Django Unchained, Tarantino’s Explosive Cameo

Django Unchained

Man, I love Tarantino movies. They’ve got action, adventure, thrills, sass, and hilarious amounts of blood and dismemberment; everything a good flick needs. That’s the short version of this Django Unchained review, to be sure, and it is bloody. That tends to happen when a freed slave turned bounty hunter gets to exact revenge on the sadistic slavers who took his wife from him. Paired with a charming German ex-dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and armed with enough guns to change the air-to-lead ratio, Django (Jamie Foxx) sets out on a quest to buy his wife’s freedom from the nefarious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) of the Candie plantation.

Now, the first thing you should know about Django Unchained is that the story takes place in 1858 in the South. If gratuitous use of the N-word makes you uncomfortable or outright offends you, steer clear!

Django UnchainedThe story begins with a transaction gone foul: Masquerading as a dentist, Dr. Schultz approaches two slaveholders and their latest purchases in the night, wishing to acquire a particular slave that might harbor knowledge of his latest bounties. In truth, he is a bounty hunter employed by the United States government. When the slavers threaten to kill Schultz if he doesn’t depart immediately, one winds up with a hole in his head, and the other with his leg broken underneath a dead horse. Despite the bloodshed, or perhaps owing to it, Django agrees to help Schultz in his hunt, and the two depart for the Gatlinburg plantation where the Brittles are employed.

Over the course of their journey together, Django proves himself to be a competent bounty hunter, and so Schultz takes him on as a sort of partner/apprentice. They roam the land, exchanging the corpses of criminals for cash money, and getting themselves into particularly tight situations that are resolved only by Schultz’s immaculate charm. At a point, Django tells Schultz of his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold at an auction in Mississippi. Schultz realizes that he’s witnessing a real-life rendition of the German fable of Siegfried. He feels compelled to help Django, and so the movie shifts to its main attraction: Candyland!

Calvin Candie, the owner of Candyland, is a man that deals in mandingo fighting; a brutal form of one-on-one combat to the death with virtually no rules beyond winning at all costs. Schultz and Django – disguised as a novice mandingo aficionado and a talent evaluator, respectively – veil their desire to purchase Broomhilda with an outlandish offer of $12,000 for one of Candie’s top mandingos, Eskimo Joe. The head house slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), doesn’t take too kindly to the fact that Django, a black man, isn’t treated like a slave. While Candie is seduced by the prospect of making money, Stephen sees right through the sham and lets his master know what’s what, forcing the two bounty hunters into a very dire situation indeed. And that’s the cliffhanger I’ll leave you with.

Django UnchainedOh, right. And that Quentin Tarantino himself appears as an Australian slaveholder and explodes within minutes. Horrible as it may be, that was the hardest I laughed throughout the entire movie.

This movie is two hours and forty five minutes long, just so you know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re touchy about racism or ultraviolence, you’re going to have a lot of both on your hands if you try to sit this one all the way through. If you’re sufficiently jaded as I am, you can laugh at the overdone violence, revel in the righteous vengeance Django and Schultz lay down on the sadistic slavers, and feel pretty good when the movie ends with a literal bang.

Anthony Quinn of thinks that Tarantino’s delicious Western spaghetti wasn’t cooked enough, and may have a bit too much sauce. In a single word, one might describe Django Unchained as tropey or campy, requiring viewers to take the film’s sporadically silly and dramatic content with a grain of salt. But as I said, I’ve got a blatant bias towards most every Tarantino film I see, so perhaps you’d best check out the Independent review here for more perspective before you watch.

The Hunger Games are Bloodthirsty

The Hunger Games

Ah, The Hunger Games. Nothing better complements an oppressive government than yearly battles to the death consisting wholly of children. Better yet, most of them don’t even want to participate! What’s a poor poacher to do when her twelve-year-old sister (against impossible odds) wins the Hunger Games raffle and has to sacrifice herself for the glory of Panem’s vindictive totalitarian regime? Easy answer in theory, but tough in practice: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has to volunteer, and more importantly, she has to win.

Long ago, the people of Panem rebelled against their government, and were brutally defeated. Their failure wrought more than death; in order to crush the spirit of any future rebels, The Capitol began hosting the Hunger Games. Every year, two people from each of the twelve districts– one young male and one young female – are selected via a raffle known as the Reaping to compete in a twenty-four person epic battle royal. The lone victor will be granted a life of riches and luxury, and will be celebrated by all the districts until the day they die. The PTSD doesn’t factor into any of that, though, nor does the fact that no amount of media will trick the poorer outer districts into being okay with the terrible lives The Capitol has forced them into.

The Hunger GamesThe dystopian future in which Hunger Games is set is colorful, in both a literal and metaphorical sense; the inner districts are so outrageously stylish that you might go blind just by glimpsing their fashion sense. Everyone has brightly colored hair, outfits worthy of an LSD-addled Lady Gaga, and a posh sort of disregard for the bloody reality of the world they live in. The color fades in the outer districts, however. The further you get from the Capital, the less immersed you become in fashion and whimsy; by the time you hit twelve, there’s hard manual labor as far as the eye can see, from coal mines to power plants. The blatant class divide is consequent of the past rebellion more likely than not, and unfortunately is bound to produce more of the same.

The revolution begins within the Hunger Games themselves, oddly enough, with an act of defiance thought up by Katniss Everdeen herself. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) helps slightly. I’d get into detail about her tribulations during the games, and the means by which she initiates the fall of The Capitol, but that’s the action; that’s where all the thrill and fun is. If you’re seeking visceral, in-depth descriptions of people getting their assorted limbs and/or internal organs punctured by arrows and having their faces eaten by genetically engineered mandogs, I suggest you read a book about that or something. Like the Hunger Games book by Suzanne Collins. Or the movie that I’ve been describing to you. It’s got a well fleshed-out and complex story to it, so go watch/read the thing.

The Hunger GamesAngela Watercutter of Wired speaks of how the character of Katniss Everdeen breaks the mold of female heroines by not being subject to arbitrarily sexualization her or being helpless without a male lead. If you’re sick to shit of gender roles, then yeah, Hunger Games is definitely an empowering movie to watch. Lots of people die, but the movie’s empowering nevertheless. You get to see Katniss overcome all manner of adversity, from oppressive political bullshit to deadly hallucinogenic wasps, and most things in between. Read the full Wired review here!

Serenity and Psychic Secrets


Serenity feels like it’s an episode of a sci-fi something that I wouldn’t mind watching regularly. Then again, I’m an absolute sucker for space mercenaries; the merc charm just gets me. On the flipside, I’m not really a fan of political themes, but sci-fi tends to harbor them all but reliably. Serenity is a ship full of Alliance dissenters, Alliance being the powerful and controlling organization that’s trying to swallow up the known universe. Of course, they’ve got some deep dark secrets that a member of Serenity’s crew might just know, so they engage covert operation “murder the shit out of that person really fast.”

SerenityDr. Simon Tam, with the help of Serenity’s crew, counter-kidnaps his sister River from an Alliance training facility, where she was being mentally programmed for nefarious purposes. The Alliance is not pleased with this loss, especially considering River is a high-grade psychic who happened to peek into the minds of everyone around her during her training, which includes politicians. Politicians who held highly classified secrets that would critically drop the public opinion of the Alliance if they were to be released, at that. The Operative is hired to kill everyone who came in contact with River after her escape, and ensure her safe return before the Alliance’s dirty laundry is put out to dry.

Initially, the crew of Serenity has no idea why they’re being hunted down by government assassins, or why River suddenly flips her shit and starts killing everyone after seeing a cheerful octopus themed commercial. Simon puts her to sleep with a code word, which raises all kinds of questions, eventually shuffling them to Mr. Universe for answers. Mr. Universe is an infamous hacker who hides in a nebula-encased outer planet and broadcasts pirate signals. He decodes the commercial and reveals it to be a subliminal message meant to activate River’s programmed combat training.

SerenityAfter that, it’s a battle against time, the government, and battle-hungry insane cannibalistic rapey Reavers to figure out the Alliance secret and make it public before the crew of Serenity is collectively subjugated and/or wiped out. Hint: The secret has something to do with the Reavers. But I’m not telling you anything else! It’s a great watch, so you’ll enjoy the ride. Plenty of emotional ups and downs, and a conclusion worthy of a top-notch sci-fi thriller!

So, it turns out Serenity is the movie of a failed TV series that didn’t make it past its first season. Coulda fooled me! Olly Richards of EmpireOnline says that whether you’re genre savvy or just looking for some fighty space-action, Serenity is the movie for you. Though it relies on worn but beloved character archetypes, it has a feel all its own. Here’s the alt review! Not that you need to read it:

Brave Breaks the Princess Standard


Tell me, my charming reader chum, who is your favorite Disney princess? Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? Tiana? Rapunzel? After seeing Brave, Merida shot to first place. As stated in the title, Brave broke the princess standard, something I haven’t seen in the Disney formula for years. No prince charming that the princess is bound to from the beginning? A strong, independent female lead who values her freedom? Wh… what the hell is going on? And why do I love it so much? I’ll tell you why. It’s silly, dramatic, and delivers a sweet yet prominent message that’s easy to comprehend. This is a movie for Disney fans of all ages.

From the beginning, Merida is bombarded by instructions on how to be a perfect princess. Her mother, Elinor, is the prim and proper queen of a seaside Scottish Highland kingdom. When she calls upon the three clans of the Kingdom to compete for Merida’s hand, the princess sabotages the archery competition by taking part and winning her own hand.

BraveThis is where a twin set of plots come in. One is relevant to the prologue of the movie, in which a young Merida discovers a will o’ the wisp and learns that they’re said to guide travelers to their fate. In a desperate attempt to stop her mother from controlling her life, she makes a deal with a witch in order to “change” her. This turns her into a bear, and the change will be permanent on the second sunrise. Simultaneously, the three clans and the kingdom are bordering war because of the insult presented by Merida’s refusal to marry. There’s a lot to fix.

It’s a fair balance between silly and serious, the darkest aspect has to be Mor’du, the black bear that took King Fergus’s leg. He (not Fergus) nearly ate Merida when she was a child, and he appears again several times to do the same. He’s also the center of a few big reveals, so don’t set him aside as the obligatory antagonist. There’s more to him, eh?

There are many likeable characters in this particular Disney flick, the scenery is just gorgeous, and the plot is just the right distance from the Disney formula to feel both new and familiar. Brave has taken a lot of crap for being bland, unoriginal, boring, and many other negative adjectives generic critics can throw out, but I personally guarantee that if you do watch, you’ll enjoy yourself. Merida’s a sassy lass, and the three clan leaders and their children are very silly indeed.

BraveYou see, this is what happens when the formula is broken. The moment these critics realized that Brave wasn’t a permutation of the typical formula, they rip at it for “trying too hard,” being unoriginal, and all that rot. You can take all those blatantly negative reviews and put them aside; on its own, Brave is a wonderful family movie, and you’ll have to gauge its quality for yourself rather than listen to pretentious and jaded reviewers shovel their empty opinions onto it because it’s fun to do. It could become a favorite, it could be vanilla, but that’s up to you to find out. If it was outright terrible, I’d let you know, wouldn’t I? But it isn’t, so you should probably go out and give it a view.

CinemaBlend’s a trustworthy source of quality reviews, I’ll have you know. I’m aware of the fact that I often spend too much time criticizing critics, but I do it for a reason. Genuine unbiased reviews are hard to come by with all this “pay for ten of ten” nonsense floating around. Anyhoo, Brave doesn’t deserve all the crap it gets, and if you read this review right here, you’ll get a good idea of why:

Blood Diamond, This Is Africa

Blood Diamond

I didn’t really take Leo DiCaprio as the kind of actor that would play a diamond smuggler looking to secure passage out of Africa using a massive raw diamond as leverage. That said, I was happy to see him. Blood Diamond presents its audience with realism, not acting. To get specific, I mean the nitty gritty, not the glamour. Of course there’s acting. The point is, the movie doesn’t reek of Hollywood taint. You can watch it without having to pause and rinse your mouth out after a long, almost premeditated speech about how a mercenary’s cold heart thawed because of the girl of his dreams. Got it? Glad you’re listening.

Solomon Vandy is a fisherman in the village of Shenge, in Sierra Leonia. The Revolutionary United Front makes a sweep through his area, shooting up everyone they can and kidnapping who they leave alive. Solomon’s son Dia is conscripted and brainwashed by the RUF, and Solomon himself is forced into slavery, panning for diamonds.

Blood DiamondDiamond panning under the RUF is a far cry from safe and simple. Stealing a diamond means your life. Disobedience means your life, or maybe a hand. Odds are, if you’ve been enslaved, you may as well consider yourself dead. Solomon, however, chances upon a pink diamond the size of a bird’s egg, and buries it just as the government comes in and shoots the place up. He winds up on a truck heading to a prison in Freetown.

Danny Archer shares a similar fate, though under different circumstances. He works for South African diamond company executive Van De Kaap, making a living off of smuggling diamonds across the border into Liberia. The border officers catch Danny in the act and confiscate his goods, then slam him into the same truck Solomon was shoved in. The leader of the RUF camp shouts about Solomon’s family, name, and diamond before being carted away. As such, the two set up a deal where Danny will find Solomon’s family in exchange for the ruddy big diamond.

Danny eventually enlists the aid of Maddy Bowen, a journalist who he initially doesn’t care for. At first, she’s just a threat to him because she could blow his smuggling operation. Soon after, she becomes a valuable asset because she has a certain level of influence among the locals. Together, they try to rescue Solomon’s family while simultaneously trying to locate the diamond that’s going to save Danny’s ass from his employer’s vengeance.

Blood DiamondThe movie’s just over two hours long, but it feels a lot longer. I don’t mean that in a bad way, though. Does it have slower parts? Yeah, it does. Does it drag its ass? Nope. The content and quality of Blood Diamond is evenly distributed all throughout. That, coupled with the fantastic acting and above-par plot, should keep you interested until the conclusion rolls around.

Special mention goes to Djimon Hounsou for doing such a fantastic job with his role. You’d think Leo would be the focus by default, but I beg to differ. You rarely see average Joe protagonists that refrain from indulging in obligatory heroics, yet come through as the “good guy” all the same. Better seen than heard, I suppose. Check the film out and see what I’m rambling about.

But first, the Itsvery movie review take on Blood Diamond! To my surprise, many people found that Solomon was a flat, clichéd character. While I can see how that can rouse a bit of discontentedness, I do believe that Solomon was all he needed to be. He was a simple man with simple needs, and he pursued them in a way befitting his personality and situation. Sure, we in the audience may not find him very spectacular, but that’s realism over Hollywoodism for you. Anyway, check out the review here:

Life of Pi, Emotion on the Ocean

Life of Pi

Life of Pi really deserves the revamped attention the movie gave it. I distinctly remember wondering just how the book could provide so much content from merely describing a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger, and a few flashbacks. Same went for the movie. In both cases, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was never bored, or hoping for something more exciting.

Pi Patel was a normal boy living in India, experimenting with religion and worldviews. His father owns a zoo, and dislikes the idea of religion fervently. All the same, he thinks that forcing his beliefs on his child is a bad thing, and instead tries to impart lessons in a more constructive, unbiased way. Pi’s first strong lesson comes from his father making him watch the tiger Richard Parker eat a goat, letting him know the difference between animals and people.

Life of PiA big change goes down when the family decides to move to Canada and sell the animals. The change isn’t in the move, so much as the tanker called Tsimtsum sinking due to a storm and Pi being stuck on a lifeboat with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a tiger. The hyena eats the zebra, fatally wounds the orangutan, and the tiger eats the hyena and nearly kills Pi.

So Pi has to survive. He builds a floatation device out of oars and life vests in order to keep at a save distance from Richard Parker, while rationing supplies to extend his window of survival as long as he possibly can. Thanks to a breaching whale, he loses a lot of his biscuits and water, forcing him to catch fish and collect rainwater. As a vegetarian, this is unsettling, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Pi and Richard Parker soon discover an island with edible plants populated entirely by meerkats, saving them once again from starvation. A little bit of searching yields a human tooth wrapped up in leaves. Apparently, the island behaves like a giant venus flytrap, drawing people in and devouring them with acid emitted in the evening. So, after gathering all they possibly can, Pi and Richard Parker depart.

Life of PiThere aren’t really spoilers, considering Pi Patel is around to tell this story in the movie. So at the end of their little adventure, Pi winds up on the coast of Mexico, and Richard Parker escapes into the jungle, never to be seen again. Pi is hospitalized, and some Japanese men representing the company that chartered the tanker being used to transport the zoo animals have questions for him.

That’s where a second story is offered, one revolving entirely around people rather than the animals. In this version, the orangutan is Pi’s mother, the zebra was a crippled sailor, the hyena was the ship’s cook, and Pi was the tiger. After hearing both stories, both the Japanese me and the man interviewing Pi Patel about his life story decided to believe the tale with Richard Parker.

That’s the story, but before I link you to an alternate review, I’d like to note the extent to which I enjoyed the CGI in this movie. While it is used realistically for the most part, namely for the storm and the animals, there is one particular part that blew my mind. It was a surreal delusional memory sequence, where Pi felt as though he could see into he ocean, into the stars reflected into the water’s surface, and then into the eye of God. In theatre, it was the most abstract, beautiful sequence of images I’ve ever seen.

But hey, the rest is amazing too.

Aaron Weiss of CinemaFunk finds that the film adaptation of Life of Pi amounted to a watered down, Hollywood-warped version of the original tale. While I don’t entirely agree with this, I can see the validity. When making a movie based off of an original work, maintaining the balance between the work’s intent and the necessary “wow factor” can be rather… difficult. Take a peek here to get a better understanding of the contrast:

Prometheus Belongs in Space


And so does everyone involved in its production.

Prometheus, the souls successor of the 1979 movie Alien, fell flat on its face. Despite all the new crap and CG they threw into it, despite all the new characters and plot devices, it’s a great big ball of incoherent sci-fi crap. Insult to injury, the constant thematic references to the original Alien make it feel all the more devoid of originality. I’ve got nothing against Ridley Scott, but his writers could have been chosen a bit more carefully. I’ll lay it down for you.

A crew of archaeologists discovers a repeating reference to a single star system throughout the art of several separated ancient cultures. They strike a deal with a big organization to make a voyage through space to investigate that cluster, hoping to encounter the makers of mankind. That would be the movie’s underlying theme: “Meet your makers.”

There are two lead archaeologists who are in love, and a whole bunch of company appointed officials monitoring and aiding the trip. You don’t get to know many of these characters too closely, as most of them are Ensign Rickies. They discover an ancient ruin filled with materials and footage left behind by the “Engineer” race, who supposedly created humans. After cross-checking their DNA with human DNA, it proves to be an exact match. So, the Engineers created humantiy.
PrometheusNot too long after their arrival, a storm hits, forcing the crew back into their ship and leaving two members stranded in the ruin. This leads to the discovery that the planet they had traveled to was actually an abandoned military base for experimental biogenetic weaponry, and that the Engineers actually hated the human race and were planning on dropping a pandemic on Earth to wipe everyone out.

Then it turns out the CEO of the company that allowed the archaeologists to go on the journey stowed away so he could ask the Engineers for immortality, and everyone dies but the main lady. She makes off with an alien ship (with the help of a synthetic person’s head) and heads for the Engineer homeworld to find out why they hate humans so much. And that’s the end of that story.

Issues, several issues. First of all, the corpse found on the spaceship in Alien was the basis for the Engineers, yet it had nothing to do with creationism. Sure, it’s an interesting premise, but it all seems out of the blue. That’s not the worst of the issues.

Secondly, the synthetic poisons one of the archaeologists with a bio-weapon found on the Engineer ship for no reason. The poisoned guy has sex with his “sterile” gal, and she gets pregnant with an alien baby. Is this an allusion to the Company from Alien? The Company that wanted a specimen of the aliens to be brought back to Earth inside a person locked in stasis? Because it doesn’t make sense in Prometheus. And it doesn’t make sense for the synthetic to do that on impulse. Nobody knew there were chemical weapons on that wasteland planet, so how would the synthetic have known to do that? Why? Just because he’s a stereotypical psychotic robot? 2012, people!

PrometheusThird issue, why would the CEO of the big company paying for the expedition think he could hitch a ride and ask the Engineers for immortality? I know that it’s probably meant to be some “profound observation on human nature,” but it’s actually just really stupid.

Even stupider is the fact that the only Engineer left on the planet, when woken up, goes on a killing spree and murders almost every surviving member of the crew. Even after the synthetic speaks to him in his native tongue. I’m pretty sure a species developed to the point of gaining the ability to create life would respond in a more rational way. “Humans are a mistake and they want to fix us,” is no excuse. It’s poor filmmaking.

The easily impressed/swayed by nostalgia will probably find Prometheus enthralling during their first viewing. As I mentioned before, Prometheus has an excellent premise, it just executes it so piss-poorly that the entire movie crumbles because of the plot holes. It’s a damned shame.

Regnard Raquedan of ScreenSucked is perhaps a bit too by-the-trailer in his review. As he suspected, Prometheus was going to be dissected and slammed, and I am one of the major constituents of the latter. The reason being, an esteemed director does not an exemplary movie make. Even though Ridley Scott made Alien and his fanbase may defend any other work to the death, Prometheus is not the masterpiece it was meant to be. Still, you deserve to read a nicer review, so here it is:

9 A Grim Kind of Happy


9’s a VERY short movie title. I think I’ll call it Tim Burton’s 9. But as it were, Timur Bekmambetov is a producer of this movie, too. Their initials (middle names exempt) are the same, so the title is now Double TB’s 9. Teebeenine? With all that unrelated crap out of the way, I’m sure you’d actually like a review.

9’s not your typical post-apocalyptic movie. Where another director might use zombies or gun-toting mercenaries, Tim Burton would use dolls animated by a fragment of a human soul. The plot isn’t terribly complicated, but it still manages to fill 80 minutes without any major lulls. Considering it was based off of an 11 minute short, that’s particularly impressive.

The story begins with 9 waking up in the room of the scientist, confused and alone. He meets 2, who gives him his voice and is inadvertently captured by the “Beast,” a giant dog-like creature left behind after the world-ending war. A little backstory: The scientist created a highly intelligent and creative A.I., which was seized by the military government and forced to make war machines. Long story short, the machines went berserk and shrouded the Earth in a deadly poison gas.

9The first struggle is with the Beast. 9 and 2  face off, resulting in the elderly 2 being whisked away to the factory, along with a mysterious little device. After 9 unites with the rest of the numbered crew (1-8), 9, 6, and 7 set out to rescue 2.

You know what, let’s make this easier. Identities to names, GO:

  • 1: The elderly control freak that is scared of everything.
  • 2: The elderly inventor who explores and collects stuff.
  • 3-4: The mute twins that capture images with their eyes.
  • 5: The good natured, one eyed doll that helps 9 repeatedly.
  • 6: The oddball that has the most knowledge about the “device.”
  • 7: The lady-warrior that has too many moments of badass.
  • 8: The big beefy jerk with all the weapons. Also 1’s bitch.
  • 9: The curious protagonist. Creative and clever on the spot.

9The final struggle is with the scientist’s A.I., brought back to life after 9 connected the device to it. It begins to develop more war machines, trapped in its volatile cycle even without soldiers to fight. Then again, 1-9 could be seen as the enemy soldiers.

My issue is, the dolls all harbor a piece of the scientist’s soul. The scientist claimed that the Machine was incomplete because it lacked a human soul. Throughout the movie, the Machine tries desperately to absorb the fragments of the scientist’s soul to complete itself. Even though you’re meant to empathize with the doll people, you kind of wonder what would happen if the Machine acquired all nine pieces. Would it gain a higher intelligence? Would it give up on the imaginary war and try to repopulate the planet with machines? Wait for it… 9 2, the Machine’s Story.

9 isn’t a movie you’d want to miss if you’re into Tim Burton’s stuff. Josh Tyler of Cinemablend thinks that 9 isn’t up to scale, regarding proportions and distance. He could be going a little harsh, since the movie is based off an eleven minute short. If the focus was on them walking, there would be lulls. The terrible kind that I was talking about. But still, it’s a fair point. Here’s the review link:

12 Monkeys: What the Hell, Brad Pitt?

12 Monkeys

Here’s a thought: Have you ever wanted to see Brad Pitt’s ass in the same movie as Bruce Willis’s ass? Trick question, you shouldn’t have to suffer through that. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brucey baby, but that right there’s some cinematic material I could have gone my entire life without seeing. Tell you what, in light of these monkeyshines (ha ha ha), let’s move on and look at what exactly 12 Monkeys is about.

The bigger picture: Earth’s surface is tainted by a virus that wiped out 99% of the human population while leaving all other species unharmed. Prisoners held for dire crimes are used as “volunteers” for surface recon, being forced to gear up in hazmat and attempt to collect residual samples of the virus. The science team in control of these operations also appears to have crafted a time machine that can drop people off in the past, then instantly pull them back into the present.

12 MonkeysJames Cole (Bruce Willis) gets the full runaround, as he successfully returns from a surface expedition, and is then deemed capable of searching for information regarding the virus in the past. Due to the unstable nature of the time machine, Cole touches down in 1990 and is sent to an insane asylum after raving about the global plague. It is here that he meets Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), a psychiatrist who remembers him for some reason or another. Though she thinks Cole is insane, some part of her believes him.

While he’s stuck in the institution, Cole meets a- well, he meets Brad Pitt playing a batshit insane son of a world-famous virologist. This Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) sounds like a drooling, crazed version of Tyler Durden, and I’m not playing around. When he starts ranting about consumerism and modern brainwashing, I had a moment where I just wondered, “Damn, what movie is this? Is this Fight Club?” Maybe 12 Monkeys is how he got the role. I digress.

Several major things happen between that point and the end of the movie. One: Cole and Railly discover that Goine is the head of the underground group called The Army of 12 Monkeys. Kind of like space monkeys in Fight Club. Two: Brucie falls for the girl and starts to think that he is insane. Three: The girl realizes that he isn’t insane, and convinces him to continue his mission. Four: They discover that the 12 Monkey Army isn’t responsible for the virus; all they’ll do is release a bunch of animals into New York. The person responsible for the near extinction of the human race is actually one of Goine Senior’s close assistants.

12 MonkeysYou don’t get to know about that, though. It’s spoiler stuff. What I will tell you is that there’s an obscure and annoying flashback that directly related to the movie’s conclusion that Brucie constantly experiences in his dreams. That in itself is a spoiler, but only if you view the movie.

In all likelihood, I don’t think you will. Even though I have a love for Bruce Willis and all his movies, I wouldn’t call this flick one of his better works. You can’t connect to the characters, the plot is a standard “I’m not crazy!” routine, and despite the would-be intensity of everything… it gets kind of boring. In short, it’s a good movie if you’re in the mood for funky old movies with Bruce Willis in them.

James Berardinelli of ReelViews gives 12 Monkeys 4.5 stars out of 5, which I believe is just crossing the line of generous. I’ll stand by the fact that the plot was well thought out and culturally relevant at the time. It even managed to address the paradoxical nature of time travel without befuddling it like Terminator did. Check out his review here:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, or Sod’s Law

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

They advertise Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as a daring spy movie with lots of high tech gadgetry and arse-glued-to-seat action. Yeah, I suppose that’s what the movie would look like if you weren’t really paying attention. The things I notice most about Ghost Protocol are the things that go wrong. Tom Cruise can never do an epic jump correctly. All of the tech Simon Pegg whips out winds up malfunctioning horribly and in the worst situations possible. I’ll give a shortie of the plot, then talk about what breaks.

The IMF is a secret organization working to resolve international issues and threats under the radar. The main team consists of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Jane Carter (Paula Patton). They infiltrate Kremlin in order to retrieve classified information regarding nuclear warheads. Their mission is sabotaged by Kurt Hendricks a.k.a. Cobalt, who is working alongside a man named Winstrom to bring about world destruction via nuclear war. The two terrorists bomb the Kremlin, pointing the blame squarely at the US.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
This gets the IMF disavowed and disbanded, at least officially. They are then given the mission to track Cobalt and Winstrom, using any and all means to prevent them from firing the first nuke. Ex-agent Willian Brandt, an analyst for Ethan’s now-dead boss, joins them in their mission after Ethan saves his ass from an assassination attempt made by a shady subsection of the Russian government.

There are a lot of close calls, and a lot of action, combat, and chase scenes. I wouldn’t call this an edge of your seats movie, though. Simon Pegg is just too silly. Since Tom Cruise keeps bashing his head on things and having his tech malfunction, the fourth installment of Mission Impossible almost feels comedic. Let’s talk about the major movie malfunctions, shall we? And I certainly don’t mean unintentional errors.

  • Ethan Hunt bashes his face three times in separate attempts to make epic jumps: Once into a very high-up window, once off a building and onto a truck, and once off a lift onto a car. Bonk, bonk, bonk.
  • The digital false wall Benji and Ethan use to infiltrate the Kremlin can’t handle the POV of more than one person. It works at first, then another guy comes in and it starts freaking out. Fizzle-fizzle.
  • The all-surface grip gloves Benji gives Ethan fizzle very quickly when he uses them to climb a building. One fizzles halfway up, and the other fizzles as he kicks the window of his target room in.
  • The mask-making machine Benji sets up to aid them in their attempt to trick an assassin into giving them the launch codes tweaks out and dies.
  • The face-scan contact lens William is given blows his and Ethan’s cover when the assassin they’re trying to trick sees it.
  • The magnetic lift Benji uses to move William into an underground server room keeps twitching and slamming the poor guy into things. Then it shorts out and dies.

Mission Impossible: Ghost ProtocolI’m pretty sure you know that this movie has a happy ending. Most of the stuff Tom Cruise does is corny in some way or another. Corny, cheesy, so-serious-it’s-silly, call it what you will. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is, despite this, a good movie overall. If everything worked, there’d be no “oh crap” moments to make you cross your fingers for Tom Cruise. Whether you’re hoping he dies horribly or not I can’t say, but that’s hardly the point. I do believe the writers made their high-tech claim a little hypocritical by making everything break constantly. The way I see it, you come for the Mission Impossible title and stay for Simon Pegg and his unfortunate contraptions. I love that guy, and you should too.

BlackSheepReviews sticks Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol with a positive review, and I’m glad to see that. Tom Cruise actually does play a very strong part in this movie without overwhelming it with his… Cruiseyness. I’ll admit I was a little sad when Lea Seydoux was kicked out of a window. I feel like her character didn’t play much of a role outside greasing the plot wheels. Can’t expect much from side antagonists, I guess! Here’s the link:

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