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The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

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The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Old 11-14-03, 01:26 PM
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The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy Returns (2001) is not a film I would unconditionally proclaim as a masterpiece. First of all, I have issues with the representation of violence and I very rarely go out of my way to see an actual action film, let alone profess admiration for one. Second, The Mummy Returns’s plot, despite frequent complaints to the contrary from various sources, is too convoluted for my tiny brain pan and its action is so relentlessly dynamic that I could not get my mind to grok it all in just one viewing. It has however gradually become one of my guilty pleasures over time, a seduction that has a lot to do with the wondrous qualities of its widescreen DVD transfer. I have watched it again recently in view of going public with my fondness for it and in light of certain pronouncements by that Chicago Sun-Times pundit, that pathetic prisoner of the zeitgeist and pre-eminent Chicago authority on cinematic art (heretofore referred to as “the CACA”), film critic Roger Ebert.

It came to my attention recently that the big CACA had given 2 stars out of a possible 4 to The Mummy Returns back in 2001 while granting 4 stars to Quentin Tarantino’s barely-legal snuff film Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and no star at all to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which it greatly emulates on the barf-o-meter. This doesn’t seem very fair and balanced to me.

Now it has always been my impression that Tarantino’s problem is that he is basically an uneducated twit raised on “Grand Theft Auto”-like video games and who, much like the CACA, has wasted a good part of his youth overexposing his underdeveloped neurons to the kind of nerdy literature and cinema intended, everywhere on this planet, for imperfectly socialized morons and epsilons.

Unfortunately, the gross-out factor of the adolescent masturbatory S&M fantasies that Tarantino invariably cranks out has become fashionable nowadays because of the American public’s gradual desensitization to violence. The “death of irony” (and decadence) notwithstanding, it is now considered perfectly acceptable in polite circles to watch balletic bosomy bimbos in retro sportswear lop off each other’s body parts to cool music because (1) it is funny in a socially irresponsible, glue-sniffing giggly sort of way, (2) it is technically well-done and (3) it apparently refers to some kind of pre-existing geeky teenage sub-genre (triad movies, kung-fu movies, what have you), which makes it a subject worthy of anthropological study, much like communal head lice-eating and ritual cannibalism.

I consider the man (Tarantino) an opportunistic cultural cockroach who is the contemporary physical and spiritual reincarnation of the violent and maladjusted Pulcinello character of the Punch and Judy show. I don’t think he would find the remotest chance at survival, recognition or redemption outside the self-referential fantasy world of the nerdy lumpenculture he helps to perpetuate, just as he would have no commercial standing had it not been for mainstream America’s complete capitulation to the glorification of the gangster lifestyle as the only meaningful fictional occupation and the only worthy subject of popular entertainments 35 years ago, when Francis Ford Coppola sold his artistic soul in exchange for The Godfather’s monumental success. (I include comedies, musicals, dramatic TV series, rap music and paperback novels in this grim evaluation of the state of contemporary American culture, which has truly become a “culture of homicide”, from C.S.I. to Analyse This, from The Sopranos to Six Heads in a Duffel-Bag.)

Whereas The Mummy Returns, in my opinion, is an action film anyone can enjoy without automatically reaching for the barf bag or feeling drafted into the re-enactment of some quaint S.S. ritual initiation. It also refers to a long and honourable tradition, in this case the legacy of pulpy adventure action melodramas set in exotic locales that stretch all the way back to Hergé’s first Tintin comic-strip albums of the 30’s and practically all of Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ action movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy in particular.

To this mix, writer-director Stephen Sommers has added an element of sex (the chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as a married couple, this time around) and wit, in the form of an intelligent script full of the kind of brilliant, quotable dialogue that made Preston Sturges famous. He has also aimed to create a French farce about the end of the world, very close in spirit and rhythm to Luc Besson’s equally underrated The Fifth Element. Incidentally, geeks take note: These two films were doing the slo-mo martial arts chick thing years before Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger – a worthy film with a feminist agenda - and Tarantino’s latest derivative hard-gore porn effort.

True, the film is a non-stop thrill-ride and it does rely heavily on CGI; true, most of its bravura segments are indefensible from a purely logical point of view, all shortcomings the CACA was quick to point out in his illiterate yet literal way. But the same can be said of every single frame of Kill Bill Vol. 1, doesn’t it?

And how many films do you know that can boast of so many diverse elements while preserving a unity that makes it a kissing cousin to a perennial moral fable such as Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute? This comparison is not so far-fetched when you consider the film’s operatic and relentlessly forward-thrusting structure, its sense of dramatic inevitability, its many occasions for valuable life lessons, its comedic elements, its discussion of destiny and free will, its many enchanting mood pieces, from suspense to romance, its clear definition of good and evil, its setting in a “temple of doom”, its idealization of married life, its downplaying of violence as an end in itself (violence is kept at a relatively palatable Chuck Jones level throughout), its instances of heroism and self-sacrifice and even its death-resurrection scene. After all and most of all, this is not a film (like Tarantino’s) which makes complete subservience to the criminal lifestyle and the films that have glorified it in the past the starting point of its narrative and the ultimate meaning of life.

It also features Brendan Fraser, who can do no wrong in this biased Canadian’s eyes. This exchange from the first part of the film, where the Rick (Fraser) character demonstrates his multi-tasking ability as father to mischievous Alex, brother-in-law to irresponsible Jonathan and potential companion to mystical hero Ardeth Bey, has become my favourite line from any movie-movie:

Ardeth Bey: [To Alex] By putting on the bracelet, you have started a chain reaction that could bring about the next apocalypse.
Alex: [gasp]
Rick: [To Ardeth] Hey, you, lighten up.
[To Alex]
Rick: You, big trouble.
[To Jonathan]
Rick: You, get in the car.

The only thing the great CACA could come up with while commenting on this dialogue is a trite remark, which I paraphrase: “Gee, when was the last apocalypse?” The porcine purveyor of pop pronouncements (“the PPPP”?) was obviously not paying attention when this apocalypse was actually played out in the first film of the series (which he actually liked for some reason).

I do agree with the great CACA on one thing, though, and that is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t deserve a single star. But I disagree that this garbage is any different from Kill Bill Vol. 1 in merit, intent or execution. Both films wilfully glorify violence. Both films desensitize and dehumanize the viewer at least as much as sitting through the last edition of the MTV Video Awards. Both films also specifically aim to eat away at one’s soul and one’s sense of morality, qualities that the big CACA may or may not have possessed to begin with.

And to think somewhere out there, poor deluded Michael Moore is puttering around in his SUV asking why America has become so violent and blaming it all on poor Charlton Heston!

Last edited by baracine; 11-16-03 at 06:54 AM.
Old 11-14-03, 01:36 PM
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Uh, word. I still think Quentin is, to use a technical term, "off the heezy."
Old 11-14-03, 01:36 PM
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very nice
Old 11-14-03, 01:49 PM
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For all the academic posturing included in that post, I did not see a compelling reason to dislike Kill Bill, which I felt was not only more entertaining then such tripe as the Mummy Returns, but which contained a better story (and better versions of such inherent factors as the hero/heroine, evil villian, conflict with others, friendship, etc.) In fact, I believe that in every facet of the film it was a better effort then your beloved Mummy Returns. Even when it comes down to that which you despise, the "mindless action", Kill Bill was superior in every way. I doubt you could find many people who would rate the Mummy Return's giant CGI Scorpion like version of the Rock (The Rock for christ's sake) over the kung fu ballet the Bride performed in the tea house, and the subsequent final battle against O-Ren-Ishi.

Even more disturbing then your taste in films is the way in which you equate violence in movies and video games to be a causation of real life violence. "[It is my impression] Tarantino’s problem is that he is basically an uneducated twit raised on “Grand Theft Auto”-like video games and who, much like the CACA, has wasted a good part of his youth overexposing his underdeveloped neurons to the kind of nerdy literature and cinema intended, everywhere on this planet, for imperfectly socialized morons and epsilons. " This type of reasoning paints you as merely a close minded skeptic who applies their overly traditional judeo-christian ethics to every aspect of film that some people may find..and this may be a stretch so work with me here..."entertaining"
Old 11-14-03, 01:53 PM
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Roger Ebert's star system is out of 4, not 5.
Old 11-14-03, 01:54 PM
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Morality is the point

Ancient Romans found the killing and maiming in real-time of live individuals "entertaining". The notion of "entertainment" shouldn't be an end in itself, outside a Hollywood producer's office anyway. And yes, morality is a Judeo-Christian legacy. Cf: the wonderful pages St. Augustine has written about the long-term psychological effect of Circus games on his young contemporaries.

As for the "heroine" of "Kill Bill", isn't her pre-wedding job description "hit woman" (i.e. one who kills for money)? And does that still make her "the good guy"?

To Groucho: Duly noted and corrected. Thanks.

Last edited by baracine; 12-09-03 at 03:27 PM.
Old 11-14-03, 02:11 PM
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Re: Morality is the point

Originally posted by baracine
As for the "heroine" of "Kill Bill", isn't her pre-wedding job description "hit woman" (i.e. one who kills for money)? And does that still make her "the good guy"?
No. It makes her the protagonist and an antihero, however, like in many works of fiction created by men not raised on video games.

Oh, and wrong forum.
Old 11-14-03, 02:13 PM
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You people might want to consider spoiler tags on some of this stuff as I started to read this thread but have yet to see Kill Bill!
Old 11-14-03, 02:20 PM
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Not seen Kill Bill?

To Teddydogg: I honestly wish I could say the same...

To Mad Dawg: I'm new here. What forum would you recommend?
Old 11-14-03, 02:23 PM
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Re: Not seen Kill Bill?

Originally posted by baracine
To Mad Dawg: I'm new here. What forum would you recommend?
Mobius Home Video Forum

. . . . . .
Old 11-14-03, 02:28 PM
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Re: Not seen Kill Bill?

Originally posted by baracine
To Mad Dawg: I'm new here. What forum would you recommend?
Just over in Movie Talk since you're not actually dicussing the DVDs themselves. But I'm just butting in.

Last edited by Mad Dawg; 11-14-03 at 02:30 PM.
Old 11-14-03, 02:53 PM
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Re: The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Originally posted by baracine
Stephen Sommers’The Mummy Returns(2001)is not a film I would unconditionally proclaim as a masterpiece. First of all, I have issues with the representation of violence and I very rarely go out of my way to see an actual action film, let alone profess admiration for one. Second, The Mummy Returns’s plot, despite frequent complaints to the contrary from various sources, is too convoluted for my tiny brain pan and its action is so relentlessly dynamic that I could not get my mind to grok it all in just one viewing. It has however gradually become one of my guilty pleasures over time, a seduction that has a lot to do with the wondrous qualities of its widescreen DVD transfer. I have watched it again recently in view of going public with my fondness for it and in light of certain pronouncements by that Chicago-Tribune pundit, that pathetic prisoner of the zeitgeist and pre-eminent Chicago authority on cinematic art (heretofore referred to as “the CACA”), film critic Roger Ebert.

It came to my attention recently that the big CACA had given 2 stars out of a possible 4 to The Mummy Returns back in 2001 while granting 4 stars to Quentin Tarantino’s barely-legal snuff film Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and no star at all to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which it greatly emulates on the barf-o-meter. This doesn’t seem very fair and balanced to me.

Now it has always been my impression that Tarantino’s problem is that he is basically an uneducated twit raised on “Grand Theft Auto”-like video games and who, much like the CACA, has wasted a good part of his youth overexposing his underdeveloped neurons to the kind of nerdy literature and cinema intended, everywhere on this planet, for imperfectly socialized morons and epsilons.

Unfortunately, the gross-out factor of the adolescent masturbatory S&M fantasies that Tarantino invariably cranks out has become fashionable nowadays because of the American public’s gradual desensitization to violence. The “death of irony” (and decadence) notwithstanding, it is now considered perfectly acceptable in polite circles to watch balletic bosomy bimbos in retro sportswear lop off each other’s body parts to cool music because (1) it is funny in a socially irresponsible, glue-sniffing giggly sort of way, (2) it is technically well-done and (3) it apparently refers to some kind of pre-existing geeky teenage sub-genre (triad movies, kung-fu movies, what have you), which makes it a subject worthy of anthropological study, much like communal head lice-eating and ritual cannibalism.

I consider the man (Tarantino) an opportunistic cultural termite who is the contemporary physical and spiritual reincarnation of the violent and maladjusted Pulcinello character of the Punch and Judy show. I don’t think he would find the remotest chance at survival, recognition or redemption outside the self-referential fantasy world of the nerdy lumpenculture he helps to perpetuate, just as he would have no commercial standing had it not been for mainstream America’s complete capitulation to the glorification of the gangster lifestyle as the only meaningful fictional occupation and the only worthy subject of popular entertainments 35 years ago, when Francis Ford Coppola sold his artistic soul in exchange for The Godfather’s monumental success. (I include comedies, musicals, dramatic TV series, rap music and paperback novels in this grim evaluation of the state of contemporary American culture, which has truly become a “culture of homicide”, from C.S.I. to Analyse This, from The Sopranos to Six Heads in a Duffel-Bag.)

Whereas The Mummy Returns, in my opinion, is an action film anyone can enjoy without automatically reaching for the barf bag or feeling drafted into the re-enactment of some quaint S.S. ritual initiation. It also refers to a long and honourable tradition, in this case the legacy of pulpy adventure action melodramas set in exotic locales that stretch all the way back to Hergé’s first Tintin comic-strip albums of the 30’s and practically all of Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ action movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy in particular.

To this mix, writer-director Stephen Sommers has added an element of sex (the chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as a married couple, this time around) and wit, in the form of an intelligent script full of the kind of brilliant, quotable dialogue that made Preston Sturges famous. He has also aimed to create a French farce about the end of the world, very close in spirit and rhythm to Luc Besson’s equally underrated The Fifth Element. Incidentally, geeks take note: These two films were doing the slo-mo martial arts chick thing years before Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger – a worthy film with a feminist agenda - and Tarantino’s latest derivative hard-gore porn effort.

True, the film is a non-stop thrill-ride and it does rely heavily on CGI; true, most of its bravura segments are indefensible from a purely logical point of view, all shortcomings the CACA was quick to point out in his illiterate yet literal way. But the same can be said of every single frame of Kill Bill Vol. 1, doesn’t it?

And how many films do you know that can boast of so many diverse elements while preserving a unity that makes it a kissing cousin to a perennial moral fable such as Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute? This comparison is not so far-fetched when you consider the film’s operatic and relentlessly forward-thrusting structure, its sense of dramatic inevitability, its many occasions for valuable life lessons, its comedic elements, its discussion of destiny and free will, its many enchanting mood pieces, from suspense to romance, its clear definition of good and evil, its setting in a “temple of doom”, its idealization of married life, its downplaying of violence as an end in itself (violence is kept at a relatively palatable Chuck Jones level throughout), its instances of heroism and self-sacrifice and even its death-resurrection scene. After all and most of all, this is not a film (like Tarantino’s) which makes complete subservience to the criminal lifestyle and the films that have glorified it in the past the starting point of its narrative and the ultimate meaning of life.

It also features Brendan Fraser, who can do no wrong in this biased Canadian’s eyes. This exchange from the first part of the film, where the Rick (Fraser) character demonstrates his multi-tasking ability as father to mischievous Alex, brother-in-law to irresponsible Jonathan and potential companion to mystical hero Ardeth Bey, has become my favourite line from any movie-movie:

Ardeth Bey: [To Alex] By putting on the bracelet, you have started a chain reaction that could bring about the next apocalypse.
Alex: [gasp]
Rick: [To Ardeth] Hey, you, lighten up.
[To Alex]
Rick: You, big trouble.
[To Jonathan]
Rick: You, get in the car.

The only thing the great CACA could come up with while commenting on this dialogue is a trite remark, which I paraphrase: “Gee, when was the last apocalypse?” The porcine purveyor of pop pronouncements (“the PPPP”?) was obviously not paying attention when this apocalypse was actually played out in the first film of the series (which he actually liked for some reason).

I do agree with the great CACA on one thing, though, and that is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t deserve a single star. But I disagree that this garbage is any different from Kill Bill Vol. 1 in merit, intent or execution. Both films wilfully glorify violence. Both films desensitize and dehumanize the viewer at least as much as sitting through the last edition of the MTV Video Awards. Both films also specifically aim to eat away at one’s soul and one’s sense of morality, qualities that the big CACA may or may not have possessed to begin with.

And to think somewhere out there, poor deluded Michael Moore is puttering around in his SUV asking why America has become so violent and blaming it all on poor Charlton Heston!
Old 11-14-03, 02:55 PM
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Benoît A. Racine, you are like unto a god to me. That was brilliant, and one of the best brief things I've read in a long while.
Old 11-14-03, 02:56 PM
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Mummy Returns?

The Mummy Returns? Oh my God you have got to be joking. I enjoyed The Mummy. It had a light hearted tone, similar to the recent smash Pirates of the Caribbean, and moved quickly. Almost like a Raiders for the late ninties (OK, that's a bit of an overstatement). It felt like a lean little movie inspite of its massive budget and loads of CGI effects. I was actually looking foreward to the sequel. Went to see it on openning day with my little brother. The tone, dialog, plausability, effects were all vastly inferior to the original. The lighthearted way the disappearance of the leads' child is handled alone is disturbing enough to dampen any of the humor. Oh, and the mummy becomes water now? Then you've got the awful CGI Rock/Scorpion thing at the CLIMAX of the movie. This movie was all hype, not film and has gotten what it deserved: A big openning and marginal financial success because of poor word of mouth. But it will be remembered by no one. Even by most Fraser fans.
Old 11-14-03, 02:58 PM
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The "Raised on violent video games" suggestion seems out of place, considering the most violent video game of Tarrantino's youth was probably Pac-Man.

Ebert addresses why he gave Kill Bill four stars and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 0 stars in his TCM review, but not having seen TCM, I can't really comment and the validity of the comparison.

I would say the snuff film comparison is not apt at all. Kill Bill features highly stylized violence, while the original TCM comes much closer to what I would consider to be emulating a snuff film: realistic, brutal, shaky.
Old 11-14-03, 03:00 PM
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Re: The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Originally posted by baracine
Stephen Sommers’The Mummy Returns(2001)is not a film I would unconditionally proclaim as a masterpiece. First of all, I have issues with the representation of violence and I very rarely go out of my way to see an actual action film, let alone profess admiration for one. Second, The Mummy Returns’s plot, despite frequent complaints to the contrary from various sources, is too convoluted for my tiny brain pan and its action is so relentlessly dynamic that I could not get my mind to grok it all in just one viewing. It has however gradually become one of my guilty pleasures over time, a seduction that has a lot to do with the wondrous qualities of its widescreen DVD transfer. I have watched it again recently in view of going public with my fondness for it and in light of certain pronouncements by that Chicago-Tribune pundit, that pathetic prisoner of the zeitgeist and pre-eminent Chicago authority on cinematic art (heretofore referred to as “the CACA”), film critic Roger Ebert.

It came to my attention recently that the big CACA had given 2 stars out of a possible 4 to The Mummy Returns back in 2001 while granting 4 stars to Quentin Tarantino’s barely-legal snuff film Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and no star at all to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which it greatly emulates on the barf-o-meter. This doesn’t seem very fair and balanced to me.

Now it has always been my impression that Tarantino’s problem is that he is basically an uneducated twit raised on “Grand Theft Auto”-like video games and who, much like the CACA, has wasted a good part of his youth overexposing his underdeveloped neurons to the kind of nerdy literature and cinema intended, everywhere on this planet, for imperfectly socialized morons and epsilons.

Unfortunately, the gross-out factor of the adolescent masturbatory S&M fantasies that Tarantino invariably cranks out has become fashionable nowadays because of the American public’s gradual desensitization to violence. The “death of irony” (and decadence) notwithstanding, it is now considered perfectly acceptable in polite circles to watch balletic bosomy bimbos in retro sportswear lop off each other’s body parts to cool music because (1) it is funny in a socially irresponsible, glue-sniffing giggly sort of way, (2) it is technically well-done and (3) it apparently refers to some kind of pre-existing geeky teenage sub-genre (triad movies, kung-fu movies, what have you), which makes it a subject worthy of anthropological study, much like communal head lice-eating and ritual cannibalism.

I consider the man (Tarantino) an opportunistic cultural termite who is the contemporary physical and spiritual reincarnation of the violent and maladjusted Pulcinello character of the Punch and Judy show. I don’t think he would find the remotest chance at survival, recognition or redemption outside the self-referential fantasy world of the nerdy lumpenculture he helps to perpetuate, just as he would have no commercial standing had it not been for mainstream America’s complete capitulation to the glorification of the gangster lifestyle as the only meaningful fictional occupation and the only worthy subject of popular entertainments 35 years ago, when Francis Ford Coppola sold his artistic soul in exchange for The Godfather’s monumental success. (I include comedies, musicals, dramatic TV series, rap music and paperback novels in this grim evaluation of the state of contemporary American culture, which has truly become a “culture of homicide”, from C.S.I. to Analyse This, from The Sopranos to Six Heads in a Duffel-Bag.)

Whereas The Mummy Returns, in my opinion, is an action film anyone can enjoy without automatically reaching for the barf bag or feeling drafted into the re-enactment of some quaint S.S. ritual initiation. It also refers to a long and honourable tradition, in this case the legacy of pulpy adventure action melodramas set in exotic locales that stretch all the way back to Hergé’s first Tintin comic-strip albums of the 30’s and practically all of Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ action movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy in particular.

To this mix, writer-director Stephen Sommers has added an element of sex (the chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as a married couple, this time around) and wit, in the form of an intelligent script full of the kind of brilliant, quotable dialogue that made Preston Sturges famous. He has also aimed to create a French farce about the end of the world, very close in spirit and rhythm to Luc Besson’s equally underrated The Fifth Element. Incidentally, geeks take note: These two films were doing the slo-mo martial arts chick thing years before Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger – a worthy film with a feminist agenda - and Tarantino’s latest derivative hard-gore porn effort.

True, the film is a non-stop thrill-ride and it does rely heavily on CGI; true, most of its bravura segments are indefensible from a purely logical point of view, all shortcomings the CACA was quick to point out in his illiterate yet literal way. But the same can be said of every single frame of Kill Bill Vol. 1, doesn’t it?

And how many films do you know that can boast of so many diverse elements while preserving a unity that makes it a kissing cousin to a perennial moral fable such as Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute? This comparison is not so far-fetched when you consider the film’s operatic and relentlessly forward-thrusting structure, its sense of dramatic inevitability, its many occasions for valuable life lessons, its comedic elements, its discussion of destiny and free will, its many enchanting mood pieces, from suspense to romance, its clear definition of good and evil, its setting in a “temple of doom”, its idealization of married life, its downplaying of violence as an end in itself (violence is kept at a relatively palatable Chuck Jones level throughout), its instances of heroism and self-sacrifice and even its death-resurrection scene. After all and most of all, this is not a film (like Tarantino’s) which makes complete subservience to the criminal lifestyle and the films that have glorified it in the past the starting point of its narrative and the ultimate meaning of life.

It also features Brendan Fraser, who can do no wrong in this biased Canadian’s eyes. This exchange from the first part of the film, where the Rick (Fraser) character demonstrates his multi-tasking ability as father to mischievous Alex, brother-in-law to irresponsible Jonathan and potential companion to mystical hero Ardeth Bey, has become my favourite line from any movie-movie:

Ardeth Bey: [To Alex] By putting on the bracelet, you have started a chain reaction that could bring about the next apocalypse.
Alex: [gasp]
Rick: [To Ardeth] Hey, you, lighten up.
[To Alex]
Rick: You, big trouble.
[To Jonathan]
Rick: You, get in the car.

The only thing the great CACA could come up with while commenting on this dialogue is a trite remark, which I paraphrase: “Gee, when was the last apocalypse?” The porcine purveyor of pop pronouncements (“the PPPP”?) was obviously not paying attention when this apocalypse was actually played out in the first film of the series (which he actually liked for some reason).

I do agree with the great CACA on one thing, though, and that is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t deserve a single star. But I disagree that this garbage is any different from Kill Bill Vol. 1 in merit, intent or execution. Both films wilfully glorify violence. Both films desensitize and dehumanize the viewer at least as much as sitting through the last edition of the MTV Video Awards. Both films also specifically aim to eat away at one’s soul and one’s sense of morality, qualities that the big CACA may or may not have possessed to begin with.

And to think somewhere out there, poor deluded Michael Moore is puttering around in his SUV asking why America has become so violent and blaming it all on poor Charlton Heston!
Wow, umm.........Wow.

you should change the topic to "My Opinionated Bullshit"
Old 11-14-03, 03:08 PM
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A rant on Kill Bill and Tarantino bolstered on the strength of The Mummy Returns?

One of the funniest things I've read in quite a while.
Old 11-14-03, 03:10 PM
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I find it interesting that so many people exclusively pair "morality" with Judeo-Christianity, as if that vein of religion/spirituality has a patent on it. While my personal faith does happen to fall under that particular tradition, I find it offensive that other faiths are excluded from "morality" . . . Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and many other religions promote practices that support a moralistic lifestyle. While they may differ in the specifics of the tenets that they espouse, morality is deeply ensconced in the very heart of each of their teachings.

Secondly, I find it absurd and saddening that the the phrase "traditional judeo-christian ethics" is used with a sense of negativity or mocking. What exactly is negative about the desire to reduce violence in society (for example)? I am not saying that it should be removed from film, indeed I find that there are many times in which violence is exceptionally appropriate and beneficial to goal of a film. However there are two important things to remember in regards to the use of violence (or, indeed, any traditionally "bad" element of cinema) in the media:

1) While violence can be creatively, effectively, and positively used in a film, rarely should it be used merely for the sake of violence itself.

2) Viewers should never allow violence in a film to overshadow the "good" aspects of a film. By focusing on the negative aspects of a film so much that you disregard to positive, you are, in fact, doing more damage that the "bad things" themselves.

I have not seen Kill Bill yet, so I can not address it directly, I am a fan of some of Tarentino's other work (PF and RD are my two favorites) and can say that there are many positive aspects of the films (e.g., technical superiority, stunningly beautiful cinematography, highly intellectual dialog and plot points, etc.) that can be gleened from the rest of the aspects that could be considered negative. Yes, he has a tendancy to include high levels of violence, and I would certainly not recommend that anyone under 17 watch his films, but I think that there is a lot that can be learned from and appreciated in his work.

Finally . . . I REALLY like the idea of calling Roger Ebert "the Big Caca".
Old 11-14-03, 03:10 PM
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Re: Re: The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Originally posted by demonio
you should change the topic to "My Opinionated Bullshit"
To be fair, we should change the topic of every thread in this forum to that.
Old 11-14-03, 03:10 PM
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Re: Re: Not seen Kill Bill?

Originally posted by Hendrik
Mobius Home Video Forum

. . . . . .
You forgot ". . . erm . . ."
Old 11-14-03, 03:12 PM
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Re: Re: The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Originally posted by demonio
Wow, umm.........Wow.

you should change the topic to "My Opinionated Bullshit"
What a lucid, intelligent, and informed rebuttal . . . you weren't on the debate team by any chance, were you?

Old 11-14-03, 03:15 PM
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you should change the topic to "My Opinionated Bullshit"
Amen brother.
Old 11-14-03, 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by chucks888
A rant on Kill Bill and Tarantino bolstered on the strength of The Mummy Returns?

One of the funniest things I've read in quite a while.
ROFL with you.
Old 11-14-03, 03:30 PM
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Re: The Mummy Returns: a post-Kill Bill Vol.1 reappraisal

Originally posted by baracine
Stephen Sommers’The Mummy Returns(2001)is not a film I would unconditionally proclaim as a masterpiece. First of all, I have issues with the representation of violence and I very rarely go out of my way to see an actual action film, let alone profess admiration for one. Second, The Mummy Returns’s plot, despite frequent complaints to the contrary from various sources, is too convoluted for my tiny brain pan and its action is so relentlessly dynamic that I could not get my mind to grok it all in just one viewing. It has however gradually become one of my guilty pleasures over time, a seduction that has a lot to do with the wondrous qualities of its widescreen DVD transfer. I have watched it again recently in view of going public with my fondness for it and in light of certain pronouncements by that Chicago-Tribune pundit, that pathetic prisoner of the zeitgeist and pre-eminent Chicago authority on cinematic art (heretofore referred to as “the CACA”), film critic Roger Ebert.

It came to my attention recently that the big CACA had given 2 stars out of a possible 4 to The Mummy Returns back in 2001 while granting 4 stars to Quentin Tarantino’s barely-legal snuff film Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and no star at all to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which it greatly emulates on the barf-o-meter. This doesn’t seem very fair and balanced to me.

Now it has always been my impression that Tarantino’s problem is that he is basically an uneducated twit raised on “Grand Theft Auto”-like video games and who, much like the CACA, has wasted a good part of his youth overexposing his underdeveloped neurons to the kind of nerdy literature and cinema intended, everywhere on this planet, for imperfectly socialized morons and epsilons.

Unfortunately, the gross-out factor of the adolescent masturbatory S&M fantasies that Tarantino invariably cranks out has become fashionable nowadays because of the American public’s gradual desensitization to violence. The “death of irony” (and decadence) notwithstanding, it is now considered perfectly acceptable in polite circles to watch balletic bosomy bimbos in retro sportswear lop off each other’s body parts to cool music because (1) it is funny in a socially irresponsible, glue-sniffing giggly sort of way, (2) it is technically well-done and (3) it apparently refers to some kind of pre-existing geeky teenage sub-genre (triad movies, kung-fu movies, what have you), which makes it a subject worthy of anthropological study, much like communal head lice-eating and ritual cannibalism.

I consider the man (Tarantino) an opportunistic cultural termite who is the contemporary physical and spiritual reincarnation of the violent and maladjusted Pulcinello character of the Punch and Judy show. I don’t think he would find the remotest chance at survival, recognition or redemption outside the self-referential fantasy world of the nerdy lumpenculture he helps to perpetuate, just as he would have no commercial standing had it not been for mainstream America’s complete capitulation to the glorification of the gangster lifestyle as the only meaningful fictional occupation and the only worthy subject of popular entertainments 35 years ago, when Francis Ford Coppola sold his artistic soul in exchange for The Godfather’s monumental success. (I include comedies, musicals, dramatic TV series, rap music and paperback novels in this grim evaluation of the state of contemporary American culture, which has truly become a “culture of homicide”, from C.S.I. to Analyse This, from The Sopranos to Six Heads in a Duffel-Bag.)

Whereas The Mummy Returns, in my opinion, is an action film anyone can enjoy without automatically reaching for the barf bag or feeling drafted into the re-enactment of some quaint S.S. ritual initiation. It also refers to a long and honourable tradition, in this case the legacy of pulpy adventure action melodramas set in exotic locales that stretch all the way back to Hergé’s first Tintin comic-strip albums of the 30’s and practically all of Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ action movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy in particular.

To this mix, writer-director Stephen Sommers has added an element of sex (the chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as a married couple, this time around) and wit, in the form of an intelligent script full of the kind of brilliant, quotable dialogue that made Preston Sturges famous. He has also aimed to create a French farce about the end of the world, very close in spirit and rhythm to Luc Besson’s equally underrated The Fifth Element. Incidentally, geeks take note: These two films were doing the slo-mo martial arts chick thing years before Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger – a worthy film with a feminist agenda - and Tarantino’s latest derivative hard-gore porn effort.

True, the film is a non-stop thrill-ride and it does rely heavily on CGI; true, most of its bravura segments are indefensible from a purely logical point of view, all shortcomings the CACA was quick to point out in his illiterate yet literal way. But the same can be said of every single frame of Kill Bill Vol. 1, doesn’t it?

And how many films do you know that can boast of so many diverse elements while preserving a unity that makes it a kissing cousin to a perennial moral fable such as Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute? This comparison is not so far-fetched when you consider the film’s operatic and relentlessly forward-thrusting structure, its sense of dramatic inevitability, its many occasions for valuable life lessons, its comedic elements, its discussion of destiny and free will, its many enchanting mood pieces, from suspense to romance, its clear definition of good and evil, its setting in a “temple of doom”, its idealization of married life, its downplaying of violence as an end in itself (violence is kept at a relatively palatable Chuck Jones level throughout), its instances of heroism and self-sacrifice and even its death-resurrection scene. After all and most of all, this is not a film (like Tarantino’s) which makes complete subservience to the criminal lifestyle and the films that have glorified it in the past the starting point of its narrative and the ultimate meaning of life.

It also features Brendan Fraser, who can do no wrong in this biased Canadian’s eyes. This exchange from the first part of the film, where the Rick (Fraser) character demonstrates his multi-tasking ability as father to mischievous Alex, brother-in-law to irresponsible Jonathan and potential companion to mystical hero Ardeth Bey, has become my favourite line from any movie-movie:

Ardeth Bey: [To Alex] By putting on the bracelet, you have started a chain reaction that could bring about the next apocalypse.
Alex: [gasp]
Rick: [To Ardeth] Hey, you, lighten up.
[To Alex]
Rick: You, big trouble.
[To Jonathan]
Rick: You, get in the car.

The only thing the great CACA could come up with while commenting on this dialogue is a trite remark, which I paraphrase: “Gee, when was the last apocalypse?” The porcine purveyor of pop pronouncements (“the PPPP”?) was obviously not paying attention when this apocalypse was actually played out in the first film of the series (which he actually liked for some reason).

I do agree with the great CACA on one thing, though, and that is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t deserve a single star. But I disagree that this garbage is any different from Kill Bill Vol. 1 in merit, intent or execution. Both films wilfully glorify violence. Both films desensitize and dehumanize the viewer at least as much as sitting through the last edition of the MTV Video Awards. Both films also specifically aim to eat away at one’s soul and one’s sense of morality, qualities that the big CACA may or may not have possessed to begin with.

And to think somewhere out there, poor deluded Michael Moore is puttering around in his SUV asking why America has become so violent and blaming it all on poor Charlton Heston!
Mummy Returns was ok.
Old 11-14-03, 03:31 PM
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If I dislike Master and Commander, I think I'll come back here and write about the merits of Waterworld.

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