Friday, August 19, 2011

FP Friday Night Movie Review!

While the fledgling Fruitless Pursuits staff may not get invited to the industry previews of the most recent blockbuster films, we're still a bunch of movie buffs. Or at least we've been known to watch movies in the buff. In the same room.

Head on after the jump to read mini-reviews of the films that our contributors have watched this week!


Sucker Punch (2011)
I finally bought this on blu-ray and viewed it for the first time with very tempered expectations based on the critical bashing and fan indifference/anguish that poor, plucky, huge-biceped Zack Synder received. And my verdict? I loved it! This is an insanely audacious fetish film (certainly not made for everyone, in fact it is almost knowingly mainstream crowd displeasing/confusing) that is an explosive love-note from the (rare) auteur who created it. One caveat - yes, you have to be willing to accept the film's vague, and sometimes problematic premise (when the girls dance they enter a seemingly disconnected fantasy world of pop-culture homage) but if you can roll with that (and many can't) then it's an exhilaratingly indulgent ride!

Here's a litmus test. At one point sailor-suited Babydoll flips in slow motion above a huge fire spewing dragon and rams her sword deep into its head as she lands and a cover of Iggy Pop's Search and Destroy suddenly blares into action. If that has you rolling your eyes then skip it (and I pity you), but if that has you breaking into a huge grin then check it out! One more thing: it's all about context. The internet hates this film as a mainstream  Zack Synder US release, but I promise you - if this was made in Korea and you could only watch it by importing or downloading it, it would be a massive cult hit and we'd be drowning in gifs of it! I love it!

And I watched the superior extended edition which has more hardcore action sequences, Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac leading a big musical number while singing a Bryan Ferry cover, an incredibly creepy/fascintating/heartbreaking scene between Emily Browning and John Hamm! Extended Edition of my thoughts here.


Centurion (2010)
Starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West & Olga Kurylenko
The year is AD 117 and Rome is at war in northern Britain. Their quest to conquer the world is being hindered by the pesky Scottish natives who for some reason don't like being slaughtered and raped and burnt and whatnot. Michael Fassbender plays Quintus Dias, the lone survivor of the film's opening assault, who, after various violent incidents, hooks up with the 9th Legion. The commander of the 9th, Titus Flavius Virilus (VIRILUS. They might as well have called him 'Titus Kills-lots-of-dudes-and-shags-heaps-of-chicks'), is played by Dominic West. Dominic West takes his soldiers out to fight the feral Scots and promptly gets most of them killed. Cue rag-tag bunch of survivors banding together for revenge and the greater good.

Firstly, the Good. It looks nice. Even though it is essentially 300 in Roman sandals, the whole desaturated treatment and CGI blood spatter makes for pleasing visuals. And oh, there's a lot of CGI blood spatter. The very first kill of the movie would border on being the best bit of opening violence I've ever seen. SPOILERS: Soldier is having a wee off the edge of the Roman fort thing and cops a spear right through his special man area. Br00tal. There's a huge amount of stabbing deaths, and it's nice to see they mix it up and keep them creative for the whole duration. The actors themselves have some pedigree behind them, and let's face it, who isn't going to enjoy watching Michael Fassbender run around and stab people for a couple of hours?

Now, the Bad. The plot is very uninspired, and some of the 'chase' scenes border on ridiculous (the hunting party appears to be a matter of metres behind our heroes, but then we're hit with a montage of them 'catching up'. They're on horses! Our dudes are on foot! They should already be decapitated!). I don't mind a Game of Thrones-esque plot (ie. EVERYBODY DIES), but to have the whole thing finish in a MASSIVE anticlimax was a bit of a kick in the teeth. You're kind of expecting the next phase of the story to kick in, then it ends.

In summary, it's crude & it's wonderfully gory but it's no masterpiece, so leave your brain at the door and enjoy an hour and a half of really fun carnage.


Paul (2011)
Although the trailers looked great, I was hesitant to actually watch Paul. No offense to Greg Mottola, I just didn't want to watch a Simon Pegg / Nick Frost film that wasn't helmed by Edgar Wright. I felt similar about Scott Pilgrim, in which I didn't want to watch Edgar Wright direct someone else's story (although he did write the screenplay), but we all know that turned out alright.

Now that I've seen it, I can say that an American, non-Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg / Nick Frost film is definitely not a bad thing. It lacks that gritty, British edge.. but the movie was a lot of fun, and it still had that sincerity that I've come to expect from a Simon Pegg film.There was a really solid supporting cast, and Paul himself was as believable as an English speaking biped Alien can be. I was worried because I feared this movie would go into The Hangover territory of ridiculousness, but thankfully it never did. One complaint: The language is consistently pretty harsh throughout the film. It wasn't really offensive or anything… it just felt unnecessary most of the time.

And finally, Joe LoTruglio is awesome in every role ever.


Super (2011)
I think any geek worth his salt has been waiting impatiently for "Super" to be released. I got the chance to see it this past weekend and my God did it live up to the hype. If you haven't heard, "Super", starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page, is the story of a short-order cook who decides, with no real training or forethought, that he is destined to become a super hero. Rainn "Dwight from the Office" Wilson nails this role as if he were born to it. He plays it with just the right mix of child-like naivete and outright psychosis. Ellen Page's character, a girl who works in a comic book store, is quick to adopt the role of his spunky sidekick and steal every scene that she's a part of. She's both adorable and INCREDIBLY disturbing in a role that I'd say definitively proves that our little "Juno" is all grown up. I'd love to say more but I don't want to spoil anything.

There are so many funny yet hauntingly creepy scenes in this movie that I'm almost surprised it was made. I believe there was some controversy about making this movie and that it's an independent film at the end of the day, but since I know almost nothing about that, I'll let you figure it out. Check out the official movie website here and watch the official trailer on youtube HERE.


  1. Of these I have only seen Super and I very much didn't like it. I think it started off promising and silly but every creepy and "edgy" bit made me groan. I still much prefer it to Kick-Ass though.

  2. I just finished Sucker Punch and I want to watch it all over again. I obviously loved it as well.

    I didn't see the extended edition though, so I might just have to pick it up. RIGHT NOW.

  3. Do! There's one additional scene in the final act with John Hamm that seems eerily out of place at first but has such a killer pay-off. Highly recommend it. You sir, are a man of refinement and taste.

  4. The more a film makes me think, the more I love it. I can't stop thinking about this one.

  5. I also liked 'Centurion'. There were some boring bits (any scene with the impossibly good-looking, non-diseased witch in the forest) but some fantastic bits too. Those bits mostly involved stabbing and the crazy bitch Pict hunter lady. She was marvellous.