American Gods (Book Review)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

And if you’re like me, you probably grew up reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson And The Olympians series. The epic story of a 12-year-old boy who discovers that he is actually the son of the Greek god Poseidon, the books are exciting, funny, filled with likable characters, and have introduced the people and places of Greek mythology to pre-teens everywhere. I loved them when I first read them, and they still hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorite aspects of the books is the whole idea that the old gods are still alive, and here in America. It’s a brilliant premise, and an extremely original one to boot.

Or is it? See, I recently discovered that, back in 2000, a whole five years before the release of the first Percy Jackson book, British graphic novelist Neil Gaiman wrote a story about the gods of old still being alive, and in this country. When I heard this, I knew that I had to give this earlier novel, American Gods, a look. Well, I did that, and today, I’d like to share my thoughts on it with you all.

So, for those of you who haven’t read it, American Gods is the story of Shadow, an ex-con who finds work running errands for the Norse god Odin, or Mr Wednesday, as he likes to be called. The novel’s basic premise is that, when people immigrate to the United States, they bring they’re beliefs and customs with them. As such, the mythological figures from these immigrants’ homelands follow them across the sea to the New World, and exist here as well. Now, however, the descendants of these first immigrants have stopped believing in the old gods, and, as a result, they’ve become frail and weak. Instead, new gods–ones of television, internet, and big business–have sprung up, and are looking to exterminate the old timers.

This is an extremely interesting idea–a war between new and old gods with our world as the battleground–and Gaiman develops some really good characters. His prose is also very conversational, and easy to get into. So, why am I not as crazy about American Gods as I am about Percy Jackson?

Well, one reason could be the fact that certain characters, and plot lines, feel either unnecessary, or out of place. For instance, there’s a character that Shadow gives a ride to named Sam Black Crow, who shows up a few more times in the book, has several pages devoted to her life and backstory…and she serves absolutely no purpose. Seriously. It’s not like she’s his love interest, or helper. She never really contributes to the main storyline–that being Shadow and Odin traveling across the continental United States, recruiting Old Gods to fight in the war against the New ones. She just shows up from time to time, talks to him, and in one scene, kisses him. And that’s it. And it’s not even like the kiss she gives him is out of attraction–Gaiman establishes pretty early on that she’s a lesbian–so she really doesn’t serve any purpose. The only reason I can think he’d bring her up more than once is the fact that she lives in this small town that Shadow hides in for a period. And speaking of, the whole section where Shadow hides in the small town of Lakeside Michigan feels completely out of place. When I was reading that section, I thought I’d picked up a completely different novel, a David Lynch-type murder mystery, instead of the epic fantasy adventure I was promised.

And that’s the other thing I didn’t like about American Gods–its inability to keep focus on one story. The Percy Jackson series has just one protagonist, who is also the narrator. You therefore see everything from his perspective, and never leave his side. This, in turn, makes the story as a whole easier to follow. American Gods does have a protagonist, Shadow, but Gaiman has several chapters and interludes where he’s not even mentioned. I guess the reason Gaiman did this was to build a universe, to weave a complete tapestry . But, in the end, these cutaways and interludes ultimately prove distracting. And remember how I mentioned that the small town section felt really out of place? Well, it does, and its distracting too. If you’ve ever read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, you know that Frodo destroying the ring isn’t the end. There’s a whole section after that where he, Sam, Merry and Pippin go back to the Shire, find that it’s been taken over by Saruman, and organize a Hobbit uprising. This section always felt completely out of place to me, and I’m honestly quite glad that Peter Jackson chose to leave it out of his film adaptation. It felt like a totally new novel, one that had just been tacked on as an after-thought to a previous one. The reason I bring this up is that American Gods has a similar situation. There’s a big climactic battle between the new gods and the old ones, and when it’s over, you think the story’s finished. But it isn’t. The book doesn’t end there. Shadow then goes back to the annoying town from earlier, and picks up a plot-thread that had been introduced, but no one had really cared about. As I was reading it, I kept asking myself, “Why is this here? Why is this here? The main story is the war between the old and the new gods, which is done. So, why is this here?” All I can say is that, if Gaiman hadn’t spent so much time on universe-building interludes, and just kept the focus on one story, the book would have been a lot better.

But, as I said before, this isn’t a bad book. The characters are well-rounded and likable, the world is interesting, and the prose itself is easy to get in to, and enjoyable to read. So, as many gripes as I might have with this novel, I can’t really give it a bad review. It’s a 7 out of 10. If you do read it, feel free to skip the sections with Sam and the small town.

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In The Miso Soup (Book Review)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

How are you all this jolly January day? Are you comfortable? Are you warm? Are you snuggled up in bed with someone you love? If so, you might want to stop reading this review right now, because it’ll likely make you feel cold and empty inside. That’s certainly how I felt after I finished reading today’s novel. “What novel is that?” you ask. Why In The Miso Soup, a horror story from Japanese author Ryu Murakami.

Now, I’m just going to put it out there, I really, really, REALLY didn’t like this book. It’s dark, twisted, sexist, and thoroughly xenophobic. I feel that it’s my civic duty to warn you all about it. But, before I go any further, I feel I should provide some background.

So, for those of you who don’t know, the author of this book, Ryu Murakami, is fairly famous, or infamous, in his native Japan. His 1976 debut novel, Almost Transparent Blue, was a huge critical and commercial success, even winning that year’s Akutagawa Prize; the Japanese equivalent to the Pulitzer. It dealt with disillusionment, drug use, promiscuity, and the influence of Rock and Roll on young people. And even though it lacked a clear narrative, the book was praised for capturing the spirit of the time, and Murakami was hailed as a counterculture hero, and even likened to figures like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S Thompson.

As time went on, however, his writings grew consistently darker and less accessible. Novels like Piercing, Audition, Coin Locker Babies, and Popular Hits Of The Showa Era were either trashed by critics, or became lightning rods for controversy due to their extremely graphic violence and bizarre content. People also started to notice trends in his writing, like the fact that all the female characters in his books are either prostitutes, psycho, or both. In this respect, Murakami is not unlike the American comic book writer Frank Miller, who won tons of critical praise in the 70s and 80s for returning characters like Batman to their darker roots, but is now lambasted by most people for sexist portrayals of women, and excessive amounts of violence in his work.

But perhaps no single book encapsulates everything that Mr Murakami is, or was, than his 1997 novel, In The Miso Soup. It’s got sex. It’s got violence. It’s got characters whining about how messed up Japan is. It’s the story of Kenji, a 20-something Japanese man who takes foreigners on night tours through Tokyo’s red light district, and follows the same basic premise as the movie Collateral. There’s a guy who takes people to various places in the big city, no questions asked, one night he gets a client whom he finds suspicious, things start to get violent and crazy, and the story becomes one of survival, as the main character tries to get away from this dangerous individual. In the case of In The Miso Soup, the dangerous client is a fat American man named Frank, whom it is later revealed is a serial killer, occultist, rapist, and necrophile. How charming. And what makes this even worse is the fact that Frank, an absolute monster, is not the most disgusting character in the novel. See, you don’t really like Kenji, the main character and narrator, because it’s revealed early on in the book that he’s dating a 16-year-old girl. And while you could make the argument that he’s not a pedophile, because maybe the age of consent is different in Japan, he’s still really annoying and xenophobic. Every few pages he’ll stop and whine about how Japanese people are like robots, how, since the economic boom, they’ve lost all interest in things that are real, that they’re all lonely, walking corpses, blah, blah blah. He also talks about foreigners in a really condescending, bigoted manner. He says that the Chinese are stupid and dirty, that all Americans are naive, greedy assholes, and so on. He also uses the term gaijin, a fairly xenophobic slur, to refer to foreigners. (Sigh).

Look, I’ve read tons of books that are critical of America before, but none of them made me angry like this one. Maybe it’s because, more often than not, those other books are written BY AMERICANS. And even if they aren’t, like the last book I reviewed on this blog, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, they usually try to provide a more balanced portrayal of the US. The Reluctant Fundamentalist shows good Americans, and bad Americans. When you read it, you can tell that the author had actually visited, and maybe even lived in, the United States. In The Miso Soup doesn’t have any of that. Frank, a fat, sadistic, corpse-raping serial killer is the only American we get to see in the entire story. It’s clear when you read this book that Murakami has never visited the US, and doesn’t care who he offends. Looking back on this novel, I feel reminded of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu series from the 1920s, books that are so casually racist and ignorant of fact that its not even funny. The only different here is that it’s the Asian people stereotyping Whites, instead of the other way around.

All I can say is that, unless you want to read a book where every woman is either a prostitute or a bitch, the main character is a xenophobic pedophile, and the antagonist is the most vile and disgusting American stereotype imaginable, don’t buy this novel. It’s a 4 out of 10. I hated it, and feel ashamed for having read it. Be smarter than I was, and avoid it like the plague.

The Big Short

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

And why is anyone going to see this movie? Seriously. Why is any person in their right mind forking over their hard-earned cash to pay to see a movie about racist, sexist, foul-mouthed rich guys who got even richer when the economy collapsed and millions of people lost their homes and jobs? Yeah, in case you were wondering, that’s what this film is about. It’s the true story of a group of Wall Street brokers and hedge fund managers who predicted that the economy was going to collapse back in 2008, and, rather than try to warn the government, or the thousands of people who stood to lose the most, just did some tricky buying and selling, and got super rich when everything went down the tubes. I HATE this movie. For several reasons!

For starters, the characters are all assholes. To give you an idea of how disgusting these people–the “good guys” of this movie–are, in one scene, Ryan Gosling is trying to convince Steve Carrell that the Housing Market is going to crash. When Steve Carrell asks how he can be sure, if his math is accurate, Ryan Gosling points to his numbers guy, an Asian-American man named Zhang, and says, “look at my numbers guy! Look at his face; his eyes! He doesn’t speak fucking English! He came in first place in a national Math competition in China! Yeah, I’m fucking sure my fucking math is right!” And as if their racial stereotyping isn’t bad enough, there’s a scene later on in the movie where two hedge fund managers, Charlie and Danny, realize that, by betting against the Housing Market, they’ve become super rich, and begin to celebrate. They’re so selfish and self-absorbed that they have to be reminded that, in order for them to get rich, millions of people have to lose their jobs, and their homes, and possibly even their lives. But do Charlie and Danny give a shit? Nope!

The second thing that bothers me about this movie is the cinematography. My god is it ugly! Virtually every shot in this film is taken from a hand-held camera, so all the images are shaky. And as if that’s not annoying enough, there’s also hardly any moments where the camera itself isn’t panning, zooming, tilting, or just making your eyes bleed with its sickening motion. Why don’t directors use steadicams, tripods, or wide shots anymore? Those things are all great! Filmmakers, you don’t need to set yourselves apart from other people by shoving cameras up your actors noses and jiggling them at every conceivable second.

The third thing I hated about this movie is the fact that it’s BORING, and unbelievably CONFUSING! It’s boring because there’s no rising action, and no climax. The economy is shown collapsing at about the halfway point, so it’s not like you can say that’s the climax. And the whole movie is just rich white guys in suits talking to each other. How riveting! Except no, no that isn’t riveting! Stuff needs to happen in a movie for audiences to be invested. Even The Wolf Of Wall Street, a movie about brokers that I really didn’t like, understood that. There, at least, the filmmakers showed the characters doing drugs, riding boats through storms, and lots of other crazy stuff that can be described as interesting. The Big Short doesn’t have any of those things. It’s just rich, racist, sexist assholes spewing financial jargon at each other. And though the filmmakers do try to make this all a little less confusing by having cut-aways to people like Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, and Selena Gomez, where they try to explain the terms, these cut-aways ultimately prove to be distracting, and just make things even more confusing.

The only things I can honestly say I like about this movie are Steve Carrell, and the soundtrack. Steve Carrell’s character is one of the few nice, likable people in the whole movie, though he does get a little annoying at points. And the soundtrack features lots of songs from the early 2000s that I really love, like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc.” But, beyond these two things, there’s nothing in this film that I like. This is a 5 out of 10. I’m honestly quite shocked that this movie about selfish, racist assholes has an 88% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and The Flowers Of War, a heartbreaking movie about sacrifice and redemption in The Rape Of Nanking, has a mere 42% approval rating. Guys, if you want to see a well-made, underrated picture with beautiful visuals, great performances, and well-rounded, likable characters who grow and mature as the story progresses, watch The Flowers Of War. As for this garbage, don’t give it a second thought.

The Revenant

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, ANd Views Are My Game.

If you’ve ever read any works of literary or cinematic criticism, you’ve probably noticed that the phrase “style over substance” gets tossed around a lot. Most of the time, the expression is used to describe sci-fi, action, or fantasy films that are more interested in looking nice than having coherent stories, or likable, well-rounded characters. Well, having just seen The Revenant, the latest film from writer-director Alejandro González Iñárritu, I can assure you, the same principle holds true for artsy movies.

Set in the 1820s, on the Missouri River, The Revenant is a very loose re-telling of an actual event concerning the famous Mountain Man, Hugh Glass. In both the movie and real-life, Glass gets mauled by a bear, left for dead by his men, and then sets out on a path of vengeance. That, however, is where the similarities end, because this movie takes SO MANY liberties with history, it’s not even funny. In real life, Glass constructed a raft, floated downstream until he reached his men’s fort, and then FORGAVE them for leaving him behind. In the movie, by contrast, Glass not only gets left behind, but he’s also forced to watch one of his men, Fitzgerald, murder his son. This causes him to embark on a deranged, blood-soaked voyage, which involves him killing more or less everyone and everything he comes into contact with, and ends with a climactic battle between him and Fitzgerald by a riverside. Now, to my knowledge, the murder, and existence, of Glass’s son, as well as the battle between him and Fitzgerald at the end, are all completely fictional. But, as many of you will no doubt point out, this movie is not a documentary. It is a work of fiction. It is, therefore, not obligated to tell the whole truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth. So, historical inaccuracies aside, is it any good?

Well, on the one hand, yes it is. The acting in this film is beyond superb. Leonardo DiCaprio, whom plays Glass, does an absolutely astounding job in this movie. There’s so much dangerous, physically-demanding stuff that he has to do–including getting mauled by a bear, thrown off a cliff, tossed through rapids, and sleeping inside the carcass of a dead horse–that I’m honestly kind of shocked he’s still alive. In addition to this, the cinematography is astounding. Much like his last film, Birdman, González Iñárritu includes a lot of long takes in this movie, where he moves the camera around the whole location so you can see everything, instead of just cutting to different objects or characters. Finally, and I cannot emphasize this enough, this film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Shot on location in British Columbia and Southern Argentina, the film contains some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever laid eyes upon. What makes it even better is that none of the images are artificial. The director stated that he wanted to make this movie seem as natural as possible, and so they didn’t use any CGI or artificial lighting. They used sunlight, moonlight, firelight, and the wilderness around them to tell the story, and that level of ambition from a mainstream Hollywood director is extremely impressive. Watching this movie reminded me of the early works of Werner Herzog, like Aguirre: The Wrath Of God, where the director really demanded a lot from his cast and crew, and basically put them through hell to get the best possible product. It’s both good, and frightening, to know that there are still some artists out there willing to sacrifice anything for their craft.

But, all it’s artistic ambition and visual tricks aside, The Revenant still suffers from an excessive amount of violence, overly simplistic characters, and a lack of a clear moral center. Lajos Egri, author of The Art Of Dramatic Writing, wrote that all great stories must contain a premise, a theme or hypothesis that the author has to prove with his or her narrative. Romeo and Juliet’s premise is “Great Love Conquers Death.” Macbeth’s premise is “Violent Ambition Leads To Its Own Destruction.” Without a premise, Egri asserted, stories lose focus, and it becomes harder to get invested in them. Keeping this in mind, it becomes easy to understand why I never felt fully interested in The Revenant. Yeah, it looks pretty, but I don’t learn anything from it. I just watch a guy get screwed over, do everything in his power to get revenge, and that’s it. No themes are ever established, or touched upon throughout the story. You also don’t learn anything about any of the characters besides Glass. They’re just kind of there, and so you don’t really care when they die or get hurt. And it’s not like I can write this movie off as idiotic, “turn your brain off” entertainment, because when you watch the movie, it’s clear that the filmmakers are too smart and too ambitious to make a picture like that. The fact that they used all these complicated shots, the fact that they chose not to use CGI or studio lights, and the fact that they include a lot of really surreal imagery–like a bird rising from a dead woman’s chest, and Renaissance paintings on the walls of caves–make it clear that they wanted to create something meaningful and lasting with this. I just don’t think they did.

So, in the end, should you go see The Revenant? Honestly, I think you should. The camera work, the performances,and the imagery are all amazing. Just don’t expect great writing, and be prepared to see a lot of really disturbing violence. It’s a 7 out of 10.

Trumbo

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

I just realized something, my reviews of movies I enjoy tend to be a lot shorter than my reviews of films I don’t. I guess it’s because, when you don’t like something, you look a lot harder for things not to like. And as for the movies you like, well, you like them. You’re therefore willing to overlook certain flaws they might have, and are left with simply saying, “It was good.” That’s the case here with Trumbo, a film that tells the true story of a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, who ended up being able to circumnavigate the system by using pen names. I like it, and, well, I don’t really have much to say other than that.

It’s well-acted, the costumes and sets are period appropriate, and I actually think the writing is quite good. This is ironic because, most other reviews of the film I’ve read praise the acting and sets, but say the writing is the weakest part. I don’t think that’s the case. I personally believe they’re just saying that because the man whose life this film is based off of, Dalton Trumbo, was such an extraordinary writer that nothing can really compare to his work. But, with that said, the screenwriter who penned this biopic shouldn’t be short-changed. There are some very witty, very well-written lines in this movie. My absolute favorite scene is when a guy from the government comes to the Z-grade production company that Trumbo has been secretly working at, and threatens the owner, played by John Goodman. Goodman, to show this fed how little he cares about the blacklist, pulls out a baseball bat, begins smashing up his own office and says, “You wanna call me a pinko in the papers? Go ahead! My audience can’t read!” This, and many other scenes in the film, possess a wit and craftiness that can only come from the efforts of a talented writer, so, don’t believe what other reviews tell you. The script of this movie is solid.

The only problem I might have with this film is the fact that certain characters–particularly the women in the film–feel a bit like tokens, fulfilling archetypes like the nagging daughter, the supportive wife, and the bitter ex-actress who never got to be a star. And yet, I can’t really fault the movie for that either because the script contains scenes where we learn the backstories of all these women, and we see them as more than just “wife” and “daughter.” Trumbo’s wife, Annie, used to be a Circus performer, and his daughter, Nicole, is an advocate for Civil Rights. And they’re not the only characters given a respectful amount of history and depth in this movie. Virtually everyone on screen is given a name, a history, and motivations for acting the way they do. All this is a sign of strong craftsmanship, and further evidence that this movie is worth watching.

So, once again, Trumbo is a well-acted, well-written, and well-designed film that I deeply enjoyed, and that you all shouldn’t hesitate to watch. It’s an 8 out of 10. Try and catch it if it’s still in theaters.

Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Greetings Loved ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Like all the films in the Star Wars franchise, this installment is certainly entertaining, but lacking in substance. On top of this, it’s highly derivative. What I mean by that is, with only a few exceptions, the movie more or less follows the exact same plot line as the original, 1977 film directed by George Lucas. Once again, the movie begins with a rebel leader entrusting a vital secret to a droid, who gets stranded on a desert planet, then gets picked up by an orphan who secretly possesses the Force. Once again, there is a big, evil device that can blow up planets, and the film ends with the good guys destroying it. Once again, the main villain is someone who used to be good, but was then seduced by the dark side, and he ends up killing a beloved person from his old life at the film’s climax. Once again, once again, once again…

But, as a dear friend of mine who actually got the chance to interview the great George Lucas once said, “There’s no such thing as an original story out there. Everything you read or see is just a re-telling or adaptation of something else.” So, on it’s own, a derivative plot-line isn’t enough of a reason to hate a movie. And, no, before you ask, I don’t hate this movie. I’m just not going to cream my pants over it as some fan-boys are bound to do. I will look at this film’s flaws, as well as its strengths.

Speaking of strengths, I think all the lead actors did good jobs. They seemed energetic, excited, and genuinely happy to be in this movie. On top of this, as with all the films in the Star Wars franchise, the special effects and fight scenes are very impressive. I can’t think of a moment in this movie where I was bored, so that’s good.

As I said before, this is an entertaining, visually-stunning film that I can certainly understand why lots of people would enjoy going to see. I just don’t think there’s much to it in the way of morals, themes, motifs, or really anything of substance. Part of this has to do with the fact that this film is extremely fast. What I mean by that is, SHIT IS FLYING AT THE SCREEN ALMOST EVERY SECOND! There’s hardly a point in this movie where the characters aren’t running, shooting at something, being shot at, or having things explode all around them. They, and by extension, the audience, are barely given time to breathe, much less talk to one another. It honestly seems to me like the director, JJ Abrams, was determined to not have his film be labelled as boring, and so did everything in his power to cram as much action and violence into the movie as possible.

I’ll be honest with you guys, I’ve never been a huge Star Wars fan. I don’t hate the movies or anything, but I’ve never understood why people get so violently defensive and obsessive over them. I’ve never understood the hatred that some people have for the Prequels, Jake Lloyd, or Hayden Christiansen. For that matter, I don’t understand why so many die-hard fans hate George Lucas, the guy who created the whole universe to begin with. So what if he made some alterations in the special edition DVDs. You don’t have to buy those. The originals are still for sale. And, really, does adding a little CGI to the background in a few scenes, or changing some dialogue, really matter? The plot, the characters, and all the moments that you liked from the original are still intact. And as for Jake Lloyd, why on Earth do you dean it necessary to bully a little boy, send him death threats, and make his life so miserable that he quits acting for good? Just because he didn’t deliver an Oscar-worthy performance at 10? That’s just cruel, guys. The truth is, this franchise has generated a shockingly mean-spirited fan base, and the cruel actions of that fan-base have kind of made me weary of the movies in general. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them for what they are, but I always feel somewhat nervous when I go see them now.

So, again, I don’t hate this movie. I don’t even think I dislike it. I just won’t urge people to go out of there way to see it. It’s a fun, dumb, 7 out of 10 popcorn movie. If you want to watch some epic explosions, sword fights, and spaceship battles, here you go. As for me, I’m good. I’ve had my fair share of all that.

The Remake That I Will Not Call “Point Break”

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Before I begin the review today, I’d like to take a minute and tell you all about my Dad. He’s a fun guy, in every sense of the word. Not only is he kind, easy-going, and funny, he’s also adventurous, and the sort of person who likes to try everything once. He kayaks, hikes, and surfs, and even though he might not be “great” at any of those things, he always has fun doing them, and is always looking to try more challenging, athletic stuff.

Keeping this in mind, it seems quite natural that his favorite movie of all time should be the 1991 cult action film, Point Break. The story of a group of surfers who rob banks in order to fund their extreme lifestyle, the film is as fun, goofy, and free-spirited as my father, and has as much love for extreme sports as he does. It was one of the first movies I ever saw with him, and to this day, it holds a special place in both our hearts. That’s why, when we heard that they were re-making the beloved classic, we went to go see it together. When we emerged from the theater, however, we were anything but happy.

This movie is AWFUL! All the fun, the humor, and the color of the original film is lost. Imagine if someone went to Disneyland, looked around and said, “You know what would make this place a whole lot better? If someone made all the rides ten times bigger, turn them grey, and had them be identical to one another.” That’s essentially what this remake did, and I’m not just saying that. In a promotional video for the new film, the director said that “this movie has all the stuff you loved about the old Point Break, only bigger.” Well, the stunts in the movie are certainly bigger, but that doesn’t make the story interesting. They just feel like salt to cover up bland food. And, to be honest, they are all so big, and so similar to one another, that they kind of get boring. There are at least 5 times in this film where characters launch themselves off a cliff, and even though you know you should be frightened for them, you just aren’t. They’ve done it 10 times before, and on 10 times bigger scales, so why should you get invested?

But, as I said before, the biggest thing that this remake did wrong was lose the sense of fun. The original Point Break was set in California, and had a warm color palette, featuring tons of red, orange, and yellow. The characters joked with one another. The humor was light-hearted. The filmmakers recognized that the premise they were working with was pretty darn silly, and so didn’t take it seriously. There’s a point in the original film where the main character, undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah, is talking to the main antagonist, Bodi, about surfing. Bodi is spewing some quasi-philosophical crap about surfing bringing you into harmony with nature, and Utah jokes “You’re not going to start chanting, are you?” and Bodi winks and smiles and says, “Not yet.” Little moments like that let you know what kind of film you’re watching, a fun, dumb thrill ride that you shouldn’t take too seriously.

The new Point Break is the total antithesis of everything the original film stood for. First off, it’s set in Europe, instead of California. Secondly, it has a cool palette, as opposed to a warm one, with grey being the most prominent color in most scenes. And thirdly, and this is the worst part, it takes itself completely seriously. There isn’t a hint of irony anywhere when, at at least ten different points in this movie, the new Bodi sits down, and drones on in a monotone voice about how mankind is destroying nature, and how skydiving off of buildings somehow heals the Earth. The filmmakers don’t realize just how stupid they sound when they try to sell us on the idea that this surfer heist film somehow has something meaningful to say about life or religion. The original movie includes scenes where characters say things like, “Listen, you snot-nosed little shit, I was taking shrapnel in Khe Sanh, while you were crapping in your hands and wiping it on your face,” and “You’re a real blue-flame special, aren’t you, son? Young, dumb, and full of cum.” No film with that kind of dialogue can be taken seriously. How, filmmakers, do you not get that?

All I can say is that you shouldn’t go see this film. If you loved the original, you’re bound to be disappointed. If you’re just a fan of good filmmaking, don’t expect anything either, because this movie is poorly acted, poorly written, and contains many scenes that don’t make any sense. This abomination is an absolute 5 out of 10. If you want to see Point Break, watch the original. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT give the remake ANY money!