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REVIEW: "Wanted"

So I haven't written here in a while because there hasn't been much to report. I just came back from a movie though and I thought it may be fun to write a review. I don't know if this will become a regular thing or not. I guess it all depends on how much money I have to see movies and if I continue having fun to doing it. After writing this review, I could definitely see doing it again so we'll see what happens.

Any way, below is my review of "Wanted." I didn't write up a synopsis / premise / whatever. I thought that would take up too much space and I wanted to cut to the meat of it. More info can be found out about the movie at the wikipedia link below or at www.wantedmovie.com.

The premise according to Wikipedia:

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is offered the opportunity to seek revenge for the murder of his father, who was an assassin. Gibson is invited by his father's partner, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), to follow in his father's footsteps. Sloan's second-in-command, Fox (Angelina Jolie), mentors Gibson, who follows death orders issued by The Fates, weavers who read individuals' destinies in fabrics produced by mystical looms.

Mystical Looms, that is correct. The Looms of Fate to be precise.

We are introduced to Wesley Gibson, an apathetic, frustrated and entirely anxious office worker whose collar is buttoned perhaps too tight. Gibson informs the viewer of his sad state by narrating his daily routine with lukewarm remarks tinged with more than a hint of remorse. His character and mindset immediately reminds one of Edward Norton’s character in “Fight Club.” This association is brought full circle when Wesley mentions his recent purchase of IKEA furniture (we may remember Norton’s character’s obsession with Swedish furniture in “Fight Club”). The parallels, however, are severed there.

Norton’s character was (more or less) original and witty while James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson is drudging right off the bat. McAvoy isn’t as relatable as Norton, either. Norton’s character seemed to satirize itself and acknowledge its own idiosyncrasies. These idiosyncrasies were humorous (who could forget Bob and his gigantic bitch tits?) and it made the character work. Unlike Norton, McAvoy’s character is self-contemptuous to the point of arrogance… if that is possible. McAvoy has a penchant for playing cold characters. His performance here in some ways echoes his performance in “The Last King of Scotland,” though he was much better in that.

I do apologize for all of the comparisons to “Fight Club,” there are quite a few parallels. The last one that comes to mind is the violence. Wesley’s induction into the assassin fraternity to which his father used to belong is not a peaceful one. Suffice it to say that we see the shit kicked out of him every which way by his new coworkers. I don’t understand it. How could kicking the shit out of someone make them a better assassin?

“Wait a second,” you may say, “Edward Norton’s character in “Fight Club” faced a violent initiation as well.” Yes he did. But it was explained through this concept: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” That’s some Nietzsche stuff right there. Agree with it, disagree with it… it doesn’t matter. Damn it – it’s as good of a reason as any to beat a guy up on the big screen.

But in “Wanted” there isn’t a reason. Conditioning? No. Fraternization? Not that I could tell. I don’t think it was ever explicitly stated that any other assassins had to endure such treatment. The film works under the assumption that holding a magnifying glass over an ant on a sunny day will somehow make the ant a better ant. It’s a broken and meandering assumption.

The film redeems itself partially through its special effects and sound design. The movie looks and sounds good, dialogue aside. The Gun Kata style gun fighting taken straight from such Kurt Wimmer films as “Equilibrium” and “Ultraviolet” is a joy to see here and it makes me giddy with anticipation to see Wimmer’s “Metal Gear Solid” adaptation which he is currently slated to co-write and direct.

Wait a tick, I’m reviewing “Wanted.” Right, back to that.

So the special effects look good, but at the sacrifice of story and character development. This film stresses the economic theories of production possibilities and opportunity costs. Apparently we can’t have both a good story and good special effects, or at least not with this film. There is a scene where a train is derailed that is done ridiculously well. But I must beg the question, what is it worth when you don’t care about the characters onboard?

The film’s plot has blind faith at its core. Blind faith and an ambiguous “code” drive the characters forward. The characters are all solipsistic. They all blindly follow their “code” and are cold and contemptuous as they do so. At the risk of spoiling this film (trust me though – you can see what’s coming a mile away), there is a rift within the fraternity. There is one who believes that this blind faith may be ruining the group’s mission of cleansing the world of bad guys. The lines are clearly drawn and this disbeliever is shown as the villain and those faithful as the heroes.

There is a moment where the protagonist summons the courage to ask a colleague if she ever thinks about a life outside of this fraternity of assassins. This is the deepest question that is asked during the film. It asks if blind faith is worth following. The answer is as concise as it is disappointing. The characters in “Wanted” do what they do because they’re in a movie and they’re obligated to shoot stuff. They have no reason. So why should you as the viewer feel obligated to watch them?

There is a funny scene where a guy gets bitch-slapped with a computer keyboard, though.



Last "BloodSpell" Dev. Post

Hugh Hancock of Strange Company recently made his last post on Strange Company's BloodSpell Development Updates blog.

In the post, he recollects some of the best (and worst) moments spent on the production of BloodSpell - Strange Company's feature film using the Neverwinter Nights engine.

"I can't explain it. I still can't fully explain exactly why it's so much fun, so fulfilling. But whilst there were very tough, scary, stressful days when I felt like something was pressing on the side of my head with a medium-sized estate car, frankly even those days I felt I was doing the best thing I could be doing. And then there were the other days, there were days when what we were doing was the happiest, most fun thing in the world."

DEFINITELY worth a read.

Oh, and check this out too. I would have missed this had I not caught it on Brian's blog (of Dead on Que), mentioned here.



Music: "Corona Radiata" by Nine Inch Nails from their new album, "The Slip." Used under a creative commons attribution non-commercial share alike license.


Members of Lit Fuse Team Hired by Bioware

Bioware, developers behind the acclaimed Mass Effect have recently hired Zachariah Scott and Robert Steinmann of Lit Fuse Films (the studio behind such projects as Ballad of Black Mesa, Ignis Solus, and Rusty Whispers - (Dennis and Daniel)) to work in Edmonton on their cinematics team. Hopefully we can still look forward to seeing more content from this machinima powerhouse.

Congratulations Zach and Rob!

(Also - check out Phil Rice's interview with the Lit Fuse team on The Overcast)