13 posts categorized "Comic Book"

November 26, 2017

LOGAN

LoganIf indoctrinating child audiences into accepting, and enjoying, brutal deadly violence was the intent of the filmmakers responsible for making “Logan,” then their mission is accomplished. Audiences not wanting to be party to such a disgusting cause will want to avoid this cinematic abomination like the plague.

How much senseless killing can an audience member be expected to endure? You’ll be asking yourself that question when “Logan’s” third act slips into gear after a black family are brutally murdered in their plantation-posited home after they have the bad luck of receiving charity from Hugh Jackman’s Logan and Patrick Stewart’s Charles during a runaway horse episode on a local highway.

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As superhero movies go, this one seems poised to put a final nail in their overdue coffin. In 2029, long suffering mutant Logan (a.k.a. Wolverine) cares for his wheelchair bound mentor Professor X (a.k.a. Charles) in a fenced off compound somewhere near the Mexican border. Logan drives a limo to provide a meager financial backing for the ailing Charles, whose weird episodes can have far-reaching negative effects on the people and atmosphere around him when they strike. Things get especially strange when Logan takes over caring for a similarly hand-blade equipped child, the [seemingly mute] mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) who desperately wants/needs to be transported to the Canadian border where “Eden” awaits. The “Antichrist” reference seems apropos as there is far more graphic violence in this film than there is in Lars von Trier’s psychological thriller. Breaking character is etched in stone as a rule of dramaturgy to never cross, and yet it occurs in this movie like a fart that can't be held in. Screenwriting teachers take note. This is a sure-fire way to make your cinematic cake fall. 

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Naturally our of trio limo-ensconced travelers are pursued by a militarized gang of soldiers overseen by an evil doctor (played by Richard E. Grant). Chase scene after redundant chase scene gives way to repetitive sequences of decapitating violence. Blood spews, characters yell in monstrous glee after bringing mutilation and death to their victims. There are more murders committed by a child (Laura) than in any film I can think of.

Logan speaks the film's theme when he says, You have to learn to live with hurting people." How anyone could think this is a responsible message to teach young people is beyond me. 

Logan

“Logan” is a film that will scar your psyche. I cannot in good conscious recommend that any peace-loving person expose yourself or your children to viewing “Logan.” There is nothing to be gained; it’s not entertaining, and it will leave you with memories you don’t need to have rolling around in your brain.  

Rated R. 137 mins. (F) (Zero stars — out of five / no halves)


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August 30, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Dark Knight RisesDisconnected significantly from the flow of logic between the first and second installments of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a disjointed mess. Plot inconsistencies from the last two films — about things such as the performance of Batman’s hi-tech armored suit — arise when he battles the least charismatic, or knowable, villain of any of the Batman movies, dating back to Joel Schumacher’s four installments.

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Tom Hardy’s hulking Bane gets lost behind a cloistering mask that covers his face below the eyes due to a beating his character received while imprisoned in the Middle East many years ago. The mask ostensibly holds Bane’s face together and enables him to breathe. Even more suppressed is any context for Bane’s desire to wipe out humanity via a nuclear bomb, which he aimlessly transports around the streets of Manhattan for a few weeks in one of three decoy trucks.

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For such a bloated movie — it runs a ridiculous 165 minutes — you’d think the screenwriters (Nolan and his brother Jonathan) could at least manage to weave a proper narrative together. Robert McKee won’t be referencing “The Dark Knight Rises” in any of his screenwriting seminars. The best thing “The Dark Knight Rises” has on offer is Anne Hathaway’s butt-in-the-air silhouette as her Catwoman speeds around Manhattan on Batman’s mean-machine motorcycle.

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Unreliable characters saturate the story. Catwoman has more in common with a black widow than a feline when it comes to loyalty. Her alter ego Selina Kyle is a hypocrite thief who betrays Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne every chance she gets. For his part, Bruce Wayne proves himself to be a terrible judge of character. His misplaced trust in Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate, a corporate mover-and-shaker for clean energy, takes a heavy toll. Worse yet, Bruce Wayne betrays Alfred, his most trusted confidant and assistant, in an impulsive fit of anger. Batman doesn’t make for a very persuasive anti-hero this time around. There isn’t much to like or respect in this latest incarnation of a crime-fighter who we discover during a ghostly visitation by Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul, was built for failure from the beginning.

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Christopher Nolan’s outspoken defense of fans that rained down threats on critics of the movie before they had even seen it, speaks to the bullying hype surrounding the film. The film’s odd pokes at political exploitation — regarding the battle being waged between the world’s 99% and their elite corporate oppressors — come across as half-hearted attempts at pandering. Even without the Colorado shooting tragedy that will forever haunt “The Dark Knight Rises,” the film represents a soulless and gratuitous ploy that favors flimflam over substance. There’s something gross and mean in the way Nolan approaches the material. It’s not an entertaining or enjoyable film to watch. The only likable characters are secondary roles. You keep wishing that Morgan Freeman’s Fox, Michael Caine’s Alfred, and Joseph Gordon-Levvitt’s police officer John Blake would co-opt the story.

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The bottom-line is that Christopher Nolan is a better director than he is a screenwriter. He specializes in plot holes and logic gaps in the same the way that M. Night Shyamalan toys with hackneyed suspense device. It would be good if Christopher Nolan didn’t make anymore Batman movies. The world could certainly use fewer comic book movies. It’s just sad that Nolan had to take so many talented people down with him in a movie that sinks under the weight of its own pretentions. You can sit through “The Dark Knight Rises” once, but you’ll never want to see it again.

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Rated R. 95 mins.

2 Stars

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June 29, 2012

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

The Same Web Twice
Sony Reboots Spidey and Company
By Cole Smithey

Amazing_spiderman_ver7How quickly generations come and go. If you’re old enough to remember seeing Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man, and thought Tobey Maguire would carry Spider-Man’s mantle far into the 21st century, Hollywood is here to tell you your time has passed. You were wrong. Maguire’s quirky vulnerability has been firmly usurped by Andrew Garfield — coming across like a young Anthony Perkins, if any of you are old enough to remember him from a little black-and-white movie called “Psycho.”

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Spidey 2.0 has some very good things going for it — 3D effects, sadly are not among them. The IMAX-branded 3D countdown intro reel that rolls before the movie starts is more impressive than anything that occurs during the movie. It’s  too damn bad the production company chose not to bring in a 3D cinematographer to plan specific shots to “break the window.” How long will it take before Hollywood gets the bleeding message — If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a 3D movie, break the freaking window dammit! — Which means put the 3D effects right in front of the audience’s noses where they rightfully belong.

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There’s far too much apologetic “unobtrusive 3D” disinformation flying around from critics like Variety’s Boyd Van Hoeij, who clearly knows nothing about what goes into creating successful 3D effects.

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Unlike Raimi’s version of the same comic book story there’s no, “With great power comes great responsibility” theme-line to anchor Peter Parker’s sense of duty. Still, the nuts and bolts of Parker’s transformation into the hyper athletic “bug-boy” run very parallel. For his part, Martin Sheen does a lot with a little as Peter’s Uncle Ben.

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Director Marc Webb — yes that his real name — shows a little too much of his music-video past during a montage sequence where Peter gets his gravity-defying groove on while riding his skateboard in an abandoned shipyard. Sappy singer-songwriter music underscores the jump-cut edits. If ever there were a sequence that would have gained muscle by having nothing but source-sound, this is it. Still, it’s a forgivable enough blunder from a filmmaker whose primary claim to fame is an under-seen little romantic drama called “500 Days of Summer.”

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Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a lot of movie. The CGI is outstanding. The action-set pieces are lavish, bold, and generate enough electric current to make you jump in your seat more than a few times.

Emma Stone is less restrained than Kirsten Dunst’s version of Peter Parker’s love interest. Stone isn’t playing MJ. Rather she is Gwen Stacy, daughter to police Captain Stacy (well played by Denis Leary). The film’s three screenwriters go heavy on coincidences. Gwen sits next to Peter at school, and also happens to work at the scientific research corporation where Peter has a connection to one of its key scientists — Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).

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The writers don’t make a believable gambit regarding Gwen and Peter being high school students. Still, these are minor concerns, considering the overall package at hand. Stone and Garfield share surefire chemistry. The romantic connection might not simmer in the way it did between Maguire and Dunst, but there’s plenty of emotional grit-and-grist to reboot the franchise on.

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“The Amazing Spider-Man” is far from being a perfect movie. It’s doubtful that audiences will see the franchise rise to the high watermark Raimi stamped on “Spider-Man 2.” Nonetheless, as comic book characters go, Spider-Man has something special that makes him more likable than just about every other comic book hero. For now, Andrew Garfield has the role well in hand.

Rated PG-13. 136 mins.

3 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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