Ok, admittedly, this concept doesn’t sound for that great of a movie, or even for a story. However, in the hands of writer Andy Weir and director Ridley Scott, the movie becomes a breathtaking and often times humorous spectacle. Watney was written by Weir to be a smart aleck that is wonderfully intelligent and human. Damon is the perfect embodiment of this, even as he wanes away before us on the screen as a result of the lack of food (Damon reportedly was going to lose the weight for the role, but instead the weight loss was done with the use of a computer). Damon/Watney is someone we want to be friends with, and so we actually care about his plight of being left alone on an entire planet.
Watney is also an interesting character because of how optimistic, and opportunistic he is. Not many people would have thought to use the bathroom to become fertilizer, but Watney did. Not many people would have used a radioactive generator as a heater, but Watney did. I could go on with further examples, (and there are even more in the book), but I think I’ve gotten my point across.
Touching on something literally just wrote, I was a bit sad with the fact that so much of the book got left out. I understand that adaptations can’t be literal all the time, but I felt like there was so much screen time for the characters back on Earth (mainly to justify their paychecks I’m sure), that we
them to great use here. Many people said after Prometheus that Scott was losing touch with some of the techniques that made him one of the best science fiction directors of our times. Here he shows he has lost nothing, showing great sweeping shots of Mars, wonderful interior shots of the spaceships/rovers, as well as a terrific rotational scene in space. So much of this could have been cheesy, but it wasn’t, and that attests to Scott’s skill as a director.
This is a great movie, for those that have read the book and those that haven’t. I’m giving it a “B+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: A rarity for Depp, a slow moving movie, but not enough done with supporting cast and few new ideas for a gangster film
white skin (not unlike Edward Scissorhands), Depp delivers a performance that is absolutely worth watching. At times the most charming person on the screen, there are abrupt moments where he turns his mood into the murderous Whitey. The scene with the steak (which I’ll dive into more later) is positively haunting. A man that tests another man’s loyalty by talking about family recipes? The impressive thing here is how immediate the switch is – one minute you are thinking about the man who was playing cards with his mother, the next you are remembering him gunning down someone in
is also John Connelly (played by Joel Edgerton). He is given plenty of scenes to work with, and I think his performance here is solid. You tend to forget about it in scenes that Depp shares with him though. The true crime falls to the rest of the cast, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, and Corey Stoll all pretty much just “stopping in” to make appearances. This would be fine if they were cameos, but they’re not – they are supposed to be characters that we at least know who they are. The glut of characters reduces many of the dialogue
instance, the steak scene that was so good. It seems to be just like Joe Pesci’s “I’m funny” scene from Goodfellas. This is slightly okay with me because I think you should pay homage to great movies, but this seems a little too blatant for me. There is also a lot of dialogue, and that lends things to be slightly boring at times, because the dialogue isn’t always well-handled. This movie is a mix of hots and colds, makes and misses.
Overall, I think that this movie is worth a watch, especially if you like gangster movies or film period pieces. I give Black Mass a “B-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Hero stars Jet Li as a man named (or not) Nameless. He is telling the story of his accomplishments to the emperor (read – tyrant – more on this later) of the land. He has bested three assassins and has now come for his prize – a meeting within 10 paces of the king. This is a familiar storytelling format (Arabian Nights) – the ruler and a follower meet, and the ruler is amazed at the stories that are told whilst he is being hoodwinked. I did like this format, but it gets a bit confusing as the stories begin to change. This may be due to the fact that the movie is subtitled and I had to read to follow along, but I don’t think so – I’ve followed subtitled movies before that I loved.
However, despite the fact that the format of the movie has its limitations, the film is breathtakingly beautiful. The scene in the rain, set to the music of an old man, is so beautiful. The thought of a “thought fight”, is a pretty gorgeous idea. The scene with the flower petals/tree leaves is also amazing to watch, especially when set to music. The acrobatic fights, done with the aid of lines to make the fighters float is something that Chinese cinema does a lot (told you that it would come back up). The fights aren’t about the action, so much as they are about the imagery of the scene.
One of the things that really turned me off to the movie is getting into spoiler territory, so be forewarned!
At the end of the film, Nameless chooses to die rather than assassinate the emperor. He thinks that this is what is best for all of China, because one leader will keep them from fighting each other. It is a big, fat propaganda piece. It’s something that all dictators and tyrants use to get people to follow them – “Everybody else is wrong, we fight too much, I’ll kill everyone, but then there won’t be any more fighting.”
I know that the quote above is an oversimplification. There are so many terrible things happening in the world and that have happened in the past, and sometimes, it takes fights to settle disagreements between enemies (and friends). I just wish we could look at things fully and not see an “Ends Justify the means” type thing. Seems like an overused trope to me - in life and in movies.
Overall, I give Hero a B-.
For more on this movie, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"