A Four Movie Review: Iron Man, The Sorcerer and the White Snake, District 9, and Star Trek (Reprise)
At my local library, there is a limit of five movies. This past week, I checked out five movies. Of the five, the one I will not be reviewing is Howl’s Moving Castle. I love that movie and I’ve already written about it. Or at least the book by Diana Wynne Jones.
Anyway, on to the four movies I will be reviewing.
Iron Man (2008 dir. Jon Favreau)
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to finally watch this movie. The short of it is that I love this movie. Seriously, this movie is great.
The evolution of Tony Stark from playboy merchant of death to hero is powerful. Especially when contrasted to Obadiah Stane, who is likely what Tony would have become eventually, though maybe not so maniacal.
Robert Downey, Jr. is, honestly, an inspired choice to play Tony Stark. Is there any questions as to why he headlines the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow are equally well casted. Especially Paltrow’s awesome Pepper Potts.
The one problem I have with this movie is with Stane’s villainy. He goes from being a very well developed corrupt corporate executive to a standard maniacal super villain. I like Stane when he acts like the cool mentor who is selling Stark weapons to both sides. But Stane as the Iron Monger is just your average supervillain.
But that problem aside, I love this movie.
The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011 dir. Ching Siu-tung)
My opinion about this film is torn. On the one hand, I love the scenery porn. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure what the hell the movie is trying to tell us.
The visuals are gorgeous. Even if the CGI is poorly done at times.
The film tells the story of Susu, a white snake demon, who falls in love with Xu Xian, a doctor and herb picker. Standing in their way is the sorcerer/ abbot Fahai, who views all demons as not belonging in the human world.
Throughout the film, Fahai’s sentiment is supported as he and his disciples battle and trap various malignant demons (an ice harpy, a bat demon, and a pack of fox demons). But, those sentiments are challenged by Susu and Qingqing, the green snake, who are largely benevolent. And, perhaps most tellingly, by Neng Ren, a monk who is transformed into a bat demon.
Things begin to fall apart when Fahai learns that Susu and Xu Xian are married. He demands that she either leave him or face what ever punishment he decides to mete out. The conflict comes to a head when Xu Xian stabs his wife and subsequently steals a magical herb from the temple to save her.
Once saved, Susu attempts to return the favor. At this point, Fahai is clearly the movie’s antagonist. For much of the final fight, he is no match for Susu.
But then, a deus ex machina occurs and the whole point of the movie seems to be lost. In my opinion, this event ruins the movie. Of course, given the deus ex machina, not that surprising.
District 9 (2009 dir. Niel Blomkamp)
This movie is not as bad as I thought it would be. But I’m still not overly fond of it, either.
The biggest problem I have with the movie is that it tries to be The Office married to a science fiction thriller. I don’t think this works.
Another problem I have is that the politics of the movie are a little too much like a hammer. Allegory should always be more subtle.
Do I think the apartheid South African government would do what they did to the aliens? Yes. But I seriously doubt that the rest of the world would have let them get away with it, even if speciesism is as omnipresent as the film makes out. I just don’t buy it.
And that, I think, is where science fiction runs into one of its major weaknesses. Does the reader/ viewer actually buy the world created?
Star Trek (2009 dir. J.J. Abrams)
Speaking of not buying the world created, I still don’t like this movie. I just don’t buy it at all. The plot is still stupid with a poor antagonist.
I may be the only Star Trek fan who prefers Into Darkness.
Too bad Star Trek won’t be returning to television in the near future. That is where the franchise belongs.