DNF Movie Review – Occupation: Rainfall (2020)

Operation-Rainfall-600x873 TLDR: it starts of really quite well, and then it lost me about thirty minutes in, just about when the plot killed any good will I had towards an action-heavy, low-cringe opening.

So.

The blurb–and the opening voiceover narration–tells me that this movie is set two years after an alien invasion struck Earth in two waves, first by a drone bombardment from orbit, then by actual invasion. The invasion was thwarted, as these tend to be, by a “handful” of brave men and women rather than, y’know, the combined might of the world’s militaries; but the second wave is proving harder to deal with.

Right off the bat, this movie gets on my right side, because it gets straight into the business of us watching a handful of “brave men and women” fighting aliens…like, right into it, and it’s got things I like, like air support, and helicopters, and radio chatter, and lasers, and less than seven minutes in someone says the mission is a go, which is always fun. (pause here to note that someone, presumably our hero, flips off an alien with a grenade pull-ring on his finger. HAH.) With one very brief exception, there has been no exposition so far and actually, as of ten minutes, no cringe.

But that may change. Oh, and it’s also set in Australia.

There are also some aliens who don’t want the war to continue, and are helping, supplying, or fighting with the humans. They aren’t very well regarded by the humans who have lost friends and family members to, y’know, alien warfare.

There is also a hot Asian chick and a slightly less hot Australian chick who flies a fighter jet. Both of them show rather more cleavage than is professional in an apocalyptic military situation. I mean….are uniform dress codes really going to go that far downhill after the apocalypse? The guys aren’t going around shirtless. They seem to be in decent order. Odd and also, come to think of it, universal in the lower class of post-apocalyptic movie. Terminator (the good one) did not have this–the soldier girl was wearing pretty much an identical uniform to Kyle. Hm. Mad Max (the second one) didn’t have this, either. The Warrior Woman wore the same kind of cobbled-up hockey pads as the guys. Uh…The Blood of Heroes (that movie with Rutger Hauer, you know. The one I haven’t actually watched yet)–that one didn’t have excess cleavage, either, but it was about professional touring athletes, not soldiers. Well, semi-pro. Well. Kinda.

Anyhow.

So! At the briefing, the squadron leader guy (who is less handsome than the flipping-off-aliens guy and therefore less a) important, b) heroic) is in favor of evacuating Sydney along with all civilians. Some older guy with an indescribable accent points out that they’re still finding civilians. Also, something something, send a ground recon, any volunteers? (Hot Soldier Guy volunteers. I have a feeling he prepared for this role by watching Black Rifle Coffee Company videos, because he’s got that exact attitude and beard.) The other person going along is one of the alien defectors, and they’re riding space horses. What, were regular horses too expensive to film? Were ATVs too expensive to film? Sheesh.

Y’know, now I want to see a movie with the heroes riding tactical side-by-sides into battle.

Black Coffee Soldier Guy continues to act with consummate unprofessionalism towards his alien ally, but never mind, the evac is beginning and jets go vroom and doors go slam, and it’s actually very exciting until it stops happening one brief montage later, hmph. The unprofessionalism continues when the civilian Grays–females and juveniles–are also left behind/refused to be let on the transports, despite Hot Asian Chick speaking up for them.

Anyway, Sydney goes boom.

OK, honestly, I’m bored at this point and don’t really know or like any of the characters except Gary the Alien (Lawrence Makoare, AKA Lurtz, Gothmog, and the Witch King of Angmar). Not that they’re poorly written!–everyone so far is pretty distinct. But they are unlikable.

This movie needed to strip down, go bare-bones on the plot, go small-scale. Take us minute-by-minute on the evacuation. Go house to house rescuing the civilians. Show our heroes going down to the last bullet. Or something like that. That’s how it kind of started out, and being down at the ground level is an interesting and new perspective on an alien invasion (Battle: Los Angeles the only other example I personally could name), without pretending that your heroes are going to make a massive difference in the outcome of the war all on their own–but acknowledging that they can make a difference by saving some lives right here, right now. A ragtag band of brave men and women successfully getting a convoy of refugees out of a warzone? That’s interesting. Saving the entire world and winning the war at one cunning stroke? Dude…it’s been done before and it was boring and unconvincing every single time after the first.

Yeah, and at this point I wandered off.

Review: Beyond Skyline (this movie, seriously)

exeilcptltl51tpmjsjyoooeviI feel like people just really like the idea of Frank Grillo. I mean, he’s a good-looking, charismatic, athletic guy who moves well and acts very naturally when he’s yelling. People like the idea of Frank Grillo being the person who yells at them to keep to the left, hey hey hey I said left! when evacuating a stopped subway train during an alien invasion (or when there’s anarchists attacking), or being the person who takes point during the we-are-slinking-down-a-suspiciously-deserted-street-all-stealthy-like, because, again, he moves well and handles his gun that never runs out of bullets with movie-star-like stylishness. And, mark this: people LOVE Frank Grillo sleeveless, shirtless, in a disheveled and tattered shirt, or in a clinging, wet, easily-seen-through-shirt. And it’s not like the guy doesn’t have range! He gets to whisper-yell encouragement to young kids and frightened women, and yell-coach a pregnant woman through labor (not kidding) even though she’s not due for another six months. WHAT.

So.

The movie starts like most Frank Grillo movies do, with the backstory and character trappings of our protagonist briskly illustrated by having him roll up to the station and drink something we know is futuristic because it’s sparkly and blue. He’s there to (unwillingly) bail out his son, who needs to be bailed out because this is a third strike and Grillo’s ex-partner doesn’t want to book him if he doesn’t need to. The family relationship has been strained since the wife/mother unit died; but father and son still do share a bond. All of this takes roughly thirteen minutes, and then the aliens start zapping people with blue light and beaming them onto their ship, which is hovering over LA.

(This is where the “Hey hey hey stay on the right!” “Watch the rails!” “I SAID KEEP UP!”) part of Frank Grillo yelling at people comes in, and the gun that never runs out of bullets makes its first appearance shortly after the aliens do. And start ripping people’s brains out. Ugh.

This part lasts until Grillo and the group he is trying to protect (including his mesmerized son), all get beamed into the ship. He happens to escape (no, seriously, how come he’s still got ammo?), and, helped by one of the aliens, bumps into the pregnant woman. She explains that the stolen brains are running the alien….machines…and that the one helping is actually her husband and her child’s father. When the aliens get ahold of children…Such as the one who just arrived…damn that was fast…and the mother dies.

And thus we get, which is also always a thing people like: badass guy protecting a child, because one thing people like is Frank Grillo, minimally shirt-clad, holding a baby. Meanwhile, Son and the Cute train Conductor are somehow not having their brains ripped out, and the mission is on to rescue them.

I am just along for the ride at this point.

There’s a bit of yelling and thrashing around and Son gets his brain ripped out in front of Frank. What the actually meaningful part of this story is right now is a fight between the head alien, and the alien who was the baby’s father, who stayed behind to cover their exit….and had a grenade palmed.

In grand and traditional fashion, one explosive, no matter how tiny, in the right place, is enough to bring the entire ship crashing down. It’s somewhere…tropical…and the locals have by this point apparently figured out that GIANT MOTORCYCLE HELMETS PROTECT YOUR BRAINS. Lol. Also there’s a guy with a flamethrower. He gets a close-up for mysterious reasons.

And then there is an ENTIRELY RANDOM kung fu fight. What?

The plot-relevant part of these guys is that they collect a crystal egg-like thing that fell on the ground. I’m guessing it’s a grenade or a computer or something. Our heroes make it out of the ship, with the visibly-larger baby. Also, it might bear mentioning that Cute Conductor is now also shirtless. Well, in a camisole. Heroes plus baby but soon minus blind guy bump into the motorcycle-helmeted duo. Also, the baby is about two years old now with a nice head of hair.

HEY, THAT’S IKO UWAIS UNDER THE HELMET! (That explains the kung fu, LOL.) THIS MOVIE, SERIOUSLY. You could get an entire TV series out of the plot and genre shifts just this far and we’re only fifty-seven minutes in. (Lol at the motorcycle-helmet girl whaling on Cute Conductor Girl. That’s just unnecessary.) I mean, sheesh, they’re FIGHTING IN A MUD PIT WITH CLINIGING WET RIPPED SHIRTS ON. The guys are, that is. BUT THEN! Other guys arrive, necessitating the guys stopping fighting and joining ranks. Well, that was easy.

HEY I RECOGNIZE THAT GUY HE IS THE OTHER INDONESIAN KUNG FU GUY (and had a flamethrower a few scenes ago.) More to the point, he also has a gun in Frank Grillo’s face. But they get the drop on him and decide to shoot him and then take him along. At this point the kid is about four years old and violence isn’t good for Baby Girl to watch.

And our heroes march through Ankor Wat, or at least a nice CGI version of it to an underground base where they are met by a white guy with a British accent (a chemist by trade), and there is also a dedicated prison space for Other Kung Fu Guy. We are now one hundred and four minutes into the movie. (Wait, hang on, is this Cambodia or Thailand?)

This movie, seriously.

Anyhow, the chemist guy sciences Baby Girl’s blood a little and gets freaked out. This leads to an unconvincing scene where Grank….yeah I’m leaving that typo…explains that SHE IS OUR HOPE! But also she’s running out of blood and her system is shutting down due to the demands of constant growth. Grillo volunteers for the transfusion, since he had stuff happen to him on the alien ship blah blah blah. And Ms. Motorcycle Helmet mellows out a little bit seeing Cute Conductor and Baby Girl cuddling up.

So we cut to…some random woman (who died in the intro) waking up in a hospital bed…

…wait…noooooooooo….she has a wedding ring like the one Grillo has been playing with periodically, around her neck…

No, now I’m really confused.

So cut back to the science guy sciencing a little bit more, blah blah. Did he really just say, “Scientifically speaking”–? Sure did. Heh. And then at minute one hundred and thirteen, it turns out that using Baby Girl’s blood plus one of their canons will free all of the machine-soldier-brains. (“You sure he’s not doing the drugs?”) And thus the world will be saved. Suuuuuuuuuuure, and I believe you guys are going to do that all on your motorcycle-helmeted own, even if you do have a Vietnam-war era base with a punji stick trapdoor.

Anyhow, our peaceful interlude is interrupted by brain-stealing aliens attacking the girls. Ms. Motorcycle Helmet runs into a minefield, drawing the brainstealing thing after her….but steps on something that goes click. It blows her up and destroys the Stealer. Cute Conductor flees back to base, horrified (and we get some more Reassuring Frank Grillo action, also getting Baby Girl somewhere safe. D’awww, he gives her a headbutt.)

But then (have I mentioned we are one hundred and nineteen minutes into this movie?) the Indothaibodians prepare to DEFEND THE BASE while Grillo heads out with the magical blood syringe to rescue the brainwashed (literally? Ew) machines. (“Fucking Americans.” Hah.)

The aliens start to move down into the underground base (which has been lavishly booby-trapped) while Grillo slinks around topside, action-movie-star-style. He makes it back up to the ship, but the civilians are forced to also flee the safety of the base. But it’s OK, because Iko Uwais launches a grenade at the glowing blue thingy and it blows up. BUT IT’S NOT OKAY BECAUSE THE ALIEN LEADER IS ACTUALLY THERE IN HIS ALIEN GIANT MECHA SUIT OH NOES.

I think that’s about as much as I’m going to be bothered with. They’re fighting in the ruins of Ankor Wat and then the good mecha piloted by the Son who’s been rescued by the power of seeing his dad’s wedding ring shows up and lets just say Ankor Wat is going to be a little bit more ruined than it was before. Baby Girl arms the torpedo canon and then it gets fired off by Son and the alien machines’ eyes turn from blue (evil) to red (good). The family unit reforms….they’re gonna name Baby Girl after Grank’s dead wife Rose…and…

Cut to the woman from the beginning….Rose, all grown up, I assume…and despite the fact that she’s dressed in street clothes….look, SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS COULDN’T HAVE STUCK HER IN A BODYSUIT OR SOMETHING? HELLO SHE IS A SEMIALIEN WEAPON IN COMMAND OF A SHIP ABOUT TO TAKE THE WAR TO THE ENEMY WHY IS SHE DRESSED UP LIKE SHE JUST HIT FOREVER 21? She gets hailed with “Captain on deck!” YEAH RIGHT but whatever because they’re taking the fight to THEM NOW.

(GUITAR RIFFS)

(Things blowing up spacey)

Hah, there’s a blooper reel over the credits.

Overall, I feel a sense of impatience and pity for this movie. It tries so hard, and it has such energy and promise, and Iko Uwais fighting alien soldiers with dual knives and no sleeves and Frank Grillo fighting alien soldiers a tight wet shirt, and whatshisface, the other Indonesian guy, fighting alien soldiers with a machete and no shirt, and yet still it falls so short. I think it honestly could have worked really well as a series. With this budget (…per episode…) and cast, and enough time to flesh everyone out and make us care that Motorcycle Helmet Girl just got blown up and her chemist boyfriend is sad? With more time to watch Frank Grillo running around yelling at people? With a little more explanation of what the heck Baby Girl is? And then at least half an episode to follow up on the whole we-are-taking-the-fight-back-to-them? Absolutely this could have been a masterpiece. As it is, though…

Rated: This movie, seriously.

B-Movie Review: Cosmic Sin (2021)

2_cosmic_sin__00060_zoomSurprising!

That’s not to say it’s actually good.

Just…that it surprises one who was expecting it to be a lot worse. But the actors (with the exception of Bruce Willis, who isn’t particularly happy about having to work for this particular paycheck) aren’t having to deal with dialogue that is completely cringily insane, and even manage to sell some fairly decent scifi exposition. They’re mainly character actors, with character-actor type faces, and when they get their chance a close-up, they’re good at it. And then you’ve got stuff like Frank Grillo rolling up to a firefight on a spacebase in a pickup truck, which is all kinds of unintentionally awesome and a wrench wench who is rather suspiciously fond of her motorcycle nevertheless being excellent at nervously-selling some technobabble to some other characters who are not really reassured.

Unfortunately, there is a point at which the concept of a semi-intelligent sci-fi First Contact And It’s Not Positive, What Do We Do (pssst the answer is genocide)?-movie (which had the makings of a good movie!) gets buried under a low-budget generic action movie which, well, the best I can say about it is that it did try, it just also didn’t succeed.

And, yeah, the alien-zombie infectees escape quarantine and kill their military guards, on a military base, with suspicious ease but the resultant firefight is actually quite well-done, including one character-based scene that would have been a genuine punch to the gut if there had been a little more setup for it. (In fact, that previous sentence kind of sums up the entire movie. If there had been a little bit better writing and a little bit more time to set things up it could have really, genuinely connected. Alas.)

Anyway, the titular Cosmic Sin is actually rather nicely explained as the peacenik doctor lady’s term for what humanity is going to have to do to survive first contact, which is completely destroy the other side or at least annihilate their capacity for harm. Something called a Q-bomb is going to be involved. (Bruce Willis’ character apparently lost his rank and pension because he dropped a Q-bomb on some planet that, in hindsight, shouldn’t have been.) General Grillo decides that he is going to sin cosmically without waiting for official orders. (Which is a usually a huge no-no in the context of genocide but never mind.)

It might also be mentioned that at this point, in-story, four hours have passed since the actual first contact and fifty-three humans have been killed, and also the humans don’t actually know where the aliens’ home planet is. On the other hand, the aliens probably do know where Earth is.

(“Q-bomb, please.”)

So our heroes snickersnack themselves into armor/suits which actually look a lot less impressive than the costume designer probably thought they did, because they only cover the ribcage and forearms and they’re very bulky in those areas without seeming to provide any kind of benefit or support to the wearers. The team appears to be: Grillo, Willis, Peacenik Doctor, Grillo’s weedy nephew who demands in, two other miscellaneous guys, and Wrench Wench who gets drafted to handle the Q-bomb.

Apparently traveling to wherever they’re going doesn’t require a ship, just a spinny glowy thing and a platform. (“It’s just quantum displacement, it’s not…rocket science…”) Hah, lol.

And again, there are little touches that show me that someone at least wanted this movie to be a decent movie and thought about the actual characters, and thought about the actual setting. Willis and Peacenik Doctor used to have a thing and discuss maybe having a thing later again if they get through this. Grillo and his sidekick have a quick discussion about the philosophy of war and looking after the kid if one of them dies…and then his sidekick has a discussion with Wrench Wench that isn’t halfway bad, either. (“Apparently the Aztecs were doing quite well before Cortez showed up.” “Uh…are we the Aztecs or are we Cortez?” “We’re about to find out.”)

So they jump through hyperspace to planet Ellora, thirteen light-years from Earth. There’s some sort of space battle going on above the planet, which we see none of and by the time the team lands it’s been split up. Now…see, this is where the film’s ambitions outran its budget….and abilities. It’s still trying and here and there it has a bright spark, but it’s nowhere near able to pull off what it wants to pull off.–not without a way higher budget and some much better writing and a lot more time to set things up.

Anyhow, Weedy Nephew and Wrench Wench (and Q-bomb) plus the quickly-injured Sidekick (weird, given that he’s the only actual veteran in the group), land together, get into a firefight, and then get rescued by some local humans….who are mostly civilians who have been trying to protect their own homes and planets. (One of them is wearing a baseball cap with a thin blue line patch. I call that quality costume design and I’m only being slightly sarcastic.) Although a new character, a woman with very large braids and moderately-large boob armor and what looks to my inexperienced eye to be an entire 50-cal machine gun with extra stuff glued on it, is introduced. She’s an enthusiastic fan of ex-General Willis, it turns out. (“Do they not know it takes a monster to kill a monster?”)

He, it turns out, has also survived and landed, but he’s got a concussion (his suit helpfully informs us and him) and is also surrounded by low-budget-costumed menacing figures. Actually, this next few set of scenes isn’t half bad if you take into consideration that Willis is concussed and therefore a little bit of trippiness then works, theoretically. However, since none of the movie has been from his perspective before, it’s a little offputting.

But then the away team returns to a refugee center where the injured guy was taken and General Willis ….does something to his suit, killing him quickly. (“He was gonna die anyway.”) They then all brood about this for a moment, as though one of our major characters has not just murdered another one. What the hell?

Meanwhile: the aliens have a giant spinny teleportation gate in orbit which they can use to bring their entire fleet through and thence to Earth. The heroes will have reach orbit in order to use the Q-bomb safely (or shoot the Q-bomb into the space gate). However, without the ability to shut the gate down after they throw the bomb through, they will end up dead as well. Okay, so this scene? Got the point across and did it without involving a single scientist in a lab coat explaining it to the heroes. You have got to give credit where credit is due.

Willis has a monologue here to Wrench Wench that is supposed to be touching and meaningful, but I keep getting distracted by the way his armored crop top keeps bumping his chin.

Meanwhile, Grillo makes contact. He’s up in orbit with a damaged suit. He…tells her to send the Q-bomb to him via the orbital cannon. I think. (I initially thought he asked to be mercy killed.) –and not to tell his nephew that he’s still alive.

So our heroes are….I’m not sure what the plan re the Q-bomb is, but in the meanwhile there’s thumping music and they’re planning to make a “killbox” and the braids girl is up on a water tower somewhere, and everyone else in hunkering down behind those fiberglass tank things everyone tries to make garden planters out of and Bruce Willis pops open a flare and strides down the middle of the aisle and then, OHHHHH SNAP the aliens got to the peacenik doctor and she’s zombified now. Whoops.

But anyway, the aliens speak through the former-doctor and, eh, turns out they also think preemptive genocide is a fair response to first contact. So, first contact resumes and the aliens are suddenly ninjas for some reason and the rest of this firefight is distractingly bad. But Willis grabs on to the outside of the alien vessel as it flies off. I guess that’s one way of getting into orbit. But if he’s trying to rescue Peacenik Doctor, he’s way too late. She/it faces him and says “We never wanted peace.” And then things get wonky.

Grillo, meanwhile, is still in orbit and trying to take control of….something? But it’s not letting him override.
Wrench Wench launches the Q-bomb at the glowy teleportation gate.

Grillo sends her the coordinates for his suit and tells her to fire directly at him. He’s going to use what fuel he has left as the catalyst to, I dunno, make the Q-bomb go boom. His weedy nephew, who overheard, has a moment and then puts his hand over Wrench Wench’s and is the one to pull the trigger. Heavy, man. And ohhh, okay, that was the catalyst boom that closes the teleportation gate so the rest of the human planet doesn’t get sucked into a black hole when the Q-bomb goes off on the other side.

Weedy Nephew then goes and starts stabbing the hell out of the surviving alien ninja power ranger to the accompaniment of….harmonica music?

We cut to seven days after first contact, with the remaining cast drinking their sorrows away in a bar, the Alliance Senate taking credit for the attack’s success and announcing a dramatic military expansion, and Bruce Willis, who somehow survived being up in orbit when all the explosions started going off, fades out into the night like an old soldier always does.

It’s not nearly as bad as anyone seems to think it is–and it has some aspirations of being great.

Rated: Hell, I’m a fan of all seven.

The Last Jedi – With My Mother (repost review)

VERY LONG POST WITH MANY IMAGES BELOW. If you stick around long enough you’ll spot the exact moment I lost the will to live…

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“What’s this? Who is this?”

“What’s he talking about?”

“Stop. Stop. What is going on?”
“Yknow I promised I wouldn’t say anything.”
“Don’t do that, I want to know what’s happening! What’s happening?…He came to destroy the ship? The big ship? He thinks he can? How?”
“This is Star Wars. A tiny little ship is much more powerful than a big ship.”
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“It is?”
“It is in this movie.”
“…what about the Armada! Heh heh!”
[The Mother of Skaith has no idea]

“What’s he supposed to be doing?! The little thing! What IS he doing?…Oh, he’s fixing something?”
“Yes. And then he headbutted it. That fixed it.”
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“What’s he trying to do?”
“They’re going to bomb them now.”
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“The dreadnaught is their big ship?”
“Yes.”
“Are they on that ship?”
“What?”
“Are they on that ship that they’re targeting?”
“Are who on that ship?”
“The people.”
“What people…?”

“What? What’d she do? Is she a traitor?”
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“What is she doing!? What’s happening RIDERS!”
[Bujold Did It Better]

“What’s going on? What’s she doing?”
“Ok. Remember the remote control? I explained about the remote control? She fell down the ladder and it’s at the top of the ladder and she’s lying there kicking it to drop it down and get to push the button instead of GETTING BACK UP THE LADDER TO PUSH IT.”
“Ok.”

“…maybe she couldn’t get to it.”
“SHE COULD MOVE BOTH HER ARMS AND LEGS. SHE COULD KICK IT AND SHE COULD GRAB IT, THERE”S NO REASON SHE COULDN’T CLIMB THE LADDER.”
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“Ok, ok, ok.”

“Why are you looking at me? I know him. I saw this in the last one. What!”
“Did you see it?”
“See what? He took it and left.”
“Oh, you didn’t see it. Let me rewind it.”
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“I’m looking….I’m looking….he threw it away! What? I just saw it! Why would he do that?”

“Who do the other houses belong to?”
“….they’re fish nuns who….they’re fish nuns.”

“Oh, and those are the porgs!…you don’t care.”
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“They look like li’l birds to me.”

“Doesn’t it look like he’s wearing a bathrobe?” [It really does, though. That’s the same knot I tie on mine.]
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“Yeah. I don’t like to look at him though.”
“Oh, did you know that the guy playing him played Gollum?”
“…Gollum was a little thing.”
“No, but he did the motions for the CGI.”
[unimpressed] “Oh.”

“Stop looking at me. Watch the movie.”

“What’s this? Same girl? And she’s just following him?

“What is that?…Oh gross!”

“…Don’t look at me.”

“What’s that? He don’t know either?”
“Do you remember the part in Empire Strikes Back where Luke is being trained and he goes into the cave and he sees Darth Vader in the cave and he fights him and it’s the darkness in himself?”
“I think so.”
“This is the same thing. Only she’s going to see more of herself than he does because she’s special.”

“…what is the boy going to do? The evil boy…Kylo Ren.”
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“I don’t know.”
“How do you not know?”

“Is he trying to redeem himself?”
“No.”
“What’s he trying to do?”
“He’s trying to kill his mother.”
“Why?”
“He wants to be evil.”
“He’s already evil!”
“According to his master, he’s not evil enough.”
“Oh.”

“What is this boy’s name?”

“Does he kill her?”
“Oh, just watch.”
“He kills her?…She didn’t die? What? I don’t understand! I thought the thing was blown up? She’s coming back to life?”
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“Oh, she’s flying into the burned-up ship…do not look at me, please.”

“He come there to kill her himself?”
“Yes.”
“Oh.”

[Admiral PurpleHair]
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“Who?”

“Is that the sort of thing you do to your subordinate? Is it? Is it? IS IT?”
“To that sort of subordinate!”
“To just mock and harangue him?”
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“She told him to follow orders.”
“What orders? She had no orders. Do you do that to your subordinates? To anyone! Anyone! In front of everyone!”
“There were no other people around.”
“They were right in the middle of everyone! That is not the thing to do!”
“Watch the movie.”

“She looks like she’s not a—she looks like she’s not loyal, anyway.”
“She’s a hero.”
“…”
“…She’s a hero.”

“He isn’t a part of the army! She can’t do that!”
“She’s just doing what she thinks—“
“She doesn’t have any reason to do this!”
“It’s just a movie.”
“She’s in the rest of the movie, too. She’s in the rest of the movie…..oh God…I didn’t actually watch it past the sea cow milk part, I…I…I didn’t know it was this bad…”
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[insultingly stupid, insultingly condescending, insultingly awful scene of the insultingly horrible message from the pseudo-Yoda goggle alien woman. Why is this scene so stupid? Why? Is it because it’s an infodump used to obviously set up a new plot point? Is it because it has no connection to anything else other than to contrive a new situation? Is it because it uses the stupid and egregious modern cliché of tee-hee, enemies so silly, I talk to you while I deal with them with one hand? Is it because she does backflips while remaining in range of the camera? Is it because it brings up and dismisses past characters in a contrived fashion? Is it because it makes people want to gouge their own eyes out? IS IT A PLAN BY DISNEY TO FORCE PEOPLE TO BUY THOSE STUPID GOGGLES IN ORDER TO PROTECT THEIR EYES FROM THIS HORRIBLE FATE? IS IT? IS IT? IS IT?]

“Ha! Who’s the master codebreaker? Is it Luke?”
“No.”
“Well, who is it? Is it Rey?”
“It’s no one.”
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“It can’t be no one. Who is it?”
“It’s a guy they pick up in jail after going to the place and getting thrown in jail.”
“It has to be someone she’s talking about. He’s someone important. You’ll see.”
[The Mother of Skaith has never heard of clever filmmakers subverting audience expectations. Oh, just you wait.]

“He came? He’s there?”
“No. They have a Force link.”
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“What?”

“What.”

“What!”

“Stop it. I didn’t hear what she said. He put himself away from the Force?”
“He said, he’s only felt this kind of power before—because these people are more powerful than him, or Darth Vader, or Anakin, anyone else, because they’re new people, they’re more powerful than he’s ever felt before.”
“Yes, yes, after that. What did he say at the end?”
“He’s only felt this kind of raw power once before with Ben. The evil boy. Kylo Ren.”

“She lyin’?”
“Yes.”

“The worst people. See? You get it? You get it? You get it? You get it? Because they’re rich. You get it yet?”
“Yes.”
“See? He’s complaining about traffic. Because he’s rich. You got it yet?”
“Just play the movie.”

“See, see, they’re bad people. Because they’re beating up the dog-ponies. And the little slave boys.”
[This scene is SO ON THE NOSE IT HURTS.]
“They are bad people because they sell weapons! Not because they are rich!”
“Y’know…why does it have to be weapons? Weapons are good! Guns are good! They shouldn’t be—you know what, why isn’t Finn and them there buying weapons themselves?”
“Why are you shouting?”
“They should be buying weapons! Even from the rich evil weapons dealers. Because they’re down to one ship and they lost all their bombers, they should be buying new ships. Why aren’t they buying new ships! That actually makes sense!”
“You are shouting for no reason.”
“They should be buying new ships.”
“Be quiet!”

“Why does he have to have his head covered all the time?”

“He’s lying.”
“He is?”
“Yeah, he’s lying.”

“That’s a good line, there. ‘You didn’t fail Kylo, Kylo failed you. And I won’t.’”

“I told you, she don’t know what she’s doing. She looks like she’s a traitor.”
“Oh, she’s not a traitor, she’s a hero.”
“…”
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She’s a hero.
“She doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

“See, this is the guy. They get him instead of the master code breaker. Because they don’t need a master code breaker, they can just use a guy th…”
[I FUCKING GIVE UP. Why. Why. Why. Why. Redrum REDRUM REDRUM.]

“It’s a cowsheep?”
“It’s a ponydog.”
“Looks like a cowsheep.”
“It’s got pony ears.”
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“Why is the child there?”
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[Then they stampede the kangaroopigcows through the casino. This scene is so egregious even the Mother of Skaith wondered what was up.]

“Where are they going?”
“They’re goi…they’…they….they’re going to run into a ship. It’s going to be sitting there with the ramp down and they’re going to run right up it.”
“Oh.”

“Oh, what happened? What did she do to the animal?”
“She took its saddle off.”
“And then she said, now it’s worth it? Now that is too much….”

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[snicker]

“I don’t believe that. What? How? How could that be? That would make Luke evil!”

“Why is she listening to him, anyway?”
“Because he didn’t have a shirt on.”
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[The Mother of Skaith: eyerolls]

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“Don’t shake his hand….he might squeeze it. This boy squeezed my hand the other day and I’m not shaking hands any more.”

“ ‘Did you’—what?”
“Create Kylo Ren.”
“What? How? How could Luke Skywalker create Kylo Ren?”
“Because he snuck into his room and tried to murder him with a lightsaber.”
“But why would Luke do that? That don’t make no sense.”

“…his master didn’t fail him? How could he…”

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“Uh uh! Lookie here! Look at that!”

[“At least you’re stealing from the bad guys and helping the good.” Well, at least Finn isn’t, like, losing any IQ points to make him say things like this. He’s been this stupid the entire movie.]

“Tell me she’s not a traitor.”
“She’s a hero.”
“I didn’t ask you that.”
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[“Traitor!”]
“I TOLD YOU!”
“She’s a hero….she’s a hero.”
“Hush.”

[Yeah, perfect. Tell him that, Chewie. What have they done to you, Chewie?]

[The master code breaker hacks by typing really really fast and has little code beads in his sleeves. I wrote this same exact fucking scene when i was ten years old and hacking was this mystical thing smart people (who were also criminals) did. I was not at the time, a professional scriptwriter employed by a major motion picture studio.]

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“Where is she going? Back to their base?”
“No, she’s going to go turn Kylo back to the Light Side.”
“Are you serious?”

“Now what’s happening?”
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“Ok, they went and got the master code breaker–”
“I know that, what’s happening?”
“Ok, so they got those uniforms from…somewhere—and they put a garbage can over the little rolly robot so it only looks like a garbage can, except that the evil little robot over there is going to spot them.”

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“What’d he say?”
“He said she’ll turn.”
“What? She’ll turn? Will she turn?”
“No. Of course not.”
“So he’s lying. Or he thinks he’s lying.”

“He saw who her parents were?”
“Yes.”

“Sooo, how did he capture her?”
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“She went to him. She had Chewie launch her in the escape pod and she went to him.”
“Why?”
“Because she thinks she can turn him.”
“She have sense?”
“She’s a heroine.”
“All by herself she had this idea?”
“She’s a STUPID heroine.”

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“Why did he go with them in the first place? How did they find him? He was in a bar or something, wasn’t he?”
“He was in jail.”
“Why was he in jail?”
“They didn’t ask.”
“But why was he in jail after all, the First Order put him in jail. OR he was a plant or something.”
“They didn’t ask! We never find out.”
“There has to be a reason.”
“There isn’t a reason.”
“There has to be a reason. You just watch it and you’ll find out.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Ok, so, you see, Mom, the people who made this movie did this on purpose. They want to do things that are unexpected, like, unexpected, and this is one of them.”
“No. That is not what you do. Even if it is unexpected, it still has to make sense.”
“That’s one of your expectations that they were subverting.”
“…it has to make sense.”
“….”

“Why’d she do that! She not have any sense either?”
“Oh, that’s another thing they want to subvert.”
“Leia?”

“She really looks old. Older than her mother.”
“Cocaine is really bad for you.”
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“Why don’t they call him Luke? They should say Luke, not just Skywalker.”

“Waitaminute, wait, hang on, where did the fire come from? Wait, wait, wait, I’m going back to find out where the fire came from.”
“All that sparking. All that sparking, something caught on fire.”
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“Oh, there it is. See, there.”
“But wait, wait, wait, why is the wall made out of cloth? Look, you can see where it connects to the floor!”
“Stop shouting.”
“I’m not shouting. Why is the wall made out of cloth? Just one layer of cloth? What?”

“You know, he was right, she still had a stupid idea with the transports, that they would not be safe. The place may be safe but it’s not safe.”

“The place is falling appart.”
“Yeah, but that’s because it’s made out of cloth.”

“Quick, turn around, the other guy’s dying!”
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“Tell her to give him the thing, the saber, and she can go. He can stay there.”

“Can those transports do diving, you know, like the ships do? They just go straight?”

“What’s she going to do?”

“Ok, what is she doing? Is she being…is she just…”

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“Ahhh! Give her the thing, boy! Come on! Oh, they’re fighting for it.”

“Who is this woman? Who is this woman?”
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“She’s the female stormtrooper leader.”
“Oh, there’s a female stormtrooper leader. Ok.”

“What’s she doing?”

“She’s going to crash into the big ship.”
“Oh, ok.”

“Who’s that?”
“The same female stormtrooper leader.”
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“Oh.”

“What is this? Ahaha! It’s the little thingy!”
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“So what happened with the two of them? I don’t understand what happened with them with the lightsaber. Why did he want it?”
“…I dunno. Just cause she was trying to grab it back, maybe.”
[Why did Kylo want the saber? Shouldn’t he be letting the past die?]

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“What’d he say?”
“The Supreme Leader is dead, Long Live the Supreme Leader.”

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[The reason that you do not generally send women, especially pregnant or elderly ones, into battle. 1) if you send a pregnant woman out, she will be physically unfit for the duty. 2), if you lose her, you also lose the baby. And no one wants to lose babies. If you send an elderly woman out, she will be generally physically unfit for the duty, and it also looks bloody stupid. Poor Carrie Fisher was obviously having trouble moving in that ball gown.]

“He…petted it. Did you see that? He was petting it.”
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“What cannon?”
“The battering-ram cannon.”
“I didn’t see the canon.”
“They haven’t brought it out yet.”

“What’d he say?”
“He said, all fighters go after the Falcon. Which is really stupid because then they…arrrghhhhh.”

“He gonna die?’
“Oh, watch this.”
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“What’s he doing?”
“He’s going to dive right into the middle of it and blow it up.”
“Blow what up, the thing?”

“What happened there? What happened there? What happened there? Somebody knocked him out before he hit it? She did? Did she die? Did she die?”
“We’re not sure. She might be back for the sequel.”

“Noo, they just don’t trust you anymore.”

“What is that, who? Luke? Where’d he come out of? Out of thin air?”

“What’s this?”
“The stupid girl.”
“What girl?”
“The girl that knocked him aside.”
“Oh.”

[And if your membership is majority female, but your leadership is a charismatic male, to whom, even better/worse, your wise aged female specifically cedes leadership…what does that say?]

“What did she say?”
“Lifting rocks.”
“What’s lifting rocks?”
“She’s going to go lift the rocks.”
“So they can get away?”
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[Why couldn’t this scene have been awesome? It could have been awesome. Damn you Hollywood.]

“What? What’s happening there?”
“He’s not really there.”
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“What. How could he not be there?”

“Who is this child? Who is this child?”

“It’s to show that their story has spread and they are an inspiration to the masses, but only the lowest of the low. Everyone else can just buzz off and die.”
[…come to think of it, it’s a pretty damn direct communist parallel, there. THE OPPRESSED MASSES versus THE DECADENT ELITE. God damn you, Hollywood.]

“Oh, so what is your overall opinion of the movie?”
“There is this new Avengers movie. Wakanda. Everyone’s talking about it on Facebook. They say we’re going to Wakanda.”
“Yeah, good riddance to them. But this movie, what did you think of it?”
“I want to see the new Avengers movie. Wakanda. Or Thor. Is there a new Thor movie?”

Soldier (1998) – Movie Review

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This movie has a lot of problems, and they all stem from the same source: it’s kind of dumb. But! It wasn’t really meant to be, and there are places where the strength of the concept carries through. (That would work for a TLDR, I guess.)

The screenplay is by David Webb Peoples, who wrote/is credited for working on Blade Runner and Unforgiven; but it’s also directed by Paul Anderson, whose filmography seems to be mindless action movies. The original script (or at the one available online) had quite a lot of additional scenes that were flat-out cut from the finished movie, scenes which would have added character, subtlety, and interest.

All in all, most of its issues boil down to two central issues: 1) this was an attempt to write military scifi without realizing that most mil-sf is based not on other fiction but on distorted historical events, and 2), it’s dumb.

Here’s why: the director was incapable of coming up with a clever plot or of finding and stealing some interesting historical event, suitably tweaked for the constraints of budget and theme; incapable of envisioning clever action scenes and/or presenting his vision clearly; and most of the meat of the script’s final act was removed from the final film. If you surgically remove all characterization from your screenplay and personality from your side characters, people won’t care what happens to them. If you don’t bother to think through and set up your plotlines, show the audience your locations, and clearly outline your conflicts, then your story won’t have any grounding and the audience will have that much harder a time following it. And if you haven’t got the brains to come up with clever action concepts, then your action scenes will fall flat.

Question: How do you make a first-act knife fight exciting? (Pick one only)

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Guess which one they went with? No, go on, guess.

a) Choreograph it well and film it from tense, exciting angles;
b) Overlay it with a pounding, exciting score
c) Have known characters fighting for known stakes
d) Make them fight while hanging on to chains thirty feet off the ground.

The battle I read had a lot going on. There were several groups in peril, named characters fighting, and there was even space for bits of humor. (Colonist runs to fetch two fire axes. Enemy soldier looms up out of nowhere, glowers, snatches one axe, and walks back into the smoke. Colonist gulps and continues on his way. Other colonist asks why didn’t he bring two axes? “A soldier took it! You wanna go get it, get it yourself!”) The final cut has none of these touches. Instead of having people fighting for their lives with intelligence and determination, drama is provided by the old standby: place children in peril. In fact, that’s the only source of drama throughout the entire fight. I’m not even exaggerating. Soldiers round a corner? Kids. Soldiers in the open? Kids. Soldiers kick in a door? Kids. It’s lazy and insulting and it’s not even very well filmed.

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And the worldbuilding isn’t great. There are some hints that this takes place in the Blade Runner world, but hints only they remain, and we are left with some pretty large questions, like: what sort of oversight does this military have that the-basically-murders of three of them in “training accidents” just gets ignored? What government does this military work for? Why are they doing fake field exercises on random planets and how come they have license to attack whatever random civilians they find on those planets? These are indeed questions, but! They are questions that the author needs to have clearly understood in order to casually condense it for the audience. A few lines of background chatter, a scene in front of a government memorial building (is the architecture Brutalist? Neoclassical? Baroque? Is there a giant monument to soldiers, or to civilians?), a reville with a flag prominently displayed…that’s all you need to give the audience enough context to work out their own understanding of the situation. And yes, that’s hours of hard work (thinking is hard when you’re Hollywood) for the writer, but it’s also a better product.

Or even better yet? Find some weird little situation that happened somewhere in Burma in the 1800s, ctrl-F “British” with “Federation” and “Lee-Enfield*” with “blaster” and you’re golden. You can even skip most of the hard thinking and it’ll still have a great result. *(Or, uh, whatever they did use in Burma in the 1800s).

Anyhow, so, is this movie worth watching? Well…kinda, and the reason it is is Kurt Russell.mv5bmty4ntqymtu1ml5bml5banbnxkftztywotu2nza3._v1_ The man goes all out for this movie, and with only about a hundred lines, he gives the part his wordlessly emotive best effort. The man wanted that paycheck and damnned if he doesn’t go for it. And there are some other familiar faces in here too–Gary Busey giving what’s actually a fairly toned-down and quiet performance as the captain who is slightly more decent than the lieutenant and way more decent than the colonel; Jason Isaacs as the incompetently arrogant colonel who gets a very satisfying comeuppance after he comes face to face with a real Soldier; and Sean Pertwee as “the other guy inconveniently married to the female lead and even more inconveniently a decent guy” is, well, a decent, understandable guy. Connie Nielson, as the female lead, is underwhelming, possibly because the script gives her very little to do except feed straight lines to Kurt Russell. (“What are you going to do?” “I’m going to kill them all, sir.”)

The other reason is the sets. This movie was made in the great old days of the 90s, when if you wanted something to look military you made it blocky and painted it green, and if you wanted to have a giant crawling vehicle wrecking stuff you went out and bolted stuff to a bulldozer and then filmed it wrecking stuff. Nothing’s sleek, everything’s beaten-up and slightly scuffed–including the actors–and nothing is CGI. Basically, the sets are kind of awesome in the way you don’t see these days. Me likey.

And there are some very good individual scenes, especially when Kurt Russell is emoting at things and/or blowing them up.

And….that’s about it.

Rated: Your reviewers are obsolete.