Monday, September 26, 2011

Bunraku (C-)

I couldn't count the amount of times I've heard the term "style over substance" being used to describe a film, but here, it couldn't be more accurate. Director Guy Moshe's sophomore feature Bunraku is a visually stunning film, which makes it all the more frustrating how jumbled and messy the plot is. Within the opening three minutes, enough exposition into the bizarre world of Bunraku is done to immediately confuse the viewer right from the start. How can you have stakes for the characters if you don't fully understand the world they live in?

While the constant exposition in the opening few minutes of the film was jarring and hard to follow, it was actually my favorite visual sequence of the film: In a series of children's pop-up book like images, the entire fall and redemption of mankind is explained. Though the sequence is hard to follow, it's a whole lot of fun to watch. However, this cannot be said for the rest of the film. The visual style is sort of like Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch by way of Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but with much less CGI and more old fashion set pieces. The world this movie inhabits remains mildly interesting for the majority of the film, but by the end it definitely begins to where off.

Going back to Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch, I'm not sure whose script was completed first, but one definitely owes a large chunk of their film to the other. Both films exist in a genre blending fantasy-esque world, that which a group of outsiders must defeat an evil in order to escape. Because I have not fully seen Sucker Punch, this is only based off what I've heard about the film, but there are very striking similarities between the two films.

Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of performances in this film. Woody Harrelson is playing the same lovable yet powerful dope he's played in countless other films, and Ron Perlman is decent playing a gang leader (and you can see him do a better performance as a gang member in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, which is still in theaters). Everyone else here falls completely flat, especially Josh Hartnett and Demi Moore playing a mysterious loner and gang leader's girlfriend respectively.

While the plot was a messy wreck, and the performances were mostly stale, if you're interested in just having a good time with mindless action, you should still probably just rent Source Code on DVD. Unless you're a person with a huge interest in set design, or a massive Woody Harrelson fan, you'll probably dislike this movie as much as I did.

Grade: C-

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