Friday, February 27, 2009

Reviews Galore!

How's this for a treat? Prepare yourself for four -- count 'em FOUR -- reviews in one post! This includes three recent releases (The Wrestler, Taken, and Friday the 13th) and a wrestling DVD (Edge: A Decade of Decadence).

The Wrestler:
While I thought the film was great -- and I really enjoyed it -- I didn't quite view it as the epic it's being revered as. Everybody involved was wonderful, particularly Mickey Rourke, but it just didn't feel like a Movie of the Year candidate. For example, while I understand that the movie is meant to focus on a man who was once at the top of the industry, but is now forced to wrestle in high school gymnasiums, it would have been nice to learn a bit more about his time as king of the mountain. Between his daughter and all the children in his neighborhood, couldn't there have been at least one fond discussion about his glory days? The five minute video montage at the beginning and the fan at the grocery store just didn't suffice. And I think former wrestler Lance Storm's review touched upon another great point: At no point in the film, while he's wrestling, did "The Ram" ever seem happy.

That criticism aside, it really was a very good, enjoyable film. I obviously highly recommend it to anyone who has ever been a wrestling fan, but I also implore non-fans to view it as well. There is such a misunderstanding about this profession, and one thing The Wrestler does a phenomenal job of is treating these athletes with the utmost respect. While the film doesn't necessarily celebrate the risks and sacrifices these people make on a daily basis -- and perhaps it shouldn't -- it does recognize them. The Wrestler does a great job of showing all of those people who ignorantly state "this is fake" that this is not an easy life. Not for the wrestler or his family.

Above all else, it's really, really refreshing seeing a movie treat this red-headed industry with such respect. Because of that, I'm thrilled that it's achieved a great deal of mainstream success, and I'm really glad that WWE has decided to embrace it (although they were highly reluctant at first).

It's easy to sit back and simply label this movie as a "mindless action flick," but honestly I don't think that's giving it enough credit. Don't get me wrong, to a certain extent that's what it is -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but I also really enjoyed watching the father's various maneuvers and escapades as he desperately tries to find and rescue his daughter. It was a really exhilarating game of cat and mouse. Taken can best be described, in my opinion, as a nice mix of 24 and Hostel. Anyone who has enjoyed either of those two productions, I think, would really like Taken.

And if you ARE looking for a mindless action flick, this fits the bill -- lots of exciting car chases, gun fights, hand-to-hand combat, and explosions. Worth the $10 ticket, I'd suggest.

Friday the 13th:
I'll preface this by saying that I am a horror movie buff (as you may have learned from the most recent Top Ten Cases), so when I say that it was "good," I obviously don't mean that the script was epic and that the acting was magical. But I think that anybody who has an appreciation for this genre will enjoy this re-imagining of the franchise and the Jason character. While they changed up certain aspects of the character -- like he runs, can set elaborate traps, and has an acumen for archery -- but they also stay true to the important parts of his history. The first twenty minutes tells the backstory of his mother's murders and her ultimate death, and has him wearing the rarely-remembered potato sack mask. I also love how they made the Trent character completely irredeemable in every fashion whatsoever. Hell, a girl carried him in multiple games of Beer Pong, and he was STILL going to force her to drink out of that kid's sneaker (good way to catch herpes).

My only real gripe with the film is the same one I had for the Halloween remake: Why spend the entire movie attempting to make a more realistic version of the character (by eliminating the silly supernatural stuff) only to have him decisively killed, when you KNOW you're going to bring him back to life? Oh, and what was up with all those stolen kerosene references that went no where?

Edge: A Decade of Decadence:
As I've mentioned in the past, I'm a huge fan of Edge, and have been since he debuted in 1998. Hell, I saw something in him BEFORE he even joined the Brood. So it goes without saying that this DVD was on my "Must Have" list.

I have to admit, though, that I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I found the format of the DVD unique and rather clever, and quite honestly if you have an appreciation for awesome wrestling matches, you're hard pressed to find a better list than the one this DVD offers. In the end, however, I was really hoping for one of those incredibly well produced documentary style DVDs that WWE has released in the past.

For his relatively short career, Edge has gone through a whole lot: Despite not really winning any championships for the first two or so years of his career, he's developed into one of the most decorated Superstars on the roster today. In the past three or four years, he's won an astounding EIGHT World Championships. And all of that was after a career-threatening neck injury -- an injury that forced him to take a year off, resulting in him missing his only WrestleMania. Oh, and then there's that whole Edge/Lita/Matt love triangle. Now that Matt and Edge have had a few years to reflect on the situation, I'm genuinely interested in what they would have to say about it now.

I've met Edge, and despite what his character and that whole Lita thing might suggest, he's actually a very charming and likable guy. That's why I'm a little disappointed that we didn't see that guy on the DVD. Instead, we saw the guy we see each and every week on Smackdown. The "character" of the Rated R Superstar. Watch one of the DVD extras, where Edge provides color commentary with Matt Striker for two rarely seen matches. You'll catch a glimpse of the real person there.

Anyway, that disappointment aside, I do highly recommend this DVD. Quite honestly, the matches are phenomenal, and Mr. Rated R went out of his way to include matches that you won't really find anywhere else. So, BUY IT! In fact, purchase it by using the link below (help a brother out!):

1 comment:

frank said...

Hi Matt, my name is frank and I'm a long time reader 1st time poster. I mainly visit your blog for your Lost analysis which I find extremely entertaining, but felt the urge to post in response to ur comments on "the wrestler".

I feel that the wrestler is an amazing film due to both the superb acting as well as the gripping story. Mickey Rourke's acting was the best performance I've seen all year, which is saying something considering Heath Ledger's astonishing portrayal of the Joker.

In the end, to me the movie was great in that it showed how the Ram was so close to getting his life together just to have it all fall apart. In giving up on his dream of getting back on top he was able to get a steady job and reunite with his daughter. It was the rejection by the stripper that let out the Ram's obvious self-destructive nature, which led to his "nothing to lose" decision making involving cocaine, loose women, and wrestling in his condition. His seperation from his daughter was naturally not a conscious choice but a side effect of this behaviour which is what made his loss all the more real.

I definitely think it was the best movie I've seen in a long time with amazing acting and a great story which was not forced. But thats why we have opinions!

Keep up the good work