redfiona99: (Default)
The Case For The Prosecution:

The problem with the A-Team film is that it tries to be too many things all at once.

Admittedly the series only had 1 TV hour (so ~ 42 actual minutes) to play with, while the film has 117 minutes, but the series knew that you can focus on one thing at once. If it was a Hannibal episode, Hannibal got most of the scenes while Face, Murdoch and BA went and did their thing. The same, with the names moved round, for the other characters.

The film, meanwhile, tries to shoehorn in:

1) Hannibal's crisis of confidence after the team are betrayed.

2) Face learning to believe himself and his ability to plan.

3) BA trying to find a balance between necessary violence and his own peace of mind.

One, or maybe two, of those would have made a good solid film. With all three of them in the film, none of those storylines has the chance to breathe and fulfill their potential. It also leaves Murdoch with nothing to do.

I also don't like how the do BA Baracus.

In the show, Face is the one with criminal tendencies. If anyone was going to have been dishonourably discharged, it would have been him not BA. BA is, and I suspect quite deliberately, a riposte to the idea that a big, black angry man must be a thug. Because the whole thing with BA is that he is the loveliest and cuddliest of the A-Team, it's just hidden by the fact that he looks terrifying. Looks, they are deceiving and so on. It feels retrograde to make BA the thug just because they've got Rampage Jackson to play him.

That last point brings me to my last objection. Face is supposed to be the pretty boy. Rampage Jackson is significantly prettier to mine eyes than Bradley Cooper. I have been assured, repeatedly, by several people that I am the only one with this problem.

The Scene Itself:

Why the scene is so good:

If the phrase, "the A-Team fly a tank" does nothing for you, the scene will do nothing for you. If, on the other hand, your reaction is "OMG, I've got to see this", it is done and done well.

It is ridiculous done well, and the characters actually acknowledge the ridiculousness of the situation they are in.

I particularly like Lt. Sosa's eyerolling reaction, because, of course they're going to try to fly a tank. I also have a love for the little old German lady laughing at the end because yes, that is a spectacular karma for dynamiting fish.

(The only scene that really comes close to being as good is the scene with Pike and Lynch in the car. Part of the problem with the film is that Pike is the most fun character.)
redfiona99: (Default)
The Case For The Prosecution:

I feel a bit mean about putting the Expendables in here because the film does exactly what it says in the tin. It's an action movie that's basically an excuse to cast every old action star we love in one film. I think people were expecting more from it than it could ever actually deliver (probably where I fit), and then other people wanted something really OTT, which I think Stallone was trying to avoid, so they didn't get what they wanted either.

The excuse of a plot works solidly. The surrounding cast are decent, especially Sandra and General Garza. I personally find that there's too much CG but you know, nothing that can be complained about. Nothing that can be raved about either and I think that's why some people are down on it.

I'm also not sure every scene could be as good as Tool's scene, without the film becoming unwatchable in the sense of being too intense.

The scene itself:

Why the scene is so good:

It's Mickey Rouke. Actually bothering. When he actually bothers, he's exceptional. He hits regret and the living with it, and that there is no living with it (when it's about something as serious as this).

Even at the time, I said one of the messages of the film was "these are cool guys but being a mercenary is a shitty thing to be", and this is the scene where that's really brought home. It's incredible. You know those scenes that will never get the credit they deserve, because of the film they're in. This is one of those.
redfiona99: (Default)
The Case For The Prosecution:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has this problem that it lacks the courage of its convictions. There's the cartoon style opening (which is amazing) followed by the worst 20 minutes of the film. The problem seems to be that there's no belief in the idea of the Turtles. Trust me, the audience know that man-sized mutant turtles is a ridiculous concept, we don't need the film tipping a hat to it.

For some reason, they therefore mess with the Turtles backstory so that April is given more reason to believe in them. Like seeing them wouldn't be enough. (By the by, anyone who complains about Megan Fox's April O'Neil is doing it for weird, no-good anti-Megan Fox reasons. She actually does an awesome job.)

They also mess with my boy Mikey. Who is a goofus, sure, but he's not a goofus like that. And it's totally Raphael propaganda.

(If you're after a rec for good recent Turtles (, I think the most recent version of the Turtles is the best since the cartoons of my childhood. I caught one by accident and wondered why there was unexplained anime styling. And stayed for the second one. Then realised I was looking forward to some more the next day. It's Donatello-centric, but not in a bad way.

The second of the new Turtles films is also a much better "Turtles" film.)

I feel bad being mean about the film, because the seven year olds in the cinema with me at the time loved it. So it's totally a hit with the intended audience.

The scene itself:

Which I can't find. Because people would rather clip the somewhat anaemic end fight. (Oh yeah, the anaemicness of the fight scenes should go in the prosecution's bit.)

Instead, have the music video for Shell-Shocked, the most excellent end tune.

Why the scene is so good:

It makes the Turtles look cool. They move stealthily. They fight with speed. And style. With the correct styles for the weapons. It's just so well done.
redfiona99: (Default)
The Case For the Prosecution:

Yes, yet again, there's a film I don't mind on this list. Now, I'll be the first to admit that Octopussy has its longeurs, chunks of film where nothing interesting happens. But that's not it's main problem.

No, Octopussy's main problem is inconsistency of tone. Really dark horrifying things are right next to slapstick humour. Which is a combo that can be done well, but it isn't in this case. There was an bit in several Roger Moore obituary's that said that all later Bond had to go gritty to provide contrast, but the later Moore films (baring View To A Kill) do the same thing.

The scene itself:

Why The Scene is So Good:

To my mind, this is still the most tense scene is all of Bond. Despite the fact that all it is is two men chasing another one down. No fight scene, just steadily ramping terror until that crash through the window.

The music more than plays it part in building the tension, as does the slow, relentless chase of the knife-throwing twins.

009 being in in full clown suit and make up should make it ridiculous. But it makes it scarier because of the contrast. His desperation, the way his breath catches, and how he almost makes, would make it if it weren't for the clown shoes. In a series of films where the 00 agents seem superhuman, 009 is human and that's what makes the scene terrifying.
redfiona99: (films)
The Case For The Prosecution:

'I, Robot' is not a bad film. It is, however, a terrible adaptation, of 'I, Robot', the book. I swear people wouldn't dislike it as much if it had a different name, and didn't given characters the names of book characters that they barely resemble.

Alex Proyas makes interesting films. I'm not going to say good, although I have loved everyone of his films that I have seen, but visually compelling. The various actors do solid jobs of their roles. This would be a good film, were it not for the teensy-weensy that's-not-I,Robot problem.

The scene in question:

The scene where Spooner explains to Calvin why he doesn't trust robots.

Which I can't find on Youtube!

And the words alone don't convey it, because Will Smith is a fantastic actor who never gets his due.

Why the scene is so good:

Obviously, we the audience know that the robots are up to no good. It's a robot film. The robots are never up to any good in robot films. It's based on, or at least titled after, one of the famous borked robot works. The guy saying the robots are hinky is played by Will Smith, during his run of good guy roles.

None of the characters know that. To them, Del Spooner and his robot ravings are going to sound like someone on the edge. Which is why it's important that he gives the explanation to Susan Calvin, who is the most pro-robot of the characters. Because she will understand why the robot did it *and* why Spooner hates them for it. It helps to explain both why Spooner's robo-hatred is so absolute, but also makes it clear that he's not just being anti-robot for the sake of being anti-robot.
redfiona99: (Default)
Behind a cut because the image is big )

Matrix: Reloaded is a lot more connected than I thought.

I'd completely forgotten that Joel Silver was one of the producers. He connects the Matrix: Reloaded to Romeo Must Die.

I was expecting him to be the only link. So you can imagine my surprise when Matrix: Reloaded is linked to both Wolverine: Origins and Ghost Rider by stunt co-ordinators and fight choreographers (Chad Stahelski and Glenn Boswell [Boswell also links Ghost Rider and Wolverine: Origins]). This surprised me in particular because the Matrix series had a very distinct visual identity which ran all the way through to its fights and stunts so it's odd to see people who worked on those being links between it and the other films on the list.
redfiona99: (Default)
The case for the prosecution:

I am probably the wrong person to talk about the Matrix series.

As I sci-fi fan, I was already used to the concept of machines being in charge and other civilisations using humans, so I didn't get the shock of a new concept, which some people did. And my Nan was huge kung-fu film fan so I was used to wire work, so I didn't get the wow of new concept from that either.

Don't get me wrong, the first film used the concept and the wire work really well, but it meant I wasn't as sold as a lot of my friends were. But at least that meant I wasn't as disappointed by the sequels.

I think I've made my dislike of pseudo-mystic stuff quite clear, and oh boy do the sequels ever suffer from that. But if they'd been better, I don't think I would have minded as much, because the first film has that too but styled its way out of it. Style only takes you so far.

For me, the major failing of the two later films was an excess of CGI to create their shock and awe. In the first one, most of the really cool stunts, the ones that look spectacular, the ones you remember, were done using a mixture of practical effects, including wire work and camera trickery. In the others, most of that was replaced by CGI. And the problem was that CGI still hadn't quite progressed to the point where it was capable of rendering reality. Which should be fine, because, hey, they're in the Matrix for most of it, but it just feels flat. There's a lack of danger to the fight scenes, not to the actors and stuntcrew but to the characters.

The scene itself:

Why the scene is so good:

It's the glory of simplicity. Just two characters going at it, no huge armies or anything. Hand to hand, not oodles of weaponry. And it's all done with practical effects. And it's so well done.

It's the only fight scene from the last two films I remember, because it stands out because of this.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
The case for the prosecution:

Wolverine: Origins's main flaw is that it did not get its main character. They kept making him generic action hero, when he isn't. He's loner with a heart of gold (something which "Wolverine in Japan" understood, that and Wolverine + teenage girl in a non-romantic way = good story). He doesn't do big speeches, or big 'noooooos', especially not horribly over-dramatic ones like he gets in this. Hugh Jackman does his best, he really does, and no blame should be attached to him because the role is both badly written and bares little resemblance to the character I know and love.

There is a general generic-ness over the whole film. Also it has Ryan Reynolds in, and as we know, I consider that a demerit against any film.

The scene itself:

Notice I've not gone for Gambit throwing playing cards (although that made me flip my lid, because squeeee! Gambit), or the opening credits (which were good, but would have been more effective if Watchmen hadn't done the same thing but better just before).

Instead I've gone for this:

Although one of the deleted scenes would also have done for similar reasons (although, really, Wolverine, you shouldn't be trusting Stryker at this point. It makes you look dumb.)

Why the scene is so good:

Liev Schreiber looks nothing like Sabretooth. But he gets him.

The thing about Sabretooth is that, unlike a lot of bad guys, knows he's the bad guy. He doesn't think he's right, or justified, he just is, and is happy with that. And Liev Schrieber conveys that brilliantly. And also the fact that Sabretooth really does only want to watch the world burn, and doesn't care overmuch if he burns with it, on one condition, which is that Logan is burning right there with him. And just, yes.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
The case for the prosecution:

The Transporter 3 is a bog-standard action film. This is not meant as a complaint, just a stated fact. That, in many was, is it's job. It's existence is to provide practise for the Luc Besson Finishing School for French Film-makers (and allied trades).

Aforesaid Finishing School is responsible for an awful lot of good action films, and certainly most of the action films you have loved in the last 20 years (the only exception I can think of is 'The Raid'). At a time when Hollywood films focus on superheroes and CGI, the Besson-group films give us stuntmen doing their thing.

There's also not the queasy thing of Hollywood films going 'violence is bad' and then having lots of violence. These films tend to go with 'if there's a job needs doing, this is the man with the skills' (e.g. the famous quote from Taken).

However, much though this produces some cracking action set pieces (the fight scene in the garage in The Transporter 2 is one of my favourite fight scenes ever), it sometimes leaves other parts of the film lacking a certain something.

The Transporter 3 is, in many ways, a retread of the first Transporter, with the main difference being that Valentina, personality-wise, is almost the exact opposition of Lai. It lacks a certain freshness. Frank Martin is also a little too invulnerable for my tastes.

The Scene Itself:

Sadly with really bad sound and annoying frames, and cutting out before the end.

Why The Scene Is So Good:

The scene, particularly the beginning, is shot from Valentina's perspective, and the camera practically caresses Jason Statham's figure as Frank Martin's clothes come off. That sort of sexualised gaze* directed at the male lead is rare in Hollywood films (although hat-tip to Casino Royale and the Thor films on that one).

And it is a sexualised gaze, it's not me reading things into it - when I first saw The Transporter 3 it was with my (straight male) housemates who complained about it.

My glee at discomforting my housemates aside, that isn't why I love the scene.

No, I love it because its made quite clear that the reason for shooting the fight that way is that Valentina is terrifically turned on by Frank's body and his competence at violence.

Now, not only does that mean the sexualised gaze is character-driven (which is rare) and is part of telling the story, but for once its the good girl with the kink for violence.

That really is unheard of.

Normally, if a female character enjoys violence she's the bad girl e.g. Xenia Onatopp or Lola in The Transporter 2. But Valentina isn't. Even in this part of the film where we've only had the chance to see her at her worst (spoilt, empty-headed hedonist, incapable of dealing with the seriousness of the situation she finds herself in), it's made clear that she's not bad, just young and with too much money.

It's so refreshing.

*I will be using this phrase throughout because "male" and "female" gaze make certain heterosexist assumptions.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
The Statement For The Prosecution:

The Scorpion King is a prequel to a sequel, when that sequel was already generally acknowledged not to have been as good as the first film (it's taking me all my strength not to call the Mummy the Urquell of the whole series, but I have sworn off puns). This is not a good beginning.

(Don't try to reconcile the characters and timeline of the Scorpion King with the backstory of The Mummy Returns. It makes no sense if you do. The official version is that it's the Scorpion King's identical grandson is the bad guy in the Mummy Returns. Which is a shame, because I would love an action movie version of 'Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely', but I know I'm never going to get it.)

It's also made of re-heated parts of other films, for instance, I should not be thinking of James Bond while watching a Mummy movie.

Arpid is one character who really suffers from this. Action films often have lovable cowards to add comedy touches when and as needed (e.g. Jonathan in the actual Mummy films). Unfortunately, they forgot to make Arpid lovable. Which is a bit of a problem. He's the butt of every joke, but not in a fun way, and it feels both 1) a bit mean-spirited and 2) you end up dreading his appearances.

In traditional fashion, The Scorpion King has a British bad guy. The trouble is, in a film with actors of the sheer charisma of the Rock and Michael Clarke Duncan, he just gets buried. It's not the sort of film where they go for subtle so I have no idea why Memnon is so flat. Ralf Moeller, who appears as large bad guy number 3 (as he tends to), or Peter Facinelli, who appears as bad guy's weaselly second in command, would probably have made better Memnons.

As a whole, it's just peculiarly unsatisfying.

The scene in question: Which I can't even get the quote from, but it's where Philos the scientist talks about gunpowder. If you've seen the film, you'll know the one I mean.

Why the scene is so good: It's not just having Bernard Hill who doesn't do bad performances. It's that Philos is a scientist, in a very real way, tinkering and persevering when things go wrong. But he's also aware of what his inventions can do, and will do in Memnon's hands. But he still does it. And this scene is him acknowledging that and, eventually, having to hope that Mathayus won't misuse the gunpowder if he lets him use it, and will only use it to get rid of Memnon, and not to hurt people in the future. It's the hope that gets me.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I am about to break the usual pattern here because I want to talk about three films, 'Cradle 2 The Grave,' the film 'Romeo Must Die' was supposed to be and the film 'Romeo Must Die' actually was.

I am aware that 'Romeo Must Die' might well be as good a film as 'Cradle 2 The Grave' but I prefer watching 'Cradle 2 The Grave', and I don't think that's just because it has Mark Dacascos kicking things.

'Romeo Must Die', the film it was supposed to be, is a very by-the-book action film. Good son who has rejected gang-involved family is dragged back in, he meets unknowing gang-princess from rival family, they meet and fall in love despite their families being at war, true love wins out and the good guys save the day.

Now, for whatever reason, and I don't know why, I don't want to know why, because I like to imagine that they went 'wait, Jet Li is how old and Aliyah is how old?!!', instead of that, in the film 'Romeo Must Die' actually is, we get a male/female friendship as the heart of the partnership that takes down the bad guys. Which is different.

And works really well.

It works better, I think, than the romance would have done in the film 'Romeo Must Die' was supposed to be.

I don't have to tell any of you that Jet Li is awesome, so I'll focus on Aliyah's performance instead. She bring both a realism (possibly because, for once, you had someone that was more or less still a teenager playing a teenager) and a sweetness to Trish O'Day which helps the film as a whole.

It's not the scene I'm going to talk about, but I do like the scene where Han climbs up to Trish's room, because in the film they actually produced, it's 100% out of concern for Trish and 0% wanting anything from her, even her love.

I also love how they support each other at the end of the film. It's sweet and lovely and something that moves 'Romeo Must Die' out of the realm of mundane action movie.

I would have preferred it if they'd changed the name along with the relationship, because a name like 'Romeo Must Die' gives an audience certain expectations but I believe the change came late enough on that all the publicity stuff had already been done and could not be redone.

The Scene Itself:

(Sorry for Turkish dubbing, it was the only copy of the scene I could find.)

Why The Scene Is So Good:

I can see why a lot of male good guys in film don't want to hit women. Not least of all it makes it easier to sell them as good guys and, more cynically, helps keep a film's rating down.

Sometimes though, that quality puts the character in an awkward situation, and films have to come up with a way around the problem. This scene features one of the more fun ways.

The main thing I like about it is that Trish is a willing participant (up until the end bit, but more about that later), she's not just getting dragged along as sometimes happens to the female characters in scenes like this.

Another thing is that the fight choreography is both funny and clever.

The other main thing I like is that Trish reacts to the assassin's death. And just because the woman was willing to kill her and Han, she doesn't glory in her death, she's shocked and saddened by it. Because Trish is good, it's not just a put on. And that's another lovely touch.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
The Statement For The Prosecution:

The Chronicles of Riddick is a sequel to Pitch Black.

Pitch Black is a good sci-fi horror which I recommend if either of those two genres appeal.

Chronicles of Riddick is a somewhat peculiar sci-fi/fantasy/action melange. That is not the problem with it. I would be completely cool with it. In fact, it would even be quite fun. It's just that to bridge the gap between the two films they kill off characters we've grown to like in the first one. Which is not cool. They replace them with characters who are less interesting than the previous ones (one thing that Pitch Black did well was sketch characters given the minimum of time they were working with).

The one character they don't kill off to replace her ... I, listen, I have tried to keep the ranting to a minimum in this list, but I cannot conceive of anyway that Jack, who I liked a lot, turned into Kyra, who I can't stand. I don't think I would have liked her anyway, but as a development of Jack, I don't like her and I don't believe in her.

And I know one character, who is not even a main character, should not affect my opinion of a film this much, but it does.

The Scene Itself:

I have not gone with the Teacup of Death scene, despite it being a fantastic set-piece (although I shall give you a link to it because it is the teacup of death.

I have instead gone with quieter scene.

Spoilers follow )

Why The Scene Is So Good: )

I think part of the problem is that the rest of the film is full of serious characters who come from cultures and/or situations where you don't show any emotion so there suddenly being a (wholly unexpected) character gets to do it, it stands out.

(Also casting Linus Roache in things always helps. Really!)
redfiona99: (films)
(Hello, [ profile] angstbunny)

The Statement For The Prosecution:

In Revolver's defence, it was ambitious and tried to do something different.

It's just that it failed.

The main problem was incoherence. The beginning and end make some sort of sense, and even vaguely connect with each other. It's the middle bit that, while it's sort of internally coherent, or at least not actively contradicting itself, doesn't cohere to the rest of it.

Unfortunately, the middle section is the longest part.

I have been told that the film Kabbalistic mysticism for its themes and motifs. This may be true, but as an outsider it looks more like random events cloaked in pseudo-mystic nonsense. So I'd suggest the films needs to explain things more or less. As it stands, there's too much of the mysticism for me to just ignore and not enough for me to go 'fine, I know nothing about this but I get the general gist.'

The Scene:

Which is up on Youtube because people agree with me.

Why the Scene is so Good:

Partly, I think, it's because of the shock value of 'OMG Jason Statham can act' because yes, he can.

The other thing about it is that it's real. Vividly, in a film where nothing else is, either deliberately and stylistically or due to the aforementioned incoherence and failed ambition.

It's so good though, Statham conveys Jake Green's anger, frustration and fear so damn well, that the scene is probably the only time we can actually identify with him, as the rest of the time he's a hyper-stylised film noir protagonist.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
(Warning: this gets long. Like ridiculously long.)

The Statement For The Prosecution:

Comes in two parts.

The failings of Blade: Trinity production-wise )

The failings of Blade: Trinity artistic-wise )

The Scene Itself:

Much though I am tempted to go for the scene of Triple H with the vampire Pomeranian for wrestling in-joke related reasons, or indeed, the scene with the vampire Dobermen, no, the scene I wish to highlight is the scene where Dracula tries to scare Zoe. Sadly I can't find a video of it.

Dracula: Do you know who I am?
Zoe: You're the Gnome King.
Dracula: Ah. The Gnome King. How sweet. Tell me, child, do you want to die?
Zoe: I'm not afraid. I'll go to heaven.
Dracula: There is no heaven. No God, no angels. The only thing in your future is nothingness. But what if you could change that? What if you could remain a child forever? Wouldn't you like that? Wouldn't you accept that gift?
Zoe: (pause) My friends are coming to kill you.

Why the Scene is so Good:

Other than Dracula failing in his attempt to intimidate a 6 year old girl, it's how the scene is played.

Zoe has no idea *who* Dracula is, as such, she just knows that he's a bad person. And she's just seen him kill her mother and all/most of her mother's friends. But she doesn't back down. She's scared, but that doesn't stop her standing up to Dracula. Because Zoe has been taught you never back down from evil. And because Zoe, and by reference, her mother Sommerfield, is awesome.

Dracula meanwhile is ... amused. And I think that's part of what saves Zoe. Because Dracula terrifies everyone (except Blade, who by this point is running on cold-burning rage and therefore doesn't count), even the vampires who have resurrected him. And Dracula enjoys that fear, and the respect that goes with it. I still think the lack of respect for his person is why Dracula eats the shop-girl in the vampire shop.

But he also, quite clearly, doesn't like mindless fear or creeping subservience because he barely tolerates the vampires. I think this is what they've been trying to go for with Dracula for the rest of the film (that he is evil but he recognises Blade as a worthy adversary, and doesn't particularly care for the modern world or what vampires have become) but this is one of the two scenes where it actually works. Because he recognises in Zoe someone else who is a worthy opponent, or could grow into one. I think it's because she doesn't take a step back despite being scared. If she hadn't been scared, he would have thought she was stupid, and there wouldn't be that odd sort of respect.

I do think it's quite telling that she's utterly unharmed by Dracula by the end of the film.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
While it's on the list for a reason, I did actually like Ghost Rider. It is pure mindless fun.

The Statement For The Prosecution:

Ghost Rider suffers from a problem that a lot of the less good Marvel adaptations do, which is 'too many villains'. The Blackheart's three sidekicks, who spend most of their on-screen time threatening Johnny Blaze, don't even make it into the Wikipedia summary and yet no important information is lost. This leads to their being too many empty SFX-laden set pieces that do very little other than pad out the film.

It also has a bad guy who is too easily defeated IMO, which again, is a problem it shares with a lot of bad comic book adaptations.

Lots of people objected to Peter Fonda's Mephistopheles, saying he was too under-the-top, but I quite liked that. More reasonably, for most of the film, when Johnny turns into the Ghost Rider, he's more creature of Earthly vengeance than a character, and that's hard to cheer for.

The plot is perfunctory with characters getting the minimum amount of characterisation (although having Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes and Donal Logue playing those characters means they more or less get away with this).

The Scene Itself: Which I know is on Youtube because I watch it some times. (I have no shame.)

Why the Scene is so Good:

Story time. My mother hates films with superheroes, aliens and orcs. She has learnt to be wary when I go 'OMG you've got to see this'. I squeak, high-pitchedly, about this scene she has to see. She sits down to watch it, dubiously, and, after it's over, she says "that one was worth it".

It is a scene that should be ridiculous, and is, but in the good way, because it's also funny and oddly touching (having Sam Elliot helps). And cool. Stupendously cool.

Because, you know, flaming bikers are one thing, but fiery cowboys of vengeance are even better.

I may have a bias.

And the film is improved by the scene.

I like how the soundtrack reflects the old/new mash-up by having the electro version of Ghost Riders In The Sky play over the scene.

I also like that the horse actually gets to San Beganza first. Of course hellfire-horsey will win.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
The Statement For The Prosecution:

Other, much more well-considered people than I, have written about Avatar's many issues. So will just stick to three things that I didn't like.

1 - Jake Sully is terribly underwritten.

I mean it. Name one thing you know about his personality. Nothing. Now, pretty much every character in the film is under-written, more archetype than person, but the other characters are played by actors who can work round that while Sam Worthington ... can't. So he does suffer from being our hero because we've been told that he is. There's this line that Quaritch has later, (and I apologise for the character's vulgarity) "So, you find yourself some local tail, and you just completely forget what team you're playin' for?" and you can't help but feel Quaritch might have a point, because do we think Sully would have gone over to the Na'vi if it had been Tsu'tey he'd run into first, not Neytiri?

2 - The biology, it makes no sense. James Cameron was all over everywhere going 'I got scientists to check this', but none of those scientists appear to have been biologists. Why would you have something as vital as the neural queue (yes, I looked up the name of the thing) dangling out there? I have no first hand experience, but the male fencers of my acquaintance assure me that hits to the groin hurt like the blazes, and that equipment seems to have fewer functions than the Na'vi neural queue. There's so much that can go wrong there that I'm amazed one creature, never mind several, evolved them. Also, the whole plug 'n' play thing with other animals and trees makes no sense either.

3 - James Cameron also wandered around saying he had a linguist invent a new language for the Na'vi. Only it's not new, it's a smerging of sounds from Earth language (and most Indo-European languages at that). Why would blue cat aliens from the planet Pandora have language that sounds anything like ours? It frustrates me. I don't think it would annoy me if Cameron hadn't made such a thing of 'new language' beforehand.

(Also, I kind of wish they'd called the aliens something else, because when I hear Na'vi, I think this -

The Scene Itself: )

Why The Scene Is So Good: )
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I'm specifying because there are several other versions.

The Statement For The Prosecution:

This is actually a film I didn't want to put in this category, not because it is brilliant, but because it's the very best Punisher film we are going to get.

The problem is that there's a huge disconnect between what Punisher fanboys (and fanboy is used deliberately) think he is and what he actually is. Fortunately the film went with what he actually is, which is why it got such poor reviews because the fanboys were all 'wah, this is not our Frank Castle', and everyone else went, 'this is a bit overly bleak, no?'

Which is true. Because the Punisher has to be bleak.

The film is not perfect by any means. John Travolta is not quite right as Howard Saint (in keeping with the Vega family, imagine Michael Madsen instead and see how the film improves) and it *is* overly bleak, which I like but I can see it being off-putting.

The Punisher does a variety of unpleasant and cruel things, and the plot relies on some co-incidences, for instance, there isn't a single non-criminal, or even nice, member of the Saint family.

The Scene Itself:

First, some background. Spoilers )
Once again, can't find it on YouTube so you'll have to deal with just the transcript.

Spacker Dave: [to Castle after being tortured] They tried to make me talk... I gave 'em nothing...
Frank Castle: You don't know me. You don't owe me anything. I've brought you nothing but trouble. Why were you ready to die for me?
Spacker Dave: Because you're one of us... you're family.

Why The Scene Is So Good:

The film-makers get that Frank is a lot grim-dark so Joan, Spacker Dave and Bumpo are blatantly added to the film to give us someone to empathise with.

The interesting thing is how non-idealised they are. Joan, played by Rebecca Romijn, is obviously stunningly pretty but life has beaten her down to the point where she has no fight left.

Spacker Dave and Bumpo are socially inept losers. Lord knows I love them but they are doofuses and they don't get any better.

Frank, whose already cynical outlook has gone into full-blown nihilism and revenge mode (understandably), was, in a scene cut from the cinema version because I don't know, producers are idiots, spoilers ) while these guys, who owe him nothing, didn't give him away.

It's the nearest the film gets to a hope spot, because Frank knows that destroying Saint's life and killing him will not make him happy (and it doesn't. I do love that the film doesn't end with a one liner but with Frank carrying on his endless quest.) but he feels he needs to do it anyway. This, to my mind, is the scene where Frank switches from plan 'destroy Saint, kill self,' to plan 'destroy Saint, stop this happening to anyone else,' because that's what the Punisher's grail is, a world where bad things do not happen to people (see also, one of the things the fanboys do not get).

Thomas Jane, who I am deliberately singling out for praise, is the very best Frank Castle we are ever going to get. Because he gets Frank and manages to convey both the depths of Frank's despair, which is a blank unmovable thing, and who he was before.

But this is his best scene.

Because he has to do, in no particular order, despair (perpetual), guilt and self-loathing (for having brought this pain to innocent people and being unable to stop it), confusion (because bless him, Frank Castle does not understand why anyone would help another person for no reason anymore) and gratitude. And he hits them all and their combinations.

It's a quiet scene that packs a heck of a punch (much like the scene before it).
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Advanced warning - this got away from me a little bit and thus is stupidly long.

The Statement For The Prosecution:

Reign of Fire should and could have been much better. They had the money to make some very good dragon CGI but seemed to have forgotten that a film needs a coherent script as much as it needs dragons.

The largest part of the problem is that it's made of two different films that have been poorly squashed together. It begins as a reasonably realistic post-apocalyptic dragon film. Life is difficult for the survivors. There's a claustrophobic feel. It's actually a good film.

Into this is thrown an all-American action hero and action scenes, and you have the set up for a 'keep what you hold' vs 'attack is the best form of defence' argument.

Which is never resolved!

Because the film has the most unsatisfying climax ever.

Spoilers )

The Scene Itself:

(Warning - the scene spoils part of the film)

This time I have it, if only because I recorded it off the DVD myself (yes, despite my issues with the film, I have it on DVD).

Why the Scene is so Good:

Cheating slightly, because the reason this scene works is because of a previous one right at the start of the film.

At the start of the film, Quinn and Creedy (Gerard Butler in what is still my favourite performance of his) are telling the children a bedtime story, which is a barely disguised two-man version of Star Wars (and is my favourite pop culture reference to Star Wars). At the end of the story, Quinn leads the children in a prayer, a list of instructions on what to do if a dragon attacks. And the children are about as attentive to this as we ever were to prayers at primary school.

This scene sets up a variety of things, including the fact that Quinn is perfectly happy to play the bad guy to keep the children safe because he's the one that says 'bedtime now' and makes them say their prayers, that Creedy is his best friend because he's the one he laughs and jokes with, and that Quinn will do anything to keep the children safe. It also sets up that this is some time after the apocalypse, long enough that this way of living has become normal.

All of this is important for the second prayer scene. Spoilers )
redfiona99: (films)
The Statement For The Prosecution:

I'm probably not the best person to make this statement because I don't think the film is all that bad. Mainly it suffers from not being the comic, and the comic having a particularly rabid fanbase (I am one of them, even if Dredd isn't my favourite 2000AD character).

A lot of the backlash could have been avoided if they hadn't broken the golden rule of Judge Dredd, which is 'never show his face'.

They also made Hershey far too squishy.

On a personal note, spoilers follow )

It's little details like that that make me think that some love and attention did go into making this. Most of the problem is that, with the exception of the food droid bit (quote - "Be kind and peaceful to each other. Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and okay for you.") the film forgets that Dredd is a satire. I try not to hold this against the film, since the comic sometimes forgets that too, but it's also part of the reason it got a rough ride from the 2000AD fans.

Then there's a couple of problems with the plot (spoilers) )

The Scene Itself:

Which I again cannot get a clip of, mostly because people prefer to clip the 'I am the law' scene.

I can, however, get you the dialogue, care of IMDB:

Judge Dredd: [During an "Ethics" class, Dredd fires continuously at a "Judge" helmet and armor] ... The Judge's standard-issue helmet and body armor. Yours, when you graduate. Lawgiver-2 standard-issue sidearm, with 20 interchangeable rounds and voice-activated round system.
[to the Lawgiver]
Judge Dredd: Signal flare.
[fires a signal flare into the wall]
Judge Dredd: Yours, IF you graduate.
[walks over to a futuristic motorcycle]
Judge Dredd: Lawmaster, with rapid-firing cannons and a range of 500 kilometers.
[turns it on; it malfunctions]
Judge Dredd: Yours... if you can ever get it to work.
[cadets laugh]
Judge Dredd: All the things you see are toys; at the end of the day, when you're alone in the dark, the only thing that matters is this...
[holds up the Book of the Law]
Judge Dredd: ...the Law.
[slams the Book onto the table]
Judge Dredd: You WILL be alone. Upon retirement, you will take the Long Walk... which every Judge takes, outside these city walls, into the Cursed Earth. There you will remain for the last of your days, alone and carrying the Law. Class dismissed.

Why the Scene is so Good:

This scene is the closest the film gets to explaining the price of being a Judge. The Long Walk is how Mega City One deals with the 'what do we do with these over-trained violent people when we're done with them?' There is no retirement for Judges, after 25/30 years of service, they get sent out into the Cursed Earth, a radioactive post-apocalyptic wasteland to bring law unto the lawless, until they die. And that's assuming they reach retirement age, which very few of them do.

They give up everything (because they're basically forbidden from romance, children and pretty much anything that resembles a personal life - see also why Hershey should be less squishy) for very little in return. And the Academy is the point of no return. If you graduate, you're a Judge for life, and I think Dredd wants the cadets to know that, and what they're signing up for.

Secondly, once you know that, it helps you understand why Dredd feels so betrayed by any Judge, never mind one that he considers a brother, breaking the law. It's spitting in the face of the sacrifices all the other Judges make.

Thirdly, much though he gets mocked (and, spoiler, at least two more of his films will appear in this list) Sly Stallone can act, when the script plays to his strengths, and he's very good in this scene. It's the first time Dredd is given any humanity (the joke about Lawmaster), rather than sarcasm and bile, and he gets to be The Voice of The Law (capitals utterly required), again, rather than sarcasm and bile and having to be the front man for the incredibly irrational law of Mega City One.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Obviously, spoilers follow.

The Statement For The Prosecution:

The script reads like it was written by Frank 'Whores, Whores, Whores' Miller. On one of his less good days. No, really, there are no female characters who are not prostitutes. There is random female nudity for no good reason. The vampires are violent rather than threatening (which was probably deliberate, these are non-Romantic vampires*). There's a few scenes where it's clear that they've been shooting day for night, and some very obvious pyrotechnics. What the bad guys do makes no sense if you think about it for more than 5 seconds.

The Scene Itself: (Spoilers) )

* These are also non-Romantic vampire slayers, Carpenter said he saw them as hired killers characterised them accordingly.


redfiona99: (Default)

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