Brave (2012)

I am Merida, and I’ll be Shooting for My Own Hand

Brave (2012)I have a very strong feeling that today’s movie was officially requested of me. I feel like my friend Christina Moscoscamosco did it. It may also have been my roommate Richurd. My interest was originally piqued in this movie because of Black Friday. Whilst working on Black Friday, this movie was playing in the break room. I only managed to catch about a half hour of it on my lunch before going back into the madness which is people for the most mediocre deals. Eventually, I borrowed it from my roommate with the intention of filling in the gaps I had from my brief viewing. It took up its perch in a pile of movies I had to watch and was promptly forgotten. At least until Richurd started pestering me to watch the damn thing already. And, since I’m terrified of his wrath, I present you my review of Brave, brought to you by the great people at Disney Pixar, written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and including the vocal talents of Kelly MacDonald, Peigi Barker, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Callum O’Neill, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Steven Cree, Sally Kinghorn, Steve Purcell, and John Ratzenberger.

In Scotland, the family of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) – Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and young Princess Merida (Peigi Barker) – are out on a picnic for Merida’s birthday. After giving Merida a gift of a bow, the family is attacked by a giant bear called Mor’du. Fergus fights off the bear at the cost of his foot. Later in life, now at age 17, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is distraught to find that she is to be betrothed to one of the sons of the kings of the other three kingdoms. Merida and Elinor fight over it, ending with Merida slicing a tapestry Elinor had been working on with a sword and running away from the castle. Merida encounters a witch (Julie Walters) who has given up witchcraft for wood-carving. Merida pleads with the witch to give her a spell that will “change her mother and her fate,” having no care for the vagueness of the way she phrased that. The witch presents Merida with a cake to give to her mother. Blah blah blah, happily ever after.

I know the abrupt ending of that paragraph may have led you to believe I didn’t care for this movie. Not the case at all. This was a really good movie (as the greater majority of things that Pixar creates), but it was not without its problems. The story is probably the only thing I took issue with, but only because it’s so typical for Disney. It’s almost exactly the same story as every other Disney princess. Princess not getting along with her parents because of her responsibilities (Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas) and she’s a little tomboyish and a bit of a warrior (Mulan) and then her shit gets fucked up by a magician (Snow White, Aurora, Ariel) and it gets fixed when the beast gives its life for her (Belle). Also she hangs out with little people (Snow White) and she’s black (Tiana). Okay, I didn’t see the Princess and the Frog. But I wouldn’t call this movie derivative because I liked it. Let’s just call it “classic.” It has no real surprises, but I was happy with the slight modernization that Pixar added to it by not having the movie end when the Princess met the man of her dreams. Pretty much every Disney Princess movie ends with that, regardless of how free-spirited the character is supposed to be. After that, the only thing close to an issue I had with the movie was that the greater majority of the humor was slapstick, but that’s not even a complaint I’m that resolute with because it is a kid’s movie after all.

It’s a Pixar movie. Just saying that means that it looks fantastic. And this is one of the better looking ones too. They went cartoony with the characters, but they still looked good, and going too realistic with the characters runs you close to the danger of making them weird looking. I thought there was a chance that the bear Mor’du may have been a little too scary for children, and I base that mostly on the fact that it might have been too scary for me. They make those characters perform really well too. I really liked the body language that the momma bear has. That’s what gave me the most laughs in the movie. Also, the momma bear had a little shimmy to go with her shake when she was walking. Another thing worth mentioning is the music. It was kind of pop/Celtic musical stuff, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t be opposed to getting the soundtrack to this movie.

I never really know what to say about the performances in an animated movie. Most times the vocal cast does great jobs in these movies. They continued to do so here. And I love a Scottish accent. I wanted to fuck every accent in this movie. Especially Billy Connolly. I also thought the witch character was pretty amusing, and it amused me even more when I later found out that she was voice by Molly Weasley. I had a few issues with the Merida character though. Granted, there would not be much of a conflict and resolution in this movie without the enchanted cake, but how short-sighted was she to give it to her mom in the first place? Her wish was extremely vaguely worded in the first place. All you really asked was that the cake change your fate. Hell, I could do that for you without magic by putting a razor blade in the cake. That’d change your mom up but good! And you didn’t get much brighter when the witch gave you the solution to the spell. I figured that shit out right away. I am SO much smarter than you, Merida! Then later, when she gets trapped in the room and her father goes out to kill the bear, she tries to get out briefly and then gives up and starts crying. If you would just be a proper woman and get to sewing, that bear would turn back to human and your problem would be solved!

I managed to infuse a review of a Disney Pixar movie with cursing, mild racism, and sexism. I’m actually kind of proud of myself for that. Brave was a good movie, but they didn’t really bother to try anything that new in the story. If all Disney Princesses must have vaginas and share many common plot points, Merida will make a fine addition. But, even with that as the case, the movie is beautiful and the story is still charming. Perhaps most of the charm comes from those sweet, sweet Scottish accents, but I feel like the movie did a good job of it as well. This is a movie that you should definitely watch if you have kids, and probably should watch if you don’t. Brave gets “A princess should not have weapons at all in my opinion” out of “I think I could make you understand if you would just listen.”

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The Boondock Saints (2000)

I’m Figuring Some Shit Out Here

In order to continue my wicked awesome string of Boston/Massachusetts movies, I decided to review a movie that is wicked Boston that was requested by my friend and coworker Captain Hook, wicked lovah of all things hookah.  The problem with reviewing this movie stems from the fact that it’s wicked populah, and that I’ve already seen this movie twice and didn’t think much of it.  It’s so populah that I purchased the movie based on the raving reviews that friends had given me for it, but still never saw anything special to this movie.  And, according to the reviews I’ve seen for this movie, I seem to agree not with the general population that gave it 93% good reviews, but with the professional critics that gave it a measly 17%.  And that makes me a professional critic!  So, when I sat down to watch this movie for the third time (remembering next to nothing from my previous viewings), I decided to try to pay special attention and try to figure out how this movie got so wicked populah.  Let’s see what happened in my review of The Boondock Saints, written and directed by Troy Duffy, and starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Willem Dafoe, David Della Rocco, Billy Connolly, Bob Marley (not that Bob Marley, apparently), David Ferry, Brian Mahoney, Carlo Rota, and Ron Jeremy.  And yes, I will stop affecting that accent.

Two Irish stereotypes, Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus), get into a bar brawl with three Russian mobster stereotypes which winds up with two of the mobsters dead.  FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe) is called in to investigate.  Despite the Boston cop stereotypes surrounding him, he is able to figure out exactly what happened.  Connor and Murphy turn themselves in and are let off, the deaths being ruled self-defense.  The two brothers mistake water falling on their faces for a message from God that they should be killing evil-doers.  With the help of their friend, errand boy for the Italian mob stereotypes Rocco (David Della Rocco), they set off to kill anyone that does naughty things, with Smecker ever on their heels.

It’s official: I still don’t get it.  I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, but I don’t know why anyone pays this any special type of attention.  It’s roughly the same quality as any other dumb action movie.  It’s fun while it lasts, but it’s instantly forgettable.  The story is subpar vigilante fare.  There’s no real good reason that these guys decide to start killing people; they just get hit in the head with some water while remembering a sermon they heard earlier and decide God talked to them.  It’s roughly on par with Bill Paxton seeing a bowling trophy sparkle and thinking that God was saying they should kill people.  I want to say to anyone that thinks God is talking to them: he probably doesn’t want you to kill people.  I haven’t spoken to God and am only basing that on that thing in that book he told some dudes to write, but I think it’s the safest thing to assume.  After the revelation that they should become vigilantes, that’s all the movie is.  Two, three, or four guys going places and shooting bad people.  The more interesting stuff in the movie all involved Smecker.  They weren’t that much more interesting as just a really good detective figuring out what happened in each scene, but it was slightly more interesting.  One of them had an interesting bit of cinematography when Smecker was describing the scene from inside the scene, but this only happened once.  The movie begins and ends with some pointless jargon running through the credits.  The opening credits show a bunch of random scenes involving the two brothers, but had nothing in them we needed to see and I felt they just wasted my time.  The end credits had scenes of people being interviewed about what they thought about what the Saints were doing, which I also didn’t need to see.  The ending credit ones seemed to be showing the mixed viewpoints on how people would feel about real vigilante’s, perhaps to attempt to add a message about whether it’d be right or wrong to kill bad people, but the movie itself doesn’t take that standpoint, so why bother?  The movie is only about the brothers being beloved for what they’re doing.  So much so that even the best cop on the force sides with what they’re doing.  Generally a dumb action movie would replace good writing with good action, but that’s not really here either.  Most of the action is broken up with scenes of Smecker talking about the action, and the rest of it is not much more spectacular than two guys standing in one place and firing bullets at people.  Those people die.  The end.  So you’ve got an interesting idea but poor writing, mediocre action, and a lot of time wasting, so what do you get?  Apparently, a cult hit.

The performances are fine enough, but I’d say the characters are all poorly written.  There’s one character in this movie that isn’t just a stereotype given physical form.  Not in an offensive way or anything, just in a one dimensional way.  Both Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus played their parts well, but they were written very one dimensionally.  David Della Rocco didn’t play much on the Italian stereotype, but he still only had the one, uber-manic character trait to him.  And he got pretty annoying.  Billy Connolly had what I assumed would’ve been an interesting character, but they couldn’t allow those shenanigans so they didn’t put him in the movie very much.  Willem Dafoe’s character was the only one I found that interesting.  He was gay, but not stereotypically so.  He even calls the guy he wakes up with a fag for wanting to cuddle.  He was the classic “best cop on the force” but had the whole gay thing going on as well, and was conflicted about his feelings on the Saints.  I also think he made a pretty convincing woman.  Not a “pretty” woman, but a convincing one!

Statistically, the greater majority of people will probably disagree with me when I say I don’t care for this movie.  It’s not painful to watch or even bad, but it’s poorly written with most of the characters having only one dimension to their character, the action is nothing special, but the performances are mostly good.  If you’re really into vigilantes, or just really into Jesus telling people to kill other people, maybe you’ll like it.  I personally require either a good story or cool action from my movies, and perhaps even a combination of both.  Without those, this movie’s okay, but forgettable.  Boondock Saints gets “It is your corrupt we claim” out of “Hey fuck-ass.  Gimme a beer.”

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