|Sketchley's Translations Main Index||Macross Portal|
|By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com)||Ver 1.5 2021.09.16|
In a word it is a fun, but ultimately inconsequential film. There is a moment at the start of the film where it hints that it'll be about something more—perhaps satirizing other movies based on old TV shows—but almost instantly, the film turns the action up to 11, and doesn't let off the gas for pretty much the rest of its run time. The plot is barely enough to string along the action scenes, as there are a couple of points where there's not even enough of that, and things just jump ahead.
The highlight of the film is the music (is it any surprise that the director is a former music video director?) Whatever your opinion on it, the film got me tapping my feet along to music that I don't like nor ordinarily listen to. That says something, doesn't it? Nevertheless, this film has most of the reasons why we go to the theatre: action, beautiful people living larger than life, and well choreographed sequences—ranging from fights to dance numbers. Turn off your critical thinking, sit back, and go!
It'd be easy to sum up this film as 'more of the same'. However, unlike the first film, Full Throttle isn't as clearly plotted, has scenes with wildly different pacing, and has a couple of illogical jumps where it's not clear how the characters wound up where they are at the end of the preceeding sequence. On the other hand, when the performers are cut loose from the wires, there is an intensity in the fight scenes that we haven't really seen in Hollywood movies since the 80's.
The film brings back the more memorable characters from the first film—while the Thin Man is underused, it's great fun learning his origins. Bearnie Mac, as Bosley, is a great addition, but his brand of comedy can't really compete with the rest of the film, and it makes Bill Murrey's departure from the series more obvious. The film's saving grace is the expressions of pure joy on the 3 stars—they had A LOT of fun making this film, and it shows.
The action in this movie literally starts from the very first scene, and—aside from a short interlude in the middle—doesn't let up until the very end. Pretty much everything takes place on heavily modified vehicles racing through sun blasted, dry and dusty desert wasteland. The movie doesn't even take its foot off the accelerator for dialogue, and what we slowly glean about the origins and motivations of the characters comes during one intense sequence after another.
Despite the film being set in cars and trucks racing through the desert either attacking or fending off attacks, the film is neither monotonous nor repetitive. Each vehicle, each driver, and each battle is unique, with subsequent stunts and sequences topping the preceding ones. Nevertheless, despite the limited dialogue, the film has a lot to say about a bunch of issues. Perhaps that should be: the film highlights a bunch of issues and shows a potential outcome of each, but leaves it up to the viewer to fill in the rest.
This is one of those rare films that sucks you into its reality, and its intensity keeps you glued to the screen for the next 2 hours. There is virtually no CG in the majority of the stunts and car action (I'd go so far as to say that I noticed it when they added CG debris in one or two spots!) If you haven't seen it yet, you are in for a real treat of an action movie that Roger Ebert would have dubbed a 'Bruised Forearm'!
This is a surprisingly engaging film. It has an excellent blend of interesting and well depicted characters, fast paced action, and many other hallmarks of Dir. Martin Campbell's films. Namely character growth and development, excellent visual design, and well defined villains and henchmen—the henchmen were all distinct enough that I always knew who I was looking at, and what their motivations are.
The intertwined revenge stories of the old and new Zorros provides a great motivation for the heroes, as well as putting them into deliciously conflicted situations as the film progresses. Most importantly, it helps keep the plot clear and unmuddled for the viewer. It also puts an interesting spin on the title of the movie—the mask being greater than any one man, and is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the movie is the villains—they are just the right blend of classic movie villain badness, and are the kind that you love to hate. An interesting dimension to them is that their social class (or lack their of) plays a role in their actions, as well as how they treat those around and under them. It's not exactly subtle, but it is easy to overlook. James Horner's music is also another highlight. The score adds quite a bit to the movie, without being intrusive or distracting.
Black Pearl is an interesting twist on the traditional pirate movie. Instead of pirates trying to find treasure, they are trying to return it to lift a curse. Instead of a scary brute gnashing his teeth, the anti-hero is arguably more drunk than sober, and either has the best luck, or is truly skilled and hides it all under a vernier of intoxication. One suspects that the truth is somewhere in the middle. The film is loaded with snappy dialogue and unexpected plot twists—even Jack's fellow characters muse on where his allegiances truly lie—and moves along at a fair clip. However, the sword fighting tends to get old fast, and the further into the film the less we need to see of it. That's not to say that there are a few unexpected surprises in the third act ("Gents, take a walk.") However, the film seems to have used up most of its creativity in the choreography of the very first sword fight between Jack and Will, and what follows is fairly stock in trade.
While we go to these films to see the good (Will) defeat the bad (Barbossa) and get the girl (Elizabeth), the highlight of the film is Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow. He is a heretofore original character, purportedly based on Keith Richards of all people. The character was so great, that it is one of only three to appear in all five Pirates of the Caribbean films (the others being Barbossa and Jack's First Mate Gibbs). In addition to Depp's over-the-top performance, the character remains an enigma throughout the film, with his shifting loyalties and apparently changing goals. In the end we can't help but cheer for this scoundrel who may—or may not—have his heart in the right place.
True Lies is a classic James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. It has all the things one wants in a James Cameron film—smooth action scenes, thrilling stunts, plenty of explosions, as well as great female characters that are either on par with or greater than their male costars. One of the highlights is how much characterization is imbued into each character, how well the actors fit their roles, and the character growth each one experiences.
However, the drawback is the central act of the film where the protagonist essentially kidnaps and interrogates his wife. While there is an echo of that later in the film—when the wife questions the protagonist while he is under the influence of a truth serum—the questions the film allows her to ask are no where near as intrusive and uncomfortable. In fact, while the film grills the wife about her marital fidelity, it completely ignores that the protagonist may have (and probably has) had to have relations with the opposite sex to complete his missions.
Giving the film the benefit of the doubt, it does try to delve into the complexity of a couple who has been married for long enough to have lost the spark in their relationship and are more-or-less cohabiting. In its own way, it brings up the awkwardness and uncomfortable feelings when a couple reaches that state. Nevertheless, part of the film's fun is seeing Arnold as a jealous husband, and in some ways it is a joy seeing him (and later his wife, too) give the 'other man' his comeuppance. Nevertheless, stay focused on the couple in their final dance number when the camera pulls away—it'll explain why the tango at the beginning of the film was filmed from the waist up!