Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bae Doona, no!

Like every other kid my age, I freaking loved the heck out of The Matrix. Doubly-so for me because not only did the wire-fu-fighting-exploding-oh-god-what-was-that-oh-sweet-Rammstein-soundtrack aesthetic pretty much plug straight into a teenager's typical attention span, but also because at the time I was heavy into a cyberpunk phase that I haven't really ever grown out of. (I mean, I run Linux, fer frack's sake.) I missed the initial theatrical release, but caught up with it on DVD. I watched The Animatrix. I rented the bullshit video game but never actually completed it because getting out of the intro level was anything but intuitive (I spent many an hour on GameFAQs trying to figure it out; one day I plan to pick up a used GameCube copy to see if age has improved my addled video gaming wits). I have the poster hanging up in my bedroom. I had (have?) a sweet sleeveless, cyberpunk-looking top with asymmetrical seams and Matrix glyphs on it that I cannot find anywhere online. I waited for the sequels with bated breath.

And if I die before I wake, I pray Keanu my soul to take...

tl;dr:  GUYS I REALLY LIKED THE MATRIX. Also, prepare for some massive tl;dr coming up, whilst I nerd out.

I thought the Wachowski Brothers had done something cool that, while not visionary storytelling as such, was solid storytelling with really interesting visuals. I looked forward not only to the sequels but whatever else they would do.

And then...the sequels happened.

"Well, they had a bad run of luck," I thought.  "Maybe they didn't really want to do a trilogy.  Maybe the studio botched it up."  Still I had faith.

And then...V for Vendetta happened.

Admit it, you only saw this to see Natalie Portman wth a shaved head.

I couldn't even really blame them entirely for this one, either. The source material (oh yeah, I'm gonna go there) is pretty mediocre. Hardly Alan Moore's greatest work. The art's pretty "meh," the dystopian future not all believable, and (most importantly), EVIE IS THE MOST ANNOYING WOMAN CHARACTER TO EVER APPEAR IN A SERIOUS-BUSINESS GRAPHIC NOVEL. Fortunately Alan Moore grew out of this with Promethea, and one of the things that was better in the movie (oh yeah, I just went there, too) was that Evie, while still kind of dumb and irritating, was not half as dumb and irritating as the source material. I wish I could find even just one scan to show you, but you'll have to take my word for it, Internet. This is why Natalie Portman was an awesome casting choice because while she sometimes makes questionable film decisions (see: the entire Star Wars prequels shenanigans), under it all you can tell she's a smart cookie.

Nonetheless, the movie's a pretty hammy, mediocre thing overall. Not eye-gougingly bad, but not on par with, say, Zack Snyder's take on Watchmen. Though to be fair that's also better source material.

And then...Speed Racer happened.

A look of horror crosses Christina Ricci's face as she realizes exactly what movie she's in.

Now, for summer blockboster shlock, you could do worse. Subjectively, I still like this movie. A lot. But I realize that it is truly and utterly deplorable and without any cinematic merit whatsoever and is pretty much a QED reason to permanently ban les frères Wachowski from the world of cinema.  At least until they make another Bound. If nothing else, Speed Racer is a pretty clear indicator that they've gone George Lucas/Sam Raimi batshit by this point: more interested in special effects and visuals and all the cool technology you do with a computer than in telling a good, interesting, or even exciting story.  I mean at the very least they could have put in so many shoutouts to the old show: the cheesy sound effects, the pose Speed strikes at the end of the beginning credits (would be a perfect bullet time moment!)...and you gave us nothing, Wachowskis.  Nothing.

So when I read that not only are the Wachowskis attempting another movie (based off the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell), but that my number one favorite Korean actress Bae Doona is going to be involved, I was sad. Disappointed.  Though I admit it took me a second because I have been so utterly disappointed in the Wachowksis that my brain parsed "Wachowski brothers" as "Coen brothers" and I thought, Wow, Bae Doona with the Coen brothers? Awesome!  Then my reading comprehension kicked in.

On the plus side, Tom Tykwer (remember Run Lola, Run?) will be co-directing so we may see some substance yet.  It also seems that Bae's role will be relatively minor; the film is actually six short vignettes that overlap in small assorted ways, and Bae will only appear in one of them (the dystopian future Seoul populated by clones) while the white people with the main billing will appear in two or three.

You can read more (with less Wachowski-inspired rage) here: Bae Doona to Play Clone in Wachowskis' New Sci-Fi Flick, courtesy the Chosun Ilbo.

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