Darke Reviews | Pixels (2015)

I suppose that title is off isn’t it? Apologies for that. This is not a review so much as an ask and a notice given to my good readers.

Do not see this movie.
Do not see *any* Adam Sandler movie.

Much as I did with Exodus: Gods and Kings, I am boycotting this film and all future Adam Sandler films. It is not because I do not like comedy, for while I am not a fan I do actually enjoy some comedy. Point in fact I have enjoyed several of his previous films, such as Hotel Transylvania, The Waterboy, and 50  First Dates. The problem is Sandler now. I do not know what has happened. I do not know precisely when humor turned to racist, misogynistic, mean spirited caricature.  Allow me to give specific examples as I prefer to give details when I have them:

Native Americans walk off Adam Sandler movie

“The script called for native women’s names such as “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra” and an actress portraying an Apache woman to squat and urinate while smoking a peace pipe, ICTMN reported.

“When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted. … We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave,’ ” said Allison Young, a Navajo and one of the actors who left the set.”

Now it could be argued he is trying to do a send up similar to Blazing Saddles, a great comedy from 1974. A true satire of the western film and its tropes. The problem is, it has been done and it was done better in 1974. Westerns by and large do not exist now with most millennials probably having never seen one. Blazing Saddles is a classic. It could not, and should not, be made today. The deeply racist tones of the movie were needed then as we were still as a nation coming to grips with these topics. In fact, watching the film it more picks on the Caucasians for being racist (and stupid). Granted now, we are *still* dealing with these things, but such a film now would come across both bitter and political.

This, based on the reports from the set by the Native Americans was actually showing a large degree of disrespect to the culture and the people who were being portrayed – making them the butt of the joke rather than the ones who get to poke at the idiocy.

Someone might say – well he is just producing? Nope. He’s a writer on this. So he knows. Of course, it gets worse.

If you are familiar with the term black face – you know how god awful it is. The idea of using make up to make a Caucasian (most often) black. The recent issue with Rachel Dolezal as a prime example, it is in no way by any rational individual to consider black face socially acceptable.  So is red face acceptable? Making an individual “look native american”…

If you think the answer is yes. You are part of the problem.

“According to an on-set pro, members of the makeup team have been darkening actors of various ethnicities (including black and Asian talent) to make them appear Native American.

One of the actors, Allison Young, confirmed to MSNBC that makeup was used on talent. “I’m full-blooded Navajo and they bronzed me. I was quite confused,” Young told the network. “That says something when the cultural advisor for the film quits because he’s offended.”

Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/adam-sandlers-ridiculous-six-makeup-792582

Ok he is racist, got that covered; so why is he sexist?

Well assuming some of the comments above didn’t illustrate this, lets go to a more recent story from just last month

Rose McGowan fired by agent calling out Adam Sandlers sexism

The casting note was very specific. “Please make sure to read the attached script before coming in so you understand the context of the scenes,” it read. “Wardrobe note: Black (or dark) form-fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push-up bras encouraged). And formfitting leggings or jeans. Nothing white.”

In hindsight, McGowan says, “It was just so dumb. I was offended by the stupidity more than anything. I was offended by the fact that went through so many people’s hands and nobody red flagged it. This is normal to so many people. It was probably even a girl that had to type it up. It’s institutionally OK.”

 

I’m sorry? I thought auditions were you know about acting and how well you could do the job, not how good you look in a push up bra. Now while some roles may call for specific body types, this to me does not seem needed when you need an actress first and a pair of boobs second? But then again apparently Sandler wants the T&A over acting.

TL:DR

Ultimately he and the Hollywood machine that continues to allow him is problematic. He continues to churn out horrible movie after horrible movie because people pay money to see them. If you think the above behavior is not a problem, then go ahead and see the movie. If you do think it is a problem – please see something else. Please stop giving him money.
My predictions for you who do see the movie:

  • Women who are nothing but sex objects to be lusted after
  • Women who are seen as little more than a prize or a trophy
  • Women who are considered nags and need to but “cut down” by the humourous men
  • Women with no agency
  • Bitter, sophomoric comedy from Sandler and James
  • Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad trying their best and likely being the only bright spots in the movie.

I understand the drive to see this movie for the 80’s video game nostalgia. I was torn on this simply because of that. I just cannot in good conscience see this film or support Sandler in any way. I ask that you join me in this as he needs to be stopped in a meaningful way.

If you really, really want to see Pixels this weekend – watch the original short. It has more heart than I think this movie will.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUnyUrA34bQ

Darke Reviews | X-Men Days of Future Past (2014)

I have to admit writing this I am a bit conflicted. I have not settled on an emotion right now as I start. I made it known at work today I was going in with fairly low expectations. I had a gut feeling from the way the marketing went. Too much product placement ads set my nerves on edge. It feels like the producers are trying too hard, especially when it’s something like Carls Jr. It creates a disconnect with me that I find unnerving and makes me doubt their faith in the movie on its own merits.

I think the other reason I am conflicted now is that I didn’t get the movie I thought I would. This is *not* a bad thing. It means I underestimated the film.

The movie returns original X-men and X-2 director Bryan Singer to the franchise. If you are not familiar with his best bodies of work, please look to the magnificent Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil. Despite it’s many sins he also gave us Superman Returns. What do all of these films have in common, along with the first two X movies? Characters. They focus on the characters, sometimes at the sacrifice of a logical story. He brings you into the characters and really makes you get people you shouldn’t and helps bring perspective to everyones world.

The story this time has a three writer issue and the rule applies. It shows. Jane Goldman (Stardust, First Glass, Kick-Ass) has her sensibilities in film clearly shown. Simon Kingberg (X3, Jumper, XXX State of the Union) shows his as well – which may explain the weakest aspects of the movie. Matthew Vaughn, director of First Class, also has a writing credit who also has credits on Stardust and Kick Ass. His appreciation for the characters and the ‘verse that he created. Respect is given to history and with a lot of little nods to both comic and animated history through out.

The story has issues though. It’s pacing is off as hell. It runs over two hours and sometimes feels it. It falls prey to too many locations and too many events it wants to include. It was a fear I had from seeing the trailers, so I will admit I may be judging harshly here. It tries to do too much and doesn’t quite nail it. It tries to tie up too many loose ends from *all* the other films and only gets half way to the finish line. It does a fantastic job where it can, but the places where story fails – wow. I give you this warning, it will also be in the bottom – DO NOT THINK TOO HARD! By all the powers that be do not think too hard on any aspect of the movie. It falls apart. I think I will lay that on Kinsberg as the weakest writer in the bunch and well if you think about the McGuffin at all or can do basic math..yeah. Ugh

So what does work? The actors. They own. They sell it with all they have and aren’t phoning it in at all. McAvoy and Stewart play Xavier at different stages of life and both sell the life they’ve lived. I thought I would be more annoyed with McAvoy’s Xavier, but I understood. I appreciated it and it helped. Fassbender and McKellen also play young and old fantastically well. You can see the man that was and the man that is. You can see the man that we saw in the other films and where he’d come from. Fassbender has more charisma than should be legal in a man when he’s on screen and we thank him for it.

Jackman returns to the role he was apparently born to play. I do hope this will be one of his last outings and let someone else take up screen time. I can’t say he does bad here, but its too easy for him and while he plays all he needs to and it works, its just there. Apparently for Jennifer Lawrence, two oscar nominations and one Oscar win get you more screen time and development. I see a transition from focus on Wolverine to Mystique and I have to admit it pleases me. She, of course is fantastic. While not someone I’d want my daughter looking up to, if I could ever have one, she’s got aspects worth looking up to. She’s a good actress with a good and complex character.

Peter Dinklage dominates every scene in which he has a speaking line. This is no surprise to Game of Thrones fans. Just like the other characters, while all of them are somewhat thin, the development they do get is enough to make him decently complex and relatable. He works and I believe it’s Dinklage as to why.

The future sequences give us a handful of our favourite mutants doing what they do and as per my rules no spoilers. I was stupidly ecstatic to see Blink though. Just a geek girl thing.

From a technical aspect, wow. Overall nice work. Some effects are rough. Rougher than they should be, but when they do work, WOW. I would point to raw entertainment whenever a speedster I didn’t expect to like was on screen. Also, they BUILT A SENTINEL. There was a real, physical sentinel that was built. Brilliant choice. Editing, well, again it runs longer than it shoud. I do not think 3D will add anything so no need for the extra ticket price.

Alright, TL;DR?

The movie still leaves me conflicted. I think its ok, a good character study. If I think too hard most of it falls apart. It had moments of entertainment, but not enough. The entire movie is heavy. Not dark, just heavy. There is no where near the fun or levity of some previous installments in the franchise. It does one thing I can’t say without spoilers, but it made me happy beyond words.

Overall, if you were going to see it nothing I say will stop you. Enjoy.

If you weren’t planning on it, you don’t need your mind changed. This certainly will only reinforce your decisions.

If you were on the fence, see it, but its absolute matinee.

I am seeing it tomorrow with another friend, hopefully I can have ANY emotion on this one after I am done, but I don’t think so. Stay for the end of the credits for your tease to the next movie.

Next week, I am watching the Mistress of all Evil. Maleficent.