‘Fifty Shades Darker’ (2017) Review – An Insult to Kink Shaming

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With its expectations set so low, Fifty Shades Darker had nowhere else go but up in terms of quality. Yet try as the sequel might, all the romancing and pretensions in the world could not turn a piece of shit into something more than a piece of shit.

Fifty Shades Darker picks up after the events of Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015), showing Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) right after their break-up. After the split, the two try to give their steamy and strange romance a second shot, while encountering both dark secrets and the return of Christian Grey’s shady past.

Based on E.L. James’ book of the same name, Fifty Shades Darker continues the series’ legacy of being one of the most laughably stupid pieces of cinematic shit ever shat out. Fifty Shades Darker not only makes videos in Pornhub look like Oscar gold, but also takes the fun out of fucking.

Mr. Grey Does Hollywood

Despite having a multi-million Dollar budget and otherwise capable actors on board, Fifty Shades Darker is just the world’s most expensive softcore porno, not a movie. Characters float from scene to scene, spouting dialogue that serves as filler between sex scenes. None of the them have any chemistry, and they interact with one another with as much enthusiasm as someone who’s trying to fuck a chair.

To say that Fifty Shades Darker has a story is a joke – at most, this expensive sex tape has a plot written in bullet points and crayons. The much advertised conflicts revolving around the main couple trying to mend their rocky relationship all the while dealing with Grey’s stalker are resolved in mere seconds, once again only existing to be the prolonged foreplay that comes before and after the sex.

But like a horny teenager, Fifty Shades Darker rushes through its runtime – ignoring everything essential to basic storytelling – just to get to the sex scenes. And what sex scenes are in Fifty Shades Darker are tame at best. Even if the advertising claimed that the movie would lean towards the hardcore side of procreation, Fifty Shades Darker plays it safe and minimizes the amount of onscreen fucking when compared to its predecessor.

Of the few risqué scenes featured, less than three could count as actual BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism and Masochism), while the rest are glorified ads for the most generic sex toys and ropes imaginable – all of which are done with forgettable pop songs blaring in the background.

Unsexy Sexual Tension

Despite the questionable lack of engaging sex in an erotica movie, Fifty Shades Darker is a slight improvement over Fifty Shades Of Grey, if only in concept. Fifty Shades Darker starts off slightly interesting, with Anastasia realizing how much of a creepy motherfucker Grey is. Coupled with this is Grey’s realization that his lifestyle may be wrong. Surprisingly for a character who only knows how to express affection through domination, he comes to the conclusion that he may love Anastasia not as a submissive, but as an equal.

If the sequel chose to follow through with these points and deconstruct the series’ indulgence as a black comedy, it could have been something different. But as implied by the overall mood of this review, Fifty Shades Darker sees this opportunity and promptly tells it to fuck off.

Fifty Shades Darker takes itself so seriously to the point of self-parody, only without any humor. The film lacks self-awareness, resulting in an overlong, tone-deaf narrative where characters only exist to fuck on and off screen. Stuff and things happen for no reason, leaving no impact or relevance to the story at large. Since these people have no lives or personal issues outside of fucking and fulfilling the author’s wet-dreams, the stakes (that now include life and death) are voided because they don’t matter when compared to Grey’s dilemma of picking which beads to shove up Anastasia’s crotch. Erotica fiction is meant to analyze the emotional toll of certain sexual deviances, not just showcase the filmmakers’ questionable yet predictable fetishes – which is what Fifty Shades Darker ultimately is.

But worst of all, Fifty Shades Darker glorifies the toxic relationship of Anastasia and Grey. The fact that Anastasia forgives everything Grey did before (including but not limited to: mental abuse, physical harm, obsessive tendencies, and stalking) simply because Grey has daddy issues drives in the point that Fifty Shades Darker is nothing but the author’s basic, sex fantasy in cinematic form. Their romance is reminiscent of a bad, tedious Filipino soap opera (complete with slapping), and by extension, poorly acted porn that people laugh at when drunk. For comparison’s sake, they’re the kind of couple who fuck right after making bad jokes and eye contact.

This movie operates on pornography logic through and through: Fifty Shades Darker only wants audiences to ejaculate on command, not realizing that it needs to earn the audience’s trust and respect before getting in bed to satisfy that nagging need to seed.

A Middle Finger Against Fucking

For a movie that claims to be a mainstream representation of a niche lifestyle, Fifty Shades Darker comes off as an insult not only to anyone who belongs to the BDSM community, but to anyone with a brain. This is the kind of movie that’s not about humans, but rather one about poor representations of people. Fifty Shades Darker is erotica fiction done wrong, and a perfect example of how not to make a film.

At best, Fifty Shades Darker serves as the best method of non-government funded birth-control, because it discourages and bores horny people from thinking about fucking.

Then again, Fifty Shades Darker is the kind of movie that thinks Christian Grey’s morning workout session and a fucking yacht deserve a sensual montage; not the actual fucking. I would say “Fuck this movie,” but that might be exactly what the movie wants viewers to do, so don’t give it the pleasure and just look for something else to bust that nut.


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‘Assassin’s Creed’ (2016) – Making The Wrong Kind Of Killing

Assassin's-Creed

Let’s be real: movies based on video games suck. A common explanation for these adaptations’ failure is a lack of similarity or respect to the source material. Assassin’s Creed takes the unorthodox route, and shows exactly how a movie chained to its video game predecessor would really fare.

Based on Ubisoft’s video game series of the same name, Assassin’s Creed follows death row inmate Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) when Abstergo Industries forces him to face his past. Now strapped to the Animus machine, Callum relives his ancestor’s life, (the assassin Aguilar) to find the key to free will itself – the Apple Of Eden. As Callum gets closer to the Apple, so do the rivaling forces of the Assassins and Templars, and he must decide which side of the eternal war he belongs to.

Having never played the Assassin’s Creed video games, I watched this movie with few expectations. But since I do enjoy playing video games and watching movies, Assassin’s Creed surprised me by doing what these entertainment mediums are not supposed to be: bore the fuck out of me.

Assassins On A Loop

On paper, Assassin’s Creed had everything going for it: A multi-million Dollar budget, an all-star cast, and Ubisoft’s involvement. But staying true to the subgenre of films based on video games, Assassin’s Creed squanders what it had and screwed it all up.

Despite having a strong cast, Assassin’s Creed wastes talented names such as Marion Cottiliard  (as Sofia) and Jeremy Irons (as Rikki) on a weak script that has more mysterious exposition than human dialogue. It seemed as if the actors didn’t know what to do with their brain-dead roles, so they just floated through their scenes in the hopes of earning that paycheck. Granted, Assassin’s Creed has to maintain a sense of intrigue, but it came to a point when 30 minutes of dialogue has passed but nothing still makes sense. Characters repeat vague threats and ramble about motivations as if to intimidate, but only confuse the hell out of Cal and the viewers, by extension.

In fact, the writing is so repetitive that the movie begins thrice, introducing Michael Fassbender’s character three different times in the opening minutes. Being the great actor he is, Fassbender gives it his all, but even his acting caliber couldn’t salvage a script that didn’t know what it wants to do with Callum. To say that the ex-con’s transformation from mindless pawn to captain of his fate is jarring would be too nice, since the change in mindset happens abruptly after Rikki gives him a stern scolding.

If Assassin’s Creed were to be judged on looks alone, it would win awards if even just for its costumed actors who look like they came right out of the game and history itself. But the issues with Assassin’s Creed go deeper than actors who didn’t know what to do, but with a movie that just didn’t know what the fuck it wanted to be.

Putting The Ass In “Assassin”

Assassin’s Creed deserves praise for looking great. The Assassin’s Creed games love period settings, and the movie does this aspect justice. The Spanish Inquisition is brought to life in its fanatical beauty, complete with dusty landscapes and the ashes of burning heretics.

At least that’s the case, when the movie actually showed the fucking time period.

Assassin’s Creed takes assassinations for granted and instead, favors focusing on redtape. Majority of Assassin’s Creed takes place in Abstergo Industries, where exposition takes center stage. This may have been necessary to build the setting, but when a movie was advertised to be action-oriented actually has more lectures than killing, it’s obvious that someone’s priorities got lost in the shuffle. Even worse, what little assassinating occurs is bland at best. The parkour is impressive, but the actual killings are as hard-hitting as a slap to the wrist.

This creates an identity crisis, since Assassin’s Creed couldn’t choose between being a grounded Science-Fiction movie, or a fictional period piece. Individually, both stories work. One features a different and appropriately modern take on time travel, while the other offers a more kinetic and mystical interpretation of history. Combining the two, on the other hand, muddles the story’s priorities and results in clashing, polarizing tones.

Worst of all, Assassin’s Creed meanders and stalls for time, resulting in too much padding and a whole lot of boredom. There may be many dialogue-driven scenes, but nothing really important or compelling is said by any of the cardboard cutouts walking around in hoodies. Plot points and personal motivations that were said earlier are repeated as if to drive in something important, when it’s really the movie’s way of slapping audiences silly to keep them awake for the ongoing drag that is the hunt for the Apple of Eden.

A Leap Into Mediocrity

With how low the bar is set, movies based on games can only go up. Assassin’s Creed was an ambitious gamble, and should be commended for giving its all and exerting the effort to give fans the movie that they deserve. Assassin’s Creed delivers by looking like the big-scale historical fiction, Science-Fiction espionage epic its games offer fans. But as a movie, Assassin’s Creed trips more than it kills.

Buried under flat acting, poor writing, some shoddy visual effects like smoke that obscured everything, fucking horrid pacing, and an overall forgettable experience is a creative idea that was muddled by too many flaws that dulled what should have been an excitingly murderous trip through time. Assassin’s Creed centers on a fight for human life itself, but the movie has no life of its own to speak of.

Assassin’s Creed may be a lifeless bore, but it’s comparatively better than most of its contemporaries. But given how majority of video game-based movies are either laughable messes or outright cinematic clusterfucks, that’s not saying much. Gamers and movie buffs alike deserve an adaptation that does justice to a popular game, and Assassin’s Creed may have accidentally assassinated any hope for this niche subgenre.


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‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ (2016) – Close Encounters Of The Boring Kind

ID4-Resurgence

In 1996, Independence Day took the world by storm to the tune of upwards $800 million at the box office while also becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Being the lazy fucks they are, the movie’s producers shelled out Independence Day: Resurgence almost two decades later, in the hopes of repeating a success story from the ’90s.

20 years after failing to exterminate humanity, the aliens from Independence Day return with a deadly vengeance. More powerful and angrier than before, the aliens face a united and now technologically advanced humanity that won’t go down without a fight.

Resurgence is the kind of movie that’s inoffensive yet so fucking boring that watching it only begs questions regarding its existence, not a sense of escapist fun or even jaded anger. In time where the cynical business side of filmmaking is more obvious than ever, Resurgence is a slight relief – but that’s like saying a fart is better than the unfiltered stench of feces.

Lazy Space Invaders

Resurgence deserves credit for showing a post-alien invasion Earth, where humanity not only achieved interplanetary travel, but attained world peace as well. You know Resurgence proudly embraces its Science-Fiction trappings because it depicts a united humanity – not one on the eve of destruction thanks to a bunch of immature motherfuckers in public office.

But Resurgence can’t work on world-building alone, and applauding it because of a nice backdrop is as shallow as praising an atrocity like Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers because the director had the courtesy to take the cover off the camera’s lens. Resurgence simply fails to do what makes a movie good and entertaining. It’s hard to worry for humanity’s fate in the movie, making it more difficult to care about what’s happening onscreen.

This is because the new characters are a bloated collection of tired action movie stereotypes; including and not limited to: a Hotshot Pilot, his Brooding Foil, an obvious Love Interest, the Hot Foreigner, and too many obnoxious Comic Reliefs who fuck the tone up with ill-timed quips made during scenes of destruction. What little creative energy Resurgence has is used to justify the return of old characters like everyman turned unlikely hero David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) or former American President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), who make extended cameos while phoning in predictable one-liners and call-backs to the much superior first installment.

The worst thing about Resurgence is not how its most interesting part is a promotional website detailing its alternate history, but how little effort was exerted in the actual film. Even with the original creators on board, Resurgence has a strikingly poor understanding of what made the first Independence Day a hit, resulting in a forgettable follow-up to an unmistakable cornerstone of the 90’s.

Days Of Aliens Past

Independence Day is no thought-provoking classic, but it set a standard for big-scale movies at the time, and it was one hell of an entertaining ride. Independence Day knew it was a cheesy melodrama that took place during an alien invasion, and it gave no fucks. This resulted in one of the best examples of cinematic junk food ever put to film that people can still enjoy today.

Its sequel has no interest in making a name for itself, instead, content to retrace the footsteps of its predecessor. Resurgence is a pale imitation of the first movie, but with none of the energy and excitement. Where Independence Day could be seen as an underdog story in a war between worlds, Resurgence is the very same fight but only with the cheat codes on. The fights may be faster and flashier, but they lack the tension that made the previous conflict worth watching in the first place.

Resurgence had the chance to be different by focusing on a world in the aftermath of a thwarted alien invasion. There’s a lot of lore that’s glanced at in the opening minutes of Resurgence (such as the decades long ground war in Africa, a generation of the first invasion’s survivors, and how humans reverse-engineered alien technology), and these would have been far more interesting than what the sequel actually settled for. Instead, Resurgence falls back to the formula of 90’s action movies, never realizing how dated and petty shitty quips and love triangles are – especially when these are put at the forefront of a global cataclysm where millions of lives are lost every second.

It took two decades to make Resurgence, and this shows in the worst ways possible. If the goal of Resurgence was to feel like it was 20 years too late, then it did a stellar job at being outdated. Where the campiness of Independence Day has a nostalgic charm to it, Resurgence only annoys viewers by rehashing material that lost its luster way before the sequel even began production.

No Will, No Thrill

While Resurgence isn’t the worst delayed sequel ever made, it’s still insignificant and wholly pointless. Independence Day stands on its own thanks to its charisma that’s best represented by its star, Will Smith – whose absence in the sequel leaves a lot to be desired. Resurgence merely exists, being yet another orgy of special effects that means nothing despite the excess of explosions that leave viewers indifferent.

Resurgence even ends with one of the most blatant set-ups for a sequel since DC’s sad attempts to create a shared universe. This, despite the fact that Independence Day never earned the right to bear a franchise in the first place. Independence Day succeeded as a stand-alone movie back in 1996, and it still does now. All Resurgence does is shit on this legacy by turning a cinematic alien invasion into a tedious chore instead of the spectacle it should be.

Make no mistake, the first movie is fucking corny, but it gets a pass for being a product of its time that provides fun, nostalgic memories. Independence Day: Resurgence is the equivalent of the first movie reliving its glory days while refusing to acknowledge the changing times, and the final product is as pathetic as it sounds.


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TMNT: Out Of The Shadows (2016) Review – Saturday Morning Pain

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The worst kind of bad movie is the kind that has no redeeming factors and no possible avenue for enjoyment – and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows is the perfect example of this kind of cinematic atrocity.

As a sequel to the live-action TMNT movie from 2014, Out Of The Shadows finds the heroes in a half shell facing their nemesis Shredder (Brian Tee) again – only now he’s allied himself with the mad scientist Doctor Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), the mutant henchmen Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Sheamus), and the alien conqueror Krang (Brad Garett). The turtles recruit old and new friends (including the vigilante Casey Jones) to protect the world, while also dealing with some unavoidable personal issues.

Out Of The Shadows was marketed as a brainless summer movie, but watching it is anything but entertaining. For a movie with a lot of shit happening onscreen, Out Of The Shadows still managed to be one of the most fucking tedious cinematic experiences I’ve had in recent memory, similar to Lars Von Tier’s cinematic masturbation Antichrist – only without the pretensions artistic shots of nature and genital mutilation.

A Childish Assault On The Senses

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One major criticism of the previous TMNT movie was how little it resembled the source material, despite bearing the same name. Bay’s first round with the turtles felt more like some fucked up mix of a Batman movie (vigilantes hiding in the shadows) and another disposable Transformers installment (excessive special effects and general stupidity). Out Of The Shadows addressed this by adding popular characters, increasing the turtle’s presence and focusing on the “fun” aspects like action. Yet somehow, Out Of The Shadows still fucked it up.

Due to the sheer number of characters, Out Of The Shadows doesn’t focus on anything, instead assaulting audiences with hollow action set-pieces, pointless subplots that are resolved in two seconds flat and childish humor that involves farts. These kinds of scenes are not bad on their own, but they need even the smallest bit of context and emotional investment to matter – both of which Out Of The Shadows lacks, making it all mean fuck-all by the end. Basically, Out Of The Shadows threw a massive pile of feces at viewers while hoping that something would stick.

Any characterization or plot development Out Of The Shadows had is rushed so that the movie could get to the action, resulting in a near endless barrage on the senses that wears audiences’ patience thin. With the exception of Tyler goddamned Perry of all people, none of the characters looked like they gave a fuck since they’re all nothing but pale caricatures of what a compelling onscreen character should be. Granted, the comedic duo of Bebop and Rocksteady had some moments, but by the nth time the fuckers laugh at nothing and exclaim My Man!, you’d be hoping that one of the turtles would just fucking behead them for murdering the expression.

The only way this could have been possible was if the writers had the mental capacity of a horny 13 year old – which Out Of The Shadows all but confirms with its poor excuse of a plot structure. To put things in context, Out Of The Shadows tells its story the same way a child playing with action figures would: scattered, nonsensical and suffering from short attention span. While a growing kid may be excused for doing so, the same should can not be said for a fucking multi-million blockbuster movie such as this.

Tedious Movie, Needless Torture

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Apart from being one of the worst pieces of crap Michael Bay’s name could be attached to, the saddest thing about Out Of The Shadows is that it’s so convinced of its awesomeness despite being a steaming pile of shit. This delusion of grandeur is part of the reason why Out Of The Shadows never lets up from forcing its viewers to sloth through a movie that has more in common with watching a boring video game cut-scene than some decent dumb cinematic fun like Vin Diesel’s xXx movies.

Out Of The Shadows may have butchered the titular Turtles once again, but the biggest casualty this time around is the audience. Even by PG-13 summer blockbuster standards, Out Of The Shadows steps to an all new low by treating its viewers like idiots even if it is one of the stupidest fucking movies of the year. It may not be obvious to some, but Out Of The Shadows is one of the most cynical movies made in recent memory.

The writers didn’t add Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) or Krang because they loved these characters while growing up – they did so just to make those annoying fanboys shut the fuck up and stop complaining about an excess of a scantily clad Megan Fox strutting around in a movie titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Out Of The Shadows doesn’t let emotions sink in or to let characters grow on viewers because apparentlythe only way to entertain audiences is to show a plethora of explosions, fights, repetitive exposition and fart jokes instead of treating viewers like intelligent beings who deserve a compelling movie. Words are for nerds, and the cool kids love exploding bullshit and smoking hot babes (if you actually believe in that mantra, please go fuck yourself).

In a year already filled with some rather disappointing movies, Out Of The Shadows stands out not only for being one of the worst examples of how to make a summer blockbuster, but also for being one of the best ways to waste more than 100 million Dollars.I’m not the biggest TMNT fan, but I’m familiar enough with them to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows was essentially Michael Bay and company taking a massive shit on the Turtle legacy. When a movie’s sole redeeming factor is a pair of bumbling idiots who love the smell of each other’s ass-gas while comparing dick sizes, you know that movie’s fucked six ways to Sunday.


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Gods of Egypt (2016) – Cinematic Curse of the Gods

Gods-of-Egypt

The only thing sadder than the shitfest known as the Metro Manila Film Festival, a “prestigious” film fest where the most corporate of garbage-tier movies reign supreme, is watching a movie that its director thinks is a masterpiece even when all evidence points to the contrary. Case in point, GODS OF EGYPT (2016): a movie so full of itself that its director suffers from the same delusions of grandeur that its characters deal with over the course of two bloated hours.

In this retelling of ancient Egyptian mythology where gods and mortals live together, the mortal thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) answers the call of destiny when he helps the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) seek vengeance against the desert god Set (Gerard Butler) and free Egypt from his merciless rule.

Even on paper, GODS OF EGYPT never had a chance of becoming the fantasy epic Alex Proyas thinks it is because of the questionable artistic choices Proyas took but there was some potential for it to become a guilty pleasure like STARGATE (1994), a movie that portrayed the Egyptian gods as technologically advanced aliens.

Shut up, it was a 90’s thing.

At its best, the movie didn’t even look that bad thanks to cool visuals and the inspired idea of treating Egyptian lore the same way the STAR WARS trilogy did with its world building. If there’s one thing the movie can be proud of, it’s that its art department did a damn good job. But when a movie’s best feature is limited to the green screen and a fuckton of inconsistent CGI work that goes from passable to direct-to-DVD level shit in the span of a scene, that isn’t saying much for the rest of it.

For a movie that’s as basic as aspiring blockbusters tend to be, GODS OF EGYPT is a fucking nonsensical mess of ideas and elements taken from superior movies that the director thought would be cool to homage before making his story make any damn sense in the first place. It’s literally impossible not to nitpick throughout the entire movie given how much inconsistencies happens over the course of its overlong run time. From the little things like questioning how a fucking army can just tiptoe its way to the palace’s gates to stage what could be cinema’s laughably quickest coup-de-tat to wondering just what the fuck is up with the imbalanced power scales of the gods that go from limited to literal Deus Ex Machina in a second, GODS OF EGYPT has a lot of explaining to do that it never bothers with because its priorities were reserved for some of the longest and most boring action scenes seen since the entirety of TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014). It says a lot when a movie’s dialogue is mostly made up of exposition that explains jackshit about the important stuff such as Ra’s (Geoffrey Rush) complete lack of a credible motivation given that he could’ve ended the movie’s entire conflict in the first fucking minutes of the movie if he gave the slightest of a shit.

The only thing that makes the whole story even more insufferable is the inane dialogue that tries to sound cool but doesn’t sound just outdated but obnoxious as well. Every time you think GODS OF EGYPT is bad, it somehow manages to be even worse than you’d expect. Everyone in GODS OF EGYPT’s otherwise capable cast acts like they’re on autopilot, reciting their lines with the least amount of fucks given only with the exception of Gerard Butler who was the only one in the entire movie who gave a shit about what he was doing even if his job was to be as hammy as possible. While pretty much everyone in the cast is a blank, it’s the main character Bek who’s by far the worst offender because it’s obvious he wants to be a cool roguish action hero while not even trying or giving a shit about something called emotional engagement. Hollywood has always had a history of making Bland Leads like TWILIGHT’s entire main cast but Bek could be a strong contender for the rare annoying breed of Bland Leads who you’d rather see slowly tortured to death instead of running into the sunset with his lover in tow. He’s a smarmy asshole who does nothing but bitch and mistake needlessly complaining for wit, he can only do anything slightly important by first saying the corniest possible one-liner his dumbass brain could conjure and to top it all off, he’s a gullible one-note fuckstick who wouldn’t risk a second passing by without him mentioning how his motivation for saving Egypt is fueled by the power of love. There’s nothing wrong with love being the central theme of any story but when it’s this forced, saccharine and cheaply established thanks to awkward exposition in the movie’s opening minutes where corny promises of “I love you” are repeated over and over again in the span of ten fucking long minutes, you’d wish these fucking lovers would just go all Romeo and Juliet on themselves and commit a pact of mutual suicide so that the movie would end faster.

GODS OF EGYPT should just be forgotten simply because it’s a fucking bad idea come to life but thanks to Alex Proyas’ now infamous rant against critics who didn’t like his obvious masterpiece, GODS OF EGYPT now stands as one of 2016’s worst movies and it’s a spot that only an Adam Sandler movie could take. Considering the controversy surrounding the movie’s whitewashed casting choices, it’s a wonder that nobody took aim at the movie’s greatest sin which was it being a fucking boring waste of time. It’s not the worst movie in existence but its overall shoddy quality and presentation will leave you wondering if God gives a fuck about bad movies depicting his/her/its holy kind but considering how little a fuck the supposedly almighty god Ra gave in this particular movie, the answer to that conundrum should be an obvious “No.”

 

 

 

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Zootopia (2016) – Child Friendly Racism

Zootopia

When you think of Disney, the last thing you’d expect from their movies would be deep social commentaries. Now there’s nothing wrong with a Disney movie that doesn’t tackle anything politically relevant because as far as I’m concerned, Disney’s forte is animating relatable family dramas and helping Pixar make grown-ass adults cry over digital fish. Just because animated stories as a whole aren’t known for dealing with some heavy shit doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of doing so, and that’s why genre busters such as  Disney’s latest movie ZOOTOPIA (2016) aren’t just good examples of the medium but are important ones as well.

Set in the literal urban jungle of Zootpia where anthropomorphic animals live in a world similar to our own, rookie cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) forms an unlikely alliance with the con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that could endanger both the lives of many animals living in the city and the peace that’s holding the place together.

With the shitty whimsical ad campaigns Disney ran that promoted the movie as something that looked like an excessively quirky yet average talking animal adventure filled with lessons on how friendship and love solve everything, I wasn’t expecting jackshit from ZOOTOPIA but since this was a movie coming from the guys behind WRECK-IT RALPH (2012), which is coincidentally known as the movie bullshit like PIXELS (2015) wish they could be, I should’ve known better.

On the surface, ZOOTOPIA isn’t any different from the regular Disney fare starring talking animals embarking on some epic adventures especially with the familiar elements sprinkled all over its narrative. From the witty banter between the main characters to the visual humor involving cutesy animals doing human stuff plus a couple of scenes that shoehorn homages to popular live-action movies and other pop culture icons that’re bound to make a bunch snobby film critic wannabes such as yours truly giggle for a second, all ZOOTPIA needed to become a full fledged piece of forgettable animation schlock was an ill-timed musical number that’d magically resolve an entire character arc and a fucking global conflict because why the fuck not. It may have a nice story that’s beautifully realized but from a design perspective, it’s a slave to formula.

Then again, that’s only if ZOOTOPIA was seen as an animated movie that featured someone’s repressed furry fantasies about a rabbit fucking a fox and nothing more.

What makes ZOOTOPIA great is what’s underneath an all too familiar animated formula and beneath all of the animal shenanigans lies something darker and sadly, something all too real for those of us in the audience who stay as informed as they can when it comes to social issues and current events. As stated earlier, I didn’t expect much from ZOOTOPIA upon popping the DVD into the player but the last thing I was expecting was an effective allegory and commentary on goddamned social discrimination and prejudice of all things. Maybe I was ready for the typical Disney message of self-acceptance and respect, which are both featured here no less, but I wasn’t prepared to see an animated kid’s movie with a hopping bunny cop as its lead take on one of the heaviest issues of our time.

And surprisingly, the movie got it right.

My art degree in graphic design is proof that I’m no expert in the fields of social strife and racism but I can proudly (or sadly, for that matter) say that I’ve seen a lot of movies on the subject matter and a good majority of them are patronizing pieces of shit. The problem with majority of the movies that take on this particular topic is that they’re too busy trying to win golden statues instead of simply showing how fucked up racism is for any normal person on the streets. Instead of delivering a message we can relate to and hopefully learn from, what we get from bullshit such as CRASH (2004) is a lecture on how stupid we are and how bad we should all feel because discrimination happens on a daily basis and there isn’t fucking squat we can do about it. ZOOTOPIA on the other hand shows how devastating prejudice can be for its characters while showing that they can overcome it and emerge as better beings no matter what challenges they could be facing as long as they learn a thing or two about respect and diversity. The message may be saccharine and too fucking on the nose at times but it’s balanced by its subtle moments that can hit an emotional home-run in the right places and an overall positive tone that’s both a breath of fresh air and something truly needed in today’s day and age.

ZOOTOPIA’s far from perfect, especially due to the fact that it doesn’t push the boundaries of animation or creativity and there is the fact that its third act is hastily concluded with a bunch of character arc endings that range from convenient to contrived after the movie’s biggest payoff is delivered, but it stands strong among its contemporaries because of being the proud bearer of a timely and relevant story. If it weren’t for its heartfelt message in regards to a real world problem that’s still dividing people as we speak, ZOOTOPIA would’ve been dismissed as another slab of corporate sponsored escapism that was designed to suck parents’ wallets dry and keep apathetic studios financially secure for a few months. What I got instead of another vapid piece of marketing crap like MINIONS (2015) is what I can only describe as one of the more important movies made in recent memory. Animation can do a lot when its potential for storytelling is fully realized and ZOOTOPIA is proof of that. If you want to learn how you can make a difference in this world or at least teach others how to do so without bashing their fucking heads in with repetitive guilt inducing sermons, this is the movie for you.

 

 

 

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The Visit (2015) – Demon Granny Docu

The-Visit.jpg

The words “Shyamalan” and “Found Footage” normally spell doom for any movie when they’re used to describe it but when you combine the two in the same sentence to describe a single film, you’d be forgiven if your first reaction was to gag at the thought of a shaky cam “horror” movie directed by the man responsible for turning the phrase “Twist Ending” into a fucking punchline. But in what can only be described as a form of irony, Shyamalan throws a twist at audiences by presenting a Found Footage Horror that’s not as bad as the Subgenre’s label implies nor is it as horrid as that one time he turned goddamned plants into serial killers.

THE VISIT is, at its very core, yet another Found Footage movie that follows the formula to the letter: you got your young moronic leads who demand to film everything even in the worst moments of their life, spastic jump scares that look more epileptic than a person’s panicked perspective, safe PG horror and fuck knows how much unnecessary filler all of which are meant to guarantee a timewaster that’ll be forgotten after one can of beer but THE VISIT somehow takes these generic elements and turns in a rather decent little film. Granted, it’s not as big or as impressive as Shyamalan’s early works but it’s a nice return to form for a director who was once labeled as the next Hitchcock before turning into a walking meme. THE VISIT may be a slave to conventions but at the very least it shows these familiar tropes in a different if not brand new light, giving something to invest in rather than leaving the audience bored and waiting for everyone onscreen to die.

The first half of the movie is guaranteed to misdirect anyone watching it because it’s as generic as one would expect in the post-PARANORMAL ACTIVITY age. Just like every other cookie cutter Found Footage Movie in the 2000’s, THE VISIT stars a pair of obnoxious kids who (while on a pretentious artistic streak most probably made up by Shyamalan in pure THE LADY IN THE WATER style) decide to film a documentary about their first visit to their grandparents’ house because that’s totally what millennials do on family trips. After roughly half an hour worth of the usual pre-horror filler including wigger free-style rap numbers by the thirteen year old boy done for some ungodly reason, the movie shifts gears and suddenly goes all-out on the tension that’s sorely missing in most every other Horror Movie out right now. Instead of being loaded with fake-out jump scares perpetrated by random teenagers walking into loud shit or barrels of blood rented from an Eli Roth set, THE VISIT brings back the old-school kind of horror where tension and silence speak volumes, all of which helps make a supposedly silly premise (i.e. murderous grandparents) actually effective. Right after the kids’ first night where they see grandma act like some SILENT HILL refugee, shit gets real and the tension just keeps on mounting when the grandparents’ shenanigans go from bad to pure batshit insane. In a time when Horror Movies are more than content to annoy the audiences with loud noises and horny partygoers as seen through epileptic cameras, THE VISIT proved to be a pleasant surprise by being a Horror Movie that actually understood the genre’s style and appeal in its more silent moments, choosing to gradually make its viewers uneasy instead of slapping them in the face with gag show level juvenile scares.

Now this would’ve been a perfect escalation of events that all leads to a nail biting climax but Shyamalan instead chose to fill the movie up with a fuckton of padding. If he simply reduced the amount of filler in between the tense scenes, the movie would’ve been shorter but better. It was a good thing that there were breaks every now and then just to lighten the mood after seeing something like a senior citizen scratch a door butt naked right before going to the next scare but there were many times when the mundane shit in the morning just wouldn’t end. THE VISIT uses these breaks properly and gives some time dedicated to unexpected character development that helps justify some of the genre’s absurdities (like filming a murder so that there’s evidence of what happened) but for the most part, the movie has a tendency to repeat certain beats just to hammer in the fact that something’s wrong. The first time it’s shown that grandpa’s hiding something, it’s a mystery you’d want to see solved but the nth time grandpa’s doing some weird shit in the barn, it gets boring because it’s already been established half an hour earlier that the dude’s off his knocker. THE VISIT is a horror movie, it’s pretty fucking obvious that something wicked this way comes.

After angering an entire generation for shitting all over a live-action take of their childhood, Shyamalan scales back and proves that he isn’t ready to be lumped alongside the likes of Uwe Boll just yet with a passable if forgettable return to the Horror/Thriller Genre that shot him to fame decades ago. THE VISIT is a lot more subtle and toned down compared to his superior films and it’s thankfully dry in the self-indulgent Shyamalan Tropes that were mainstays in his more infamous works but it’s a serviceable Indie Horror that’s guaranteed to entertain a lot of bored people when it finally hits cable TV in the future. For a guy who took a lot of artistic risks to varying degrees of success, it’s pretty bittersweet to see him deliver one of the safest Horror Movies in recent memory that no one would remember for good and/or bad reasons but after forcing audiences to watch him jerk off to his supposed artistic prowess over the course of six movies post-UNBREAKABLE, it’s a welcome sight to see the guy humble himself and play by the rules for once.

 

 

 

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Chappie (2015) – Robots Dream Of Product Placement

Chappie

When you have a movie that centers around the consequences of creating sentient and self-aware AI (Artificial Intelligence), the last group of people you’d expect to play a central role in a story with some debates about the morality of playing god with robots is a pair of South African satirical rappers who act a hell lot like wiggers and yet, CHAPPIE is the exception to the rule no one was expecting.

It’s a testament to the skill and imagination of director Neil Blokamp when you have a movie that takes its subject matter seriously while at the same time letting cartoon characters from the writer’s caricature of the criminal underworld run amok with golden AK-47s raised in the air and yet the final product comes out as a decent take on the genre.

Once again set in Blokamp’s favorite place of Johannesburg, CHAPPIE basically tells the story of how life in a crime ridden metropolis would change when the US drone program grows a pair of legs and decides to personally shoot people in the fucking face instead of flying around like a demonic capitalist eagle. Rather than play it out like almost every other fucking Sci-Fi story out there and establish a tried and tested plot featuring a ragtag group of rebels facing some faceless evil corporation that sells evil, CHAPPIE shows how all sides of the front react to the birth of the Scout robots, including their creators. In a pretty interesting take on the crime aspect of the story, CHAPPIE shows how both sides of the law deal with the rise of AI combatants, with the criminals at the end of their ropes and the creators in constant disagreement. Doing so makes the story’s setting even more believable than it already is, adding a lot of depth and humanity in the poverty torn urban metropolis of Johannesburg, a place that doesn’t look too far from what I call home back in Manila with the only differences outside of accents being the presence of  blue and thinner Robocops patrolling the streets.

That being said, there’s actually three stories going on in CHAPPIE and the movie did a good job of balancing all of these yarns. On one end, you have the guys from Tetravaal who deal with the birth of AI in different ways and on the other you have the petty criminals who manage to get their hands on the titular Scout robot Chappie, who gets its very own story to boot. All of these arcs are well fleshed-out, showing how distinct characters react to their ever-changing world and ultimately how they interact with one another when they cross paths. Even if there are times when they act like cardboard cutouts such as Vincent being the Obvious Villain complete with sneering and all of the criminals being predictably shown as stupid and impulsive and even if the movie went out of its way to paint each character as either saintly or demonic through the use of excessively melodramatic slow-motion scenes, the movie manages to rise above these small trips and make the viewer give a shit about them, especially when a good half of them get shot down by the movie’s bloody finale.

When it comes to its most significant part, though, CHAPPIE fucks it up by depicting its debate about the morals of playing god by showing it in the most black and white fashion possible. I wasn’t expecting some BLADE RUNNER level of mindfucking but I was at the least hoping for the same level of gravity and seriousness in the way even the over-the-top original ROBOCOP movie did but here in CHAPPIE, you have clean cut good and bad guys. If you don’t like what the Saintly Dave Patel is saying, that could only mean you’re fucked in the head and you prefer Metal Gears over Robocop. What could’ve been the perfect avenue to show a simplified version of a very complicated ethical debate was instead watered down to the most basic of arguments, where the problems of a sentient robot being taught how to cuss like a gangsta are more relevant to Deon (Chappie’s creator) than the fact that the motherfucking robot somehow managed to learn everything about the connection between cerebral science and computer coding in the span of a movie. Many of the more personal and serious conflicts in the movie are concluded in a haphazard manner and powered by the almighty Deus Ex Machina, which is a waste considering the amount of care and detail put into the establishing moments with the cast. While the majority of the movie could be considered human in the most natural ways imaginable, the ending in contrast was forced, where things just suddenly end with “Happily Ever After” because the writers didn’t want anyone to be crying too much in the audience by the time the end credits rolled up.

There’s nothing wrong with happy endings but problems arise when they seem more whimsical than hopeful, which is what happened in CHAPPIE. The movie ends its little debate on the ethics behind artificial intelligence by merely skirting around the issue, ignoring all the possible ramifications such momentous scientific discoveries such as sentient robots and then throwing sunshine and daisies all over the place because nobody likes sad endings.  In essence, CHAPPIE decided to tell all of its established character development to fuck off because someone had to make room for a MY LITTLE PONY marathon. To add salt to the wounds, the narrative path CHAPPIE takes to its ending is paved with a metric shitton of product placement, removing whatever bit of dignity there could’ve been.

Seriously, the level of product placement in CHAPPIE is fucking insane and it doesn’t even have anything to do with the number of brands that get two seconds of screen time before an explosion thankfully cuts to the next scene. Unlike MAN OF STEEL where there was just a big fucking overdose of ads in almost every goddamned frame, CHAPPIE goes the extra mile and makes these obvious ads a goddamned plot device to the point where it only made the diabetic happy ending even more laughable than it should’ve been when you stop to think about it.

It’s not as good as DISTRICT 9, the movie that launched Neil Blokamp into fame, but it’s a big fucking improvement of ELYSIUM which was even more laughable than CHAPPIE thanks to its simplistic take on space powered Obamacare and border security. Even if it doesn’t reach its lofty Sci-Fi goals mostly because it tripped itself with rushed conclusions and a Sony sponsored roadblock, CHAPPIE is something that should be appreciated for merely existing. In a time when original movies are as sparse as the next Tarantino film, flawed yet effective treats like CHAPPIE should be given a second chance in the same way its titular robot is given new life thanks to the efforts of different points of view.

 

 

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Crimson Peak (2015) – Gothic Afternoon Soap Opera

Crimson-Peak

When you have a movie whose trailer shows off a Gothic Haunted House kind of story filled with obvious influence from some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works especially that one about a mansion owned by a famous RnB singer, there better be some motherfucking ghosts and their accompanying ghostly shenanigans in the final product. That being said, it should be pretty fucking obvious that CRIMSON PEAK didn’t really meet certain standards that it promised to achieve.

Maybe you could chalk up those failed expectations as the advertisers’ fault for promoting what was actually a Romantic Movie in the wrong way or you could pin the blame on me for expecting a bit too much from Guillermo Del Toro’s latest effort but either way, CRIMSON PEAK is a curious case of cinematic misconceptions and missing the target all together.

If you managed to catch the trailers for this particular movie beforehand, CRIMSON PEAK promised to be a Gothic Romantic story set in a haunted mansion where the spirits of the dead would bugger the hell out of the main characters when in reality, the actual story is anything but haunting. Truth be told, CRIMSON PEAK has more in common with a fucking Afternoon Primetime Soap Opera than a Horror Movie. The plot revolves around an aspiring author by name of Edith who’s swept off her feet by the charms of Tom Hiddleston into the mysterious mansion he owns with his sister up in the barren plains of England, which later serves as the setting for certain nefarious schemes that range from financially motivated to cold blooded vengeance unfold.

Oh and ghosts appear every now and then to remind you that this is a Gothic story.

Love and familial connections are the main priorities here and the movie makes damn sure of this by disproving many of the possible hauntings the moment the cast enters the mansion, which is a waste considering the setting and the amount of potential creative energy that was thrown out the window in favor of a generic romance on Halloween mode.

Without saying too much, CRIMSON PEAK is literally a Soap Opera set in a dingy-ass mansion that looks like the Victorian elite’s equivalent of a hobo’s house. The things that drive the story forward and the truths of the overall conflicts are some of the most predictable shit right out of a crappy Soap Opera from my country’s afternoon time slot in local TV, where a good amount of knowledge on what motivates Evil Rich People in those shitty televised dramas is more than enough to help guess how story arcs end and what twists are coming your way. Storywise, there’s not much here that’s going to surprise anyone who’s seen a Soap Opera before and the only shocks that can be found in this film outside of the spectacular production design are the occasional annoying jump scares done to the tune of the usual sudden chords and loud music, which only makes some of the ghosts’ appearances laughable instead of horrifying, even if they do look fucked up creepy.

The first half of the movie is dedicated to character establishment that builds up the second act and while that may sound all fine and dandy, the pay off isn’t worth it. Sure, the introduction to the characters’ stories could’ve used some trimming down and shortening but it was done well enough to garner some interest in what the story’s players are up to, but when the second act comes along and starts revealing the truth behind the curtains, things fall apart thanks to the melodramatic nature of everyone involved. Motivations are more Freudian and a lot pettier than expected despite how big a threat the movie paints these problems to be, the heroes get shit done via the power of love and friendship and anyone older than the main couples is bound to die all in the name of being a convenient plot device, all of which are well-known mainstays in Soap Operas like STAR WARS. Only this time, the commercial breaks are replaced by random ghost encounters that are bound to give anyone who fears old ladies and the color red a shitton of nightmares.

Yet despite being very by-the-numbers about its marital drama and even if it suffers a lack of anything ghost related actually happening in a fucking Gothic mansion, CRIMSON PEAK is anything but bad. It’s predictable as hell and it would’ve been improved by a long shot if the ghosts had more to do than just a shitty occasional guest appearance but then again, CRIMSON PEAK was created by a dude who knows what the fuck he’s doing.

The plot is complete shit but CRIMSON PEAK from a technical stand point deserves a lot of credit. In its defense, CRIMSON PEAK is well directed, its haunting visuals are beautifully realized, the acting here is more than just serviceable and is quite fine to be honest, and the music does a fucking good job of helping create the foreboding atmosphere when it’s not too busy making sharp noises on a violin just to emphasize the fact that a red lady with only half her fucking head on is floating around in the back. With writing as awkward and overly dramatic as the one found here, someone has to give it to Del Toro for managing to maintain the required seriousness that the scene demands, especially when the British folk start drowning their dialogue in an excess of fancy adjectives and when the biggest insult one could come up with is “Monster.” When things really go all out in the Horror Department, CRIMSON PEAK hits the heights that were promised in the trailers by giving audiences some simple yet effective chase scenes, all of which happen in the movie’s final minutes which for some reason, abandon the whole Psychological Horror style the story was following in favor of some Slasher Horror antics.

As jarring as that tonal shift was, I’m not complaining about it because if CRIMSON PEAK didn’t go all FRIDAY THE 13TH during its concluding moments, the ending would’ve been a sappier and more melodramatic one that would fit perfectly well in a Soap Opera’s finale episode. If that’s what audiences got instead, the inclusion of the supernatural elements would’ve been even more useless than before and to be honest, that version of CRIMSON PEAK would’ve fucking sucked. I prefer Jason Voorhees slaughtering horny teenagers over some Rich Bitch kidnapping the Idiotic Heroine and demanding the Beefacke marry her bitch-ass in trade for the heroine’s life, thank you very much.

Guillermo Del Toro is no doubt one of the best visionaries out there who really puts the word “Art” in Film but his newest movie is a betrayal of the originality his self-made brand stands for. CRIMSON PEAK is a good example of “Style Over Substance,” where the pretty visuals were given more time and effort instead of pimping up the story and giving viewers a good narrative to follow. There’s nothing wrong with following a genre’s tropes, but CRIMSON PEAK is so formulaic and bland that it does nothing new for the Romance Story and instead rehashes a tale we’re already all too familiar with, only this time setting said lover’s quarrel in a mansion that the Addams’ family would lovingly call home. If it’s a ghostly romantic story you’re after, go knocking elsewhere.

At least CRIMSON PEAK does well as a good source for art reference. Seriously, the movie looks fucking beautiful.

 

 

PS: If you didn’t get it, I was talking about Edgar Allan Poe’s THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER in the introduction. Yes, I’m fucking witty. Now laugh.

 

 

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Godzilla (2014) – Kaiju Hide And Seek

GodzillaThe last time people of my generation (or at least most of them) saw Gojira/Godzilla was way back in the 90’s, when the titular Giant Lizard crashed into the Manhattan area while Matthew Broderick was excited about lots and lots of fish. Now that movie was bad but it wasn’t a Cinematic Abomination like the entire TWILIGHT movie franchise and it was still a pretty stupid movie that was an enjoyable dumb B-movie at best. That being said, I had close to no knowledge of the big scaly motherfucker’s stint as the star of the World Kaiju Wrestling Federation outside of a giant moth called Mothra and the original 1950’s black and white movie (which I have to say wasn’t so bad but that’s another review for the future) I watched before checking out the reboot so I saw the 2014 take on Godzilla as an introduction to the franchise more than a new entry into a nostalgic title and for the most part, it worked.

GODZILLA (2014) is by far the anti-thesis to the awesome PACIFIC RIM, wherein giant monsters duke it out in cities with humanity literally stuck in the middle of the monstrous bitch fight. While PACIFIC RIM shows how fucking cool it would be to have Giant Robots punch Giant Ugly Motherfuckers in the face while turning entire cities into nothing but tiny dioramas that should be stepped on, GODZILLA decides to put emphasis on the devastation such an enormous event would cause. When Godzilla emerges from the ocean depths after an eons long nap, tsunamis drown out entire cities in his wake. When the aerial MUTO descends at full speed, it brings aircraft down with it in a hellish rain of fire and iron while people on the ground run for cover. Casualties from all over are shown or at the least mentioned with the right amount of audible verbal pain, effectively making the large-scale monster fights more dangerous than cool. With this kind of focus, GODZILLA becomes a rare realistic take on a Blockbuster Movie Event and it works perfectly. It’s very rare that we see a movie where the ramifications of the epic nuclear explosion or the CGI laden wanton property damage are shown since the hero almost always walks into the sunset with the girl in hand but that’s not the case in the reboot of GODZILLA. For a monster movie, GODZILLA was a pretty human take on the idea of a Kaiju movie.

At least it was thematically speaking, not so much in the narrative department.

While the ruling mentality and overlying idea of GODZILLA was the catastrophic effects of a monster fight and it showed just how fucked things could get for anyone who isn’t a blue fire breathing behemoth, GODZILLA didn’t do that well in its personal view of the disasters unfolding onscreen. Sure, it’s more than possible to be with the general populace in being shit scared of the Humongous Nuclear Flying Mantis that just fucked up an airport by simply walking and you feel the dread the US military shows when they’re forced to deal with such a monstrous threat no one has ever seen before but when it gets to the main characters of the story, it’s hard to give a fuck about them. The central cast of characters in GODZILLA are nothing but One-Note Cardboard Cutouts, and while they’re not your usual set of Monster Movie Stereotypes (for one, the military is shown to be professional here instead of being a bunch of Right Wing Dickholes out to diss the Main Character for no reason other than their ego), they’re still pretty fucking flat and blank.

The main character (or at least the one dude the movie follows for majority of the story) is a Boring Soldier  with no personality and while it’s good to see him prioritize his family over fucking a flag and spouting patriotism wherever he goes, it’s pretty damn hard to give a shit about him while he just monotones his way through the world’s most surprising zoological discovery. Everyone else with him is pretty much the same, only showing the same fucking shocked face every time they pop up on screen. Obviously this makes sense when you see Giant Motherfuckers are rampaging in the San Francisco area but they’re supposed to be people, for fuck’s sake, not video game NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) that only react to anything but don’t do jackshit about it save for whine at the main character to do something.

To make matters worse, GODZILLA fails to take full advantage of two very talented actors at its disposal, namely Bryan Cranston (fresh from his BREAKING BAD fame) and Ken Watanabe. Their characters do get to say some of the movie’s more memorable lines but all in all they only get maybe 15 minutes of combined screentime, which sucks because their talents and skills were relegated to Cranston going nuts over his conspiracy theory and Watanabe being limited to talking in the language of Profound Japanese Dialogue. Seriously, every time Watanabe’s onscreen, he sounds like he’s quoting a bunch of Post-War Eastern Philosophy Books instead of talking like the scientist his character’s supposed to be. All these characters may not have been your usual Cut-Outs but if you’ve seen a Monster Movie before, you could pretty much pinpoint where each one in GODZILLA came from.

Speaking of limited screen time, the one set of characters GODZILLA really throws the shaft at are its fucking main stars: the motherfucking Kaijus. All in all, GODZILLA only gives the titular guy less than 10 minutes to show up onscreen and when he does, the asshole decides to play Hide And Seek. There are times when this “Less Is More” philosophy works perfectly, like in the instances when Godzilla walks out of the smoke or when the MUTOs emerge from the cover of the dark night but most of the time, this philosophy turns out to be one big fucking cocktease. Rather than show some of the major fights (like what the hell happened in Las Vegas or how Godzilla fought the MUTO in the airport), the movie abruptly cuts to some random news report saying that, yes, this shit was devastating, wish you could’ve seen it. It gets frustrating when the movie pumps you up for what should be an epic smackdown between monsters with some really well-timed tension only to jump back to a bunch of dudes talking about the events. What the fuck movie, don’t be playing with peoples’ expectations and giving them high hopes for nothing. That’s a politician’s job, not a movie’s.

I’m all for this Less Is More take on Monster Movies to emphasize how dangerous and epic these monsters are since the few times the Kaiju do pop up, it’s really a sight to behold and I really like the human look at a Kaiju attack and just how helpless humanity is in the face of these ancient titans but GODZILLA is still a Blockbuster Movie. Those movies are meant to entertain and while GODZILLA showed a unique reflection on the whole Man Vs. Nature thing from the perspective of a monster attack, it didn’t do so well in balancing the Human Moments with the Monster Moments. The core cast was flatter than fucking paper and the reason why most people drop by to see a GODZILLA movie was mostly just teased at rather than shown.

In its defense, this GODZILLA reboot is following the footsteps of the original 1950’s Japanese movie which served as a warning about the dangers of nuclear weaponry and nature’s wrath. Thankfully it wasn’t as heavy handed as its predecessor with its themes on how humanity is really nature’s bitch and not the other way around but it didn’t bother changing what issues the black and white movie had. Like in the original, the pacing can be a drag at times and it’s still hard to give a fuck about the human characters at the story’s center but this take on GODZILLA is something today’s generation of moviegoers really needed.

In an age of CGI movies that continually murder the humanity of movies with their heavy reliance on fight scenes rather than the people who fucking star in the story, GODZILLA provides a unique and bleakly refreshing take on something we’ve grown numb to as a movie audience. It may have its downsides and flaws but it’s still something worth checking out. If you’re new to the franchise, this isn’t such a bad place to start and for the few who saw and appreciated the original 1950’s movie (myself included in that small number), the 2014 GODZILLA is the best re-introduction the Legendary Giant Motherfucker could ask for even if it’s far from the epic proportions some were hoping for.