The Fifth Element, Brucie Baby

The Fifth ElementDon’t even start with me. I have the biggest man-crush on Bruce Willis, and no amount of Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, or Bruce Lee comments will ever change that. If you’re like me and agree with this statement to the extreme, then you’ve already watched The Fifth Element around forty times. For those of you who haven’t, I shall disclose to you the dazzling and astounding details of this fabulous sci-fi space thriller.

Adjectives ahoy! This guy must really like The Fifth Element. I wonder why? Easy enough to explain. Bruce Willis- er, I mean, Korben Dallas, an ex special operative, takes on a mission from the Earth government to save the world from an apocalyptic evil that strikes every five thousand years, taking the form of a black planet. If he fails, then entire galaxy will become a place of death and desolation. In order to combat this ultimate evil, he must acquire four stones representing fire, wind, water, and air. The fifth element, life, is contained within the perfect being known as Leeloo (played by the talented Milla Jovovich), and Korbruce Willas must find a way to unite her and the stones at the sacred temple before it’s too late. Pretty epic, am I right? You bet it is.

The Fifth ElementThere are several different factions all working towards different goals in this movie, making for a pleasantly complex sequence of events that spirals into a high quality plot. The Mondoshawans are the first faction the movie reveals, and they’re also the first to be blown up violently. Their purpose is to protect and expand life throughout the universe, and to teach humans to value life through faith. They also appear to be the ones who originally used the four stones and the fifth element to preserve the galaxy in the first place.

The Mangelores are nasty, smelly, hated mercenary aliens that only want money and resources. They have a death before dishonor sort of subtle faith system, which explains one of the more dramatic suicide bombing scenes. Because of their easily corruptible nature, the ladder of evil factions uses them as tools.

Zorg is the head of a colossal and wealthy company that fronts for organized crime. He works directly under the self-titled Mr. Shadow, who is actually the ultimate galactic evil. Zorg is ordered to capture the four stones and gather them at the temple, then to allow Mr. Shadow to take Leeloo’s place. This would spread death across the galaxy instead of protecting life, and Bruce Dallas won’t let that happen.

The Fifth ElementThere’s some good news, though, in case you’re starting to think that The Fifth Element takes itself too seriously. Chris Tucker is in it, and he plays a flamboyant radio host called Ruby Rod that stalks Korben Willis until the exiting conclusion. The movie has its fair share of comedic blips and bloops, if the presence of Chris Tucker isn’t enough to clue you in to that. I think it’d be safe to say that The Fifth Element has a little bit of everything in regards to movie positives; romance, action, humor, badassery. You really can’t go wrong!

The acting is the good kind of corny, the villains are likeable yet obviously evil, and the little elephant creature that Zorg owns is absolutely adorable. I call him Shnorgle. Shnorgle holds no relevance to the plot, but it’s a lovely little thing to look at and enjoy.

This description actually goes for the movie itself as well. Just long enough that it doesn’t crunch the plot, just short enough that it doesn’t drag, plenty of events and characters to reflect on… It’s really just a wonderful production. You should definitely consider getting this on DVD and giving it a good, popcorn filled viewing.

What’s with the Matrix?

MatrixReally, though. It’s so black and white. Either you like it or you hate it, which sort of makes sense considering the nature of the film. Personally, I like it, so I’ll be going from that angle for the most part. I won’t gush, I’ll touch all bases, for better or for worse. First of all, Matrix is a futuristic, philosophical statement about the nature of man and machine. That much is vague, but relatively certain. It is set in a world where the prime of humankind is trapped within a digital world known as (I wonder) the Matrix.

Humanity realized the dream of a sentient artificial intelligence. It grew strong, and powerful, thriving off of solar energy. As the course of causality would have it, humanity came to fear their creation, and began to develop weapons against it. The A.I. detected this threat and responded accordingly, forcing the humans to shroud the skies, cutting off the energy source of the machines. Again, as causality would have it, the machines found another power source. Bioelectricity, the source of which was human beings. Crap, right? But how would they harvest the energy from unwilling humans? Growing them without allowing consciousness would not permit the development required to produce the optimal energy.

MatrixThe Matrix was born as a method of control. It was made to be a virtual world to allow the mind to develop without real experience, a world with programmed rules. Rules, rigid as they were, were meant to be broken. That’s where The One comes in. Thomas Anderson in his false life, Neo in the real world.  His purpose is to defy the system and lead humanity to freedom through a series of rule-defiant “miracles.”

Now you see, that’s where the overbearingly philosophical aspect comes into play. I mean, hell, Matrix could be an allegory for humanity’s dependence on machines, a plight against the development of A.I., a comparison between those with power and those without… There are a whole lot of ways to interpret the movie. Or, you can not look deep at all and just accept everything at face-value. In that case, it would be a robots and guns action movie with lots of special effects that lacks meaning. Hence, black and white.

MatrixThat’s a fair amount of positive and neutral stuff, so I’ll focus on the negatives now, just to keep it fair. I think characterization is a good place to start, so let’s bash on Keanu Reeves a little bit. Thomas Anderson starts off as an everyday, cynical sort of guy with no real aspirations aside from meeting the enigma Morpheus. In the end, he is sought by Morpheus and recognized as Neo, his hacker alias. After Neo’s rescued from the Matrix, he begins a steady spiral into the stoic, combat philosopher badass. Fortunately, he spends most of the movie learning how to be a badass while screwing it up most of the time. Y’know, that’s actually not so negative.

To be fair, Matrix is good movie. They keep everything pretty on-the-level the first time around, but when come the sequels… Yeah. I loathe to admit, but I’ll have to side with the popular opinion to a fault. The first movie was fantastic, original, visually appealing, and the sequels were less satisfactory. I believe the other movies came off as less appealing because they dramatically altered the tone and feel of the series. What was once centralized within the Matrix, the digital prison, soon grew to focus more on the underground, high-grade steampunk city and all the robe-wearing inhabitants. It’s like trying to mix ancient history with far future. It just feels wrong. Everyone lives like a tribe, yet in a world where so many non-sentient machines are readily available? Eh.

That’s all I’ve got. Overall, it’s a good movie with great effects and a great message or three. It doesn’t get pretentious until the sequels, so you can feel free to like the first one without fear of being judged. Enjoy!

Doing Science with Westworld

WestworldYou know what was a wonderfully bad movie? Westworld. I know there’s not much to be gained from bashing on the plot holes of old sci-fi movies, but I never really spoke up when I first began to notice just how much they had done wrong. I’ll assume that most readers haven’t seen Westworld before, and I would like to provide said readers with an opportunity to enjoy a movie that’ll have you saying, “Wait, what?” so many times your head will explode. And then robot cowboys will come out.

That’s what Westworld is all about, you see. It’s a movie about a theme park designed to “accurately” replicate the societies of medieval Europe, the Wild West, and ancient Rome… Only all of the actors in the theme park are high-function robots! And it only costs one thousands dollars a day to stay. I’ll point out all the horrific fallacies in a moment, after I discuss the plot.

The two protagonists (whose names escape me) begin their journey to Westworld by taking a hovercar as scientists in front of beeping monitors and flashing lights call out random numbers. Are you impressed? Dazzled? Hah, of course you are. They’re doing science. After they get settled in, they discover that the hands of the robots look funny, which is how you tell them apart from humans. Got that? That’s important. They meet an unfriendly cowboy robot who really doesn’t like them, which is also equally important, seeing as he stalks them after they “kill” him in a duel the first time around.

WestworldHere’s where the plot holes start up. The scientists are walking around, talking all science-y, when somebody says, “These are robots built by robots. We don’t know how they work.” So let’s use them as theme park attractions! They even say in the advert for the movie, “Nothing can go worng.” How did that typo slip past editorial? … Uh oh.

As you may have guessed, everything goes wrong as this point. I mean EVERYTHING. Even the script-writing. Even the acting! Everything goes worng. The robots begin to attack and kill guests, so the scientists shut down the park’s power, and for some reason, the operation room is airtight. Their electrically opened doors are sealed shut, and they all end up dying of asphyxiation. Science made that room. Also, remember the stalker robot mentioned earlier? Now that he’s gone berserk, he can actually kill people. Which he does. A lot. In fact, he kills one of the two main protagonists, the one without the moustache. It’s no spoiler. The movie spoiled itself when the survivor meets a scientist who’s attempting to drive away from the park, and they have a small exchange of words, which reveals another plot hole. Science-man says that the robot that’s chasing mustache is the latest model, equipped with long-range tracking capabilities, extended battery life, thermal vision, and extreme firearm accuracy. Why would he need that if he’s not supposed to kill guests…? Science is the answer.

WestworldAnyways, the main guy finds a random vial of acid and throws it at the robot, which burns his normal vision and sets it to thermal. Mustache is chased for a bit before he lights evil cowboy robot on fire and saves the day, not before he tries to rescue a lovely damsel trapped in the Medieval World dungeon. He tries to give her a drink, but it turns out she’s a robot, so her head explodes. Gosh darn it.

So, to sum things up, Westworld is an old-fashioned movie that mixes science with the wild west and leaves no plot holes, logical fallacies, deus ex machina, anything of that sort to be criticized! It’s literally the best movie ever. Go watch it and enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling it brings you as you realize just how full of crap most of this last paragraph is.

Avatar, the Last Na’vi

Avatar

Yeah, you know where this is going. After all, there’s only two ways to go when reviewing this freakin’ movie. I’ll either say, “Gee whiz, that movie sure looked good! I mean, the plot was really simple, but look at all the work they put into the special effects!” or I’ll say, “Avatar was a colossal waste of time, just like Tron. All smoke and mirrors with no substance. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in a plight for gratuitous visual appeal.” It’s a harrowing road, so I’ll do it from both angles! Hey alright. Let’s get this party started.

First of all… yeah, it is Pocahontas. Jake Sully is John Smith, Neytiri is Pocahontas, and the people of the Resources Development Administration are the evil Brits who are looking for Unobtanium/gold. The hero comes in ignorant and foolhardy, then he comes to learn just what an amazing world the tribal people live in, and he meets a girl. A whole new world~ But oh no, it turns out the people the main hero was rolling with want to destroy the tribal people for material gain! The bad guys start to win, then the main hero calls upon the strength of the forest, which comes to life and keeps itself from industrialization. Deus ex machina, more or less. And that’s uh… that’s the plot. All of it. Yup.

AvatarBut hey, they have like a million “whole new world~” montages where Jake Sully learns of the beauty of the planet Pandora, and the ways of the Na’vi people, the spirituality of life, and then you start to puke rainbows. Appeal to pathos and a statement of anti-xenophobia? You bet your butt! The method’s a little half-assed, considering the movie blatantly states that humans are greedy, merciless assholes that’ll do anything to get what they want while killing anyone who gets in their way.

At this point, I’m really struggling to come up with non-filler for this Avatar review. I suppose I could talk about how good the visuals look… I said I’d approach from both angles, so I might as well. The creatures on Pandora are exotic and colorful, the technology the RDA uses is badass industrial, the Na’vi themselves look interesting enough with their little pink noses and their hair-tentacle things. Just about everything looks great except for the teeth. I mean, seriously, when Sigourney Weaver’s avatar smiles, you look at the teeth and go, “What. Alien planet, alien body, and a bleach-white Hollywood grin? That’s depressing.”

AvatarHold the phone! I’ve just stumbled upon a conspiracy theory. If all the Na’vi and the avatars have bright white 1-800-DENTIST smiles, then maybe they’re secretly a part of the RDA’s plot. Maybe they’ve fallen for the flying holographic adverts the RDA flew around Pandora. Think about it: Do you ever see Na’vi cleaning their teeth? Do you? No! Then why are their teeth so bright freaking white? They don’t even look real.

Oh, wait. Maybe the 3D team just didn’t really think that one through. I mean, that is a really difficult thing to deal with in movies. Y’know, proper hygienics. You want your characters to look good, even if they don’t primp themselves to the extent that would justify their in-movie beauty.

Anyway.

That’s about all I’ve got. I covered the absolute basics then talked about teeth. Hell, it’s a simple movie. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it, honestly. It looks good, I guess. You might get a kick out of it if you’re easily dazzled by speshul eff ex.

I Am Reviewing Iron Man

Iron ManIt’s like a parody of the song, “I Am Iron Man,” so you… get like the… nevermind. Let’s get reviewing.

Iron Man (Two-Disc Ultimate Edition + BD Live) [Blu-ray]

Somewhere, someone in the world said, “Hey, you know what would be a great idea? Making Robert Downey Jr. fly around in a robot suit blowing up bad guys.” Jimminy cripes did that person have the right idea. I mean, I’m a huge fan of sci-fi and robotics myself, but what actually drew me to the movie wasn’t the Iron Man suit. It was the character of Tony Stark, played by our own Robert Downey Jr. Seriously, the guy is hilarious and badass at all the right times. He’s an exuberant lady-killing billionaire, and he maintains world peace all by himself. It takes a whole lot of cool to pull that off.

So how does this story begin? Does Tony Stark just sit in his garage one day and think, “Wow, I’d like to make a robot suit that can save the world from literally any global terror. Yup, let’s get started.” While that might be in-character for him to do, it isn’t what happens. The real course of events is much darker.

Iron ManIn the beginning of the movie, our hero is riding a military convoy back from giving a weapons presentation of his new-fangled Jericho missile. During the ride, he cracks some jokes, makes some friends, then is blown up by one of his own weapons and kidnapped by a militaristic organization known as the Ten Rings. Cut back several hours to explain how he got there in the first place. So how does this have anything to do with the Iron Man suit? Is it even an important part of the plot?

Yes. It’s extremely relevant. During his capture, he takes a load of shrapnel to the chest, and is saved by man named Yinsen, who attaches an electromagnet to his chest to keep the shrapnel from reaching his heart. The captors give them time to get acquainted, then get down to business. They demand one of the Jericho missiles Tony Stark recently presented, and they will then be released upon its completion (no they won’t). Rather than do what they say, Tony creates a mini-arc generator that he replaces his battery with, and following that, he builds a prototype robot suit out of scrap in order to escape. His plan succeeds, and upon his return, he makes some drastic changes to his company. What are these changes, you may wonder? What indeed…

Iron ManIron Man is one of the few movies based on comics that manages to blend realistic and science fiction so well. In Spiderman, the sketchy plot was true to the original comic, but as a result of the realistic twist, full of holes. And no one likes Superman, because he cheats and is boring. Iron Man’s apparent success followed through into the sequel, but I won’t get into that because this is a review of the first movie. Suffice it to say the sequel was just as successful, interesting, and entertaining.

In regards to shortcomings, there really isn’t a lot that was conspicuously wrong with Iron Man. The plot flowed well, the character development was consistent, the visual effects were aesthetically appealing, and overall, the movie’s feel was a positive one. And best of all, the ending to the movie was genius. I can’t say what it is, but I guarantee you’ll be pleased how Iron Man strays from the typical superhero movie.