Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swing and a Miss

I won't be seeing Swing Vote this weekend, or any other weekend for that matter. No imitation Capra-corn for me at full price thank you very much. But it does put me in a certain frame of mind thinking about Kevin Costner. Man what happened to 80's Kevin Costner. Probably the same thing that happened to 80's Harrison Ford. Those men don't exist anymore just pale imitations, shades of the fun, exciting, lively performances they once gave on a regular basis. Compare; Silverado, The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Bull Durham (and we'll grandfather in early 90's Costner too for JFK) and compare that to 3000 Miles to Graceland, Dragonfly, Open Range, Upside of Anger, Rumor Has It and The Guardian.

Doesn't look too good does it?

Open question to anyone, should I see Mr. Brooks? The AV Club went on and on about it for being crazy and good-but-bad-but-good. Can anyone personally attest to this? Worth the rental?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baby bird films-Raising Victor Vargas

One of the more fascinating things about films is how we interact with them. Sometimes we wrestle with them, take my ever changing feelings on No Country for Old Men as an example, sometimes we are secret defenders like with the Wachowski's Speed Racer (oh it WILL have its day) and sometimes there are films that we feel compelled to care for. Something in our mind is triggered and we want to nurture for them, praise them and show them off to the world. They're baby bird films. I recently had such an appearance with the critically touted then quickly forgotten Raising Victor Vargas. The movie won some tiny awards and was nominated for a handful more but it essentially gt drowned out by bigger and flashier films with critical clout (Two Towers, Chicago) or by more immediately exciting foreign films (Irreversible, City of God).

I think the trailer rightly touts it by it's high critical reputation, but RVV is not the sort of film that conveys itself well in two minutes. It's a film about a certain time and place but carries some very universal truths to it. A lovingly shot character piece director/writer Peter Stollet comes off as a more informal David Gordon Green (not surprising given that the two men share DP Tim Orr who worked this film in Super 16mm). The film employs a variety of non-actors (though several of them have gone professional since) to flesh out the Lower East side world Victor and his family inhabit. Not a lot of story but the characters are so honest and so authentic you just enjoy spending time with them. You root for them. Victor grows up a little bit over the course of the film but it doesn't happen in a contrived three-act structure sort of way, everything is organic.
The story itself is deceptively slim. Victor (Victor Rasuk) sees himself as a smooth operator and lothario but when a rather young and selfish encounter with the unfortunately nicknamed Fat Donna gets publicized he needs to rebuild his "rep." Victor in order to undo the damage sets his sights on Judy (Judy Marte), the beautiful girl who is completely fed up with being hit on and oogled at because of her looks. At first she's annoyed by Victor but she decides that he's harmless so she allows him to hang around her as a repellant to more obnoxious guys. Judy, her little brother and her friend Melonie (played by future Sickness favorite Melonie Diaz who would go on to blow me away in Be Kind Rewind) somehow all manage to get entwined in Victor's home-life.
The stuff at home alternates between funny, embarrassing and melancholy. Victor lives at home with his grandmother (though he refers to her as Mama), a younger sister he constantly quarrels with and a younger brother who's a good kid but his idolization of Victor is starting to get him in trouble. Grandma's English is not great and she's a very traditional woman but her conviction is so strong one can empathize with her frustrations of dealing with a generation of kids and a world she can barely begin to understand.
To say more would be to rob the movie of it's myriad charms. I described it to my friend Ian as a sort of sweet Cassavetes picture. Very authentic and rough but polished in it's execution. I would urge all my readers to promptly add it to their netflix q's post-haste. Hey readers any tiny films you want to help see their audience grow? Put them in the comments with a few words saying why.

PS-Stollet's next film will be Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (which will probably have a killer soundtrack). The film's titular stars are George Michael himself Michael Cera and the voluptuous fictional spawn of Katherine Keener in 40YOV Kat Dennings (see I wasn't kidding about titular). What's it about, tell us oh imdb:
It's been three weeks, 2 days, and 23 hours since Tris broke up with Nick. And now here she is at his gig, with a new guy. How could she have moved on so fast??? Nick, in a desperate attempt to show her he's moved on too, turns to the girl next to him and asks her to be his 5 minute girlfriend. This begins the night of Nick, Norah and Manhattan. The night of stripping nuns, hotel ice rooms, russian food, psychotically Jewish ex boyfriends and lovingly trashy ex girlfriends. It's the night of Julio and Salvatore. The night of holding hands and writing songs and singing in the rain. It's a night they'll never forget.
Oh, Peter porn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

There was something in the air that night

Yeah that's right I saw Mama Mia! I sat through it all the way to the credits so I could see the part where Samuel L. Jackson invites Meryl Streep to join the Avengers (holy crap has THAT joke not gotten old yet). Let me say this for the film, it is not the worst movie I've ever seen, it's not even the worst movie I've seen this summer (what up Wanted) but I will say that the movie does no favors to making the musical genre accessible to anyone who doesn't already have a love for ABBA going in.

Director Phyllida Lloyd staged the original Mamma Mia on Broadway and all over the world, but this doesn't make her a credible film director and working with a bunch of amateur singers and dancers doesn't help matters. I will say that she keeps it light but she doesn't open up the story the way only a film can over stage. Susan Stroman had a similar problem when she mostly bombed at adapting the Producers to the big screen several years ago. No offense to both women who are tremendous theatrical talents (especially to Stro) but film is simply not a milieu they've mastered. Lloyd seems to be operating under the impression that overtly manufactured fun will naturally endear itself to the audience. Well not this viewer, no how no sir. I know organic fun and I know manufactured fun and I just didn't believe it up there. My audience though, which to be fair WAS the film's target audience (women in their 20's-60's) seemed to be having a grand old time. The woman behind me clearly felt that Meryl Streep accidentally breaking a door handle she was attempting to repair was the height of comedic brilliance. Clearly this is a woman who never saw Silkwood. Now THAT'S comedy! Oh also the phrase "goat-house" is guffaw worthy as is the sight of Julie Walters chasing a shorts wearing Stellan Skarsgard while singing "Take a Chance On Me" (well ok that's kind of funny). It's a testament to the pop-strength of the songs that even when poorly (and I mean POORLY) sung and danced to they still can provoke a sort of toe-tapping fun.
The story? Oh a little wisp of a thing about a girl on the eve of her wedding inviting the three men who could be her father to the proceedings. Everyone finds love on a beautiful Greecian island and much revelry and half-assed farce ensue. It's cute until you stop and think about it for three seconds and realize that it's kind of creepy. Yep Meryl Streep's Donna was kind of a ho, but who cares? Now Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has three daddies! Hooray! I don't mind the extended family, but the duplicity involved in Sophie's plan is kind of bizarre. Why not ask mom point blank? Cause there would be no movie then, I guess. Giving credit where it's due I will say that Sayfried shows considerable singing chops and hits just the right tone for the film. Streep is in good voice but she looks perpetually red-eyed as though she was crying in embarrassment between takes. Her friends, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski (playing a privileged lush, big surprise) are fine but the same can't be said for the men. Pierce Brosnan is...oh I can't even say it, I like him too much. He just, ugh, he cannot sing at all. He's just a big super likable movie star but man can the guy not sing. He makes Jonny Depp sound like Brian Stokes Mitchell, really that's what it's like listening to Brosnan sing. Sorry Pierce. I appreciate the effort but nope, sorry. Colin Firth actually can sing but he only gets one quick little ditty and then promptly vanishes from the film. Also his resolution is completely unclear and bizarre (spoiler alert/question?: Wait, so he WAS gay?). Stellan Skarsgard, in what has to be his least serious role EVER by a large margin doesn't really sing at all, but his sheer un-musical-ness makes him kind of a huge distraction.
But even bad performers can get hidden by good staging right? Well the film doesn't even manage to get that right. It tries to coast more on being an amateur good time than professionalism. The movie goes for the cheapest of laughs and the most broad audience pleasing gestures possible time and again. A mother brushing her daughter's hair before the wedding? Check. Girls partying more boisterously than the men could ever imagine? Check. Slo-mo Meryl Streep jumps in lieu of actual dancing? Many a check. "Comical" interactions with local wildlife? That's a big old goathouse check. Someone, oh good lord, wobbling then falling OUT OF A BOAT? Yeppers. The filmmakers want grandma's easy laugh and know they don't have to work too hard to get it. Even when "Dancing Queen" kicks in it's so abrupt that the movie practically throttles you by the collar screeching "Enjoy me!" Alright so this movie really wasn't ever intended for me but that's no reason why a little more thought and care couldn't have gone into it.

Watching the world burn

You've seen it, I've seen it (twice), everyone has seen it. Is there really anything I can say about Dark Knight that hasn't been seen or observed a hundred thousand times before in the last month or so? I doubt it. It's just too late, sorry, no full review. Here's just a couple of personal highlights from me. We're riding my ego here like the Bat-pod. Which leads me to-
  • The Bat-Pod-I don't know how it happened that I never found out ahead of time that the Bat-Pod actually was the coolest escape-pod in the history of anything that comes from the destroyed Bat-Tank. I was trying to engage the film in a non-fanboy way until BAM Batman slid under the truck, capsized it like an AT-AT and then did that bad-ass vertical 360. SO COOL!
  • Anyone else get a pseudo-Obama vibe from Harvey Dent? A public figure everyone is pinning there hopes and dreams on? Anyone?
  • Congratulations Aaron Eckhart, welcome to being an honest to god movie star. You've met Mr. Downey I assume?
  • Heath Ledger is of course awesome. Same goes for the opening heist and the amazing magic trick. My favorite Joker moment is in the interrogation room when he turns the tables on EVERYONE! Nolan continually had the Joker be at his strongest when you'd think he was at his weakest.
  • And may I just say bravo for making the Joker's schemes being honest to goodness moral quandaries (a quandary Jack Donaghy!) with no simple solutions. After years of crappy movie super-villain plots it was great to see how threatening (and genuinely frightening) a good villain can be.
  • As great Ledger is (and he's pretty damn great) my favorite character in the film (and favorite performance to boot) is Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. His return was a triumphant moment for both my audiences. He gets put through the ringer, but just like Michael Caine was in the first film he serves as the moral center when everything goes to pot. His desperation at the prospect of losing Dent is heart-breaking and both his moments with his son are perfect. I'll admit to getting a little nerd-teary when he gets promoted, a moment that gets perfectly punctuated by the Joker's creepy-ass applause (a moment I've since heard was improvised on set).
  • Man I wish they could go back and CGI replace Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal in Batman Begins.
  • Neither the trip to Japan nor the almost secret identity reveal felt superfluous to me as the both show Batman as a detective (something that had been lacking in every single Batman film up to this point). It's a facet of the character that was a pleasure to see.
  • I am a little bummed that the wanna-be Batman thread never gets picked up again. It had a lot of potential. It would've nicely echoed the idea of Batman as a malleable symbol.
  • OK I'll admit it, Christian Bale's Batman voice sounds like GOB Bluth. "Michael I'm onto you"
  • Having his legs broken by Batman is my favorite Eric Roberts moment, no strike that, favorite Roberts family moment, in any film ever.
  • For all it's grimness I think the film has a pretty damn inspiring ending. "The Joker cannot win." He's not saying it hypothetically, he's stating it as a fact. Batman, moreso than any other superhero, is driven by his ceaseless determination. He will not quit. It's what made the whole "I can retire now and leave this all to Harvey Dent" sub-plot kind of wishy-washy and forgettable for me.
  • Bat-Manuel is the mayor of Gotham city? Who says Christopher Nolan has no sense of humor?
  • I don't think it's reasonable to compare this movie to The Godfather or it's sequel. I will say though that its ok to call it "Heat with costumes."
  • I like the fact that people are responding to this film not for it's action but for it's deeper discussion of justice, it's questions of circumstances defining morality and how institutions can be compromised. I still don't think it's an excuse to not bother checking out independent or foreign films. Which begs the question, anyone want to go see Baghead?
  • It's my favorite movie of the year so far (just beating out Wall-E) but let's keep things in perspective folks, the year ain't over yet, not by a long shot.
  • Is the Joker this year's Daniel Plainview? People sure do seem to respond to him. My friend Amir over at collegehumor gives one of HIS finest performance yet in tribute here.

Getting with the Wackness

I’ve often found the best films, the one’s that touch us the most are surprises, the one’s you don’t see coming. I went to The Wackness, writer/director Jonathan Levine’s opus to the New York summer of 1994 aware of the decidedly mixed reviews that had accompanied it’s quiet release into theaters at the start of July. Its only noted champion had been’s Devin Faraci and once again I find myself inclined to agree with the bearded NY to LA transplant.

The Wackness almost shouldn’t work. At times it walks a very narrow line between conveying an authentic look for the “period” and bashing its audience over the head screaming “Look! Look! The 90’s!” But beyond getting the milieu right its getting the feeling of desperation and frustration shared by both young and old. It is these feelings that bind Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) and Dr. Squires (Sir Ben Kingsley, making up for much of his lackluster work of the past decade). Luke’s life is in free-fall, he makes a decent living selling pot (he’s trading dime bags for sessions with the doctor) but he is fresh out of high school largely directionless and his parents are turning on each other due to economic troubles. Luke speaks in a wigger patois but somehow manages to come off not as obnoxious but just as a matter of fact part of his persona. You don’t get a sense of Malibu’s Most Wanted, it just feels like a natural-outgrowth of his environment. Peck is a real find as Luke and came as a real find since I don’t watch the kids series Drake and Josh on which he stars. He conveys Luke’s physicality, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders at one moment as he sells to keep his family in their apartment or as he fumbles child-like through his first sexual encounter.
Squires meanwhile feels trapped in his own life. He is unable to connect with his wife (a distant but wonderfully subtle Famke Jansen) or his stepdaughter, Stephanie (Juno’s Olivia Thirlby ably stepping into the spotlight) and needs to Luke to feel like he did when he was young. To him Luke is a gateway to a world of young women, tagging, drugs and alcohol. Luke wants Squires for emotional validation and to help him find a sense of responsibility and belonging. The fact that these two are working at cross –purposes with each other really livens up their dynamic. They can call each other on their mutual bull-shit while at the same time open each other up to new worlds. Under Squires advice Luke seeks out a girl “to get laid” but falls for the one girl he really ought not to get involved with, Stephanie. Director Levine and Thirlby do a fine job in making Stephanie likable enough that we can see why Luke likes her and at the same time make us see why this particular relationship will end in heartbreak for our boy. There is a damn near perfect sequence set out on Long Island where Luke thinks he’s found his true love but the truth is a bit more complex than that. It’s a testament to both actors and Levin that the scene doesn’t come off as schmaltzy but genuinely evokes a sort of universal nostalgia.
Before I go any further let me say that this movie isn’t just a wistful walk down memory lane, it’s funny, honest to goodness filled with gut-busting moments. This in large part due to Kingsley of all people. His attempts at throwing off the shackles of his bourgeoisie comfort results in some real audience pleasing moments and lines. It’s a real pleasure to watch the character. Another pleasant surprise? Between this and his work in the Wire, the Wu-tang Clan’s Method Man is turning into a damn reliable character actor. In this film he plays a Jamican drug dealer who supplies Luke and provides him with his first Biggie Smalls CD, a fairly large rite of passage for any young man growing up in the early nineties.

I wouldn’t go o far as to call the Wackness the Juno of 2008, frankly that’s a label that would be reductive to both films, but I do think both films play to similar crowds. Both films are well-made, sharply scripted, directed and acted affairs who make for a nice palate cleanser in light of the gregarious entertainments that have popped up around them. As we head into the last days of summer don’t you think you’ve earned a change of pace in your theater going?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So I have a question

Is this what the Count watches in lieu of pornography?

Wackness review is on it's way as well as the aforementioned Wall-E article.

On a highway know

There’s been many superhero films this summer; some may boast spectacular performances, some may drip with prestige and take the genre down new avenues of legitimacy, but when all is tallied up I doubt any of them will be able to compete with the sense of wonder and creativity on display in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Having broken from the restrictions of the now seemingly obligatory origin tropes of the first film, writer/director Guillermo Del Toro sets about fleshing out the world of Hellboy, giving it a compelling mythology with some surprisingly heady thematic material. This time out Hellboy and his team of monsters as monster hunters at the BPRD must face an invasion of the human world by fairy creatures (Elves, trolls and the like) who are angry with the humans for forgetting about them and encroaching on what was supposed to be THEIR territory. Apparently Joni Mitchell was right, we paved paradise and put up a parking lot. There is an argument going on here for imagination, for myths and monsters. While our heroes ultimately choose to save humanity from the magical WMD that is the Golden army it is exceedingly clear that Del Toto wants his audience to sympathize with creatures, not humans.
There is a moment in the film where youu’re watching the giant human/demon hybrid Hellboy (Ron Perlman), the amphibious looking Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and a walking German ball of gas in a diving suit, Johann Krauss (voiced by Stewie Grffin himself Seth McFarlane) navigate their way through the creature filled Troll Market and you realize there is nothing even remotely human looking on-screen. Yet at the same time these creatures aren’t menacing each other, they’re going about their business no different than we might act. It is this dissonance in imbuing the inhuman with deep character and, for lack of a better term, humanity that makes the film the lush, imaginative and wholly immersive adventure experience. After years of dividing his time between enjoyable studio genre outings and smaller, more personal (but no less fantastical) Spanish language fantasies, Del Toro and his collaborators have found a happy medium. To go from visually expressive, original sequences like the aforementioned Troll market or a moving battle between Hellboy and a hulking forest elemental that bleeds moss and other plants to sweet, intimate character moments where the two leads drunkenly commiserate about their women troubles over a Barry Manilow tune. Hellboy continuously reveals a multitude of delights for the eye.
This is not to say that the film is flawless. With so many characters to juggle, some, like Selma Blair’s pyro-kinetic cutie Liz Sherman and Jeffrey Tambor’s officious blow-hard Agent Manning are relegated to the sidelines, mostly standing around while the other boys (errr monsters) do the heavy lifting. Del Toro’s dialogue will never be mistaken for Quentin Tarantino or David Mamet either, he writes truthfully but you won’t walk away quoting any particular line. The story itself, while unfolding perfectly over the course of the film seems at first glance unwieldy and explaining it to the unconverted will be a uphill battle for fans. However these are minor quibbles that seem insignificant compared to the amazing visual craft on display here from the extraordinary blend of character make-up and practical effects with CG to the deeply felt character work coupled with a delightfully snarky sense of humor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who knows/Could Be

That's right gang, something is coming. With my program winding down (giving me time to work on my NEXT life project) and a few weeks before the big exciting job starts I'll have a few precious moments to give you a direct line into the 24 frames per second part of my brain. Coming up on the blog a take on Wall-E I don't think ANYONE on the interwebs have touched on, a review of Hellboy 2 (can't wait), a hopefully funny article about my Mom watching the Wire and of course a ton about a certain Bat-person. Remember all articles subject to change but I'm going to try to stick to this schedule. Keep me honest people.

I just want the blog to stay true to form. You hear that Pat, "TRUE TO FORM! TRUE TO FORM!"

PS-Can somebody e-mail this to Pat? In fact can EVERYONE who knows him and reads this e-mail it to Pat.

Also thank you, thank you, thank you everyone who has stayed with the blog and checks in daily and keeping it alive. I am extremely grateful.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The word loses all meaning

In addition to the silliness that was Wanted, last night's screening filled me with severe irritation because of the previews. First off was the increasingly impressive looking Eagle Eye. I'll grant that DJ Carusso's re-working of North by Northwest the way he re-worked Rear Window into Disturbia looks fun, but it's what followed that raised the bile in my throat.

The Mummy Three Hollywood? Really? Hasn't this teat been suckled of its last ounce of rancid mummy-flavored breast milk? In a summer with already one staggeringly lackluster mid-century burly adventure-man film I have to ask who is the audience for this? Anyone young enough to actually want to see this probably hasn't seen the first two. And if you've seen the first two Mummy movies well you've certainly learned your lesson by now. I don't care how many creatures they cram into the preview (but oh how that Yeti does make for some tempting material, resist nerd, RESIST) the Sickness isn't buying it. I do eagerly anticipate seeing this film on a plane. It look PERFECT for a plane. I also love the fact that the O'Connel's son has somehow aged about fifteen years while Brendan Fraser's Rick looks EXACTLY the same. I also love the fact that they try to hide the fact that Rachel "An Oscar means I don't have to do this crap anymore" Weisz has been replaced by Maria "Did it on the stairs" Bello. Also the word "mummy" is used more times in this preview than it appeared in the last two movies combined. Check out Rob Cohen's latest here.

For all its faults at least the Mummy movies look like everyone is having (or trying to have) silly fun. The same cannot be said for the drab and dour palette and attitude of the truly awful looking Death Race, a remake of Paul Bartel and Roger Corman's Death Race 2000. This movie is especially awful in that it has completely missed the point of the original. In the original cult classic, the premise was that participants raced on an open track that dominated the American landscape causing mayhem and engaging in all sorts of vehicular manslaughter for points. The America of this film is so enraptured of this bloodsport that it's an honor to be struck by one of the cars. Hell, they wheel out old people out of their homes and line them all up like dominoes. It's bright, shiny, Swiftian satire. So our dear executives have decided that THAT should go right out the window. Now the race is run by a sinister looking Joan Allen and its only participants are prisoners so that the teeny tiny audience brains need not be hurt by any kind of moral ambiguity. Our hero is Jason Statham, a professional race driver framed for murder. Wouldn't you know it that the same gesture made by the murderer is made by someone at the prison he's shipped to? Oh no, a set-up! Now Statham must race for his life in the Death Race. See the whole movie in trailer form (see now I don't have to see it at all doubly).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

As in "Not what I..."

Russian director Timur Bembakmatov's adaptation of Mark Millar and J.G. Jones comic series Wanted is relatively high on spectacle and low on just about everything else you'd want in a movie. In sanitizing this story (which begs the question why put a movie about a ruthless asshole hitman who self-actualizes through ultra-violence into production in the first place if you're going TO sanitize it?!?!?) the screenwriters have completely missed the point of Wanted. I won't hail the original comic series a masterpiece of graphic fiction, but it told the somewhat edgy story of a world taken over by super villains and the son of one of the deadliest of them all self-actualizing through wanton acts of amorality. It was a scathing attempt by Millar to satirize and underline the dangers of adolescent power fantasies run amok. The film version of Wanted does away with the implication of super-heroes and villains and shunts aside the boisterous and gamey sub-text leaving audiences with a visually arresting but otherwise very bland text. All that's left is a sort of Fight Club/Matrix hybrid that is entirely disposable.
For example in the comic version, once young Wesley Gibson learns the truth of his legacy he actualizes into a murderous, rape-happy, racist little shit who indiscriminately kills with no thought of collateral damage. The world has become one giant video-game. The movie softens Wesley (James McAvoy) into an unfailingly polite young pushover who even after many training montages still never feels genuinely threatening or menacing. He also still wants to do right in the end...he just isn't going to put up with the man's bullshit anymore, maaaaan. Ugh. Spare me. Wesley is pulled from a grim desk job, anti-stress medication dependency and a depressing social life into a new world of outrageous ultra-violence by the Fox (Angelina Jolie). Now in the comic the Fox is thusly named because she's an analogue of Catwoman, but in the film no reason is given, though looking at Miss Jolie it's clear there is no need to ask. I will grant that Jolie's entrance into the film is laugh out loud perfect. Wesley is standing in line at a pharmacy awaiting his medication, the camera cuts away for a moment and then BAM Jolie is standing right next to our "hero." It's perfectly emblematic for the star, she's so gorgeous, so exotic, so damn fascinating that for her to simply appear without any sort of pomp and circumstance is more than enough. For a few fun minutes the film becomes all about Miss Jolie as she saves Wesley from a hit-man bent on killing him. The sequences is fun in it's audacity but after this the film loses its oomph.
Fox brings Wesley to a group of hit-men, led by Morgan Freeman's Sloan, who serve the loom of fate. Apparently this ancient loom spits out a secret code that instructs which key people should be killed. "Kill one, save a thousand" reasons Fox. This is pretty damn specious and ridiculous logic. Now as a comic fan I've swallowed all sorts of ridiculous conceits; a French militant gorilla being in love with a brain in a jar, an ape-boy riding a giant red dinosaur and a heroin addict shaman of the Earth to name a few of the sillier ones. But I think any of these devices would fit an action film better than a fucking LOOM OF FATE! What's next, the sewing machine of righteousness? The cotton gin of doom? I should take a moment to point out the loom is an invention of the screenwriters (who each had a hand in 2 Fast 2 Furious, for what it's worth). What follows is a lot of formless action as Wesley trains, ditches his old beaten up persona and becomes the prick he's always wanted to be. All sorts of training montages and hit-jobs follow until Wesley learns there is an entirely different layer behind Sloan and Fox's story about him. For a while though the movie is rough and formless. It at least stays visually arresting (credit Bembakmatov, he of the Nightwatch trilogy-someone please get this guy some decent writers) but Wanted really did have the chance to be a the sort of super-hero satire that I am hearing Hancock is not. If you like innovative action sequences (many of which feature cars crashing into things-at the behest of a loom) you'll get your money's worth in Wanted, otherwise stay away.

One more thing, I was incredibly disappointed in both the audience and theater management as not one or two but by my count at least five children under the age of four were sitting in on this film. Now while I've griped that this film is sanitized it is till loaded with hard R content. Not a single scene goes by without bloody violence, swearing or sex. For shame on the grossly irresponsible parents and shame on the AMC at the third street promenade for letting them in.