November 20, 2009

New Moon (Not the Chinese Restaurant)

**Warning. If you're remotely attracted to men, you might have already seen this movie. Every straight, single, painfully awkward woman between 14 and 25 on earth might have been in the theatre with me.**

The words "New Moon" conjure up strange feelings for me-- I think back to the joyful harvest time during my youth, when my father would tell us children to go out and "make cider" out of the several hundred bushels of apples we had collected over the course of the month by running each and every rotted fruit through a loud and dangerous press the size of a 1996 Subaru Forester and just about as safe and reliable. I am also reminded of my girlfriend's period, which is often accompanied by mood swings that would make Mr. Hyde look like Carlyle Cullen and often reduce the otherwise amiable girl into a firebreathing actress diva capable of destroying Tokyo 37 times. In general, my associations aren't good.

And, after having returned from New Moon, the second chapter in The Twilight Saga, these negative associations are firmly intact.

First, I had to buy my tickets in advance. I had to buy tickets *two weeks* in advance. As a movie reviewer who is not habituated to paying for movie tickets whatsoever, this was a big deal to me. The theatre I went to had a midnight showing of New Moon on every one of it's six screens save one, which was showing Twilight as a throwback to the diehard Twifans who had been camping in front of the theatre in their Edward Cullen snuggies and long name-brand pajamas since dawn. It was as if Harry Potter and Anne Rice had a baby directed by Steven Spielberg on crack. This baby had grown in the minds of many young women into some sort of raging monster of misplaced sexual metaphors, capable of taring down even the most basic elements of story structure and plot. What else would you expect from a Stephanie Meyer crack baby?

Nevertheless, it's fair to say that every single drop of estrogen in the city of Portland Oregon was present in the theatre that night. Sorority sisters displaying proud "me too" college sweatshirts giggled in the row behind me. Japanese fangirls bubbled in the seats next to me. Diehard 43-year-old twimoms in makeup heavy enough to make Vincent Price go "Dayyymn, girl" waited with bated breath on every mangled perversion of the english language that came out of Edward Cullen's light-rouge colored mouth. I facepalmed.

And then the movie began.

Or, as I should say, then the music video began. It's unfair to movies to call New Moon anything else-- the not-montage segments of the movie are outnumbered two-to-one by the "fresh from VH1" sections of the movie. The filmmaker decided that the best way to represent the surprising absence of plot was to cover it with light acoustic guitar covers of every song ever composed that featured a lyric about the moon, and then pad the movie by making every other shot in glamourous slow-motion like some sort of pre-teen Sam Peckinpah. Whereas Twilight brought us the wildly misplaced but incredibly good Muse song "Supermassive Black Hole," New Moon brought us a man with a soft beard gently strumming an open-G on his Aston 388 in the back of a local Starbucks. Whee.

The plot introduces Jacob, the will-be werewolf from the first movie, as an unlikely new love interest. In the first Twilight movie Jacob was a lovable and punchable version of Thomas Builds-The Fire. In this movie he has apparently put on enough muscle to qualify as an action figure, considering his neck is now the size of several industrial components illegal in the United States. He is prone to 'roid rage and joins a gang. Not even kidding.

And the plot? You want to know about the plot? LOL. *sobs uncontrollably*

I walked out of the theatre and watched the teaming masses of girls and women pour from the theatre doors and push their way down the up escalators and through the emergency exits to their cars. In my mind, they were fleeing.

And they were running from the werewolf version of this guy:

November 13, 2009

2012 (The Year After Tomorrow A Year From Now)

**Warning. This review might seriously disillusion those six people left on earth who really like disaster movies. The rest of us have moved on to liking movies that are themselves disasters. Like Twilight.**

Let me begin this review by saying that I've written about Roland Emmerich before. Let me then follow this statement by saying that I have a mindcrushingly hard boner for John Cusack. Given these two things, you'd expect me to have a similarly large tent in my pants for this movie, right? Wrong. 2012 was actually kinda painful.

First, this is a Roland Emmerich film. You may know him as the guy who brought you ID4, The Day After Tomorrow, and that really crappy Godzilla movie. I know, he's not that big of a name among the breakfast cereal set, but he taps into a deep underlying passion at the heart of every American to see New York burned to the fucking ground, and he's usually pretty good at coming up with creative ways of doing just that. ID4 had aliens who used powerful laser beams capable of blowing the shit out of large buildings. The Day After Tomorrow had freezing tidal waves and environmental destruction. Godzilla had Mathew Broderick trying to pull off a Brooklyn accent, which on principle alone should have caused New York to fall into an angry, murderous pitchforked riot like people forced to watch George Lopez do standup. In this case, Emmerich came up with the idea of making a disaster movie about the Mayan 2012 apocalypse, which, accoriding to Emmerich, is caused by neutrinos from the sun which cause massive environmental damage and tidal waves. Waitafuckingminute. This sounds familiar.

Isn't this the exact same premise as Knowing (2009) staring Nicolas Cage who uses his power of numerology to predict the end of days?

Isn't this just The Day After Tomorrow, except with John Cusack instead of that guy in the hat from G.I. Joe? Haven't we seen the whole death-by-giant-wave thing before? Like here? Or here? Or even here?

The whole 2012 Mayan calendar thing isn't even there, either. This movie makes no mention of how the Mayans made their prediction, who made that prediction, why, or when. The movie may be named 2012, but it is named so only to cash in on a current cultural meme without actually having to make a movie that actually addresses any aspects of that meme. It's like taking a DVD of Towering Inferno and renaming it World Trade Center. Wait. Oliver Stone already did that.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love end of the world movies. There is something about the idea that the end is coming that really gets to people. But this movie doesn't even offer that. The main characters are too busy rolling initiative and jumping away from rocks the size of Roxanne's Tits to really reflect on the value of their lives. There is footage of people praying, so it seems that in the Emmerich-verse at least the people who are constantly dying in increasingly senseless ways are completely at ease with their respective gods as they do so.

And then, Emmerich tries to tack on this absolutely over-the-top preposterous Noah's Arc ending that is ripped, shot for fucking shot, from the ending of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Of course, in Metropolis when the emotional lead character leads all the great unwashed little people to smash the machines that will keep the richer members of humanity alive, the filmmaker is really trying to show us how fucking retarded such populist pathos is, especially because everybody drowns as a result. Emmerich riffs off this scene with a straight face, and instead waves a magic wand and makes everything okay. Considering Emmerich had $250,000,000 to play with and Lang didn't have sound or color, and the Lang ending makes abso-fucking-lutely no fucking sense in this context, I'll just let my frustration speak for itself.

So, in my rage, I'll leave you with the one good end-of-the-world movie I've seen in the last week or so. Or ever. Probably ever.