eXistenZ (1999) Review

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eXistenZ (1999)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

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My Opinion:

I’d call myself a David Cronenberg fan although there are quite a few movies of his from recent years that I haven’t seen. Looking at everything he’s directed, all my favorites are from 1979 to 1986. This is when he was at his body horror best and I far preferred that style to the more realistic violence of things like A History Of Violence (although it’s a good film). I suppose that’s why I haven’t gotten around to watching more of his post-1986 movies. 1999’s eXistenZ is a return, somewhat, to the older Cronenberg that I like best. It’s certainly not as good as The Fly, Videodrome, The Brood, etc, but I did enjoy it and it’s made me want to try harder to watch the rest of his films that I’ve not seen.

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I find that a lot of these older “virtual reality” movies don’t really age well. That sort of thing is so much more advanced than we’d have thought possible even back in 1999 so, although it may have been groundbreaking at the time(?), that side of things isn’t as impressive when watching this for the first time in 2015. Just like Snow Crash was a great book in 1992 but it’s weird that they’re choosing to make it into a film now (although I’m really anxious to see if they manage to do a good job with that one!). Can I just say that I think it should be a law or something that any cyberpunk film being made nowadays should have a score by Daft Punk? Yes, I did like TRON: Legacy more than a lot of people seemed to. 😉 Hey – since I’m totally off track now (I’ll get back to eXistenZ in a minute), can someone please tell me the name of a horror movie I caught part of on cable in maybe 1996/1997 or so where these teenagers were being killed inside a video game? No, I can’t even name any of the actors in it. I’ve been trying to find out what that movie was for years now… Okay – back to eXistenZ!

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I didn’t hate Jude Law in this! I mean, I didn’t love him but he was totally tolerable. I also thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was very good – I’ve always thought she was a bit of an odd one but this role really “fit” her. Maybe she should have done more strange films like this one? And I loved her hair! I liked the partially crimped thing she had at first and then how it was fully done while in the virtual world. I know I sound like a girly girl going on about a hairstyle but, looking back on how this movie ended, I’m thinking the hair is kind of important to figuring out what the hell is going on… Amiright?! Probably not but, if I watch this again, I’m going to watch her hair more closely throughout it. I thought she was really pretty in this, actually – I never really thought that about her. I’d have to say this is my favorite role of hers now.

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The story in eXistenZ first felt pretty straightforward, then was a bit all over the place Cronenberg-style, then the ending felt a bit “really? that’s it?! I could have guessed that but it seemed too simple!”. But maybe it’s NOT that simple? I suppose it’s one of those movies that could do with a second (or third) viewing to fully understand what’s going on but I often like to think there’s more to movies than there really is. I’m sure I missed some symbolism (other than the usual, obvious vaginal thing that Cronenberg loves, this time in the form of a “port” in people’s lower backs that they use to link directly into Leigh’s virtual reality game. with a cord that looks like a cross between an umbilical cord & a penis, of course!). It was pretty gross, actually. I loved it! Very Cronenberg. As was a very cool “gun” made out of bones & human teeth.

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There are several big names in this so it was surprising that they all had pretty small roles (Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe). They’re not necessarily unimportant roles but Law & Leigh are in it the most by far, so it’s good that they worked really well for the film & had a good chemistry. Perhaps it’s why this film isn’t as big as some of Cronenberg’s others, though, as the two main stars weren’t exactly big names compared to other films he’d done (Law is more famous now than I remember him being in 1999). Plus, they’re a bit younger and they’re attractive so it almost feels like this movie is aimed more at a younger generation but I don’t think a young audience (early twenties) will have gone for this movie as it’s far too “strange” for a time when American Pie was the big movie of the year. (I’m not trashing American Pie – I like that one too).

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Anyway, eXistenZ passed me by at the time (as I think it did a lot of other people) but, although it’s not as good as Cronenberg’s very best, it’s still of a similar sort of style to his best films and I enjoyed it. There’s just enough “WTF?” and “that’s kind of disgusting” moments to keep Cronenberg fans happy but I’d probably only recommend this one to his fans.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Thor: The Dark World (2013) Review

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Alan Taylor

Starring:
Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman
Tom Hiddleston
Anthony Hopkins
Stellan Skarsgård
Idris Elba
Christopher Eccleston
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Kat Dennings
Ray Stevenson
Zachary Levi
Tadanobu Asano
Jaimie Alexander
Rene Russo

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Yada yada Odin. Yada yada Asgard. Yada yada something called Aether. Yada yada Malekith. Yada yada Rene Russo. Yada yada not much Loki. Yada yada Nine Realms. Hubba hubba CHRIS HEMSWORTH!

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My Opinion:

Chris Hemsworth is rather attractive. Like, almost annoyingly attractive. Like, “it should be illegal to be that attractive” attractive. If I was a man, I’d probably want to punch that pretty face. But I’m a girl so I just want to kiss that pretty face. And those eyes! I don’t normally like blue eyes but his are so lovely! You know someone is too attractive when Natalie Portman looks really plain standing next to them. And there’s a shirtless scene close to the start of this movie where they maybe linger a bit too long on the lovely half-naked Thor (which supposedly really annoyed Hemsworth?). I had no problem with this scene….

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Okay okay – That’s not from Thor. I can’t find an image from the shirtless scene but, trust me, I’ll post it when I do. You know I came through for you all in finding his bum scene from the wonderful Rush. 😉

Where was I? Oh yeah – Thor review! I got distracted. Well, it’s like my above plot synopsis. Blah blah weird names I’ll never remember blah blah Natalie Portman blah blah the necessary quick mention of S.H.I.E.L.D. thrown in there blah blah THOR! Okay – I know this all sounds like I didn’t enjoy this but I’m just exhausted and not in the right mood to do some serious review. I really liked The Dark World! I actually preferred it to the first Thor movie and it was, luckily, FAR better than this year’s other superhero films which I found extremely disappointing (Iron Man 3 & especially that OTT Man Of Steel).

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I’ve said it before with other films like this but I better say it again: I know nothing about comic books. I’ve never read any so, when I watch superhero movies, I know pretty much nothing about the characters and the stories. This is nice, though, because I don’t have to worry about all that fanboy (err… fangirl) stuff where they always end up pissed off about something. I can just enjoy the movie. Or not enjoy the movie. When Man Of Steel came out, I did a list of My Top Ten Superhero Movies HERE. I may have to update the list, actually, as I think Thor: The Dark World may now be at number nine or ten. 🙂

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With the first film… I dunno. I liked it but obviously they had to set up the characters and I really knew nothing about Thor and it all seemed a little weird. But now we know Thor, Loki, and Dr. Erik Selvig a bit better (especially after The Avengers) and it was easier to just sit back & enjoy the film without worrying too much about all the “blah blah Asgard yada yada” stuff. Actually, I liked seeing quite a lot of Asgard this time – I thought that would get boring. It’s lovely – especially that cool bridge thing (Um, the Bifröst? Thank god for Wikipedia!). I do love that funky bridge. And Heimdall is a cool dude.

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Rene Russo was good in this and I especially liked all the bits with her but I can’t say much more without spoilers. I like the Kat Dennings character and the comic relief she provides but that might not be for everyone. Loki is underused in this one which some probably won’t appreciate but I don’t care – it’s all about Thor for me! The bad guys looked kind of cool and I liked their masks – they looked like something out of Doctor Who. And speaking of Doctor Who, I didn’t even know that was Christopher Eccleston until the credits rolled.

20131106-092353 pm.jpgAll in all, I just really enjoyed all the “blah blah Asgard Aether Odin Nine Realms yada yada” stuff this time! Its only flaw (for me) is Natalie Portman. Not that I don’t like her – I do! But I’ve always felt it was an odd role for her and she just doesn’t seem to “fit” plus I feel NO chemistry between her & Thor. But this is really my only complaint – I like everything else about this. Oh, and the “final battle” was much better than in the first film – the end of the first film was a bit weak. To think some of this was filmed not that terribly far away from me in England! Chris Hemsworth was so close to me. So close yet… so far… *sigh*

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Summary:

Thor: The Dark World improves on the original film and I enjoyed it much more this time around now that I know all the characters a bit better. It’s a worthy addition to the superhero universe. I’m now once again looking forward to further superhero films – I’d lost hope after Iron Man 3 & especially Man Of Steel. The Dark World is funny when it needs to be, serious when it needs to be, and action-packed when it needs to be. I liked it a lot!

My Rating: 7/10

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Scene After The Credits? – Of course! It’s a superhero movie! And there’s not only one but TWO. One is halfway through the credits and the other one is at the very end. So stick around and try to hold in your pee.

Reviews Of Movies I’ve Seen In 2013