Ludicrous dystopian sci-fi was never quite so dull
Review: January 17, 2006
Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophie Okenedo, Frances McDormand
Could be considered essential to your viewing experience.
In some dystopian future people wear really dumb hairstyles and really dumb clothes, and something or other happens, though you won’t care what.
It has to be pretty bad for me not to even want to MAKE FUN OF a movie, but I saw this one before Christmas and I’m only now, on a particularly slow day, getting around to writing about it. It’s a shame, because I was SO looking forward to this one, too. It’s hard to diminish the fun of a movie set in a dystopian future, where people wear really dumb clothes and have idiotic hairstyles, where industrial parking garages in obscure German cities stand in for futuristic sets—or at least that’s what it looks like—and there are “cool” touches like blades of grass that are really blades, or pods hanging from trees that shoot out darts, and yet all of this just blops itself all over the screen, not being nearly as fun [or any fun] as it should be. Tragic… this could have been one of the best bad movies ever.
Anyway, the first thing is that his housefly apparently flies directly into Charlize Theron’s eyeball one morning. This, in my experience, is not something flies, with their acute sense of object placement and flying precision, are wont to do, and it makes you wonder if they had a special air gun that would blow a fly right into Charlize’s eye, though I’m assuming it’s CGI. Anyway, this is apparently one of the desperate references to the animated series on MTV, which was supposedly pretty good [I haven’t seen any of it], and wherein, apparently, the ability to catch houseflies with one’s eyelashes is a cool and desirable trait. So Charlize awakens and puts her fencing mask on the wrong way, then it’s out for another day as some sort of anti-government operative. I was going to write an essay about why are all movie heroes are anti-government and use terrorist tactics to bring the establishment down, but why is it when WE are the establishment in another country and the people use terrorist tactics against US … you catch my drift. Unfortunately, I guess I’m going to wait until a better movie comes around to tie my case to. So Charlize frenches some guy and gets this pill that gives her a hallucination of Frances McDormand, teased beyond belief [I meant her hair, though I’m sure she too was teased after this movie came out], gives Charlize orders to kill someone or do something or whatever. Her target is Trevor Goodchild, played by the quite handsome guy who was in a bunch of things I don’t even have the interest in naming, and his brother, played by Jonny Lee Miller [snicker, snicker], who has done a great deal of lamentable crap like Dracula 2000 and Mindhunters. Heh, heh. This is also the guy who was briefly married to Angelina Jolie! She obviously realized she needed to trade up, and fast. I’m sorry… I just find this guy’s whole existence kind of funny.
Anyway, so Charlize and her African-American friend with hands for feet come into this city [even though they were already in the city—it’s impossible to understand] where they do handsprings and shit through this armed garden [you heard me] and then are separated and then Charlize is captured, and all this other shit happens that by that time [15 minutes in] I had no interest in figuring out. But what you can tell by this point is that the focus group had identified certain “awesome action sequences” that would supposedly make this film “rock,” and it’s really clear when the film thinks it’s lurching into one and when it abruptly stops. Oh, and some of the people call her A-on, and some of them call her E-on, and some of them call her Yon. Was there no director on set? And Charlize… just isn’t cut out for this kind of ass-kicking, quip-spouting role… every time she tried to look really, really serious and badass I just wanted to laugh.
So there’s a lot of plot stuff and “shocking” revelations of the dark secret behind the dystopian society—though since all dystopian future movies have a dark secret, you’re just waiting to find out what this one’s is—and the movie piles on reversals and running and jumping and fighting and shit like that. It’s unfortunate that eventually Charlize settles into one [stupid] outfit for the whole of the movie, which is too bad, because the film could have generated a lot more energy just by having her change outfits more often.
There is a funny thing in which her black friend with the hands for feet is put underwater in a pool outside someone’s house, complete with lily pads and all, and when you first see it you’re like “what the fuck is she doing there?” which was a good chuckle, but me and my friends got a huge laugh when, seemingly two days later, SHE’S STILL THERE. By the end of this movie we had all reached the state where every line, no matter how innocuous, seemed completely hilarious, and for us it was the scene beginning with some commando barking “It’s chaos out there!” Perhaps it seemed funny because we had just seen an establishing shot of the city and there was, in fact, no chaos anywhere. But even this laughter was just desperation to get some kind of enjoyment and not to have entirely thrown away our $10 for the movie and $87.50 for popcorn.
So something or other happens and continues to happen, there are a bunch of dumb special effects, and some kind of something that is supposed to have some kind of emotional resonance, if you could only figure out what the fuck they were talking about. Then it ended and we all had to admit that it was just a giant suck fest. And not the good kind, either.
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?
No, it’s nowhere near as fun as it should be. You should totally watch A Sound of Thunder instead. It's terrible as well, but at least they remembered to leave in the fun.