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: http://www.reelviews.net/movies/t/twelve_mon.html

Eraserhead: What the Hell Just Happened?

EraserheadYou’ll be wanting to watch this monochrome… uh, classic… over and over again. It’s got coherent, it’s linear, it obeys the rules of life and death, and it brings you back to the glory of the silver screen with flash and pride. It’s definitely one of the greatest and known movies in cinematic history. You’d have to be living under a rock not to know what Eraserhead is… yeah.

Okay, so everything I said was a complete lie. Don’t worry, it still counts towards the reviewing. Just take everything I said, reverse it, and you’ll have yourself the perfect review of this scary as hell monochrome catastrophe. Before I continue with this less than gracious explanation, I’ll admit that I still don’t fully understand what this movie means.

Henry Spencer is a man who lives in a super-industrialized futuristic (I guess) city, relatively near his girlfriend Mary X. God, doing a plot synopsis is going to be so hard… I could just tell you that Henry and Mary had sex, and Mary gave birth to a mutant baby. Mary started to lose her mind out of stress, so she left Henry alone to care for the child. Eventually, the really weird things that were already happening started to make him hate the baby, so he stabbed it to death. That’s the plot.

EraserheadBut the plot’s not what the movie’s about, fortunately enough for you. This is a surrealist movie, which means most of the stuff that goes on is solely there to confuse you while the filmmaker smiles and laughs. The good news is, the title is explained through this, so… there’s always that to look forward to. I’m note entirely sure how to describe the surreal events that occur, but it’s better that I give you a description at-length to prepare you for what this movie contains.

The lady in the radiator seems to play a huge part in the movie, it seems. Her cheeks are abnormally large and clumpy, and she’s good at doing little dances. She does sideways steps, until eventually little… Okay, they look like sperm. Little sperm-ish things fall from the ceiling, and she stomps them to death, looking sweet as can be. She sings a short song about heaven the next time you see her, and hugs Henry after he stabs his baby to death, causing it to erupt into a four foot tall pillar of foam.

Had enough? It hasn’t even begun. At dinner with Mary X’s family, the fist-sized chickens crap out a pool of blood while Mrs. X makes strange guttural sounds until the chicken ass-spewing stops. Mr. X stares at Henry the entire time with bedroom eyes. I think this might be the reason Mary X moves in with Henry. Just saying.

EraserheadSo how did the movie come to be called fricken Eraserhead, then, if it’s all about random events and crap? Simple. During a dream sequence, Henry is on stage and staring at different versions of himself, until suddenly his head pops off and is replaced by the baby’s head. HIS head rolls away and is found by a boy who turns it in to a pencil factory. The guy at the pencil factory grinds his head up and uses it to make an eraser, which works incredibly well. And yet, Henry’s head is fine. It’s fine when he goes back to his room full of dirt piles. Modern art? Insanity? Who can say? Not me.

I have no idea how to make an all-encompassing statement that would apply as a conclusive analysis of Eraserhead. I suppose that in itself serves to explain just how confusing this movie is. I’m pretty sure you still have no idea what to think of it given the vague description I’ve provided you with. All I can say is, Eraserhead is a short movie, but it’ll confuse you for a lifetime. Don’t watch this if you want coherence.

The Terminator: He’ll Be Back… In the Sequels

The TerminatorWatch out, people, we got a classic on our hands! And how. Y’know, there’s a certain satisfying irony in reviewing old movies versus new movies. With new movies, I’d usually remain either neutral or negative about the special effects, blaming the focus on such as the reason for the degraded plot or half-assed characters. In old movies, the effects are rarely more complicated than some low-resolution on-screen lightning or puppets that look nothing like the actor they’re meant to represent. Or even stop-motion animation! It’s really quite marvelous, I do declare. The irony is in the fact that I like and notice the crappy effects more than I do the newer, fancier ones. Why? I couldn’t say.

The plot of this movie, dear readers, is a perfect example of why you don’t play with time. Paradoxes arise, the impossible is pointed out, and everyone scratches their head and shouts plot hole. In this particular case, Sarah Connor is to give birth to John Connor, who leads the human resistance to victory against the machines in the future when robots try to wipe out the human race. Future John Connor sends back Kyle Reese, his father (and Sarah’s short-term lover), in hopes of protecting Sarah. You know, because if Sarah and Kyle don’t get freaky, John will have never been born and will never have led the human resistance to victory.

The TerminatorBut of course, if Kyle is from the future, so how the heck did he originally hook up with Sarah in the first place? How could John have initially sent Kyle back if he was never born? If Kyle had no idea he was John Connor’s father and was his age at the time of the resistance? Technically, that would be entirely impossible. The movie acts as though the initial events are irrelevant to the overall timeloop, which sort of leaves the audience… you know, scratching their heads and shouting plot hole.

Point being, the whole movie is about Sarah and Kyle falling in love, running away from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and getting John made so the sequels could happen. I mean, that’s really all it is.

It starts off as Sarah Connor finding out that someone’s been killing all the Sarah Connors in the phonebook for whatever reason, warning her that she’s bound to be next. Kyle manages to get to her first before AHNOLD riddles her with bullets, and the sappy dramatic future-past romance story blossoms and blooms and… Yeah. And Terminator followed them every step of the way. The thing that made the Terminator so scary was that he just kept on coming back no matter how many times he got exploded or smashed. Good thrills indeed.

The TerminatorNow, for lack of anything more relevant and important to talk about, I shall speak on the amazing old-fashioned special effects that I love so very much! And the other movie goofs that just make Terminator so great. First off, obvious stunt doubles. If you’re not caught up in the action, you’ll realize that every time Kyle or Termie take a punch, it’s really not them. Heh. And let’s not forget that puppet of Termie as he cuts his eye out. It’s like, whoa, maybe that could be Arnold if he actually was a robot and looked extra effeminate.

I don’t think I need to ramble on any further to further prove just how old this movie is. Check IMDB for all the goofs; good for a laugh. On the whole, though, Terminator is a pretty good movie. As a standalone, it’s rather lacking and lame, but because it’s the first of many Terminator sequels and spin-offs, it earns a 50% bonus on its quality score. It’s definitely not just me thinking that older movies are better just because they’re the originals. Fortunately for you, goldie oldies are always turned DVD, so you can pick Terminator up at Rasputin’s, Netflix it, Amazon, whatever. It’s probably dirty cheap, so go get it.

Minority Report: Just Cruisin’

Minority ReportThat’s right, folks! Welcome to the future, and the future is Tom Cruise. First time I saw this movie, I was mainly paying attention to Mr. Cruise and his overdramatic performance. The guy takes himself a little too seriously, and I think even that statement’s a little modest. But hey, every once in a while his tone and the movie’s hit it off in perfect harmony. This is one of those cases.

Pre-Crime is a futuristic organization that works with with three very special individuals called the Pre-Cogs, who can see murders long before they happen. Pre-Crime uses the images produced by these future-seers to apprehend criminals before the incident actually occurs. It’s an incredibly effective system, and as such, it’s placed under investigation for flaws.

John Anderton works for Pre-Crime. He lost his son at a public pool, his wife left him, and because of all this he has taken to using a drug called Clarity. Despite all this, he’s a good cop. That is, until the system declares that he will kill a man named Leo Crow in less than 36 hours. Anterton has no idea who this Leo Crow is, let alone why he would kill him. All the same, John is hunted by his police friends, and by the federal investigator Danny Witmer.

Minority ReportOn his run, Anderton encounters one of the makers of Pre-Crime, who discloses that minority reports for alternative possible futures exist within the Pre-Cogs who make the predictions. So now, he has to run back to Pre-Crime and retrieve the female of the three Pre-Cogs, Agatha, in order to find a way to extract the minority report from her. Of course, in order to even get close to Pre-Crime without being eyescan identified, he has to have his eyes plucked out and replaced.

Skipping a bit, he manages to get her, and he quickly discovers that no, he does not have a minority report. He does, however, pick up the trail of a greater conspiracy hiding behind the mask of the honorable Pre-Crime organization. Soon, John discovers that the other creator of Pre-Crime, Lamar Burgess, his old friend, used his own system to get away with murdering Anne Lively. He manages to use Anderton’s lost son and Leo Crow to cover his tracks… But no spoilers here as to whether he gets away or not.

Anne was the mother of Agatha, and a Neuroin addict. Her daughter was born with brain damage, a common issue with children born of those addicted to Neuroin, though she was saved by Lamar’s original partner, then used by Lamar as the foundation of Pre-Crime. When Anne Lively came clean and tried to reclaim her child, Lamar made sure that she wouldn’t meddle with his system.

Minority ReportThat’s all of the plot I’m giving you, but that’s all you really need. For a Tom Cruise movie, this sci-fi conspiracy thriller really manages to hold your attention without making you say, “Really…?” Well, at least not as often as you would in War of the Worlds or Valkyrie. Quality effects, good characters, intriguing plot, and you have a win.

A word of warning, though. There is a considerable amount of corny-mushiness contained. It might get a little overbearingly obnoxious at some points because of the aforementioned dramatic tone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll kill the entertainment value entirely. It might make you roll your eyes, but you’ll be pretty content with the conclusion, I think.