The movies of November weren’t a lot better than those in October. But there was a bunch of science fiction, fantasy, action and adventure. And you know how I like that.
This month we have six DVDs. A couple of dystopian dramas. A couple of classic dark fantasy reworks. And a couple of good old fashion thrillers with sci-fi elements.
November was a good month for Sci-fi/Fantasy.
To the list…
The Giver (The Weinstein Company)
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Have you ever gotten an audio clip stuck in your head? Have you ever had a few seconds from a television ad so embedded in your brain that you repeat it over and over out of context and out of nowhere at anytime?
There was an early ad for The Giver that ended with the voice of Jeff Bridges saying in his Jeff Bridges-y way, “I’m the Giver.” and I can’t get that shit out of my mind. “I’m the Giver.” Every so often I just say it in an impersonation of his voice and it cracks me up.
“I’m the Giver.” The audio seemed out of place even in the commercial. And it was cheesy sounding. Jeff Bridges announcing on the ad, “I’m the Giver.” (Every time I type that I say it out loud) But here’s the sad fact. That line is not in the movie. They recorded that just for the early ads then quickly pulled it because it was so cheesy but not before it was lodged in my subconscious forever… “I’m the Giver.”
But anyway, the story is a great idea badly executed. I’m sure the book is awesome just judging by the story. And I guess the movie is as good as you can make it. Some books just don’t translate. The cast is good. The theme is very interesting but they blow it with leaps of fantasy and plot holes. Oh, the massive plot holes. Spontaneous universal emotional memory… whatever.
But really. The kid turns to Jeff Bridges and asks, “If I’m the receiver then what does that make you?” (I got really excited. I was ready. This was the moment for which I was waiting) and Jeff turns slowly toward him, thinking hard about his answer and says. ‘I guess that makes me the Giver.”
NO! It’s I’m the Giver. I’m the Giver. Say it like on the television. What sort of madness is this? But he didn’t. He didn’t say it like on the TV. It was all a lie. And to be perfectly honest. I was too distraught to even try to enjoy the rest of the film after that. The Giver is boring. The idea of removing creativity through chemicals is one thing but returning them through osmosis is dumb. Sorry The Giver fans. The movie is not worth having Jeff Bridges stuck in my head.
The November Man (Relativity Media)
Directed by Roger Donaldson
November Man is an international psychological spy thriller that doesn’t break any new ground but delivers in all the international psychological spy thriller ways. Sex, violence, car chases, explosions and guns. Lots of guns.
Pierce Brosnan is good. But, honestly, he’s good in everything. The mystery is gripping and not too easy to figure out like some of these movies can be. The November Man isn’t a dumb thriller. It has layers and surprises. But in answer to your question, yes. The good guy and the bad guy do talk on the phone a lot.
At one point in the movie you don’t even know who to root for and I love movies that do that; Movies that blur the lines between the good guy and the bad guy.
I enjoyed The November Man very much and I recommend it. It’s an exceptionally good, by-the-numbers, international psychological spy thriller. And Pierce Brosnan is still very hot. That is one good looking man.
Automata (Millennium Entertainment [USA], A Contracorrientes Films [Spain])
Directed by Gabe Ibáñez
Written by Gabe Ibáñez, Igor Legaretta Gomez and Javier Sanchez Donate
Automata is a great story. Not the most exciting movie but a great story about Artificial Intelligence in a dystopian future. It’s also about the birth of a new species. It is very cool.
I love the idea of robots making robots. And how dangerous that would be. Automata is like a cross between Blade Runner and I Robot with a little Children of Men thrown in for good measure. Don’t expect action packed. It’s a slow drip. But it’s… it’s espresso.
My main problem with the film, maybe my only problem with the film, is Antonio Banderas, who is asked to carry it in a very dramatic role and is just not up to the task. And I know the movie probably doesn’t get made without Banderas attached to it but I contend that it would be a much better film without him. However, he doesn’t ruin it.
There is really nothing else wrong with the movie but him. It is well-written, well-directed with good effects and one of those themes that leaves you thinking after the credits.
Automata is worth watching for sci-fi fans who love a good AI story. I love a good AI story. Robots gone rogue. It’s a really good story. It just needed a better star.
Maleficent (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Directed by Robert Stromberg
Maleficent is a creative re-working of the Disney villain from Sleeping Beauty.
Maleficent is a gorgeous film with spectacular effects and creatures and a heartbreaking story of the blurred lines between love & hate and good & evil.
Angelina Jolie is fantastic as always. I’m going to have to start comparing her to Tom Cruise. In that, she brings her A game to every performance. She never phones it in.
I really enjoyed Maleficent and recommend it highly.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)
Directed by Matt Reeves
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the third movie in the Apes franchise reboot is a very good movie. I really enjoyed the way the apes were the stars of the movie. The motion captured performances of the ape actors took center stage. The director got some great performances from the ape actors. I want to see them do Shakespeare next.
I liked this one even better than Rise and I enjoyed that one very much. I read a few people online who said it was anti-human. It is not anti-human. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic movie that shows good and bad on both sides of the Ape vs Human debate. Can’t we all just get along?
Dawn is very exciting and incredibly emotionally charged. It is impressive the way they’ve relaunched this franchise with motion capture technology and I’m looking forward to the next one. Keep going, guys. You’re on a roll
One day soon there will be an Academy Awards category for best motion capture performance and they will call it the Andy Serkis award. I kid you not. But of course Benedict Cumberbatch will win the first one.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is amazing. They are not monkeying around.
Lucy (EuropaCorp Distribution [France], Universal Pictures [International])
Written & Directed by Luc Besson
Scarlett Johanson is Lucy; a woman who is given an overdose of a prenatal drug that allows her to use higher and higher percentages of her brain. It’s a great idea for a story but Luc Besson, who writes and directs, does a piss poor job of bringing it to the screen.
Lucy’s development is much too fast. She goes from not very bright to a superhero in a few seconds. I would have preferred a little more of a performance from Scarlett who becomes a machine too quickly. And yet she is fun to watch when she’s being a bad-ass
The plot is decent. As is the acting and the effects.
I liked the script. Even though the direction makes it seem like the movie is talking down to its audience. The narration is annoying. And for such an intelligent premise, it deserved a smarter execution.
And I really like Luc Besson. His movies can be campy but also fantastic. Fifth Element is one of my all-time favorite films. I think maybe if Lucy were set in the future, a few of the choices wouldn’t have seemed so condescending. The movie is condescending. And it ain’t smart enough to be that. Plus this mistaken idea that emotions erode with intelligence is garbage. Stop it. Smart people aren’t inherently evil. Stop it right now.
Lucy is a great story, and a movie with a good script, it just needed to be taken more seriously by its director. And I could have done without the cartoonishly silly history lessons and the percentage increase play by play. Lucy is a good story badly directed. And since Luc Besson is responsible for both, I’m only mad at half of him.
So to recap…
There were two films about the creation of a new dominant species: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Automata, Both of them smart, interesting and enjoyable. But only the Apes bring the action. The robots do a lot of sitting around.
There were two films about a great man passing the torch to a younger generation: The November Man and The Giver, One of them thrilling, suspenseful and explosive and the other one… not those things.
And there were two films about powerfully misunderstood women who are not to be trifled with: Lucy and Maleficent, And while both were exciting, only the one based on the cartoon didn’t talk down to its audience.
No more movies…
Which is like what? In two days?
But if you haven’t seen The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology and you’re a massive movie fan like I am, I recommend them highly. The narrator is kinda creepy, hence the titles, but he delves deep into cinematic psychology and the classics. They are both really good movies about movies in spite of the titles. And for intense movie fans, they are a must watch.
Until next time…
See you guys at the movies,