Thursday, January 13, 2005

Elektra Evisceration...I Mean, Review...

I saw Elektra last night at a sneak (thanks yet again, may come and raid my Star Wars toys or take it out in trade that's something less than man-rape, OK?)...
I have some bad news. The word on the street is correct. Elektra is dull, dull, dull.
It's not the fault of Jennifer Garner. Honestly, she has a few off moments, but she puts in a good performance, considering the material. She's physical, she's full of rage and regret...she's evolving into something else, for better or worse (Well, we know she's the heroine, so it'll be better...blah blah blah).
I don't even know that I can fault Rob Bowman, other than he should have perhaps dropped this project like Britney Spears drops husbands. Actually, sure, I'll blame Bowman a little.

So, we jump into the movie with a poorly drawn explanation that there's this never-ending battle between good and evil, evil being the Hand and good being the Kimagure. No Orange Road, just a blind guy and ninjas in white who desperately wish they were hanging around in Shogun's Ninja (at least then we'd get Sonny "Ezekiel 25:17" Chiba busting heads. We only get to see Terrance Stamp's Stick fight once, and it's not even whupping Hand ass.).
Other than ninjas, a total lack of humor and slightly better special effects...this is The Golden Child, all fucking over again. Instead of Eddie Murphy in a jaunty leather beanie, we get Jennifer Garner in red lingerie...which I'm happy for. But none of the villains have the charisma of Charles Dance, or even Randall "Tex" Cobb. And dammit, Garner spends far too much time in civvies and far too little time in Victoria's Secret.
I'm gonna steal a bit from Bill Maher here, but I have a New Rule...NO MORE KIDS IN ACTION MOVIES, DAMMIT. Kids don't advance an action plot, they detract from it. They're helpless, even if they're supposedly powerful. They get in the way of righteous ass-kicking and property damage, and I think we need to be done with them.
The character of Abby, aka The Gift/The Prize/The Golden Child/Whatever They're Calling the Special Kid This Week, is truly unnecessary. She may as well be a magic jade image of Buddha or maybe even a Happy Meal toy. She shows the acting ability of a frozen fish stick the martial arts ability that only clever editing can produce. Her character is supposedly a super powerful warrior and has the amazing weapon of SOME BEADS SHE BOUGHT ON eBAY. No shit. Watch out for her mighty beads. I should have paid attention to the credits so I could hunt down the writers and smack the shit out of them. This movie is damn near offensively stupid, and yet is no fun at all. It actually made me pine for Steven Seagal (not TOO much...I'm not a masochist).
Instead of getting a movie about Elektra whupping ass or killing demon ninjas or even making julienne fries in her red lingerie, we get Elektra the Ninja Mommy. America apparently can't deal with a female action hero, unless she's acting on some sort of maternal instinct. I know it worked great for Ripley in Aliens, but give it a fucking rest, Hollywood. Elektra isn't a soccer mom, she's a bad mutha. She actually SAYS she's become a soccer mom. THIS is our heroine? This is the asskickin', tough, capable ninja assassin? Don't think so.
Did Michael Dudikoff need a kid around in American Ninja? Shit no. And you know what? Turd-fest that it is, American Ninja was a damn sight more entertaining than Elektra.
I have deep fear that they're going to include a kid in every comic book move made from now on. Captain America will have to have that jerkoff Bucky around. Spider-Man will have a youthful ward, and Aunt May will move into Stately Parker Manor just so he doesn't look totally gay. Rick Jones will appear in a Hulk movie as a seven year-old. Fuuuuuuuuuuck!
What's worse is, there could have been gold here. They had a decent cast assembled. They had a director I trusted to make a quality film (I've liked Rob Bowman's previous feature and TV work, and he's a hella nice guy). The wasted potential is just unbelieveable.

Let's go over wasted cast members:
Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa: in a Joss Whedon show, his character would be the Big Bad...and he does nothing but sit around and play with his beads (yes, beads again, though his aren't magic fighting beads...or ARE THEY???). He doesn't even off his henchmen when they fail...they just scurry through a door looking sheepish. YAWN. I usually love this guy, even in shitty movies. A crying shame.
Bob Sapp: if you look up the words GIGUNDUS MOTHERFUCKER in the dictionary, there is a picture of Bob Sapp there. He shows the most promise out of the Hand's operatives and goes out like a bitch. Likewise shameful.
Tattoo Guy (imdb says his name is Chris Ackerman): an actor whose entire performance is standing around while special effects ooze out of him. Great concept, absofuckinlutely dumb execution. Rocket-powered wolves? Snake missiles? C'mon, can do better.
Terrance Stamp: Should have put the smack down on the Hand like General Zod on Planet Houston. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. His casting gave me such hope. As it is, he adds about an ounce and a half of much needed class, but isn't allowed to do anything else.
Goran Visnjic: he's there just so that Abby isn't a total orphan, and also for a cheap name gag (Mark Miller/Mark Millar...ugh)
Natassia Malthe: Norwegian hottie she may be, but her Typhoid bears no resemblance to her comic counterpart as a character and has the least sexy girl on girl kiss I've ever seen.
Colin Cunningham: Elektra's agent McCabe is the character I most enjoyed in the movie, even if he's the stock smartass agent. Since I liked having him around, he had to die...and die poorly. Can't the asshole ever survive when he's not played by Sean William Scott or Ryan Reynolds???

There was potential for violence, too. But, unlike the stylish but emotionally empty The Replacement Killers, the assassin turned savior doesn't get to whup ass on a near biblical scale. Elektra, despite the discussions with her agent of extreme body count at the beginning of the movie, kills all of maybe 6 Hand members in the course of the story. That sucks...the Hand dissolve when killed...bloodlessly. The opportunity to throw in a truly horrendous body count in a PG13 movie is pissed away with a level of violence that I've seen done better in between commercial breaks on Alias.
Someone smack the shit out of Raven Metzner before he writes again. Couldn't they get a GOOD hack writer on this job?
Utterly average in quality, totally insipid in story, Elektra will be excellent for lulling yourself to sleep if you have insomnia. Wait for cable...and then only if you can't find something good on basic.

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