Monthly Archives: December 2015

Movie Review – A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Wow.. just wow. Just finished watching A Scanner Darkly. This movie was on my To Watch List for the longest. Glad I got a chance to check it off. I haven’t written for a while, have just been busy, still am. This film deserves a review though. Now I wish I had read the book before beginning the movie, but there’s always time for that later.

Downey Scanner

Consider that the novel by the same title was published in 1977. The movie is set in a near future dystopian California. The population is constantly under high tech surveillance by the government, people have become addicted to a new drug by the name Substance D (Slow Death, Death). We have our main character Bob Arctor, who lives a double life as an undercover cop code named Fred. He is tasked with being part of the force investigating the drug ring that is manufacturing, amassing, and distributing the new drug. He gets hooked on the drug.

There is where the mind eff begins, and that is all I can discuss without breaking the experience for you.

Although animated the tone is dark enough for it to still be obviously aimed at adults. This is a film that would have to watch more than once. For one it is told in a somewhat incoherent way and the ending will raise a few questions. You need time to reason and interpret and catch some of the nuances that most likely you missed on your first sitting.

The incoherent way in which the film progresses along with the particular visual style played the perfect role telling a story about drugs. The rotoscope animation (almost looking like a comic book) made the film feel rather trippy, and sets the mood; It was visually mesmerizing, almost over stimulating. This definitely helped me perceive the feelings the characters might have been experiencing, without the usage of the typical cheap camera blurs to mirror grogginess and drug effects. The film stars involved, mainly Robert Downey Jr., played their parts to a T, making the viewer feel like they have met these characters before.

I wish I could discuss more, but I don’t want to take away from the film. One thing I did interesting though was the social commentary on the war on drugs and the satirical way in which the movie (the book) treats the issue. The hopelessness of our society, and the way the government sometimes sacrifices a few for the “benefit” of the majority also played a role in making this movie something you think about rather than just watch and enjoy. When a movie like this would have usually focused on action scenes and explosions, this film tackles mostly existentialism, human hopelessness, and the sacrifices a society makes.

Must Watch.

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Movie Review – Batman vs Robin (2015)

Batman vs Robin Review

What is with these new Batman movies and people actually dying? Sheesh. I just finished watching Batman vs. Robin. In essence it’s a father’s tale while exploring a few teenage issues, pretty crazy if you ask me. We get to explore some of Batman’s issues being a father, on the other hand we see Damian rebelling from the standpoint of questioning Batman’s no killing policy. Altogether it is a nice follow up on Son of Batman (I can’t believe I never wrote a review about it, thought I had). The story covers the secret Court of Owls, which I was not familiar with. I was enthused by how it made a play on some real life mysteries. Didn’t know Batman featured them. Apparently the movie is loosely based on the Batman graphic novel by the same name: Court of Owls.

I did enjoy the film, plenty of action to go around. The fight scenes were off the chain; they were probably the main thing I enjoyed. The fight scenes did not have the typical fast movements and comicky wham bam moments. They were well choreographed, well drawn and almost heavy with weight. I know that’s a weird description but that’s the best way I can illustrate.

One thing I could complain about is the title; it is a bit misleading. The only real fight or friction between father and son lasts all of two minutes. It doesn’t really take away from the movie being good though. I like how they continued the story line of Damian and his training from the last DVD movie. My favorite character was Talon, although for a quick second I had expected to see more of Dollmaker. It’s so difficult talking about this movie without getting into spoiler alert domain, so I’m not even going to venture down that path. All I know is I would recommend this film to any hero movie buffs, and anyone who likes Batman in general. It’s a killer.

Movie Review – Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015)

BUAI

It’s Batman, Green Arrow, Flash, Nightwing and Red Robin vs. Penguin and the Animilitia plus a pack of metallic animals. Before we even get into the whole review, the truth about this film is that it’s for kids. It’s a kiddie movie and I will not even attempt to treat it as if it is for grownups.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t watch it, or only watch it with family and invite your toddlers friends over for them all to enjoy it. Nice introduction to Batman as a character, if you are a kid that has never seen anything else.

Other than that the plot was very juvenile, many of the ways in which the characters dealt with situations were basically pulled out of thin air. Not even one bit of explanation or logical parameters. It was just like being creative as a kid. Randomly, you decide that this robot, who wants to kill you, suddenly turns into motorcycle and helps you escape from a bad situation; and that is exactly what happens, because you are a kid and you decided it that way. The whole movie is made up of situations where one second the Hero is powerless and the next second he is kicking ass. This is typically how Hero movies go, the problem is when there is no change or process between the struggle and the kicking ass. Basically he just decided the enemies couldn’t hurt him anymore?

I wish it had been a little bit more grown up like the last two animated films. Guess kiddos need something for them too.

Oh, also maybe I could say the voice acting was good? But I didn’t come to the movie for that.

Overlook this one. Keep on Gaming.

Movie Review – Her (2013)

Official Synopsis: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

Wow this movie managed to capture some occurrences of love that are difficult to communicate in typical romance films where we get distracted by the physical interaction between both characters. It explored what love really is and some of the limitations it has.

I enjoyed the contrast of how two beings can experience love, an issue that I tend to discuss with friends. Meanwhile it tackles how two people can love and be loved, but need the love they receive to be given in a specific way.

Some of the limitations discussed are those we place on ourselves. For example, in a particular moment one of our characters wants the love to be exclusive but it becomes difficult for another to understand. Those are the types of dichotomies experienced in our current state of romantic affairs. Yet many people refuse to voice their opinions in pure form for fear of judgement.

The film also explored some issues that plague our current social culture. You would see our main character traverse streets, trains, and other social venues while the crowd around him all stares down lost in the void of their personal handheld device. Is that where we are headed? Some of the situations presented are akin to experiences between people who have long distance relationships nowadays with the aid of technology. On top of that, the reactions from other characters to the relationship are extremely similar to how people react to long distance e-romance in real life. Very little is taboo when the film explores themes of intimacy, exclusivity, and the sense of existence. It does an exemplary job dealing with the ideas it presents, and approaches them honestly and respectfully; even in the most uncomfortable moments.d

At the end of the day the film manages to propose a plausible future, where the technology presented is not that far-fetched. As a viewer I felt like they never shied away from the difficult themes to explore or the questions raised by the possibilities of this future. Joaquin Phoenix and the amazing voice acting by Scarlett Johansson make me believe every minute of the relationship embodied on film. A must watch.

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt

Directed by: Spike Jonze

MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity

Run Time: 126 min.