying that I’m not a big fan of horror. I like the occasional horror film, but it’s never been a genre to float my boat, and then have zombies climb aboard, and sink the boat while they eat my brains.

Cabin In The Woods is not your average horror film. It was written by Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Buffy The Vampire SlayerDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Firefly) and Drew Goddard (Buffy, Lost, Alias) and directed by Goddard. Obviously two talented writers who have already given us some great and original genre fiction.

The film circles around five university students who hop into an RV and head to a… cabin in the woods. OOOO! They, however, are being watched. Bets are being placed, their paths are being planned, for some sinister game the audience is not privy to.

The film is fabulous, the film is creepy, the film is clever, the film makes you contemplate. You don’t know who to cheer for, you don’t know how you want it resolved, but when the resolution comes it’s fulfilling.

Go see this.

Hunger Games

Do you know what’s a bad idea? Waking up at 1am. Wanna know what’s a worse idea? Going to a movie at 9:20pm.

Yup… I fell asleep in a movie theatre. Fortunately, Ashley was kind enough to give me a nudge and wake me up… and then mean enough to laugh at me.

I can’t blame my sleeping on the film. As the film was absolutely wonderful. A young woman must compete in a life or death battle, all so that her younger sister doesn’t have to face the danger. It’s a story of danger, and violence, and love, and awesomeness.

Just rest beforehand.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R95TeZ9jE0Y&w=450&h=259]

I did not expect that. I did not expect to enjoy this film. I didn’t not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. I did not expect to enjoy this film more than Harold & Kumar 2.

In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, two friends haven’t seen each other in quite some time. A magic joint brings them back together as they must go searching for a Christmas tree. During their hunt for a Christmas tree, everything goes to hell, but they build a stronger friendship thanks to it.

As usual there is a lot of drug use, children just say no. Sadly there is not enough Neil Patrick Harris. There’s too much Jebus. And honestly it’s all old hat, and disappointing, BUT it’s still fun and humorous.

Also, someone calls Harold “Sulu.” This is awesome because John Cho plays Sulu in the latest Star Trek films.

taH pagh taHbe’

Congratulations to Christopher Plummer on his Oscar. As good as you were in The Beginners, to me, you will always be General Chang.