Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Movie Review: Elysium

Neil Blomkamp backed himself into a corner with this one. His breakthrough film, 2009's sci-fi parable District 9, was flat out amazing. I remember walking out of the theater in a daze, stunned by the freight train of awesomeness that I had just seen. What on Earth could Blomkamp do for a follow up? Well in his latest film, the South African auteur decided to ditch Earth and head to the stars on the space station Elysium (see what I did there? =p ). Sadly, I think District 9 set the bar a little too high and left me with some lofty expectations. Elysium is still a fun movie in it's own right but I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed overall.

It should go without saying that Blomkamp is a socially conscious director. District 9 was an allegory for South African apartheid...with aliens. His new film Elysium continues this trend and tackles current socio-political issues such as health care, income inequality and immigration. Aside from his news hound tendencies, Blomkamp is also, you know, one of the most unique and visionary science fiction directors of the last few decades. The future tech geek stuff he packs into his films is enough to induce nerdgasms from any self respecting sci-fi fan. So if Blomkamp still delivers in the CNN/gadgetry departments, what's the big flaw with Elysium in general? It's the other part of the film that brings the rest down, the actual storytelling...you know, it's kind of important.

Matt Damon plays a down on his luck bro stuck in one of those shitty dystopian future's we are undoubtedly heading for. The kind where all the wealthy 1st class passengers have retreated to the safety of Elysium, a space station/lifeboat that boasts advanced medical care and robot servants, while the rest of us schmucks are stuck on Earth/ the Titanic left to rot. So Damon has to get to Elysium and use one of their fancy schmancy med pods to reverse the gnarly illness that will end his life...and quick. He dons some high tech robot exo-skeleton battle suit and starts kicking ass, literally fighting his way off Earth. Again, all this stuff is pretty cool. My main beef with the film is that is all feels so rushed.

Blomkamp is an ace when it comes to world building. In both District 9 and Elysium I was totally lured into the cinematic realm he created, unfortunately, his latest film cuts and runs without delivering any real pay off. We see glimpses of cool stuff, then it's gone. There are some summer movies that are long and bloated and could a good 20-30 mins shaved off the run time (Man of Steel, I'm talking to you) but Elysium is not one of them. If anything, this movie deserved to be longer! I pray that the blu-ray has an extended director's cut. Also, whoever edited this film please, try decaf. When there's awesome explosions going on and characters are throwing some grimacing looks at each other, maybe it would be wise not to cut away from them and let shit play out for more than 2 seconds at a time. Maybe.

So there it is. Yes, Elysium has great special effects, a riveting message behind it and Matt Damon's performance is strong enough to carry the slack from the less than stellar supporting cast, but the film's rushed pacing and frantic editing style brings the potentially awesome film down to merely good. I still enjoyed this film and look forward to Blomkamp's next project...still crossing my fingers for dat blu-ray doe!

Movie Review: The Wolverine

Fear not, the latest film in Fox's godforsaken X-Men franchise isn't all that bad. I mean, it's still pretty crappy overall, especially when compared to Marvel's phase one films, but it's not as horrible as the train wreck that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Of course when the bar is set so ridiculously low as that...

Before we begin, it must be said that continuity between Fox's X-Men films is completely fucked. You'd need a PhD in bullshit studies if you want to decipher the madness that Fox has unleashed upon us (or you could check out this handy dandy X-Men film study guide). So anyways, this new Wolverine film is a direct sequel to the also heinous, X-Men: The Last Stand, not like Origins or X-Men: First Class which were prequels, and see's Wolverine moping around in the wilderness all emo because he killed Jean Grey like five years earlier. Anyways, he's summoned to Japan to take care of some loose ends from his past and ends up kinda losing his powers (healing factor: not claws) and kinda falling in love with some smoking hot Japanese babe. He eventually comes to terms with what it means to be a hero, after battling his animal urges for like several centuries, and learns that at the end of the day the mutant powers don't make the man. That, and he finally puts that Jean Grey guilt trip behind him cause his new girl is like really cute. The end.

Mariko = best thing about the movie
Of course none of that crap matters. What does matter is this laundry list of complaints. Warning....nerd rant ahead. *SPOILERS*
  • Wolverine loses his healing factor (sort of), so every time he pops his claws out he should be screaming in agony and bleeding profusely. That, and he'd be exhausted from lugging around several hundred pounds of adamantium all day.
  • Why don't Wolverine's adamantium claws go through those ninja swords like a hot knife through butter?
  • If Wolverine's memory is scrambled from his Weapon X days, how the hell would he remember the old dude he saved from Nagasaki?
  • WTF is up with that Viper chick? Really. She feels like something out of Origins or Last Stand.
  • The giant Silver Samurai/ Iron Man rip off is almost hilarious. Also, what's the deal with Wolverine's bone claws regrowing after the Samurai chops his adamantium one's off? His skeleton is laced with adamantium, how the fuck is bone going to push through and form new claws?
Sorry. That stuff just really bugged the crap out of me. So yeah, the new Wolverine flick is enjoyable if you turn off your brain and try to ignore all the horrible continuity flaws. Jackman is good, blah blah. At this point, these X-Men flicks are beyond saving. The after credits Days of Future Past tie in is supposed to get everyone pumped and redeem the franchise...but I've learned not to get my hopes up anymore. Please Disney, make nice with Fox and buy back the X-Men rights so Marvel can do these films right. Pleeeeeeease.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Deafheaven @ The Echoplex, Los Angeles. 8/23/13.

Deafheaven are blowing up. Back in May the band opened for veteran noise rockers Boris at the Echoplex, five months later Deafheaven headlined and sold out the same venue themselves. On paper, the San Francisco natives sound, a dizzying blend of black metal and shoegaze/post-rock influences doesn't seem like a recipe for accolades or huge success. Deafheaven however manage to pull the whole thing off rather well. Really fucking well. The underground metal and punk rock media having been going apeshit for the band's latest album Sunbather, so much so that even mainstream publications like Rollingstone are trying to get in on the buzz while they can. Deafheaven had played Los Angeles many times before but this was to be my first time seeing them live and I didn't really know what to expect. I personally enjoy Deafheaven's dreary to ethereal nine minute epics as chill out music. The barrage of blast beats and floating guitar melodies are startlingly hypnotic, inviting reflective thoughts and zoning out. In other words, I was totally unprepared for shit storm that took place once they hit the stage.

The crowd inside the Echoplex was equal parts rapturous and downright ravenous. I understand the first part, Deafheaven's music could be described as both sweeping and inspiring. However, I fail to understand how moshing, crowd surfing and tossing cans of PBR around is warranted...during the slow parts. I think most of the shenanigans were due to the vast spectrum of Deafheaven's fanbase. I'm no anthropologist, but it appeared as though the folks with little to no exposure to tremolo picking where the ones getting the most belligerent, but hey, who am I to judge? To each their own. Long story short, the crowd loved them some Deafheaven.

The band played Sunbather in it's entirety (save for one interlude track) which was tantamount to Christmas morning for most inside. Really, the new album is that good. From the moment they launched into "Dream House" the band not only commandeered the stage, but the audience's sanity as well. I can't honestly say the band's raucous reception wasn't entirely welcome. The mood was festive inside to say the least. Besides, the breakdown near the end of "Dream House" that gives way to that soaring guitar wail is so epic, I'm glad that burly dude behind shouted "YEEEEAH" like from Team America: World Police, because it deserves it. My highlight of the night was watching the band nail "The Pecan Tree," their drummer in the American Psycho shirt in particular. During their encore, playing "Unrequited" from their debut album Roads to Judah, vocalist George Clarke's mic went out. For over an hour the dude had been slamming his microphone stand into the stage and swinging it around like a rogue band leader before it finally decided to end it's own suffering. Without missing a beat, George kept shrieking into the audience at the top of his lungs, amplification be damned. The emotional intensity of Deafheaven's music is even more pronounced in their live show. That explains the king's welcome they received at the Echoplex. Check this band out ASAP. 

Mellow vibes on this one folks. Promise.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

MIA: Birthday Week

"Hey bud, let's party!"
Hey hey Blogger world! I've been MIA lately...sorry about that. I took a mini vacation down to Cornado Island this past week to celebrate my *gasp* 28th birthday. Fun times were had. I also enjoyed one of the gnarliest concert/time travel experiences last week, watching amazing Iron Maiden, Metallica and Rage Against The Machine tribute bands perform at the House of Blues in Anaheim. I should be back to blogging soon, but til then:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Iconic T-shirts in Film

"...or you can do combinations."
I love movies. I love stupid t-shirts. It should come as no surprise that I'd love a supercut of iconic t-shirts used in films. The people from Found Item Clothing who created this vid, are viral marketing geniuses. Not only am I going to share/spam this supercut with the world, but plan on ordering a good dozen or so shirts from their webstore. Well played folks. Well played.