Equilibrium: Christian Bale Gets Mushy


Ever wanted to see Christian Bale in The Matrix? Well, now you can! Equilibrium: It’s like the Matrix, only with less robots, and more emotion-related drama and allusions. There are black squeaky outfits with too many buttons, there are teeming hordes of expendable soldiers, and there are firefight scenes that are painfully lopsided; everything a good futuristic dystopian movie needs. The plot’s quite simple, and despite the fact that the end twist may throw you for a loop, it really does nothing to offset the intended conclusion. Let’s get this segway spinning.

Some time in the distant future, mankind is recovering from the devastating effects of World War III. An influential group of military individuals has blamed the world’s ruin on human emotion, and as such built a colossal society revolving around the removal of all empathic bonds. Through drugs and propaganda, humanity is steered away from its destructive path and into a hopeful future by the powerful Librian government. Yeah, right. There are a lot of hypocritical moments in Equilibrium that I’d love to point out, but I’ll save it for after the synopsis.

EquilibriumJohn Preston
is a high-ranking cleric serving the Librian government, specifically under the Tetragrammaton Council. The Father’s objective (subsequently all clerics’ objective), is to eliminate all members of the Resistance. These rag-tag heart-feelers smuggle emotional content and experience the world as it was before the Prozium revolution. Prozium is the drug that makes everyone emotionless, by the way. It is the duty of the clerics to hunt down and kill the Resistance fighters, and burn all the emotional propaganda. As such, it is John Preston’s duty, and he does it well.

However, one day, John misses a dose of Prozium. He begins to experience incredible bouts of attachment and sentimentality, which he sweeps under the carpet of official conduct with a fake heartless demeanor. Eventually, he misses another dose. Then another. Before you know it, he’s stealing poetry books from evidence, storing perfumed ribbons in his pockets, and hiding puppies in his trunk. Where once he didn’t care about his wife then later his colleague being executed, now he can barely keep himself composed thinking about them. So what does he do? He finds and joins the Resistance.

I can’t continue without giving away all the juicy secrets, so instead, I’ll make clear all the allusion and hypocrisy stuff. Okay? Okay. First of all, the symbol used by the Tetragrammaton Council is curiously similar to the swastika insignia used by the soldiers of Nazi Germany. Mixed with the heartless dictator, Father, you could say this entire thing is a reference to the Holocaust. Could. Doesn’t mean you have to.

EquilibriumHypocritical is the fact that the clerics have to kill the Resistance fighters, whereas injecting them with Prozium by force would completely remove their opinions and sentiments regarding the maintenance of the world’s emotional past. Seriously, inject them and they won’t give a damn. Then again, that wouldn’t allow the Tetris-Grammar-Tron to be exceedingly cruel, thus making the protagonist/antagonist aspect of the movie clear. I’m not complaining, I’m just nit-picking. It’s still a fun movie to watch.

On the whole, Equilibrium is just below the line of “too preachy.” It doesn’t get in your face and rant about how human emotion is the best thing ever, it doesn’t command you to think with your heart, and it doesn’t call people who veer towards general apathy jerks. It calls them Nazi jerks. That’s a joke. The acting is as good as it can be for an emotional movie about non-emotion. In its defense, a movie in which everyone’s voice is monotone would produce nothing less than utter irritation. It’s not perfect, but it’s damned good. I would recommend Equilibrium to anyone with a taste in action movies like The Matrix.

Aditya’s Movie Review Blog describes Equilibrium as boring up until the climax, excluding the action scenes, and I’m inclined to agree. When not beating the living crap out of nameless faceless soldiers and major antagonists, Christian Bale’s emotional moments can get pretty redundant and predictable. Well, technically the action scenes are even more predictable, but that goes without saying. Here’s the review link: http://adityasmoviereviews.blogspot.com/2010/03/equilibrium-2002.html

Super 8: Can’t Trust Prestige

Super 8

Super 8 may be two hours long, but it drags like none other. I have no beef with Stephen Spielberg, but this movie’s tough to stomach. The focus is constantly forced back and forth, the action is inconsistent, and the cliché corniness skyrockets when the “thrilling conclusion” comes around. I mean out of place, overdramatic, bad kind of corny. The kind that makes everyone look away from the screen and become nonspecifically distracted until the moment in question is over.

It’s not that hard to summarize, so I’ll do so in increasing levels of specificity. The first one won’t even take more than a sentence. Ready? A bunch of kids make a movie and witness a train crash, become involved with a military scandal involving an alien, and then main boy gets the girl and sends the alien home. Easy, right? Now for the longer version.

Joseph Lamb’s mother died in a steel mill accident, and his police officer father Jackson blamed this on Louis Dainard. Joseph’s friend Charles likes to make movies, and he invites Louis’s daughter Alice to play a new part he recently added. Their cinematic adventures take them to an abandoned building alongside train tracks, and they find themselves witnessing a terrible crash.
Super 8The military then invades the town, withholding as much information as possible while trying to clean things up. And by clean things up, I mean ineffectively deal with power flickers, kidnappings, and assaults while starting a wildfire to evacuate the town.

All this is due to an alien breaching containment because of the crash. The generic military bad guy apparently experimented on this alien in a way as close to torture as possible and made it loathe mankind. As such, the alien begins stealing people and storing them underground as food while trying to reconstruct its ship.

Alice gets kidnapped, which inevitably forces the whipped Joseph into trying to save her, and leads Jackson and Louis to forgive each other in the manliest way possible. During Joseph’s attempted escape, he confronts the alien and gives one of those cinema-sweet empathy speeches, which causes the alien to stop killing people and leave their planet forever. It uses a magnetic field to pull a bunch of crap into a water tower and convert it into his ship’s propulsion system. Joseph, in a “tear-jerking” act, lets fly his dead mother’s locket. Why? As the annoying sub-character kid in the movie says repeatedly, “mint production value.”

Super 8I think I’d feel more comfortable with Super 8 if it were a darker Disney-style 3D animation. I feel like I was watching some terrible children’s movie that just happened to have blood, aliens, and the army thrown in for the hell of it. It’s a mish-mash of clichéd movie themes that don’t blend well together at all. Military conspiracy alien story plus kid romance does not blend. These things do not blend well at all. That should be obvious, seeing as the movie is bisected down the middle. On the left, drama. On the right, alien violence and corny lines and hugs.

Super 8 earns one great big NO from this side of the ring.

I’m not attaching a second review this time around, because every single instance of criticism I’ve read regarding Super 8 is as kiss-ass and corny as the movie itself. Let me make one thing absolutely clear: Prestige does not translate into quality. Just because J.J. Abrams and Stephen Spielberg were involved in the production doesn’t mean it has to be gold.

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.

Akira: On Telekinesis and Toddlers

AkiraYou know, Akira reminds me a lot of Chronicle, only with a much higher level of organization and chaos. It sounds contradictory, but it makes sense. I love this movie, so reviewing this will be a treat for both you and me. Unless, of course… one of us is squeamish. I certainly hope not. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart. Blood, partial nudity, harsh language, all very fitting of a post WWIII Japan dystopian setting: Neo-Tokyo.

Akira revolves around the lives of a gang of bikers, the Capsules. The two main bikers are Kaneda, the energetic enthusiastic outgoing leader, and Tetsuo, the never-does-it-right cowardly follower. Due to the military oppression in the city, there is a rebellion brewing that fights for less restrictive law. Due to the incredibly high organized crime rate in the city, the military absolutely refuses to let up. As such, things are pretty shitty for Kaneda’s gang.

AkiraThings get even shittier for Tetsuo, who crashes his in a freak incident to avoid hitting a strange little blue boy. To make matters worse and explain a few things, this blue boy is an esper, endowed with the ability to extend his willpower outside his own head. The science organization notices a similar trait in the dying Tetsuo, and decisively abducts him to begin experimentation. While Tetsuo exhibits the abilities of the other espers, he himself is much more hateful and saturated by vengeance. His days of cowardice and failure are over, and Kaneda is the first to notice Tetsuo’s radically altered personality. And, er, telekinetic abilities.

From that point on the primary concern of the military, the science organization, and even the rebellion, is the destruction or containment of the astronomically powerful esper Tetsuo. By interacting with the other espers, Tetsuo has learned of the existence of Akira, the first. Akira’s powers were said to be beyond anything anyone had ever predicted, which was seen by Tetsuo as a challenge. He does find Akira, but not as he was expecting to find him.

AkiraIt’s around this part that I start to get a little sketchy. Supposedly, Akira’s powers are linked to universal genesis and symbolic and literal birth of matter. As Tetsuo’s madness escalates, so do his telekinetic powers, until a wavelength from him and the other espers brings back the avatar of Akira. At this point, not even satellite lasers can take down Tetsuo, who has begun a fatal physical transformation. He, uh… turns into a giant fetus, hen gets sucked into a psychic singularity. I really don’t know. Kaneda winds up being sucked inside and experiencing Tetsuo’s memories, until finally Akira and the espers collectively close the rift. The resulting carnage tears a hole over half the size of the entire dystopian city.

Akira is a very unusual movie, definitely not one that can be explained with ease. I mean, I think I did a pretty good overview of the plot, but the backstory presented all throughout is a little too intense to take in with one or two views. I’m serious. That said, it is also a landmark in the production of animated Japanese movies, its prestige matched only by its content quality. While it may be a little offensive at more than a few parts, it’s a very earnest movie with a consistent plot and quirky characters. Quirky meaning anything from damningly cheerful to blatantly homicidal. You’ll love it. I did.

Get your copy via whatever means you feel is the most convenient, watch it a few times while pondering just what the hell is going on, suddenly understand it, then go “OOOOOH!” That’s the plan. Enjoy.