Monday, July 31, 2017

The Green Inferno (2015)

Green Inferno is Eli Roth's recent film, a throwback to the old cannibal/gore-splatter flicks of the 70s and also a “social commentary” on how kids act today, which is totally something he should never be entrusted with. It's like letting a kid handle a firearm. Just nothing but bad things can happen.

Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy

Co-written with Michelle.

This is also a sort of homage to old 70s exploitation/gore flicks like Cannibal Holocaust, which I haven't seen. But that movie was famous for the fact that the filmmakers killed live animals on screen. This is sort of comparable. What Roth does here is kill dignity and good taste in filmmaking on screen, so it's sort of the same.

We start off this movie with a bunch of kids at college protesting in, I guess, the one spot on campus they're allowed to do that – right outside the dorm room of main character Justine. She and her roommate talk about how Justine wants to go join this activist group, how she is attracted to the main guy leading the group, Alejandro, and, a few scenes later, how she wants to go raise awareness of female genital mutilation after learning about it in class.

Her roommate, played by pop star Sky Ferreira, being the only smart kid in the movie, rightfully says the activist group is a bunch of phonies looking for attention, the activist guy is a weirdo and it'd be almost impossible to get anything done by just flying to places by herself with this group and trying basically on-the-fly, sensational type shit. But Justine, being an idealistic social-justice-obsessed college kid, ends up joining the group and going on a mission to stop this rainforest jungle area from being bulldozed.

Ferreira: "It's not too late to get out of the movie like me. You won't see me again for most of it!"

This is Roth's attempt at social commentary – college kids are dumb and don't really care about the issues they pretend to care about! They're just like babies going through phases. Which is pretty condescending and awful, really. I bet Roth hasn't talked to a college kid except for trying to sleazily hit on the 21 year old bartender after a movie premiere and she turns him down. I imagine he then gets very self righteous with her and makes HER feel like the bad guy. I mean he's basically right on the edge of being a red-pill MRA fuckwad in this movie anyway with how douchey and arrogant his message is in this.

Honestly, it just goes on like this for a while... this Alejandro guy talks up Justine about going to save that rainforest and all that, saying that the only way to get people to change their behavior is to put cameras on them, humiliating them. Uh, not sure it's that simple, but okay, I get that Roth can't really process more complex ideas.

Amazingly, they actually somehow get a plane out there. There are a bunch of boring, time-wasting scenes of them eating lunch and then using the bathroom in the woods. I don't know why these scenes were included as they really accomplish nothing at all except padding out the runtime! So hooray for that I guess. But if he's under the impression that any of these characters are likable or interesting, well – they're not.

"Hey, I really think this interaction we're having is substantial and totally not just window dressing for the fact that I'll be dead soon."

I guess their plan is to tie themselves to these trees wearing creepy rape masks and refusing to move until the company with the bulldozers totally, for real stops their mission. I'm sure they won't just go back to doing it after these kids leave! Public humiliation trumps EVERYTHING, remember?

Anyway, then for some reason one of the guys puts a gun to Justine's head, because I suppose he really thought he would get away with it... then after everyone else puts their cameras on him, goading him to shoot Justine (what great people!), he stops and lets them all go free.

"Well, this has gone according to plans so far. I feel like I'm definitely helping!"

They then celebrate with drinks and toasts because again, they totally can't just pick up operations again as soon as the kids left. Activism is fun and easy! Why aren't MORE people doing this?!

I guess God really hated what they just did, though, as their plane immediately crashes as they try to leave, and several characters you don't remember the names of die instantly. RIP to whatever the fuck their names were. But unfortunately, most of the main characters survive.

As it happens every time you go into the jungle, they then immediately get kidnapped by a tribe of red-painted Amazonian savages who eat people! Super realistic! I'm just glad Roth has learned from his previous mistakes in movies like Hostel where he offended entire countries by portraying them as cabals for serial killers and evil people. This time, he's turning his bigotry sights on indigenous peoples who will never see the movie. So that's a way to sidestep outrage and be as despicable as he wants! And oh boy does he ever want to be a despicable piece of shit in this movie.

I suppose stereotyping is just faster. Roth is a busy guy.

One of the main selling points of this movie was, apparently, that it made people throw up in the theater while watching it. I guess there are a few gross scenes, but it's hardly anything THAT fucking extreme overall... maybe Roth just poisoned everyone's drinks and food at those showings he said they threw up at.

I mean, this one scene where they hack apart this guy is kind of gross and bloody in an old vintage 70s-gore way. And it sucks for me because I had money that this guy, the fat black guy who is nice to the main character and is actually sympathetic, would survive this horror movie. And now I'm out $20, so THANKS A LOT, ROTH, YOU PIECE OF SHIT.

But then there's no other scene like this in the movie. What happens in the rest of it? Endless scenes of them sitting in a cage bitching at each other? There's one scene where the savages give them some meat to eat and one girl says she's a vegetarian. Oh the hilarity! When will these apt, cutting social satirical scenes from Eli Roth ever lose their timeliness? Aren't college students pieces of shit?

Oh, and also, they find out that the whole 'Amazon save the rainforest' plot they came down for was just a PR stunt so they could film a video, and they didn't actually help the forest at all. Because in Eli Roth land, there's no actual idealism – anything that seems selfless and genuine is really just the opposite, a soulless marketing ploy. Just more of that awesome, pointed social commentary that rings true (if you're a dumb edgy teenager.)

In between all of this, there are several scenes of Justine being groomed, apparently, for genital mutilation – because isn't it ironic that what she was learning about in the beginning is what she's going through for real now?!? Life is just funny like that.

I guess Justine and this one other guy try to escape, which leads to a long ass scene of them running through the woods and what not. But then they get captured again, which made the whole thing pointless I guess. Justine is almost mutilated by these savages, but one random little boy saves her... why? Because the writers wrote themselves into a hole and had no idea how to save their story! Who cares if he has no reason to do it and we never get a real explanation? DEUS EX MACHINA TIME!

But hey, at least Justine gets to cosplay as a sexy version of the Pilsbury Dough Boy...

Which I'm sure is an actual fetish I am not going to look up at all...

Then she leaves Alejandro there to die, as he was a shitty person and deserved it I guess... in a better movie, there may have been some conflict over this, or character development. But in terrible horror movies, it's just hollow meaningless revenge because the audience didn't like the guy either. Even when she gets home, she just lies and says everyone died. I guess she has a dream about him coming back and she's a cannibal now and bites him?

And here we come to the movie's true message - if you're an activist but don't really believe in your cause, you'll end up in a cage in the jungle left to die. So relatable, so timely.

But that doesn't really make sense anyway.

Michelle also pointed out how weird it is that Justine defends the tribe at the end, claiming the cannibals were actually nice to her and protected her. Odd choice, being that it doesn't make a difference – they all get killed in the end, so who is she protecting here? It's like Roth is trying to have this statement about how she wants to stick to the cause even though it's a lie, just so she can feel better about herself or something. Which is just more lameness really.

The movie then has a short end-credits scene where Alejandro's sister calls Justine and says satellite images found Alejandro living out in the jungle himself now, I guess... which is weird that the cameras picked that up and nobody has saved him yet, but who am I to say? It's cute that the movie thinks we give a shit about any of these terrible characters.

There's like one half decent scene of gore in this, and it's early on and there isn't anything else like it again. The characters in this are unlikable and the social commentary attempts are so bad that it's almost satirical – like I really don't know how anyone thought this was clever, the tip of the iceberg being the asinine dialogue that turns every character into a mouthpiece for Roth's message - it's super transparent and shitty writing. The message is a lot of sneering douche-bro condescension at some kind of strawman idea of what college kids and activists are like. Everything is very negative – as if being this cynical is a substitute for actual intelligent discourse. I don't think it is.

Got to love Roth's defense of the movie against those offended by his portrayal of indigenous cultures... you can read the whole thing here, but these are the parts I found funny:

“My film, however, is about bandwagon activism, or "slacktivism," which is people jumping in on social media and retweeting causes they actually know nothing about (something these activists seem ready to do with my film). The whole idea of the kids saving the rainforest only to be eaten by the tribe they saved is a metaphor for how people are shamelessly consumed by their vanity and need for validation on social media. These kids in the movie care, but they care more about getting recognized for caring.

The people who seem to publicly care how these people are portrayed are people who want to be portrayed as caring people.

If everyone stopped their ideas because they were worried about offending people or sparking discussion then there would be no stories to tell. In short, take your cause seriously, but take my film for what it is — a movie.”

I'll translate for you: “My film is a serious thing with a real message and anyone who doesn't like it is part of the problem! But really, it's just a silly movie, why are you taking it so seriously?!”

What a load... this is just a dumb, poorly written film. It's crass and ordinary and doesn't have anything intelligent to say, nor anything of value entertainment-wise. Just awful. Avoid this.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Comic Con Trailer Reviews

Man, I've been absent for a few weeks. What can I say? I got busy with other shit.

First, a word of praise for Comic Con and MegaCon and other such things... it's amazing how large and viable geek culture has truly become. This is not going away like we thought. The things we grew up with, all the comics and movies and games, are an integral, powerful force for the culture we've crafted as adults. It's part escapism, sure, like anything – but it's also just the way we've let these characters and stories define us. Fiction can resonate long and wide in the human mind. And none more than that which we grew up with, that which we saw in the formative years.

So it's pretty fucking cool.

Here's some thoughts on the various Comic Con trailers, but not all of them, just the ones I cared about. I didn't bother watching the Kingsman 2 or the Thor Ragnarok ones because I've already seen other trailers for those films, and I also don't care about Star Trek or some of the various TV shows displayed. But there was some interesting stuff I saw...


Who says there's no money in using millions of Hollywood dollars to recreate playing with your action figures as a kid? I guess this could maybe not totally suck. Hopefully? I dunno. If you had told me that “maybe it won't suck” was the highest aspiration I'd have for a fucking Justice League movie 10 years ago, I would have been extremely depressed. This still mostly just looks like a mish mash of too many random new characters to be good. If DC would quit trying to outpace and outmatch Marvel, maybe they'd make better films. It doesn't help that every line spouted in this sounds like an Ad Lib for action movie trailers. You could play this for a blindfolded person and they wouldn't know what movie it's for.


Holy shit – now this looks good! I was unsure where they'd go after the first season. Apparently where they were going was even more awesome shit. I am loving the Halloween ambiance and the weird, Lovecraftian monsters and imagery. These characters and this story are some of the best original stuff on TV right now. If you were concerned about how good this Halloween season would be, well... be concerned no more.


I love The Walking Dead like I love a child that sometimes screws up really badly and has to spend the night in the slammer for a DUI or public disturbance. This trailer for Season 8 looks pretty good, although it appears to be every inspirational Rick Grimes speech ever rolled into three minutes. And yeah, they have a weird shot at the end of Rick with a huge beard waking up in a hospital bed, like it was all a dream... yeah, I'm sure this long-running popular TV show is about to end this season with it all being a dream... sure.


If our collective 80s nostalgia became some insane chimera, cobbled together with the forces of alchemy, it would probably look like this Ready Player One trailer. I haven't read the book, though I think I should, as this looks like a lot of fun. If anything, it will be very difficult to make anything else that is MORE nostalgic for old movies and games after this.


This looked pretty cool – basically exactly what I expected, full of highly well-produced action and lots of witty quips, but at least all of that looks very well done here. At least three of the Defenders, I'm really excited to see again. (Hint: the one I am not that excited about rhymes with Shmiron Shmist.)

And finally... the one everyone was waiting for...


What? How am I seeing this one, which was only a secret trailer not released to the general non-attending public? Surely nobody would ever break that cardinal rule and upload it to the internet...

It looks pretty fun. I don't know though. I am worried about the over-saturation of characters in these movies. As well made as it's likely to be, I'm just not sure it's good storytelling to cram so much shit into one movie. I guess if they can do it in a comic book, you can do it in a movie, too. But maybe sometimes less really is more. But that said, I am sure I'll end up seeing this and enjoying it for the batshit insane, colorful, jam packed spectacle it is along with everyone else; who am I kidding?