Sunday, 16 January 2022

Movieweek 2022 - Week 2 - Flying Sharks, a Titanium Girl & some Eternals

I didn't watch as many movies this week as real life events got in the way a little.  I am now back to the grind after the long Christmas break and I had the small issue of finding a new car.  Hopefully my evenings will now be free to relax and watch some movies.

Sky Sharks (2020) - 3/10

Sky Sharks (2020)
Sometimess I say that I watch movies so that you don't have to and that adage has never been truer than in the case of Sky Sharks.  

Having seen the trailer for this movie about a year ago, I was honestly looking forward to seeing this and hoping that it would be another cult classic like Iron Sky, or Dead Snow.  It's not, it's an out and out exploitation movie more like Sharknado but with more sex gags, and not great ones either.

There are precious few moments in the movie which I thought were worthwhile and it seems to lumber from one set piece to another.  The characters are instantly forgettable as they try to end the Nazi Sky Shark threat once and for all but the only way to do that is to sacrifice a plane full of innocent people to lure out the Sharkwaffe.

Not content with having zombie nazis, there's a whole muddled section about zombie vietcong.  It makes precious little sense and should be avoided like the plague.

Titane (2021) - 5/10

Titane (2021)
Titane is a tough film to watch.  I'm no stranger to violent french films, I loved Doberman, I loved Man Bites Dog and I have watched Irreversible, but Titane just didn't grab me.  

The main character of Alexia is just a little bit too hard to watch in places and I had to take a break (of 2 months) before going back to complete watching it.  This is always a bad sign and either tells me that I am just not in the right mood for this movie or that it is really not a great movie.

This is an entirely different situation to that of movies like Fight Club and the TV Show Squid Game which I actively avoided thanks to the trailers.  However, having watched both, I can understand why I reacted negatively to the marketing.  

Titane should be right up my alley but the central premise to the film, that psycopathic murderer Alexia has been knocked up by an automobile, is a bit too far fetched for a movie which takes itself very seriously.  SFter a killing spree, she then runs away and gets taken in by a fireman who lost his son.  The relationship between Alexia and Vincent is a strange one full of confused sexual tension and paternal grief. 

There is a good amount of body horror in this movie and well done to whoever did the prostetics work and practical effects as they were flawless and utterly convincing.  It reminded me somewhat of the Tetsuo movies which were an awesome blend of cyberpunk and film noir with a similarly transhumanist motif running through them.  However, they are much simpler films which don't try to tell multiple stories full of complex human emotions.

Definitely one of the oddest films that I have seen in the last ten years.

Eternals (2021) - 4/10

The MCU lumbers on like a juggernaught in this latest release from the house of mouse and we are starting to to run out of really compelling stories to tell it seems.  Full disclosure, I am not a hardcore superhero movie fan and I prefer the way that DC Animated Universe treats the properties of Batman, The Justice League, Superman and Justice League Dark to the live action Marvel universe.

The Eternals promised a lot with its huge cast of A-List talent and I am so glad that Hollywood has recognised Gemma Chan as an actress who can headline a movie.  But, and it is as big bit, this movie had pacing problems from the beginning.  It chose to ponderously establish the emotional baggage that many of the characters had saddled themselves with over the course of 7,000 years spent watching over humanity and waiting for the Emergence.   

The real story was of them gradually wiping out the deviants until none remain.  Instead, against a backdrop of the fall of Tenoctitlan, we have Salma Hayak (Ajak) nonchalantly declare that the last deviant was dead.  Like a 60s supergroup, the band breaks up and they each go their seperate ways, but we don't get any montage of what they do with temselves in the intervening 500 years.  

This was a great opportunity to do some B-Roll of characters lives intertwined with famous pivotal historical events but instead we go straight into a Bollywood dance number so jarring that it rips you right out of the movie.  We don't really understand why, because in the few scenes that Kingo was in, there was literally no character development.  I cared much more about his valet than I did about him.  This is a big flaw in the build up of the movie because we struggle to bridge the gap between the Eternals as they were and what they have become.  We have little to no reference to what they have witnessed, the wars they have seen, the things they have done to hide their presence from humans as they openly live as literal Gods among men.

We then jet off to some desert hovel in Australia where Gilgamesh is living in relative squalor looking after Thena where Sersi is told by Arishem the Prime Celestial, the earth shattering truth (quite literally) behind their mission.  This was another wasted opportunity to dump some Celestials lore whihc would have driven Marvel fans wild.  For example, how many celestials are there?, who are they?, how long do they live? why do they need more celestials? what functions do they perform? what are their powers? why is Tiamut important? If celestials are so powerful why can't Arishem (The Judge) wipe out all the Deviants in a snap of his fingers?  Seems like Celestials are just a plot convenience to me.

From this point on you would think that the story would really pick up pace as we now know that there is a ticking clock.  As Tiamut's emergence draws near why aren't we seeing more of these global earthquakes and scenes of minor Deviants ravaging metropoli? 

Some of these characters were hard to love as in the case of Druig, and others you just felt were nothing more than an artists preliminary sketch (Makkari).  When we catch up with Druig he has become some sort of religious cult leader in the Amazonian jungle, controlling his followers with his mind.  This is not at all creepy behaviour and makes him really endearing to the viewer (irony).

There was precious little to like about some of the characters who clearly have been playing some background role in the evolution of humanity and then "check out" when the going gets tough.  The scene of Phastos in the ashes of Hiroshima was particularly trite and cliche without any other WWII scenes.  

What was Druig, a character who clearly had the deepest connection and concern for humanity doing while war raged across the globe?  It would have been great to see a character reading a newspaper about the exploits of Captain America fighting the Nazis.  It's as if this movie operates within an MCU vacuum, the story is selectively blind and deaf to what is going on in the world around it. 

The problem with this approach is that it ultimately dehumanises the Eternals as characters.  If they can comfortably sit back and spectate as the the Nazi onslaught kills 15 to 20 million people across Europe, how are we expected to empathise with them when they get upset at the killing of 130 to 226 thousand people at the end of the war?  We needed those historical reference points to establish the character's gradual descent into disillusionment, anger and guilt.

This was handled much better in the movie Highlander (1986) in just a couple of flashbacks we learn how Connor Mcleod stumbled through history doing what little he can as an immortal without any flashy superpowers. 

Eternals could have been a good movie but it suffered from terribly poor storytelling, too many characters and laborious exposition.          

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