Haywire, The Darkest Hour & Underworld: Awakening

A New Year


If only there was some kind of job that monitored the length of writing... ...and structure. Monitored structure.
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Reported on 25th of January, 2012

Given that I’m still working on a 3000 word treatise on the 2011 The Thing, a film which no one saw or wrote about, and one that I only mention to talk about other films, I will be brief in my address of the equally unpopular The Darkest Hour. I’ve always felt that these bits have to be a certain length, contain a certain number of gags and so forth, but this is just the requirement of my editor, who only exists in my brain. So I did the only sensible thing. I sent him to Glecknor 7. He’s in my brain; it’s not like I could have had him fired.

The Darkest Hour

14 January 2012 @ The Cineworld Eastbourne


$7.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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Post Hugo, it can be said that nothing irritates me more than idiotic film critics, not even idiotic films. And just as the reprehensible Hugo needs an attacker, poor rotten tomato target The Darkest Hour needs its defender. Yes, the characters are as cardboard as can be, and the film a little dull in parts, but like the equally forgettably titled Time Out or Out of Time or Time to Time Out of Time, or whatever it was called, this is a film that does what it says, and God knows there are so few of those. This is what my friend Richard calls 7 out of 10 films, which is all he’s looking for. He’s right, but I call them unaware films just to be different. There’s no time for references or self-aware nods, because you have to watch out for the monster. Or very, very silly wigs. Sorry, you haven’t seen Time Without a Place Before Time Out. There are wigs in it.

I hate feminism as much as the next girl in a bikini drinking beer, but I really hate boring narrative.

The Darkest Hour is far from perfect, or far from even necessarily good. There’s an especially egregious violation of what I will call the I, Moron rule. It’s the idea that it’s okay to risk the lives of everyone on earth as long as you Save The Girl. It probably should be called the Saving Private Ryan rule given that that film was about 20 men dying to save one, this despite the fact that such an ethos was the exact opposite of what World War II was about. But I think the otherwise entertaining I, Robot is more appropriate, as the ending involves telling a robot to risk the entire planet for the life of The Girl. Mr. Will Smith is teaching said robot the actual principles of humanity, at least 21st Century US carpet bombing humanity, though I fear that this intolerance of even the slightest idea of sacrifice or risk in the face of difficult choices and uncertain futures may get us into trouble down the line. I mean, if W.E. and New Year’s Day are both at 12:30, what is humanity to do?

Oh, and the theaters are exactly the same number of steps away. Yeah, you thought you wiggled out of that one, didn’t you humanity?

Also, the ice cream sandwich was pretty good. Not A Dangerous Method good, but pretty good.

Also, the ice cream sandwich was pretty good. Not A Dangerous Method good, but pretty good.

What’s worse, my boredom (the concern of all of Hollywood) with making the girl the victim could be solved so easily, by giving her some ability or even just some geegaw that is vital to shooting monsters, making it part of the story to go after her (or God forbid, make her part of the story). This is in place of our typical weak girl climax, which is not at all what it sounds like. I hate feminism as much as the next girl in a bikini drinking beer, but I really hate boring narrative.

But The Darkest Hour, for the most part, I had a good time. The monsters make internal sense, the characters only occasionally act like complete idiots, and characters take themselves seriously, just as the filmmakers don’t, the perfect combination when there are monsters around. This is what I mean by the Unaware Film, which involves a lot of awareness. My praise is crucial, and perhaps a bit desperate, since this is the first film of the year, and so the auger of 2012. Though it would be literally impossible to have a worse cinema year than 2011, I’m reminded of those ads that say no toothpaste works better. This is adspeak for the technical reality that they’re all the same, and so the last thing I want to hear, from myself, I suppose, is that no 2012 works better.

I would say, however, that the signs point to 7 out of 10 cinema. Damn Richard, his saying is just better than mine. There was some controversy between me and my editor before the Glecknor 7 incident over whether or not the first film of the year should be a UK or US release. The Darkest Hour came out in the US on Christmas, and on January 17th here, meaning it could be great, but 2012 wouldn’t know the difference. As much as a year can know things, that is.

The Darkest Hour

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Profits!
Having some actual rules about the creature.
$2.00
Hey it’s 7 out of 10 cinema and thus
$7.00
Total Profits
$9.00
Losses!
Though there were many problems one cannot deduct from 7 out of 10 cinema.
$0.00
That being said: girl in trouble. What is this, 2016?
$2.00
That bit will work in five years. I depressingly guarantee it.
Total Losses
$2.00

$7.00

Haywire

18 January 2012 @ The Cineworld Brighton


$7.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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Lost the ticket, here's a fake one from the same theater. It happens. If I had them all, it would weigh a million pounds.

Lost the ticket, here’s a fake one from the same theater. It happens. If I had them all, it would weigh a million pounds.

There was thus a lot riding on Haywire, as it was the first film in both US and UK release. I postponed a trip to Paris to see on Wednesday, so how could I not be disappointed? Yet worrying about my expectations meant that I was expecting to be disappointed, and so my feelings were neutral.

Yes, but were they neutral enough? In fact they were too neutral, as Haywire turned out to be another 7 out of 10, though it’s a slightly different 7. Maybe Gill Sans or something. But definitely in the Helvetica family. While Mr. Soderberg has maintained a flair for space and thematic (as opposed to temporal) editing, Haywire has that certain Lem Dobbs feeling, and upon seeing his name in the credits, the foibles of the film suddenly made sense. Learning that for Mr. Dobbs anyway, this film was about a ‘woman’s emotional journey‘, we can only be grateful that Mr. Soderberg was wise enough to make that emotion ‘feeling good after beating the crap out of people’.

Haywire

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Profits!
The mechanics of the story, which involve punching people in fun ways.
$9.00
Total Profits
$9.00
Losses!
The story, which involves some sort of thing that happened. If I don’t remember it now…
$2.00
Total Losses
$2.00

$7.00

Underworld: Awakening

24 January 2012 @ The Cineworld Brighton


$15.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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And after today’s screening of Underworld: Awakening, I have to say, 2012 is looking good. This film was better than either two previous (from my strict narrative point of view), and the first straight up decent genre film in the last year and a half.

Can’t find the ticket for Haywire, but this one will be worth a fortune someday.

There’s lots of good gags (if I had seen the trailer, I’m sure it would have spoiled the film by giving them away, which I will do now for you: a girl ripping a werewolf’s head in half, Ms. Kate Beckensale shooting a hole in an falling elevator so that it falls around her, silver grenade shrapnel in a fan and so forth. I’d feel bad, but it’s your own fault; you shouldn’t have seen the trailer), and an impressive pace. After 40 minutes of solid action and story, I just didn’t care if the rest of it was terrible: I had my one good Hollywood film of the year, and it was only January.

Can I say also, one of the appeals of the film is the inverse of the Superman Is An Asshole rule, which I used to call the Adonis Villain rule, but this title is better, and clearly I’m feeling a little threatened over my friend Richard’s ability to wax metaphorical. Anyway, Underworld: Awakening is actually smart/lucky enough to create an environment where vampires are the de facto victims of a genocide (not so subtly called a ‘cleansing’ in the film). The thing of it is, and it bears remembering, we identify with victims, not heros, and their superhuman powers are balanced by the external threat. I’m sure Richard will come up with a name for this that’s better than the Claude Reins rule, but he’s not getting the credit.

Underworld: Awakening

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Profits!Thank God I took good notes – Gags:  Gun pushed through chest.$1.00 Silver grenade in ceiling fan.$1.00 Little girl rips werewolf head in half.$2.00 Girl Saves Boy$3.00 Forty (40) minutes of solid action at the beginning @ $0.20 per minute.$8.00 Total Profits$15.00  Losses! This movie rules.$0.00 Total Losses$0.00

And that’s what I mean when I say keeping it short. If only there was some kind of job that monitored the length of writing…

In Time. That’s the name of it. Who comes up with these generic and completely unforgettable titles?

…and structure. Monitored structure.

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