Last weekend, no doubt, I gave Josh the good movies. I wasn't in town, basically, so everything I actually wanted to watch I handed over. That left me with Gomorrah and Fighting.
Yeah, I know I said I missed my shot at Gomorrah, but as it turns out, they bumped the opening date at the Circle back a week, so I got to watch it. It's a tough film to enjoy, but I'll get to that in a minute.
First off, this weekend marks the official opening of the summer movie season with the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Unlike some movie critics, I didn't download it off the internet and watch it at home. Probably should've. I don't have a good feeling about it, but I do have a good feeling about May in general, so we're going to run through what's coming during these next five weekends.
No, this isn't the summer movie preview. That'll come in early June. This is just sort of a teaser before the main event.
Starting this Weekend:
Battle for Terra: Animated 3D sci-fi flick with a fairly impressive vocal cast (Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson, James Garner, Mark Hamill, Danny Glover, Chris Evans, Evan Rachel Wood). Basically, the remainder of humanity is planetless and adrift in space until they come across the planet of Terra and promptly try to take it over. Humans aren't necessarily the good guys here.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Matthew McConaughey plays himself, basically. Wait, okay, he plays a notorious womanizer who gets haunted by specters of girlfriends past while attending his brother's wedding. Golly.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: I like Wolverine. He was always my favorite X-man growing up. C'mon, the dude had claws that could cut through anything coming out of his hands and could regenerate from any wound. This is his origin story. I'm not going to lie to you. It looks terrible.
Not going to stop me from watching it, though.
Star Trek: Prior to the prequel trilogy, there were generally two kinds of sci-fi fans. Star Wars fans and Trekkies. I was the former. I just never got into Star Trek. It always looked cheap and stupid. I'm talking the old show. That pretty much set my bias for life. Other than maybe The Wrath of Khan, I could care less about any of the Trek flicks. That said, this looks pretty good. Like they finally tried to make an honest action movie out of the deal.
Next Day Air: A deliveryman delivers the wrong box to the wrong apartment and sets off an unfortunate series of events. The cast here is pretty good, with Mos Def, Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs) and Mike Epps. Could be funny.
Angels and Demons: I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code, too, but that didn't make it a good movie, did it? From what I remember, the story of this book lends itself better to a film than Da Vinci did. Here's hopin'.
Management: I'd never heard of this movie until I looked it up on imdb.com. Apparently, it stars Jennifer Anniston and Steve Zahn. They have a fling, then she heads off cross country and he doggedly pursues her. So I guess it's a comedy-stalker film. Riiiight.
Terminator: Salvation: The third Terminator film sucked. Awful. It was easy to leave that film and think, "Shouldn't have made a Terminator movie without James Cameron." He didn't make this new one, either, but damn it, I like what I see in the trailers. The best part of either of the first two Terminator films is the glimpse of the future, Judgment Day and beyond. This one's all beyond the end, so to speak. Good cast. Appears to have good special effects. Let's hope this is the revival of a fun sci-fi franchise.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: You know, I thought this sequel had already come and gone. I thought this one, when I saw the title, was the third film in the series. Could be entertaining, I suppose. The first one was mildly so. If you somehow didn't see it, it's basically Ben Stiller playing a security guard in a museum that comes to life after hours.
Up: I get tired of saying this in regard to these movies, but the only thing you need to know about Up is that it's the newest Pixar flick. The only sure thing in Hollywood.
Drag Me to Hell: A loan officer kicks an old witch out of her house and gets cursed to hell. Literally. It looks dumb. Sam Raimi movies, even his horror films, are always a little on the slapstick/dumb side. I know that's like horror fan blasphemy, but to that I say, Spider-man 3.
Crash and Burn?
I mentioned last week that I'd only read this was a tough film to like. I can now confirm that. It's like watching a movie like Crash or Traffic. Lots of characters, overlapping and interconnected storylines.
The difference in this film is that none of the characters in Gomorrah are charismatic in any way. The closest is that of Toto, the kid just dipping his toes into the crime underworld.
It's difficult just figuring out what the character's names are, and because it's an ensemble flick, you don't spend a lot of time with any of them. I assume this is on purpose. None of the characters in Gomorrah is innocent.
I mentioned Toto. You also have Don Ciro, who's a money-delivery guy. You've got a tailor who's just trying to make ends meet, so he sells some lessons to the local Chinese sweathouse. You've got two teenagers robbing from other criminals because they think they're bad enough to be their own gang. You've got this guy who's making deals to rid companies of their toxic waste (course, when he gets it, he's just burying it in the ground right in the middle of the country).
Characters die randomly. You get the idea that there are at least two crime groups, and that they are at war with each other; but this is just a matter of fact and not any sort of a dramatic device.
In the end, I'm not sure why the movie was made. It's a hopeless sort of thing. While watching, I wondered, is this really how these people live? Is this in any way a faithful depiction of reality?
It's interesting to watch. In a way, it has the feel of a documentary. And just because it's random does not mean there are not some striking scenes, such as the indoctrination ritual the boys must undergo to be allowed into the crime family (Let's say it involves a bulletproof vest and a guy with a gun).
The violence in Gomorrah is almost perfunctory. It happens very quickly with little fanfare and then the film carries on, which I suppose is a commentary on the state of the characters' lives.
The film is dark, hard and a bit depressing.
If this is what crime is like in Naples, Italy, I'm never visiting. So many films featuring Italy are moving postcards. This one watches like a State Department travel warning. There's some interesting stuff, but I'm not sure it's worth the 135 minutes.
Prior to watching Fighting, I'd never seen a movie starring Channing Tatum. Somehow, I missed out on Step Up and Step Up 2 (oh no!), Stoploss and She's the Man, to pick out a few.
After having seen his performance in Fighting, I'm sort of wondering why the guy is acting at all. He reminded me of the kid in Friday Night Lights and The Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift.
That said, was it him or was it the script?
There is almost no dialogue worth a damn in the whole movie. It's not just Tatum's that stinks. In fact, half the time, it looks like the actors were ad libbing, as though instead of dialogue, the script writer put, "Say something about her kid here." It's bad.
The movie has too much dead space in it. It pauses at the wrong moments. It acts like a film that has emotional weight to it, especially in some scenes between Tatum and Zulay Henao (the love interest who incidentally shares the same name as her character).
The story goes something like this. Shawn (Tatum) sells overpriced crap on the streets of NYC. Like fake Harry Potter books and burned DVDs.
One day, he's basically ruined by a gang of thieves, though he beats the crap out of a couple of them before they get away with his stuff.
The gang of thieves is run by Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), a "two-bit scam artist." After Shawn stumbles upon Harvey and one of his cronies after the incident and demands his money back, Harvey tells Shawn he can get him into a fight where he'll make $5,000 if he wins.
Shawn is broke, so he takes Harvey up on it. Shawn starts winning, the purses get bigger and everything progresses according to the Hollywood script model for these types of films.
You've seen this before. Many times, and probably done better.
It could've been better. There was something to build around. Shawn's not a bad character. Harvey could've made a better antagonist than whatever it was they turned him into.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
There are also a lot of inconsistencies in the film. At one point, Shawn is shown in a tiny apartment. Later, he's homeless. Before one fight, Harvey tells Shawn he'll get $30,000 if he wins. Afterward, he gives Shawn $10,000. Details can ruin a movie.
Fighting sucked. Skip it.
See you next week with Wolverine and Battle for Terra.
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