Tags: movie

cass, can you not

Movies! (Violence For Money Edition)

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: I keep stumbling upon new-to-me Ghost in the Shell material. There are perfectly reasonable explanations for this, but I choose to believe it's due to a side effect of the virus lodged in the e-brain the virus is designed to keep me from knowing I have. I also choose to believe the Ghost in the Shell memeplex is the slowly complexifying digital incarnation of an asymptotic attractor in techno-psychological phase space. Motoko Aramaki doesn't need to be real, in any sense, in order to engineer herself into existing; she is inevitable.

About the movie itself: a competent, enjoyable episode during the Major's time between Unit 501 and Section 9. I very much like how she set her unit on her own — it's *her* private army, and will remain so even after it nominally gets to work for Aramaki. It makes her post-Puppeteer an even smoother continuation of her usual MO.

Line Walker: Hong Kong thriller movie that follows up a TV series of the same name I'm currently wondering if I'm too spoiled for to watch. Like many of its type, it's basically it's own AO3 section. I enjoyed it.

John Wick: A rewatch. I fast-forwarded past the dog thing. The movie's not as spare as I remembered it (you mostly remember the gun kata, of course), but not without some other touches of inspiration. The way the revenge is motivated is sheer genius — revenge for the death of, say, her spouse, would've have been the same. Marcus' character played a larger role than I remembered (his relationship with John is one of the deliberately unexplored but load-bearing aspects of the world), and Viggo's attempts to deal with the whole thing don't lack reasonableness and a certain level of pathos. Part of you can't but sympathize with the guy.

Whatever range might Reeves' acting skills span, this movie lives right in the middle of it.

All in all, I understand why they chose to explore the world of The Continental to a larger degree in the sequel, but it cost the movie some of its forward movement. In anything, the first movie had slightly too much backstory, even if it was much less than usual. A John Wick we don't learn much about because the surviving people who know would rather not remember, much less speak of it, is much more interesting. Plot-wise, John Wick 2 was a step backwards, IMHO, as much as I love the enormous, steampunky, historical AU potential of The Continental's back-office.

I mean, having met and fought the original Assassins, the Templars couldn't avoid being intrigued by the business model... The gold coin thing is probably an historical artifact, and — and this is the part I love the most — how would an order originally dedicated to protecting and hosting travelers base itself in the contemporary world but as a chain of high-end luxury hotels, catering particularly to the profession?

In short: some of the Templars back from the Middle East decided assassination as a service was going to be the second most popular cultural import after putting spices on everything, so they cornered the market of supporting functions.
cass, can you not

Justice League

Not that I expected it to, but it regrettably failed my gets out of the movie humming the main theme from the soundtrack and half-seriously planning to become a superhero superhero movie test.
cass, can you not

About a couple of pre-programmed patterns of electromagnetic and atmospheric waves

Batman vs Two-Face: Batman 66' isn't "my" Batman, and I do find most of the dialogue slightly jarring rather than fun, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to; the movie is peppered with subtle bits of contemporary humor and, not unexpectedly, lots of heart. Once I adjusted my expectations, I had fun.

Resident Evil: Vendetta: Pretty much what you'll expect from another Resident Evil animated movie, for good and for ill. It was entertaining, and had some great Wick-style close-quarters gunplay, not to mention some rather outrageous motorbiking, but the main villain was insane in more and more disturbing ways than usual.

As a technical aside: the movie isn't quite photorealistic (and I believe we viewers are getting better at spotting CGI almost, although not quite, as fast as CGI improves), but they no longer feel entirely animated either, and it's far from the current state of the art. Once we have fully photorealistic full-CGI movies that are cheaper to make than the current human-actors-plus-CGI ones, I have to wonder whether we'll see the end, after a century or so of existence, of the superstar actor.

One one hand: why pay tens of millions to somebody when you can design a character who's just right for the movie?

On the other hand: unless studios invest lots of money to keep ahead of cheaper technology, actors people love might be the only thing a studio can have as a competitive advantage (a sort of biological franchise). CGI characters can and do repeat between movies, of course, but celebrity has a sort of post- and pseudo-regal magic that might be hard to replace or compete with.

On the other other hand: Idorus. And Batman, who's probably more valuable, over the long term, than any of the actors who played him.

So I don't know, but I think it'll be a nice scale model of how other things will work out as human- and superhuman-level technology starts eating up more high-reputation jobs.
cass, can you not

Blade Runner 2049

A much edited, short, unspoilery review: As a movie asking the eternal Philip K. Dick question of "what makes a person real?", it's mediocre at best. But. There are parts of it when, whether it intents to or not, it asks instead "what do we think makes a woman real? what's necessary, and what's sufficient?" and gives horrifyingly direct and honest answers to it.

It's not that those are true in the moral universe of the movie — that'd make it unwatchable. It's simply the moral universe of that universe's society, and to a large degree ours — that's what makes some scenes deeply uncomfortable.

In a somewhat dreadfully hilarious way (and I feel it cannot not be doing this on purpose, but I also fear this is just me being naive) it doesn't seem to know or notice this. It's a bit like the opening of Shawn of the Dead: terrifying things are going on, but neither the protagonist nor the camera notice them.
cass, can you not

Atomic Blonde

I enjoyed it. It's about 50% a very aggressively styled 1989 Berlin spy story (they put a lot of effort into things like props, clothes, music, etc), 50% that corridor fight in Daredevil.

In other words, the violence, when it happens (and it does happen quite a bit), is downright brutal (although almost never abusive — this is pros against pros) and while some characters are obviously more skilled than others, nobody is superhuman. The physical toil of what they do isn't explicitly talked about, but clearly displayed, specially when it comes to the protagonist. She can kick butt like a more socially fluent Jason Bourne, but boy does she pay for it.

Not a masterpiece, and particularly not Le Carré(although slightly more Le Carre-ish than I expected, at least in intent), but enjoyable as long you mind neither close, bloody physical violence nor its aftermath.
cass, can you not

So, Wonder Woman

Non-spoilery things I liked:

  • They got the action scenes perfectly right. *That's* how Diana would fight. And when, and why.

  • She's never innocent, she's a sophisticated person in a different context.

  • The combination of Diana's genuine smile whenever Things Are Escalating and the characteristic riff of her theme song is sheer genius.

  • Steve Trevor: not an idiot.

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That was longer than I expected, but that's just because I'm a curmudgeon. I liked the movie, Diana kicks ass, and I pity whoever gets in her way.
cass, can you not

The LEGO Batman Movie

Er... meh? Not the movie's fault - it does what it sets out to do, message(s) and all. But that's kind of the thing: I was there for the over-the-top-ridiculousness, not the by-the-numbers personal growth, and while the former never abated, I found the latter distracting. Probably mostly a function of my emotional state.

Don't take this as an anti-rec: if you think you'll like the movie, you probably will, and the over-the-topness was definitely there.
cass, can you not

On the new Ghost in the Shell movie

Racefail aside, it's felt much more juvenile than the anime. It's a movie about finding and taking ownership of yourself, while the anime *begins* with the Major knowing very well who and what she is.

Also, of course, in that you never get the feeling that movie!Major, physical skills aside, is the consummate hyperprofessional tactician and world-class badass that is anime!Major. We have Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, etc, for physical female badasses (and never forget Ripley), but I don't know if we have in a major movie, or the industry is ready for, a female badass who's not only part of an elite paramilitary unit, but calls the shots. I suspect there's a cultural line there, where female badasses are ok (if sexualized enough), but not, like, running the badassery. E.g., how the DCEU keeps undermining Waller, who's more Aramaki than Major anyway.

IMHO, an slightly-above-average cyborg-with-existential-issues movie, but that's it.
cass, can you not

Yes, the casting for old!Charles and old!Erik was *that* good

Here's Stewart doing Macbeth's "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" soliloquy, and here's McKellen. I'm sure directors, by definition, had much to do with the different approaches, but look at Stewart's utter despair, and compare it with McKellen's utter *disdain*.

In a better world, we would've had an Star Trek:TNG movie where the Federation finds a wormhole to another galaxy and learns that most civilizations in the universe are cybernetic and either Data- or Borg-like. Then it goes from first contact plot to spy thriller, as reluctant Ambassador Picard and internment camp candidate Data must prevent a Pearl Harbor first strike with a horrifying self-replicating smart antimatter bomb from Section 31, headed by the imperious and brilliant (McKellen character's name).

You know, X-Men with the Federation as mutants.