Perspectives on Pop Culture and the Arts

Friday, September 28, 2007

Resident Evil Still Fighting Negative Waves

The reviews are in, opening week is passed and the critical consensus seems to be that Resident Evil: Extinction is a waste of time. This isn't a new conclusion for the Resident Evil franchise, but I can't help but wonder why the negative waves? It's Resident Evil. Not Citizen Kane. Should we honestly expect such brilliance from a show whose source material is a video game franchise? It's like expecting Pirates of the Caribbean to be of the same caliber as Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy.

Extinction doesn't even get the bogus criticism of being 'so bad it's good'. Perhaps people would be happier if Russell Mulcahy and Paul W.S. (not just one initial, but two!) Anderson had said Extinction was meant to be bad, or they were paying tribute to fellow bad movies. Heck, if Tarantino and Rodriguez can do Grindhouse and convince people it's great cinema, why can't Resident Evil exist as what it is: a pulp sci-fi/fantasy, fully equipped with poor lines and gun/machete-toting women who always look beautiful.

Extinction does have flaws, as do most shows like it. . . . or maybe just most shows. It would have been cool to see more of Vegas and spend more time in Vegas. I could have done without Ashanti. The ending was rushed and not explained very well. Well, then the show was ok. Not terrible. Not amazing. I got what I expected and was satisfied. Maybe that makes me just really easy to please, or just a sucker for pulp sci-fi.

Pulp shows like Extinction have their place and are fine in their own right. The issue with them is perhaps not so much the quality of these films as the expectations put on them. It seems they're supposed to stand up against shows they have no business being associated with. It could also be that the easy thing to do is trash shows like Resident Evil, Aeon Flux [2005], and The Island. Kinda how it's easier to praise stuff like The Departed, Saving Private Ryan, and Braveheart rather than be the guy ripping them apart.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Grateful for Diesel Power

This passed summer - yeah, summer's gone already - I was on an action film kick. As part of that adventure I finally saw a number of Vin Diesel shows. For the most part it was a great experience. He's cool for a couple of reasons: (1) The reluctant hero role of the Riddick shows and xXx is fun. He's like Wolverine, but with more badness than just attitude and large eyebrows. (2) He probably does the rough and tough roles better than any one else doing similar shows. This guy does have talent and like many actors gets better as he goes along. (3) He helps produce many of his shows. Plus, he's tried his hand at writing and directing with Multi-Facial and Strays. Nothing like trying your hand at a few different things. Sure, several actors have done it so such an accomplishment isn't new, but for alleged 'muscle head' actors like Vin to get into it might be a bit more unique.

With xXx, I was reminded of Jackie Chan shows like Operation: Condor. Multi-angle, slow motion action moments with explosions and dirt bikes are sure fun - except when it's Mission: Impossible II. Vin also lands his barbed-wire fence jump, where even Steve McQueen couldn't. Awesome! Plus, The Third Man musical moment was great; zithers rock. The American flag parachute? I choose to see it as a tongue-in-cheek moment that only adds to the fun and humor, by laughing at the idea of America coming to save the world.

Vin's Riddick character is great for what he is. Those hardcore, mysterious criminal-turned-hero guys are usually quite appealling. Plus, Chronicles of Riddick has some weird sci-fi production similar to that of David Lynch's Dune. While Dune has its weaknesses, the look of the world Lynch created is not one of them and the same goes for Chronicles of Riddick.

The Fast and the Furious is a hit and miss show, where the times when it misses aren't Vin's fault. There's no way around Paul Walker's lameness. There's also not much to be done about Vin turning out to actually be the criminal - disappointing. But his speech about "granny shiftin instead of double clutchin like you shoulda been", yeah, the finest moment of the show.

While Vin's shows aren't and don't claim to be brilliant cinema, there is something really cool about them. You just have to know what you're getting into.

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