while i am often out there viewing movies for the purposes of enjoying them (and then constantly talking about drinking other people’s milkshakes and/or defending the ending of No Country For Old Men to legions of people who think “nothing happens” there), it’s also a fact that since i like to spend a lot of time watching black-and-white movies wherein samurai are cruising around fighting it out with each other (or teaming up to fight other people or doing other stuff that gets lots of people killed), i might miss a current film here or there; on occasion, this results in my not watching a film until after many others have seen it and commented on it, a situation that THEN results in them telling me about all the annoying plot points and ruining everything in the film for me. which is awesome. but ANYWAY, sometimes this means i hear how a movie is excellent or terrible and then get to watch it and see how correct the person telling me this was. let’s examine this concept this week!
pre-viewing review: “this is the greatest action movie i have ever seen in my entire life.”
if there’s a god, both of these horrible characters will kill each other dead 13 seconds into this film.
i have to admit that i like John Woo… when he was in Hong Kong making movies with Chow Yun-Fat that were long on both action AND crazy amounts of doves. as ridiculous as films like the Killer and Hard-Boiled might seem, they’re also ridiculously good action films: heroes slaying tons of nameless villains in their quest(s) to be bad enough dudes to rescue… well, i suppose Hong Kong doesn’t have a president, but they have SOMETHING like one, and dudes that are bad enough to rescue him would probably be the equivalent of our Bad Dudes (and also, Hard-Boiled features a villain with a Thompson Center Contender, which is awesome gun trivia). that being said, when he came to the US, he kept the doves but dropped all that cool action. the results?
–Hard Target is a dove-lovin’ Cajun joke (though it does feature the most insane Wilford Brimley role ever, wherein he blows up a building while on horseback);
–Broken Arrow ruined Howie Long’s promising action film career (and also gave John Travolta money he did NOT earn with his acting performance once again);
–Mission Impossible II is a sequel (and as we discussed in the John Singleton post, that’s an automatic loss);
–Windtalkers ruined an awesome concept (Navajo code talkers) with a shitty film (but a shitty film with doves);
–Paycheck was completely forgettable (seriously, i can’t tell you anything about this film, i think it starred Ben Affleck? maybe?);
–and Face/Off is… Face/Off.
it seems to me they spent more time hyping the film (oh my god, Cage and Travolta ACT LIKE EACH OTHER) than writing the script; if nothing else, let me just say that while you can give Cage Travolta’s face and Travolta Cage’s face, what exactly hides the fact that Travolta outweighs Cage by about 100 pounds? maybe it’s the fact that Travolta is a shitty actor (and thus can’t carry an action film) and Cage is a good but serious actor (and thus can’t carry an action film, either here OR in Windtalkers) and the action just don’t seem to work. ever. really, Hollywood seems to have ruined Woo’s ability to make low-budget, high-awesomeness films. or maybe he just needs more Chow Yun-Fat. the lesson here is that one should be wary of hyperbole. actually, one should be wary of people who MAY be clinically retarded reviewing films. now, i don’t mean to imply that he’s retarded because he said this film was so great; that guy has ALWAYS been retarded. but people seemed to agree with him and i was fooled. NEVER AGAIN!
the Messenger (1999)
pre-viewing review: “this movie is terrible and Milla Jovovich is the most annoying woman of all time.”
verdict: TRUTH, mostly
this horse is totally fucking pissed that someone cast it in the Messenger.
i have to admit that i like Luc Besson… pretty much all the time. i enjoy when he directs (Leon is in my top 13 films of all time, and not even for any of the creepy Natalie-Portman-at-age-13 reasons that seem to plague us internet nerds), and i even enjoy when he just writes (cases in point: i have a soft spot for Danny the Dog and even Kiss of the Dragon, and District 13 is pretty cool if you want to watch a lot of parkour or free running or whatever the fuck those Frenchmen want to call it). and i forgive him for anything he had to do with the Transporter. let’s be clear: if you want to just take La Femme Nikita, Leon and the Fifth Element (no matter what J.Millz says about the latter), that is one hell of a solid run-up to the Messenger: lots of Jean Reno and Gary Oldman being awesome, a dash of Bruce Willis, and “the ring trick.” but then… there was the Messenger.
reference to the title of this post time: i once took a college course (English 447) about Joan of Arc that was theoretically an English course (hence the course title) but which ACTUALLY was identified as a women’s studies course on the syllabus the first day of class. now, why did i take a women’s studies class about Joan of Arc? because i hate Joan of Arc. or, if i can paraphrase myself from when i answered that question in essay form on that first day, “i’m taking this class because the people that used to violently defend Joan of Arc’s character when we’d discuss Henry IV, who would ignore the play itself and focus only on defending Joan of Arc’s honor, had all taken this class first. and since i hate Joan of Arc, i want to know why the hell they would do this.” oddly enough, despite my hostility to Joan of Arc and women in general, my professor liked that essay (i had an “original perspective” or something) and me and my work and i totally fucking aced that class. and i still hate Joan of Arc, which was my disclaimer here.
so ANYWAY, when J.Millz would bash the shit out of this movie (see the above review), i would think “wait, there’s no possible way this film can suck. it’s a Luc Besson film, and he’s awesome, and it stars Milla Jovovich, who i find competent, Tcheky Karyo, who’s a good actor with an awesome name, John Malkovich, who my sister claims is a good actor, and Vincent Cassel, who’s married to the hottest woman in the world and thus, must be unbelievably awesome at life.” but the thing is, after finally caving in to the idea of watching a Joan of Arc film (remember, i hate her), i discovered that the Messenger is, in fact, terrible. and for one reason: Besson apparently told Jovovich to be as annoying and loud as humanly possible ALL THE FUCKING TIME. honestly, she’s nowhere near as bad in any other film (and i HAVE seen some Resident Evil films) and Besson’s films are never this bad (even when they also star Jovovich), so i have to assume that he demanded she act this way. and it ruins the entire film, because you’re sitting there thinking things like “how can the English be in the wrong here when they’re aligned against the most annoying woman to ever live?” and “if Karyo and Cassel are so awesome, why aren’t they killing Joan of Arc RIGHT NOW?” there can really be only one answer to all this: Luc Besson secretly hates Joan of Arc and he made this movie to make people hate her as well. i told you he was a fucking genius.
Casino Royale (2006)
pre-viewing review: “i think this is the best James Bond movie of all time.”
don’t worry, Vesper, no one’s going to shoot diamonds into your face or destroy an ice palace with a laser here; it’s not THAT kind of Bond movie at all!
i have to admit that… well, actually nothing, because i hate and love Bond movies in equal parts (and i am named after an actor who once appeared in one of them); i love to be divisive about this. i think Connery’s a terribly overrated Bond in some solid Bond films; i think Brosnan’s a terribly underrated Bond in HORRIBLE Bond films. i mean, hey, would Brosnan not have carried Goldfinger? and, conversely, could Connery have done more with Die Another Day? it’s just such a horrible mash-up of a series, what with awesome films (Goldfinger, Live And Let Die) mixed in with terrible ones (The Spy Who Loved Me, A View To A Kill, Die Another Day) with no sign of anyone getting a handle on the ridiculously complicated back story and universe of Bond… until they decided to blow this shit up, reboot the series with a new Bond, and return to the harsher, younger Bond of the books and go from there.
however, having seen Die Another Day, i considered it to be completely impossible that the last sentence there would actually happen without being compromised, so i refused to see this film, until a co-worker praised it and praised it and i finally caved in. the result? well, a little hyperbole here, but Bond is completely evil and trusts no one, enjoys killing people and fucking married women (i don’t approve of that, Bond), there are no ridiculous villains and sidekicks of villains (i love you to death, Jaws, but i am looking at you), and Bond is constantly beaten, tortured, and beaten again throughout this film. seriously, this IS the best Bond movie ever.
anyway, after i go back to the guy that recommended this film to me and tell him all of the above and how right he was, he tells me he hates Bond movies and only watched this one because there was nothing else in the theater for him to go see at the time. i was dumbfounded. but god (and James Bond) work in mysterious ways, so what can i say?