Monday, December 21, 2015

Heavy Metal (1981)

Within ten minutes of watching it, I knew I had a lot to say about Heavy Metal. Mostly, questions about the production and the art style that I've seen before in other 70s-80s non-children's animated films. So, I pressed on and tried to learn more about the actual content of this movie.

Heavy Metal story of The Loc-Nar, a green glowing orb that has the power to corrupt, and destroy the incorruptible, across multiple galaxies and dimensions. In eight-ish stories, we see it exercise that power. It would take too much time and space to go over each story, plus it's better to go into the movie pretty blind. Don't worry, I believe I can still find things to talk about.

Heavy Metal's strength lies in it's art-style. It's something I've seen before in Ralph Bakshi movies, and I don't know if it has a definite name. Basically, the inkers are the stars of the show. Textures really pop, and not just in the background art.

Heavy Metal's stories overall covers everything from mixed marriages, to multiple apocalyptic societies, to an original take on cocaine snorting that still puts The Wolf of Wall Street to shame. One of my favorite stories is the second major one, where a king or god similar to Watchmen's Adrian Veitd, except without the questionable, or any, morals and beliefs, asks someone to steal the Loc-Nar for him, so he can unlock it's power through a ritualistic, human sacrifice. There are many references to past and future material that people can imply or infer about sections of this movie, and that's what I really love about it. It's a movie where you get out what you put into it, so, knowing and/or seeing a certain homage to Heavy Metal, that was made in 2008, can cloud that a little.

My two major issues with the film are that homage feels more like a parody now, although I completely understand why it does, and The Loc-Nar's powers. The Loc-Nar's powers are not clear and sometimes feel contradictory. It's kinda whatever the writers need it to be. On the one hand, it gives the writers freedom to tell their stories, but on the other, it leads to some characters doing some stupid things, and wrapping up some of the stories a little too quickly and neatly. A few seconds of explanation maybe could've fixed this, but really this is just nit-picking.

I hope to expand on this review on the future, but for now, if you love animated anthologies, you'll love this. Just one warning, for those who don't know about the homage, this is rated "R" for violence and nudity.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Horns (2013)

Alexandre Aja's film, based on a novel by Joe Hill, is an acquired taste. From Daniel Radcliffe's very good, but constraining, American accent, to figuring out the rules of Hill and Aja's universe, liking Horns initially seemed like an uphill battle. In the end though, with some manipulative, but circumstantial, moments I was sucked into the universe and was won over. 

In Horns, Iggy Perrish (Radcliffe) is suspected of killing his longtime girlfriend, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple). Shortly after her death, he wakes up with horns poking out of his head. These horns, which are seamlessly attached to Radcliffe, may be a gift from the devil himself, but also may be the key to his salvation.

Horns is a mixed bag of good, bad, and great scenes. Absolutely none of them are terrible, but some probably could have been cut for time. Parts, of this two-hour movie, seem to drag during the middle and toward the end. The script has good, the dialogue is well-written, but some characters themselves seem less real than they should. Iggy's parents (James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan), are, at times, the standouts.  On the other hand, some are very real, like local reporters who hound Iggy for an exclusive. As a fan of Heathers and Natural Born Killers, his treatment of them is one of my favorite moments in the film.

As the mystery unravels, the movie, as a whole, gets better. It really builds itself up for it's final moments, but ultimately Horns is not the sum of it's parts, even though many of those parts (great performances, effects, makeup, cinematography) aren't interchangeable. Horns can go from dark, to funny, to sad, successfully, at the drop of a hat.  In the end, all I want to do now is see how much better the book is.