A video-game come to life on screen, but in a good way this time.
Set in the year 3028, many years after the planet Earth has been blown to bits by an alien race named the Drej, a young boy named Cale (Matt Damon) is discovered to hold the secret map of the Titan machine inside of his hand. The machine holds the power to unleash another planet for the few surviving humans still roaming around in space, and the opportunity to re-ignite their evolution.
This may seem like a totally random flick to review but for some odd reason I caught this on my Netflix queue and I haven’t seen it ever since it first came out so I thought it would definitely be a great way to get some nostalgia. Being a kid ruled.
One of the best things about watching movies is how they can sometimes take you out of the world that you’re living in at the present and transport you into this different world with all of its inhabitants and beauty. This is one of the main things I liked about this movie because it takes you out into the galaxy above and around us and shows its beauty and sometimes its darkness. The visuals in some cases may be dated, but they still look glorious because they show these little animated sketches but give it this 3-D look that almost makes it seem like a live-action flick. The film does a great job of combining both styles of animation here which works and takes you to this vision of space that I haven’t seen done before. There are so many great sights to see that it’s hard to just put my finger on one and I almost wish it was in 3-D and released again in 2012 because I think it would actually look even better and maybe get a better box office return.
To add on with the visuals too, the action is very fun and there is some sort of great energy that co-directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman both contain that makes this flick so much fun. There is just enough story here to make sense but when the shoot-em-up action scenes pop-up, they bring a lot to the film and make it feel like a lot of fun as if you’re watching ‘Star Wars’ in cartoon version. Let me also not forget to mention that there are some pretty cool rock songs courtesy of Jamiroquai, Lit, and even Fun Lovin’ Criminals. I don’t understand why more animated flicks let alone more movies in general just don’t use a pretty up-beat rock soundtrack to add to their action because it can honestly do wonders like it did here.
However, on the writing front, there is a lot of problems to be had here. First of all, as understanding as the story is in the first place it still doesn’t mean that it’s original by any means. There’s so much here that seems borrowed from plenty of other sci-fi flicks/stories that it can be very annoying at points. I mean there’s no big surprises at the end of the flick, but I was at least asking for some originality for me to get to that point. I also can’t forget to mention that this flick seems very adultish for an animated flick. Sometimes there will be a random sex joke that may seem more subtle than you expect but it’s still random, and there is plenty of other moments where it seemed like this flick really stepped over the whole PG rating, especially when it’s trying to connect with a kids audience but maybe that’s why it didn’t do so well at the box office in the first place anyway.
The characters here are also very bland and they aren’t very interesting, except for maybe one character, who wasn’t even human. Matt Damon, Bill Pullman, and Drew Barrymore, among others, all do their best with their voice jobs it’s just that their characters are so bland that it’s almost way too hard to root for them to save mankind. They all seemed to be written very dry or lifeless and they didn’t stretch my imagination as much as the cool visuals did either. However, the one character that I seemed to like the most was the Caterpillar-looking type named Gune, voiced by John Leguizamo. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems like Leguizamo is able to make any character he is playing, likable beyond belief.
Consensus: The visuals are very pretty to look at and there is a lot of fun to be had here with the energy in the action, but Titan A.E. still suffers from unoriginal writing, characters, and plot devices that seem to be used from so many other sci-fi stories. Still, what stands out from all of those other ones is its great visuals which make it a lot better than it has any right to be in the first place.
This guy would make a killing at delivering pizzas.
Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.
The weird thing about Drive is how this is being advertised as a slam-bang, action thriller with a Fast & Furious look of cars. But that is far from the truth.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) has a great knack for making incredibly bloody films, seem so beautiful. The film reminded me of an 80′s noir with it’s synth-crazy score, the hot pink title cards, and even the colorful as well as gritty look of the under-belly of LA that had me reminded of a Michael Mann film. There are some real great scenes where Refn brings out this very dark mood within the material with the way he films and the way he makes it all sound.
The problem with his direction is that I feel like too many times he doesn’t let the story tell itself at all, and just wants to basically remind people that he’s the one directing here and every shot is shot with his artsy-fartsy trademark. This didn’t bother me that much but when you have a script like this it really does get annoying after awhile.
I thought that the script had its moments where it truly wreaked in awesomeness but then other times, I just felt bored and bothered by what this film was doing. Almost every scene where these characters talk to each other is just filled with some awkward pauses and very slow responses that would have any person trying to leave the conversation as soon as possible. About the third time that I heard Gosling breath and Mulligan sigh, I just about had it about up to here with it, and relied on the action for my entertainment.
Oh wait, there’s barely any of that either. The action here is very short but done so well because of the way Refn creates the tension and keeps the bloodiness packing on up. He also adds this extra colorful flair to every scene, so when some guy is getting his head smashed in, not only is it bloody, but it’s also bright and colorful. This I liked and even though there’s only 2, that’s right, 2 car chases, I still liked them.
However, my problem lies within the fact that I just wish they actually gave us more of the awesome action rather than focus on these boring and awkward conversations that didn’t make me laugh, or really feel any more of an emotional connection to the story, it just annoyed me. I can see why Refn wanted to focus more on the story and visual flair rather than the action but when you got some writing that’s as boring as this is, you start to get pretty annoyed.
The real reason to see this film though is indeed, Ryan Gosling, aka one of my top man-crushes. Gosling plays The Driver and is quiet, calm, and relaxed throughout the majority of the film, but when it comes to him flipping shit, I was totally scared in all the right ways. Gosling plays both sides of this character believably well so you believe the subtlety that he has and the physical anger he projects from his character. I mean I was intimidated by Gosling here and every scene he is in, he uses that look on his face and his body language to convey a sense that his character is feeling every scene and it works so well. My man is on a roll!
The rest of the cast is also pretty good too. Carey Mulligan is good as the sweet Irene, although I think her and Gosling could have really projected some great screen chemistry given the right material; Bryan Cranston is gritty in his role as Shannon, the guy who brings Gosling into the world of crime; Ron Perlman is entertaining to watch as Nino the Jew, and I know this because they call him the name about 12 times; and Oscar Issac and Christina Hendricks have some pretty good “blink or you miss em” performances here as well. Albert Brooks as Bernie Ross is probably the most surprising of the whole cast because he has a presence that’s so powerful and ruthless that you actually can believe him as this violent mobster, rather than the voice of Marlon.
Consensus: Drive has moments where it absolutely works with it’s stylish direction from Nicolas Winding Refn, great performances from the cast, especially Gosling, and some bloody and thrilling flashes of violence, but too much of it feels slow and features conversations that are more boring than one you would have with a wall.
If every single 80′s classic is being remade, there’s no reason for Howard the Duck not get a little one too.
A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan (Jason Momoa) realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
So it seems like Hollywood is running out of any original ideas so they are practically remaking every 80′s film known to man. Sadly, they should have let this legendary Arnold flick alone.
The one thing that works for this re-work is that the action and gore is pretty freakin’ awesome. I loved just watching Conan slice up almost every single person that walked into his way and not give two shits about it after wards either. Another good thing about the action here is that I could actually tell just what the hell was going on because to be honest, so many action films come out nowadays and you can never know who is getting killed or who will be.
The movie is directed by Marcus Nispel, who is most well-known for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th reboots and the godawful Pathfinder. Conan the Barbarian has more in common with the latter, but it is thankfully a much better movie even if that doesn’t say much. Nispel’s direction here isn’t anything mesmerizing but he handles a lot of the action scenes very well whether it be a huge war going on, or Conan taking on a bunch of baddies, Nispel seems to have his head on the right track a lot.
However, when this movie is not killing people, it’s pretty weak in every aspect. The plot of this film has been done about 500 times before and probably a lot better and as the second half of this film comes around, the bloodshed tones down so we can actually understand these characters when we really don’t give a shit and just want Conan to pick up his sword and start chopping heads off. I hate when any film tries to do this because it usually takes so much away from the action, and here it’s just about 10 times worse.
The dialogue also tries to be so incredibly witty and smart but it just fails terribly, however, I don’t know what this film was trying to go for. The one-liners here are just terribly cheesy and just made me laugh-out-loud but I have to say that I don’t really think that this film was trying to take itself too seriously either, so I guess I can’t hate on it too much. But he writing for this film is just only writing in the sense that words were put down on a piece of paper, with no real sense of knowledge and just lines of dialogue that are just made to move the film along.
The film also looks insanely cheap and something that just screamed “straight-to-dvd release”. I mean sometimes I usually don’t mind this but the film honestly looks like half of the sets were made from plastic, and CGI backgrounds that look as realistic as a high-school play stage. The rocks on the ground also bounce up higher than usual rocks actually should bounce up and it doesn’t just happen once, it happens a couple of times and I noticed it right away. It’s a shame that these production designers didn’t put more effort into the look of this film because I actually feel like I really could have gotten into this setting, if it wasn’t for the cheesiness.
The cast of this film tries what they can but in the end, the script is only a huge let-down. Jason Mamoa makes the most of his performance as Conan and uses these crappy lines to show how barbaric he is. He is one of the things that makes the film barely tolerable; he’s ruthless, threatening and very badass. I wish I could compare him to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Mamoa does a good job on his own, and when it comes to Arnie, there is not comparison whatsoever.
Stephen Lang is good as the same villain he plays in every film, but instead with funky-looking hair that makes him look like a chick as Khalar Zym; Rose McGowan is very strange but pretty good in a kind of Marilyn Manson way as his daughter, Marique; Ron Perlman is good as Conan’s daddy; and Rachel Nichols is pretty alright as Tamara. But the one real mystery of this film was how they actually got damn Morgan Freeman to narrate a little portion of this film! I mean this guy has another Batman flick coming up and he’s getting bothered doing this crapola! Stay away Morgan!
Consensus: Conan the Barbarian is dumb, terribly written, cheap-looking, and no emotional connection whatsoever, but it still has a lot of fun and awesome blood, gore, action, half-naked barbarians, naked chicks, Morgan Freeman narrating, and a feel to it that doesn’t take itself too seriously but by all means, leave your brain in the car, as far away from the actual area you see this flick.