Category Archives: Movie

New A-Team Movie in 2010!

There was recently a trailer released for the new A-Team movie coming out this year:

[flv:/blog/video/ateam.mp4 480 270]

While the movie looks like it might be good, I have a few concerns.

  • Mr. T is not in it
  • It looks like people actually get shot in the movie
  • Mr. T is not in it

My first concern is that since Mr. T is still huge and in charge these days, why not just have him play B.A. Baracus! I pity the fool who has to play Mr. T’s part while not actually being Mr. T. I bet he even has a last name with more than one character!

My second concern is that people will get shot in this movie. In the TV show, no one ever got shot. They were shot at, but no bullets ever entered anyone. Actually, I think there may have been an episode where a person was shot, but I don’t think it was ever fatal.

I hope that they at least make Mr. T (or the dude who’s playing him) afraid of flying. It looks like it from the scene in the plane in the trailer. It’s kind of hard to tell, but I bet he drank some drugged milk or something.

Oh, and Liam Neeson as Hannibal seems kind of wrong, but maybe he can pull it off.

Blade Runner – Blu Ray Edition Review

Blade Runner

I haven’t ever watched Blade Runner, and since I saw it on Blu-Ray at the library I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to catch up and earn some geek cred. The movie seems to have all the ingredients necessary for sci-fi cult success: Harrison Ford, matte painting backgrounds, robots, Harrison Ford. But something kinda went wrong. Spoiler alert from here on out!

Blade Runner takes place in a future where androids are kind of indistinguishable from normal humans. But they rebelled against us and now we want to kill them all. This makes them want to kill us. Man, things get complicated quickly. People who hunt down androids are called “Blade Runners.” Harrison Ford is a blade runner. There are some androids (actually they’re called replicants) that Harrison Ford needs to kill. This movie has a really simple plot.

Blade Runner is apparently supposed to be really good. The Blu-Ray version has like, five versions of the movie. Either this means that the movie was so good that it was worthy of having five versions, or it sucked so bad that they needed to fix it multiple times! I am thinking the latter.

The issue is that Harrison Ford’s character is supposed to be a badass blade runner who retired to get out of the game. But really, he’s just lousy cop with incredible luck. Blade Runner is like an exercise in how to perform Deus Ex Machina bailouts, one after another.

Example 1: Harrison Ford (his movie name is “Decker” but let’s just call him HF) is trying to trick one of the replicants in her dressing room. She figures out he’s a cop and starts choking him. She obviously has the upper hand. But then some girls walk into the dressing room so she splits and then somehow Harrison catches up to her and guns her down. Very sporting.

Example 2: One of the replicants sees Harrison killing replicant 1. He obviously has an advantage. He sneaks up on Harrison and starts kicking his ass. He’s also about to deliver a final blow and the other “good” replicant saves his life by shooting the bad guy in the head.

Example 3: Harrison lets the replicant catch him by surprise and she jumps on his head, twists it 180 degrees backwards. For some reason she lets him go so she can do some kind of backflip finishing move. She really should’ve just snapped his neck or something. Harrison has a chance to get up and shoots her in mid backflip. This also seems unsportsmanlike.

Example 4: The replicant boss guy kind of plays around with Harrison, breaking his fingers and chasing him around. But eventually gives up since he’s (the replicant) gonna die anyway. Harrison lives to see another day.

So really, Decker just lucked out every single time. It makes sense; how is a human supposed to beat a super-strong replicant? Decker’s only real skill is that he’s incredibly lucky. This sort of puts him in the same league as other HF characters like Han Solo (remember when he chases that stormtrooper into a room with a billion stormtroopers?) or Indiana Jones. But the movie portrays him as some kind of a Dirty Harry or Rambo-esque killing machine. He’s more like Mister Magoo or Maxwell Smart. But somehow I don’t think that connection was intended by the filmmaker.

Besides the whole plot thing, some critics apparently had problems with the pacing. I thought it was okay, except there are long stretches of Decker stuff, then long stretches of replicant team stuff. As if there were two separate plots and movies going on. I mean, it seemed like they showed two days’ worth of Decker action then two days’ worth of the other guys, but they happened around the same time span. So there’s some weirdness in continuity.

The plot also seems to only lightly address the heavy plot points. For example, the moral implications of giving life to these replicants and then limiting their lifespan. That’s in addition to basically making them illegal and then killing them. Instead the movie tends to antagonize them even though they’re really the victims in this story. It turns into a simple cat and mouse hunt rather than anything particularly meaningful.

One thing the filmmaker got right: The future sure has a lot of Asians in it! Japanese, Chinese, etc. I sure am glad we’re represented (though also sort of tokenized) in the future!

I really have no idea why this movie is considered a classic. Maybe I’m being too hard on it. It was, after all, released in ’82, before I was born. But plenty of sci-fi movies made before then stand the test of time. I feel as though Blade Runner is just a bit overrated. Just to give Philip K. Dick a chance, I grabbed “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” from the library. I think it may end up being a more thoughtful exercise.

Nacho Libre: Spam Magnet

Maybe I’m on some kind of “spam roll” right now. But after checking my spam bin in WordPress, I noticed that about 100% of my blogspam was directed towards an old post I made about Nacho Libre.

What makes the post a spam magnet, though? I didn’t really stick anything in there that would potentially make it a spam target for spammers, did I? Is it because I mentioned some lady that looks like Penelope Cruz (but isn’t)?

I closed the comments on the post. My apologies to people who wanted to make a legit comment on the post but couldn’t. Maybe you can just post your comment here instead. Oh, crap. What if this post becomes the new Nacho Libre spam magnet post!? I guess I’d have to close comments on this one and make a new one explaining it. Then that new one would become the next spam magnet, and I would have to continue the process ad infinitum. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

Update, 4-27-09:
I noticed this post is getting lots of spam now, so I’m closing comments. Geez, what is it with Nacho Libre and SPAM!?

After Life

After Life (also called “Wonderful Life” in Japanese) is a film about what happens when you die. I’ve been wanting to watch this movie recently because a few people close to me have passed away in the last year. I was originally introduced to this film a few years ago in Japanese class by a classmate who was a philosophy grad student. After Life has a somewhat positive view on the afterlife, so I thought it’d be nice to watch.

The film’s afterlife is actually really similar to the world as we know it. Seasons change, electricity goes out and people get cold when it snows. The difference is that new visitors to the afterlife have a week to choose their most precious (大切な!) memory to immortalize in film form. Apparently they’ll watch their memory and then go on to yet another afterlife where they keep only that memory with them.

The idea is both liberating and excruciating at the same time. You can forget all the bad things that happened in life and cling onto one great memory. But you also have to leave all of your life’s work and focus on the one most important moment of your life.

The film works in sort of a pseudo-documentary/narrative mode where the dead counselors help the newly departed choose their memories. What follows is a candid look at the lives of 10 or so people. Some won’t stop talking about their womanizing ways while others think it would be cool to choose Splash Mountain. Apparently a lot of high school girls pick Splash Mountain.

In the midst of all this, there’s also a plotline concerning the relationship between two of the counselors. It turns out the counselors are dead, too. They’re all people who weren’t able to choose a memory. There’s a love story of sorts going on between them which kind of begs the question: why doesn’t everyone just choose to stay in the limbo afterlife instead of making a movie memory? They could literally live forever. Maybe people living in the limbo eventually fall out of love or get bored and decide to end it? I could imagine a number of Hamlet-style soliloquies proposing “to choose or not to choose?”

One of the recently dead, a young punk, starts messing with the counselors. He asks if he can use a dream as his memory, or even just make stuff up. He’s sort of the voice of reason in the movie. He asks the questions that I’d ask and prys much more than the other deceased. While watching I realized that the actor was also Morita in Honey & Clover, another Japanese movie I recently watched. Apparently he’s also in Casshern!

After all of the dead people choose their memories, the counselors get to work making their memories into mini-movies. After Life works because of its absolute earnestness. It really seems like a true documentary where these people are choosing their ultimate fates. They seem completely genuine when they’re describing the happiest moments of their lives and genuinely happy to see those moments recreated on set with actors portraying them. It probably helps that the director did a lot of actual documentaries before working on this movie.

After Life is a great movie because it successfully suspends disbelief. For the 118 minutes of the film, I’m convinced that when you die, you make a movie about your life, watch it, and relive that memory forever. That alone is wonderful, given our uncertainty of the afterlife while we’re still living.

So yeah, that’s what I have to say about After Life. It’s quirky, funny, thoughtful and genuine. I really dig it.