The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 30 January 2009]

Movie roundup, part ten

In this installment of the movie round-up: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Iron Man, Payback: The Director’s Cut, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Doomsday, Maxed Out and The Dark Knight.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: Pretty good continuation of the series. If you liked the other two installments, you’ll like this one.

It’s a bit annoying that you know the main plot from the get-go, as it’s referenced in the first movie. I was hoping against hope they would get the bits we already knew about out of the way quickly so we could have some suspense, but alas it was not to be.

One of the things that really sell me on the whole Underworld series is how great it is when you get Serious British Actors and tell them to go nuts. Bill Nighy as Viktor the vampire in particular chews up the scenery with such glee it’s impossible to not be amused.

Iron Man: Enjoyable popcorn movie. Manages to not be very “cartoony” and Robert Downey Jr. does a splendid job.

Sure, there’s a lot of full-on silliness, and the plot is downright dumb, but the movie carries itself with verve. The CGI is very, very impressive.

Payback: Straight Up—The Director’s Cut: I was ambivalent to the theatrical release of Payback—there was a good movie in there, but it was buried in Hollywood clichés and pyrotechnics.

The Director’s Cut is what Payback longed to be: An homage to ’70s revenge flicks with a direct lineage to classic noir. It’s much shorter, giving it a lean and hard edge, the ending is completely different, the silly voice-over is gone, and instead of the—admittedly striking—blue tone, it’s high-contrast and crisp.

This version of the movie also turns Porter into much more of a sociopathic force of nature that’s hard to like. Protagonist, not hero, indeed.

If you’ve seen the theatrical release, you remember the excruciating torture scene. Turns out that was added after the director was cut, together with the whole third act. What is it with Mel Gibson and torture, anyway? It’s just creepy.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut: Hey, it’s Blade Runner, what do you expect? The Final Cut brings restored film and a few tweaks to some scenes. That’s it. But that’s plenty.

This was the movie I used to launch my new Blu-ray player, and boy what an experience! Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Did I mention this movie looks absolutely awesome on a Blu-ray player?

Doomsday: The Road Warrior had a huge influence on me as a teenager, and now apparently somebody thought it would be a good idea to recreate it. In Scotland. With viruses.

Doomsday is so unspeakably bad it almost—just almost—becomes camp. But it doesn’t get there. It’s just a really, really awful movie with a plot that seems to be a copy-paste from scraps of screenplays written during a week-long bender.

If there’s a virus that’s lethal enough that the whole north of England has to be quarantined off, wouldn’t you think somebody would spend some time, oh, I don’t know, RESEARCHING IT?

On the plus side, dudes with mohawks.

Maxed Out: Depressing and enraging documentary about predatory lending practices in the United States. Does a good job of explaining the reason why you get more credit card offers if your credit is poor, and illuminates the human toll of cynical lending practices.

Now that the lending industry has collapsed the entire world-wide economy, it’s interesting to see this perspective from 2006, when things were still going well from an economic standpoint.

On the down side, the movie does go a bit heavy on the heart strings at times, and doesn’t spend nearly enough time tying together cause and effect in admittedly wrenching interviews with parents whose children have committed suicide after getting into unmanageable debt.

Maxed Out also features interviews with shark-like debt collectors that will make your blood boil.

The Dark Knight: Batman goes even darker and more disturbing than in Batman Begins.

A good continuation, a more relevant Batman and a massive performance by Heath Ledger as The Joker.

I actually thought it was a bit too dark and psychotic. But still no nipples on the Bat Suit, so it’s all good.

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