27 July 2011

Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger

The lazy bug’s gone and bit me again. I saw this on Saturday, started a post a few days ago, and gave up because I didn’t feel like writing anything. Here ‘goes again. I don’t think I’ll try to stick with any sort of structure because I don’t give a damn.

It’s a good movie. I liked it. Very much like watching an old comic book. There’s a good amount of camp, lots of altruism and concentrated evil, and explosions. It’s not going to win any awards for story or anything but the characters are very likable and well presented. The setting is great, and the whole bit with Rodgers being the front-man for war bonds was classic.

I don’t really know much about Captain America; most of what I know of the early classic superheroes was gleaned from old collections in my local library as a kid, which I read on the bench but never checked out. I think I assumed my mom wouldn’t let me. Thusly I’m not very attached to the character, but watching this movie made me a fan. He’s made extremely relatable in his cg-stiched-face phase as a short weakling who can’t make it with the ladies, and then when given the power to make himself a badass, he does as he was advised and doesn’t abuse it. He’s just an all-around great guy.

Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones make for a terrific supporting cast since they’re just that awesome. Hayley Atwell is classically hot. Chris Evans did a fine job. As a whole, I think I’d put this movie above X-Men: First Class, just below Iron Man, maybe tied with Iron Man 2. It’s a promising advertisement for next year’s Joss Whedon blockbuster.

The forced culturally-diverse team of badasses was a bit stupid though.

10 July 2011

The Troll Hunter


Norway’s pretty cool. It’s the home of black metal, Kvelertak, and a bunch of fjords, and it’s got probably the best average quality of life on the planet. Oddly their movies don’t seem to pop up on the global radar much though; this is the first I’ve heard of one. I’ll certainly be on the lookout now.

This is a kind of muckumentary/shakycam thing, a bit more like Cloverfield than anything else. It’s supposedly a bunch of footage that was discovered in some way that’s explained in the opening text, and it’s all just been put together into a movie. Originally it was supposed to be a documentary about bear poaching, made by a group of college kids, but it turned out the poacher wasn’t hunting bears. Trolls are real and they’ve been wandering outside their territories, and somebody’s trying to cover it up with fake bear attacks. One man is given the task of keeping the monsters in check, and the intrepid group of college kids are eventually allowed to tag along and document the atrocities.

The biology and diversity of the trolls is taken from legend and folklore. Not everything made the cut; the more fanciful bits like speaking human language and playing games of wit were thrown out in favor of making the trolls into massive, dumb predators who eat rocks or whatever else they can find. The film has pretty blatant environmentalist undertones. The destruction of the trolls is an affront to nature and the preservation of Norwegian history, all that sort of thing. And yet, the film maintains a not-quite-that-serious vibe, bringing on laughs once in a while and not really prompting that much reverence for the creatures; that’s directed more on the beautiful landscapes.

The trolls themselves are of course computer-generated, and they look great. The animation isn’t perfect all the time, but it didn’t matter that much considering the strangeness of the several different kinds of trolls. The most grating aspect of the film was the shakycam. I remember there being a lot of fuss over people getting sick at Cloverfield screenings; those people should avoid this one at all costs. It gets pretty brutal with the shaking. Also, since it’s supposed to just be raw footage spliced together instead of a professionally edited movie, the cuts are frequent and often jarring. The sound was probably the best part though. It made the scale of the creatures much more believable.

To top off the goodness, the closing credits were accompanied by a track off of Kvelertak’s self-titled release from last year, which is an incredibly fantastic album and extremely appropriate for this movie.

A bit about the theater. We went to the E Street Cinema in Washington DC. This is the first time I’ve been there and it certainly won’t be the last. They show lots of great limited-release films, and had posters for a whole bunch of movies I hadn’t even heard of. Once we got into our theater, which was very small but still had semi-stadium seating, we were treated to a live, albeit somewhat nervous introduction by one of the staff who seemed genuinely happy to see so many people in attendance for this movie in particular. The crowd was cool, the sound was great, and the screen was just fine. It was just an all-around great time.

Didn’t think I’d write this much.