Crash


Viewed – 12 December 2020 Blu-ray

Very few directors could deliver a movie with subject matter such as this and make it work, without it being exploitation trash, but in the hands of David Cronenberg (The Fly, A History of Violence) what remains an uncomfortable viewing experience somehow still took hold of this viewer. James Spader plays a guy fascinated by car crashes and aroused by the thrill of injury, twisted metal and the sheer violence of it all. Aided by his girlfriend (The Game’s Deborah Unger) they pursue this unhealthy obsession until Spader ends up in hospital. There he meets fellow crash victim Holly Hunter who he discovers is a kindred spirit and before long he’s lead into an underworld of like-minded people who find sexual arousal in near death experiences.

Maybe next time, my darling…

Acted from the off by all involved like they’re on the brink of orgasm, this highly sexual drama is just plain weird and has an atmosphere I’ll admit was initially hard to get into. Cronenberg’s direction however makes everything eerie, borderline hypnotic and very dream-like. However not for a second is it sexy, as Cronenberg gives each sex scene an unnatural and animalistic vibe that’s closer to his brand of body horror than say, Basic Instinct … but it works.

James Spader is perfectly cast, as is Deborah Unger, actors both at ease with uneasy material. However one surprise was Holly Hunter who I’d never usually associate with this kind of thing. Elias Koteas (Zodiac) stands out as a rather freaky medical photographer obsessed with staging recreations of famous car crashes. We also get Rosanna Arquette as a woman in leg callipers who’s involved in a particularly infamous scene. Overall this was a difficult watch. I appreciated much of the atmosphere and the perverse subject was strangely alluring… but was I entertained? No. Worth seeing but definitely not for everyone.

Crash remains quite the controversial movie, and this new, fully uncut limited edition from Arrow Video explores it impressively. The restored 4K Ultra HD image is grainy and nicely detailed, with only occasional softness. However, despite mention of HDR this isn’t a showcase for your TV setup. The same goes for the 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack that’s made up mostly of gentle dialogue and Howard Shore’s haunting score. The surrounds get a mild workout mostly in the various driving / highway scenes but nothing all that diverting. However it’s the extras where this release shines. There is a comprehensive booklet covering the making and legacy of the movie, various interviews, featuretts, some David Cronenberg short films, and a commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin. Add to this a double-sided poster and deluxe hardback slip case packaging and this is decent treatment for a polarising yet still worthwhile entry in Cronenberg’s back catalogue.

Verdict:

(the movie) Good

(the Blu-ray) Recommended

The Incredibles 2


Viewed – 22 December 2018  online rental

I don’t watch as many animated movies as I should be, and realize I’ve missed out this year some big hitters.  However on browsing the latest rental releases, this took my interest as I recalled really enjoying the first movie.  This long time coming sequel pretty much picks up where we left off, with our super-hero family having to go about their crime fighting adventures in secret, with a law having been passed outlawing people with powers.  This brings in a wealthy brother and sister who propose to change things for the better by hiring Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) to showcase just how good super heroes are to the masses.

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I’m a little bit sick of this concept of the public unsure of or shunning super heroes.  They almost becoming the enemy when there’s all too many actual enemies out there.  A similar plot device was used in Captain America Civil War and Batman V Superman.  Why does Hollywood think we want our heroes being portrayed with such distrust and fear?  Aren’t they meant to be the heroes?  Thankfully this admittedly very entertaining and visually arresting movie jumps between such plot threads and a twist on family responsibilities and throws in plenty of spectacular action.  The villain though is sign posted a bit too well and I guessed their identity easily.  Also there’s a clear feminist slant to the reversal of roles and some of the dialogue and themes, which yeah is everywhere right now.  As unnecessary as it clearly is in a movie that was never just about the male lead anyway.

The voice work is top notch though including a welcome turn from Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk, and Pixar’s animation is as gorgeous as ever (even if the character design is a bit ugly … what’s with Elastigirl’s massive ass?).  Overall and considering the long wait for this, I was expecting a bit more … the villain is forgettable and cliched and the story adds nothing to the formula.  As it stands though, this is still a lot of fun regardless of wasted potential.

Verdict: 3 /5

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Viewed – 29 March 2016  Cinema, 19 August 2016  Blu-ray

Theatrical & Ultimate Edition

(Updated: 20/08/2016) Not for a long time has a concept made me so nervous.  Two of my favourite comic book heroes of all time, pitted against each other?  Why?  I couldn’t understand the need for it other than an excuse to bring Batman back after the Christopher Nolan trilogy wrapped.  I was a big fan of the last Superman movie, Man of Steel and I felt it was exactly the movie we deserved in the modern era, with the shuddering memory of Brian Singer’s Superman Returns pushed from my mind.  The casting of Superman with Henry Cavill was also a work of genius.  Where did they find this guy?

Batman v superman

So we come to the expected sequel and this time the stakes are increased after the fall out from the devastation and destruction at the end of the last movie.  Unbeknown to us at the time a certain playboy millionaire was in town by the name of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who witnesses the destruction.  Unaware who this new hero is and witnessing what he is capable of, he vows to step in when a media and government backlash sets out  to discredit the man of steel’s name.  On hand to further blacken Superman’s image and raise awareness of ‘what if this man was to turn against us?’ is local tycoon Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who gradually manipulates everyone including Wayne / Batman until both caped heroes are forced into a confrontation.

WonderWomanSitting down to the extended ‘ultimate edition’ a few of my issues with this movie got fixed, with more light shed on how Superman becomes so disliked and how Luthor manipulates public opinion against him.  However not much has changed as far as the script is concerned and on a second viewing some of those pivotal lines are even more cringe-worthy (‘do you bleed?’ for example…).  Also despite more evidence to support Batman wanting to actually kill Superman, it still doesn’t ring true for the character as we have come to know him.   However in the hands of director Zack Snyder the whole deal looks incredible and the action throughout is superbly executed with stand outs being a great Batmobile chase and of course the eventual smack down does not disappoint and plays out well … until that is they find a reason to stop.  Yeah once you see it it’s pretty corny (even more so on a second viewing ‘why did you say that name?’).  Also casting throughout is decent with Holly Hunter on hand as a conflicted Senator, yummy Amy Adams again perfect as Lois Lane and newcomer Gal Gadot damn sexy and bad-ass as Wonder Woman.  Jesse Eisenberg is also having a ball as Luthor … but proves rather annoying and overly pantomime.

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But the movie still has problems.  It’s jam-packed with characters which causes it to feel bloated.  A wealth of flashbacks and dream sequences throw in some confusion and just feel lazy.  Also the writing stumbles in key areas such as the main narrative and how Luthor seems to know everything (including certain people’s alter-egos), which is not explained (even in the longer cut).  There’s also a bit too much setting up for Justice League.  With that said … production, style, action, encounters, performances (with a surprisingly spot-on Affleck) and a few bold plot developments still impressed.

The original theatrical cut battled against plot issues for everything it did right.  The ultimate edition only slightly improves things with some welcome details helping it all work better – but that doesn’t make for a great movie … just an entertainingly flawed one instead.

Verdict:  3.5 /5