This Month in Movies: April 2013

by A. Journey

I was finally able to see some new movies this year, all within the last couple of weeks. Here are some quick thoughts:

 Oblivion

The film suffers from two things: an overly-long running time and a reliance on generic sci-fi tropes. Oblivion chooses to focus too much of its time on uninteresting world-building (drones guarding hydro-energy converters, blah blah blah) and incidental secondary characters (sorry Morgan Freeman’s friends), making parts of the movie feel really bogged down. It also wastes time shoehorning in typical science-fiction action sequences that do nothing for the movie. What Oblivion does right is most clearly evident in the film’s production design. Not only is this future world and all of its technology believable, but it’s also gorgeous.  Just look at the above screencap. What I was really taken with was Oblivion’s comments on the power/importance of love in the human experience and how essential that is to understanding ideas of the mind and soul. It highlights this in a pseudo love-triangle throughout the film, and it’s something I wish  had been explored more. If you can get past the film’s length and its tendencies to make sure it fits squarely into the science fiction genre (and if you can get past Tom Cruise roaming the Earth alone with his bobble-head friend named…Bob), there are some really great ideas packed in here, set against an even great visual backdrop.

Be sure to keep an ear out for the very 80’s influenced music score.

 Spring Breakers

If the idea of James Franco (as drug dealer/rapper “Alien”) singing Britney Spears while masked, gun-wielding beach beauties dance around him doesn’t sound amazing, this movie might not be for you. I don’t blame you, because I don’t think this movie is for a lot of people. In fact, the screening I attended had movie-goers walk out during this exact scene. Spring Breakers is a slow burn, almost excruciatingly slow–that’s because it’s more art house than mainstream–and as soon as the film finally finds footing as a humorous parody of today’s youth culture, it quickly pulls the rug out from under the audience and reveals itself as a much more disturbing satire of the power and influence of media on the current and upcoming generations. Without ruining anything, the film is a mix of Scarface, Sugar & Spice, late 90’s MTV culture, cocaine, Call of Duty, and Girls Gone Wild, all of that if it were seen through the lens of a demented, modern-day Gidget.  As funny as the film starts off, it’s almost hard to watch the second half, not because it’s bad, but because it feels so raw and real, and worst of all, accurate. Casting two of the biggest, most recent Mouse House products, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, makes the film feel even more spot-on (and disturbing). These girls are playing characters that might not be too off from real-life versions of their own fans, and the fact they constantly celebrate Britney Spears, another Disney product, now fallen from grace, isn’t only ironic, but it’s a perfect jab at how tweens interact with and are influenced by today’s media culture.

Also, there are A LOT of boobs in this movie. You will be desensitized to the sight of the female breast (if you aren’t already) after about 2 minutes into it.

 Trance

Oh boy. Oh Danny Boy-le. As cool as this movie looks, and as much as I’m still thinking about it, I just don’t quite get it. What’s real, what isn’t…. why the film pretends to be about an art heist gone wrong, when it’s really about the power of human manipulation and… something. I don’t know if I can recommend it, because I don’t think I understood it, and I don’t know if that’s a ME problem or a MOVIE flaw. Once I view it again, I’ll report back. Perhaps I can be hypnotized and my sub-conscious will explain it to me.

 Warm Bodies

This was cute and a nice take on the over-saturated zombie genre. It’s light and fun, well-done, and the Romeo & Juliet references are a nice touch. However, I must take issue with the idea of zombies being able to train to become human again, especially when love is involved. Here is why:

Until next time friends! Follow me here and on twitter to keep up with my movie musings!

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