Friday, July 8, 2011

Film Friday: Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

I enjoyed Resident Evil. It was unoriginal, but it was a competent mix of action and horror. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, not so much. Resident Evil: Extinction stank. Now we have Resident Evil: Afterplot. This turd is so bad I wasn’t even going to review it, except I feel I’m entitled to a little payback and I want to highlight what's wrong with modern Hollywood bad guys.

** spoiler alert **

Resident Evil: Afterplot was incompetently directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Anderson is so bland and lifeless as a director that he makes Michael Bay look like Fellini by comparison. In fact, looking over his resume reveals a list of films I truly wanted to like but whose pointlessness and sheer direct-by-numbers blandness was so high I left cursing Anderson’s name: Mortal Combat, Death Race, Alien v. Predator, Pandorum. This guy could ruin a birthday cake. Retire Paul.

Resident Evil: Afterlife is no different. Everything about it is bad:
● There is no plot. The film is a series of fight scenes held together with travel montages between the fights.

● The fight scenes are shamelessly ripped off from The Matrix. And I don’t mean a piece here and there, I mean all of it. Even the costumes are stolen.

● The fight scenes are done in annoying slow motion to highlight how close the actors come to getting a CGI knife or CGI bullet in the face. It's CGI Paul! We're not stupid and we're not impressed.

● The wire fighting is beyond ridiculous. Apparently, if you clap your hands together like an idiot, these characters can fly like Tinkerbell. And they can survive a ten story fall by rolling onto a knee when they hit.

● The music is stolen from various metal bands.

● It’s a given that heroes and heroines will still look well-kempt in Hollywood land despite an apocalypse. But it’s never this glaring. Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter and Spencer Locke apparently found the only beauty salon to survive the apocalypse and spend most of their days there. Indeed, commercials for hair and makeup products don’t have models this highly made up and coiffed. This is beyond the point of just noticeable and reaches the level of distracting.

● The evil Hollywood producer character is such a tired and unrealistic stereotype he’s insulting, but not as insulting as the racist stereotype that is his gay Asian houseboy. I guess you can still hate Asians in Hollywood?

● Why fly over the ruined Hollywood sign? So the retarded audience will recognize the city? Keep clapping people, this plane needs more pixie dust to stay aloft!

● There are a million practical questions too, like where does Jovovich get the fuel for an around the world flight? Why are the oceans and trees back when the planet turned to dust in the last film? Where do they get all the ammo? They fire more bullets than the A-Team, yet never run out of bullets except when it’s time for a dramatic slow motion weapon change. They don’t even seem to be carrying extra ammo. Why are a million dead trying to get into the prison in which they are hiding, but once the gate is down only small groups actually enter? Is there a hidden turnstile? Do they need tickets? Why does the speed with which the dead move keep change depending on the needs of the scene? Why the hell is everybody whispering?
But what really kills me is the bad guy. In fact, he’s a classic example of everything that’s wrong with modern Hollywood villains.

For starters, his motivation makes no sense. Corporations seek profits. There is no profit in making the world end. There just isn’t. And at one point, we’re told the bad guys are continuing research into the T-virus to make it more effective. Why? What purpose could that serve? Who do they think is going to buy this new weapon?

Eventually, the main bad guy does get a motivation that makes sense. He becomes infected, so he wants to capture humans to drink their DNA. BUT why would the corporation support him in that? He’s got teams of security personnel running around kidnapping and killing the humans that are left, but what security guy in his right mind would follow these orders? “Gee, the boss says to kill everyone, I guess I should do that?” This is ridiculous.

What’s more, during the opening in Japan, he does the clichiést of clichéy things and shoots his second in command when the man warns that blowing up the base will kill the loyal troops still defending the base. And nobody blinks. Give me a break. Even cultists aren’t going to follow this reckless, bloodthirsty monster -- and these guys aren’t cultists, they’re just corporate employees. "Well, I don't like his shoot the employees policy, but he did promise that 5% raise?!"

Further, this guy is all kinds of lame masquerading as cool. He whispers everything and spends his days sitting in a chair in a white room with nothing to do. . . live the high life! His dialog is pointless, bizarre and substance free. He says things like “you’ve become a real inconvenience to me” which makes no sense except that it sounds like something a bad guy might say. He has super powers but doesn’t use them to kill his enemies -- only to play with them and act smug. Indeed, he's ultra-smug, just so the audience hates him. But his smugness makes no sense. He's not smug about winning his fights, indeed, he loses all his fights, usually gets killed and always ends up having his base blown up. Yet, he acts all smug as we see him escape. Why would that make him act smug? “Ha ha! I showed you. . . I’m not-permanently-vincible!” Good grief.

This guy is the model for what is wrong with modern Hollywood villains: all style, zero substance. His motivations make no sense. His mental problems would make it impossible for him to ever rise to control a corporate empire. No henchmen would follow him. To the contrary, they'd shoot him long before things got out of hand. He spews clichéd nonsense just because it sounds hip. He dresses like a gay rock star. And he's comically unlikeable. Compared to him, cartoon villains like Snidely Whiplash and Wylie E. Coyote are paragons of depth, sanity and wisdom.

You have to be an idiot to accept villains like this guy as being even the slightest bit real. And I don’t like being treated like an idiot. That's why I don’t like this film and why I'm really at the end of my rope with Hollywood's lifeless villains. Ug.

So who's your favorite villain of the past? And where are you getting your hair done after the apocalypse?


Tennessee Jed said...

Having not even seen Resident Evil, let alone any of the others, I am not even close to competent to comment.
It does sound like, except for the original, I am all the better for that.

As far as favorite villains go, it depends whether you are talking strictly about this franchise or not. For the reasons stated above, if the latter I could not say. Otherwise. Robert Shaw as Red Grant probably comes as close to a favorite villain

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think Resident Evil is worth seeing, but the rest aren't. This one in particular was awful though.

As for villains, any villain -- not just in this franchise.

Red Grant is a great choice and Robert Shaw is a great actor! Boy does he do a great job as a villain. You can literally feel the anger in his voice! And it feels genuine!

Unknown said...

Andrew: I slogged through Extinction, and to be truthful, I don't even remember how it ended, if it ended at all. I keep waiting for them to put up that 50s graphic: "The End ?" Needless to say, I'm probably not going to see Afterlife, which probably asks the question "is there life after birth?" But it was fun reading you tearing it to shreds anyway. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I sat through Extinction as well and it was barely memorable. Kill some people in the desert, then move to Las Vegas and kill some more people. Then the credits started rolling.

This one is actually worse. Anderson should be ashamed of himself. Of course, he doesn't care because he made a lot of money. Ug.

Any way, I'm glad you enjoyed my ripping this one to shreds -- it fully deserves it.

DUQ said...

Great review, much better than the film itself. This film was horrible. It felt cartoony and you're right about everything about it being stolen. There wasn't a moment where I didn't think they'd stolen what they were doing from some other movie.

On my favorite villain? Good question. I like Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader. I'll have to get back to you on that though.

CrispyRice said...

Having not seen the movie (nor any of its prequels, ahem...) I must say that your review brings up a good point for me.

Just yesterday, I was check on the stocks in my bomb shelter -- 10 years' worth of food and water, antibiotics and medicines, guns and ammo... and I then got stuck. Do you think I'll need 10 cases of lipstick? Or will 9 suffice? What about hair mousse?? Sure, it's all easy-peasy when the "BUY SURVIVAL FOOD" people tell you how many MREs to plan on, but who tells you about the mascara and nylons? I mean, really, I can't have runs in my hose after the apocalypse!

T-Rav said...

Groan. This is the only one of the four I haven't seen, and it sounds like I didn't miss a thing. They got progressively dumb, but...

I think "Resident Evil"s problem is they show what happens when you double down on political correctness. Cardboard villains who are inevitably the heads of big evil corporations, got it; lots of beautiful women in skimpy clothes who kick butt and do most of the action scenes, while the men around them die in short order, got that too. I'm not sure if they meant that last as a testament to girl power or something, or if they felt the need to keep the testosterone flowing in male viewers (not sure why killing zombies and other action scenes wouldn't do that, but whatever); either way, it all leads to the problems you mentioned. It's just stupid.

Also, why is the blond chick named "Spencer"? That's a boy's name, not a girl's name. What the heck?

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I couldn't believe how blatantly obvious the theft was. I could literally sit there and visualize the very scenes they were stealing. It was shameless.

Lecter is good and Vader is great. If you get more ideas, by all means please share them!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, That's the spirit of this film! None of these look like they were living in the apocalypse. Hair, make up, change of clothes -- they had it all. It just makes you wonder what people are thinking when they make these films because their priorities certainly are not toward anything even remotely realistic.

Don't get me wrong, I don't need to see a bunch of dirty people running around eating road kill, but there is a difference between that and making the whole thing look like a photoshoot.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I have no idea why people name their kids what they name them. Last I knew Spencer was a boys name. Ironically, her name in the film is "K-Mart" which is where she was found in the story, but is still a pretty stupid name. I guess it's good she wasn't found at "Bed Bath and Beyond" or "The Butt Implant Store"?

You know, I'm not sure it's so much political correctness as just cynicism on the female hero thing. Hollywood wants people to believe they do this to create "strong roles" for women, i.e. to be PC. But how is this a strong role? These women are one step away from well-armed strippers. They are selling their bodies to male viewers. That's not a "strong role," that used to be called exploitive.

In other words, I think they are just hiding behind PC in this case to get even more exploitive than they would have been without PC offering them cover.

(If you want PC women, by the way, watch Battlestar Gallactica. Ronald Moore needs some serious therapy.)

On the corporate guy being PC, I think there is a lot too that. It's a corporation so they must be evil. And what else would an evil corporation do than make illegal bio-weapons for rogue Republican Generals. And of course, this means they see destroying the planet as just part of the cost of getting filthy rich. Indeed, now that everyone else is dead, they have all the money in the world -- literally! Woo hoo! They're rich!

Wait.... something's not computing there. Hmmm.

Once again, political correctness proves stupid because their view of evil corporations makes no sense.

Ed said...

Andrew, You are so right about this film. There were whole segments of fights that were absolutely lifted from the Matrix and so much else was stolen. There was nothing new or original and little was done right. This movie was terrible and I can't believe it made as much money as it did. I guess it's true that you can't go broke underestimating the public.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Interestingly, this was the highest grossing in the series BUT had lowest attendance. It all had to do with 3-D ticket prices. Still, the point is well taken. This film made way more money than it should have. Blech!

AndrewPrice said...

Ed & T-Rav, Favorite villains?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I needed some time to think on that. I can't think of a single one who, for me, stands head and shoulders above the rest. I would have suggested Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith, except the two sequels ruined everything. And since I'm assuming real-life individuals don't count, there goes my George Lucas submission. Mmmm...I'll just take the easy way out and go with Darth Vader.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I like the idea of George Lucas! That's oddly fitting.

Smith is a good choice, but as you say, the sequels kind of ruined that.

It's not an easy question actually. The AFI had a list of the top 100 villains and they had some good names on the list, but they were all obvious when you thought about it. And by obvious, I mean they weren't very interesting bad guys, they were just larger than life bad guys.

Well, give it some thought and let us know.

(p.s. I sent you an e-mail.)

Ed said...

Andrew and T-Rav, Now you want not only a bad guy but someone creative? Ok, I'm up to the task. Here's one you won't expect: Gordon Gekko.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Interesting choice. He's not what you think of as the traditional "villain" but he definitely qualifies.

I like Gekko too. He's an interesting mix of thinking he's good and knowing he's not. He seems to enjoy using his power corruptly, though he thinks that he's in the right to have that power and exercise it.

Doc Whoa said...

Lousy movie. I saw it last weekend on dvd and I'm glad I never paid to see it in theaters. In fact, I don't pay to see movies in theaters anymore because so many have become like this.

Best villain: HAL 9000. I know, I know, that's not a cool choice. But I find his coldness utterly terrifying.

Koshcat said...

Ok, but did the women at least get naked? That could raise a zero film to a 1 or 2 if she is really pretty.

Favorite villian, hmmm... so about

King Edward Longshanks in Braveheart - brutal, cold, ruthless and I could buy it.

Koshcat said...

HAL is an interesting choice especially since he really was not conciously being evil. The ultimate "just following orders."

AndrewPrice said...

DocWhoa, HAL's a great bad guy! No reason to feel bad about picking HAL!

I rarely pay to see films in theater either anymore -- I just wait for them to come to Netflix or HBO. The chances of seeing a good film are just too low.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, Sadly, no. Not even half-dressed. The closest they come is a faked shower scene that turns into another fight scene before anyone even takes off their guns.

Longshanks, good call. My preference for villains is exactly what you say -- "I could buy it." I hate villains that just don't make sense. But give me someone who actually acts in a way a real human would and still comes across as highly evil and I'm thrilled!

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I like DocWhoa's word "creepy" for HAL because he isn't using any judgment. He doesn't have a sense of right and wrong and thus nothing stops him from just efficiently carrying out his mission, as he sees it. That makes him one of the most ruthless villains of all time, and yet he would never think for a second that he had done anything wrong. And that is creepy.

A human I like along similar lines is Mr. Bartholomew from the original Rollerball. He's doing a lot of evil things, but he genuinely sees himself as the good guy. I think that makes him a truly fascinating character and a real joy to watch. Hollywood needs more villains like him.

T-Rav said...

You know, I think I'm gonna go with Dennis Hopper in Speed. Cold and calculating? No, but he loves being who he is--a bad guy out to get money. Doesn't care who gets hurt in the process, as long as there's a payoff.

Other than that, I'm not sure. This is harder than it seems--darn it! Not supposed to think...

(Also, if the email was today, I didn't get it, so you may have to send it again. I did get the one yesterday.)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, It is harder than it seems! LOL!

I'm going to go with Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. He's kind of a jerk, but doesn't seem evil at first and he lets himself get led to becoming totally psychotic. Very impressive.

(It was yesterday -- just wasn't sure you got it. I sent part 2 a few minutes ago.)

Ed said...

Andrew, You know who else I like as a bad guy? Going with the theme of the other day, I like Magneto from the X Men films (McKellen). He's got it all. He seems like a good guy if you're on his side, but he's completely indifferent about killing and he's devious. I approve! Lol!

Koshcat said...

Hopper is awesome but I thought his bad guy was better in Blue Velvet. Another actor I love as a bad guy is Alan Rickman. Diehard-awesome; Robinhood-he made it watchable;even the Harry Potter movies. He just has that creepy, sneer naturally. No idea but in real life probably the nicest guy

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Good call. Magneto is almost more likable than Patrick Stewart's Xavier. I attribute that to McKellen, who I think brings a lot of likability to his roles. If the character had been played by Christopher Lee, for example, I think he would have been very hard to like.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, Rickman is one of my more favorite actors. He was great as the bad guy in Bob Roberts and Die Hard, he's the only reason to watch Robin Hood and I think he's fantastic as Snape. That seems to be a role he was made to play and he does it so well.

I have no idea what he's like in real life, but you're right, it does seem that he would be a pretty decent guy! LOL!

T-Rav said...

Ooh, Jack Torrance. I was seriously thinking about him, but there was so much going on beneath the surface I really didn't know how to classify him. Just one of many facets of that movie I'm still trying to wrap my head around (not that I'm hinting you should do a Film Friday on it or anything). But yes, he's definitely way up there.

T-Rav said...

Also, I guess I would be remiss if I didn't mention the news that former First Lady Betty Ford has died at 93. RIP, ma'am.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Great minds right! :-)

There is a LOT going on in that film, even more if you know the book. And I think Nicholson does a stellar job of slowly turning the guy who should be the hero into the ultimate villain. In the book, it's even more interesting because you never know if the ghosts are real -- in the film, it's more obvious.

It would definitely be worth a Film Friday review! Let me watch it again and then put something together.

(By the way, if you run into a film you want reviewed, just ask. I'm just kind of randomly doing films that interest me, but I'm happy to take requests.)

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, I just read about Betty Ford. I didn't know much about her, but most of the First Ladies have struck me as pretty decent people and she definitely did. R.I.P.

T-Rav said...

Actually, now that he's been mentioned, Alan Rickman is pretty high on the list. I only watched Die Hard all the way through a few weeks ago, and he is an excellent villain. I haven't ever really watched Harry Potter, so I don't know anything about his performance there. But I'm sure he's good.

Speaking of which, the sidebar feed here noted that trailers for "The Dark Knight Rises" and the second Sherlock Holmes movie will be running during the HP finale. So I guess now I have to go to the theater and watch it after all.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, The Potter movies are a mixed bag and they've been getting worse with each passing film. But Rickman as Snape is good throughout. He's slimy and cold and nasty and he abuses his power as a teacher.

I'm sure the trailers will be on the net the very next morning.

Anonymous said...

I honestly have no idea what the f--- is happening with the Harry Potter films. :-) I have to catch up with the last one (and I haven't read the books) but I'm quite out of the loop.

I haven't seen any of the Resident Evil films but Paul W.S. Anderson did direct one decent movie: Event Horizon. It's not great but it's better than it should be. As far as Alien ripoffs go, I think it's one of the better ones.

You should've saved the villain question for later! But since you asked, I'd have to say Hans Gruber, Khan, Darth Vader... all the usual characters. Robert Shaw in the original Pelham 1-2-3, Biff in the BTTF films, Roy Batty, Judge Smails in Caddyshack ("The world needs ditch diggers!"), John Doe in Se7en, and ALL of the villains in RoboCop.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, We can always re-ask the villain question in a different forum once we get rolling! :-)

Nice list of villains. I especially like Roy Baty, who starts off as a bad guy, but ends up a good guy at the last moment. Fascinating transformation!

And of course, Kaaaaaaaaahhhhhnnn!!!

Don't get me started on Event Horizon that film should have been so much more than it was, but it ended up just a stupid bloodbath. And the ship was retarded. Seriously, who would go into space in a spaceship with black walls with random spikes sticking out of the walls? That's the most ridiculous ship ever... until Anderson's Pandorum that is.

I read the Potter books and I've seen all of the films until the last one. The ending is rather disappointing in the books -- very, very paint by numbers. And the movies stopped being good a long time ago.

wahsatchmo said...

I think I saw the Resident Evil series through Extinction, but I really don't remember it at all.

Oddly, there's a Japanese written and directed original video animation of Resident Evil that's arguably better than all of the live action movies, if you can put up with low budget CGI. It's Resident Evil: Degeneration, and it actually was quite engaging to watch. It's an original story in the RE canon, so it's nothing you've seen or played before. I like anime so I go for this sort of thing, thus your mileage may vary.

As far as Rickman villains are concerned, if you haven't seen Closet Land, you owe it to yourself to do so. Like Cube, it has limited sets and just focuses on the interaction between the two main characters.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, The RE films get more and more forgettable. I like the first, but it drops off very quickly after that and it keeps dropping off even faster with each movie. I literally couldn't wait for Extinction to end. And now they are apparently making another one. I don't think I'm even going to bother trying that one.

I like some anime, but it kind of depends on how much sense it makes. A lot of it seems to lose a lot in translation -- at least, that's what I hope is going on?

I have not seen Closet Land, but it looks like a very interesting premise! I'll watch for that one. I generally have liked everything Rickman has done and this looks like it's a role he would do extremely well. Plus, in general, I've found interrogation films to be pretty interesting because they tend to require much better writing than most films to carry off the story. Thanks for the tip! :-)

wahsatchmo said...

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of English dubbed anime and generally prefer English subtitles. South Park's Good Times With Weapons episode has a pitch perfect engrish theme song that I've seen more than once in supposedly serious anime. "Protect my balls!" indeed.

But Degeneration was actually done very well for an English version, with little or nothing lost in translation.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, Excellent South Park episode. Those guys always have a way of cutting to the heart of matters!

I'll check it out. I would think RE would be tailor made for anime, as it has that kind of sensibility.

On the translations, I often wonder how accurate the translations are? I speak German and I know that a lot of times German to English translations are wrong in very key ways. Das Boot and Run Lola Run both had several mistakes that were significant to the plot. So it would not surprise me if the problem was often just a translation error rather than a cultural difference because a lot of times they hit points that just don't seem to make any sense.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good takedown, Andrew!

Ain't no doubt, this was a stinker.
Actually, I don't mind to much if a director copies ideas from other a point, as long as the results are good.
In this film the execution was horrid, however.

Favorite villains:
1. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in Die Hard (magnificent!)
2. General Hummel (Ed Harris) in The Rock (I sympathized with him).
3. Jet Li in Lethal weapon 4 (kickass!).
4. Gary Oldman in The Book Of Eli (Gary Oldman never disapoints).
5. The Terminator in Terminator and Terminator 2 (two different actors but both did well).
6. Kaaahhnn! (Ricardo Maltaban) in Star Trek 2.
7. Bruce Dern in The Cowboys (hey, the sob murdered the Duke and beat up kids! Dern could always play a good bad guy).
8. Jack Palance in Shane (Palance plays a very convincing heavy).
9. Gene Hackman in Unforgiven.
10. Glenn Ford in 3:10 To Yuma (superb performance with a lot of depth!).
11. Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Marvin could play a great villain and a great hero).
12. Joe Pesci in Goodfellas (really shined in this role!).
13. Barbra Stanwyk in Double Indemnity (what a bad, bad girl and beautiful!) Equally good was the reluctant bad guy, Fred MacMurray!
14. Pretty much anytime Edward G. Robinson played a bad guy he nailed it. Good guy too.
15. Eli Wallach in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Tuco was one of the funniest bad guys I can think of, but he was undeniably bad)(special shout out to Lee Van Cleef!).

I could go on for quite awhile so I'll stop there.
I like bad guys n' gals with depth, but I don't mind a bad guy with only a single motivation if done well: usually power and/or money.

And even with only a single motivation a good actor can give his character depth if the writer(s)/director is doing their job (see Hans Gruber as just one example).

Some villains are difficult to add any depth to, such as Aliens, Predators (although they ain't always bad), and terminators/robots/computers/the Blob, etc..
Indeed, they ain't always what I would call evil.

Psychopaths can be memorable if done right: Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, The Joker, etc..

The main thing is, the villain(s) should be interesting and even a pure evil one can be if, again, done right.

I better stop. I can go on for a long time about villains/protagonists, as you can see, lol.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Unfortunately, a lot of directors nowadays seem to opt for cookie-cutter villains without nary a thought to their motivations, what makes them tick, personality, etc.

Which really sucks. Particularly in movies that are generally good except for the villain.

A good example of this is The Punisher with Thomas Jane and John Travolta.

Jane did very well IMO. Most of the character actors did good. The story was okay. The pacing was alright. All in all not a bad flick...except the villain was not interesting.

Usually Travolta plays an interesting villain (Broken Arrow comes to mind).
So I was surprised to see his very poor performance in this one.

Good example of how not to play a villain by someone who knows how to play one.

Perhaps it wasn't all his fault. I don't know how much influence the director or writers had on his character, but I would think Tavolta had enough pull to convince the director that the villain didn't pass muster.

Or maybe he just phoned in the role. I dunno.
Whatever the reason(s) and who was at fault for what, it turned what otherwise could've been a good flick into a so-so one, at best.

I still like watching it but mosly for the "lesser" villains that upstaged Travolta's villain in every way.
And the other actors.

A villain done wrong or mediocre can doom a good movie, no matter how well everything else goes.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben!

I agree, I don't mind a director copying other material (as long as it's not obvious that's what they are doing and it's not a substitute for some originality), but this film was just a rip off. To me, there's a difference between copying something either as an homage or to improve it and just stealing it to make your own movie. This was stealing, pure and simple!

Great list of villains!

I hate to admit that I only saw The Cowboys for the first time a few week ago -- I was stunned when the SOB killed the Duke! Unthinkable! I truly was not expecting that. I'll tell you, I was very proud of those kids by the end though!

In terms of motivation, I don't mind money or power as a motivation (or indeed a single motivation), as that is a common motivation, so long as it makes sense. Compare a bad guy who wants to rob something against these fake corporations Hollywood uses that claim to want profits but aren't doing anything to actually make them -- indeed, their business plan reads: (1) destroy world, (2) profit. That's just crap. I want a villain whose plans makes sense.

While Goldfinger is really wildly overblown, I still think he's a great villain because (1) he's rational, (2) he's ruthless and (3) his plan makes sense. If he does wipe out the US gold supply, then he becomes Bill-Gate rich. That is a believable motivation and a plan that can actually achieve that goal.

Compare that with some of the late ones who wanted to destroy the world for no particular purpose or Johnathan Pryce who wanted to start a war between the British and China so his newspaper would have something write about -- not believable.

And you're right that you can add depth even to single motivation guys. In fact, Gruber was the guy I was thinking about. He wanted money and all the rest was just for show, but it was an interesting show and... again... it had a purpose. He wasn't just randomly doing things to make the movie interesting. He was misleading the police and buying time for what he needed. It was both entertaining and smart. And that makes him an excellent villain!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, (continued). On the machine/animal killers, like the Alien and the terminators, I think you have a different dynamic. The machines tend to be motivated by simply carrying out their programming -- which can itself be very sinister. Look at HAL9000. There the mistake filmmakers usually make is either (1) a stupid program that makes no sense or (2) a director who doesn't force the machine to stick with the programming.

Consider the Terminators. I thought Robert Patrick was great in T2 because he had this ruthless focus on his job. He was carrying out his program from start to finish. He never once did anything sadistic or just for fun -- he was "machine efficient." But compare that with so many other killer robots you've seen that play around with their targets or who hide among the target's friends until the end of the movie. Those are nonsense.

On the animals, I think the motivation is either to hunt or to survive. Again, the animal should act only according to instinct. But again, too many directors like to play around.

On psychopaths, I have a real problem with psychopaths because Hollywood makes them all into the same character now -- Hannibal Lecter. I can't stand that. Lecter was fascinating because he was very different from reality, he was like the Superman of serial killers. Copying him just makes the whole thing comedic. Also, most of the psychotics I've either met or read about are nothing like this. They tend to be quiet, vicious, and disturbed in every way, i.e. they aren't usually the life of the party until they get you into a dark alley (Bundy being an exception). What's more, many of them think they aren't doing anything wrong, they think they're doing what God (or whoever) told them to do or they're getting even for some perceived insult.

On pure evil, nothing bothers me more than Hollywood's generic version of the devil. The modern Hollywood devil is basically the serial killer model plus one angry speech about God. And he usually laughs maniacally a lot. It's pretty lame. And frankly, if that's the best they can do with Satan, I'd hate to see their version of God.

I totally agree that directors opt for cookie cutter villains. And what I hate about that even more, is that the actors then go on television and swear that this was the greatest role they ever had because it really let them stretch themselves and expand their acting ability blah blah blah. Bullsh~t. All they did was copy to the letter what the 400 people before them did.

Yeah, Travolta kind of phoned that one in. I'll tell you a movie I really liked Travolta in though was "From Paris With Love," which is kind of a spy movie. He's borderline crazy in that one and it really works.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur with all your points, Andrew.

There are very few very intelligent psychopaths. Besides Bundy there is Gary Ridgeway, who was more prolific and smart nough to have a family as a cover.

It would be interesting if someone made a film about a psychopath that doesn't kill. They are out there.
Just because they have no concience and are malignant narcissists (ironically, this describes many actors and directors, lol) doesn't mean they will kill.
Most will realize they will most likely be caught and wanna avoid prison.

I think Psycho is still among the very best psychopath films.
It was loosely based on Ed Geins.
Most psychopaths really are cowards at heart and will avoid confrontations with anyone that they consider a threat if possible.

Unfortunately, instead of hiring an FBI profiler, most directors try to outdo each other it seems, and make superpsychos that are super-geniuses and who can overpower anyone and plan for every eventuality.

In real life that simply doesn't happen. Most psychos may be lucky for a time but even the smart and lucky ones get caught.

And with the advances in forensics and profiling it's virtually impossible for another Ridgeway or BTK killer to thrive for decades.

Hollywood in general definitely doesn't understand pure evil personified and, conversely, they always get God, angels and Christians and Jews wrong.
Which is no surprise, really, since most are in denial of reality (see: leftist) for the most part.

In fact, most hate Christians which explains why they always show caricatured Christians or only radical fundamentalists.

In real life there are very few radical Christian fundies. I think most lefty directors/producers want to believe that and want us to believe that but it's not true.

As for regular villains, most directors are too lazy to add any depth or character developement to their villains.

Or they fail to give any logical motivation(s) to them as you mentioned.
It is ludicrous to believe anyone other than the demonic would destroy the world to get rich, lol.

And most fail to understand that the best villains ain't all bad.
Take Tony Soprano for instance. He was so well portrayed that the audience would sympathize with him.
He just wanted to make a lot of money. Not his fault someone got in the way and he had to whack them.
He didn't wanna do it...most the time, lol.
Brilliant portrayal and I enjoyed the series until the last season but that's another long comment. Ha ha!

Oh, I would be remiss if I didn't include Doctor Evil to my list. Much more interesting and funny than Austin Powers! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I loved Travolta in From Paris With Love! I also liked the non-pc nature of that movie.

Travolta can really shine, which made his performance in The Punisher all the more frustrating.
Not as bad as Battlefield Earth though. That was his low point and I had no idea what he was thinking.

AndrewPrice said...


I agree. Most psychopaths are barely functional cowards. They aren’t geniuses, they don’t have super powers that let them anticipate everything the police are doing, and most of them don’t kill -- they just kind of fester.

I think Hollywood loves serial killers for two reasons. First, they’ve decided they can play those larger than life, which gives the movie an air of excitement. Secondly, Hollywood doesn’t understand genuine good and evil, so it needs to fake it in a way that can’t be misunderstood. Thus, having someone who has killed many people is the best course because it prevents the audience from asking things like “was the killing justified?” and “are they remorseful.” If the guy kills multiple people, then there’s no doubt he’s evil. That’s also why they’re sadistic -- it makes it clear they are bad people and we should hate them.

I agree about Psycho, excellent movie and an excellent portrayal.

On good and evil, I think the problem is that liberalism has a very hard time grasping these concepts. So it substitutes obnoxious for evil and meek for good. And all their character choices flow from that. Hollywood needs to take a lesson in true good and evil. But even more so, they need to learn about shades of gray, which is an ironic criticism, but is accurate. Hollywood only uses blatantly obvious good and evil (it cannot stand anything more complex) because it’s afraid it can’t convey anything more subtle to the audience. They need to get over that because all the best villains are steeped in shades of gray -- like Tony Soprano (as you mention).

Soprano was evil by nature and deed, but he could also strangely be very kind and decent to people he cared about. That duality made him fascinating. Hollywood needs to learn to capture that. Just presenting villains as over-the-top screamers and puppy kickers is really wearing thin.

I agree with you too about their view of Christians -- completely skewed by trying to pretend that a handful of Christians represent all Christians. But then, that’s how collectivists think -- they need enemies and they demonize all who disagree with them.

On Travolta, Battlefield Earth was a Scientologist project -- they wanted to honor L. Ron Hubbard (if "honor" is the right word). That's why he did it. And that one stank. I honestly don't think there was a good way he could have played that role.

On Paris With Love, I wasn't expecting anything out of the film either way and I was really surprised. I thought it turned out to be a very entertaining, well put together film. But I'll tell you, without Travolta, that would not have been a great film. He made that movie.

tryanmax said...

I'm digging through old posts today. Can you tell? (It's one of those "tell the computer to do something then wait" days.)

There is one, literally only one, saving grace to this movie: effective use of 3D effects. I remember when I was in the theater, I actually ducked as an axe hurdled "toward" me.

Say what you will about Michael Bay. I still have dreams that one day someone will produce a passable Metroid script and tap him to direct.

After the apocalypse, I will have my sister do my hair. I can't afford the salon where she works, so I expect my appearance to benefit from the end of civilization.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That is really the only saving grace of this movie because nothing else in it works -- and I really wanted to like this film... it just made it impossible.

It's amazing how good some people can look after the apocalypse, isn't it?

AndrewPrice said...

Good luck selling that one to Hollywood. Of course, if they made it, it would turn out looking like Transformers in any event.

GeronL said...

I much prefer the animated transformers. I guess if my idea got made, it'd be low budget for 90% of the film and ended with CGI madness as DC gets taken. heh.

AndrewPrice said...

Pretty much, but it would be the CGI part which sold the idea... sadly.

GeronL said...

I'd rather have a giant model with toy tanks and RC copters than CGI at this point. Sort of like the model cities they use to build for the Godzilla films.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that half of the things you complained about are in the movie because this movie is based off of a video game right? And they aren't just corporation employees lmao, all are either infected or controlled by the Red Queen, not sure why you thought those were regular guys walking around with giant spider pendants stuck into their chest? GG.

AndrewPrice said...

Wow, so because something's in a video game it has to be translated straight on screen? That's a new rule for film making. Thanks for clarifying, GG. Keep clapping your hands.

Post a Comment