I know, I know. I just wrote that I didn't want to discuss movies that much on my blog anymore, but I can't help it. So, instead of writing a gajillion movie posts, I'll consolidate them into one post. Easy to skip for those not interested and easy to find for those who are.
Hidden behind this lovely break are my thoughts on Elysium (2013), World War Z (2013), Dredd (2012), and Treasure Island (2012).
Elysium (2013, R)
starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster
This movie is 10 shades of awesome. I had a really bad day when I went to see it and Matt Damon gave me exactly what I needed: speculative fiction with lots of violence (but not too gruesome) and a slam-bang finish. The ending was exactly as I would have written it, which is rare for most movies. Now, don't go assuming that I usually watch a lot of R rated stuff, because I usually don't, but I made an exception for Elysium because it was just language and violence. If they had tossed sex into the mix, I would have never gone. Sadly, language doesn't trouble me that much anymore and with too much gore, I can just close my eyes.
Elysium is violent, but not so much that it dragged me away from the overall theme. I liked the main character. I did from the time I first saw him as a little boy and I did up until the credits rolled, and that is hard to accomplish with any movie. I understood his fears and his priorities, the goals he had, and the means he took to make them happen. I also understood the final choices he made before the end of the movie and I applauded him for making them.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't an easy movie to watch, but I found it brilliant and stimulating in ways that few science fiction movies are nowadays.
Dredd (2012, R)
starring Karl Urban
For this one, light into me for even watching it. I give you my full permission. Karl Urban blinded me and I couldn't resist when I really should have said no. Why should I have resisted, you ask? Because the violence is horrific, on a scale that I have never seen before. Gruesome and gory and just plain nasty. In fact, I'm sure the movie would have garnered a larger audience if they hadn't taken such care to make sure the audience sees the smallest detail of every blood spatter. I'm sure it was a joy to behold in 3D.
Karl Urban's voice is wrapped in chocolate so that was the best part of the whole film, listening to him talk. Because you never see his face, just hear his voice. His side-kick was sweet, but she's in danger for the last little bit of the movie, terrifying me with the possibilities of her fate. The concept of the judges is a cool one, being the police, judge, and executioner all rolled into one would sure save a lot of time and effort. And he's a great judge, no denying that, but even that little bit of credit did not make up for a world of debit.
Unfortunately, the real clincher for why this gets such a low grade for me was not the violence (although it is NASTY), but one little mistake in logic on the behalf of the writers. Dredd has a weapon that shoots stun blasts. The audience just saw him use it. Note, the stuns do not kill. So why, as his female partner is being dragged away by a maniac, doesn't he shoot them both with the stun gun? DUH!
So, this one was a major fail that I would never recommend to anyone. I watched it on my 8" Kindle and I still need a brain scrub.
World War Z (2013, PG13)
starring Brad Pitt
I hate zombies. Not with the glee that fans have for the genre, that whole love-to-hate thing, but with a complete and utter loathing of the genre itself. So this one surprised me at how logically the argument was presented. Yes, there is the possibility of a world-wide viral epidemic, something like rabies, breaking out. It's transmitted through bites. I can see that happening.
Still, I was never completely sold on the movie as a whole. Brad Pitt is a more well-rounded actor now that he is a father and husband (are they married yet?) so the scenes with Gerry and his family were the most convincing. I appreciated seeing the growth in Brad as an actor. But I still didn't buy the ending. Because it didn't end. Don't make me sit through an hour and forty-five minutes of zombies chewing on people only to give me an obscure non-ending!
What I did finally understand is the draw people have to the zombie genre. They are titillated by the fear. No one wants to imagine losing their identity, but that's exactly what happens to the zombies. They were once people who had families and friends and pets and now they are nothing and no one. Just a walking virus whose only purpose is to infect others. And that is terrifying. So, because of this movie, I finally get the whole zombie draw. I don't want to participate in it, and I will never read a book about zombies, but I finally get it. And if they make a sequel, I will undoubtedly watch it because I want to see the good guys win. Evil needs trouncing! Isn't that supposed to be the whole point of literature? I wish.
Treasure Island (TV14, 2012)
starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Eddie Izzard, and Elijah Wood
Elijah Wood playing Ben Gunn. That's all I heard and knew, absolutely knew, that I must see this miniseries. Now, I just wish it had lived up to expectations. Part of the delight of Treasure Island, any version, is that Stevenson created a masterpiece already. Change a few things, sure, like in Muppet Treasure Island (Upstage, lads, this is my only number!), but don't change the essence of the character's personalities.
For example, I like Squire Trelawney (Penry-Jones). I always have because he funded the expedition. Well, this version turns him on his head. Penry-Jones fans will not be happy campers. I wasn't, not because of Penry-Jones, but because they completely ruined a likeable character. Had the director left Trelawney alone, I could probably have forgiven him any other alterations. Long John Silver (Izzard) is magnificent, and I adored the kid they had playing Jim. Donald Sutherland guest-starred as Flint, for crying out loud! They had everything going for them, everything, even Elijah Wood running around like a crazy man dressed in face paint, totally obsessed with cheese. And they let glory slide through their fingers because they messed with Trelawney. Such a sad shame.
Still, I watched it, and I don't regret watching it. If you love the story, you'll be intrigued by this version, and if you love Rupert Penry-Jones, well, how did you miss Treasure Island? I didn't finish it in an entirely upbeat fashion, but maybe I'm in the minority. Anything is possible.