RECIPE

Sooo… I’ve kind of stopped doing movie reviews. That really didn’t last very long.

Anyway, here’s an awesome recipe that me and my brother invented the other day, only I’ve added in a special ingredient to replace regular butter.

Cronenberg Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
or
The 5C Mindcrusher

Ingredients

125 grams of Weed Butter
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 cup of Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
2 Eggs of Chicken
2 and 1/3 cups of Self-Raising Flour OR other Flour with 3 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
150 grams of chocolate buttons/chips
Optional ingredients:
– A bunch of walnuts
-A big-ass spoon of peanut butter

Method

Cream together all butter and sugar with the vanilla essence. Add beaten egg gradually, mixing well after each addition. Add the big-ass spoon of peanut butter. Mix in the flour and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and walnuts. A Mix well. Shape cookie dough into the deformed shape of your choice, or if you doubled you could put it in a cakeish tin or something. Bake at 180°c for 10 minutes.

Eat. Eeeeeeat.

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Kick Ass 2: Violence and Profanity extravaganza!

2013_kick_ass_2-wideAs soon as I saw the first Kick-Ass, I was excited at the prospect of a sequel. It was one of those films that isn’t really trying to be artistic or weighed down with meaning, but still managed to rope me into the story. When I had a poke around on the internet I discovered that it was based on a comic series, so I was comfortable in the knowledge that before long a sequel would be released. As is usually the case with sequels, it didn’t quite live up to its predecessor.

Be that as it may, Kick Ass 2 was incredibly entertaining. The ultra-violence is back, the lines are full of curses, as is the incredible silliness of the characters. These elements come together in a way that can be either hilarious (if you’re not too uptight) or shocking and offensive (if you’re a massive wanker). Basically what I’m trying to say is that seeing regular people attempt to be superheroes in the real world is fucking awesome.

The film begins with Dave Lizewski; a young nerd with a love for narration. After giving up his life as the scuba-suit wearing superhero Kick Ass, he is wondering what he wants to do with his life after high school. Considering that in the previous film he managed to inspire a movement of regular people to dress up like superheroes and help those in need, he feels a bit bored with regular life. I suppose that would happen to me too if I got to shoot up a bunch of gangsters with Gatling guns from a fucking jet pack (which is just as awesome as it sounds, so if you haven’t seen the first Kick Ass, go do that now).

Now since this film is about a high school nerd, there has to be a love interest right? Well, yea, kind of. There’s his girlfriend from the first film which is only in it for five minutes. In one scene she manages to completely destroy everything her character was built up to be. It seems like in the last few years she’s turned from sensitive, caring, and willing to give a guy a chance to explain himself to being a total bitch. You’d expect this to be a major theme over the rest of the film but… Dave seems to get over it almost immediately in favour of another ridiculously named superhero.

Now for our secondary protagonist, Mindy McCready/Hit Girl. This foul mouthed, now fifteen year old vigilante is struggling with maintaining her life as a super hero while attempting to live a normal life since the death of her father. Unexpectedly, most of her screen time is dedicated to her high school life. In spite of my general disdain for any film based in tweeny-high-school-land, this turned out to be pretty enjoyable at moments and actually made her seem like more of a sympathetic character rather than the somehow-super-powered, casually amoral little bundle of crazy from the first film. It was almost too much fun to watch a bunch of fifteen year old girls that were comprised of overt sexualisation and cartoonish evil suffer some serious retribution after they foolishly mess with somebody who is clearly smarter and essentially better than them.

So the heroes have both gone through a few changes in the time that has elapsed since the last film and as with any sequel, we get to see some new faces too. Enter the most disappointing Jim Carrey character ever!

Carrey plays a superhero named “Colonel Stars and Stripes”, a character for every superhero in the city to rally behind. While the character is likable enough, there is absolutely no hint of that Carrey spirit in his performance. It makes me wonder why the casting director would fork out the money for such a big star when they essentially didn’t use him for anything but marketing. Be that as it may, Stars and Stripes was necessary as a bit of a foil for all of the profanity (being a born again christian) but still smashes out some quality fight scenes and bad-ass bravery. I think the only reason I was disappointed by him is because he’s played by Jim fucking Carrey, a man who I will happily declare to be the funniest man in existence. The script just doesn’t do him justice. Carrey should be above a character whose main gag is the ability to train a dog to bite dicks off.

Now that we’ve discussed the heroes, what of Chris D’Amico/Red Mist? At the end of the previous film we see him happily declaring that he wants to take up a role as the first super villain. At first he was really just following the orders of his scumbag crime-lord of a father (the big bad of the last film). He seemed to genuinely like Kick Ass, and seemed truly sorry that he almost got him killed (while not really worrying himself too much about the fact that he mercilessly shot an eleven year old girl). His real descent to the dark side began when Kick Ass blew up his father with a bazooka.

So now that we’re on the subject of the relationship between Chris D’Amico and Dave Lizewski… It’s time to talk about plot holes!

So seeing as Kick-Ass and Red Mist fought during the climax of the first movie, you’d expect there to be a bit of concern from Dave that Chris D’Amico is still hanging around… I mean, Chris saw Dave with his mask off in a live broadcast showing his brutal torture at the hands of his father. In spite of this, D’Amico still has trouble finding out the secret identity of Kick Ass. In fact, everyone does! Nobody but Dave’s girlfriend, Hit Girl, and possibly Hit Girl’s foster father actually know the identity of Kick Ass. Did the writers forget that he was broadcast with his mask off for the whole world to see? That all of his friends saw him get tied to a chair and nearly burned alive? For some reason, when Dave’s best friends discover that Kick Ass is among them, their minds are blown.

Now for Dave. It is established that he knows that Chris D’Amico is Red Mist. So… Dave and Hit Girl both conveniently forget that the last time they met D’Amico, he tried to killed them both. They don’t realize that there’s an murderous son-of-a-crime-lord out there, likely plotting their demise. You know, until he sends Dave a freakin text message. How did Dave never report Chris to the police? I assumed that after a shootout in a highrise building involving jetpacks and bazooka explosions, the cops might be kind of interested. I’m pretty sure that investigating the bloody murders of a big bunch of hit men and the disappearance of a crime-lord would rate as pretty fucking pertinent on their to do list (I say disappearance because there isn’t really any body left after his death-by-explosion).

The second major plot hole comes along in a way that you may not notice. Hit Girl gives the location of the final showdown to the police long before it takes place. They somehow only manage to conveniently show up after the action packed climax. This is completely forgivable though, because the epic finale is spectacular. Watching the ultimate comic nerd fantasy play out for each of the characters is a wonderfully fulfilling experience. There is definitely some suspension of disbelief required to enjoy this, much like in the first Kick Ass (sometimes a bit too much for a film that was meant to be grounded in reality) but in the end it still leaves you with the feeling that you spent your movie money well.

In the end, in spite of all the plot holes, graphic violence, and the terrible things that happen to the characters in Kick Ass 2, it still manages to be an uplifting story if you don’t read into it too much. It isn’t meant to be heavily analyzed, it’s meant to be devoured like an unhealthy chocolate bar that you just can’t help eating. It’s a ridiculous, fun filled thrill ride packed with cheesy one liners, over-the-top violence and hilarious super hero names. If you don’t enjoy this film, then you’re either dead inside or an over-protective parent. Or both.

Elysium: The plight of Max Damon

There aren’t many things I enjoy more than a good film, but one of them is a great film. After hearing about Elysium, the new Neill Blomkamp flick (which hilariously auto-corrects to blowlamp, which I thought was interesting), I had almost made my mind up that it was indeed going to be great before I had even entered the theatre. What I didn’t really count on was that the incredible special effects would outclass everything else in the film by far.

However, with any good film these are more or less irrelevant to a viewer who prefers actual substance over drooling at the beautifully rendered head explodey goodness. We’ll get to the visuals later. First, the nitty gritty.

As he did with District 9, Niell Blomkamp tells a sci-fi story that parallels issues of the present. Elysium is loaded with social commentary. Today the themes are centered on immigration, healthcare, and the imbalance of wealth in society; the rich all live in the eponymous Elysium, a wonderful, clean, disease free space habitat. Everybody else gets to live on the polluted, overpopulated Earth because fuck building a space station for all those poor people. Basically, those unlucky enough to be Earth-born get to be the 99%.

Although a bit of social commentary is all well and good, Blomkamp tends to place a higher value on it than getting you invested in the characters. Matt Damon plays Max, an Earth-born who dreams like everyone else of getting to the beautiful Elysium space station which seems to be entirely populated of rich white men and scantily clad females (also white), who all live in disgustingly boring mansions with large lawns, and most importantly, sun-bed shaped capsules that can heal you of pretty much any disease or injury.

The fact that Max and the rest of the 99% may never reach Elysium in their lifetime is a blatant metaphor for hardworking people from third world countries seeking asylum in a developed country. Elysium explores the bleak oppression of a biased system, mainly the poor being unable to gain decent healthcare from those who could provide it if they weren’t too busy drinking wine, admiring each others mansions, and being all indignant about the ruffians from the hood. Even Max’s workplace parallels the way large corporations outsource their factory work to foreign countries to cut costs, resulting in unhealthy and dangerous conditions for employees.

So the (incredibly bleak) plot reels you in and it’s up to Max Damon to help change the system… With awesome mechanical attachments that allow him to be be super strong and kick some serious ass! Except… He doesn’t really get to do all that much ass kicking.

It was really a missed opportunity in terms of both character development and action. Max doesn’t get a treatment like the one given to Wikus Van De Merwe in District 9. Wikus got to start off as an ignorant employee of the MNU; basically a full blown prick without really knowing it. Then he gets a taste of what is really going on with the company he works for. He gets to have a big realisation that he’s been working for the bad guys and proceeds to team up with an Alien in order to teach the racist pricks a lesson in viscera splattering, because fighting violence with more violence is incredibly fun. It satisfies the urges you have to kick the bad guys right in the nads. In Elysium, this is not the case.

Instead of administering well deserved nad kickings, Max spends most of the film getting his ass handed to him by Kruger, a rather engaging psychopathic bastard with a hilarious South African accent. It was a surprise to me to find out that his accent was actually genuine, as crazy-psycho-Kruger is played by Sharlto Copley, the actor who played Wikus in District 9 (I suppose since I’m not South African I couldn’t really tell). He looks so different in Elysium and his character is so vastly different that I couldn’t tell at all.

Accent notwithstanding, he still seems like the greatest villain of all time when stood next to the character played by Jodie Foster, who I swear is supposed to be a good actor. Her entire performance as Elysium’s secretary of Defense is incredibly robotic. I’m not sure if she was meant to come across as non-human, but some of the cold unfeeling machines felt more deserving of my attention than her.

From what I could discern from Fosters’ first part of clunky dialogue, the character seems to me to embody the paranoia and fear of the lower class that the rich possess. One could argue that all of the things I consider to be flaws are just there to reinforce the helpless, bleak despair one would feel if they were in the shoes of an asylum seeker.

When it comes down to it, I feel that Total Recall (yes, I am talking about the reboot) did a decent job of incorporating commentary on issues of class and over-population, but not so much that it overshadowed everything else in a cloud of obviousness. Essentially I left the theatre afterwards feeling like I’d had a better filmy fix in spite of the plot holes that I won’t go into right now. I understand that it may not have been quite as artistic, but it was amazingly fun and I actually came to care about the characters. Oh yea, and I got the immense satisfaction that comes with seeing the everyman hero take down an oppressive leader with his fists.

Alright enough of that.

Onto the positive!

In spite of some missed opportunities with Max, Matt Damon still performs to his usual high standard of acting and brings a bit of likability to his character. It’s quite contrast to his quasi-love interest/childhood friend who sadly doesn’t get enough screen time for any emotional attachment and in terms of acting is upstaged by an actress in a particularly moving scene involving a bunch of extras with basically no lines.

Sorry, I wasn’t quite done with the negative. I’ll say good things for real now.

As with District 9, the action is solid during the parts of the film when Max Damon is fighting fit. Expect lots of blood, sci-fi weapons, and explosiony catharsis. Which brings me to the thing that truly makes this film worth seeing at the theatres:

Special effects! Yay!

While all of the visuals are spectacular, from amazingly realistic robots to gratuitously violent people-exploding fun, the eponymous Elysium space station stands out as the crown jewel of the films assorted selection of shiny. Needless to say, it is a big step up from the prawns of District 9 (which were also incredibly impressive, but I really need to stop talking about that movie).

The main thing that struck me about the Elsyium space station is that it looks very much like a smaller version of the Halo. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade; Halo was the super-weapon/ring-space-station-world/freaky-zombie-alien-housing thing from the video game series of the same name. Blomkamp and Peter Jackson were in line to make a film adaptation of Halo, yet Blomkamp left the project. The strange thing is, according to Empire Online his words were “The older I get, the idea of inheriting someone else’s ideas becomes less appealing”. It seems a bit contradictory seeing as Blomkamp seems to have taken just the really cool parts of somebody else’s idea. This can all be forgiven quite easily though, as he pulls off making it look more incredible than it ever did in a video game. I suppose a $115,000,000 budget helped, but I’ve seen films with larger budgets that have CG that looks like it could have been used in the average video game cutscene.

The visuals and the action reason enough to go and see this at a good theatre. Few movie-going experiences can compare to seeing visual effects like these on the big screen. Never before have robots looked so incredible in combat scenes. These machines will make Michael Bay want to cry in a corner while the camera frantically circles him quickly enough for you not to see his tears.

All in all I have to say that in spite of Elysium being a step down in quality from District 9 in terms of everything but effects, it is still essentially a good film that you should totally fork out some cash to see. As I write this, Wikipedia tells me it still hasn’t recouped it’s budget, and I really want to see some more of that unique Blomkamp-style violence soon.

Aaaand it’s 5:00am. Oops. I suppose that’s what I get for being a movie nerd.