Amoeblog

Worst Film Crud of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 30, 2012 01:50am | Post a Comment

These are films that I either suffered through, or whose trailers assaulted me while waiting to see something else.


Not So Bad Once You Get to Know Them

j. edgar poster   iron lady poster

These are two individuals who made careers out of dehumanizing others. Yet, we're supposed to sympathize with them because one was a repressed gay man and the other a woman who faced off against men and is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Fuck them both. There are many legitimate ways to approach biopics about interestingly evil people (e.g. Downfall), but a liberalized understanding is not one of them. 
 

Monstrous Genetic Mutations

adventures of tintin poster   muppets poster 2011

I've previously expressed my horror at seeing simple 2D cartoonish figures rendered in photorealistic 3D detail. Who needs to count the black lines in Scooby's iris or see the snot dripping from his nose to get into the plot? But this grotesque disfiguration has really reached its aesthetic nadir with Spielberg's adaptation of the comic famous for its clear line style, Hergé's TinTin. Rather than believe Spielberg can't see how hideous these deformed monsters look, I suspect that this kind of adaptation is really a simulation of a live action adaptation. Ultimately, it's a portent of a later stage of the technological revolution in which actors and much of the old film crew will be out of a job. A perfectly realistic CG star can't join a union. Of course, that'll only happen if they can digitally create the voices, too, which brings me to why the Muppets are dead and should not be brought back as zombies. Maybe Gallagher and Sam Kinison can be safely simulated by a close relative, but there is no muppet without the original muppeteer. Kermit and Fozzie might look the same, but they're obviously defective clones, being revealed as recovering stroke victims upon opening their mouths. (Not that I've ever been much of a fan of the Muppet movies, which tend to identify more with the lame humans than the characters of interest.)
 

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Love Thy Vampire? Priest (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, June 5, 2011 10:16pm | Post a Comment
priest poster blood thirsty

I wasn't going to see Priest until I read Noah Berlatsky's critique. I could tell from the trailer that it wasn't offering anything new, nor was it going to even try. Indeed, it is cobbled together from clichés, tropes and designs borrowed from other films -- many of which would best be forgotten, as well. There's not one, but two "I won't let you / don't you let go" scenes as someone is dangling from the hero's hand. The villain conducts while his minions play a catastrophe on a town, just so you know how evil he is. Black Hat, the villain, is a former member of the superpowered priesthood, now corrupted by vampire blood, making him more powerful than both the pureblood vamps and the priests. The vampires are based on the same boring, wormlike design that was used in I Am Legend -- preferred, I guess, because it's generic and doesn't require eyes. Black Hat's main plan is get his old friend, Priest, to join him as a halfbreed and take over the world for the vampire queen. The worst offense is that the action is yet another uninspired appropriation of The Matrix's bullettime. Why, then, did I see it? Because Berlatsky argues that the film is virulently racist, and I can't stay away from films that unintentionally go horribly ideologically wrong. He had my hopes up for another 300 or the aforementioned I Am Legend, but is it a "racist piece of shit," or just shit?

The film's one innovation -- if you can call it that -- is borrowing the basic plot from The Searchers. In John Ford's classic, the Comanche kidnap Ethan Edwards' (John Wayne) niece, torch his brother's homestead and kill most of the family. The vampires do the same to Priest's (Paul Bettany) family, bringing him out of forced retirement to find his "niece" (actually, his biological daughter), and, thus, against the direct commands of the church state that he serves. The heroes are accompanied by the nieces' suitors, both of whom intend to keep the girls alive against the uncles' vows to kill their nieces if they show signs of infection -- cultural in the case of the Indians and genetic in the case of the vampires (or, I guess you might say, genetic mutation determines an ideologico-moral shift in the latter). It's the substitution of vampires for Indians in the plot that is central to Berlatsky's condemnation:

[I]f the Indians are vampires, suddenly you don’t have to shilly-shally. One by one the Western set pieces are trotted out and stripped down to their primal level of racist hatred and fear. The (white) family of peaceful farming folk out on the frontier is beset, utterly without cause, by slavering, hideous eyeless beasts. The reservation on which the vampires are herded is an impoverished, backwards tract of dirt—surrounding a slimy, stinking pit of sub-human insectoid breeding and bloodletting.