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And Finally, Roundup 5

In which I make hot, raunchy criticism up Rocky Balboa, The Prestige and Neil La Butes infamous remake of The Wicker Man. SPOILERS: It may be the actual worst of all films.

Rocky Balboa

In the fifth Rocky film, resurrecting the franchise after a lengthy break, the titular hero is retired from boxing, getting by remembered mostly for former glories, tempted back for one final shot at the big time. If this wasn't enough of an analogy for Stallones career already, languishing in the doldrums for years now, he buys a straggly hound called "Punchy" and takes him on the nostalgic training montages. Which are obviously scored by Bill Conti's fantastic, iconic theme music.

Structurally the films a bit of a mess, and is essentially one long first act, building to the climactic fight and a swift ending. But it's so full of heart, pride, grit, determination, and warmth that it really doesn't matter at all. This is a lyrical, inspirational story of working-class sentiment, mirroring the plot of the original Rocky. It sends the franchise out on a perfect note, and essentially ignores the shitty "let's get him to fight, er, Mister T!" later entries. I am so, so glad this film exists. When it finished I jumped up off my seat and said "Goddamnit! I am so proud to be a citizen of Philadelphia!" even though I live in Liverpool and sometimes Glasgow. 4/5.

The Wicker Man

I am so, so, so, so, so glad this film exists too. There may come a day when I have watched it more than the original Wicker Man, which is one of my favourite films. I know "so bad, it's good" is a cliche, but this film is genuinely a laugh riot. It's like watching Darkplace, the sheer naivety of anyone thinking this wouldn't turn out shit being incomprehensibly huge.

Nicolas Cage is a troubled cop, haunted by the death of a child in a car accident that he was completley and utterly powerless to prevent. She got HIT BY A LORRY, Nic. Get the fuck over it, you pansy. He recieves a letter from an old flame pleading for him to investigate the disappearance of her daughter in some backwater hippy commune in the middle of nowhere. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about his character, so you know what kind of logic we're dealing with here:

"Cage's character is not a virgin like the protagonist from the original film, as it was thought that the idea of an adult virgin in modern American society was too far-fetched. Instead, Cage's character has an allergy to bees, and has to deal with attacks by them."

Yes, yes. Let's make him allergic to BEES! And, er, let's SMASH HIS LEGS at the end. And let's make it a town of women, so he has to BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF LOADS OF WOMEN at the end. And er, he's the missing girls FATHER. The girl being about 10, I guess we must have somehow known long in advance that we'd need someone "linked by blood" to our stupid beehive society for a sacrifice sooner or later. Yes, that all sounds like it won't be shit at all. Oh, and, er, let's have LOADS OF DREAM SEQUENCES instead of the songs. And you know that bit in the original where the policeman opens the desk and finds the cockroach tied to a stake? I don't think anyone would understand that. Let's have CROW FLY OUT instead. Let's roll! C'mon guys! The Wicker Man! Everything that was good has been replaced with something astonishingly stupid. To think that a few years ago I suggested this story might not work if set in America, when they had so many other hilarious ways to ruin it. I suppose we're lucky it wasn't set on on the fucking sun. Oh, and there's a "new ending" with James "Fucking" Franco where the women set out to nab another drone. Although if you've not laughed so hard the screen isn't obscured by vomit by that point, I'll be surprised. Literally zero out of five for this. Here's a second opinion on the film from fiction character Oskar Matzerath, from Volker Schlondorffs 1979 materpiece, "Die Blechtrommel".

"Ich habe gedacht, dass dieser Film schrecklich war. Sogar schlimmer als eine Pferde führen, abgewaschen auf einem Strand, verdorben und halb gegessen und voll von Aalen. Es versagt nur, irgendeinen Sinn auf irgendeiner Höhe zu machen, was auch immer. Ich möchte Neil LaBute finden und möchte ihm schaden. Ich würde auf auf ihm im Bad mit einem taser und einem blowtorch schleichen. Was ein Clown!"*

* - I thought this film was dreadful. Even worse than a horses head, washed up on a beach, rotten and half eaten and full of eels. It just fails to make any sense on any level whatsoever. I'd like to find Neil LaBute and harm him. I would sneak up on him in the bath with a taser and a blowtorch. What a clown.

The Prestige

Quite possibly the best film of director Christopher Nolans career, which already includes the excellent Memento, Insomnia and Batman Begins. It stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival turn of the Century magicians, Scarlett Johannsen (you don't see her tits, but just try not humping the screen whenever she's on it) as the woman caught between them, and Michael Caine as (surprisingly enough) a genial and stoic mentor-figure. Oh, and David Bowie, as Nikolai Tesla. How frigging brilliant is that? I'm going to somehow edit him into all the cut scenes from Command & Conquer - Red Alert and put "Queen Bitch" in the soundtrack. And then play it all day for a month.

It's ace to see a period drama not bogged down in realism, and Tesla's bonkers inventions (electric SOIL, for example) are thrilling. The film is littered with beautiful, magical imagery, and unfurls in consistently unpredictable directions. Jackman impresses again, and together with The Fountain, this film should seriously alter the public perception of the man who plays Wolverine so well. His evident good taste bodes well for the Wolverine spin-off film I imagine, which he has a hand in producing.4.5/5.

Well, that's the lot for now. If I think of any more opinions, or can be arsed to watch more films, I'll return and empty my heavy opinion sacs into your eyes.

About this entry


>David Bowie, as Nikolai Tesla.


By Philip J Reed, VSc
February 19, 2007 @ 3:50 am

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David Bowie is a better actor than some people give him credit for. Take a look at his short but great role as Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ. He was great in The Prestige, and the movie was fantastic too.

By Austin Ross
February 19, 2007 @ 5:58 am

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Thos were exclamation points of joy. I'd actually like to see the film now, based solely on that casting decision.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
February 19, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

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I really have to get my shit together and see "The Prestige" at some point soon. And "Last King of Scotland" and all the other films I keep meaning to go and see and end up missing. Tsk.

By Zagrebo
February 19, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

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They should definitely do a sequel to Labyrinth. Do you know, Bowie was up for the role of Elrond in Lord of the Rings. It was already cheesy enough with Hugo Weaving doing his DRAMATIC! voice, so imagine how it would have been with Bowie!

By performingmonkey
February 21, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

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