Mad Max: Fury Road (3D)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) by George Miller

madmax1

I had no intention of watching this movie. It interested me about as much as watching snails mate before someone dropped the f-word. And by f-word I mean feminist, a feminist Mad Max-movie.

madmax2But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s what it’s about:

Mad Max (Tom Hardy) lives in a post-apocalyptic world and every day’s a struggle. He’s captured and used as blood donor for the cancer-ridden Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a warrior for the great Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) escapes with his whole harem of breeders (among them Zoe Kravitz), Immortan Joe and his posse take to the Fury Road to get back his property. A mad battle over freedom and hope begins.

And suddenly Mad Max is not the most insane character on this odd-yssey. But I liked it. I know that I have at least watched one of the original Mad Max-movies (the third), I’m not sure about the others. I don’t remember it being so… wild, but then I only remember Tina Turner being in it, so.

I thought this was going to be just another one of those dick flicks, male heroism-laden, totally FURY ROADboring and interchangeable movies that we all have watched a million times. It was not, at least not on all these counts. But we should be real here, it’s not anything great or surprisingly innovative. It’s very good entertainment, you’ll not be bored. You’ll see stuff explode, and car chases, and disgustingly violent things happening, all the things you would expect from a movie like this. There’s some humor randomly added, a little love story that doesn’t take up too much time or space.

Is it a feminist film, though? I would agree with Charlize Theron that it is not, but for different reasons. Post-apocalyptic worlds usually mean that there’s need for offspring. Thus women are being held captive, forced to breed. Oftentimes they’re being raped, or make that all the time since their autonomy over their bodies is taken, period. And this is where Miller starts his tale and tries to right this wrong. This is surprising. The story follows a couple of women who try to escape their circumstances and get unexpected help from a stranger who is on his path to redemption.

madmax3While the focus on the women is surprising, there is no way Miller could make them equal to Max. He needed a female hero as well, and this is Imperator Furiosa. A woman who has gone through the same hardship as the girls she’s trying to save. And she is presented as an equal to Max. While his (mental) disability isn’t visible, hers is: she’s missing part of her left arm. But she’s a fighter and a no-nonsense hero. She does what is necessary to get the women to where she came from, to where she was taken from. As this is post-apocalyptic, this home away from male domination isn’t all it was supposed to be.

Furiosa is equal to Max, in this you could say it’s actually feminist. If you look at any other characters, though, you see that it does not extend beyond the heroes. The matriarchal clan Furiosa came from is down to a handful of women who resort to killing men because they can’t trust them. The women at the citadel are used as breeders or as providers of milk and care takers. And if you look at mere numbers, well, men everywhere, fighting, dying, rocking FURY ROADout to the sound of their own deaths. Male dominance is very much alive.

Still, some men complain over the female-centric plot, over the fact that Max is not the single hero. Check you priviledge, guys. If you don’t like it, watch one of the gazillion films that’s been made about your entitlement and shut the fuck up.

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Marvel’s The Avengers

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) by Joss Whedon

It’s funny but I don’t know why I watched this. I didn’t want to, I actually wasn’t the least bit tempted after I saw the trailer. And then I stood infront of the movie theater yesterday and I could have watched Spiderman or W./E. but instead I watched The Avengers. I am still a little astounded by this turn of events… but, well, so I watched it.

I guess I had forgotten that it was directed and written by Joss Whedon but when I saw that it had been done by Whedon I was a little bit peeved. I mean, Whedon gave us one of the best female action tv heroes of the nineties, then he tried to give us fabulous shows like Firefly and Dollhouse and for no apparent reason failed… they were very good shows. And now he gives us The Avengers and my surprise is that it is mostly a make-no-prisoners-dick-flick. Sure, he tried to integrate The Female into this film but with all the phallic imagery (the same as when I wrote about Thor) and male heroes and male villains it kinda got… c**k-blocked.

What we saw of female hero-ship was mostly Scarlett Johansson looking verrry goood (men got over-the-shoulder-shots, Scarlett got full-ass-shots) in catsuit. The same could be said about what little we saw of Gwyneth Paltrow (those cut-offs, dayam!). There was only one female character who seemed almost too much of a character and that was Agent Hill (Colbie Smulders). And this is probably the difference between Whedon and any other director – he actually thinks female characters are important. Other than that, well, Captain America (Chris Evans) seems a little creepy, I never liked Mark Ruffalo, though his Banner was okay, I guees. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is still the coolest superhero Marvel has (I love Stark, and I love Downey playing him), and the Loki-guy (Tom Hiddleston) is so hilarious… he’s such a bad villain, and I mean bad not in evil but just plain bad, almost trashy, because he so isn’t evil enough but still he gets the upper hand sometimes – and he’s so pretty.

Mainly this movie is a pissing contest – hell, that lengthy fight between Iron Man and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)! See me still rolling my eyes as I think about it. When it was over, I actually asked the characters to rezip their pants, because really… really…

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t detest it, it was entertainment. Some things were fun, others were totally geeky. But at the end of the day, this is not the kind of movie I want to watch anymore. And not because I think myself too old or too mature (or whatever) to geek out over an action movie – I am not above geekdom, at all – I am just not willing to pay 13 Euros to watch men being heroes and women being eyecandy. Given, the women in this film weren’t just eyecandy but they weren’t quite the heroes the men were… or maybe I just don’t get the whole world domination/war theme that sells us that there actually are heroes in something as pointless as war.

I know, I always promise myself: no more dick flicks, but then I end up seeing some anyways… I don’t know. I should have watched Madonna’s W./E...

Drive

Drive (2011) by Nicolas Winding Refn

I sometimes wonder if I know anything about movies at all. I know I am different in my observations of movies a lot of time, so maybe writing reviews is not really something I should do because 89% of you people out there who read this will probably be of a different opinion about a movie… it’s possible. Well, I like doing this, I like putting my opinion out there maybe especially because it is different from so many others. And having now looked up “Drive” on imdb.com and noticing the splendor of the “Best Director (Cannes)” emblem on the poster, I know that many of you will definately not agree with me. But that’s alright.

So, I went to another sneak preview last week and they showed “Drive.” The movie is about a stuntdriver/mechanic  (Ryan Goling) who at night earns his money as get-away driver. He falls for his beautiful neighbor but unfortunately she has a husband (and a son which is not really a problem, just mentioning it so you know) who is just coming out of jail as our hero tries to get cozy with the missus. Because he is a good guy and tries to be helpful he ends up getting into a lot of trouble when the husband is blackmailed into another heist.

Things get ugly and our hero barely survives – end of story. Well, I wish it would have lasted only the two minutes it took me to retell it… because then I would not have sat through those 100 minutes bored out of my senses. As you should know about me by now, I am generally a little impatient with stories about male heroes. It’s nothing personal, there are just so many of them out there and they are all so similar and taking themselves for so important – well, not to me. But judging by the reactions of the rest of the audience, I wasn’t the only one who was bored.

The title of the movie sure does indicate a fast movie – cars chasing around the city and all that stuff that men love so much, well, there was a little of that but mostly it was about the driver (he doesn’t have a name, I looked it up) looking longingly at Carey Mulligan’s character and trying to keep up with her questions. And I could never tell if Gosling was either as bored as I was or trying to portrait a guy who has fallen on his head too much. That was my impression – although the poster tells me that “Some heroes are real” – which I guess should indicate that this is supposed to be a portrait of a real hero… Joe Average kinda-guy that saves the girl he cannot have but still loves.

Well, needless to say, he wasn’t that to me. And he wasn’t that to a lot of other people in the audience. Maybe this is too American a subject for us to relate – although there rarely is one too American for Germans, we are that Americanized – but maybe the movie is just plain bad, idiotic, boooooring (there ought to be more “o”s in there but I don’t want to bore you by putting all of them that I feel adequate in here), annoying, and stupid. That’s what it felt like for me. Half an hour in I wished I could fall asleep during movies but unfortunately I cannot.

Make no mistake, this is the worst movie I ever watched at the movies. Van Helsing has filled that spot until last week, Van Helsing! It is just a shame about the actors. I mean, how can you not love Carey Mulligan? The cast (I would say except Ryan Gosling) was actually quite good… but WTF?!

Maybe Albert Brooks made a meta-comment when he said that the films his character used to make were considered European… I don’t like European films much, they are too art-sy for me. And maybe this movie is just too sophisticated for me to understand, everything’s possible. But honestly, I don’t think so.

Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) by Jon Favreau

Well, if you know me a little you might guess why I watched this movie. Right, I watched it for Olivia Wilde. Also, because I think it is a great idea. Some people might think that this is a genre clash that cannot go well but think about this: why should our time (a post E.T.-time, if you want) be the only time that aliens visited. So, maybe there have been ufo sightings back in the days – people just may not have thought they were aliens… I don’t know what they thought they were seeing, maybe they thought they were just incredibly drunk, who knows… where was I, yeah, I liked the idea from that standpoint.

And the movie delivered on it: we had cowboys and we had aliens and they fought each other in an epic battle. I love westerns. I like the premise of good versus evil when you can tell the evil just by the clothes it wears. But this is another ball game and the hero may not have been the best choice of hero but then… in a hard world a good hero is hard to find. And I really like Daniel Craig… so, yeah, he is always a kind of unlikely hero. And he surely can pull off that chaps-look.

The problem with a genre that is so overdone as westerns, is the many stereotypes it serves. I don’t know what was with the Natives/First Nation aka Indians but they have been portrayed less stereotypical warpainty and battlecryey… this was a little disappointing but probably inevitable with this being made from a comic/graphic novel/or whatever the pc for this one is. I can look past that and say, yes, it was a good movie. It has its fun parts, it has its horror, yak, ugly parts and it got some strange no-I-don’t-get-it parts, too. So, in all it is watchable.

But this is me talking, so, you already know that there is something else coming. The part where I say: no, sorry, but that was not okay. And most of the time this has to do with the depiction of women in movies. And yes, this part is coming. It is not too bad in this movie. I was just disappointed, is all. If you look at the poster left, there are three heroes on it, the movie only delivered on two, unfortunately. If you live in my head and you see a poster like that, you already make up the story in your head and it does not register in my head why Olivia Wilde should be less of a hero than Daniel Craig or Harrison Ford (I actually thought Ford was miscast, but that’s another story). In my head she is not just Craig’s love interest, she holds her own with a gun. Why couldn’t she? I know what you’re thinking: I am being too critical, too feminist, why don’t I just shut up? I cannot. This annoyed the heck out of me. Because the whole film worked on the premise of what that guy said when the troups started to fight: we already have a kid and a dog, why not take a woman, too?

Y’know, to hell with the machismo of the whole thing. Just once, I would like Hollywood to measure up to my standards. They have done that in the past, there are female action heroes out there (Ripley, Sarah Connor) but it’s been a while since we have seen a female action hero that was a hero not despite being a woman but just because somebody had to do the job and she was there. We are too stuck on gender these days and we shouldn’t be. And Olivia Wilde could pull it off, too…

Okay, I will stop. I know no one’s listening. I liked the film although it was sometimes too heavy on the machism and on stereotypes. But I guess that’s what you get when comic book meets western meets evil aliens… and I will just wait patiently for the next female action hero. She’s due.

Star Trek – on DVD

Star Trek (2009) by J.J. Abrams

I am just watching “Star Trek” on dvd (as in right now). This one:

Here’s a few thoughts: George “Pretty Boy” Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) was so cute, they should have made him the baby. I mean, which straight woman would not want to hold him and cuddle him, and blow cutesy nicknames into his ear?

He is way cuter than the little boy who highjacked that car and drove it over the canyon, that was way over the top and I don’t know… the boy does not have a real James T. Kirk feel to it. Maybe it is just me, but I remember a little of the original series and though I mainly like Shatner now as the deliberately off-puting in a wanna-be macho kindaway, but still teddy-beary Danny Crane I think, that the two characters were not that far apart from each other… the too blond boy did not have that feel and what is it with men and their cars, anyway?

And that Vulcan day-care facility… that’s how I imagine a good kindergarten! It’s perfekt. I always loved Spock, he’s got just the right amount of drama in him to be gay.

And then the trouble begins… They have Kirk (Chris Pine) pick up Ohura in a bar? Really? You think that they could have come up with something better than heteronormative standards of our life. For the future, I would have liked something like: “Captain Kirk this is Communication Officer Ohura. She is not only the most qualified person for this job she is obviously even more qualified to do your job…” Something like that?

Nevertheless, I love Ohura (Zoe Saldana)…

… then again, I always loved Ohura (Nichelle Nichols):

Of course, if I keep up with this minutely rant of emotions about the movie to share I will probably not get through it today – not that I have to. Hmmm… Oh, did I mention that seeing Kirk being beaten into pulp was kinda satisfying? That pick up line was just too cheap for a classy woman like Ohura, friend.

Okay, did y’all have a Top Gun-flashback with Kirk on that spacebike he rides? I did, and did he actually DUI? Anywho, I wonder about one thing: why does a hero who looks like a hero also has to be an asshole? I know guys who look like ken dolls and they are not complete doushbags, so why does every American hero (and I mean this in the academic realm of Americanism and hero-ship) have to pull a Wyatt F. Earp when entering the scene? I mean, his name is James T. Kirk, we already know he is the hero. He has proven it for years back in the sixties. Don’t be such a stereotype, Tiberius! And I wonder if maybe he isn’t too pretty…

I am always happy to see familiar faces and, of course, I already knew that Karl Urban was going to be Bones (he may not be a looker like Emily Deschanel but he sure is a welcome sight). Who Urban? Him…

Didn’t think you would get away without the Xena-reference, did you? Nope, not on my watch. He played not only Cupid, but three other characters on Xena: Warrior Princess: Mael, Julius Caesar and some Barbarian and I think he’s a great actor. And then he is a Kiwi, which makes him already the coolest guy on the set.

Who designed those ugly cadett uniforms? Urgh.

Y’know, I watch Navy CIS sometimes, when I am really bored and there is absolutely nothing else on (as in each and every Sunday evening) and there is this one character that gets on my nerves so much if I were the other members of Gibbs’ team I would have shot him ten times over every time he opens his mouth (y’all know who I mean: Tony). Kirk is just about as annoying and incompetent as that dude, and I am wondering – after 35 minutes and 37 seconds of this movie – why am I doing this to myself? Is it just nostalgia? Must be…

It’s the Enterprise, all shiny and new… whoa!

Yeah, happy now. I have a question, though (yeah another, no, I can never shut up when watching a movie, I keep talking to myself inside my head and since you are here now, you have to endure it as I always have): why does the new starfleet vessel only have newbies on board? I mean, I know, why, so that everybody we remember from the original series is there and we can cherish the memory even if the actors we see are so not the people we remember they still bear their names and a little of their attitude. But if we were to imagine that an Enterprise existed and it was going on its first mission to safe Vulcan, wouldn’t the world be happier to know, there are actually people on board of that gazillion dollar thing that knew what they were doing and did not have to be told everything by Spock (Zachary Quinto)? Just a thought…

Now that was it with new and shiny, Sulu (John Cho) made a dent in it… see what I mean?

And we have a winner! You remember red shirts? Well, this one is wearing a red spacesuit (kirk wears a black one and Sulu a golden one), and a cute Irish accent. The ethnic implication put aside, I think we should tell him that he  was doomed the moment he put on that red suit and went on a mission with two of the lead characters…

As Chekov (Anton Yelchin) put it: “Olsen is gone, sir.” Wearing red is not for pussys…

What drops faster: a feather or a hoof? Both drop at the same speed (at least in a vacuum or in a physics classroom). Who drops faster: Sulu or Kirk? Obviously, Kirk does. I mean this was improbable when James Bond did it (back in the days when it was Pierce Brosnan) and it still is not more likely just because Kirk does it. I’m not buying and I do know next to nothing about physics.

Now, do you want to talk about the condition of starfleet parachutes? No, me either. But I guess you don’t need a parachute if you got Chekov.

Okay, I won’t discuss the fact that Spock’s people live inside a rock (or maybe that is their idea of a church and unlogically they don’t fear that huge stone figures could fall onto their heads). But I haven’t said anything about Spock’s mother yet or rather the actress who plays her and that was negligent of me: Winona Ryder. I like her, I’ve always liked her, I will probably always like her. She is so talented and she sometimes plays these wonderfully geeky roles that make me believe that she is a science fiction fan and that is awesome, dude!

Damn it, we just lost the star of the movie. What are we gonna do now?! That’s the look on the other actors’ faces anyhow.

So Vulcan is dead and one may wonder about the logic that is in preserving the elders (who obviously are not able to have children) and let the other six billion vulcans die… Spock says in a log-entry that about 10.000 have survived, though. Hopefully they are more fertile than the elders.

Hmmm, and then something strage happens: Ohura is kissing Spock… No, give yourself a minute to let that sink in. I have to as well. Hmmm… It’s weird but kinda sexy, I guess. I’m just imagining Leonard Nemoy and Nichelle Nichols doing it. In fact, it’s hilarious. Well done, moviemakers! I couldn’t find a picture of it, unfortunately, and this computer won’t let me make screencaps so you will have to live without a visual. But I now, for the first time, have the feeling that it’s worth watching for it’s own sake.

So now we get the story behind all that’s been going on and I just realize that I haven’t told you anything about the plot. Shame on me. Well, Romulus was obviously destroyed in the future and a Romulanian (is that the right name for his people) lost his pregnant wife while starfleet did nothing to help – especially Spock. So he killed the wrong Kirk first, then he destroyed Vulcan and now he wants to destroy all Starfleet planets starting with Earth. Now that’s what I would call revenge… Maybe he is kinda overachieving… I don’t know.

And then they go all Back to the Future on us. Not that I don’t understand: Nero (the bad guy, Eric Bana) has travelled back in time to take revenge and destroyed the ship of Kirk’s daddy and thereby he changed the time continuum and created an alternate reality… so much for the techno babble but I like that everybody puts their five cents of wisdom in the pot.

(I don’t know who the guy in the red shirt is but just imagine him in blue and having pointy ears and you have Spock. Okay, sorry, that is Scotty [Simon Pegg]…)

Hahahahahahahahahahhahah…. oh god, Spock actually did with Kirk what we dreamed Janeway would do with all the incompetend men on her ship: open a door and throw him out. Hahahahahah… that is soooo good! Man, I’m gonna watch this again, it’s hilarious!!! I hope you’ve got a working compass, Kirk…

Even without a compass he finds: Spock (Leonard Nemoy). Okay, it’s getting a little weird. But keep on, I’m intrigued now. Though… coincidence, really people? And it’s Romulan, I am so sorry.

Kirk just asked if he is supposed to emotionally compromise Spock. I wonder how he would have accomplished to do that. Hello, subtext, you seem to be alive and well. Classy, that one.

So then Spock (the younger) and Kirk have a lovers quarrel and Spock almost kills Kirk but for his father. Or in other words, we are heading for the showdown now that Kirk will be instated as Captain. Things seem to work out. The story really is not that innovative and I haven’t even seen every Star Trek movie.

There’s a strange feeling that I have that they put in Ohura as Spock’s love interest so that the subtext would not emerge full force… that’s a little childish, don’t you think? I mean, Kirk and Spock are meant to be. They even met – as unlikable as that seems – on a foreign planet Kirk was just abandoned at while Spock (the elder) was put there to witness the destruction of Vulcan. They are, yes, soulmates (Melissa Etheridge’s I’ve loved you before goes well with the concept, you should play it now).

I guess we have to practice beaming a lot, people.

Scott almost destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge. That is so not cool, moviemakers. DON’T DO THAT!

Oh man, and now we have Kirk cowboy. Do we really need every single hero genre in this one, or is it just that the phasers are kind of cutesy and the Romulan weapon looks like a colt? Are we down to comparing equipment again? Sigh.

Kabooom, Kaboom, Kaboom… and Kirk still almost drove his ship into a black whole… nice to see that he is still just a pretty face.

And because he broke everything and every rule and some of them twice he is made captain. I guess, logic is a foreign concept outside Vulcan. Whatever…

Well, this was it, folks. It was strange, it was some fun, we laughed, we did not cry but still… if we are asked to watch it again, we will politely decline.

The Expendables – Man, that was gay!

The Expendables (2010) by Sylvester Stallone

I was prepared to watch the stupidest movie ever – and though it is not quite that it wasn’t that far from it either. So, you might ask why I would even watch a movie which I expect to be bad… I asked myself the same question from the movie-theater to the hostel. I don’t know, maybe I am masochistic?

But do you remember when you promised yourself never to eat at McDonald’s again and how long you stuck to it. Well, I am now promising myself never to watch a dick flick again. Let’s see how long it takes me to stick to it.

Now, it was what you would expect it to be. We have Stallone and his gang as mercenaries who do everything and anything for money until they come across something unsoluable and agree not to do it – ’cause it would probably kill the lot of them. But the head honcho (Stallone) gets a conscience-call and wants to save the girl and his friends all help him and they do it and none of them gets killed… though a lot of stuff gets broken, and blown up, and shot, and destroyed…. mainly the only things standing are the heroes and the girl.

Another thing that was to be expected with so much machismo strutting about was plenty of suppressed homoeroticism – only, it wasn’t that suppressed. There were plenty of seemingly inside jokes that they almost lined up for a meta narrative – and am I the only one who recognized Statham’s comment about Sarah not being Stallone’s type as an outing? Cute, really cute.

On the whole the movie wasn’t too bad… for a dick flick, anyways. I even got new respect for Mickey Rourke who really pulled all registers in a scene that without any acting skills would have to have been flushed down the toilet because of the sappy writing. I wrote in the blog about Iron Man 2 how saddened I am about actors/actresses doing plastic surgery… I think I got kinda zen about it since then. It’s their faces after all, they decide, it’s none of my business if they like the result. That goes for men and women alike…

With all the “elderly” action heroes starring in this movie, did you miss a face? I did. Jean-Claude Van Demme. Of course, if he would have been in I wouldn’t have watched (I really hated him during… when did he make movies, the 90s?) but still… he kind of belonged there somehow. Just a thought… oh, and Dolph Lundgren looked so great, must be those scandinavic genes…