May 20th, 2012

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Edward Norton: Fight Club

The movie that started it all for me. I knew nothing about Edward Norton before watching this movie. I'd seen Death to Smoochy, but at the time that was all about Robin Williams for me. The dude playing the rhino didn't register. I obsessed over Fight Club, which led to my previously mentioned buddy's suggestion of "You should watch Primal Fear. It has that guy from Fight Club". Fight Club is also my favoritest movie ever, after Aladdin. So yeah, I already have a write up done from that project. I swear there's only a couple more repeats and then I'll have some more hard core blogging to do here.

Again, most of my thoughts on the movie in general are on the previous write up. It's just such an important film for me personally. It highlights and satirizes some of my biggest life philosophies. It's a movie that makes me think. I can't go a week without finding some random excuse to quote this movie, and that's a very conservative time guess. It's prolly way shorter than that.

While Brad Pitt is usually the first association with this movie (duh, Tyler Durden) Edward Norton's performance here is stellar. He's taken a lot of the vulnerability we've seen with his earlier work, but adds this attitude we haven't yet seen from the man. You watch his character's confidence grow and see the transformation in everything from his physicality and appearance to his interactions and assertions.
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Battleship

Sometimes, you're just wrong about a movie.

When I first heard they (whoever they are) were making a movie based on Battleship, I rolled my eyes, muttered "oh God" and dismissed it from memory. I didnt think too much about it, assuming it was far out in the future if it ever even happened. Then one day at work, a few of us are sitting around waiting for a meeting to start. One guy is on his laptop and just screams out "oh my God" and busts out laughing. He proceeds to tell us that he just came across an article describing this Battleship movie, and he has us guess who's been cast. Each detail he reveals sounds more and more ridiculous. So much so that I again forget about it, thinking this can't be real. Then the trailer appeared before some of the many many movies I saw and I realized, yes, this was happening.

I had started to be more selective about what movies I saw, and was initially inclined to just skip this one. But for some reason I just couldnt. I had to go. That reason was mostly Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard. I made sure to pack an extra lollipop in my bag in case I got bored. Now, some of this may just be a matter of exceeding low expectations, but I actually really enjoyed Battleship. For reals.

The first thing skeptics (including me 6 hours ago) would say is "really? A movie based on Battleship?" cause how exactly would that concept make sense. The answer is that there are elements of the game, but I wouldnt say it's based on it. You have a fleet of ships just like the ones you command in the game, and you see them damaged in sections, which was kinda cool. Eventually you do get to a point where our heroes are looking at a grid and blindly sending out shots at the bad guys. I actually got kinda giddy during that because it really did work so well. I think the problem was with getting this concept across to the audience. Arguably, the solution would be to not call the film Battleship, but there were other thematic reasons why the name makes sense. So maybe you dont plaster the Hasbro name all over everything and dont play up the fact that it's based on the game. Let that be a pleasant surprise.

The other possible perceived flaw is aliens. Really, aliens? Yeah, that does seem kind of like a cheat. They needed a generic enemy and that was the solution. I still dont know how I feel about them as a concept choice, but it mostly worked. While the trailers may have hyped up the invasion, the movie really downplayed it. It was more about the navy than extra terrestrials. I feel that should have been conveyed more in the promotional material, which is something I think the powers that be realized a little late. For the past couple weeks there's been one of those before the trailers promos that highlights how they had actual Naval officers on site advising them. That's what they should have played up more.

I did really love the focus on the Navy. I have nothing but the utmost respect for our armed forces, and Navy is a branch that you never really see (besides Top Gun). If you ignore the aliens, the goings on on the ships felt very real, though as a civilian I can't speak to how accurate it may have been. I actually have a friend who's a Navy vet, so I need to make him see this and find out how this measures up to his experience (which I'm fairly sure did not include an alien attack). Either way, it did feel like the movie portrayed our servicemen with a lot of reverence and respect. There were some truly beautiful scenes, especially leading into the climax of the film.

I'd been ready to write off Taylor Kitsch as a gorgeous boy who had trouble picking movies (*cough* *cough* John Carter *cough*). Again, so wrong of me. His character was more complex than you'd expect for this big budget action movie (provided that you're basing your expectations on Michael Bay) and he executed the role perfectly. I loved every minute of his screen time, and not only because he's pretty. I could have used more Alexander Skarsgård, but I certainly dont have any complaints about what we did have of him. The other standout for me besides Kitsch was Rihanna. I was incredibly skeptical when I'd heard she was cast in this movie, but I really liked her. I expected her to be obnoxious, but she really wasn't. She was tough as nails but not overpowering. You did not think pop star when she was on screen. Liam Neeson felt a bit forced into the movie. He fit his role well, but I think too much of a big deal was made about him being a part of it.

I do think some of the earlier action scenes could have afforded to be trimmed down a bit. And the alien thing could have been thought through a bit more, but keeping the focus off the ET's worked great. Again, I think expectations and public perception of this movie is way lower than it ought to be, which is truly a shame. Or at the very least, I certainly dont feel this was a waste of my afternoon.

Battleship - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n