Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

IMDB plot:

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

Smuggled spoilers ahead.

In 1985, when people still didn’t know much about AIDS and AST was being introduced in the market, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) finds out that he has contracted the disease. He begs Dr. Eve (Jennifer Garner) about some experimental drug called AST, which she refuses to give to him as the drug is still in tests. Through some connections, he ends up in Mexico, getting drugs still not approved by the American government from Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne). Finding out how many drugs Dr. Vass has, he start to smuggle them into US, founds a “club” called “The Dallas Buyers Club” with trangender Rayon (Jared Leto), which specializes in smuggling non-approved drugs to those willing to pay US$ 400 per month.

And that’s basically it, I guess. There isn’t much more “story” that could be considered the main plot.

Thing is, this movie had a lot of talks about (including the nominations for the Oscars — some which it won) and that’s basically the story: one guy finds he has AIDS, can’t get the only medicine known at the time, doctors put him down ’cause it is still in tests, guy buys drugs illegally, guy gets kicked by smuggler and is send to Mexico, guy finds new therapy that actually works and discovers the government is slow in approving said drugs, guy goes back to the US to sell said drugs, guy creates club to sell unapproved — but functional — drugs to those who pay, government shuts down guy business, guy fights government, guy gets law approved for unapproved drugs for people without hope.

One thing I can’t get around is why McConaughey won an Oscar for his acting. I mean, it’s not impressive, he’s basically just doing the same character he always does, with a stronger Texan accent this time. Actually, I think his interpretation of Woodroof actually damages the person (at least, if you go into pure “Hollywoodian characters” and try to make a bad-guy-becomes-good-guy): He doesn’t seem to accept gays after being a strong homophobic in the start of the movie, he simply has to work with one because hey, it’s money; his denial of selling drugs to someone with less than the $400 required by his own club and later selling his car to buy more drugs simply doesn’t add up. Of course, maybe the real Woodroof did all those and the real Woodroof was a bad-guy-becomes-good-guy, but the fact is that acting… doesn’t add up. Either he was always a dick — which McConaughey acting doesn’t make him be in the end — or he actually changed — which, again, McConaughey acting doesn’t make him be in the end.

Leto and Garner, on the other hand, were exceptional in the movie. Leto is unrecognizable either by his posture and by his voice in the movie. Garner also does an absolute good job in the role of the doctor who is seeing hospitals doing things for money instead of actually helping people, feeling trapped in the mist of red tape.

I’m a sucker for “based on real stories” movies, so I’ll give it 8 out of 10 approved drugs in the end.

The Zero Theorem (2013)

IMDB plot:

A computer hacker whose goal is to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; namely, they send a teenager and lusty love interest to distract him.

Surreal and existentialist spoilers ahead.

The thing that impressed me most about this movie is that it was not written by Gilliam himself. The movie mixes so much color contrasts (people with purple raincoats walking around bright yellow/green coats), the decrepit buildings with luxurious interiors, the existentialist questions popping out of nowhere (“What seems to be the problem?” “We are dying.”), small details that don’t add anything to the general story (like all food thrown away falls near a rat hole, which is promptly picked by said rat and returned to the hole)… It all makes a perfect part of a Gilliam movie and, still, it was not written by Gilliam.

The story goes around Qohen (Christopher Waltz) — continuously called “Quinn” by his manager Joby (David Thewlis) — whose work is to be a number cruncher. He asks Management (Matt Damon) to work at home, in the hopes of being there when someone calls explaining the reason he’s in the world, and then allowed to do so while working in the Zero Theorem. His work, though, is completely interrupted by his sexy/”virtual hooker” neighbor Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry) and management’s son Bob (Lucas Hedges). While suffering from depression from his work, Qohen asks help of one online psychiatrist, Shrink Rom (Tilda Swinton).

Actually, there are two plots floating around: The first is Qohen waiting for the call that would explain why he is in the world, why he exists, what is the reason he is alive. The second is the search for the answer of the Zero Theorem, proving that everything adds to nothing — or, basically, that nothing adds up and everything is void of value, in the end.

The interesting thing is the way the number crunching was designed. Basically, pieces of the equation appear as small blocks and connecting blocks add to more complex equations, till it shows huge buildings with the equation — and added more pieces in one part of the equation may destroy another part of the equation, shown as buildings falling apart.

The problem with the movie is that it keeps adding nothing to the general plot — in other words, it keeps adding 0 to the equation. You could basically have the same story if you pick the first 20 minutes and the last 20 and ignore the whole hour in the middle. You’d lose the beautiful images of Mélanie, but that would be the price to pay for a concise, precise story.

If you don’t like Waltz, you’ll hate the movie. There is basically no scene in which he’s not part of it. He does an ok job being a recluse, depressed, workaholic guy with no hair and no eyebrows. There are a few scenes in which he really shines, but for a general role of someone being completely detached from the world, you couldn’t expect too much.

Matt Damon appears a few times and all the times he appears, I thought I was watching Phil Hartman. The looks, the voice, the tone… everything matches!

Tilda Swinton playing the online psychologist actually just plays her role in Snowpiercer: She appears to know more and is just tricking everyone. Even the damn prosthetic teeth is there.

Mélanie Thierry is there just to provide the sexual part of the quest in Qohen’s life — and boy, what parts she have! I mean… Yeah, I meant that. Lucas Hedges plays a super-active kid who knows everything and provides the friendship part of the quest. David Thewlis provides the work part of the quest, being the guy who wants to be super-friendly just for his workers work for him and think he’s the greatest boss ever.

I kept waiting for that “Memento” moment, the one that wraps everything and makes the whole thing make sense. But, sadly, it never happens. In the end, it’s a huge visual show in which the real story is hidden in 30-40 minutes of a 1 hour and 40 minutes of story.

Rating: only 5 out of 10 existential questions answered. By people in bright purple, bright pink and bright green coats.

The Lego Movie (2014)

IMDB plot:

An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied ‘Special’, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis.

Interlocking blocks of spoilers ahead.

The shortest way to describe The Lego Movie is: This is The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but with Legos. Or: A long version of the Lego games, but without the interaction.

So… yeah, a movie made entirely of Legos. The story goes around a guy (the worker) who supposedly gets in the wrong place at the wrong time and suddenly is confused by the ‘Special’ one. Yup, it’s the Lego version of “The Life of Brian”, except without Jesus, but still with the prophecy.

The visuals are pretty interesting ’cause everything is made of Legos: cities, cars, airplanes, fire pits, explosions, smoke, bullets, splashed water, clouds, waves… everything. Well, with the exception of the toys faces, everything. And some jokes about the Lego people not reading things properly (“Cloak of Bandaee”, for a bandaid, for example).

But, in the end, it’s a huge product placement, with continuous display of different Lego sets over and over again.

Sure, there is a message in the end — “Legos are made to be played with, not for displaying and never doing anything with them again”, or so it seems like it — but again, the message is a huge product placement. Oh, look, we need some special piece that exists in the “Lego Star Wars” set! The explanations for the multi-universes is, basically, showing the different Lego sets.

There is a story longer than “Legos!” but it is really shallow and the jokes are all based on reverse clichés, which are also clichés: the special one is not special till it appears special by not being special (or “being himself”), the secret knock is not super complex or even a secret. And on, and on, and on.

There is a bunch of “I know that voice”, but none are original. I kept hearing Megamind all the time when the bad guy was talking. And some others I was “I know that voice” but couldn’t pinpoint the source.

Altogether, it is a “not so bad” product placement. But you can get the same jokes from SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, without the same placement.

In the end, a 7 out of 10 blocks, but all different colors, so you can’t build anything nice with them.

Noah (2014)

IMDB Plot:

A man is chosen by his world’s creator to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world.

Spoilers of biblical proportions ahead.

There was one weird thing about “Noah”, just after the release: Christian people claimed it was not biblical enough and Atheist people said it was too biblical.

Fact is, both were right.

So “Noah” is — let me put this bluntly — an attempt to make a biblical story not so biblical. It goes to tell — and I’ll kick your butt if you claim “spoilers” for this — the story of Noah, which was guided by God to build an ark to carry two of each species to repopulate Earth, ’cause everything would go underwater for cleansing.

(In other words, God gave Noah a cheat code and everybody else had to play the underwater level. Which sucks.)

But, again, the story tries to be a non-biblical biblical story. And by trying to push both ways, it gets nowhere.

For example, when Noah is telling his children about the story of the creation of the world, using the Genesis as basis and the whole “everything was made in 6 days”, what happens is that you see a very accelerated display of evolution. I got that what Aronofsky and Handel (the writers) tried to do is explain that, for God, a billion years is nothing more than a day, in a way to reconcile the biblical description of the world and the scientific creation of the universe. That is trying to make biblical non-biblical. But you actually see, early in the movie, a dry seed actually become a fountain that creates a whole forest in less than 1 minute. That’s is trying to make biblical biblical.

But the thing is: Those two don’t mix. You can’t expect me to go “Oh, so maybe the biblical part may be true” when you throw such magical happenings going around.

And then you have Noah being the last descendant of Seth, while the rest of the humanity is descendant of Cain — the killer of Abel. So this gives Noah his special powers of receiving Gods message and then going crazy and deciding that he must kill his whole family because God says so. It felt much more like the story of Abraham than Noah, but hey, let’s make it epic, right?

Those mix ups really pull the movie down, but it is not completely bad. At some points, it really reached some very strong emotional points to keep you grasped into the story, but… It’s like Olivia Wilde slapping you continuously: Sure, the view is awesome, but at what price?

There is the use of “Guardians”, which help Noah build the ark, with a very interesting back story as angels that decided to help humanity in the new world created by God, disobeying his orders to stay away and then becoming stone giants — becoming “part of the planet”. But something in me raged furiously when, in the end, when they die, they go “Sorry Father, for failing you” and then suddenly they are forgiven and go back to the heaven, when just minutes before they were clubbing people right and left. Oh yeah, kill everybody, just ask for forgiveness before dying and you’re all good.

Also, in the “non-biblical biblical story” sense, in no point at all God is called “God”. All references are done purely as “the Creator”: “The creator gave me this vision”, “The creator punished us for disobeying his orders” and on and on and on. At some points it gets really tiring hearing “creator” so many times. And my personal guess says that they avoided “God” specifically to not say “Hey, this is Christian story, too bad for you, Muslims!”

If I said “acting is weird” (a phrase I’ve been using a lot in my reviews) is only because the script is weird. There is one point when Jennifer Connelly, playing Naameh, the wife of Noah, goes rampage over him and I could barely understand what was the point she was trying to make. After a few phrases is that she finally reaches the point and then it makes sense but before… (sorry to say this but) she just sound like some woman who just watched a weird romcom in her period.

Russel Crowe goes fine as Noah — in its “I’m Noah, but I’m also Abraham and some crazy fanatical dude” — but only because the story goes around him and I guess the best lines were written for him.

Logan Lerman, which starts acting pretty much like he did in Percy Jackson, goes as bad as expected but suddenly improves — in the very last minutes of the movie, which makes the point completely moot.

Emma Watson was a complete deception but, again, since the best lines were written for Crowe, I wouldn’t expect too much anyway.

Speaking of the female roles, I can’t really understand why Aronofsky would force Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly to be so thin in the movie. I mean, all the man — at least, the adult ones — are bulging pieces of meat, like the stereotype of the lumberjack, while the women are so thin it seems they didn’t eat anything for days. Connelly beauty is almost ruined in the movie because of this.

In the end, it’s and ok story which tries too much to tell a very known story in a way it’s not to not piss too many people and accomplishes nothing. I’d give it 4 out of 10 mass extinctions.

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

IMDB plot:

Masked spoilers ahead.

I said that Kick Ass was a way to deconstruct what is a hero and, well, that kinda happens again, although it’s not the main focus.

So the city is now run by several masked vigilantes and Kick Ass decided to go under for awhile. Hit Girl is being coerced to stop fighting crime by her new dad (Marcus, Big Daddy friend in the previous movie), who wants her to live a normal life. But then Dave wants to be Kick Ass again and wants Hit Girl to come with him, but she doesn’t want because reasons and that’s where the story revolves around.
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In a way, this is much more a “Hit Girl” than “Kick Ass” movie, with some sad sad scenes, like Hit Girl going bananas watching her first boy band video clip and a puking scene. But the story really revolves around Hit Girl and her “I promised I’d not fight again” vs “I was trained for this” conundrum, with Marcus acting as the pressure towards “normality” and Kick Ass towards “fight crime”.

So while it is still about deconstructing what makes a hero, it’s not Kick Ass who drives the idea, but Hit Girl.

But does it do a good job doing it? Actually, no. As I mentioned, some scenes are too damn silly, breaking the pace of the story too much, instead of focusing on Hit Girls choice.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is still the same as the first movie, so if it was Ok in the first, he is still Ok. Chlöe Grace Moretz, which should be the primal focus of the movie, is put in some scenes that really mess with her acting — although I’d say better than Taylor-Johnson. Christopher Mintz-Plasse finally graduated from the whimpy school and plays a more insane/bad-ass character — but still somewhat silly. Jim Carrey plays an awesome part and you can barely say it’s him under that mask: No silly faces, no silly voices — actually, he plays the whole movie with a deeper voice, which impressed me.

In the end, I’d give it 5 heroes out of 10 villains.

Godzilla (2014)

IMDB plot:

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Spoilers from the stone age ahead.

The big monster is back. And this time, in a version better than the 1998 version.

Although it isn’t hard to make a version better than the one from 1998.

Some facts are counted in a different way: Instead of being a by-product of the nuclear tests and nuclear shenanigans, Godzilla is actually a pre-historical creature that managed to survive in the deeps of the ocean, feeding from the core nuclear stuff, since the old days the whole planet had more nuclear energy floating around. And so are the other monsters in the movie.

Actually, that’s not quite like it: Godzilla is the “monster king” and the other monsters feed from nuclear energy. But the humans didn’t know what it was, so they let it feed from the energy of a nuclear reactor till it was too late. Now it’s up to Godzilla to save the day. And, sadly, I meant it.

Why it’s “sadly”? Because it uses the same old clichés all over again: The humans were too stupid to understand what it was and created their own enemy; the military is too stupid to hear when the scientist says it feeds from nuclear energy and decided to kill it with a nuclear strike. The story basically revolves around those clichés, over and over again. And let’s not forget the brave American soldier who forgoes a chance to see his family again to save the planet.

Clichés is not the only problem with the story. So the old monsters feed from nuclear energy, but for some reason Godzilla does not. He seems to feed from other monsters, so he was patiently waiting in the bottom of the sea till one of the other monsters wake up so he could eat again. Oh, and besides being a monster that never saw a human before, he seems awful nice to them: Here is Godzilla swimming across the ocean, with it’s “fins” out of the water like a shark and OH MY GOD, HE’S GOING TO HIT THE SHIP WHERE THE SCIENTIST IS AND oh, nevermind, he went under it. Why the fuck would Godzilla go under a ship when he has no idea what it is? Why does it care?

He cares because we need to care. Godzilla is not a dick to humans just to make the viewer care about it. The other monsters? Dicks. Destroy, kill, they don’t care, they are moooooonnnsssstersss. Godzilla is so nice that even after almost dying killing the other monsters, and in a mysterious teleportation from near the bay to the middle of the city, he goes back to the sea avoiding destroying any other buildings, even if that means taking some turns instead of a direct route. Because hey, Godzilla is the Canadian king of the monsters.

I may need to dispel one misconception that were floating around, though: There is this talk about the first fight being cut to some news. Well, yes, they cut, but you can see by the news that there was no fight at all: Godzilla tries to bite one of the monsters and the other monster just flies away. There is not fight and we don’t miss anything, except the news that moms are so busy being dicks to their young sons that they don’t seem to realize they are watching the news talking about someplace where their husbands are.

Acting can be completely ignored. Not because it the scripts demands so many stupid turns you can completely ignore the characters personalities.

Ken Watanabe is the only one who kills in his role, but only because he’s the only one not flip-flopping around.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, for example, keeps flipping from the soldier who will ask to be re-enlisted just to get a ride back to the city where his family is to completely ignore the chance of seeing them again just to save the planet. Yes, yes, both are noble goals but he changes his mind and appears completely incoherent. Actually, if they completely removed his family (his wife by Elizabeth Olsen and his son by Carson Bolde), the story could actually be better. Even Bryan Cranson is misused and keeps some slightly flipflopping, although he’s consistently single-minded from start to end (which is not the end of the movie and ends his part in a very stupid scene).

Speaking of Carson, as the son of Aaron in the movie, he plays the classic “I’m a kid and I’m always sad because parents” role that makes his appearance completely annoying. By the middle of the movie, all I wanted was to punch him in the face. Again, I can’t blame the actor for this, but I put all the blame in the writers for writing his character this way.

It’s not that Godzilla is completely bad. The base plot, removing the whole military stuff and soldiers and family, isn’t that bad. The real fight scene, even if clipped around for showing what the humans are doing, is still good. Godzilla fire-laser is freaking awesome. The monsters design isn’t bad either. The whole problem is the length it takes to reach that point.

Personal opinion: I give it 2 buildings and half standing out of 5 after the final battle.

Let’s talk about depression…

So yesterday (11/Aug) we heard about Robin Williams death, which seems related to his depression problems. And, surely enough, a lot of posts on Twitter (at least, on my timeline) talking about “talk to someone about your mental problems” or “seek help” and, seriously, that doesn’t fly. At all.

Let’s talk a bit about it.

But who are you, anyway?

I’m a person who realized, after 2 years of therapy, that I lived depressed for a good 10+ years. No, nobody took me to it, I broke down one day and decided that maybe it was time to do something about it. No, I didn’t speak to anyone about it, partly because I didn’t know I was depressed and partly because that’s what depression do.

“Eternal debt of motivation”

So, for anyone that never suffered from depression, let me put this in an easy way: Depression is the complete lack of motivation. Sure, you’d look better with clean clothes, but you see no motivation to do it. You could get out of bed, but you do not see the reason why you should. You may feel hungry, but there is no motivation to eat. You could keep going on till things get better, but the motivation to keep breathing simply isn’t there.

That’s depression.

“But how you don’t get motivated to breath?” Well, you simply don’t. You don’t see the point of doing it anymore. I mean, yeah, you could wear clean clothes, but why would you when nobody notices? You could get out of bed, but there is nothing outside of it that seems worth doing so. You may feel hungry, but why eat when you don’t feel appreciated the way you are? Why keep going on when all this doesn’t seem to reward you in any way? Those are the things that come to a depressed mind.

(By the way, in case you didn’t realize yet, “keep breathing” is actually a nice way to describe something much deeper than simply “air goes in, air goes out, never a miscommunication.”)

The two types

There are two types of depression (maybe more, but I’ll describe the ones I know): Pathological and psychological.

Pathological depression is an imbalance in your brain chemicals and you simply can get pleasure from anything, because your body isn’t producing the endorphin and what-not-phins that activate the “feel good” parts of your brain. A psychiatrist is a professional that can recommend drugs to put your brain in balance again. And no, there is no single “if I take this, I’ll be happier” drug: It all depends on what kind of inbalance you have — hence why you need to see a psychiatrist.

Psychological depression is when even if your brain is still producing the chemicals in the right way, but you can get anything out of it. Yes, it is that weird. But simply things aren’t. You know when you eat too much chocolate ice-cream and suddenly it doesn’t taste as good anymore? Imagine it for everything. Except the part of “too much”. A psychologist usually may find what it is blocking your brain into taking pleasure of things; it’s a damn hard thing to do, because different things will work with different people.

By the way, my depression was psychological. Maybe that’s why I know more about it than pathological.

At some point of my life, friends recommended that I should talk to a psychiatrist and get some drugs. I simply refused because I thought “This thing changes the mood, so the mood isn’t mine, it’s the drug mood. In the end, whoever is talking to my friends again wouldn’t be me.” Yes, it is that weird: I preferred being sad than being happy with the feeling that I wasn’t me.

“Seek help”

One thing I mentioned before is that depression is the complete lack of motivation. So when you say “seek help”, your suggestion is completely moot because a depressed person lacks the motivation for everything, including seeking help. Personally, I think the change will come from inside: Either you will break down (that’s what happened to me) or depression will break you down (which sadly is what happened to Williams).

What happened for me to break myself up? Well, this is the hard part to tell, but I had planned everything for my “goodbye cruel world”. I studied the right way to do it, thought the way to make the less mess possible, had a schedule and… I saw Steve Jobs commencement speech. There is this part where he talks about reading “live every day like it was your last” (a phrase that never affected me) and changed it “If when I look at the mirror and think ‘If today was my last day, would I still do what I’m about to do today?’ and the answer is ‘No’ for too long, I know I should change something.” And that’s the point were I broke down: If that was my last day — which I planned to be — would I still do whatever I was about do? Things crystallized and I broke down. That moment, I really cried and decided I should seek help.

It was not because people talked about it. I had people mention over and over again that I seemed down, that my mood was visible and people were down because I was down. But nothing they said affected me. I had to break down on my own.

Also, still to let you understand depression and “lack of motivation”: I clearly remember that as tears rolled down, they reached that point on your chin that really itches, you know? Well, I didn’t care, I had no motivation to wipe them out; I let it itch.

“If I can’t tell them to seek help, what should I do?”

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One thing I felt the whole time was that I, as a person, didn’t matter. I could simply disappear and nobody would notice. Or they would notice and didn’t care. Showing that you care, showing that person matters, helps. No, it doesn’t mean you should go to that person and say “You matter”. It doesn’t change the fact that even if you say it, the depressed doesn’t see how they matter.

Now if you phone the depressed and say “Hey, I was thinking: Could I go to your place with this movie and pizza and beer? I want to hear you funny quips about it.” or “Could I go to your place with pizza and beer?” and when they ask “Why?” simply answer “Because I like to spend time with you.” helps. It boosts their self-stem when someone cares about something they do naturally instead of keep pushing towards some absurd goal of being thin or have a model hair or be rich or any of those other things. “I’m here because you are you.” Simple like that.

Heck, even calling and saying “I was worried about you” may be enough. Someone that cares, will make someone feel like they matter…

But how do I know when someone is depressed and needs help?

Well, that’s the funny thing: You can’t. Some of us, depressed people (well, I’m kinda ex-depressed, but still), manage to hide it quite well. We could look like a normal person, make jokes and such and still hurt inside.

So what could you do at this point? Simple: Be nice to everyone. Tell your friends they matter because they are what they are. In the end, if the person was depressed, they will feel better; if they don’t… well, it never hurts being nice, does it?

Man of Tai Chi (2013)

IMDB Plot:

A young martial artist’s unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club.

Spoilers? Spoilers. Lightly, but spoilers.

So, what is “Man of Tai Chi” about? It’s about fights. Done. Let’s move on.

Ok, ok, I’ll do a review of it.

First, you have this guy, which is the main guy, right? He is learning tai chi with an old master — and hey, looks like he’s the only student the master has! — but he can’t control himself and reach the balance thought in tai chi. So against his master teachings, he decides to delve into the world of fights and, using tai chi, beats the shit out of other martial style fighters. And then this evil guy, who kills people for not following his orders finds him and recruits the man of tai chi (cue to Peter Griffin saying “LOOK! HE SAID IT! HE SAID IT!” here) to fight his dirt fighting club for lots of money and the chance to finally keep fighting without restrictions.

And then there is the usual “cops are trying to get him” and then the final “bad guy dies in the end” clichés all over the place. But hey, would you expect some deep story behind it, in a fighting movie?

Since this is a fighting movie, the main character is not the people you see in the screen, but the fights themselves. And the fights are damn boring. Oh, they are impressive movement wise, but so it is ballet. Actually, I think ballet may beat the fight scenes here: It’s a bunch of “I make you do a flip, you make me do a flip” movements over and over again. There is no feeling of impact, and the man of tai chi is always the little/thin guy and he always gets his ass kicked first then gets angry and then beats the other guy. Always.

In his prime, Jackie Chan made better fight scenes than any scene in this movie. Just saying…

And then you have the final scene, when Keanu channels Neo again. The bad guy finally fights the man of tai chi! And it is as boring as before. I mean, at some point I believed Tiger — let’s name the man, shall we? — would channel the tai chi girl from “Shaolin Soccer” and do some very small movements and stop the bad guy with little effort. But no, he again starts losing, then again gets angry and beats the crap of his opponent guy again. As I said, it’s the same fight over and over again, just change a kick for a punch and there you have it.

And I won’t mention that before the final fight you have a shitton of “I fight you!” from Tiger and another shitton of “You own me a live.” from Keanu. Over and over again, till your ears are bleeding from hearing that. It doesn’t even matter that the whole movie Tiger only spoke in Chinese, now he has to talk in English.

Speaking of speaking, the language of the movie is another weird stuff. At some point the chief of police is congratulating the cop who managed to convince Tiger to work with the police to get the bad guy all in Chinese, at which she answers with a “Thank you”. I shit you not, they can’t even keep the same language in discussions in one language, they keep switching between English and Chinese all the time.

Keanu Reeves as the bad guy was a semi-surprise. I mean, I was expecting some wood performance from him, but there are scenes in which he simply kills it — and then, mid scene, does a wood performance. In the first encounter with the man of tai chi, I was thinking “Whoa, Keanu interpretation has really impr-” and then he delivers the most woodened phrase ever. I was almost believing this guy was bad for being bad and then… blam, feeling dead.

Tiger Hu Chen does a modest job being the man of tai chi. I mean, ok, he can jump, he does all the acrobatics, that’s ok. But you don’t see him getting “angrier”, he just starts punching harder. There is no visual indication he’s angrier, just after a few punches you see “oh, he went super-sayajin” and shit.

All the other characters are just throw aways. Karen Mok, as the restless cop who wants to break the ring of fights — the one that says “thank you” mid conversation — does seem restless in breaking the ring of fights but doesn’t look like some fragile girl who needs to be saved all the time, like any western movie. But that kind of posture is common in eastern movies, so…

Basically you have this movie that it is a fight movie but the fight scenes are unimpressive. And the story is cliché ridden with absolutely no plot twists (actually, there is one, but it’s very hinted before it finally appears you can’t basically not consider a twist at all).

So, basically, after watching this, you’ll go all Keanu and repeat “You own me 2 hours of life” over and over again.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

IMDB Plot:

Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of super villains against him, impacting his life.

Usual spoiler alert.

Ok, so this is the second part of the best Spiderman reboot so far. And this movie is a complete roller coaster.

So, the story is simply: Peter Parker is in conflict about the promise he made to Stacy father and his love for her. And there are still bad guys around. And this mess develops the story. Sure, sure, there are enemies and the Parkers story, but the whole point of the movie revolves around Peter conflict — as usual.

Ok, that’s cheesy, I know. But in a way it shows the dilemma Peter has to face in his whole story outside the movies: Keep being Spiderman or stay with the girl he loves? What if she dies just because he’s Spiderman? (This lates devolves into a relationship with someone that can withstand danger herself, but we are not there yet.)

The enemy, this time, is Electro. Yeah, yeah, Green Goblin is there too, but the fight starts and ends in 5 minutes. Even if the fight scene is impressive enough, showing Spiderman thinking as a spider in battle (you know, web and stuff), it goes too fast to make a scratch in the movie. And it ends in the most silly way possible — the battle, it is; its reflexes still go to the most touching moment of the movie.

But thing is, as I said before, the whole movie is a continuous roller coaster. You have some interesting exposition, the story pace picks up and then… it drops down to two bad guys talking about something it was heavily hinted before. It goes from the Parkers running away from some mysterious danger and then drops down to some very slow talk. And on, and on, and on. There are lots of lost opportunities simply because the pacing goes up and down all the time. Surely reducing the slow parts would make a shorter movie, but that would mean that you could give some characters more exposition, or maybe make a battle between Spiderman and the Green Goblin longer and more interesting. But no, speed up, speed down, speed up, speed down, on and on and on.

There is, maybe, and overabundance of slow motion scenes, mostly to show Spiderman spider-sense working, in the way he can foresee what will happen and stop/control the outcome. You know, like dance around machine gun bullets. Yes, it does a good impression of showing how he can do this kind of stuff, but it gets tiring after a while.

Andrew Garfield still is the best Spiderman there was, so far. It lacks a lot of the lose tongue Spidey shows everywhere (cartoon and comics) but still does a fine job. His prime is the very end of the movie, when he has to face the thing he only feared so far (and that I heavily hinted already, but I’m not going to say it). The whole movie he does an OK-job, but in the very end, in that scene, after that, he simply kills it.

Emma Stone do a nice job this time being the quirky girlfriend of Spiderman, Stacy. He does a nice job but… dunno I think her eyes are kinda weird. But in the end, when you need to care the most about her — because of that scene I mentioned before — she appears the most beautiful creature in this whole planet.

Jamie Foxx as Electro is… weird. He doesn’t look like the Electro in the cartoon and his blueness looks very weird, at first. Later, when he controls his powers better, and gets himself a suit, then it looks really terrifying. But the character himself is like “OH, I’M SO POWERFUL, YOU ALL WILL BOW BEFORE ME!” and then, out of the blue, “Would you be my friend?” Yes yes, mentally unstable, but the personality jumps are as breaking as the story pace.

Still related to Electro — but not directly to Jamie acting — is the most perfect use of dubstep ever in a movie, mostly because it sounds like a tesla coil and Electro uses electricity and then you get what I mean. And, again, it’s a job from Hanz Zimmer, although I can’t say it is as impressive as his work on Rush, but still a nice mix of music and sound and scene in a single package (the music and sound part beats his work in Man of Steel, though).

There is Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn appears only to make way to the very short Goblin fight mentioned before and as a bridge to the next movie. But yeah, the way he twists his face as the Goblin makes him the perfect choice for the role.

In the end, is still a good movie (well, above average, at least), and I must admit that, at some points, I had to speed it up because too much bullshit — which probably means who saw the movie in the cinemas probably had a bad time. But still above-average/good and a nice time waster if you have 2 hours and 15 minutes to spare.

PS: There are some very important characters hinted in the movie, like Alistair Smythe and Felicia (possibly Hardy). But they do nothing in the whole movie and probably will only be used in the next movie.

Rush (2013)

IMDB plot:

The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

We can’t stop here, this is spoiler country. Also, I’ll keep jumping between reality and movie all the time, because this is based on real facts.

First disclaimer: I’m a Formula 1 fan. Second disclaimer: Even if you don’t like Formula 1, you may like this movie. Why? Because Formula 1 is just a background noise used to tell you a much larger story.

Going forward: The movie focus on the events in the 1976 season of Formula 1, when Niki Lauda fierce competition with James Hunt reached its apex. Who, you may ask? Sure, you can ask. And this is answered at two points in the movie: In the first 10 minutes and in the last 5, showing perfectly the changes each driver had in the curse of the season.

But the movie starts before the 1976 season. It shows both drivers starting on Formula 3, going to Formula 1 till the end of the 1976 season, when both had equipareted cars (as Hunt says in the movie), passing through Hunt downfall, his sudden luck in the very start of 1976 season, Lauda terrible accident in Nürburgring that year and what happened after that.

Acting is alright. I mean, Daniel Brühl did an absolutely killer job at Inglourious Basterds and although his presentation here isn’t at the same level, it isn’t bad either. Or maybe Lauda is really that taciturn, in which Daniel does a perfect impression. Chris Hemsworth is a weird case. I mean, it isn’t bad, but his lines feel a lot… unnatural in the whole. On the other hand, when the movie shows real images of Hunt, you can see that Hemsworth managed to capture all the manerisms in a nearly identical fashion.

Sadly, everyone else is mostly decorative. Olivia Wilde/Suzy Hunt nee Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara/Marlene Lauda are important to the plot — added aspects in the way both drivers changed their personalities and showing how different their lifestyles were — but they are in no way given enough focus.

On the other hand, I have to seriously compliment Ron Howard in the way he directed the movie, Hans Zimmer for the music and the whole sound editing team. And by that I mean the continuous use of different things to show the emotional state of the movie: the blurred vision of Lauda when he’s afraid and returning to his normal, confident self — in an scene that comically reminded me of “Days of Thunder” and “pilot narrowly escapes another tragedy and regains his full confidence clichè –; the muffling of track sounds (including the whole start up line roaring of engines) when the drivers close their helmets; the really really slow motion scenes in the very start of the Japan GP, the last one that would say if Lauda would win the championship or if Hunt would be crowded, showing the tension in the air; the engine pistons working first in slow motion and then slowly going into normal speed when Hunt goes back into his original, fighting self. All those make the movie simply great, by using other effects than simply camera or someone saying something.

(Just a small sidenote: Zimmer works is getting greater each movie he works on.)

Sure there is more drama than reality in the movie, but it doesn’t mean the story behind isn’t interesting and that the drama destroys the story — after all, this is not a biographical movie, but “based on real facts”. There is a whole scene about Hunt punching a reporter due an aggresive question about Lauda appearance post-accident which nobody can confirm it really happened, but people who knew Hunt said “Yeah, that is something he would do.” So, even if it is a drama “based on real facts”, there is too much ressoancen with real life that even if some situations really didn’t happen, at least it is something people who knew the real “actors” in this say “yeah, it could’ve happened.”

I can’t vouche the movie for the actors, but I can seriously recommend it based solely on the work of Howard, Zimmer and the sound team. So go watch it, it is worth.