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Review: The Bad Batch

Jun 23 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221600:43618:0[/embed] The Bad BatchDirector: Ana Lily AmirpourRating: RRelease Date: June 23, 2017 (limited) Don't get me wrong. There are things about The Bad Batch that I love, but they're undermined by boring self-satisfied self-indulgence. In the film's post-apocalyptic world, prisoners are released at the Texas border and left to fend for themselves. Arlen starts the movie wandering the wasteland but is soon kidnapped by cannibals. She loses an arm and a leg before she escapes to a makeshift town called Comfort. (On the way she meets a mute and nearly unrecognizable Jim Carrey.) Comfort is run by a charismatic cult leader surrounded by an army of bodyguards/brides. He's played by Keanu Reeves, who seems to be doing his best impression of Edgar Allan Poe doing a bad Keanu Reeves impression. At night, Comfort becomes a small scale post-apocalyptic Burning Man, complete with a DJ bumping tunes in a giant, light-up boombox. In all that I've written, what's not to love? The answer is Arlen. After about 30 minutes in a two-hour movie, my patience and goodwill dissipated because of her and the film's unwillingness to do anything interesting with her. Maybe it's odd of me to expect character from a moody would-be cult movie, but Arlen's lack of character causes The Bad Batch to implode around her. She doesn't want anything, doesn't need anything, has no sense of motivation or an internal life. She just kind of wanders around. For a movie with such a strange world, it's too content with being listless. Arlen is a non-character surrounded by more interesting supporting characters. There's no compelling story to tell in The Bad Batch; it's just a bunch of sets, locations, a primary cast, and a little stunt casting. In one of the early moments of The Bad Batch, Arlen meets a scavenger and her daughter. They both come from the cannibal colony that Arlen fled, but she's never interacted with either of these characters before. She murders the mother in cold blood even as she begs for mercy, but spares the daughter, Miel (Jayda Fink). The little girl mutely follows her mother's killer. It's done out of revenge, I get it, and yet Arlen doesn't seek further revenge on those who actually amputated her limbs. She just hangs out in Comfort and that's it. Miel would have made a more interesting main character. Miel's father, Miami Man, could have carried the film as well. He's a hulking bodybuilder cannibal played by Jason Momoa doing an impression of a good Keanu Reeves doing a bad Cuban accent. Like really, really bad. Momoa's at least a driven presence on screen since I knew what he wanted (i.e., to find his daughter... and maybe eat someone). Arlen and Miami Man meet and strike up a bond that verges on attraction but, like so much else about the movie, goes nowhere. They hide beneath a sheet during a sandstorm, intimately close, Miami Man unaware that his companion is his enemy. In a different film this moment could be filled with a edgy or even erotic charge. In The Bad Batch, it's just two attractive people under a flapping white sheet. In my head, I keep thinking of The Bad Batch in terms of El Topo since they're such opposites. Everything in El Topo feels meaningful because Jodorwosky builds his movie around a character's spiritual quest and obsessions. All objects are symbols, actions have cosmic consequence, the finale is apotheosis. The Bad Batch reduces its symbols to objects, strips actions of their greater meaning, turns dialogue into babble. A rambling Reeves monologue late in the film is tedious nonsense about seeds and plumbing. Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain summed up the gist in just nine words: "You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold." Though beautiful, The Bad Batch is a tautological movie rather than spiritual or philosophical: a meaningless wasteland about a meaningless wasteland. It's not gold, that's for sure.
Review: The Bad Batch photo
What if El Topo was about nothing?
Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was a sparse yet stunning debut that overflowed with languid cool. So much of Girl Walks gets by on its moody/artsy posturing, which had shades of Jim Jarmusch's early work...

Mad Shelia photo
Mad Shelia

Witness the trailer and poster for Mad Shelia, a Chinese Mad Max rip-off

Nov 28
// Hubert Vigilla
Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best action movies of the 21st century, and was one of the best movies of 2015 by far. We were bound to see some movies trying to capitalize on the look, feel, and stuntwork of George Miller's...
The Bad Batch on Netflix photo
The Bad Batch on Netflix

Ana Lily Amirpour's The Bad Batch with Jason Momoa picked up by Netflix for SVOD

Aquaman drinks a Jizzy Fizz
Sep 07
// Hubert Vigilla
Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour had a memorable debut with A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a Jim Jarmusch-style Iranian vampire movie heavy with languid mood and style. (Not to be confused with a Jim Jarmusch vampire movi...
The Survivalist photo
The Survivalist

Watch the trailer for The Survivalist, a moody post-apocalyptic drama/thriller

One of my favorites from Tribeca 2015
Jan 26
// Hubert Vigilla
The Survivalist was one of my favorite movies from last year's Tribeca Film Festival. (You can read my review at another site here.) It was a moody, memorable indie drama set in the overgrown woods of a post-apocalyptic futur...

George Miller Mad Max photo
George Miller Mad Max

Oscar-nominated director George Miller is NOT done with Mad Max

Says he was misquoted
Jan 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Remember how George Miller supposedly said he's done making Mad Max movies given the 17-year battle to make Mad Max: Fury Road? Turns out he was misquoted by The New York Post. (Such is the nature of reporting at The Post.) M...
Cassius and Clay photo
Cassius and Clay

Archer creator's new post-apocalyptic show Cassius and Clay sounds amazing

Aug 11
// Nick Valdez
FXX has just picked up what might be the best animated series of 2016. To premiere alongside Archer (which is moving to FXX as a lead in), Cassius and Clay is a post-apocalyptic action comedy in the American South writte...
B&W Mad Max photo
B&W Mad Max

Black and white version of Mad Max: Fury Road to appear on Blu-ray

Silent run as well
May 27
// Matthew Razak
George Miller is officially confirming his godhood today by dropping the news that he demanded for the Blu-ray release of Mad Max: Fury Road to feature a black and white version of the film that you can run with only the...

Tribeca Review: Jackrabbit

Apr 28 // Hubert Vigilla
JackrabbitDirector: Carleton RanneyRelease Date: n/aRating: n/a In Jackrabbit, an event has left the world in a kind of 80s techno stasis. Cities are sealed away pockets of civilization that people are not allowed to leave. Hacking is alive and well despite pervasive government surveillance, with a lo-fi look to the tech that recalls Darren Aronofsky's Pi. The two leads are Max (Ian Christopher Noel), a paranoid anti-establishment type whose name might be a reference to Pi, and Simon (Josh Caras), a sellout who takes a job with an Apple/Microsoft analog. A mutual hackeer friend killed himself but left behind a mysterious hard drive. And then stuff happens, but the events are so thin and so glacially paced that I lost interest pretty early. Jackrabbit s a thriller without thrills. Even Max and Simon don't seem too engrossed in the mystery, leisurely plodding from place to place and scene to scene. They meet a friend of their dead friend (I think?) named Grace (Joslyn Jensen), and they hang out with her. They listen to a record and drink some whiskey, and Jackrabbit continues its odd stasis, generating a mood rather than using its mood to help propel a story. In my notes I wrote, "At least they look like they're having fun." What's interesting about the VHS impression movies like Jackrabbit and Beyond the Black Rainbow is precisely that disconnect between mood per se and mood in service to or an outgrowth of a story or characters. Jackrabbit is successful at recreating the look and feel of a VHS film, but it exists only as an impression. I remember some images more than I remember the film itself, which might be a testament to the visual sense of the production design and how well shot it is despite its budget limitations. Yet I don't think the film is as successful as Beyond the Black Rainbow (which I didn't even like), which had greater ambition and virtuosity in its images than Jackrabbit. Maybe virtuosity that goes beyond mere impression allows people to mine larger ideas from the succession of images. Jackrabbit feels like a mere impression, though, both in terms of how vaguely I can recall it and in terms of how it recreates the work of the VHS era. It may have been more memorable if its mood were in service to something other than mood itself. Maybe I want more from a movie than the accurate recreation of the kind of movie I'll mostly forget about.
Jackrabbit review photo
An impression of the 80s but not memorable
The vibe of Jackrabbit, a no-budget dystopian cyberpunk thriller, was inspired by trips to the video store. Its whole mood is defined by vaguely remembered VHS box art, and the types of films that fill a person's childhoo...

New Mad Max trailer photo
New Mad Max trailer

International trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road

I'm going MAD waiting for this movie to come out...
Mar 20
// Sean Walsh
This Japanese trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road has more of everything I want from this film: more madness. More Max. More, more MORE. The giant Japanese characters strewn throughout make it even more enjoyable. The May 15th release feels so far away. I can't imagine living in Japan and having to wait until 6/20. [via YouTube]

Trailer for Crumbs by Miguel Llansó

A post-apocalyptic love story set in Ethiopia
Feb 17
// Matt Liparota
There's no shortage of post-apocalyptic stories in the pop-culture landscape these days, but if this enigmatic trailer for Miguel Llansó's Crumbs is any indication, there are still ways to put a new spin on the old ta...
Turbo Kid Trailer photo
Turbo Kid Trailer

First teaser for Turbo Kid, set in a post apocalyptic 1997

Jan 27
// Nick Valdez
This may be the very definition of a teaser, coming in at less than 40 seconds, but boy do I need Turbo Kid in my life. Premiering at Sundance this year, Turbo Kid is an apocalypse set in a futuristic 1997. This is teaser is...
The Hunger Games photo
Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highwaaay
Looks like a girl, but she's a flame. As Flixist's resident Young Adult book advisor, I love me some Hunger Games (and will always exploit Alicia Keys' once hit single) and I'm glad the newest trailer finally shows off how d...

Young Ones Trailer photo
Young Ones Trailer

First trailer for Young Ones starring Michael Shannon

Aug 22
// Nick Valdez
To be honest, I wouldn't normally pay attention to a film like Young Ones if it weren't for the cast. Young Ones stars Michael Shannon and Nicholas Hoult in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where water has become scarce, and sec...
Maze Runner Trailer photo
Maze Runner Trailer

Trailer for The Maze Runner features mazes and people running through them

Aug 01
// Nick Valdez
The Maze Runner has an idea I can get behind. Reminiscent of films like The Running Man, Runner drops these kids without memories into a secluded area and forces them to run through a giant maze filled with monsters. While i...

First official trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road

Jul 28 // Nick Valdez
Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa. They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows. 
Mad Max Trailer photo
Furiously cool
Thanks to the Mad Max: Fury Road panel at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, we've finally gotten our first trailer for the long awaited, long delayed, long in trouble sequel to George Miller's original trilogy. It's str...

The Giver photo
The Giver

Character posters for The Giver feature my boo, Taylor Swift

It's so weird Meryl Streep is in this.
May 26
// Nick Valdez
Although Taylor Swift said we'd never ever ever get back together, I'm still clinging on to hope because she's just the best person. As an example of this, she's in the upcoming film based on The Giver. Although the first tra...

First trailer for 'The Maze Runner' is intense

Gotta go faster, faster, faster-faster-faster
Mar 18
// Isabelle Magliari
The first trailer for the film adaptation of James Dashner's The Maze Runner has succeeded in making me curious about an upcoming film/ book trilogy that I didn't know existed until a few hours ago. This intense tr...
Trailer of the Apes photo
Help me Dr. Zaius!
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is boring, plain and simple. It has a cumbersome title, odd looking CGI mashed against live actors, and it's ultimately rendered utterly pointless by film's end. If we know humankind ...

The Monkees photo
The Monkees

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets posters, release date

Dawn of the Rise of the Fall of the Revenge of the Planet of the Apes
Dec 12
// Nick Valdez
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, hopes to capitalize on the potential Rise left behind. Showing off one last battle between the humans who survived the virus in the last...

Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer may not be cut for Weinstein

Apparently it's all under negotiation still
Sep 10
// Hubert Vigilla
Not too long ago we reported that Bong Joon-Ho's Snowpiercer would be getting cut by 20 minutes for US release because The Weinstein Company thinks flyover country is full of slackjawed dummies with short attention spans. It ...
This is the End photo
This is the End

This is the End getting re-released in theaters soon

The end is back, alright! (Sooner than you think!)
Sep 02
// Nick Valdez
This is the End was the best film of the Summer hands down (Fast & Furious 6 notwithstanding). It brought the biggest surprises, biggest laughs, and most memorable moments (that finale had to be the greatest thing I've se...

Trailer & animated prequel for Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer

The film opens in South Korea next week
Jul 25
// Hubert Vigilla
Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer will be out next week in South Korea, and here's the final trailer for the film (at least until it goes international). Everything's looking wonderfully intense and apocalyptic. Given, it's shorter...
This is the End photo
This is the End

Flix for Short: The Real World: This is the End Edition

"I should've been more polite and stopped being so f**king real."
Jun 13
// Nick Valdez
This is the End is one of the funniest films of the year so far if you're a fan of Seth Rogen and his gang. Even if you're not, you're still going to find yourselves laughing. A good gauge of how funny This is the End is goi...

Review: This is the End

Jun 12 // Nick Valdez
[embed]215805:40193:0[/embed] This is the EndDirectors: Evan Goldberg and Seth RogenRating: RRelease Date: June 12, 2013 Adapted from the short film, Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, This is the End is all about Jay Baruchel (Jay Baruchel) and Seth Rogen's (Seth Rogen) friendship. Jay is visiting L.A. and staying over at Seth's house. Although Seth wants to go a to a big party at James Franco's (James Franco) house, Jay is timid and has generally grown tired of Seth's new friends and lifestyle. While partying with the likes of Craig Robinson (Craig Robinson), Jonah Hill (Jonah Hill) and Danny McBride (Danny McBride), the entire world goes to hell as the apocalypse begins. Then Jay and Seth (as well as some famous friends) have to fight to stay alive.  Now let me say this before continuing the review. This is the End is most definitely a self-depreciative comedy with an emphasis on "self." If you have never seen a Seth Rogen comedy at this point but have some semblance as to who these comedians are, you may still find yourself confused. Much of the film's humor (and especially one loving, yet alienating tribute to one of Rogen and Franco's more notable films) comes from prior knowledge of Rogen's career and the image these comedians have concocted for themselves in Hollywood. While it's entertaining, it can create a bubble around the film which prevents most of the general audience from completely investing in it. They'll still laugh at the jokes and well used cameos, but they'll completely miss the deeper thematic resonance.  Much of This is the End is set up like a standard "bottle episode" of any given sitcom. You have a group of people trapped in one place for numerous reasons, and the dramatic beats of the narrative stem from how these few folks learn to adapt to their new situation while dealing with their friends/enemies/frenemies in close quarters. In that respect, This is the End is a surprisingly compact film given its premise. Much of the action takes place in one area, and for most of the film, the outside is painted in a foggy, yellow color. It works well enough to give the setting a sense of dread while not really having to do much. In fact, when you think of the framing of the film as a sort of postmodern stage play (where characters came leave and exit the stage) it's borderline genius.  But is it funny? Yes, yes it is. As stated above, if you're familiar with these comedians and their films, you'll never stop laughing at This is the End. But unfortunately, it's going to take a bit to get there. This is the End is truly strong as soon as the apocalypse kicks in. The scenes of Franco's party are clunky, full of cameos that tend to misfire, and when folks begin to kick the bucket, it's some of the worst shot scenes of the film. Thankfully, once the cast is boiled down, the humor and suspense kicks in at full force. Much of the exchanged dialogue comes off as wonderfully natural as each comedian is allowed to play an exaggerated version of their Hollywood persona (although I'd like to believe Craig Robinson is really that suave in real life). And because of the nicely put together script (with much of it I'll assume is adlibbed due to the quickfire nature of the jokes), each actor in this case is at the top of their game, with Danny McBride being the standout.  With a film so focused on comedy, I couldn't blame you for expecting every other aspect of the film to fall apart. Luckily, that doesn't happen here. There is a plot to the film, rather than just a thin premise in which to tie endless jokes to one another, and that plot is handled well. Since it focuses on a small setting (and even smaller core theme of Jay and Seth's friendship) it never feels like it's trying too hard to be funny or heartwarming. It just works out. The smaller dialogue exchanges escalate naturally and bring out the best in the cast. There are a few moments during the film also that perfectly marry heart and action while somehow getting a laugh or two. I know I'm speaking in generalities, but if I give an example of any of the moments, it'll completely wreck the foundation of the film. But that's odd too. At least the action is filmed well beyond the initial "giant hole opens up and swallows all the famous people" scene.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved the final 15-20 minutes of the film. By that point, I had been won over by the characters, and gotten used to the brashness (and crudeness) of the jokes despite looking at a giant phallic image, as the most deliciously goofy sequence takes place. It's certainly a dramatic moment, but it's mixed with humor (and some of the greatest song choices) in such a way that tells the audience to stop being so serious. As soon as it was over, I had a huge smile on my face.  Of course not everyone will react to This is the End in the same way. It's a niche film (for fans of raunchy Rogen comedies who understand the meta-narrative) that does sometimes drag as it gets to the next scene, and at other times the humor does feel forced from one of the individuals. And while I hope it has the tenacity to withstand multiple viewings, the film's jokes may very well verge on "one and done" in most cases. Whatever the case turns out to be, the dialogue exchanges between these guys is well worth the price of admission (especially if you're a fan of Pineapple Express).  This is the End is the Rogen comedy to end all Rogen comedies. 
This is the End Review photo
It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.
I've been harsh toward This is the End from the very beginning. First batch of trailers painted the film as a "Hey look at [enter famous name here] acting wacky!" sort of comedy, but as the trailers rolled on and hinted at th...

This is the End Trailer photo
This is the End Trailer

Trailer: This is the End

"Take it easy, Dumbledore."
May 31
// Nick Valdez
Opening in just a little under two weeks, we have one more trailer for This is the End. This is the international version of the trailer so there's mostly repeat footage, but the new material? The new material is just fantas...
This is the End photo
This is the End

New This is the End posters take yo panties off

"Take em off take em off take em off take em ooooofff!"
May 30
// Nick Valdez
I'm still holding firm in my belief that This is The End, the post-apocalyptic Rapture comedy starring famous funny guys like Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel as themselves, is going to go either one of two ways. It's either going...
Rapture-palooza Trailer photo
Rapture-palooza Trailer

Trailer: Rapture-palooza (Red Band)

Still looks as bad as it did last time.
May 15
// Nick Valdez
Rapture-palooza (with a newly minted hyphen) should be taken as is and nothing more. It's a straight to VOD (with a limited theater run) comedy about the Rapture that happens to star lots of recognizable faces releasing arou...
Michael Cera dies in this photo
Michael Cera dies in this

Trailer: This is the End (Red Band)

Emma Watson has an axe. You want to see this now, don't you?
Apr 03
// Nick Valdez
This new Red Band trailer for This is the End has enough new content and hints of plot (it seems to be a biblical apocalypse) to help you figure out what kind of movie it's going to be. It's filled to the brim with comedians...

Trailer: Pineapple Express 2

Uh, ha, well, uh, no not really
Apr 01
// Flixist Staff
Well, uhhh, the fools they are in April. Those fine fellow actors of mine have, uh, created a humorous trailer for their upcoming film This is the End. The joke is that it is a trailer for a movie that, well, uh, doesn't exi...

This is the End is somewhat more nigh

Mar 29
// Matthew Razak
This is the End might be one of the more anticipated comedies of the year. We'll all be anticipating two days less now as the film has been bumped up to a June 12 release instead of a June 14 release. Those two days shou...

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