Kikikourosava's Blog

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Knowing

Knowing is a classic case of a movie that is crammed with interesting ideas but is unable to conceptualize them in a compelling fashion. Knowing doesn’t fail because of a lack of ambition or scope but because of flaws in execution. The movie tries to accomplish a lot of things, but it doesn’t do many of them well. The structure is confused, with a setup that is long and uninvolving, a middle section that is largely unnecessary, and an ending that is rushed. There are numerous red herrings; in fact, the first 90 minutes could be classified as such. The allegorical conclusion is also disappointing, mainly because it is anticlimactic. As cinematic failures go, at least this one is interesting in some aspects, but not to the degree that I can recommend it.

The film opens with a prologue set in 1959 at a Massachusetts elementary school. A time capsule is buried on school grounds with the view that it won’t be opened until 2009. Each student is asked to submit a drawing depicting their idea of what the world will look in 50 years. Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) is hearing voices and they instruct her regarding what she should put on her sheet: a seemingly random series of numbers. A half-century later, once the capsule is opened, that sheet comes into the possession of Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury), who shows it to his astrophysicist father, John (Nicolas Cage). John becomes obsessed by the paper and determines that it’s a “crib sheet” listing all of the major disasters that have occurred over the past 50 years: date, death, latitude, longitude. Three future catastrophes are listed, and John is obsessed with trying to prevent these, to the point where he tracks down Lucinda’s daughter, Diana (Rose Bryne), and granddaughter, Abby (Lara Robinson, doing double duty), in the hope that they can somehow help. Meanwhile, mysterious strangers watch John and Caleb from afar, whispering in the night.

The director is Alex Proyas, whose previous efforts include the Crow, Dark City, and iRobot. Knowing represents the weakest script he has worked on to date. He squeezes some atmosphere from it (not unlike that which permeated The Crow and Dark City) and there are some generally creepy moments involving the strangers in the woods (recalling Dark City), but all these aspects accomplish is to make the film seem like less of a time-waster. The disaster sequences are effectively staged, although the heavy reliance upon CGI is evident. The train crash, for example, is less convincing than something similar in Die Hard with a vengeance. Knowing also concludes with a needlessly spectacular effects sequence where something simpler and less ostentatious might have been more poignant.

There’s a sense that characters often act in certain ways for no reason other than that’s what the script needs. For example, there’s a scene in which John races to the projected disaster site in New York City and starts yelling at a random cop that the area needs to be cordoned off. This is followed by a silly chase, lots of special effects, and ultimately no ramifications. The point of the scene is to give us a close-up view of the crash, but it’s a complete throw-away. The character of Diana is introduced awkwardly and no attempt is made to integrate her into the story in a meaningful manner. And the leap of logic made by John regarding a field trip to the elementary school’s basement (which results in him extracting a door) is the kind of thing that would make Sherlock Holmes envious. The titters heard from the audience during this scene are reasonable.

The marketing campaign will put a few butts in seats but it’s hard to imagine many of those viewers being satisfied on any level. Someone should have known better.


May 3, 2010 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment

G. I. Joe The Rise Of Cobra

I have very fond memories of my childhood, thanks to my active imagination, my bedroom transformed into Eternia, Tatooine, Cybertron, Arus, Doom or The Pit depending on the day.
Yes, Star Wars, Transformers, He-Man, Voltron and G.I. Joe.
In the last 10 years, we’ve seen some really cool fan boy projects brought to life from a comic book page, action figure or a video game to the big screen. In the last three years alone, Transformers was brought to the big screen in a way no one would’ve ever imagined just a decade ago.
As a kid who grew up in the ’80s, I’ve looked forward to seeing some – and by some I mean not all, like I don’t want to see Thundarr the Barbarian on the big screen, well, maybe I would, it would depend – of my childhood cartoons translated to the big screen and G.I. Joe was definitely one of them.
Yesterday the folks over at Paramount arranged for me and my girls to watch Stephen Sommer’s big screen adaptation of G.I. Joe on the Paramount lot, and boy was I excited!
Before they started shooting the film, I read three screenplays including Stuart Beattie’s draft which ended up being used and his was not my favorite, at that point, I preferred Skip Woods’ take on G.I. Joe that came previously. It was very Jason Bourne.
I felt that Stuart Beattie’s version was too cartoony and not for the 30+ year olds who grew up with the franchise, but nonetheless, I was still very excited to see the film.
The movie starts in 1641 laying down the foundation of McCullen clan, a family that’s in the weapons trade. An ancestor of Christopher Eccleston’s McCullen, James McCullen, is caught selling arms to both his King and to his opponent and is shunned for life and made an example by being forced to wear a metal mask (think Man in the Iron Mask look) for the rest of his life.
Something I caught onto, which I hadn’t previously, is that David Murray who was originally cast as McCullen/Destro but was unable to take the role due to some Visa issues, plays the McCullen ancestor, so he got to be a McCullen after all.
Cut to the “not too distant future” and we meet Duke, Ripcord and the Joe team battling it out against an as-of-yet unknown force and the action ensues!
Did I like it? Yes, hell yes!
The movie is exactly what it needed to be. The movie captured the essence of the original cartoon just as well as the first Transformers film did.
Bottom line it worked great. The cast looked great, the costumes looked good on screen, the weapons were awesome and the story moved along pretty smoothly without any major plot holes. There were enough references and cameos to keep die hard G.I. Joe fans happy. But if this film is your first encounter with the Joes, no worries, it did a great job introducing the core team to newbie’s.
I can use three of my daughters that came to the screening as an example. They are aged 5, 7 and 14 and have never seen a single episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon (my bad) and they were glued to the screen. They absolutely loved it. Even my 14 year-old who doesn’t think anything I like is cool said, and I quote, “That was badass!”
Ray Park as Snake Eyes was my favorite part of the movie. I swear I am going to get an Arashikage tattoo on my arm, he is so awesome.
G.I. Joe is exactly what this summer needed after all of the disappointments thus far. It’s easily the best action film of the year.
Some of the readers chimed in early on regarding Marlon Wayans as Ripcord. Yes, I too cringed when that announcement was made. But guess what? He was great, his humor wasn’t over the top as it usually is plus he has one of the best lines of the film involving the famous G.I. Joe Kung fu grip!
The casting worked 100% including Joseph Gordon Levitt and Sienna Miller who, based on early feedback, were the characters fans were most worried about.
I am glad the filmmakers took this path over the darker version of that earlier Skip Woods draft. Even though I liked it, kids, who are the main target demographic for this film, would have not been able to grasp the story.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty elements that adults will like. The eye candy was great. For the ladies you have Channing Tatum and the rest of the boys looking like well built action figures and for us guys you’ve got Sienna and Rachel looking extremely hot in their tight black outfits.
So with that said, you must go see G.I. Joe. For the fan boys who have been waiting over 20 years for this film to the new recruits who’ve never heard of G.I. Joe, come August 7, this film delivers what every summer blockbuster should have, 110% action and 110% fun.
Now you know…and knowing…is half the battle…
Yo Joe!

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Movies | , | Leave a comment