Monday, August 7, 2017

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Short entry: "Atomic Blonde" is an atomic mess... What looks to be an action movie in the trailer, and if you check the production team looks like the female version of John Wick, starts like an adaptation of a John le Carre novel. And when I say John le Carre I'm referring to "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" material with all the intricate heavy-entangled intrigue. The atomic blonde is a undercover MI6 agent sent to retrieve a list of spies from the Berlin of late '89 just when the wall is about to fall. Russians want the list too. And starting here we have a story told in an interrogation room in flashbacks, which in its first part has so many lengths that you lose track on who's planning what exactly. Ironically or not, we even have at some point an exchange of lines where our agent is blamed of losing time in Berlin with no results (or something like that). Anyway, probably the best part is the twist coming after the ending "twist"... the first being predictable from miles away. Although after you get the real twist, you have to explain yourself why the other one needed so much preparation... Better don't lose time with that. Just enjoy the '80s music - the second best part in the movie. Nena - 99 Luftballons still sounds good...

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Probably the biggest mistake you can do it about "Valerian and ...", induced maybe also by trailer, but probably more by your own subconscious, is to expect another "The 5th Element". Which I did...

There are several elements that might activate some nostalgic neurons - like the colorful future in a city filled with many and diverse races, but this is something common to a bunch of SciFi productions (from "Star Wars" to video games). Besides that, and some directorial patterns of Luc Besson, there's not much in common with the epic story of the taxi driver involved in saving the universe from the absolute Evil that hit the screens 20 years ago (omg... I'm old...). The story in brief for what we have here is the survival of a race from some planet, incidental victim during an interstellar war. There is some potential in the subject, but the way is handled is far from the amplitude/impact/whatever else we had in "The Fifth Element". Probably these two movies shouldn't be even compared. But the marketing challenged me (and of course my subconscious :)...).

To try to have a somehow more objective look on the movie, I can say it's relatively enjoyable. The subject has an apparently strong base in two characters, Valerian & Laureline, from a French comics series, agents of the human intergalactic government who must get to the core of the story above. And the core is well hidden, having some side elements that should make the main story more catchy. Should... because unfortunately you get the feeling that all the secondary threads are just for filling up the time because most of them are just superficially handled. I would say that even the main characters are bit shallow, but maybe it's just an impression propagated by the bunch of other insufficiently developed characters. For instance, we don't have a negative character... Or well, we d, but he's so absent (effectively speaking) that's almost not there at all. Yes, "the Evil" in "The 5th Element" was not really tangible, but you could feel that... with Mr. Zorg & whatever other minions it had. Somehow I doubt that in 2037 I'll remember about commander Filitt from the city of 1000 planets (oops, spoiler :P)... but let's get there first :)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thursday, August 3, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

... or when, paraphrasing a Romanian saying, starts to feel normal to take the side of the bear :) (well, in this case the ape). In the third part of the re-reboot of the story based on Pierre Boule's writings, the humans seem to have gained again the dominance on Earth. The apes are seen as a danger and the simple goal of Caesar, still leading them, is just keeping his folk alive. The best option seems to be crossing a desert that'll put enough distance between what's left of the apes and what's left of US Army. Unfortunately, just before leaving, Caesar's eldest son is killed by a fanatic colonel (excellent acting by Woody Harrelson), which makes Caesar experience a human feeling = the need for revenge. So, he sends his group to the chosen destination, while he picks the opposite direction in a guerilla operation with a sole precise purpose: kill the evil colonel. And that's how we slowly get to the part where Caesar can compete with John McClane, being clearly the most "Die Hard" ape ever to star in a movie.

Leaving the joke aside, despite some exaggerations, the movie is ok overall. We have some context elements that unfold along the main story, gaining enough importance to the end, and which I believe might be inspired from the original writings = on one side we have apes decided to work as "donkeys" = servants for humans, and on the other side humans are getting affected by a virus seemingly cutting off cognitive capacities, starting with the ability to form words in speech. I won't spoil more... Already said enough.

At a quick round-up, I think the second part - the former one still remains better as story, development and even technical level. Besides that, if you ignore the feeling of the moment and take a couple days from the date you've watched the movie, the current story really seems giving the sensation of taking the bear side :) Maybe this is valid also for the previous movies, but there is kept at a normal level, here I think it's pushed a bit too far = all humans are evil, all apes are good (light spoiler: even evil ones turn good). Might be true or not, feels strange :) ...

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Detour (2016)

The first scene in "Detour" sort of reminded me of "Drive" + I discovered Alison Goldfrapp as background voice (or at least the intro song got me...). The rest was so & so. We have an indie movie, where the action revolves around 3 characters - Harper is a law student coming from an upper-class family who hates his stepfather accusing him of putting his mother in a coma following an accident, Johnny is the typical no-good punk in the local neighborhood with debts to more important punks, and Cherry is a dancer in a bar - Johnny's girl and one of the ways he's rounding his income. Well, after the first two intersect at a whisky bottle and decide what should happen to the evil stepfather - opportunity for Johnny to make some cash, all this trio gets in a road trip to Vegas where the presumable victim should be located. Now, one of the issues of the movie is that's way too predictable, and since (obviously...) I don't have time to write much I'll stop here with the story. What's left to be said - the production varies from surprisingly well done scenes (yet again, it reminded me of the editing in "Drive" + we get some neo-noir references to an old noir from 1945 having the same name I guess) to parts where it shows that's an indie = the acting and directing have some flaws here and there. The major issue is, however, a subjective one - I don't like the ending. And more, you can foresee what's revealed in the final "twist" way, way ahead, so when it's delivered, but doesn't move further the feeling is of a loose ending. I can appreciate though the scene inserted after a couple credits roll :) brings a comic relief that feels needed and fits especially since it's missing completely through the rest of the movie... no spoilers...

Rating: 3 out of 5

Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)

Note - this is a post from April that somehow got "lost in translation" = forgot to press the publish button after writing the English version of my original Romanian entry ...

Families are complicated. That's almost an axiom. What we have in "Infinitely Polar Bear" is an example. Not too light, not too dramatic...

Sometime in the '70s... Cam Stuart, an ex-hippie from Boston, coming from a wealthy family is diagnosed with bipolar disorder = manic-depressive behavior. The problem is that he also has two daughters, and his wife, Maggie, decides it would be healthier to take them and separate. When her financial situation gets critical, and after he gets out of hospital, somewhat rehabilitated, Maggie decides there's no other way than an MBA in New York for getting a better job. And the only option for the kids seems to be leaving them with her husband. From here onwards...

We have a life drama with some comic accents here and there, some romance, and overall very settled I would say compared to what you would expect after the intro. Even too settled compared with what you might think after seeing the intensity of the bipolar disorder we see in the beginning. Based on this I would say it's an average family movie. On the other hand, I can appreciate the accuracy in several points that might not be that obvious... from tiny aspects like the periodic switch between a disorganized life and the need for some "order anchors", up to the pretty usual capacity of manic-depressive person of getting aware of having the problem. It's I guess one of the few cases that somehow moves over the paradox: "If I know I'm insane then it means I'm not insane". Conclusion: a bit too simple, but probably enjoyable :) ... Oh, and happy holidays ;) for what's still left of them ;)!

Rating: 3 out of 5