July 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Europa Report: Actionless Videogame Cut Scene
(– ***Spoilers For The Above*** –)
Europa Report is a film bursting with ideas and narrative techniques that are utilized effectively and proficiently yet do not always serve the story being told. The editing is impeccable, highly accomplished and professionally cut, with the sound design not far behind that. Kudos all around to those teams, unfortunately they could not overcome the limitations of the third act. The screenplay is competent, especially in regards to the dialogue and character design, the science is believable, at least it sounds believable, until the second half of the film. Which is to be expecting because the second half is where our knowledge of how an actual manned flight ends. As the film points out no human has ever gone past the moon, and this is where the film starts to lose credibility. However not only does the science become faulty the character motivations and the plot points become mechanical and forced, and the film loses our trust. Upon completion we find a film whose entire construction was predicated upon the final image. Every action every story beat was meant to lead us to this final moment and unfortunately the payoff is not worth the trip.
Prior to the half way point there is plenty of fun character interaction that all rings true with lines delivered by actors whom seem to embody their characters well. No one is out of place or a bad fit for the crew. They have a collective charisma that I found interesting and fun, and would not have minded just watching the relationships between the crew play out rather than the silliness that follows this initial setup. However the intro is broken up with footage of the scientists on earth responsible for the mission, and their explanation and celebration of the mission at a press conference. The unfortunate problem with this, and the rest of the film, is none of it seems cinematic. They have chosen to present the images as a found footage film in the vein of Paranormal Activity, or VHS, yet they have removed the hand held quality of those successful franchises and opted for more static framing. Every shot is either a news camera or a camera attached to the walls of the ship. Occasionally we see the cameras on the space suits but this is not really utilized until the third act, and in varying degrees of success therein.
The final problem with the film is the time manipulation aspect of the editing. We jump from the middle back to the beginning, then the whole film is inter cut with interviews from people after the mission is over kind of documentary style, but not as entertaining as a documentary would be. All of this editing and jumping around and switching narrators and it is unclear what the purpose of all this technical gymnastics actually is. Again they have executed these techniques in a proficient manner, yet I am left wondering why didn’t you just tell a good story? Then if it required and could be enhanced by the shifts in time, so be it. The story just isn’t good enough to merit all the technical wizardry. The flat framing, the lack of any depth of field, bores the eyes, and unlike Paranormal we are never searching the flat frame for a sign of a monster or ghost or clue to anything. The few moments when we are prompted to investigate the flat frame, we are never rewarded for our participation. We are shown a dark image or a fuzzy screen, indicating that we have wasted our time, and should no longer trust this story. Our mistrust is substantiated when we are finally shown the creature at the end of the film. A creature beautifully designed and rendered, but ultimately unexploited in the visual storytelling of the film.
2 out of 5 stars
- VHS 2 – Horror CLinic (frontrowgeek.com)
- “Animated documentary …. there’s no such thing!” by Scotti Rothschild (animateddocs.wordpress.com)
- Man of Steel: Evolution Wins (frontrowgeek.com)
- World War Z: Zombies Ate My People (frontrowgeek.com)
- Grey Garden (ayakaakimedia.wordpress.com)
- Europa Report (supernovacondensate.net)
- Shooting Bigfoot (EIFF 2013) (observealot.wordpress.com)
- Films I’m Looking Forward To (weekdaysatthemovies.wordpress.com)
January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
Cartoon Carnage. The colors jump off the screen like a comic strip. This is a ‘my first crime drama‘ for kids, complete with teen idols, but with enough veteran crime actors to be marketable to adults. It exists somewhere between True Romance and Once Upon A Time In Mexico with a dose of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, without any of what made those films fun and dreamy. We get the over the top caricatures and the rainbow color scheme without any of the accompanying comic levity. So we’re left with this ridiculous story, cliché dialogue,(“He wargasms”), comic book paper-thin characters, wrapped in an animated package, but it’s played straight by all involved. The only one who seems to be in on the joke is Benicio Del Toro, who plays it like a variation of a bunch of his other well-known characters. Coincidentally, or not, his character is the only one with an actual arc *(Spoilers)* , going from murderous psychopathic rapist, to FBI informant mob boss in maybe thirty minutes of screen time.
It’s a shame this film isn’t better, it contains one of Selma Hayek’s best performances, although wasted on a one-dimensional antagonist. Here she is starved for scenery to chew, but there’s no meat on the bone. Notice I’ve said nothing about our protagonists, as there isn’t much to say. Neither have any kind of arc to speak of, and the obvious conflict at the core of the story is never even hinted at. The only thing that makes this story worth telling, is the rivalry that should arise between these two brothers whom represent opposing ideologies, but are in love with the same woman. But no, we spend an hour watching them wage a cartoon war with a Mexican Cartel. I can’t help but wonder why Oliver Stone takes these movies, when he clearly doesn’t give a shit about the outcome. Random visual effects, with the exception of a well placed lens flare, are littered throughout the film to try to lend some artistic credibility to a heartless and soulless film, add nothing to the experience nor the narrative.
Blake Lively continues to show a glimmer of what could one day be a performance, but again there is really nothing for her to do here, besides look rich, scared and helpless. John Travolta is always reliable as a scum bag FBI agent unraveling and putting his family in constant danger. I feel like if any of the ancillary characters had been made into the protagonist, then this would have been a more entertaining endeavor. Instead what we get is a ridiculously disjointed and ultimately pointless film, with two idiots at the center doing nothing and going nowhere, while far superior actors beg for attention around the edges of a screen focused primarily on Del Toro’s court jester.
- FrontRowGeek 2012 Review Roundup – V/H/S (frontrowgeek.com)
- FrontRowGeek 2012 Review Roundup – The Watch (frontrowgeek.com)
- The Sexiest Geek Dads in the Galaxy (io9.com)
- Geeks Unleashed’s Top Twenty Comics of 2012 (20-16) (geeksunleashed.me)
- The Civilized Savage (canadafreepress.com)
- The Daily Geek: A SUPERIOR Spider-Man, Happy Holidays From Stan Lee And More (geek-news.mtv.com)
- Creator of the Geek Syndicate the Comic Returns With New Webcomic ‘Our Adventure Continues’ (geeksyndicate.co.uk)
- Interview with Tommy Brownell (thebedrockblog.blogspot.com)
- 2012: We Lived! (mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com)
- The Final Geeks of Doom Round Up (Preview) (thedrilldown.com)
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Here’s your first official Geek Pic of the day! It’s a Beauty from Noriyoshi Ohrai‘s original Empire Strikes Back one sheet. It was remastered for the 30th Anniversary of the great film, and we thought it was perfect to be our first Geek Pic of the Day. Enjoy!
Thanks to Geek Tyrant for the pic!
September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
I haven’t done a review for a while, because I’ve been thinking about my format and how I want it to look, and what I want to say. I suppose being honest is the best way to go.
I saw Prometheus on opening day at the IMAX. I followed all of the marketing for the past two years, leading up to the release, looked at all the pictures, watched the trailers over and over again, and was way over hyped for it. I was looking forward to it. As the film began I remember thinking that I was experiencing something that I had not experienced in many many years. A film was actually delivering on its promises. The cinematography is gorgeous, the 3D is prevalent but not gaudy and in your face. The effects are breathtaking and masterfully rendered, the score is engrossing and meandering, and the acting is honest and for the most part ‘unhammy’. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and by the time Shaw is having the surgery I was wincing and gagging but smiling from ear to ear. This was disgustingly satisfying. And as we all emptied the giant IMAX theater I left thinking that everyone leaving with me had just had one of the great movie going experiences of our lives. Boy was I mistaken.
Much to my surprise the majority of the people hated it. Had I missed something? Did my cinema I.Q. drop sometime between walking into the screening and walking out? How could I have had the exact opposite reaction to a film than seemingly everyone else in the world? And it was not just the general movie going public that I disagreed with, it was critics and cinephiles, and film geeks just like me. Was I wrong? Was the feeling in my heart, that child like feeling that Prometheus had given me, was that somehow wrong? This had never happened to me before. Usually if a movie is bad but I still enjoy it, I will admit that it is not really a good movie, and I can understand the majority of the world hating it, but I still enjoy it for my own personal reasons. But this is not the case with Prometheus. It is technically well made, in every aspect, and the script is clear cut and efficient. No fat, no extraneous storyline or overreaching themes. Its a straight up Science Fiction horror film. Some kind of strange Frankenstein monster in reverse. And I love every minute of it.
This past weekend I showed my girlfriend the movie for the first time. (She dodged it while it was at the theater, she thought it looked too scary for her). But i finally got her to watch it, and she said she really enjoyed it and thought it was scary, which is what I thought she would say. But then she provided some interesting analysis. She said she did not like how Holloway died. She said he should have lived until the end and sacrificed himself to save Shaw. Is this the answer? This tiny bit of subverted story telling? Is having the “love interest”(as sparingly as the love story is utilized in this film) die too early and in an unromantic and quite startlingly abrupt fashion the reason that this film was so criticized and poo pooed as light summer blockbuster fluff? Obviously many people have cited the many many questions raised by the film that go unanswered, to whom I say this is a movie not a text book, either you enjoy it and go for the ride or you don’t. The fact that the storytellers chose not to explicitly define every cryptic moment and spoon feed us every answer to every question should be celebrated, not derided. I suppose my question is if it had ended in this more conventional way, would general audiences have enjoyed the film more? I still think the film is spectacular and looks gorgeous in Blu-Ray, and I marvel at the achievement accomplished by everyone involved. I think history and public opinion will change on this one upon repeat home viewings. FRONTROW
- James Cameron Talks ‘Prometheus’ & ‘The Avengers’ (screenrant.com)
- ‘Aliens’ Director James Cameron Reviews ‘Prometheus,’ Tried To Buy Rights To ‘Jurassic Park’ (slashfilm.com)
- PROMETHEUS – 10 Minutes of Deleted Scenes (geektyrant.com)
- Fox sets early window for ‘Prometheus’ (variety.com)
- ‘Prometheus’ Blu-ray To Feature Nearly 15 Minutes Of Footage Deleted From Ending (slashfilm.com)
- Prometheus, thoughts… (cubicgarden.com)
- Prometheus 2 Is Happening (gizmodo.com.au)
- Prometheus puts the Giger back in Alien (kamikazeearth.com)
- Damon Lindelof On ‘Prometheus’ and Marketing in the Digital Era (screencrave.com)
- ‘Prometheus’ DVD/Blu-ray Deleted Scenes Revealed (screenrant.com)
February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Now this looks like something I could get excited about. Surreal.