cinema

Origin stories in movies

Y'know, Chinese movies don't waste time with origin stories, like you'll find in many western movies. Batman, who's basically a smart guy with a mask and a sweet ride, gets an origin story. He's had a handful of movies, and more than a couple of them have had some retelling of a story that we all pretty much know. To explain why he has a mask and a car.

If you're watching a Chinese movie and a dude has some crazy ability, you already know why he has it. Kung Fu. I watched a Shaw Brothers movie a couple of weeks ago, it had a dude who'd spin around and split into two of the same guy so the two of him could start hitting two other guys, then they'd spin around and rejoin into one dude. Nobody asks how or why he's able to do it (or even acknowledges that there was anything odd about it), we all know the answer. Kung Fu.

That dude's chin is learning the humble beginnings of the other guy's foot.

A guy is shrouded in a mothlike cocoon, then comes out stronger and able to shoot beams out of his eyes. Huh? Dude, Kung Fu.

Punch a guy in the sole of his foot to heal that wound on his face? Kung Fu!

Break your fall from a canyon-spanning bridge by landing on a fragile twig sticking out of the cliff-face halfway down? Kung Fu. Set fire to the forest by waving your hand! Leap to the next village! Run invisibly through town! Grab the guy's sword from the other side of the river! All of it? Kung Fu.

I have no problem with a guy who swings from a rope and climbs pretty well being explained by Kung Fu, but that guy is getting an entirely new movie to explain how he can do that - we just had three movies that did that, each one re-explaining what we already knew.

I know, Marvel Comics have this whole "mutant" thing, but they all have childhoods of torment that they could have all gotten over if Stan Lee had just gone, "Y'know, my genius tells me that we could have a bunch of characters with weird powers and not explain any of them. Kung Fu."

Mathilda to take on some zombies!

Somwhere around here I talked about the zombified version of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Well, Natalie Portman is set to star in the film adaptation, according to Variety:

Portman will star in and produce “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a film that is based on the bestselling book written by Seth Grahame-Smith and Austen.

Crazy.

Snatch Wars

I know there have been a lot of movie mashup thingies, but this is among the best that I've seen so far. The dialogue works brilliantly!

Kill Bill (condensed)

Both parts in one minute, in proper chronology and one take.

Watchmen Musings

Saw it, dug it. I was entirely ready to have the thing be tolerable, so perhaps my expectations were low, but the execution was pretty good.

My primary concern was that it would not justify the transition to screen. Moore and Gibbons made the comic to be a comic, not to be adapted into something else (unlike, say, Frank Miller who has a fairly cinematic style). There were many elements that were made stronger because of comic form (the rigid 9-panel grid, the symmetrical issue, the amount of background detail and cohesiveness).

Pretty early in the film, Snyder proved that there was a justification for the medium switch (During the audience's alternate history lesson, the tableaus were great).

Really, my biggest problem with it as that I kept analyzing it rather than just *watching* it. I wanted to be taking notes through portions of it.

Warning: Thar be spoilers ahead. Arr. (for both the movie and the comic)

Keeping in mind it's been about 15 years since I read it:

I didn't like that the group were (semi)formally referred to as The Watchmen. It was meant to be a reference to something else (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quis_custodiet_ipsos_custodes?) rather than the name of an alternate world's Justice League.

Wasn't it implied pretty strongly that the Comedian did not fight back? Considering that he knew who was coming after him, he had resigned himself to his fate.

As far as the "aliens" go... I have very little problem with that being dropped altogether. The comic audience doesn't require much prompting to accept that a comic-book general public would accept an alien invasion. The general movie-going audience is already being asked to accept a dude who can manipulate time and matter, and who is effectively beyond his own humanity. No reason to push it; makes the movie more generally accessible.

However, with the stressing early on that Doc M is all-kinds-of-American...he doesn't seem to be an outside force, pretty much undermining Ozymandias' premise.

Speaking of whom, did he seem a bit sinister too early on? My perspective may have been skewed some, but it almost immediately felt like he was up to something.

Really, that all seems a bit nitpicky. I enjoyed it quite a bit - and not just for the fan-service bits (Silk Spectre II targeting herself through Nite Owl's goggles and having the readout say "Laurie Juspeczyk" for a quick moment was a nice touch).

It managed to be brutal and uncomfortable, and very human.

The casting was great. The one I was most concerned with was Laurie (Malin Ackerman), having only seen the publicity stills (though I am told that she was in 27 Dresses, and I recently discovered that she had a fairly memorable part in the first Harold and Kumar). But she was good for the role.

Most of the buzz regarding performance seems to be for Jackie Earle Haley's Rorshcach, and rightly so. Though I'd always had his voice being more distant and unemotional (similarly, Dr. Manhattan but for *completely* different reasons), his 'unhinged' was pretty, um, unhinged.

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