Saturday, September 3, 2011

On DVD Impressions

As we near the latter quarter of the year, more and more films from early 2011 are being released on DVD. Let's take a  quick look at a few of those that I've caught in recent weeks.

 Sucker Punch:

What a joke of a film! Terrible from the onset. This is less a film than a bunch of incoherent music videos for some of the worst covers I've ever heard. I'm not even one who habitually hates on Zach Snyder. Personally, I enjoy his three previous live-action features (though I have reservations about all of them). The man has certainly developed a particular style, and one that is intensely concentrated in Sucker Punch, complete with the above-mentioned musical sequences, high-contrast, glossy imagery and stylized violence. This is something that needs to be culled ASAP if Snyder wants to avoid being lynched by rabid Superman fans. No more original ideas from this director, I say.

The Conspirator:

In this film, director Robert Redford is able to effectively visualize some important moments in history - most notably the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He is able to keep up with the Civil War aesthetic, which is impressive and engrossing throughout, which is sad considering that the story is not. Perhaps my liberal sensibilities are not as heightened as I once thought, but I fail to see the notion of grand injustice this film attempts to perpetuate. To me, Mary Surratt seems guilty of at least some form of conspiracy. Yes, the deck is stacked against her and the game is unfairly rigged to guarantee her conviction, but that doesn't make her innocent. To presume that she was entirely so, even from the biased depiction of history inherent in the film, seems naive. Some of the films performances were decent. McAvoy is on target as usual and even Kevin Kline gives an uncharacteristically stern (and solid) performance as Edwin Stanton, but Robin Wright's oft- lauded performance is rather annoying and coldly inhuman.


James Gunn's most recent feature didn't receive a ton of acclaim upon its release earlier this year and I get that, it's a pretty strange film. However, I found it to be darn-near fantastic. Not really being a big fan of Rainn Wilson, I was apprehensive about catching this flick, but I'm glad I did. I found that Super avoided major superhero/vigilante film cliches, while also embracing the genre.

Wilson's character isn't someone with your typical illusions of grandeur brought on by pop culture or the superhero fiction he attempts to emulate. In fact, he's delightfully ignorant of these things. His hallucinations are a gift from god - the delusions of old - a point that's driven home by the banner/mantra hung in his home "some of his children are chosen". The Crimson Bolt, (his innocuous superhero moniker) wavers momentarily in the faith that what he is doing is right, but returns to it with full fervor, even if the audience will not. He then can continue on to the goosebump-inducing final showdown with his nemesis, Kevin Bacon (who, while villainous, is vastly different from his First Class antagonist), where he spews forth the distinctions between good and evil as he sees them.

The film doesn't pull any punches; it's incredibly violent, but never in a way that allows you to take it for granted. The blows in the movie result in realistic injury, such as crushed bones and holes in the head. It's a dark film featuring some dark humor, (thankfully) never really encroaching on the quirkiness implied by the trailers and Ellen Page's involvement. Page is actually pretty okay in the film, if just a little over-the-top. I might have enjoyed a little exposition on how her character got to be a peculiar as she is. Michael Rooker and Nathan Fillion also appear in the film to its benefit.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams:

Alright, so this one isn't on DVD yet, but it's On Demand via Time Warner for those interested. The caves that are the subject of this film are not something that I came into the film knowing a whole lot about. So, as less ignorant people might imagine, I was blown away by what I saw. France's Chauvet Cave is an unbelievable marvel. When someone says "cave drawings", my mind produces images of crudely scrawled stick figures and animal icons, but the truth of it couldn't be any different. What Herzog captures are some of the most beautiful renderings ever put down; art to rival anything found in the same country's Louvre. I'm disappointed I wasn't able to see this in 3D as I believe it might have had an actual point here in bringing the cave to life. Apart from the beauty captured in this film, Herzog adds an extra dimension intellectually by bringing about legitimately thought-provoking notions about the human relation to art and its importance in defining who we are. 

No comments: