Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rhymes with Super!

Offering a disturbing glimpse into a dismal future, the volatile, action-loaded Looper is not only a thrill but is quite possibly the sleeper Sci-Fi hit of 2012!


Joe meets Joe over a cup of Joe
ARTH VADER (AV): I'll admit it. This one caught me by surprise. I didn't see this one even coming on the horizon. It slipped through the crack on me. Looper is an original Science fiction screenplay, written and directed by Director Rian Johnson

The movie is set in 2044. In this future, the US suffers a severe economic collapse, causing massive social decomposition as disorder organized crime soars. Additionally, a number of people–mutants–develop telekinetic powers, like having the ability to levitate small objects. In 2074, time travel is invented but is immediately outlawed.

Thus crime lords employ time travel to send their targets into the past where they're killed by "loopers" (assassins). When a looper's contract is up, they send his future self back to be killed by his younger self, referred to as "closing the loop". 

This, Pontificator, is a magnificent original idea that will greatly impact the sci-fi genre for a long time to come.

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Looper was it’s own story, that when expanded in afterthought, spawns it’s own continuity. That said, trying to unravel time travel films can give you a headache, but this story was surprisingly easy to follow and understand... and didn’t give me a hard “time” to unravel.


Joe vs. Joe. Who's your money on?
AV: The first rate cast delivered solid, engrossing character performances across the space/time continuum in Looper. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fast becoming a favorite of mine and is a great, pensive 'killer with a heart of gold' persona as the film's lead as young Joe. Action mega-man, Bruce Willis plays the coy and ever-so worldly 'Old Joe'. I also loved Emily Blunt as the single Mom with a dark secret and Jeff Daniels in the wise old gangster role as 'Abe'. 

The stunning cast was complimented by the directorial talents of Johnson who kept a very up-close and personal treatment comfortably agile in this deeply solvent character-driven story. Ponty?

TP: This film was well cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Young Joe) seems to be the perfect choice to portray a young Bruce Willis (Old Joe). He has the look, he has the mannerisms...and brings the exact amount of attitude to make the role believable. Bruce Willis looked familiar in his role (12 Monkeys) and confident in his mission (Last Man Standing) to the point that it was easy to identify with the nature of his humanity. The biggest surprise for me was Pierce Gagnon in his precociously innocent, and sometimes sinister portrayal of Cid (The Rainmaker)...the future antagonist of the film. The pace of the film was inconsistent and didn’t transition well in some parts, while being absolutely seamless in others. I’m not sure if this was by design, given the nature of the film.


Feelin' lucky, Punk?
Joe makes a decision that could cost him everything
AV: The real beat of this movie is that no significant effects shots (of which there were a healthy share) were ever necessary to tell Joe's (Gordon-Levitt) story. I am a firm believer that some of Science Fiction's best stories are told from a character-driven perspective and this one delivers in spades. The best effects are simple ones, in camera effects, such as time shifting into the shot–to be shot–is simple and really effective. That said the hero of the SFX in this story is the near-seamless  treatment of old joe and young Joe. The facial prosthetics for Gordon-Levitt to match the rugged, ragged and ravaged Willis' jawline was great. Why do you ask? Because you NEVER notice until a double-take. Ponty?

TP: Agreed Vader, this film probably didn’t have a huge special effects budget, but they certainly did more with less as nothing was done just for filler. Instead, the effects advanced the story and brought weight to the consequences of the decisions being made by the characters.  I call it the “bad things” scenario. What happens when you escape being murdered by your past self and take off for parts unknown, without regard for the possible capture of your past self? Bad things. What happens when you upset the most powerful telekinetic on the planet whose power is about several thousand times that of everyone else? Bad things. Superbly used...and superbly done. 


"What's all this discussion about Big Bird, now?"
A complex young boy with a chilling secret.
AV: The audience is treated to the entire span of Joe's life, the potential, the love of his life and redemption through loss as the character slips from memory and existence for a vulgar life as he experiences loss on levels unimagined as he must go back into time and redeem himself by "closing his loop." This redemption and this twisted, advanced take on the 'code of honor amongst the wicked' is a hearty and brave prospective that I have not experienced in a sci-fi film in quite some time. Pontificator, I dare say, the characterizations and the sense of loss with time travel as a story-telling vehicle, is unmatched in almost anything I have seen to date.

TP: Well Vader, there are more holes in the plot of this film than are in Swiss cheese but none of them came to mind while sitting in the theater... just upon reflection. Because of this, the chatter about this movie may exceed that of Prometheus. Many elements were never explained, and probably should have been, at least in passing. I’m not going to rip through all the holes, but instead share what touched me the most. Old Joe is eliminating possible future versions of Cid, in hopes of altering his recent past. This means he has to seek out, and murder children. This very subject is disturbing and the way the movie deals with it is profound. No child violence is shown...but the allusion to it is powerful enough to move me emotionally. How bad is the world of tomorrow that risking killing innocent children today is the answer? The heartbreak of Old Joe is masterfully conveyed as he realizes immediately, because of an unchanged timeline, that the children he’s killed where really innocent. Even with all this...and the fact that Joe, throughout his life, has been a vile criminal, can still illicit empathy is a testament to the character writing and acting interpretation.


"I said decaff–!" Joe goes off... on himself?
AV: This is a story that, as much as I hate to admit it, could have a life outside this movie. I think it would be a grave mistake to try and reprise this story as the prospect of time travel is a sketchy one at best. As for a sequel to this movie in particular, as i see it, Ponty, that loop is closed.

TP: I don’t see anywhere in this that they can, or should make a sequel. Some movies are best left as they are, and this is certainly one of those films Vader.


ARTH VADER rates Looper: Well, if it's not evident by now, I really loved this movie. The casting, the story, the plot twists, while simple, were well written and the movie entertains when given half a chance. There are some hokey, almost cheesy moments but the smart and drama-rich world of Looper had me stand and applaud, literally, in the theater. I would venture to say that this will be my 2012 sleeper hit of the year. Few movies this year will deliver the story this one does. Which is why, I will venture to say Looper is worth a solid nine (9) busted blocks out of ten. I better horde, my gold bars, though. Pontificator?

THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Looper: Great action, interesting premiss, despite the gaping plot holes, and profound critical thinking after the fact make this film a refreshing endeavor and worthy of the time spent watching it. Thirty years from now, I’ll come back in time and give it seven (7) busted blocks.

 LOOPER: 8 Busted Blocks

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