This movie is Jennjamin Button.
That is all.
This movie is Jennjamin Button.
That is all.
Basically, they did.
We saw this movie a few weeks ago, but good luck trying to see it now. It’s a movie about a morally gray accountant whose special genius abilities (including some cold blooded killin’) are tied to his… autism. So basically this is a movie everyone will want to forget that they made. Ben Affleck is probably editing this off of his IMDB right now. An air plant will last longer than this movie will stay in theaters.
Please forget about this movie.
The movie opens with a scene where Ben Affleck (the titular ‘accountant’) is meeting with an elderly couple in his sad little tax prep office. It’s been a bad year and the couple might lose the house. Ben says a bunch of rude stuff and seems like he’s not paying attention, but then he gets a glimmer in his eye (an idea!) and starts walking his clients through some good old-fashioned tax fraud. I can tell by the strings in the score that this scene is supposed to show us that Ben is super genius or something. Except that the brilliant tax scheme he comes up with is…. “writing off a home office.”
Um, first of all everybody knows about that. It’s in an H&R Block Commercial. So it doesn’t really count as a super smart idea that only an accounting savant could come up with. Second of all, anyone who knows a teeny tiny bit about taxes knows that a home office is a major audit flag. Most accountants will tell you NOT to do. But okay, Ben saved the day with his super smarts. Let’s go with that.
So it turns out that the little tax prep business is a front for Ben’s real business, which is high level accountant work for big baddies like the mafia. He’s evaded capture for years by using fake identities provided by his secret partner in crime (a woman who we only hear over the phone).
So there’s Ben, and then there are the two detectives trailing him.
Actually they’re some sort of specialized investigators of tax stuff, but really who cares. This movie has a lot of complicated nonsensical stuff in it already. Let’s keep this basic: this is a cop movie plot, the characters are Nearing Retirement Cop (played by the guy from the the Farmers commercials) and Rookie Cop (played by an actress who’s been in a lot of Law and Orders). Oh, and there’s a weird blackmail plot between the two of them that’s too dumb to remember/recount.
Production note: This screenplay was written on a computer without a functioning delete key.
Ben’s plot is that he has a new job working for a Google-esque tech company. A young accountant (Anna Kendrick) has found a discrepancy in their books and they need a brilliant accounting consultant to untangle the fraud. Is it the CEO (John Lithgow, apparently taking a break from chicken commercials)? The CFO? Why is a Ben doing this job if he only works for criminals? How would he even get a reference if he’s always changing identities? Who knows? Who cares?
So Ben starts analyzing years of financial records of Not Google. We get lots of hilarious scenes that attempt to make accountancy seem cool. I was waiting for a computer-heavy scene like you get in hacker movies, but since financial and tax stuff in still paper-driven, it’s mostly Ben sitting in a conference room with folders and highlighters and a furrowed brow.
Apparently Ben’s work at Not Google has made him some enemies. A bunch of bad guys attack him and he kills them in an assassin-y way. The violence is weird and intense for a movie this dumb. Now you’re like, “Ohhhh, that’s why the Detectives are after him.” Then the bad guys come after Anna Kendrick and Ben Saves her. The game is on.
Mental Health Corner: We get periodic flashbacks to Ben’s troubled childhood and how growing up with autism Was Not Easy. I should note that Ben Affleck’s character is basically whatever they need him to be at a given time. He’s a sociopathic killer who lacks emotion when the script needs an anti-hero, and he’s a parody of an awkward nerd when they want his relationship with Anna Kendrick to have sexual tension.
They also have him beat himself with a stick sometimes (?) I don’t even know. They’re probably going to get letters for some of this stuff.
Summary: Why Is This Movie Bad:
The first half of this movie is silly and ridiculous. But the core badness is contained in the second half, which Mr. Max likened to aviation before the Wright Brothers.
How did it crash and burn so spectacularly?
1) The cop plot. On the surface, this is a totally respectable framing device. Rookie Cop and Nearing Retirement Cop are recognizable tropes. Yet something about it seemed really odd. It took me a few days after seeing the movie to realize that it’s that Ben Affleck NEVER appears in the same scene with the cops. Like, ever. I think we can all agree that even bad movies generally have the principal actors in at least a few scenes together. It makes me wonder: Did they decide to expand the cop plot after test audiences were all like, Ben Affleck is creepy in this movie? Maybe Ben didn’t want to come back for additional stuff, so they just filmed a bunch of cheap scenes in Canada or something? I don’t know, but it’s bizarre.
2) John Lithgow’s Dr. Evil Speech. Spoiler alert, John Lithgow ends up being the source of corruption at Not Google. He reveals his involvement with a campy “I did it!” monologue. Do people even do this in movies anymore? I thought this died with 1960s Bond movies.
3) “He Ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” So, Ben Affleck’s main bad guy adversary ends up being… his long-lost brother. I called this after the second flashback sequence because I have expert level insight into terrible trash writing courtesy of Lifetime movies. But… really?
And last but not least, we have 4) The Preposterous End Reveal which undoes the ENTIRE movie. In the last fifteen minutes we learn that 1) The detectives were NOT actually searching for the evil accountant — well, Rookie Cop was, but Nearing Retirement Cop was actually secretly working with him. 2) Ben Affleck is really a Robin Hood type who’s tattling on his bad guy clients to the cops. Apparently the cops looked the other way about him killing a bunch of people because… all the people he killed were bad? And 3) Ben Affleck used the money from his (actually noble) criminal enterprise to fund the autism program he briefly attended as a child. And the secret lady accomplice? His nonverbal childhood friend. I dunno guys. I just don’t know.
Mr. Max likes to remind me that I picked this seeing this movie over Arrival. I deny responsibility.
It’s your fault, Ben.
A while back. I dragged a group of friends and coworkers out to one of those retro movie nights at the local theater. They were showing Blade Runner, a celebrated sci-fi masterpiece that I’d never seen. A modern classic according to pretty much everyone.
It was gonna be great! And for about the first 5 minutes, with those wide expansive shots of a futuristic city and the retro synth score, it was. Then the plot started and I wanted to be out of there faster than a Beatles fan skips over ‘Yellow Submarine.’
I searched the Internet for ‘Blade Runner overrated’ and found no significant results. What?
I took to Twitter and was quickly rewarded. I can always count on Lena Webb:
But Twitter isn’t enough – there needs to exist a full-length article that breaks down the badness of this absurdly overrated movie. So, like the kind souls on Stack Overflow who add helpful things to the Internet for no reason other than pure altruism, I’m going to make the world wide web a better place with this:
1. It is not Logan’s Run.
10 minutes into Blade Runner, I was already confused. What’s this crap about replicants? Isn’t this the movie where they kill everybody before they turn 30? Wait – is it the one about memory implants?
Answer: Neither. Because both of those movies (Logan’s Run and Total Recall) are about actual things, and Blade Runner is about nothing. Okay, fine, I guess it’s about ‘replicants’ but we only know what those are from a one-paragraph title crawl. Mostly it’s about nothing.
Here’s the thing with sci-fi movies: the sci-fi piece is usually just a backdrop. It’s a way to present a dark mirror of our current world, or make a statement on how society might progress in the future. When you take away the spaceships and tricorders, that’s usually the point. When all you have are noir-esque visuals, there’s nothing meaningful or memorable about the movie.
Even if she’s pretty!
2. It will ruin your crush on Han Solo.
If you’re a lady of a certain age, you probably developed a fondness for Harrison Ford via the likable scoundrel Han Solo. Well get ready for Blade Runner to kill your crush dead because Harrison Ford is GROSS in this movie. But, you ask, “It’s Harrison Ford, the lovable carpenter! How is that possible?” I know. It’s hard to believe. But he’s a bad, bad dude.
Why? Well….it’s because…
3. The character was written by Michael Scott.
Remember that episode of The Office where they made a movie from Michael Scott’s terrible screenplay, Threat Level Midnight? And they had Jim play the part of the villain? And Instead of being a normal take-over-the-world type villain, they had him talking about weird dark shit like humping a corpse? The joke is that Michael Scott was too dense to know that necrophilia is, like, way over the line even for a villain. That’s how it is with Blade Runner. You can tell that the writers were going for a rough around the edges anti-hero. So… they had him smoke cigarettes…
And murder unarmed women in cold blood.
No, Michael Scott. Just no.
This leads me to my next point:
4. It has a problem with protagonists. And women.
So, given that Harrison Ford is AWFUL in this movie, who is the protagonist? Is there even one?
Some background: The basic plot is that Harrison Ford is a detective brought out of retirement to catch some on-the-run replicants. The replicants are like android slave type things that look human. Okay. So we’re watching the detective go about his gritty investigating, until he catches one of the replicants- a half naked, unarmed prostitute — and shoots her in the back AS SHE IS RUNNING AWAY.
This was the moment where I was 1000% sure the movie was going to completely shift: Ford would be revealed as the real villain and the innocent replicants would become our protagonists. A bait and switch — like how the dude in I am Legend was revealed to be the real bad guy at the end. So imagine my surprise when instead we stayed with Harrison Ford:
Crackerjack prostitute murderer.
I can’t even begin to described how deeply fucked this movie is about women. At the top of the list of gross things is the skin-crawly combination of violence against women and naked dead body ogling. At the bottom is the personality-free “love interest” character. In the middle is the super rapey scene where Ford traps said love interest in his apartment and force-kisses her.
Seriously, guys. I know the outfits are cool. I know the cinematography is striking. And who doesn’t love 80s synthesizers? But – come now – this movie is totally the worst.
5.It is actually quite boring.
Look, I have a lot of patience for pacing. I like plenty of slow, arty shit. But this movie CRAWLS.
As evidence, the ‘enhance’ scene:
This scene is over 2 minutes long. And everyone in the audience can spot the stupid thing in the photo that he’s ‘enhancing’ in the first 30 seconds. Why does he have to say ‘enhance’ like 100 times? Is it purely to make this scene take as long as humanly possible?
6. Underneath the glitz, it’s a bad Rutger Hauer movie.
In our post-film parking lot skull session, Mr. Max hit on the truth: Blade Runner is nothing but a dressed up Rutger Hauer movie. Hauer was in a whole bunch of garbage films throughout the 1980s, usually playing the same spooky bad guy in basically the same way. And this is no exception! He just does crazy eyes and hops around. And Daryl Hannah does gymnastics moves in a fight sequence. Does that sound like something that happens in an acclaimed sci-fi masterpiece? Or some straight to VHS trash?
You know the answer.
Film is dead. Okay, well maybe not dead. But it’s near death. Like a circa 2006 Blockbuster Video, the film industry is in the phase of downfall where it still technically exists but no one remembers that it’s there. Until the Academy Awards roll around and everyone’s like huh right, yeah. And then we all forget again.
My nostalgia for the golden age of mainstream cinema is probably what compelled us to go see Jupiter Ascending. And there is no more perfect analogy for the fall of the film industry than this movie! The once proud Wachowski’s — architects of the first Matrix movie (the others don’t exist to me) — have been reduced to making an extra long episode of Stargate:SG1. This, combined with the fact that Hollywood just made a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 means art is officially dead. But here’s the good news: movies are now so bad that they’ve circled back on themselves and become great again! You know, ironically.
The first thing you need to know about Jupiter Ascending is that it is a “splice” (to use the movie’s own goofy jargon for genetic hybrid) of every space, sci-fi, and fantasy movie you have ever seen — ESPECIALLY bad, recent ones.
This is actually a remarkable creative achievement. They’ve managed to make a single (somewhat cohesive) film just by combining elements from the more recent Star Wars movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Twilight, that bad Matt Damon movie with the thing orbiting over earth, that bad Tom Cruise movie with the clones, and the other bad Johnny Depp clone movie. Except everything is a little bit dumber. To give you a sci-fi analogy, if those other movies are Star Trek, this movie is Star Trek: Voyager (burn).
Some important plot details: Mila Kunis is a secret space princess. Channing Tatum has magic flying space boots. There’s throwaway dialogue about Channing Tatum being a wolf hybrid that reminded me a lot of the scene in Dark Shadows where the daughter says “I’m a werewolf, deal with it” and they don’t mention it again for the rest of the movie. For no reason, some of the aliens look like crocodiles. I could go on and on. The plot is like a never-ending clown car where every clown that comes out is a ridiculous idea.
The second thing you need to know about this movie is that you really should see it. This is not a depressing bad movie (e.g., Snowpiercer) — it’s dumb, entertaining, fun, harmless… did I mention how dumb it is? You will love it . Trust me: I was in the theater for The Wicker Man — probably the best bad movie since Troll 2 — and it was glorious. It was opening weekend so everyone went in expecting a spooky thriller. Within the first ten minutes, the audience course-corrected and began openly mocking the dialogue and laughing at facial expressions and music cues. For a brief moment, I imagined a future where mankind could work together in harmony. You do not want to miss an experience like that.
If you’re on the fence about forking over $15 to see this in theaters, please PLEASE check out The Mary Sue’s amazing and inspiring review of this wonderful, terrible movie.
Knowing that nobody would want to see this movie with me and might feel awkward coming up with an excuse, I, as a benevolent friend, headed to the theater solo. “Date night!” I declared enthusiastically to my parakeets, and stopped to consider that I was going to see a rom-dram Stephen Hawking biopic. Perfect.
There were no theater beers to be had at the venue, so I bought a giant brownie and some Earl Grey. I figured mainlining sugar and caffeine would keep me awake during the film, as Matthew McConaughey does not play Stephen Hawking (but wouldn’t THAT be something). No, the cast was basically a bunch of unknown British actors and before the opening credits stopped I had come to a beautiful realization: in addition to being yet another movie mashup, The Theory of Everything is also Lifetime movie. It’s like they tried to establish a unified theory of how bad movies are made. Some observations:
Most Lifetime movies feature a bunch of hunky guys for the leading ladies to fall for and reject, but ToE serves up a gaggle of awkward geniuses gallumphing around the well-manicured lawns of Cambridge University.
As someone who’s first crush was Spock, I’m okay with all of this. In addition to cluttering up chalkboards with Calculus, these physicists fraternize (read: clutter up napkins with Calculus) in dimly-lit pubs where they make winsome-yet-minimal eye contact with the occasional group of ladies standing in the corner. This is how Stephen ends up meeting his wife, and is basically exactly the same as the beginning of A Beautiful Mind.
The future Mrs. Hawking’s outgoing personality and nerd love make it an idyllic match, and awkward Stephen cuts loose. She gets him to dance which is, like, huge– it’s like the money shot of aspergerporn.
You gotta do you
The whole “leaving someone who needs you because you need to take care of yourself” Lifetime theme (The Dive from Clausen’s Pier) takes a twist in ToE. Typically Lifetime presents a strong woman who can’t tied be down to, say, her quadriplegic boyfriend. In ToE it’s fully-Lou Gheriged Stephen Hawking who decides to run off to America with his nurse, leaving his long-suffering wife with the billion children he managed to sire. Nice move, Dr. Asshole.
He takes old wife to meet the Queen, at least.
It’s the whole movie rewinding to the first time he met old wife. Derp. We have to see Hawking’s decline in reverse; the chalk he broke during a Lou Gherig’s-onset moment is repaired in an impossible reversal of entropy, etc. Then it’s over and they slap up some “where are they now” text. Classic Lifetime plot wormhole where tons of shit happens in the last 10 minutes– montages, speaking engagements, a big ceremony where the whole audience slowly starts standing and slow clapping-to-fervid applause. That definitely happened in Mr. Holland’s Opus at least once.
Bonus: Cumberbatch comparison
On my way out of the theater I remembered that Benedict Cumberbatch played Stephen Hawking in Hawking.
I’d never heard of the new guy who plays him in ToF (Eddie Redmayne) but he definitely wins the Hawking-Off.
Cumberbatch looks straight out of Hufflepuff; soft, naive, and generally lame. Redmayne has it nailed down. Case closed.
Also, don’t see this movie.
I’m going to be upfront here and disclose that I drank two pints of theater beer during this movie and although these were not potent drinks I may have blacked out for the last 20 minutes. It reminds me of the time I nibbled on a xanax before taking the GRE subject test in biochemistry and molecular biology. By the end I was just filling in random scantron bubbles and giving zero shits.
Clocking in at 3 hours– about as long as it takes one to complete the GRE subject test– Interstellar became as trying an ordeal for me as it was for Matthew McAstronaughey and the rest of the mission crew. What I’m trying to get at here is that it simply wasn’t very good– certainly not as gush-worthy as so many seem to think. It was an extended remix of Gravity, Contact, 2001, Apollo 13, Moon, and maybe even a little Powder and E.T. sprinkled in there too. The only thing that was able to hold my attention after a certain point was McConaughey’s complete and utter hotness. Like most people with a brain and two eyes, I have been reveling in the so-called McConaissance ever since “True Detective.” In Interstellar he’s both a rugged Carhart-wearing farmer AND a sexy astronaut– SPLOOSH.
Ahem. Anyway, if you want pith, I’ll give you a one-word review: Intersmellar. But, because I had to sit through 3 hours of it, I’m going to bloviate.
Everyone on Earth wants to pack up and head to another habitable planet because they are forced to reenact Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl,” which, as we know, is super boring. Old people are interviewed, black and white photographs are slowly zoomed in on– all that’s missing is a mournful violin whimpering out Ashokan Farewell.
We meet the family McConaughey (Cooper and his kids Murphy and Tom) and boy do they love Science. Mom is out of the picture for whatever reason, and Cooper takes the kids on irresponsible adventures like plowing through a cornfield in his pickup truck to fly the family drone around a quarry. Murphy, affectionately “Murph,” is a tomboy and very obviously Cooper’s favorite of the two kids.
Murph (very unscientifically) thinks that there is a ghost in her bedroom because books keep falling off her shelf. Cooper calls her out on her illogical thinking, but Murph has been taking careful Rainman-like notes documenting the patterns of which books fall. When she leaves her window open during a dust storm and sees some perfectly normal looking lines on the dusty floor she and dad make a giant conceptual leap that “it’s gravity!” I’m all “whuhh?” Wikipedia helps me not feel so dumb by describing this part of the plot thusly: they discover the “ghost” is an unknown intelligence sending coded messages using gravitational waves, leaving binary coordinates in the dust that direct them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine).
It’s like they wadded up a bunch of sci-fi and threw it at my face. It was jarring and felt unfair.
Michael Caine is in charge of Secret NASA and his most memorable (and irksome) character trait is that he quotes “Do not go gentle into that good night” FIVE TIMES throughout the movie. I guess we can add The Cider House Rules to the movie melange.
He’s also dying, like the old guy with cancer who funds the space travel machine in Contact. His daughter, Anne Hathaway (Amelia), is a biologist (a nice “soft science” for a pretty lady). Cooper makes a shitty remark about her looking too good to be a scientist and I hate McConaughey for about a second– until I see his glistening cheekbones and degrade him in my mind– he’s too pretty to be a scientist.
Toss in a couple sarcastic robots and some expendable crew members, and they’re ready to boldly go explore habitable planets. Murph is heartbroken and extremely pissed that dad is going to space and literally leaving her in the dust, and she has decoded some more book patterns into a message reading “stay.” He doesn’t. He gives her his watch. We’re supposed to cry now.
The all-star crew is whisked off to space towards some planets scattered around near a black hole that have been identified as potentially life supporting. I don’t know what these people were smoking when they decided this, because the first planet is just a planet-wide ocean with giant killer waves. Water only equals life when it’s not drowing you. Amelia tries to haul some data storage machine that’s floating around back into their spacecraft but is doing a real bad job so Expendable Crew Member (ECM) slogs out to try and help. Amelia makes it back to the craft, but the other guy does not. Then everyone is mean to Amelia because she sucked. And is a woman.
Cooper’s all pissed off because on this planet for every one hour spent on the surface, years pass on Earth. This is because it is too close to the black hole, and is yet another reason this planet sucks. He is concerned about Murph growing old without him (still couldn’t give two shits about whatever the son’s name is) and she’s indeed now 20-something years older. She’s followed in dad’s footsteps (but is still super pissed at him for leaving) and is now working with Michael Caine to solve the money equation that will let them harness gravity to launch humanity into space. But after Michael Caine wheezes out a few more do-not-go-gentles, he admits that he made everything up and there is no way to get everyone up into space. It’s a lot like grad school. He packed a bunch fertilized embryos from god knows who and figured we’d just begin anew. Murph is, like, WAY pissed and also assumes that dad knew this all along.
Up in space, they try for a second planet inhabited by Matt Damon– always a bad idea. Matt Damon is stationed on an ice planet– again NOT habitable; someone seriously needs to get fired– and lures the crew so he can try to get the fuck out of there. He’s gone crazy in the hostile and isolating environment and tries to kill Cooper when they arrive by smashing his helmet. Lots of explody stuff happens and we lose another ECM and Matt Damon. Amelia does something right for once and rescues Cooper, swooping him up like a Rescue Ranger.
Now we get into the hot and heavy screamy-fake-science-word-commands time, followed by wormhole visions (a la Contact). This is where I start to black out. Again, I defer to Wikipedia’s total WTF-inducing plot summary:
Nearly out of fuel, Cooper and Amelia plan to slingshot Endurance around Gargantua on a course toward [the third “habitable” planet]. [Snarky robots] detach into the black hole, sacrificing themselves to collect data on the singularity and to propel Amelia by dropping the ship’s mass. They emerge in an extra-dimensional “tesseract“, where time appears as a spatial dimension and portals show glimpses of Murphy’s childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper realizes the alien beings have constructed this space so he can communicate with Murphy and save humanity. Using gravitational waves, Cooper encodes [robot’s] data on the singularity into the adult Murphy’s watch, allowing her to solve Brand’s equation and evacuate Earth. Cooper awakens years later aboard a NASA space station and reunites with the now elderly Murphy, who has led humanity’s exodus. Murphy advises Cooper and [robot] to search for Amelia, who has begun preparations on [the third] planet.
The “slingshot” move has totally been used in another space movie, maybe Apollo 13 or Gravity. Using gravitational waves to encode the singularity onto a wristwatch has not been used in any other movies because it is stupid. Anyway, Anne Hathaway ends up stuck on the third planet, doomed to toil away raising the embryos in another kind of dystopian grad school scenario, while Cooper’s snug as a bug in a space station. I’m sure he’ll get around to finding her sometime.
And then Neil deGrasse Tyson says “for every hour you spent watching this movie, you aged 20 years!”
I’ve had 2 glasses of wine, Mr. Max is trying to synthesize a Halloween costume out of household items, and there are 3 loads of urgently-needed dirty laundry congealing in the basement. Despite these facts, I’m honoring my commitment to Lena Webb to post a brief write-up on The Purge 2:
Electric Boogaloo Anarchy. If that isn’t deep friendship, I dunno what is.
We (Me, Lena, and Mr. Max) watched this “movie” during a weekend getaway at my parent’s cabin in rural New York. The purpose of rural vacations is to do as little as possible, and pay-per-viewing a bad sequel to a bad movie I never saw (and don’t plan on ever seeing) embodies the best kind of lazy hedonism.
How was it? It was $6.00 well spent. Despite being a cheese-fest, The Purge 2 did not disappoint. The basic premise — continued from the first movie — is that the government allows one Murder Day per year where people can legally go open season on each other. Apparently this is supposed to make the world better or end poverty or something?
There’s a mom and daughter, who we call Not Rosario Dawson (AKA Rosario Dawson, but cheaper) and a… well, the daughter character wasn’t memorable enough to give a funny name.
Despite the whole murder-is-legal today thing, NRD and daughter don’t act very worried. As the sun sets, Mom is making a salad and I think the daughter is doing homework? I feel like I’d be, like, huddling or something. Or at least listening to The Smiths.
Then we meet this indie divorcing couple, who make NRD and daughter look super prepared… by going grocery shopping at DUSK (!) on All Murder’s Eve. We call the girl Etsy and the guy Gluten Allergy because you know why. They get hassled by some street hooligans who sabotage their car so they have to escape on foot.
You just HAD to go to Trader Joe’s.
Last but not least we meet our rough-around-the-edges hero: Sean Penntel.
He’s angry and broken, but he’s got a gun and a car so everybody hangs around him for protection. Then they lose the car for a reason I can’t remember and have to scamper around the city on foot avoiding roving bands of gangs and stuff. They go to NRD’s friend’s house but the people there are having affairs with each other and start legal murderin’ so they leave. (Mr. Max pointed out that they probably could’ve hid in a dumpster all night and been fine. But they don’t do that because MOVIE.)
Eventually they all get captured by some bounty hunters and auctioned off to rich socialites for, NOT JOKING, an indoor human hunt. The whole thing becomes super derivative of The Hunger Games. Then Sean Penntel fights back and some resistance group that was only mentioned incidentally comes and rescues them all, well except for Gluten Allergy who was killed for being too big of a wuss. Then Sean goes to finish his secret mission, which was to kill the drunk driver who killed his son. He decides not to do it because ETHICS and then a government guy comes to kill him because he’s too anti-purge. The credits roll over some heavy-handed images of American flags and stuff and it’s supposed to be deep and message-y.
And then we all went home.
“Wholly shit” is a bit harsh, but I wanted the word play. I think most “computer movies” are hilarious, and old ones are the best. War Games was made in 1983, thirteen years before SkiFree would blow my mind. The trailer was irresistible, so I went for it.
Things are looking “post-apocalyptic” (read: “dusty”) and now two men are in an air force base and it’s business as usual. Their business is extremely boring. Is that Leo from West Wing? YES!
They are decoding something with *laminated* code keys. The secretary must be super bored too.
“Rotate launch key to set” Their technical talk is boring to the max. And yet they are launching some giant missile and clicking all the switches… except ONE. They’re like fuck it, I don’t care, we’re going to DO this. Leo is sweating. His co-worker just started pointing a gun at his head because he’s not turning the LAUNCH KEY. WHY?
That might be the most exciting thing that happens. This is starting to smell like Internet M*A*S*H. There’s even a helicopter, and I wish I was hearing “Suicide is Painless” right now instead of these “edgy” trumpets.
Matthew Broderick is in this. Is he related to Betty Broderick? I’m just musing as the credits roll forward, boringly.
Big doors that are like 6 feet thick and sound an alarm when they’re open are a big part of this movie. 2 big door shots so far.
I thought this was supposed to be about an internet whiz kid? It’s just boring old people and big DOS screens.
It was only a test?! Everyone was pissing their panties, sir. They wanted to see if the people could actually turn the key to start a nuclear missile attack, and Leo totally failed. Hence the gun. One guy says he wants the president to make the call, but then COMPUTERS will do the rest. Specifically, the War Operation Plan Response, or, WOPR. It thinks about World War III constantly. It plays WAR GAMES (DRIIIIINK!). It has already fought World War III as a game! It estimates damage, counts the dead…. Basic DnD shit. We are arguing that men should be replaced by computers now. Obviously these real live men have problems with this. They’re going to float it by the Prez and see what he thinks. We cool?
Ah. NOW we meet boy wonder, playing Atari in an extremely 80’s arcade. Running to school, LATE, entering biology class where a bunch of catatonic kids are going over a test. Computer boy, David, is sassy as you please. Equally sassy classmate Ms. Jennifer Mack was talking and got busted. Now she has to answer a question about nitrogen fixation! “Why do nodules attach themselves to the root?” (I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works) She says “LOVE!” NO YOU TRAMP, IT’S “SYMBIOSIS.” Next, “who first suggested reproduction without sex?” David has an answer.: “YOUR WIFE?!” Daaaaamn.
David is now in the principal’s office for obvious reasons, life hacking by looking at post-it notes and remembering information. I’m guessing it will help him woo this sassy Ms. Mack. It’s after school and she’s picking him up on a moped type thing. She’s got the kind of nerd pants a girl has when she is very serious about being a nerd.
She’s going to his room, which contains shelves worth of antiquated hardware. “You’re really into computers, huh?” Uh oh, he’s hacking high school and changing grades! She got a D in Home Economics because she’s not a real lady because she’s a nerd! She doesn’t want him to change her grade because she has MORALS. She is super turned off and is leaving. EPIC FAIL.
Meanwhile, back at the airbase, Leo is shaking his head at some baffling machines.
Back at home with David and his family. He is looking at a brochure that speaks to him because it’s computery and there is Are You Afraid of the Dark music. All bad movies seem to have AYAOTD music! Dad (who was definitely in M*A*S*H) HATES the corn because it’s RAW. Mom likes it crispy. I agree with mom. David escaped the table and is pulling some fiendish shit on the phone, conning his way to some information regarding that brochure, and is HACKING.
Ms. Mack is back and seems to have decided she wants him to change her grade after all, in an attempt to win his computer dong. Maybe I was too harsh about the pants. The computer is dialing numbers with the last number going up by 1 each time. He’s mansplaining modems. He already CHANGED her grade! He gave her an A! Aw yeah girl. He’s trying to hack them to Paris? Making fake airplane reservations. Lame. She’s trying to show him her tits by leaning in with an unbuttoned blouse, but he is too computer retarded and cannot sense the nearby tits. She literally has half her blouse open. He just wants free games.
…and some of the free games are WAR GAMES (DRIIIINK!)
Now we are in a very technical looking place with a few nerd boys scattered about. Ms. Mack has to wait outside because the nerd boys can’t handle a GIRL. David is basically an 80’s computer version of Mark Cherry from Arrested Development. A nerd tells another nerd “remember how you told me to tell you if you’re acting rude or insensitively? You’re doing it right now.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, bitchez. Clearly I missed the whole point of this scene.
Back in his room, David is hacking without his shirt on and I am unokay with this. Bad “Airwolf” music. Baby Broderick chest. Everything is bad right now. There are no pictures available of how bad this is. I am alone with this badness; it is all mine.
Ms. Mack is a power runner. She comes to visit David and he is still shirtless. She’s sweaty in a vaguely alluring way, but seems to have given up on trying to tear David’s eyes away from that glowing screen. He is showing her that computers, by connecting wires to chess pieces (haha wtf), were able to LEARN. Dr. Falken, a clearly amazing wizard of a man, did this way back (10 whole years ago) in the 70’s, and Mack has extremely forward professor hots for him. He had a son and his password is… his son’s name! Now we are hacking like the dickens. “We’re in!” (a phrase that must be uttered at least once per computer movie). Falken’s intelligent computer is chatty and wants to play a game of chess, not war. But David wants to know about this “Global Thermonuclear War” game– chess later! “Fine” says computer.
They are playing WAR GAMES (DRIIIINK!) now and he’s on the side of the Russians. They want to blow up Las Vegas first, then they went straight for Seattle. Interesting priorities.
So, I rented this on Amazon. Using money. I don’t remember what happened, but I didn’t finish the movie within 24 hours and I just can’t justify paying another $3.99 to do so. I hope that the rest of War Games contains the following:
– Leo punching Dr. Falken (who clearly wizards his way into the situation somehow) in the face. Or, maybe more ideally, Leo punching a computer.
– San Francisco getting blown to smithereens, like it does in most action movies. In a computer action movie it would especially poignant and thought-provoking.
– At least 4 more big doors.
– So many bad Russian accents.
– Mack ending up with Dr. Falken’s son as her boyfriend, even if he’s just a password. She should end up dating a password.
– David ending up in COMPUTER JAIL for thermonucleating the world. And for shirtless hacking as a pre-pube.
Disclaimer: I know, I know. Cormac McCarthy has achieved sainthood in certain literary circles (i.e., Brooklyn whiskey bars). My only brush with the author occurred in 9th grade, when an English teacher had us read All The Pretty Horses. I remember hating it and also hating that she said it was assigned because it was a good way “to get boys interested in reading” (because boys HAVE TO like cowboy stories (?) and also OMG what about the mens?!?). Anyway, this review is limited to the film. I’m sure the books are great or whatever and I’ll get around to reading them eventually. So don’t email me all like, “OMG CORMAAC MCCARTHYYY PULITZER PRIZE SDFKJHSDFKJ”
Last week we watched The Road on Netflix. You might think a movie about environmental and societal collapse would be a little bit of a downer — but you’re wrong! Here’s five reasons we couldn’t take this “serious” movie seriously.
#1: Starvation Mostly Makes You Bitchy
The lead characters in The Road – a man and his son – are struggling to survive after an unnamed apocalyptic event wipes out society and, along with it, most of the food. They head south on foot, searching abandoned houses for canned goods along the way. You would think starvation would bring out some deep character development, but most of the time our lead characters just bitch at each other like a couple trying to make dinner plans after 8 o’clock. It reminded me of that series of snickers ads:
I think someone should turn The Road into a campy midnight movie phenomenon where the audience shows up dressed in dirty post-apocalyptic rags and throws Snickers bars at the screen.
#2: Charlize Theron: She’s Pretty and That’s It
I feel bad for Charlize Theron. She’s in like 3 scenes in the whole movie and she barely talks. And then she dies. Oh, and she’s in #3…
#3: Awkward Sex Scene Flashback
Throughout the movie, Viggo Mortensen experiences helpful-to-the-audience flashbacks of his cushy life before the collapse. One is a series of memories of his wife (mostly looking pretty and not talking), including this TOTALLY GROSS scene of him giving said wife a lady handjob during a classical music concert.
Gross. At least it’s dark and they’re in the back, though. People wouldn’t see them, right?
OH NO WAIT IT’S WELL LIT AND THERE’S A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SITTING RIGHT THERE.
#4: The Dad’s a Jerk
Near the end of the movie, Viggo Mortensen starts cracking under the pressure of protecting his son from roving bands of cannibals and thieves. This culminates in him completely overreacting when a fellow starving wanderer steals their food (you know, the food they rightfully stole from that person’s underground bunker). Dad steals back their food and makes the thief hand over everything — including the clothes on his back. Even the kid is all, WTH is up with you dad?
You’re not you when you’re hungry.
#5: The Happy Ending
Given that this is a movie about the end of the world as we know it, I was expecting a relatively grim ending. It’s not like you can just “resolve” societal collapse. Well, color me impressed because they totally went for a corny happy ending. After (spoiler alert!) Viggo Mortensen dies, the kid is approached by a group of scary, but apparently benevolent, fellow travelers. They offer to “adopt” him and tell him there are other children in their group (insta-siblings!). Just when the kid’s grin couldn’t get any wider, the scary/benevolent travelers reveal that they also have a dog. That they’re feeding with magical food they somehow have or something!
That’s right. They ended a movie about a cannibalistic dystopia with… “You get a puppy!”
Warning: I spoil plots without remorse.
I have a tendency to assume that science fiction movies will be smarter/more creative/more interesting than your usual big box explosion-fest. While that’s true in some cases (District 9 and uh…District 9?), a lot of what’s marketed as sci-fi is really just action schlock set against the backdrop of CGI space.
Gravity is a prime example. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who are tasked with some boring scientific mission involving the Hubble Telescope. Everything’s going fine until BLAMMO – some random ‘splosion disconnects them from their ship (and mission control) and they have to fend for themselves in the cruel darkness of space.
Fun fact: Being stranded in space is a recurring nightmare of mine, so we opted for the traditional showing and not the PTSD-inducing 3D version. Plus I’m old so I hate all that gimmicky crap.
Gravity reminded me a lot of the TV show ER — and not just because they had Clooney doing the whole ‘cavalier hero’ thing. It’s because ER episodes always used to involve a ton of consecutive crises – like, it wasn’t enough that the whole series was set in an emergency room, there had to be a fire on the floor, and a shooter taking hostages in the reception area, and a power outage… and then something would explode for no reason.
Gravity’s basically a combination of a bad late-season ER episode and one of those Ben Stiller movies where the protagonist can’t do anything right. The lost-in-space premise is legitimately scary, but they ruin it by throwing in too many climactic disasters. By the time you’ve witnessed 67 OMG LEVEL 11 emergencies where our hero makes mistake after mistake after mistake but STILL survives, the whole movie has lost all credibility. And it’s just not scary anymore.
Sci-fi thriller or Looney Tunes cartoon? There’s really no way of knowing…
For me, the most unforgivable moment happened at about the halfway mark. After Sandra Bullock narrowly escapes a cabin fire and succeeds in manually detaching a parachute from the escape module via improvised spacewalk, she finds out that the reentry capsule she needs to get to the other space station is out of gas. OUT OF GAS.
And then her parents walk in on her having sex. And mission control hears it all! Aaaaaah!
But enough about the plot (or lack thereof). Can we talk for a minute about the boy shorts? I think we need to.
Because I call bullshit.
A quick googling reveals just how unsexy ACTUAL astronaut underwear is:
Q. When astronauts go up into outer space, what do they wear under their spacesuits?
A. Astronauts wear special long underwear with small tubes sewn into the garments. Our suits hook into the Space Shuttle and water flows over our body to help keep us cool inside the suit. [cite]
(It could be worse. Those could have been “pee tubes.”)
Also, Mulder was doing the whole gratuitous tiny panty thing WAY before it was cool.