Frozen (2013)

I Don’t Have a Skull.  …Or Bones.

Frozen (2013)I finally found time to get back into the theaters … but we’ll get to that later.  I told Facebook to pick what I would be reviewing next, and Facebook picked Frozen, based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee, co-directed by Chris Buck, and including the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Ciarán Hinds, and Alan Tudyk.

Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses of Arendelle, but they have special magical powers.  Elsa can create ice at will and Anna falls in love with anything with a penis.  While playing as children, Elsa’s mutant power smashes Anna right in the face nearly killing her.  She is saved by the troll king (Ciarán Hinds), who removes any memories she has of Elsa’s powers.  Elsa isolates herself from Anna to keep from hurting her again, but Anna doesn’t understand why.  Then their parents die because Up was such a popular movie that Disney learned that depressing kids was the way to win their hearts.  When Elsa comes of age, the doors of the castle are opened up for Elsa’s coronation, which activates Anna’s mutant power when the first man says words to her.  Elsa objects to their hour long engagement because you shouldn’t fall in love while waiting for your quality eyeglasses to be made and the ensuing argument reveals Elsa’s powers to the kingdom.  Elsa retreats from the castle, but leaves behind an unseasonable winter to remember her by.  Then Anna goes after her.

There were things that I appreciated about this movie and things I didn’t like, but overall I enjoyed the movie.  They did some unexpected things with the story that I thought were interesting, but I’ll get to those later.  One of the things I liked about the movie may not even have been true.  I like it when Disney movies put in references to other Disney movies, like how this movie had Flynn and Rapunzel in one scene.  I also heard someone speculate that the boat sinking in the beginning was the wreck from the Little Mermaid.  I even noticed some of my own.  Did you know that the reindeer was in the Lion King?  And that the snowman was the same one from Aladdin?  You gotta think about these things, people.  But since this is a movie and I’m just nit-picky, I noticed a few things in the story that didn’t make sense.  For instance, they talk in this movie multiple times about how it’s much better that Anna got hit in the head by Elsa’s ice powers than it would have been if she’d been hit in the heart.  I kind of understand the metaphor you were going for, but just think of what you’re doing to the future doctors that are watching this!  I would argue that it is at least equally as bad to have a frozen heart as it is a frozen brain.  Also, what was the deal with that guy at Elsa’s coronation?  Would it REALLY be that big of a deal for Elsa to grab that Diablo 3 mace and the Apple of Eden from Assassin’s Creed with her gloves on?  Is it because, by the laws of Arendelle, that would make Elsa’s gloves Queen of the land?  Another problem was just a continuity error.  Elsa created her dress out of her ice powers, so why did her dress remain when she removed the ice from the land at the end of the movie?  Technically speaking, she should’ve been naked.  That’s just good science.

A lot of the problems I had with this movie were because of the message of female empowerment that saturated the movie.  First of all, I’m a chauvinist, so I don’t like any lying ass movie that says women are strong.  But also, it just wasn’t really consistent.  Sure, they didn’t need the man to save her at the end of the movie because the act of true love was her saving her sister.  That’s nice and novel for a Disney movie, but it’s not like Anna didn’t need a man through most of the movie.  She saved Kristoff a few times, but she wouldn’t even have gotten close to the castle without him.  And she did fall in love with him, so that’s not really that novel for a Disney movie.  You might think it was because the original love interest turned out to be the bad guy, but that’s more of a “Men are dicks” message than about how women are strong.  I’ll tell you a few things I DID learn about women from this movie: women LOVE chocolate and can’t control their emotions, even when it involves magical powers and leads to killing your sister … twice.  So I liked the breaks in tradition like not having an evil queen and not solving every problem by making out with some dude, but I’m not going to pat them on the back too hard for it.

I think the biggest problem I had with this movie was the same I have with any musical: that it was one.  I don’t mind music and singing in a movie, but not all of these songs needed to exist.  I don’t get why the music at the beginning of the movie sounds like a rejected song from the Lion King.  I also didn’t think I needed a song that was probably called “We Collect Ice for a Living.”  Nor did I need to know that about that group of random people at all.  Nor did that group of people need to be in the movie.  Let’s just jump right into “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  That was a good and cute song that actually told a bit of story in a helpful way.  And, of course, there’s “Let It Go.”  This one is a tricky one because it doesn’t really need to exist either as it’s basically just Elsa saying she’s cool living in a castle made of ice – a story that I would’ve put together when I saw her living in it – but the song is so strong that I wouldn’t have the movie without it.  The song between Sven and Kristoff was pointless, and the song with the trolls seemed to intentionally waste my time.  It was all about the trolls thinking Anna and Kristoff were in love, then they said they weren’t, then the trolls basically said, “Oh, then we just wasted a lot of your time.  Shall we try to save Anna’s life now?”

The cast was all great.  Good singin’ pipes and good character performances as well.  Kristen Bell played Anna really cute and funny, and made her very easy to engage with … which is something that Hans took advantage of.  GET IT?!?!  I would’ve been much different in Anna’s position.  First of all, I’d have a vagina.  That’s a big change.  Then I would’ve hated Elsa.  Not because she hit me in the face with ice and nearly killed me, but because she got mutant powers and I got jack shit!  I would be so pissed at my sister if that happened!  She doesn’t even read comic books!!  And Anna picked a really shitty time to air out her emotional baggage with Elsa.  Did you have to do it in the middle of her coronation in a crowded room full of strangers?  Just imagine how much better that would’ve gone if you went to her room and hashed it out in private like a decent person.  No one would’ve even witnessed it when she stabbed you in the heart with an icicle. Idina Menzel did great, but I kept wondering if Adele Tazlim wouldn’t have done better.  Josh Gad did a great job with Olaf as well.  He had his moments where it seemed like he was trying too hard, but most of the time he was funny and relentlessly adorable.  There were two characters that I had real problems with in this movie.  First was Hans.  Not his motivation though, I completely agree with him on his “Bang either one of the sisters or kill them both.  Either way, you’re King” philosophy.  But why did you have to be the idiot that jumps the gun and lets the hero survive?  Are you a Bond villain?!  Anna was SO close to dying when you decided to go announce it to everyone.  What if they had gone into the room as you might expect someone to do when the princess of your kingdom dies two doors down from the room you’re standing in?  The very least they would’ve found out was that she wasn’t dead, and then the next part of that is that they find out you’re an asshole.  Speaking of assholes: the King and Queen!  “We’ll protect Elsa from the world!  We’ll lock her in her room and give her no emotional issues and really teach her to value her life!”  You might have at least tried to get someone to train her on how to control her powers.  Those troll assholes seemed like they might’ve known a thing or two about magic.

Frozen was a fine Disney movie, but it didn’t blow me away.  It broke from a few conventions of Disney movies, allowing for stronger female protagonists, but kept enough of them in to properly represent women as Cathy from the comic strips, being over emotional and loving chocolate.  I felt that some of the songs were a waste of time, but “Let It Go” was my jams.  I would say I probably recommend you watch this movie, but in the very least you should set “Let It Go” on a loop on YouTube.  Frozen gets “Foot size doesn’t matter” out of “I love it! It’s so cute!  It’s like a little baby unicorn!”

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John Carter (2012)

You Are Ugly, But You Are Beautiful!

The inspiration behind seeing today’s movie is going to be hard to explain, mainly because I had no inspiration to see this movie whatsoever.  I saw the trailers and thought, “Yup.  Looks like a movie.”  And that was it.  I saw a couple of people on Facebook talk about how great the movie was, but I would not be swayed.  One friend asked me if I wanted to see it, and I said no, but probably would’ve gone anyway had I not been at work.  When my roommate got a free ticket and offered to pay half of mine, I decided the universe was telling me to see this movie already.  Let’s see how it did in my review of John Carter, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon, directed by Andrew Stanton, and starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Ciaran Hinds, Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, and Daryl Sabara.

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) of Virginia has died suddenly.  When he fell ill, he had sent for his nephew, Edgar “Ned” Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), but he arrives postmortem, but is given John’s diary by his butler and told that only he was supposed to read it.  His first thought is to release this book, slap his name on it, make millions, and then get a movie made about it with the guy that ruined Gambit in the Wolverine movie, but then his second thought is to read it.  It details a story about John looking for gold and finding a cave with a pasty bald dude who tries to kill him.  John shoots the pasty dude and gets transported away by the dude’s medallion.  He wakes up in a desert slightly different than the one he was already in and finds himself able to jump really high.  He meets a giant, green, four-armed creature called a Thark who is named Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).  Eventually, a couple of airships commanded by by the ruthless Sab Than (Dominic West) pursues a ship carrying Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) into Thark territory.  Sab Than has been given a powerful weapon called the “Ninth Ray” by the pasty bald Therns and is pursuing Dejah because she is trying to escape marrying him to save her people.  John uses his new powers to save her and bring down the majority of the ships, though Sab is able to escape.  Through Dejah, he finds that he was transported to Mars.  John resolves to get back to Earth, Dejah resolves to get John to defeat Sab, and Tars Tarkas’ secret daughter Sola (Samantha Morton) resolves to follow them around and be relatively ineffectual.

This movie perplexed me.  I didn’t find the movie hard to follow as the story is not really that complicated.  What perplexes me about the movie is that it’s inexplicably boring.  But, because I’m writing a review, I must find a way to “explic” it.  It’s strange to me because it has all the components of a really cool, really interesting, and/or really fun action movie, but it never comes to fruition.  The story is an interesting enough concept.  I like the idea of a human being transported to Mars where he turns into a superhero because he comes from a place with higher gravity, allowing him to jump higher and hit harder on Mars.  I don’t really get behind the idea that he’d EVER want to return to Earth, though.  His family died long before the movie started, so he didn’t need to get back because of that.  He did have a cave full of gold waiting for him, but you know what a cave full of gold can’t buy you?  Fucking super powers!  And you want a reason to hang out with your super powers on Mars?  How about the sexy as Martian woman you just met?  Sure, their romance came out of nowhere, but who cares?  She’s hot!  Their relationship never really worked for me.  He saves her life with his superpowers, but all she’s concerned about is getting him to save her city.  A while later, he helps her up off the ground and you see that they’re crushing on each other now.  That’s how he wins her?  Helping her stand up?  Neither one of them had given the other any reason to like the other before that, so it must’ve been his ability to help her off the ground.  She was constantly trying to trick him into helping her people, and he was completely unconcerned with helping her people.  No reason whatsoever.  Though this story had elements that should entertain me, it never really did.  One of the few parts that gained some interest was the Thark tradition of letting loose some babies and having mother pounce on them and fight over them to gain motherhood.  So, with a story that never catches your attention, you’d have to rely on the action to do it.  There was lots of action, but none of it interested me, and I’m still a little curious about why.  There was a guy or two with superpowers, some sword fighting, some giant creatures, but it all eventually devolved into people randomly swinging swords and blue blood flying around a little.  That’s about it.  It could have been the look, I suppose.  Almost every setting was identical, or not far removed.  It goes from desert, to desert, to desert with some water, back to desert, then ends up in a city … surrounded by desert.  I’m sure that’s what Mars looks like, but Mars looks boring.  The CG all worked really well though.  The creatures looked like they were talking, animated like real creatures, they had personalities, weight, and lighting to all look really good.

I had been trying to figure out where I knew Taylor Kitsch from every time I saw the trailers.  I wasn’t able to figure it out until the actual movie started, but then it worked against him because Gambit was my favorite X-Man and he ruined him.  He did fine enough in this movie, but I didn’t like the character because he looked the superpowered gift horse right in the mouth.  He did introduce himself as, “Carter.  John Carter,” and I’m pretty sure no one’s ever actually introduced themselves that way.  I was a big fan of Lynn Collins from her work in her own hotness from the moment I saw her.  I didn’t pay much attention to her performance though.  I did get supremely irritated by her character though.  It takes her the greater majority of the movie to stop being a selfish bitch.  She’s basically told that Sab will kill her people unless she marries him … so she runs off.  That means he’ll kill your people!  You care enough to try to get a guy with no interest in your people to help out, but you could’ve just married the guy in the beginning and not been a selfish bitch.  She figures it out about two hours later and does it, but now John loves her and stops it from happening.  Everyone else in the movie was either forgettable, a voice of a CG creature, or both.  Most of the characters in the movie made so little impact on me that I genuinely found myself much more interested in what was happening with the giant, alien, dog-like creature called Woola.  I loved that little guy, mostly (I’m sure) because he reminded me a lot of my own dog, Jabba.  He had an oversized head, big sloppy tongue, cheerful demeanor, and tendency to lie down and go to sleep at random.  The similarities were damaged some by the fact that the dog could run super fast instead of running for a few seconds, getting bored, and going to sleep. But so disinteresting were the human characters that, in a battle between a large army of aliens and John Carter, with Woola helping out a little, I found myself ignoring what John was doing and looking to make sure Woola was okay.

John Carter is a movie that seemed to have everything, but actually offered next to nothing.  The story was in interesting idea that didn’t deliver.  The action had all the ingredients but turned out bland.  The performances were fine, but all of their characters were overshadowed by a dog.  The CG was great, but the settings all looked the same and were visually boring.  Like I said, this movie is inexplicably boring, but it’s been explicked to the best of my ability.  I would say this movie is a waste of two hours plus, so I would recommend you steer clear of coughing up theater prices for it.  When it comes to RedBox, that might be the time to give it a look, but you’ll also do well to avoid it there as well.  John Carter gets “To those who seek the solace of eternity” out of “When I saw you, I believed it was a sign … that something new can come into this world.”

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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

You Were the Worst Fucking Deal I Ever Made!

I finally managed to get to a theater to see a movie followup of a movie I reviewed last month.  After how badly I felt they ruined one of the most compelling comic book characters last time, I went into today’s movie hoping for the best.  I mean, why wouldn’t it be a winning combination to take the stuff from the first movie and add two directors that I feel are completely overrated?  Who knows?  Maybe the different take on things will improve things.  We’ll find out right now in my review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, written by David S. Goyer, directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (or Neveldine/Taylor as it was in the credits), and starring Nicolas Cage, Fergus Riordan, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, and Christopher Lambert.

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is still under the curse of the Ghost Rider.  At night, or in the presence of evil, he turns into a badass with a fiery skull and prehensile chains.  All the rest of the time, it causes him to overact.  He’s now hanging out in Europe until he gets approached by Moreau (Idris Elba) and is asked to use his overacting powers to rescue a little boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) who the Devil, or Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), wants to possess the body of.  At first, Johnny doesn’t want to get involved, but when Moreau promises him some sweet, sweet freedom from the curse of the Ghost Rider, Johnny jumps on board.  But he also does a pretty shitty job because he comes across Danny and his mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), gets his ass kicked by the Devil’s henchman, Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), and lets Danny get abducted.  The rest of the movie is the Ghost Rider playing tug of war with the Devil, with Danny as the rope.

This movie sucked out loud.  Though the story is much improved from the original movie, the way it’s told is stupid, annoying, and lackluster.  For some reason, people seem to enjoy the work of these two shitty directors, Neveldine/Taylor.  Yes, it is interesting that they film while riding on Rollerblades to make us feel like we’re closer to the action.  What it isn’t is enjoyable to watch.  The camera is constantly shaking, whipping back and forth for no reason, and doing whatever it can to make me give my popcorn back to the nice people at the movie theater in a slightly more digested form.  If I wanted to watch Crank again (and I don’t), I would go watch Crank.  Get a new trick, guys.  Your current one sucks.  Some of the visuals in this movie were really awesome.  Some of them were less than that.  The Ghost Rider looks so much more badass in this movie.  Something about the new way they did the skull is really awesome looking.  But the Ghost Rider is a worse actor than Nicolas Cage.  Instead of being a hardcore badass, his body movements are more like the little girl from the Ring.  He oddly darts around the field of battle and often chooses to try to win a staring contest with an enemy while the enemies around him are reloading.  And I don’t mean that he’s killing them with the Penance Stare.  They forgot about that for this movie.  He just runs up to guys, gets face to face with them, and stares.  Then gets hit by a grenade.  One new trick that he has is that whatever the Rider rides turns all firey and badass like his bike, and this is pretty cool.  He does it to some gigantic digging machine and a big truck.  At one point, Ghost Rider was knocked into the air where he stopped in midair and started spinning around in circles, parallel to the ground that he was about 5 feet off of.  What the fuck are you doing?!  The only logical assumption to be made is that the directors were riding their Rollerblades behind a truck when it stopped abruptly, causing them to smash their faces into the vehicle causing them brain damage.  And, though I still had to sit through the movie, at least they’re brain damaged now.

The basic story of Ghost Rider is good enough, but the dialogue and other ideas ruin that.  The basic premise of the movie is like End of Days, the Arnold Swasserhassermcgoo movie.  Something going to be inhabited by the Devil, there’s a good cult and a bad cult, and there’s only one person that can stop them.  Well, three people, but only one is really effective at it.  The dialogue, however, is generally pretty awful.  The entire opening narration by Cage is really blase about the whole situation.  Like “Yeah, that’s me.  I sold my soul to the Devil.  Whatev’s, bro.”  Part of that is Cage’s delivery, but I assume it was written, and written poorly.  As a plus though, in the recap of his past in the narration, Blaze actually intentionally puts his blood on the contract so that it’s not complete bullshit like the last movie.  But then I started wondering: Why would anyone WANT this “curse” lifted?  The only way it really affects you is by keeping people that are evil away from you, and part of your life you get to be a badass.  There’s also a part when one of the bad guys turns into a creature that can cause things to decay with a mere touch, but they also decided this would be a good point to have him digging through a guy’s lunch for something to eat.  He grabs a sandwich; it turns moldy.  He picks up an apple, but it also decays.  Then he picks up a Twinkie, and that stays fresh.  OH, I get it!  You’re retarded!  Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life for that gem.  The worst part in the movie for me was when Cage was talking with the little kid, and the kid asks what he has to do if he has to pee when he’s the Ghost Rider.  Blaze responds “Oh, it’s great.  It’s like a flamethrower.”  This joke wouldn’t be particularly funny, but it was just something throw out there … until Cage jumps up and starts mimicking a flamethrower with his wang, and the kid visualizes the Ghost Rider doing it.  Personally, I think it would’ve been more appropriate if the kid imagined the writer of the movie standing over the Ghost Rider, peeing on him.  It’s pretty much what you’re doing anyway.

Some of the performances in this movie were fine, but not too many.  Nick Cage … I suppose I don’t really need to say it, do I?  For the first 20 minutes of the movie, I was thinking he toned it down and was not annoyingly overacting the entire time, but then he started doing it again.  Idris Elba did a good enough job with the performance, but his French accent made him go over the top on occasion.  He’s not really French, he’s English.  But he literally kills two guys by throwing a bottle of wine at them, shooting them, and then berating them for wasting good wine.  It’s a shame they cut out the part where he choked someone with cheese and snails.  Ciaran Hinds and Violante Placido do solid jobs in the movie, and Johnny Whitworth and Fergus Riordan made no impact whatsoever.  I was really happy to see Christopher Lambert in the movie, but he didn’t have a very big role.

I must say, easily the best part of this movie is the trailer for the new Spider-Man that preceded it.  As for this movie, they somehow managed to made a movie worse than the original Ghost Rider.  And we thought it couldn’t be done…  There were a couple of parts in the action scenes that were bona fide badasslery, but the rest of it was crap.  Neveldine/Taylor continue to beat the shit out of the dead horse that is their Rollerblade riding style of directing, making most of the scenes shaky and nauseating.  If you wanted to see what Crank would look like if Chev Chelios’ head was on fire, this might be the movie for you.  Also, you might enjoy this box of Crayons and a padded room, but you can always keep drawing with your own feces.  The Ghost Rider himself looks better, but acts worse.  And so does Nick Cage.  I can’t recommend you watch this movie in the theaters.  It’s too expensive and I’m pretty sure they won’t give me my money back if I call and complain.  If you REALLY want to see this, it’ll probably be on RedBox in no time.  I’m looking out for you.  Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance gets “Roadkill” out of “I will eat your stinking soul!”

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There Will Be Blood (2007)

As Long As I Have Teeth, I Will Bite You

I honestly have no reason that I wanted to see today’s movie.  I guess it looked vaguely interesting from it’s trailers, or there was some Oscar buzz about it, or I was randomly clicking movies on Netflix.  No one can really tell.  It’s supposed to be a really good movie though, so I guess I’ll find out.  It did, however, take me a really long time to get it reviewed.  I got it from Netflix and let it sit on my desk for a while.  Then, when I tried to watch it, Netflix’s disc service let me down again by giving me a disc that was scratched to shit and unplayable.  I sent it back and got a replacement … which was also scratched to shit and unplayable.  Apparently this movie is popular with the asshole crowd.  But this second disc responded well to a go in the Game Dr., so I can finally present my review of There Will Be Blood, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Kevin J. O’Connor, Ciaran Hinds, and Russell Harvard.

In 1898, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a miner with the world’s shittiest lucky.  He mines some silver, but falls down the shaft and breaks his leg.  He then finds oil in the mine and one of his workers is killed when the oil buckets break free and smash his head, leaving his son to be adopted by Plainview and named H.W. (Dillon Freasier).  The fact that mayhem and death follow him around does nothing to slow his rise to a successful oil man.  One day, he gets approached by Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), who sells Plainview information about an ocean of oil beneath his family’s ranch.  Plainview goes to the ranch and confirms the potential for oil, and then purchases the ranch from Abel (David Willis) and Paul’s twin brother, Eli (also Paul Dano) with the promise of contributing $10,000 towards Eli’s church.  Plainview brings the oil derrick to the ranch, and does not forget his own personal death and destruction.  An accident gets a drill piece dropped on a guy in the well, killing him instantly.  Later, when the oil explodes out of the ground, H.W. is right in it’s path and the impact leaves him deaf.  If you hadn’t yet noticed a pattern, you can expect that the rest of the movie will have death and mayhem will follow Plainview for the next hour and a half.

I have next to no fucking idea what was going on in this movie.  I would say this is a movie that I respect, but do not like.  It’s really confusing in parts, boring in other parts, but it still kept my attention and I had no idea why.  At first, the movie is just about Plainview’s rise to riches, and it’s fairly interesting.  At about the halfway point of the movie, Plainview starts going really insane for no reason that I can figure.  He mentions something at one point about hating all other people and wanting no one around him to have any success, but that hardly excuses beating someone to death with a bowling pin.  Plainview had a passionate hatred for Eli from almost the moment he met him, and I never really understood what drove this hatred either.  I grant that I also found that guy really annoying, but I would probably just react with a good bit of ignoring him as opposed to slapping the shit out of him.  This movie did such a bad job of keeping me informed that I didn’t know that Paul and Eli were different people until I started writing this review!  Finding this out didn’t really clear anything up either.  The movie was basically just a realistic depiction of the life of a oil man.  Not that I’ve ever worked as an oil man before, but I feel like I know all about it now … and it’s boring.  We get to watch everything, like the early drilling technology, the measuring of the fields, the real estate acquisitions, all of it.  And if that sounds boring, you’re right!  What I thought was interesting was that I still found it pretty interesting.  I think the semi-random deaths and mayhem – in conjunction with the music that seemed to keep swelling, regardless to what was actually happening – made me keep watching thinking that something interesting was about to happen.  At least half of the time, the music swelled up to Plainview picking up the phone, whereas the other times it swelled to the oil derrick exploding into flames.  A good example of this is the beginning of the movie.  It’s just Plainview working in the mine, finding silver, hurting himself, finding oil, killing someone, moving on.  Not a single word is spoken until 15 minutes into the movie, but I was still paying close attention to it.  The settings were also very nice, and the camera angles were usually pretty interesting.

The performances were … good … ?  Daniel Day-Lewis is a fantastic actor (at least that’s what I hear; I think this is the second movie of his I’ve seen), but he (and everyone else in this movie) made very strange choices for their characters.  Everyone in this movie had a stiff and odd performance, but it also seemed like all of them chose to do this, so I really don’t know what to say about it.  I found it off-putting, but it’s what they were going for.  Daniel Day-Lewis was by far the best performance in the movie, as he started off stiff and odd but migrated towards bat-shit crazy at the end.  Paul Dano was the stiffest and the oddest.  I found him irritating through the entire movie.  He gets pretty wacky when he’s casting the demons out of people as the evangelical preacher, but that’s not going to win him any points with me.  Even as a religious person, I found his amount of bible thumping very irritating.  Everyone else in this movie will just fall under the heading of “I guess that’s how you wanted to do this” performances.

I’m torn on what to tell you guys about this movie.  The story (and the movie itself for the majority) is pretty boring, but it manages to hold your attention with a couple of cool accidents and music that tricks you into believing another one is always around the next corner.  The performances are good, but they’re also very off-putting.  I found the movie interesting enough, and I respect it’s quality, but I don’t want to ever watch it again.  It’s just boring to me.  But almost everyone on Rotten Tomatoes loves the thing, so maybe I’m wrong.  But I’m not.  I think you should watch this once, but I do not promise you’ll like it.  There Will Be Blood gets “I see the worst in people” out of “Now run along and play, and don’t come back.”

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The Woman in Black (2012)

Daddy … Who’s That Lady?

To finish off my reviews of “What to Expect When You’re Inducting” – also known as “Reviews That Were Inspired by my Vacation” – I must come around to the second movie I saw in theaters that were within walking distance of a hotel in Arizona.  Thankfully, today’s movie won’t require that I watch and review three movies before I review this one (as Underworld did), and also won’t require me to feign sadness over the loss of a singer (as The Bodyguard did).  This one can stand alone.  Also, I have a vague recollection of coworker-ish person, Sam, requesting that I review this movie.  Whatever the inspiration, here comes The Woman in Black, based on a novel by Susan Hill, written for the screen by Jane Goldman, directed by James Watkins, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Misha Handley, Jessica Raine, and Sophie Stuckley.

As we start, three young girls simultaneously commit suicide.  But we’ll get back to that.  Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a very sad person.  Four years ago, his wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey) died during the birth of their child Joseph (Misha Handley) and Arthur refuses to get the fuck over it for the betterment of his son.  I understand you loved the lady, but you’ve had four years and you’re making the household like a fucking mortuary for your son because you just can’t stop being emo.  In order to return to his life, Arthur goes back to his overly forgiving place of work and they give him a job of arranging the estate of recently deceased Alice Drablow.  Upon arrival, he quickly finds that the local town has come down with a nasty case of the Creepy Assholitis and everyone just decides to be automatically rude and distant from Arthur.  He befriends Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds) and his wife Elizabeth (Janet McTeer), and goes about the business of looking through giant stacks of paper in a creepy, isolated house.  Creepy things start happening around the house, finally culminating with Arthur catching sight of “The Woman in Black” and hearing what sounds like people screaming in the distance.  When he reports this to the constable, two boys from the village bring their sister in because she has drunk lye.  She coughs up blood and dies.  It soon comes out that seeing the Woman in Black causes a kid in the nearby town to commit suicide.  Arthur keeps going to the house to finish his job, either because he doesn’t believe all the poppycock or because he could give two fucks about the kids of the town, but then a wrench is thrown into the works when it turns out HIS child is coming to the town to visit him.  Arthur must figure out what happened to the Woman in Black and fix it in order to save the life of the one kid in the village that matters: his own son.

The Woman in Black is a decently enjoyable movie with a disappointing and annoying ending, but we’ll get to that in the appropriate place.  The bulk of the movie – though thoroughly morose in parts – was a nice little offering of “Pop Up, Go Bwah” startles with a decent enough story.  The start is a little soft, sticking mainly with the creepy and melancholy and not even trying to scare you for at least a half hour, unless you count the three girls jumping out a window that starts the movie, but I mainly just found that funny.  Then we’re just in a town full of douche nozzles that would rather be twats to you than be regular human beings, but that’s okay because they all get punished for it.  After leaving the movie it occurred to me that the deaths of the numerous children in this movie could’ve been avoided if everyone in town would have just told Arthur why they thought he should leave instead of just trying to shove him onto the nearest carriage home.  If they told him that going to the house could result in the deaths of children, he could’ve either responded with “That’s brilliant” or “That’s rubbish”, but when the first kid died in his arms he might’ve had a little more to think about.  Once we get to the house, they drop most of the first startles on us subtly, having the Woman in Black appearing in the background and turning so that we knew she was there but Arthur was oblivious.  The next couple visits to the house amp it up exponentially, but if WiB’s goal was to kill children, why are you fucking with Radcliffe?  And she did … a lot.  She must’ve thought Radcliffe was getting a little chubby since his Harry Potter days, because she would constantly make noise upstairs until he ran up there, then she would be outside in the front yard, so he’d have to run down to check that out.  Wash, rince, and repeat.  About the second time it happened I’d just be thinking “Fuck off, I’m tired.  I’m staying right here and ignoring you.”  On one visit, Daily loans Arthur his dog to keep an eye out, and I don’t know why he didn’t take that dog everywhere.  It was a small and unimposing dog, but I’d appreciate having someone to watch my back.  The movie begins to devolve into a mystery, trying to figure out why WiB is so angry and how to fix it, but there really wasn’t much of a mystery to be solved.  You probably could guess by the first time she causes a kid to commit suicide, but WiB had a kid and something bad happened, so now she takes it out on the townspeople’s children.  The townspeople are also very quick to blame Arthur for causing the thing that none of those fucks told him about.

My biggest problem with this movie was the ending, so I’ll throw out one of these ::SPOILER ALERT::  At the very end of the movie, Arthur meets up with his son and the son’s nanny, being relatively assured that the problem was solved by digging WiB’s son out of the marsh and burying him next to her.  So assured is he that he totally ignores his son as he goes to buy a train ticket.  WiB pops back up and causes the kid to walk onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train, Arthur jumps down to save him, both die.  I have many problems with this ending.  First, when Arthur’s wife’s ghost shows up dressed in white the movie missed a golden opportunity to have a kung-fu battle between WiB and WiW, but if all writers had my creativity and good judgment then I wouldn’t be special anymore.  That just leaves a much bigger problem: Why are you being such a bitch, WiB?  Arthur had nothing whatsoever to do with the death of your son, and wasn’t even nearby when it happened.  On top of that, he actually risked his life to save the corpse of your son to reunite you with him.  How do you repay him?  Kill him and his son?  Fuck you.  In this situation lies yet another problem: after all the shit you just watched go down in this town, why the fuck would you take your eyes off your son until you were far enough away to feel safe?  You didn’t KNOW that your little idea had worked; you just assumed it did.  No giant green checkmark appeared on the wall after you put the dead kid in with his mother, so maybe it’s best to be weary for a bit longer.  The biggest problem with the ending is that it was easy and not very good.  It just seemed like a quick little wrap up, but taking special care to make sure that no one left the theater feeling good about themselves.  ::END SPOILER::

The performances in the movie were fine, but there was a common annoyance that all of them shared: everyone in this movie was always on the verge of tears.  It would’ve been nice to have at least one character come around to break the monotony of depression.  This will also be a very short paragraph because there’s really only one or two people in this movie for any prolonged period.  Radcliffe does a commendable job in this movie, and hopefully gives the man a chance to try out movies that aren’t reminiscent of Harry Potter more in the future.  The only comparison to Harry Potter I could draw from this movie (and I was definitely looking) was that the approaching Woman in Black sounded a little like Parseltongue.  Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer were good as well, or at least I’m assuming they are because they are the only other people I remember being in this movie.

I was altogether pleased with my viewing of The Woman in Black.  There was a good deal of suspense and thrills, an admittedly mediocre mystery, and a piss poor, irritating ending, but I enjoyed the experience altogether, in no small part because it looked really good and had some good (albeit emo) performances.  I saw this movie in theaters (and granted, on a matinee) but I don’t regret it.  If you can make your way into a movie theater for about $5, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the experience.  The Woman in Black gets “I believe even the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark” out of “If we open the door to superstition, where does it lead?”

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