The Movie Scab Reviews: "Oblivion," "Iron Man 3," "The Great Gatsby" and Robert Redford.
"The scab you're picking at is called execution."
--American film producer Scott Rudin.
Oblvion: Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!
Iron Man 3: Ack! Ack! Ack!
The Great Gatsby: Ack! Ack! Ack!
Robert Redford: ZERO Acks!
Monkey Boy gives Oblivion 4 Acks! out of 5!
Monkey Boy gives Iron Man 3 3 Acks! out of 5!
Monkey Boy gives The Great Gatsby 3 Acks! out of 5!
Monkey Boy gives Robert Redford ZERO Acks! out of 5!
Oblivion, Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby and Robert Redford.
Monkey Boy and I love hard-science fiction, comic book superhero action movies and stories about doomed and rather nefarious dreamers who get crushed by the wealthy elite, the evil 1% who get away with murder and everything else.
Monkey Boy and I do not like Robert Redford because Robert Redford sucks big green donkey dicks and I'll explain why in a moment.
Let's do the Move Scab Triple Feature first:
It's been a while since Hollywood made a a good hard-science fiction. A few years back Danny Boyle gave it a shot and almost succeeded until he tagged on a brainless Monster in the House bit at the end.
For those of you who don’t know, here’s how Danny Boyle ruined his movie: he tried (and failed) to get the audience to believe that a mad, ultra-religious, burned-up spaceship captain who’d been living really close to the sun for years and years without sunscreen and all by himself in a big, empty, old spaceship could sneak on board a new spaceship that’s really close to the sun and stalk and kill the few surviving members of the crew like the alien from Alien--only this alien isn't an alien, it's a human with a terrible sunburn and a heavy God-complex. Really? Really? That's the best Boyle and his creative writing crew could come up with, a religious nut gone mad? The truth is, Boyle didn't need to add the monster. The story had enough natural monsters to make it excellent hard-science fiction, but noooo! Boyle adds a crazy monster in the form of a religious nut. Worse yet, a religious nut is about as predictable as the sun not going out for another 10 billions years, so either Boyle doesn't like religious people very much, which is probably why he made his monster a religious nut (Life of Pi anyone?), or he took the easy way out—whatever the reason for adding the religious nut monster at the end, that choice killed the movie dead and turned a hard-science fiction with enormous potential into lamebrain scifi better seen on late night TV when you're alone, drunk and naked.
And that's exactly what Oblivion does not do.
Director/co-writer Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) plays it straight, keeping to hard-science fiction's classic roots ala Asimov, Heinlein and Roddenberry, i.e., you have a well told, well crafted and clever story with believable scifi tech that obeys the laws of physics and humanity is cool, smart and worth saving.
Most of the science fiction that Hollywood has pushed out of its sphincter over the past 10 years has argued that humanity sucks and the universe would be a better place if we weren't in it. But Oblivion doesn’t take the anti-humanity tack and, boy-howdy, is that refreshing! Instead, Kosinksi tells a classic “post-apocalyptic last man on earth” story that’s well crafted, well acted and never steps beyond the bounds of believability (like Boyle did with Sunshine). The special effects are outstanding, the soundtrack is excellent (if you like the electronic/shoegazing music of M83 and I do) and say what you want about Tom Cruise’s personal Scientological life, but he carries the entire movie and does a fine job, and even better, he’s got the ever-reliable Morgan Freeman by his side, as well as the talented and beautiful Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough. And we get to see Riseborough jump into a swimming pool naked so, come on, what hard-science fiction nerd is not going to like this movie? And I don’t care what the professional critics are saying, “thinly scripted,” “pretty to watch, but empty,” blah, blah, blah. I’m telling you, they’re wrong: if you like hard-science fiction, you’ll dig this movie.
Iron Man 3.
The reason Monkey Boy and I didn’t do a Robert Redford on Iron Man 3’s metal buttinski and give it zero Acks! is because of one person: director/co-writer Shane Black. I’m a fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight, a brilliant, funny and much maligned action picture satire, and Black wrote it. I also thoroughly enjoyed Black’s directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. (He wrote that one too.) See, Shane Black is exactly what Iron Man 3 needed to save it from becoming like Iron Man 2, which … wait for it… wait for it... sucked big green donkey dicks like most sequels tend to do.
What do you need to know about IM3? It’s got the usual Marvel Comic storyline, i.e., Iron Man flies around in a metal suit and fights bad guys and a lot of things blow up, but this time it’s smarter the usual (and clearly connected to Iron Man 1, a good move), funny, cheeky, Robert Downey Jr. does a cynical Tony Stark better than anyone else could, the special effects are excellent and by and large the story satisfies. It ain’t perfect, but if you like Iron Man superhero movies, you’ll dig this movie too.
The Great Gatsby.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and let me put it this way: if you’ve seen a Baz Luhrmann movie (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge), you know you’re in for a fun, hyperactive visual treat with loud music and a solid one-two emotional punch at the end. If you’ve read the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you know the Occupy Movement is going to love it. Or not. The Occupy Movement is so fickle these days.
But unlike the stodgy, self-important and boring-old-fart Robert Redford version (1974), where Redford wanted you to know that his Gatsby meant something, it mattered, he was making Art, people (because it fell into his socio-political ideals, I have to imagine), Baz Luhrmann dumps heavy-handed peachiness for mind-blowing showiness and nails the book and its themes perfectly. Why? Because Luhrmann understands that Gatsby is a novel that was born to been a movie, and if you've got the right director and cast, the end result is an entertaining, thoughtful and emotionally moving roller coaster ride of wow!
You know the story 'cause it's been around since 1925, but I'll nutshell it here for you anyway: DiCaprio plays Gatsby, a man of mystery who has fought his way to the top of the East Coast rich pile only to discover that money can’t get him what he wants and the wealthy elitists (the evil 1%) are more corrupt and selfish than he is and they will, in the end, destroy him and get away with murder and everything else like they always do, damn them, damn them, damn them all to hell. Or in other words, to quote Kurt Vonnegut: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Which leads me to Robert Redford:
The Elizabethans had it right: actors are basically rogues, vagabonds, liars, cheats and thieves and none of them are to be trusted.
Now, listen, nine times out of ten I give Hollywood actors a break when the say stupid things in public because, you know, they're actors. (See Elizabethan comment above.)
But sometimes an actor says something so stupid, I have to comment on it. Mr. Redford recently confessed on "Good Morning America" that he's been a longtime radical and had he stopped there I would have been, OK, fine, whatever, shut up and let me eat my Cheetos. But then he went on to endorse the violent actions of the Weather Underground. When asked if he supported the bombings, he said, "All of it."
Just to make it really clear what it means when he says, "All of it," here's a little Weather Underground history:
1970: SFPD Bombing (1 Killed)
1970: NYPD Bombing (7 Hurt)
1970: NYC Explosion (3 Killed)
1971-72: Capital & Pentagon Attacked
1981: Armed Robbery (3 Killed)
I know it's uber-cool to think you're a radical American leftist these days, but supporting anyone or any group that kills people for any reason is beyond stupid. Admitting that you support it on national television is just sad and makes me think of old, forgotten and lost dogs that fart a lot before they die, or in other words, the Baby Boomer generation.
If this was the Elizabethan Age, I think the Queen might have had Mr. Redford thrown off the stage and then drawn and quartered. (I can see Mr. Redford raise a fist and scream, "Power to the people!" as they disembowel him.)
Monkey Boy and me? We love Jeremiah Johnson, Out of Africa and The Natural, and in fact, the two of us tried to watch Jeremiah Johnson the other day. But I had to turn the movie off because I kept on thinking about the Weather Underground blowing up bombs and killing people--and, naturally, every time I saw Robert Redford on the screen, I thought, "What a dick."
I want to eat my Cheetos in peace! And he won't let me eat my Cheetos in peace!
Triple Feature: Oblivion, Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby. Down a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster and then follow that with a Moloko Plus and an Elsinore Beer chaser—that’s all you'll need to enjoy Oblivion, but you’ll need more to drink for Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby, so afterwards imbibe five Tony Stark Manhattans with a handful of pharmaceuticals, then stick your face in a champagne fountain and slurp as much champagne as possible, then follow that with a bathtub gin martini, a half-full bottle of Sauterne, four gin rickeys and, finally, chug a Great Gatsby gin/vodka martini and that should do it! Stagger into the movie theatre and have a great time!
My rating for Robert Redford:
ZERO Acks! for being a dick.
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