Decided to go into the Netflix vaults and do some reviews of movies that were suggested to me at one point or another this year. The first being the very popular and very polarizing documentary Blackfish. The second, a “comedy” type movie called Movie 43, and the Red Dawn remake from 2012. Here we go folks, time for some opinionatin’.
Blackfish is a 2013 documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite It involves the story of the incidents involving the multiple accidents and deaths at SeaWorld, specifically the death of Dawn Brancheau by Tilikum, an Orca whale in February of 2010. It details two other related death incidents by the same whale, the OSHA investigation on SeaWorld in the aftermath, and the process of handling and training Orca whales at SeaWorld and other related type attractions.
Going into this documentary I took the approach like I always do which is a “Grain of Salt” mentality. That means, even if the subject matter is something I agree with or not, take it for what it is until further research is done. Now I’ll add to this that I haven’t fully done all my research to react to this in a more open way, my opinions are going off gut reaction and feeling. Before even watching this movie, I was told by many people that it was a tragic, sad, and tear-jerking documentary. As one friend put it, have a box of kleenex and a teddy bear before watching it. So I was prepared for the worst.
The movie discusses the deplorable ways SeaWorld and other places like it have captured, trained, and kept in storage majestic creatures and basically the coverups they have done in light of “accidents” and deaths in their parks in the name of money instead of humanity. This documentary does a fantastic job of pulling on heart strings, and using scientific studies on how Orcas actually behave in wildlife as opposed to in captivity and what workers at SeaWorld explain actually happens. There are a lot of inter-cut clips of facts employees say to tourists and then actual research on life span, behavior, and overall culture of whales to hit this home. There is also some really great stories in here about the intelligence of these animals especially in ways they attempted to protect their young during a chase between hunters and the whales. The sadness the Orcas display with their young as they watch them be carted away and broken up is very much treated in the same way of a public kidnapping.
The movie goes on to explain the horrible treatment that these whales have had to endure in order to get them to do tricks, including group starvation (a tactic that reminded me of Full Metal Jacket where the other recruits beat up Pvt. Pyle to get him into order to avoid further punishment on them), and behavior training involving food, whistles, and so on. It shows how the whales don’t get along in most circumstances because they are all from different areas, and cultures, and have the same type of issues humans would have if just lumped together, expected to get along.
The specific Orca this movie focuses on is Tilikum. He was involved in 3 seperate incidents where a trainer, or regular person was killed by an attack. Each time it was reported accident gone wrong, mostly putting the blame on the victim than the whale. Again the picture the documentary paints is that the real monsters here are SeaWorld, or other places like it, and not necessarily Tilikum. I feel that, above all, it does a fantastic job of doing this.
Now onto personal thoughts with this. I will first say I need more research. There was a very biased story going on here, and it is very easy to jump in on the pile and want to burn a SeaWorld down after seeing this. I am a logical thinker though, and know you can’t do those things if you want to be considered dependable for actual truth. So I am going to do my best to look into it more to find out everything. As far as gut instinct though, I don’t know who is a bigger asshole: The Tourist traps like SeaWorld that are only catering to those they know will pay to see this, or the people who are willing to slap money down without really thinking of the situation. If you go to any Zoo, Circus, or any other place that keeps animals for amusement, you have to understand on some level that the animals used to entertain you can’t be happy. It’s just not their natural environment, and much like any animal, trainers will do some cruel shit in order to get the animal in order. I can’t blame the corporation for wanting to capitalize on those willing to hand money to them for this. Doesn’t mean that its the right thing, it just means that this is the way we as humans operate at times. We can be some really miserable pieces of shit to each other and other living things on the planet.
Enough though on that type of rant. Watch this movie, get some more knowledge, and make your own conclusions, lets get to the next movie that is a polar opposite of this type of Documentary.
MOVIE 43 (2013)
This one is a possibly spoiler heavy review, but it kind of needs to be in order to describe my thoughts. Movie 43 is a comedy movie directed by MULTIPLE directors, specifically Peter Farrely (Something about Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal). It is an anthology-sketch type movie with many different things in it, but having to do a lot about sex and relationships. It also includes a giant cast of Hollywood biggies, which if you see it, can’t fathom how they were able to be on board with it considering the material.
What can I say about this movie? It isn’t something that will ever be considered a cult classic, or even in AFI’s top 100 movies. I started to dislike the movie at the beginning because I thought it was going to be a full movie involving Hugh Jackman with a prosthetic nut sack attached to his neck. Thank God that didn’t go on long. After that things turned around for me. I’m a kid at heart so some really sophomoric, infantile, jokes can make me howl if done correctly, and this movie provided several places with that. Watching two boys frantically panic and find ways to stop Chloe Grace Moretz’s first period with items such as sponges, sink stoppers and frozen vegetables was funny to me. One of the oddest scenes was Halle Berry playing a game of Truth or Dare and one of the dares was for her to shove a turkey baster filled with extremely hot chili in her vagina. Again funny because its just so outrageous.
This movie is definitely not for everyone. It’s not as clever at times with its humor as Mel Brooks was, but I don’t think anyone could ever live up to those standards. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever watch it again, because the replay on some of the jokes/setups have a shelf life of one viewing. I will say I was entertained by it though, and if that type of humor tickles your fancy, then this should be the movie to watch.
Once again overall the movie is bad, but in a good way, and I enjoyed watching it for a quick chuckle. Moving on to the last review.
RED DAWN (2012)
Red Dawn is a remake of the original Red Dawn movie made in 1984. It is directed by Dan Bradley and stars Chris Hemsworth. It is an action movie about the overnight invasion of North Korea on an unsuspecting town and the attempts by a group of teenagers to take it back and help restore America.
Going into this movie, I have never seen the first Red Dawn, so I suspect that would help me be able to watch this without any anger for it not living up to the original. for what it is worth it is an ok movie, nothing spectacular but an ok run of the mill action movie. The story is solid, the characters are not bad, but not great either. It also does a good job of somewhat making it seem like a believable story about an invasion by North Korea by splicing in news footage and press interviews of the President and other things to give it a sense of reality.
I think I have to watch the original just to see which one is truly better because honestly I have no clue. This movie is a bit cliche’ and I suspect the original was too at times. There was a lot of parts where I saw certain things I saw coming from a mile away. The only real bad thing I could say about this movie is much like many others, it tends to really drag at times, and even though the ending is setup for a sequel for sure, I’m not sure I’m convinced I want to see one. The ending was also very rushed to me.
Overall Red Dawn is neither bad nor good, but ok to watch. I would recommend it if there is really nothing else to watch and need a quick action fix.
Not sure if this is the last of my reviews for the year, or even last column for the year, but we shall see if I get inspired for one more. If not, thank you all for taking the time to read it, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the wishes for a good New Year to you all!