Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Dictator is filled with raunchy jokes, and even though they follow that "shock the audience" formula that made the other outings so hilarious, the whole thing still almost feels "safe." And the social commentary that Cohen is known for feels really forced and inorganic to the movie. Part of this might be attributed to the fact that you aren't getting "real" people in this movie. Whereas in Borat or Bruno, the social commentary came straight from Cohen's brilliant social experiments, The Dictator force-feeds us the "lessons" and it comes off really preachy. Although there are moments in this movie that really shine (such as the helicopter scene seen in the trailer), it just felt muddled and lacking. Many of the jokes were already shown in the trailer, and I was constantly thinking in my head that it might get better...but it never did.
Again, similarly to The Dictator, God Bless America was not without its moments. I enjoyed the fake TV shows that obviously resemble certain reality shows, and there are some moments of violence (especially one towards the very beginning) that are quite shocking. I do have to say though, some of the blood effects feature really bad CGI, which there's no real excuse for; I don't care how "indie" this is, I think you can afford some fake blood. I also liked the two main actors (although their dialogue left a LOT to be desired), who I thought kept a strange, yet believable chemistry. If you want to watch the cinematic equivalent of a 50 year old ranting on and on about how reality TV is terrible with some awkward dialogue and somewhat enjoyable sequences of shooting sprinkled in, have a blast. I just wished that it had more of what made World's Greatest Dad so great: a story.
Monday, May 7, 2012
So how did it turn out? The consensus from everybody on the planet seems to be that it "kicked ass." Now, I would agree with that in some aspects, but I truly felt a little disappointed in the film. I know I'm in the extreme minority on this one. First off what I liked: the action and how it was handled. With maybe 7 characters that needed their moments (including Iron Man, Hulk, Cap', Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the villain Loki) I think all of them have at least one great scene. Some are given more time than others, but what do you expect? Considering what he had to do, I don't think Whedon could have done much better. I loved the fact that these wildly different characters are interacting, and in interesting ways. The action is extremely well handled, and the way the camera moves from hero to hero in the 20-30 minute battle scene at the end (spoiled endlessly in the trailer) is top notch.
For all it had going for it though, I just couldn't dig it, sorry. The characters all work and their interactions are awesome, but what they are fighting for I couldn't give a rat's ass about. Much like a lot of recent summer blockbusters, the plot is almost an excuse for the action. The beginning of the film is a real slog. It takes a while for things to pick up. Basically Loki steals a glowing blue cube of destruction known as the Terreract and there is a brief escape scene involving Loki. When he manages to skirt away, Sam Jackson says some line and THE AVENGERS plays on the screen. That opening title moment should have given me goosebumps, but I just felt let down - I just thought 'This is the beginning of the movie?' The entire plot boils down to the heroes trying to stop Loki and get back the cube. I love movies like Spider-Man and Batman because I genuinely care about what happens and feel a personal connection to the story, but chasing after a cosmic cube is so disinteresting to me I kind of got bored at parts of this.
Everyone keeps toting on about how great Whedon's dialogue is and how funny the film is. I don't know what it is, but I just didn't find this as funny as everyone else (maybe I'm just a stickler or something). I honestly thought the almost universally-hated Iron Man 2 was much funnier than this. I found the same problem with The Cabin in the Woods, maybe me and Whedon just have different sensibilities. Everyone seemed to laugh at this one line Thor makes about his brother being adopted...I for the life of me can't see how that deserves anything more than a chuckle, but when people hear it's Whedon, all hands on deck, we've got a genius here.
I hope I'm not sounding contradictory here, but my feelings about The Avengers are pulling at me both ways. On one hand it was a logical culmination of four radically different-toned films and it pretty much covered all bases in terms of incorporating big action set pieces, individual character moments and interactions, but when it comes down to it, I couldn't care. I think The Avengers would have worked better as a TV series; that way all of the interconnections could be given a proper amount of time and more interesting themes could pop up. As it stands, it's solid enough popcorn entertainment that's sure to entertain nearly everyone in the theater, and given the challenges this movie faced before it even started, that's a minor miracle compared to the clusterfuck that could have been (DC, take note if a Justice League movie ever arises). It still suffers from the genre, the mythology, and the previous films that laid the groundwork, but for superhero/Whedon/action fans I think this is a must-see anyway.
I was originally going to give this a C+, but after having some time to let the movie simmer in my head (and after thinking about me being massacred for giving it such a low grade), I actually really want to see it again and have since had a sudden surge in interest in comic books and want to get into them more.
Also, come on Dark Knight Rises...I know this Avengers thing has made a lot of money, but we can beat it.