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Posts Tagged ‘Dystopian movie’

Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
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On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

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 The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
V For Vendetta” (2006)  —  movie review
V For Vendetta” is a political / action / thriller / drama set in a future United Kingdom / England, dystopian / fascist state.  The movie stars Hugo Weaving as V (the hero of the movie), Natalie Portman as “Evey” Hammond (the naive initiate), Stephen Rea as Eric Finch (the good cop just trying to do his job), John Hurt as High Chancellor Adam Sutler (the evil ruler), Tim Pigott-Smith as Peter Creedy (the head of the state police / the muscle).  The basic plot is a secret governmental agency is trying to find a disease (and cure) they can use as a weapon and gain control of the country / world.  They get the disease, but end up creating “V” as the cure (by accident).  “V” escapes, as does the disease and it becomes a world-wide pandemic.  To “protect” the U.K., the governmental agency seizes power and the state becomes a means of keeping a few (Sutler and Creedy) in more or less absolute power.  Except “V” comes back to exact his revenge.
So, damsel in danger.  Saved by hero.  Hero tries to convince damsel he is hero.  She doesn’t believe him and almost gets them both killed.  Hero goes to “extraordinary” lengths to convince her he is “good” and she finally believes.  Meanwhile, hero is playing all kinds of heck with the government.  The good cop is trying to capture the hero.  All the bad guys get their due.  Hero dies.  Damsel promises to remember him.
This movie is somewhat of a classic at this point – in the dystopian and anti-fascist movie genre.  Shockingly, this is the first time I have seen it all the way through!  I had previously seen lots of parts and a couple of times almost all of it, but I bought the DVD on sale for a $1, so what the heck.  It’s also on TV and NetFlix a lot, but I don’t enjoy watching movies with commercials (most of the time) and I just never got to it on Netflix before this.
Is this a “great” movie?  No.  But I do think it is a “classic”.  How’s the  acting?   Pretty good…  In a BBC / Masterpiece Theater kind of way.  Plot?  Action?  Special effects?  I found the plot a little confusing.  There are some “memory” scenes and I was a bit confused by the beginning / intro.  The action is mostly good to very good.  The crescendo death battle is definitely “classic” at this point and you can find multiple versions of it on YouTube.  That, and the two buildings which get blown up (the “Old Bailey” and Parliament) are both also done well as special effects.
Final recommendation:  Strong to highly recommended!  It is a movie which left me thinking it about it, so it’s difficult to describe it as an “action” movie, but it is also that, too.  I enjoyed it and now that I’ve watched it all the way through, I definitely want to watch it again in the not too distant future.  If nothing else, to make me think about it a little more deeply.  On its own, that’s a pretty good recommendation for any movie – genre classic or not.  Oh, yeah.  The verse above (which is recited in the movie) is from the poem referring to “Guy Fawkes Day”, which is 5 November each year in England.  Back in 1606, Fawkes and a group of co-conspirators wanted to blow up King James and Parliament.  They failed and were all executed.  “V” had better luck…
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On This Day In:
2017 Black And White
Advice For #DumbDonald
2016 Mirror, Mirror
2015 Speaking With Forked Tongue
2014 The Code
2013 Eventually Formed
2012 Remember To Vote Tomorrow
2011 It Sounds Like Chaos Theory To Me

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I am sure there is someone out there who can (will) correct me, but one of the first movies to “decently” portray a cyborg-type / exoskeleton / robot suit was the original RoboCop.  It seems as if since the production of “Ironman” with Robert Downey Jr., every actor has to fill out his / her career by putting on a suit of armor or an exoskeleton.  Today’s review is about Matt Damon’s effort, titled: “Elysium“.
As dystopian, Sci-Fi, special-effects movies go, this is a pretty entertaining movie.  I am a Matt Damon fan and this movie certainly doesn’t hurt his fan base.  It’s not a great role for him.  It kind of feels like: “been there, done that” action / adventure that he has done multiple times in the “Bourne” series, but I’m not a fan who thinks every role has to stretch a particular actor.  Some roles are kind of career fillers.  I think this is that kind of role for Damon.
So, let’s see…  Man is about to die, one chance to live, have an exoskeleton bonded to your body, go save yourself and the whole planet, too.  Yup.  That about sums it up.  Does he get it done? (What do you think?)
If I have any objection to this movie, it’s the same I have to the entire genre: having a iron shell or exoskeleton, does not make the internal functions of the human body sturdier.  If you get thrown ten feet and crash into a steel or cement wall – you are still dead from concussions and damage to internal organs.  I don’t care what kind of skeleton you have.  I will make allowances for the “Wolverine” character, but that’s only because he also has a super-healing power to go along with his internal metal skeleton.  The rest of these action heroes – sorry, you’re all dead on impact.
Having said that, the special effects in this movie are pretty good – particularly the “good” earth (Elysium) orbiting the bad earth.  In case you’re wondering where you heard the term / name before, it was the Heaven / Valhalla equivalent place mentioned in the movie “Gladiator“.  If you find yourself there, don’t worry about the battle, your friends or how you got there, cause you’re already dead…  I’m not sure if it’s intended or unintended irony that the “bad” but mostly innocent (better) folks live in “Heaven”.  I’m not sure if it’s intended or unintended social-political commentary that the hard-working and “bad / lesser” people live on Earth (Hell).
Despite my reservations mentioned above this is a pretty good Sci-Fi movie and I would put it between moderate to highly recommended depending on if your into Sci-fi, action / adventure, good versus evil movies.  Obviously, I am and I enjoyed this movie.
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On This Day In:
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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