Tag Archives: action

2012 in Film: The Overrated | HuffPost Entertainment — Selections

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☞ Narrative plays a very important part in the selection of the best, or negatively in this case, the over-rated movies of the year. The other aspects of filmmaking, such as cinematography, editing, format etc. are subservient to narrative. These other aspects should contribute to the narrative, and they do not count in the overall assessment of the movie if the narrative falters.

The Dark Knight Rises: “The story is a complete mess, spending the first half of the picture setting up an arc only to send you back to square one and reset said arc.  The action is mostly uninspired and the plot feels like a cobbling of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Rocky III.  It’s not a case of nitpicking plot holes but rather that the movie lumbers for so much of its running time that you have time to pick the film apart.  The alleged political content is so arbitrary and of little consequence (it theoretically shows the underclass embracing terrorism against the upper class yet considers poverty a virtue) that it almost feels like exploitation.  I didn’t expect a film as good as The Dark Knight or Batman Begins.  I merely wanted a third Batman film superior to Batman Forever.”

Django Unchained: “Take away the fact that it’s a western about a slave that takes place during the height of American slavery, and this is actually a pretty generic revenge story.  The plot doesn’t so much twist as unfolded in a relatively expected fashion, right up to the theoretical finale that takes place a punishing 45 minutes before the film actually ends.”

Les misérables: “The acting is so good (especially by Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Eddie Redmayne), and the camera stays so close, that many of the songs become emotionally redundant.  The second and third acts fly by with barely a moment to establish time and place.  The show/film attempts to invest us in a love story that occurs in the blink of an eye, at the expense of the first act’s powerful social/political critique.  Thin characterization, inappropriate comic relief, and irksome plot holes that didn’t quite register on stage come to the forefront onscreen, not only hurting the film but marring the legacy of the show as well.”

Skyfall: “Sam Mendes borrows from the Chris Nolan school of intimate big-scale blockbusters even as the pieces don’t quite fit.  Most importantly, James Bond is forced to defend his relevance by repeatedly failing at every single major task handed to him, a deluge of incompetence that somehow amounts to a spiritual cleansing and a reaffirmation of 007’s worth in a post-9/11 world. The story doesn’t make sense and thus the film doesn’t quite work.”

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Brody on Zero Dark Thirty

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Still from Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty

“If “Zero Dark Thirty” is a roller-coaster ride, it’s one with blinkers, one that keeps its viewer facing forward and allows no glance away from the action. There’s no ideological context for bin Laden or those suspected of association with Al Qaeda; there’s also no doctrinal, or, for that matter, personal context for the protagonist. Did Maya not have sex for ten years? Did she have no family with whom she communicates, no friends with whom she discusses her work, her obsession with catching bin Laden, her ideas about life in general? What did she put on hold in her pursuit for bin Laden? It’s revealed, near the end of the movie, that she was recruited for the C.I.A. right out of high school; why was she recruited? Why did she accept? The character isn’t just a cipher but a filtered-out cipher, reduced to her function as the chief bin Laden hunter. This is the way that all of the movie’s characters are depicted, and the choice isn’t just a way of keeping the narrative energy juiced; it’s a fundamental matter of aesthetics, an element of an aesthetic ideology that, for all the primal pleasure afforded by the movie, leaves it less than an empty experience—turns it into a deceptive one.”

Read more: “The Deceptive Emptiness of Zero Dark Thirty

☞ Brody’s view that Zero Dark Thirty‘s aesthetics deceptively blocks its more complete ideological contexts from being realised, reminds one of one’s response to Bigelow’s earlier film, The Hurt Locker .