I am… disappointed…? “Lucy” movie review and more.

…that I have to say some of the following things, because, frankly, I wasn’t expecting to have to say any of them.

**WARNING: This post may contain spoilers, definitely contains Sarcasm, engages in a little Reductio ad absurdum, and will probably offend somebody, somewhere. Oops.**

First:

lucy2

I watched Lucy yesterday. Finally. It made it’s way to the top of the Netflix queue and I happily popped it in. (Aside: bluray player audio was cutting in and out, so I had to swap the player after the previews. Yay.)

I was expecting to enjoy it, which–overall–I did. I must say that I was caught a bit off-guard with the unusual narrative construction in the beginning. The flashbacks to pre-man and first-(wo)man and Morgan Freeman’s lecture interspersed with cuts of predator/prey and Lucy/Richard outside the building arguing over the briefcase, was a bit unusual, but after a moment I got it and really started digging it. It added to the tension upfront, and was almost–almost–comical. In a good way.

What I didn’t like was the lack of a real back-story for Lucy. She had “exams” coming up, called her mom, but that’s really it. Not a ton of things that forced me to give a shit about her, specifically, as opposed to anyone forced into carrying drugs.

The film went on, as expected, following Morgan Freeman’s early narration of the progress of human brain development. Man, he is so good in everything he does…. crazy…

Then things went, if not south, then maybe southwest….

Anyway, so while I enjoyed the movie overall, I did have some problems with it. First, as Lucy’s mind develops, her speech patterns become incredibly annoying. I understand the idea that she was somehow losing her humanity (by becoming a 100% functional human being..?), but man, its robotic aspects kind of put me off a bit, as did Lucy’s ceaseless, matter-of-fact patter about Morgan Freeman’s theories and inadequacies.

Thanks for the running exposition.

Second, the part in the airplane when her physical form begins to degrade from the effects of the drug, which she then counteracts by ingesting even more of the drug?! Wouldn’t that–shouldn’t that–accelerate her physical degeneration as it even further enhances her mental development/evolution/revolution, much as it does at the end of the movie?

And speaking of the end of the movie….

How hard was Luc Besson trying to invoke the ending of 2001? Only a lot. Like, 100% (see what I did there?)

I love his work. I really do. Point of No Return, The Professional, The Fifth Element, even Lockout (which I found more than a bit derivative for an “original idea”, but still a good movie); I like them all.

But here, it almost feels like he’s coasting the last third of the movie. Which is sad, because the first 2/3 is a pretty good action movie.

Sigh. Still, Lucy was a fun ride while it lasted. Scarlett Johansson is great here (waaaayyyy better than Under the Skin. I’ll address that in a moment.)

Secondly, speaking of the wonderful Scarlett Johansson. At this point in time, when we are openly and frankly discussing the issues of male versus female actors and their compensation, we talk box-office draw, talent, etc. All these things are important, of course, but the single most important thing to the majority of movie-goers is “am I wasting my money to see this?”

That’s it. Is the movie any good?

Some actresses get more credit than they deserve as box office draws, while others don’t get near enough. I’m not here to debate any one actress against another in that arena.

Is Scarlett Johansson a good actress? Yes. But even a good actress can’t save crappy material and turn it into a great movie. But what Scarlett can do is, by virtue of her name, open a movie and earn it some $$ in those first critical weekends.

Unfortunately, what this leads to (and not just with ScarJo, but with most actresses and actors these days) is Hollywood pushing out projects with the “name” attached in order to make money. This often means that the project is something that doesn’t actually appeal to (or even need to) a wider audience, except for that name.

It’s why Under the Skin was pushed so hard. Hollywood tried to convince the viewing public that watching Scarlett Johansson drive around in a van for an hour and a half was good cinema.

What?

If Hollywood keeps up this trend of simply selling names instead of material, of generating profit ahead of content, then we could easily see a year filled with nothing but superhero movies and reboots and sequels of established properties, all being billed as….

excuse me, what? Avengers 2, Mad Max, Star Wars, Poltergeist, Terminator, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible, Fantastic Four, Paranormal Activity, a Crouching-fucking-Tiger sequel, and Jurassic WORLD? Fuck, it’s the Hollywood apocalypse.

[Editor’s note: I’m looking forward to seeing at least half of those for the fun value, but you get my point.]

If any actor really wants to get paid what they’re worth, set up your contract so you get points on the back end, make a good movie, and people will go see it, and you’ll get paid.

Boom. Problem solved.

Quality work=quality pay.

The American way.

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