No, I didn’t read the book. I know, shame on me. How else can I make the standard exclamation of “the book was better!” if I haven’t actually read it? Who really cares, though? I think this is the sort of thing that should have gone direct to screenplay anyhow. It is the sort of B-movie concept that I feel can’t truly be captured and exploited as literature. But then again, I could be wrong. Because I didn’t read the book. On the plus side, it does allow me to have a completely unbiased review of the film. That’s a good thing, I think.
The film is everything you think it is. As ridiculous as you may think it is in your mind, it is every bit of that and more. There is no subtlety to this movie in the slightest. Everything is hammered home in loud bombast and with the firmest tongue-in-cheek attitude. The only reason this film is able to function as well as it does is because it plays everything 100% straight. There is no *wink wink* to be had here. By doing so, the film becomes incredibly fun. Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter is melodramatic and dumb in ways that most people would struggle to fathom. This is a film in which a vampire throws a CGI horse at the titular character in the midst of a stampede. He literally grabs the horse by the hooves and chucks it at the man who freed the slaves. Reading that line should tell you everything you need to know about the tone of this movie. Whatever manner of true sincerity this film may ever hope to put on screen is trampled underfoot by scenes of horses being thrown at the president of the United States or someone power-sliding a horse drawn carriage into the manor of a slave plantation. In short, this film has the same depth of vision as a child playing with action figures in a sandbox.
Don’t think I’m slamming the movie though. This movie is my kind of stupid. The fact is that everyone involved sells the premise so hard that you can’t help but enjoy it. Benjamin Walker is an excellent Abraham Lincoln. I suspect he may have gotten the part because he looks so much like Liam Neeson, who was the frontrunner to play the president in Spielberg’s take before Daniel Day Lewis took over. Jimmi Simpson, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Marie Elizabeth Winstead, and Alan motherf##king Tudyk as Stephen Douglas all round out the cast and do a superb job of selling the insanity. I suspect that Cooper is going to break out as a big star pretty damned soon. If I’d had my druthers Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be a leading lady ten times over. She’s beautiful, confident, and even in a film like this she manages to sell us on her character with very little material to work with.
I know there are going to be many people who trash this movie, some without even seeing it. Yes some of the action scenes are overly muddled by the CGI as well as the editing. Yes you may feel a little guilty for how this film treats the subject of slavery. The fact of the matter is that this is not a great film, but as a pure piece of popcorn entertainment you really can’t ask for more. The difference between this film and many like it is this film’s ability to sell its own ludicrous nature. While the film is played completely straight you can tell the intent was for the audience to walk out with a smile on their face asking themselves what they just saw. This film does exactly that. Let’s just hope the producers don’t get too bold and try to hoist a sequel on us. That my friends, would be going too far.
John Carpenter is a filmmaker who I have a great deal of respect for. He knows how to work the system to his advantage to produce some truly classic movies. Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing, Escape from New York, They Live… the list of great films the man gave us is pretty impressive. Granted he’s also given us some less than stellar work as well, as is the case with any artist. One thing that I’ve noticed about Carpenter has been that his works attract and almost unnatural fascination from other artists looking to remake them. Rob Zombie did his take on Halloween, we got a less-than-inventive but still serviceable remake of Precinct 13, there was also The Fog with Tom Welling and rumors and rumblings of remakes for Escape from New York and They Live pop up on film blogs every other week.
With The Thing, we get what is essentially a remake as it hits a good number of the story beats from the 1982 original but also a film that is intended to be a prequel, focusing on the events that transpired at a Norwegian site that ties into the beginning of the original film with a crazed Norwegian hunting a dog from a helicopter. The marketing on this film is mostly to blame for how it will be received as most people didn’t really know going in what the movie was supposed to be, and the film seems to not know for sure either. The 2011 installment attempts to recreate the tension of the original but can’t seem to get a handle on it and so in places it attempts to go in the same direction that Cameron went with Aliens in ’86 by trading scares for adrenaline. There is a more action oriented pacing for a good deal of the film, where paranoia gives way to pandemonium and while it helps to differentiate this incarnation from the 1982 film it isn’t as overtly satisfying.
The cast does a good job with what they are presented with. Mary Elizabeth Winstead struggles to overcome the fact that she seems almost a little too young for the role but handles the emotional and physical parts of the character well. Joel Edgarton is equally effective, though that should come as no surprise to anyone who saw his work in Warrior earlier this year. The man is on his way to becoming a top talent if he can get a breakout role.
It’s not a bad film. In fact it’s pretty satisfying and works well as a lead-in to the original movie. The main issues are simply that it doesn’t have a consistent tone and the glaring shoddiness of some of the CGI. On this budget the creature effects could have looked a bit better and this is the most repeated criticism you will hear with the film no matter who you ask. The inventiveness of the creature effects is debatable, but the execution just isn’t all that clean.
There are worse ways to spend your time. Is it really any more of a shoddy cash grab than Paranormal Activity 3?
Seriously, you guys, I might have pee’d myself a little last night watching this movie. It was just the balls. I don’t think I have ever been so enamored with a comic book adaptation so long as I have lived. If Watchmen had made me feel half this tingly maybe it wouldn’t be an afterthought in most people’s memory. I was lucky enough to score VIP screening passes for Scott Pilgrim through a friend who used to work with me up at the store and it was all I could do to not hump her leg while weeping tears of gratitude but then I figured that not doing so would be the bigger sort of thank you, and restrained myself.
For those of you not keeping track at home, Scott Pilgrim is the film adaptation of the book series of the same name that may be the greatest Canadian manga ever concieved. It is the book that gave us such unforgettable panels as this:
Unfortunately that particular scene is not in the film. My soul weeps, but it’s okay, because a lot of the weirder/more hilarious stuff did make it into the film when I feared that it would be excised in the name of rational thought. But this film defies rational thought. It exists to make your brain turn into jello pudding and tell you to giggle like a little girl. It is the kind of movie that doesn’t get made often; the genre-hopping whirlwind of dubya-tee-eff crushed inbetween the dueling breadloafs of coming-of-age drama and romantic comedy to form a totally awesome sandwich of WIN!
Now, despite my gushing I have to say that the film has some flaws that will be more obvious to those who haven’t read the books, mainly that condensing the series down so heavily cuts out a lot of the character moments that made the books so damned amazing. We don’t get inside Scott or Ramona’s head in such a way that we ever really feel the true weight of their relationship or the relationships they left in the past. We just get that Scott is kind of a dork and Ramona is a hot chick with a lot of baggage and everything just sort of goes from there.
For those of us who have read the books, everybody is so damned perfect in their roles it’s not even funny. Kieran Culkin is downright amazing as Scott’s super-gay roomate Wallace Wells and Mark Webber is damned awesome as Stephen Stills aka “the Talent.” Oh, and this film does nothing to stifle my crush on Anna Kendrick, who I’ve totes had a thing for ever since I saw Up In The Air.
If you don’t go see this movie when it comes out, we can’t be friends. If you don’t like the movie, I’m going to kick your (insert cuddly animal friend here). That’s not a threat, that’s a promise. *glare*
So, I woke up this morning to find this new Scott Pilgrim trailer, and suffice it to say, I simply fucking squee’d. This new footage certainly helps to assuage my fears that Michael Cera can’t realistically pull off Scott’s demeanor, as that scene where he orders the package is just spot on. This may be my favorite movie of the year and it’s not even out yet. Dear god, this just looks aces.
According to Deadline, Megan Fox will not be returning for the next installment of the Transformers. I guess spending the last year badmouthing Michael Bay and starring in a series of box office flops made it real hard to find a reason to keep her around when you could find any number of equally attractive actresses who would love a chunk of that spotlight without giving the production team half of the grief.
In fact, this article will now simply be pictures of women who I would rather see running around in tight jeans and low cut tops while Robots make explosions in the background and everyone in the theater wonders what the living hell is going on.
Choice # 1 – Alison Brie
In her interview that accompanied the above interview, she talked about her college sex experiences with multiple partners and lady on lady mouth sucking. Which….yeah, let’s just say she’d be more than adequate a replacement for the faux-hypersexualized Fox, who could say the same shit and just come off as dirty, wheras Ms. Brie just seems like she knows what she’s doing. Like some sort of sex doctor.
Also…check out this gif from Community.
Yeah…you get the idea.
Choice # 2 – Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Also soon to be known as EVERYBODY’S secret crush after Scott Pilgrim hits theaters in August. I’ve had a thing for her since I saw her in Live Free or Die Hard playing Bruce Willis’ daughter. And then in that cheerleader outfit from Grindhouse.
Yeah, Quentin Tarantino f##king gets me.
CHOICE # 3 – A Giant Clump of Dirt
Still cleaner than Megan Fox, and judging by Jennifer’s Body and the trailer for Jonah Hex, probably more talented in the acting department as well. Though I’ve yet to see the dirt’s screen test, so I won’t make any definitive statements…