GotG Vol. 2 – or let’s talk about plot, baby

Three things that saved GotG Vol. 2 from total bust:

  1. The characters and their relationships – namely, the first movie;
  2. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac;
  3. Nebula and Yondu.

I also have to give them credit for avoiding a giant hole in the sky and opting for a subterranean climax.

Twice as many things due to which it sucked:

  1. The unbearable pointlessness of the Sovereign;
  2. Forced humour;
  3. Yes, we get it. Little Groot is cute.
  4. Angst overload;
  5. Drax as a comic relief character;
  6. The James Bondian “let’s pause so I can explain my evil plan to you”.

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Let’s Talk About Plot

Recently, there has been an influx of “big” movies without plot. This post was in my head after the remake of the Fantastic Four. It was there after Dr Strange. Suicide Squad, anyone? I’m really really sorry that it was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that has prompted me to finally write it.

We really do not need to refer to Aristotle to know that every story needs to have three parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. Logic entails that the beginning serves as an introduction to the story and its characters, the middle is in fact plot development which introduces the conflict and where the story reaches its climax, while the end gives us resolution and conclusion (we should be so lucky).

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Boys and girls who are writing superhero movies as of recently have decided to forgo introduction and plot development for something I will call a reminder. For approximately one hour (if we’re lucky, it’s just one hour) we are reminded about how cool the characters are, how familiar we are with them and the “universe” and how much we love it all. The reminder is also full of WHAM! BAM! KAPOW!

And then WHAM! BAM! KAPOW! – the climax of the movie. The end.

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Pretty much like the structure of this post.

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So, what is wrong with Ghost in the Shell…

….aside from all the painfully obvious things such as:

  1. Not enough ghost, a lot of shell;
  2. Two-dimensional characters;
  3. Explaining of things that are obvious to a 2-year old;
  4. Non-existent villain;
  5. 1995 view of the future
  6. Pathetic attempt at exploring the discorporation of consciousness?

All those things fade in the wake of the fact that 21st century has no fucking imagination whatsoever.

Cyberpunk is not a novel concept, but still it is a concept (or genre if you will) that can be perfectly set into modern society because we are in fact living it.

  1. Mega-corporations rule the world (and control our lives)? Check.
  2. Seamless merging of life with information technology? Check.
  3. Unbelievable technological and informational advancement? Check.
  4. Artificial intelligence? Check (more or less).
  5. The lines between real life and online life blurred? Check.
  6. Big Brother’s watching us? Check.

And what does Hollywood do? It takes a 1995 classic Japanese anime and makes a live action movie without adding absolutely nothing to it. I don’t think any of us here, in 2017, perceive that in the future we will be driving our own cars (made in the 80s, from what I could tell).

Mind you, I did enjoy the movie at several points, most of which included Michael Pitt and Takeshi Kitano. It is not total bullshit. There were  moments in the movie which made my time (and money) worth the while.

However, the movie has left me with two very important questions:

1. If I were to make a cybernetic soldier, would I make it/she/him 160 cm tall?

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2. Can we somehow stop them from ruining Akira?

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Jason Bourne or David Webb?

Driving in a car.
Matt Damon without a shirt.
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Fight. Anguished Matt Damon/flashback.
JESUS CHRIST IT’S JULIA STILES.
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Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight. Fast walking.
Some conversation. Driving in a car.
Fight. Fast walking. Flashback.
The Greek love Molotov cocktails.
Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight.
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Matt Damon without a shirt.
High speed chase.
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Fight.
CIA is useless. It’s not even clear how they keep on existing.
High speed chase.
Tommy Lee Jones looking old and bored.
Fight.
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Attempt at raising the issue of privacy vs security. Failing.
Creative use of weaponry.

A boring, never-ending high speed chase which finally gives you an opportunity to think about the movie and realise Jason Bourne is not much of a movie. It really isn’t. The plot, non-existent as it is, is flimsy, unnecessarily sappy and very convenient. They invested minimum effort in the story.

Jason Bourne is a wild ride (no pun intended, but still – that’s what she said). Until the very end, It doesn’t let you think about the plot and about what’s actually happening. Until that car chase which seems even worse than the one in the Dawn of Justice (yaaaaaaaaawn).

Still, if you expect nothing more than a movie with Matt Damon in it, you’re not gonna be disappointed.

Why Does the Universe Hate Aaron Sorkin?

I really don’t know, I hope someone knows the answer, so I decided to put it out there. But this isn’t a post about Aaron Sorkin (not entirely). This is a post about Steve Jobs. Not the man. The movie.

The movie is truly amazing. Loved every moment, was sorry to see it end. I loved its structure and its symmetry. I loved the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue still plays out like the best fucking action scene you’ve ever witnessed, making you sit a little closer to the edge of your seat. I love the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue always leaves victims.

The fact that the life of a complex man was summed up into four words blows me away.

I don’t care about the truth about Steve Jobs. I don’t care about which part of the movie was true to the life of the man. It shouldn’t matter. You do not need to recreate someone’s life to tell a story about the man who lived it.

There is one thing wrong with this movie. Michael Fassbender. Don’t get me wrong. He was good. But he could not turn the sexy off. He tried. He failed.

And there’s another thing wrong with the universe:

Who is Jeff Daniels?
It’s the guy from Dumb and Dumber who’s not Jim Carrey.” – still the easiest way to answer.

It’s my mission to make it: “He’s that guy from the only show  Sorkin managed to finish.

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Barely Lethal (2015)

As soon as I’ve seen the trailer, I knew that the possibility of me enjoying this movie was high. CAUTION alarm buzzed immediately. Unfortunately, expectation often leads to disappointment  when these kind of movies are involved.

However, I was not disappointed. The movie is good. It’s funny and fun, occasionally it’s smart. Jessica Alba actually doesn’t suck and the level of clichés is just about right. A real guilty pleasure, if stories about a teenage assassin turning normal teenage girl are your cup of tea.

The “assassin” part is rather refreshing and it gives the story we have seen so many times just what it needs – a nice little kick.

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Another perk – we get to see Sansa Stark do stuff, which is always a welcome change in my book, regardless of the context.

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This homage to one of the best movies ever didn’t hurt my appreciation of the movie. (Isn’t this girl so freakin’ cute???)

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If you know what I’m talking about when I mention Get Over It, I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy Barely Lethal. Also, if you don’t think that watching Mean Girls is a waste of your precious time, but is actually fun in a mindless sort of way, you should probably watch this movie.

On the Fury Road

Writing about a movie mere minutes after watching it is not a good idea. But I’m so psyched that I cannot resist. Go watch Mad Max: Fury Road, like, NOW, and watch it in 3D. The movie is awesome. And my advice is, avoid finding out what the movie is about. You don’t need that. And if you’re looking for a synopsis, you’ll have to read another review.

That being done, I’ll go into more details without spoiling anything for you.

The first ten or so minutes of this post-apocalyptic gem shows you the terrible side of human nature. You get to see us at our worst and you realize that in a way, we are even now, in this normal world, slaves to a certain degree. And then all shit breaks loose.

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Frankly I’m exhausted. Constant action, never-ending adrenaline rush have left me feeling drained in the best possible manner. For two hours I was constantly on edge, realizing it only in the several brief moments of respite, when there was actual dialogue, if one can call it that.

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You’re never really given a chance to think about what has just happened in detail, because just when you manage to catch your breath, shit breaks loose, again. You don’t get an opportunity to think, mid-movie: “No way he/she survived that!” There’s no time for analysis, no time for complex thoughts, because survival is at stake, and when you need to survive being an unthinking animal is the best you can do. The mad pace of Fury Road puts you smack in the middle of that desert, on that truck, holding your breath, fighting for your dear life.

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Fight scenes are amazing, and the visual (3D included) experience is simply astounding (I know my synonyms). Almost two hours of pure action in the middle of nowhere, and I was not bored. Not once. Not for a millisecond. Special effects? Sure they were there, but in the best possible way – you don’t even notice them. There’s no ridiculous slow-mos, no idiotic, sentimental discussions about the fate of humanity and the nature of hope, no redundancy whatsoever. There was simply no time for that crap. Stuff needed to get done.

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Fury Road is not about characters, it’s not about who got to shine the most, it’s about the fury. Nothing else. Charlize Theron has once again shown she’s one of the best actresses out there. Tom Hardy, even though muted, managed to convey plenty with his eyes, facial expressions and sporadic grunts. Nicholas Hoult was, well, Nicholas Hoult. And the rest of the cast was simply amazing, from War Boy no. 324 to Immortan Joe.

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I don’t know how I will feel about this movie tomorrow. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it after I watch it again, and watch it I will. And frankly, I don’t care.

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DUFF, the movie, left me feeling the same way the book did: unimpressed, but mildly entertained. The movie doesn’t attempt to be deep, it does seem to want to touch upon the issue of labelling, however it does so very superficially – it pretty much goes unnoticed.

Even though the movie is very different from the book, it has successfully taken over all of its faults: it’s flaky, all over the place, and it lacks attention span. It was fun to watch, but frankly, I think you’d be better off if you just watched Ten Things I Hate About You again. Because DUFF will not make you feel like this:

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Both have Allison Janney, and Ten Things is smart, fun and also has Heath Ledger and JGL.

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The only part of this movie that left me wondering was the fact that I cannot fathom how do kids nowadays survive high school, taking into account that every one of your embarrassing moments is a potential Facebook post or a YouTube video. Shit. I’m glad I grew up in the era when social networking actually required leaving the house and phones looked like this:

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A Little Movie About a Big Thing

I’m yet to find a Simon Pegg movie which I dislike. Most are awesome, some are good. Hector and the Search for Happiness falls into the “awesome” category. It’s a little movie about a big thing. Hector goes through quite a lot, and I think everyone can find a little bit of their own life and their own notion of what happy means.

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As is the case with most abstract notions connected with human condition, happiness is a largely elusive thing. At the same time it’s universal and individual, which is what makes it so special.

This movie will remind you there are great things in your life which should make you happy. It will make you realize there are things that could make you happy if you worked on them. If it doesn’t make you wonder about life, you’ll still have a lot of fun watching it.

John Wick – The Right Amount of Everything

Despite all its frivolity, John Wick is an intelligent movie, aware of the fact that some things needn’t be shown to be understood.

John Wick is a great action-without-plot movie which delivers all it promises. Bad guy kills dog. A different bad guy kills bad guy no. 1 and many other bad guys, and probably a few innocent bystanders and extras. But who cares.

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Where John Wick thrives is its successful avoidance of action-movie clichés. It doesn’t even try to recreate the one-liner culture. Let’s face it, after Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and the king of all one-liner movies – The Last Boy Scout – there is no great one-liner to be found. Additionally, there is no Florence Nightingale in the movie (think Shooter with Mark Wahlberg) who patches John up and ends up healing so much more than the wounds he sustained on one of his rampages. There are two women in this movie. One of them is dead, and the other one gets dead.

According to the grading system developed within my family, a good action-without-plot movie is measured against the number of unreasonable killings and the number of women in the movie. The higher the number of unreasonable killings and the lower the number of women – the better (let’s not get into the debate about the role of women in modern cinematography, yes it often sucks, but this is neither the time nor the post for that). Said grading puts John Wick waaaaay up there. Not only that, having seen John Wick, I’ve decided to add two new variables to the grading system – the number of bullets per victim and whether it features the awesome Ian McShane.

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John kills all these people (most of whom are Russian) because an asshole killed his dog. This movie doesn’t care for people who do not care about dogs. This movie says:

Fuck you, people who don’t like dogs. I don’t want you to watch or like me.

Bear in mind, the acting in John Wick is limited, as it should be in this type of movie. However, there are a few slips of talent. At one moment Michael Nyqvist suddenly gets larger than life. By skill alone he exudes a force to be reckoned with – for a brief moment he’s Ahnold, he’s Sly. Willem Dafoe also escapes the no-acting confines and his rough, lined face exudes unparalleled vulnerability. Even Keanu steps outside Keanuness to shock the viewer with convincing anger and determination, before he slips back to being Keanu. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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What I enjoyed the most in John Wick was a subculture of assassins which is never explained or even talked about. It gives a subtle noir touch to the movie. They even have their own currency, something which, again, isn’t explained, because the screenwriter doesn’t think the audience is consisted of idiots unwilling and/or unable to suspend their disbelief.

I loved the way these criminals – for all the characters are criminals – showed a limited sense of self-worth and a whole lot of sense of their criminality and the way it reflects on the reality of their lives (and death). Don’t get me wrong. This is not something the movie bothers you with, because despite all its frivolity, John Wick is an intelligent movie, aware of the fact that some things can and should be left unsaid, and if the viewer does not get it – tough.

Nothing in this movie seems accidental to me. It is very well thought out and executed.

On a personal note, my boyfriend and Renji (our dog) won this:

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Lucy (2014)

The premise itself – what if human beings could use 100 per cent of their cerebral capacity – opens up a possibility of a remarkably interesting movie. But Luc Besson seems undecided in how to develop the premise. It seems like he could not decide whether to make an action-packed movie about a superhuman, or a philosophical discussion about the nature of human kind and the universe. So he tried to do both. The result is a movie which lacks character and cohesion.
A few times my mind wandered to the Matrix and Akira, which only goes to show that my attention was not fully on the movie, despite the fact that Scarlett Johansson was once again riveting.

You can choose to watch Lucy or not. Frankly, whatever you decide, you will lose absolutely nothing.

I hate indifference. I prefer feeling appalled, exhilarated … something. Indifference and ambivalence I detest. And I can sum up Luc Besson’s Lucy with those two words.

The most ridiculous thing is, after having seen Lucy, I left the cinema with this in my head:

ADDENDUM: Apparently I was not using 100 per cent of my cerebral cortex when writing this post. It would not be very nice to edit this post as to hide the fact that I’m a lazy bastard who takes what is served to her by the popular culture at face value so, so I’ll just add this link – Myths About the Brain: 10 percent and Counting.