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Either a 1 or a 10
Look let's be up front, if you're here reading about what Legion could be, we both know what you are looking for.
Legion is awful/awesome. It is quite possibly the least logically sound "A" movie (as opposed to "B" movie) I have ever seen. Which is wonderful, it was exactly what I wanted. We're talking Angelic sepoku, one handed Roc, car wrecks that kill adults but don't bother babies, that guy from Tokyo Drift terrible.
Thankfully, it is not self-aware either. All too often you go into a terrifically abysmal movie and you end up with some middling abomination of meta-this and that. No no, Legion took itself seriously and delivered a must-see for fans of bad movies. If you like it nasty, you're not going to find much worse/better.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)
Just Caught Test Screening
I just saw a test screening so take the following with that in mind - changes may be made both small and large - one of the very questions was which title of 4 we responded best to.
The Hatchiko story is a real one and it is that fact which most carries the movie. This is a story of companionship and identity...or at least, it wants to be.
Unfortunately, the movie never takes flight. No character is explored at any level deeper than that which a young child would understand. While a tremendous amount of talent was assembled to encircle the gorgeous Akita (the dog is very much the star of the movie,) with such flimsy roles, no great characters are born. And in the case of Joan Allen, a somewhat forced performance gives way to a rather unbelievable character.
But it is the pacing which most cripples the film. At least a dozen slow fade blackouts exaggerate the emotional side of the film, thus, lessening the impact. The passage of time is portrayed very poorly, with nearly 15 years passing and few physical alterations made in any human character.
Still, the story is profound enough to carry it as a quality holiday flick. And if you are a sucker for animals, this one will play right into your wheelhouse.
Neither a particularly skillfully made or daring movie, Hatchiko's got its dog going for it and not too much else.
5 out of 10
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Lameduck Blowy Uppy
I must admit, that I voted this a 1 not so much on its own merits, but that it dawned the headdress of the Terminator series and in so doing, dealt a deathblow to one of the great franchises in recent Hollywood history.
This is not a good movie, but it is a terrible Terminator flick.
It's got some interesting chase scenes, tons of explosions and without a doubt, the best CG of the series.
But it is rife with cliché, both in plot and dialogue. And not that the previous ones were cliché-free, but the tension, creativity and vision of the first two especially, carried them past some of the lesser portions (let us not forget the "I need a vacation" line from T2 - probably not in character to say the least.) This one just goes along, meandering in between unbelievable contrived situations, explosions and winks at superfans (and let me tell you, I was winked upon so often I figured McG to have Tourette's Syndrome) And PG-13... come on... Terminator? PG-13? The tightness of plot in the first 2 especially (which basically amounted to 2 extended chase sequences) led to tension, cohesion and a basic redoubling of stakes as the films progressed. This one is a mess plot-wise, it starts in a completely unnecessary scene which only serves to undermine a later reveal in T4: So Arnold's Not in This One? and clumsily reaches as heavy-handed a redemption for an anti-hero as you're ever going to see.
Skip it, like the Godfather series, just show your kids the first 2 and mention the rest in that sort of, "Yeah, he's your creepy uncle Benjamin" way.
The Many Questions of Milk
Look, the story is sound, Sean Penn is fantastic, Emile Hirsch, the writing, the pacing, Danny Elfman, Gus Van Sant... but my guess is that you already know all that if you're looking at this. Rather than extol the technical merits of Milk, let me talk about my Dad.
My Dad winced a lot while watching Milk. He's 60, smart guy, been a fire-breathing California Liberal his whole life and he winced every time a man kissed another during Milk.So he did a lot of wincing.
Walking out, we were talking about the unending bigotry surrounding gay rights and he said that although he's for complete equality and was overwhelmed by the humanity of particularly Sean Penn's performance, he finds it hard to watch a man kissing another with sexual intent. I responded "Well yeah, Brokeback was tough to watch. That was really about the act of gay sex, this was different. Milk is about gay life, culture, the sex was secondary." He smiled and said "But you were born after Milk had been murdered. Your generation views sexuality in a fundamentally different way then previous generations." "Anyways, what do you give it?" "I give it a 9.5, would have been a 10 but I just didn't like watching some of the sex stuff."
The supposed "point" of Brechtian films like the ones Van Sant has become (in)famous for (Milk amongst them) is for the audience to leave in such a way as they are forced to answer questions about social orders and ostensibly themselves.
And I didn't find myself asking about "How could prop 8 pass" as I have a firm grasp on the unspeakable political power of the Evangelical movement. I didn't find myself asking "How could the Twinkie Defense ever have flown?" I found myself asking
"Why is male homosexuality so hard for so many people to watch?"
It is the art that leaves you with a question that is truly great. And truly, Milk is great.
Blood and Guts
I was psyched to go see this movie. I was not a fan of the first AvP and I like so many others, chalked its awfulness up to being rated PG 13 and focusing on the human side of the story. Once I saw that red R glistening after the AvP, I was excited. As it turns out, I was wrong. Certainly there is a good amount of gore in AvPR, melting limbs, dismemberments, even some violence against children. The Predator is once again, the most bad-ass extraterrestrial on Earth, and it was fun to see the infamous predalien. But the movie just sucks. I tried really hard to look past its gaping plot holes, inane dialogue, and vapid characters, and I pretty much succeeded in not letting those inadequacies bother me. It was the pacing and the lack of tension that killed the movie for me. There was no sense of dread in the flick, no impending doom or even a sense of diabolical hunt. It just, sort of, happened, and then was over. Some fun homages to the originals: amongst them the return of the all-time great line: "Get to the chopper!" And again, some fun blood and executions, but no tension, no dread, no guts in the otherwise bloody film.
I Am Legend (2007)
Despite its considerable budget, I am Legend is at least, a bad movie. Not taking into account that the disease-apocalypse-mutant thing is as played out as any premise in recent film history, the array of contrived heroics and plot devices far outnumber those few moments of interesting story play. The interesting psychological investigation into a supposed last man on earth is constantly steered off course by forced emotionless scenes and an almost-Kevin-Costner-level martyrdom pumps like cholesterol through this waste-of-money's awful, awful veins. Redundant, uninspired, and contrived. 28 Days Later is itself, a far from perfect movie, but light years beyond this secondhand romantic shlock.