Mel’s movie madness

Over the holidays, Phil and I rented a few movies on cable.

Here’s what we saw, and what I thought of them 🙂

Pacific RimPacific Rim

Phil and I were looking forward to seeing this, not enough to pay to see it in the theatre, but looking forward nonetheless.

We both enjoyed it.

The movie had no pretensions. It knew what it was and played to those strengths. It was a great “live action” version of some of our favourite anime.

We also appreciated the “tips of the hat” to what’s gone before. Easter eggs are hidden throughout for the geek who has memorized some of the best lines from the science fiction hits of the 70’s and 80’s. Phil and I enjoy films full of homage, like Shawn of the Dead.

I put live action in quotes because I know there was a lot of CGI and green screen work, but the effect was impressive.

I agree with K.M. Weiland in her post series of months ago when she had seen the movie in the theatre: Mako’s character arc and journey were the most interesting. The wounded warrior and the old war horse were okay, but offered nothing new or riveting for the story.

How the three characters were tied together was interesting, however, and something to be remembered for future storytelling efforts of my own. Coincidences must be significant to the plot to transcend the basic technique.

Elysiumelysium-poster

Phil and I had both enjoyed District 9 and were again looking forward to seeing Elysium.

We both enjoyed it, but were a bit disappointed.

The protagonist is much more self-centred in this film than in District 9, to the point that he actually walks out on the woman he once loved, and still might, and her child, leaving them in dire circumstances.

Yes, he’s dying, but there’s no way to paint such douchebaggery with a heroic brush.

As a result, his sacrifice rings a little hollow in the end because even he knows he deserved it.

Also, the villain was a little one-dimensional. There was insufficient backstory to justify her stance in opposition to both her government and the earthbound poor and nothing to engage the viewer. In that sense, District 9 was much more satisfying.

The concept was intriguing, though. Lesson for writing: an intriguing concept isn’t enough.

kickass2Kick Ass 2

We thought the original Kick Ass was, well, kick ass, but we’d heard some less than positive things about the sequel and were uncertain about it.

It wasn’t bad, but the original movie ended with both Kick Ass and Hit Girl settling into a “normal” life, so discovering that Mindy was still obsessed with crime-fighting didn’t make sense.

For her storyline, if the writers had started off with her failed attempts to fit in with the popular girls and then introduced the Motherf@#&%r’s vendetta, it might have been more satisfying. If she honours her promise to Marcus from the outset and only breaks it when forced to, it would have been more consistent for her character.

Having her prowl the night streets and only agree to Marcus’s rules “for Daddy’s sake” doesn’t make sense. Big Daddy would have wanted Hit Girl to continue the crusade regardless. Her refusal to help Kick Ass when the Mother f@#&%r threatens him also doesn’t make sense.

The protagonist and the antagonist’s character arcs were less interesting. Kick Ass was simply interested in taking up the mantle again and fulfilling the promise of his name. This switched to a wish to survive the antagonist’s “more money than brains” approach.

The antagonist, though understandably seeking revenge, was such a tête soufflé that it was hard to take him seriously. His complete lack of awareness and resulting ineptitude (case in point, the “fertilizer bombs”) was irritating at best.

Lots of lessons here, most having to do with character consistency, dynamic storylines for all, and creating an antagonist that inspires fear rather than ridicule.

Star Trek: Into Darknessstmovie

I’d watched this movie on my way out to Vancouver in October, but was willing to sit through it again when Phil rented it.

We were skeptical about “rebooting” the franchise. Phil in particular, because the original Star Trek (the series, not the movies) was part of his childhood. He was pleasantly surprised by the story and the performances in the first movie, though he was distinctly uncomfortable with the Spock/Uhura romance. In his mind, Uhura belonged with Scottie.

Again, Into Darkness surprised. The reinvention of Khan and putting the whole series of events before the crew’s “five-year mission” was, well-done, overall.

I appreciate J.J. Abrams’ vision with respect to remaking the movies for a new generation. He definitely makes a good movie with a balance of action and character development.

In this last case, the lessons are all positive in nature.

Have you watched any movies recently from which you drew lessons about the art or craft of writing? Do you agree or disagree with my assessments of the above movies? Please share in the comments below.

Mel's Movie Madness

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