This nice part about being a freelancer is the surfeit of free time you have now and again. Oh, there are days when you can’t even begin to figure out where to get started with your tons of work, but there are also days when you largely have nothing much to do. It is during these days when you can catch up with your reading, or maybe see all the movies you’ve been missing.
Over the past few days I’ve had some time to catch up on some new movies. I already wrote a short review of The Fantastic Four. I further had a chance to see a couple more, and I’d like to also give short reviews of them here.
First off, the new Attack on Titan movie. It’s still to open in the States, and is still a purely Asian release at this point.
It’s a completely Japanese production, which is only appropriate since it’s based on manga and anime made in Japan. The copy I got is in its native Nippongo and is subtitled in English, which admittedly is an irritating distraction from the action. It’s a big-budget spectacle, and is a big deal for its many fans around the world. If you’re not one of them, the movie will be a bit confusing, but let’s see if I can summarize the plot for you:
Attack on Titan‘s a post-apocalyptic scenario where the world is threatened by so-called Titans, which are humongous humanoid creatures which feast on people. They are monstrous, naked savages who tower fifty feet or more above normal humans, and don’t have reproductive organs but somehow manage to propagate. The remaining people have constructed three humongous concentric walls around their community to protect themselves from the Titans. They have lived this way for over a hundred years, and have set up a vigilant volunteer force to watch over the walls.
Over time no attacks have occurred, which has lulled the folk into complacency, even leading some to question the actual existence of the Titans and the foolishness of protecting themselves against a non-existing menace. Then one day a big (even for them) Titan attacks and busts a big hole in the first fence, and a swarm of lesser, but still massive, Titans enter and wreak havoc. They make a right fine mess of the community and eat most of them up, while the surviving humans retreat to the confines of the second wall. Later, a ragtag force ventures out to close the gap in the first wall and eliminate the Titans still inside.
And the story goes on from there.
The movie is pretty graphic in its depiction of the violence, and I’m hard pressed to think of another movie that’s any worse. In fact, I think the producers have made it a point to make a big deal of the carnage, and leave the film to coast on it at that. There’s hardly any character development, and moreover the film takes liberties with the manga and the anime more than is warranted, I think. If you’re watching without any previous experience with the series, I think you might find it a bit confusing at first, but enjoy the movie a bit more, not like all these kotaku screaming bloody hell at all the movie’s meddling.
While the movie undoubtedly had a huge budget, I still have an issue with slightly hokey effect of the big Titans attacking and tearing the people apart. It just doesn’t seem… real. We have progressed far with our cinematic effects, but it seems the latest improvements hadn’t gotten around to Attack on Titan‘s production people yet. The Titans seemed tacked on and not made an integral part of the scene. But then again, maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, the storyline is far from ended, and a sequel or two is in order. I’ll think I’ll reserve judgment until they’re all in.
I also saw Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth in the series of films based on the old TV show.
This one is a fun romp. And Tom Cruise is again doing his harebrained stunts, although the massive and thrilling hanging-off-an-airplane-door trick that was part of the big attention-grabber of the trailer was just a throwaway moment at the beginning of the movie. But the film is chock-full of moments like that: crazy car chases, an underwater scene at a power plant, a marvelous assassination subplot at the opera, a great motorcycle chase—Tom Cruise has never been so busy attempting his manic stunts.
The movie is about an anti-IMF group named the Syndicate and its efforts to eliminate Ethan Hunt’s organization. Add to that subplots featuring Alec Baldwin as the CIA chief looking to get the IMF shut down too, Rebecca Ferguson as a British agent (and Hunt’s equal) working for… well you never really know who she’s working for—which is part of the mystery of her character, Jeremy Renner trying to hold the IMF together one last time for one last mission, and you get a hell of an action-packed two hours. The film is also focused on the bromance between Cruise and Simon Pegg, and their many comedic moments leaven the movie with a lighter vein.
That’s the film in a nutshell, and it’s best if you don’t really let your intellect interfere. In fact, Rogue Nation is a wonderful thriller if you leave your brain at the door and just let the movie carry you along. It doesn’t have the gravitas of the first movie, the seriousness of the second, the intricacy of the third or the crazy hijinks of the fourth (well, maybe it does at that), but it’s a good film nonetheless.
More new movies to see this long weekend: sci-fi thriller Air, the Pixar-animated Inside Out, Cameron Crowe’s confused (allegedly) Aloha and zombie horror flick Extinction.
Be back with quick reviews of these films as I see them.