Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Inglourious Basterds and Gamer

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:31 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw a couple movies this weekend, and to ease your pain, I’m going to write one post that reviews them both.

I saw Tarantino’s latest, Inglourious Basterds, twice this weekend. First on Friday, and then again on Sunday morning. First of all, if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you to hit the bathroom first, because this is a long movie. Not only is it long, it’s fabulously detailed and filled with scenes and moments that you will absolutely not want to miss, so, trust me when I tell you, get to the theater with enough time to drain that bladder buddy!
Seriously, I’m actually not a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, but, no matter what else I may or may not like about his work, his cinematography is gorgeous. His grasp of visual, photographic art is simply astounding. And, this movie is no exception. There are scenes so well framed that I almost forgot to pay attention to the dialog. Seriously! And, that’s even allowing for the fact that Tarantino purposely made this film in the style of a spaghetti western, or a so-called macaroni combat movie of the same era. As soon as the titles started to roll up, I was put in mind of a B-grade copy of an old Lee Marvin WWII movie. Of course, it’s not exactly a secret that Tarantino loves movies from that time and, in fact, Inglourious Basterds might well contain everything that he loves about those movies and movies in general. That was one of the reasons I was so willing to see it twice, besides the company, just to try and catch all the dense iconography and try to figure out a few more of the allusions he makes to previous films and various cinematographic tropes.

The story is very loosely based on World War Two, in the sense that it’s the backdrop of the movie, but the events are entirely fictional. And, by fictional I mean so fantastical that they’re pretty much alternate history. There are two plot lines, that end up focused on the same event, the attempted assassination of the entire Nazi high command, including Hitler. The main group of potential assassins are, of course, the Bastards, a group of Jewish American soldiers sent into occupied France by the OSS to kill as many Nazis as they can, sowing fear, chaos and destruction as they go. The other potential assassin is a young Jewish woman who escapes a purge conducted by a Nazi nick-named the Jew Hunter. She ends up in Paris, the proprietor of a cinema who gets pestered by a smitten Nazi “war hero”.

As you might imagine of a Tarantino film, it’s incredibly bloody and violent. It’s also funny in parts, quite intentionally, too. And, in spite of it’s length, there’s not a dull moment. Every second, it seems, is filled with something either beautiful to see or some plot point to absorb. It really is a masterful demonstration of movie-making. Again, I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s work, but this really is something to see, no matter how you feel about him.
Notice, I haven’t gone into much detail on the plot, because, well, it’s pretty complicated for such a simple premise, but also, because you should see this movie. Really. It’s truly amazing, and I think you should definitely see it on the big screen. Do NOT wait for this to hit Netflix. See this one in the theater!

Now, as for Gamer
Well, I saw this at a $4 matinee, so I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think I would have been as sanguine if I’d paid full price. This was, as you might have guessed from the previews and ads, an action film. The premise is simple; nano-devices that rewrite human brain cells allowing for a “user” to take control of another person and use them like a puppet. There are two environments where users, or gamers, can use their puppets; the Society and Slayers. The Society is like an updated, 3d version of Second Life, but, oddly cruder, too. Several years after the Bill Gates-like Ken Castle brings out Society, he ramps up the super popular Slayers. Slayers is a war game. A war game played with people. In this case, convicts who will be released if they survive thirty “events”, or combats. The story follows Kable, a puppet in Slayers, or an “i-con, as they call them. He’s been wrongly convicted of a crime, separated from his wife and child. They’re the reason he fights and survives.
What he doesn’t know, however, is that his wife has lost their child to a corrupt version of Child Protective Services and has been forced to take work as an “actress”, or puppet, in Society, where she’s subjected to all kinds of degradation to earn money.

Now, there are a lot of interesting themes in this movie, but, sadly, few of them get explored in any real depth. What’s worse is that instead of spending time developing the potentially rich background for commentary on invasive media, the morality of controlling another human being, the morality of using convicts for purposes that may be harmful to them as human beings, and so on, the moviemakers when for the cheap shot. I imagine they were going after an R rating, for sales purposes, but the frankly unimaginative “fantasy” sex and gross-out behavior in the game world, is just boring and wasted time. I’m no wild-man, but, honestly, even I can be more imaginative than they were in the “virtually anything goes” sex environment meant to shock and titillate. And, I’d imagine from what I’ve read about Second Life, those folks who participate in that “hobby” are more imaginative than most of what we saw in Gamer, too.

All that said, though, the action sequences were great and Gerard Butler did everything he could with the limited role he had. Certainly, not the best of his career so far.
So, unless you’re a huge sci-fi fan, I can’t recommend seeing this one at anything more expensive than a matinee. In fact, you’d be better off waiting to see it on DVD, if at all.

So, to sum up, as Buckaroo Banzai put it, “…yes on one and no on two. ” Enjoy your movies!

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