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The Long Rope Hang Onto

What do you believe in resting in?
Carry on for your next of kin,
I don't take regretful steps on a whim,
I'm fueled by the spectrum of living,
I wont ever give yo I will carry on!
And for my children, as if I was a harried mom:
I hope I live long.

Independence Day 2 - Resurgence (2016)

Independence Day 2 - Resurgence (2016)

I wonder if we'll look back on the sound effects of recent years like we do now on the special effects of the eighties, wondering what the hell is up with that shit? The Transformer-like effects are going too far. It's taking over. I keep hearing the same things in different movies, even when it no longer feels like a natural sound. There's too much trying to sound cool, and loud, and too little trying to sound authentic in a lot of recent year's biggest blockbusters - this one included.

It's not just the sound that's disappointingly disinventive: the movie plot is pretty much a repeat on the previous Independent Day too, with the aliens back to take over the planet, but with a twist. The Earth now has the technology to defend itself, and humanity has evolved, and yet when the aliens do arrive all of that technology doesn't even leave a dent, and a select few heroes end up trying to save the world again with the most mundane means available. Similar to last time they save the most memorable characters and cast aside the rest as sacrifice, to add some tragedy, and yet there's barely any room to mourn each loss along the way. The action picks up again before the tears even start to form, like they're afraid they might actually make viewers emotional.

The action is cool and all (apart from those unsuitable sound effects mentioned above), but it feels like it could've been more than that. All character relations and losses get sucked down through the riptide. And the enemy of the enemy... a power button rotated 90 degrees CW? Well, why not. it's functional symbolism, albeit also a bit inventiveless.

Though a lot's happened since the last movie, and the world's united, it still plays tiringly much on patriotism and resolve, character clashes, and burnt-out jokes. Of course the USA is leading the counterattack, and though they speak about the world uniting in this final effort, they say it in such a way that... well, it doesn't feel like the world is truly united at all. The prior movie had a better speech - one that inspired confidence and trust, whereas this one seemed like something aimed at calming the masses. Ample propaganda.

The last movie had better everything, really. It had Will Smith too. I wonder if he opted out of this one voluntarily, or if they wanted to get some less iconic people in the spotlight - though I guess Liam Hemsworth isn't all that unknown either. Usher as one of the main characters was a surprise though. He does OK, but I do miss Will Smith´s insurmountable charisma. And the old world, to which it was easier to relate. It seemed like a better place to live in, too.

The new world's a shinier, more unified, but also somewhat more boring big brother state. Or, big sister I guess? Female president and all.

I wonder if Hilary had a hand in that, or if it just seemed like a relevant movie move for this election year. Potential presidential product placement? Though if so it's a strange way for them to go swapping out the president towards the end, as if a woman's unbefit to lead. Not that it matters which race, creed or gender the president belongs to, as long as s/he's old and wise and capable of leading a country, which the latter does seem to be, but whatever their intentions with the script decisions they take I doubt it's as incentiveless as that.

The world's come a long way in the twenty years since the last attack, and yet it hasn't really gone anywhere at all. Maybe if they'd worked on this movie for the past twenty years, it would've been in another level entirely. It feels like we've all been here before, in this place and time, and despite incredibly detailed destructive CGI: last time was better.

It is cool to see David (Jeff Goldblum) make a re-appearance, and look pretty much exactly the same as he did last time, and the same with his dad, and president, and a few other notable re-occurrences, but nostalgia isn't enough to make a good movie. Maybe an entirely new cast would've been better. Maybe something new, like chasing the aliens into outer space and confronting them there.

Maybe I'm being unnecessarily negative though. Some scenes were good. Some characters were good. I liked the bus chase, the tech, and the further you get into the more you get sucked into the action, but it still feels used - even with the movie taking place in a more parallel version of our present day. It's like a cover of the original, that's not better than the original. I enjoyed it, but at the same time I wanted something new.

If it wasn't a sequel but a stand-alone title it would've been different; it wouldn't have had as heavy expectation to try to live up to - and fail.

Feels like one of those sequels time may (rightfully so) forget.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii is a vast archaeological site located in southern Italy’s Campania region. Once a thriving and sophisticated Roman city, Pompeii was buried in meters of ash and pumice after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

That's the place! As for the plot of this movie:

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

It has 8 Wins and 4 Nominations on IMDB, which is surprisingly high considering the surplus of cheesy acting, superficial characters, relations, trails of vengeance, wrath of the Gods and all in between.

The main character gladiator Mil, AKA The Celt (played by Kit Harington), seems incredibly cheesy, and weak-willed, and overall very unfit to be the character he plays. He doesn't seem vengeful and strong at all, but rather frail and worried, like someone trying to look tougher than he is.

His in-movie love of royal creed Cassia (played by Emily Browning) is a lot more convincing in her role, though their chemistry is horrible; their interactions forced and fleeting until the very end where their first kiss is eternalized and they turn into monuments of stone. I won't bother with a spoiler tag, since you'd be more disappointing expecting they would get away and not get to see it.

It's such an unnecessary ending. All that running and they still couldn't run away. Why run so far it seemed like they had escaped, and then suddenly break that illusion with a horsey excuse. They seemed to be doing fine. If they absolutely must turn back to look into the fire, why not meet their ashen embrace in the arena like the proud gladiator Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)... or anywhere else, really, and with reason, with Pompeii giving them no pardon. They chose the most inopportune moment to do what they did, and it feels all the more reckless since they had a chance, but choose to pause, and debate their will to survive - or lack there-of, rather than galloping hopelessly ahead of the ashen wave, with confidence or not, but together.

That it was the most cinematically appealing place doesn't justify it. That it was an unexpected tragedy? A surprise? Who are they trying to appeal to? What's the point?

Using the escape as a way to better the scenery for their final moment feels so unnecessary, and their turning to stone through the flood of fire... that's really not how it works either. It's unnecessary, unrealistic, and in the end highly disappointing, as is the play on vengeance that quickly gets overshadowed by the looming ash clouds. It felt like the kind of movie where you'd expect a cliche ending from the start (where the two of them escape), but breaking free from that cliche like they did felt like a wrong turn. Like swapping a Coke for a Pepsi. It's new, but it's still the same thing. It lacks purpose. Surely there were better ways.

The special effects may be pompeious and grand, and it is a tragic tale of love and death with overly symbolic undertones (overtones then), but it didn't make the best of its potential. It started a bit like a soap opera version of The Gladiator, and though the battle, backstory, and romance seemed promising, it all leaves much to be desired. The ending for one; the characters most of all.

 rated 2/5: decent

Harlock - Space Pirate (2013)

Harlock - Space Pirate (2013)

Here's an animated movie about a pirate in space. Harlock, they call him. He's an immortal being who roams around the cosmos in a dark-matter powered vehicle, the only one of it's kind, as is he - the only one able to defy the Gaia Coalition and roam free, seeking to one day return humans to their true home.

In this time humans have been cast out from the Earth, and are kept away on the less habitable edges of space. Harlock seeks to change this, but when a new crew member pops up the truth begs to question. What does he really want? Who is good, and who is evil, and how will this all play out? It takes a while before you start to question... and it's really not that big a question, but it goes through the motions.

Harlock isn't the main character at all, despite the name of the movie, but rather this new recruit who one day boards his ship under the visage of freedom. There's also Kei, the one female crew member, who never really bonds with the main character but is always close by, as a sort of ongoing potential visual romance.

In the beginning the space pirate act felt a bit stiff. Stylish but unnecessary. It looked cool but left you out of the loop... and in some ways it stays that way even until the end, as if we're mere spectators, not honored the privilege of reading the truths and intentions in each character's mind. It takes a long while to get into the mood, but once you do it's an exciting trip, with some nice action scenes, and other scenes, and a plot that reminds a bit of Final Fantasy - at least in the Gaia and Government regard, and style of CGI.

The visuals are great. Space is cool. The ship is cool. Even the fighting choreography is cool more than it is functional... and though all of that looks great, it's sad that looks go over purpose. Behind it all however, there is a sad and compelling story, a clash of character, of good and evil... and it's not all bad. Sometimes a bit cliche, and simple (like how fast Harlock changes his mind - and how fast everyone forgives him), but not all bad.

If you're looking for something similar to the animated Final Fantasy movie, you'll probably like this, and vice versa.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Sleep Tight (2011)

Sleep Tight (2011)

Or Mientras Duermes, as is it's Spanish name, is a movie tightly based on El Propietario from 2008. I haven't seen that one, but apparently they're virtually identical - though the character depictions and overall atmosphere in this is intended for a broader audience. Or so I've read. I assume this is the better of the two movies, but maybe the prior is the the most captivating: uncensored, relentless and heavy.

It was a pretty weird movie. A story told through the voice of apartment concierge Cesar (played by Luis Tosar), with a fair bit of Clara (Marta Etura) - his big obsession. It goes from seeming like a psychotic romance, to something different entirely. Cesar's motivations are revealed more and more as events within the movie unfold, and I feel like I'd be spoiling the experience if I go about summarizing the movie as leisurely as IMDB did (so be wary of that page before/if you intend to see it). Without the surprise I can't imagine you'll experience it the same, and in describing it more it'd be difficult to not reveal anything. It's one of those movies your best off jumping into with a blindfold, and being ready for whatever. Though don't expecting anything flashy.

The acting's great, and the scenario certainly a unique one. Though it all mostly takes place within just one apartment building they keep the tension high. The little girl could've put on a more convincing fear, but otherwise I have no complaints. It's a thriller unlike others, uncomfortable and cold. Not sure if I should give this a 4 or 5... if the scale was larger it'd probably be a 9/10. It's not perfect, but it is good. Occasionally bright and beautiful, but the contrasts are all the darker. Heavy. Moody. Easy to get into. Great watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Lucky Luke (2009)

Lucky Luke (2009)

Now this is how Lucky Luke should be! It's comedy with a serious undertone, sometimes maybe a bit too serious, but it's clever and charismatic, and truthful in appearance - even if the atmosphere may differ a bit from the comics.

The villain this time (it was The Daltons in the 1991 version): Pat Poker. And it all plays out... pretty strange. Whereas the last was linear and easy to follow - with a clear build-up and crisis, this one has an intrigue and depth that lures you onward, but reveals everything only in due time.

Well, it's French, so what do you expect? I don't really like the 'serious' backstory, as it feels very un-Lucky-Luke-like, but overall it's a great movie, well-paced, well-acted and with an authenticity the last one didn't have. Though the lighter tone in the other is in a lot of ways more truthful to the comics, and the light-hearted approach an appreciated difference, this one is truthful in its character interpretations, and detail, and both the effects and choreography is much better.

Disconsidering similarities to the un-animated counterpart, the better movie of the two is probably this one - though they're difficult to compare. Even if their both Westerns, they're like two separate worlds. Great watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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