The Mother Brain Files: July 2013 Movie Reviews
By Mother Brain
Due to work-related matters, I have had very little time as of late to tape new movie reviews for the Cos’ Blog YouTube page. I’ve been trying my best to avoid the same old sequels I’ve been reviewing for the last few months. It made me realize how much the marketplace is so over-saturated and how we’re seeing more box office disasters than normal. I’ll get you up to speed with some quickie reviews of three films I’ve seen in recent weeks.
MAN OF STEEL (**1/2)
The iconic performance of Christopher Reeve in Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman film is still engraved in pop culture; however, the desperate need to make the character relevant in recent years has failed miserably (see SUPERMAN RETURNS). Expectations were very high on this latest incarnation of the Superman mythology under the direction of Zack Snyder with Dark Knight’s Chris Nolan acting as producer. The general story remains the same: Krypton explodes, little Ka-El is sent to earth where he’s raised by a Middle America family, and ultimately learns his true destiny. Unlike previous films, we get a more insecure Superman struggling to find his place in the world even in the face of adversity. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s epic. While Henry Cavil didn’t exactly blow me away as the Man of Steel, he gave a rounded performance that bore little resemblance to Christopher Reeve (minus one major sequence). Set design and costumes were impressive and the special effects were dazzling action scenes that Superman fans have been craving years for. Unfortunately, the flawed script made it difficult for its ensemble (Amy Adams, Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, etc.) to rise above the material. A proper sequel could set things right but after the World’s Finest announcement at Comic Con, I have my serious doubts now.
PACIFIC RIM (**1/2)
Guillermo del Toro is one of the finest sci-fi/horror directors working today. It was refreshing to go see an original action film not adapted from any source material except having inspiration from the Toho-produced monster movies like Godzilla. This futuristic story about humans piloting mecha robots to combat colossal monsters from another dimension is basically a cross between Transformers, Starship Troopers, and Top Gun. That’s where I struggle with my problems with the film. Unless you’re a big Godzilla fan, Pacific Rim doesn’t offer much new to the sci-fi genre. It’s characters are generic (Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam playing the guilt-ridden hero, Idris Elba playing the tough-as-nails commander, Charlie Day as the nutty scientist, etc), it’s script borrows heavily from the three movies I mentioned, and the great Ron Perlman is totally wasted as a black marketeer. I still give it points for at least having some good ideas like how the robots could only operate with two pilots mentally linked. Kids may love this one.
ONLY GOD FORGIVES (*1/2)
Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to the critically praised Drive was an artistic mess. Once again, Ryan Gosling works the camera with his usual thirty-yard stares as an American running a drug operation out of a Bangkok boxing club. The rest of the film is an abstract depiction of extremely violent acts of revenge by Gosling’s associates including his Lady Macbeth-like mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) and a corrupt cop obsessed with karaoke. Artistically, the cinematography by Larry Smith is haunting, beautiful, and just as Michael Mann-influenced as Drive was. Unfortunately, the film lacks Drive’s coherency as a narrative. Perhaps that was Refn’s intent. But certainly not impressive or innovating for cinema.