Category Archives: Reviews

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey, is the movie adapted from the book, edited from the fan fiction of the movie adapted from the book that’s slightly derivative of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

FSoG is interesting in that in a world that seems [sc name=ttext title=”hur hur” text=”dominated” ] by movies targeted to males aged 29 or younger, FSoG is based on material almost exclusively for middle aged women. I say this as a 23 year old male who’s read the entire trilogy (yes, really).

The books are written by a 50-something woman for other women to flick their bean to fantasising that they’re a 21 year old tight vagina’d virgin; with a damaged but fixable billionaire obsessed with them who they can fall in love with, fix with motherly care, and live happily ever after in domestic bliss. Oh and there’s some kinky stuff too.

FSoG is a Self-Insert Fic – Ana is basically perfect. She’s 21, a virgin and has mind shattering orgasms and can deep throat a cock like a champ. The movie adapts out most of this, and a lot of the stuff that seems to make the book appeal to women. That scene where Grey casually pulls out Ana’s bloody tampon and earns his red wings is gone from the movie, as is all the inner goddess/ unconscious talk. The movie takes a disappointedly conventional approach to the depiction of genders. Gone too is the scene where Ana sucks on a “Chrstian Grey flavor popsicle” (direct quote from the book).

There are plenty of fairly tame shots of Dakota Johnson’s breasts that feel almost exploitative given that you see nothing of Jamie Dornan. This is a movie that should be for women, but there’s not a single cock shot let alone a shot of an erection. FSoG isn’t the movie I thought that would be pushing boundaries, but it’s disappointing that it doesn’t even try.

The narrative is a 1:1 copy of the novel, which means virtually all of the narrative criticism from the books carries over. The deception of BDSM is still shaky. EL James uses BDSM as a plot device to have Grey’s early abusive upbringing cast a dark shadow into his adulthood, for Ana to fix with her motherly love. I believe that James is intelligent enough to know her writing conflates abuse and BDSM, but not a good enough writer to fix it.

I feel like this mutes, if not invalidates, most of the criticisms I hear about the narrative. Yes, Christian Grey isn’t very believable as a character who could exist in reality,  but it doesn’t really matter. The story is a what if – what if your self inserted avatar could meet, win over and fix a damaged billionaire.

Sadly it carries over some of the poor research from the book. Grey surprising Ana at her job in the hardware store is passable as a romantic gesture, but cable ties are not good for bondage! And of course, it carries the clunky dialogue from the books.

FSoG, the movie, is tamed from the lewd female fantasy of the books to the middle of the road romantic drama. Albeit with a little more nudity and a little more BDSM than one would typically expect from a mainstream movie.

Rating

Passable for fans of the books. Missable for everyone else, unless you want to see what all the fuss is about.

4.5/10

The Interview

I’ll admit I only watched this film because of the Sony hack and surrounding drama.

I don’t really like Seth Rogen comedies, or modern American comedies in general. They lack the critical element of a comedy, actually being humorous. Most seem to rely on crude humour that I simply don’t find funny.

The Interview is laced with crude innuendo, toilet humour and juvenile sexual references throughout. See for example, one of the introductory shots of Agent Lacey played by Lizzy Caplan.

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That said, the humour doesn’t totally fall flat.  The opening scene with Eminem goes in a radically different direction than what I was expecting much to my surprise and delight. It then proceeds to makes jokes like… well this:

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There are a few jokes that are built up and have a pay off. Only a few though, the majority of the film is very low brow. The film passed the six laugh test, albeit barely.

The reddit /r/movies discussion on the film neatly picks out the funniest gags from the movie. You can read that and get about 90% of the humour. There isn’t all that much more to be said about the humour really. Do you like Rogen/ Goldberg movies? Then you’ll like The Interview. If not, read a couple reviews and the Eminem scene and you’ll get as much as you’re going to get from the film.

Seth Rogen as Seth Rogen Aaron Rapoport plays the same character he does in every film he’s in acting as the plot driving force as the practically only character with any scenes which are more plot orientated than just silly gags. James Franco is passable as David “Dave” Skylark, primarily pulling funny faces, doing silly things and acting like a child. It’s Randall Park as Kim Jong-un who takes the crown though making the scenes with Franco passable, and getting it past the aforementioned six laugh test.

The film dabbles just a little in satirising the trashy celebrity “news” coverage, but barely scratches the surface other than with some throw away jokes and cameos. It’s so subtle, it’s almost accidental.

Rating

The Interview appeals to a certain group of people, of which I don’t belong to. If you’re reading this, I suspect you don’t either. Watch it once because of the Sony drama, then never again.

3/10

Edge of Tomorrow

It’s 15 minutes into the future and aliens on meteors invade Germany and quickly spread across much of Europe. The world’s militaries conglomerate into the United Defence Force and prepare to take on the aliens at the beaches of France from a staging area at Heathrow.

American Major and PR man William Cage finds himself in London expecting to do more PR work, but instead finds himself expected to take up combat duties. He attempts to cowardly weasel himself out of duties but fails and gets sent to the front lines. The battle is hopeless, the aliens knew about the offensive and decimate the UDF troops. Cage sees his squad massacred in front of him, but manages to kill the alien just in time, spilling its black, oily, acid-like blood all over him and dissolves…

And then he wakes up the previous morning and repeats the process – a la Groundhog Day.

Cage melting in Alpha blood
Cage melting in Alpha blood

It’s  a film I’ve been waiting to watch for a while, and was expecting to be the roughly mediocre Hollywood sci-fi. Going in, all I knew about the film was:

  1. It’s Action Sci-fi
  2. Stars Tom Cruise
  3. Tag line is “Live. Die. Repeat.”
  4. …Aren’t those the exo-skeletons from Elysium?

Like most films with Tom Cruise, it’s hard to see a character and not Tom Cruise. This film is no exception, especially during the newsreel montage interspersed with clips of Cage doing his PR work. The difference between repurposed stock footage and scripted footage is somewhat jarring. Cage soon has his character established, but still remains inconspicuously Tom Cruise throughout the film.

The film seems to deliberately establish Cage as a confident PR man during the montage, then turn face heels when he’s drafted into combat duty. Cage first attempts to bargain and then blackmail to get out. My inference was that there was some nefarious reason he was being sent into combat or that there was a reason why he was so desperate to get out. Throughout the film I was expecting this to pay off, but it never did and seems to just be there to make his character arc, unlikeable coward to war winning hero, just that little bit bigger. Whatever. It works.

Emily Blunt plays the stoic Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who we learn had previously been in a timeloop like Cruise. Rita is a badass compared to Cage – it’s nice to see a female in such a dominating role. Rita is also just a little bit to genre savvy – she knows how the time loop blood works and she consistently has no hesitation shooting Cage in the head to reset a loop.

The pacing feels just right. The film never lingers for too long at any stage of Cage’s development with his ever increasing ability and progress to defeating the aliens rising at a consistent and steady pace.

Rating

Overall a very good film. A very good Sci-Fi. It’s a shame it was such a box office bomb. Sci-Fi needs more Edge of Tomorrows.

8/10