Movie review

Grumpy movie review: La La Land

With the first scene, one realizes that this movie is going to be weird: an LA traffic jam turns into a spectacular song-and-dance routine, with dozens of dancers leaping and spinning over and around cars. However, when the first singer opens her mouth, her singing voice is a whisper. This sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

Emma Stone plays an aspiring actress working at a Starbucks next to a major studio. Ryan Gosling is a frustrated jazz pianist. She goes from audition to audition; he gets and loses gigs that are beneath him musically. They dislike each other,  warm up, fall in love, move in together. (She drops her erstwhile boyfriend in the process.) Gosling’s character dreams of buying a jazz club and making sure jazz stays alive. She encourages him in his dream and even creates a logo for the club.

To make a living he takes a job with a fusion jazz group and goes on tour. She is upset by his absence and they have an argument when he has a brief chance to return. She accuses him of selling out his dream. She writes a one-woman show and rents a theater to present it. He misses her opening night because of a photo shoot for his band. Her show is a flop and he wasn’t there, so she goes home. He hears a phone message from a director offering her a job interview, and drives cross-country to her parents’ house to pick her up for it. She refuses, but changes her mind at the last minute and goes back with him. At the interview she is offered a movie job in France, which she takes. They pledge each other their love but recognize that they have no idea what will happen.

Five years later, we see her back in LA in an expensive house, with kids and a tall handsome husband who looks a lot like her pre-Gosling boyfriend. They go out for an evening, get caught in traffic and take the nearest exit, where they end up at the jazz club she once visited with Gosling. The club’s logo is now the one she designed for him. There is a band playing to a full house. Gosling spots her and plays a composition she had heard him play before, and we see sweet images of what their life would have been like if they had been together. (These scenes are much more middle-class than her current life appears to be.) Then she goes home with her husband.

As I said at the beginning, the whispery voice in the first song sets the tone for the film. Throughout the movie, it is obvious that Gosling and Stone are neither dancers nor singers. They sing and dance competently, but nothing like Fred and Ginger, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby. Gosling does his own piano playing, which is lovely but not technically complicated. (The internet tells me he learned to play in three months for the role.) The skilled performances are by the secondary characters who are professionals.

So we have a musical that does not star singers or dancers, and we have a romance that is not a love story. The story line left me very unsatisfied: These people don’t have cell phones? Is she just shallow or did something happen to end their relationship?

How can a movie be so spectacular and work so well when so many things are not quite right? I don’t know.

Language, Movie review, My life

Grumpy movie review: Arrival

A Linguist’s View

Arrival is a movie about a linguist, Louise Banks, selected by the government to communicate with aliens that arrive in twelve huge vessels parked around the globe. It seems to have been written by someone who has dabbled in linguistics but has little idea of what linguists actually do.

An army officer arrives at Louise’s door with a recording of noises that are the aliens’ response to a certain question. He proposes that Louise analyze the language by means of such recordings. Louise tells him that analysis will require face-to-face interaction and can’t be done as he proposes. As he leaves to interview the alternate candidate (apparently Louise’s rival), she tells him to ask the alternate what the Sanskrit word for “war” is and what it means.

The colonel returns some time later and tells her the word and that the guy said it meant “struggle.” She says it actually means “desire for more cows.”

By the time this interaction takes place, the colonel has already selected her, so the point of the Sanskrit word discussion is unclear. In any case, in all languages, words have more than one meaning or use, so linguists discussing definitions must include context rather than simple definitive statements like these. This is in fact one of the main points of the plot, which hinges on the issue of multiple meanings, specifically the fact that “tool” and “weapon” could be alternate definitions of the same alien word.

Other misconceptions about linguists:

The movie indicates that Louise knows multiple languages; she has translated sensitive Farsi recordings for the government, she speaks fluent Chinese with the president of China, she announces in class that she is going to address the question of why Portuguese sounds like it does.

However… if the government needs Farsi recordings translated urgently, they are not going to entrust them to an American university professor, they’ll use an Iranian translator. Why? Because someone who has learned half a dozen languages as an adult is unlikely to know any of them at the depth and nuance necessary for such sensitive work, no matter how bright she is. Language learning requires vast amounts of time and context, and there is no indication that Louise has ever lived in Iran.

Nowhere is there any indication that Louise has ever done fieldwork in a previously unwritten language. Her first session with the aliens makes it clear that she has no experience in monolingual elicitation techniques. She doesn’t even have the standard 100-word list used by field linguists for basic phonological analysis. The military would have been far better off recruiting SIL missionary linguists whose training is geared precisely to learning and analyzing previously unwritten languages.

Louise’s scientist companion asks her about the idea that learning new languages rewires one’s brain. She tells him about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which suggests that one’s view of reality is filtered by language. This becomes the heart of the movie; as Louise delves into the alien’s written symbols, she experiences flashbacks of things that haven’t happened yet, and eventually we discover that the aliens’ language allows people to see the future.

However… this begins before there’s even any indication that they are delving into tenses (past, present, future), and it doesn’t seem to matter that she’s only learning the language’s written form. And it only happens to her, not to the team working with her and not to linguists at the other 11 sites who are also learning the language.

And as usual, time paradoxes are created and not resolved. Louise learns something in a forward flashback that allows her to solve a problem now… but knowing about it now means the conversation she sees in the future would not happen the same way.

Still, it was fun to see a linguist featured in a movie, even if it’s a caricatured view, and to have the chance to pick a story like this apart. I will definitely watch it again.

Movie review

Grumpy Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

This movie has the best musical score of any movie I’ve seen this year. In terms of graphics and special effects, it is huge, much too lavish for my pathetic little 32″ TV. There were some appealing characters, most notably the former soldiers Caine and Stinger. However, I got the impression that the script came from a story written by a teenage girl (like Twilight or Divergent).

Wikipedia indicates that critics faulted the movie on the incoherence of its script. I agree with them, and was very surprised to learn that it was written, not by a teenager, but by the Wachowskis, who wrote The Matrix movies.

The main character, a girl called Jupiter, whose father loved astronomy and was killed by thugs who stole his telescope, lives with her Russian mother in Chicago and cleans toilets as part of the family housekeeping business. She is abducted and discovers that aliens planted humanity on the earth and many other planets thousands of years ago, and are waiting for the population to hit critical mass in order to harvest the humans and use their bodies to produce a serum that has kept them alive for thousands and thousands of years.

It turns out that, by some means that isn’t clearly explained, Jupiter is the genetic reincarnation of the late queen of the aliens that run this human-farming business. The three heirs of the queen are involved in intrigues against each other, and Jupiter gets kidnapped by one after the other, for each one’s nefarious purposes. In the process she discovers that her genetic link to the late queen makes her the new queen, and in an episode clearly ripped from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s visit to the planet Vogon, she gets taken from office to office to office, dealing with a never-ending series of bureaucrats, to get her official title, symbolized by a globe hologram embedded in her wrist.

One of the three heirs manipulates her to marry him, like a villain in an ancient Flash Gordon film, and as in those old films, Caine bursts in just in time to break up the ceremony. The other even slimier brother kidnaps her family and uses them to extort her, demanding she abdicate her crown, which has given her ownership of Earth (it had been part of his inheritance until she came along). She realizes just in the nick of time that if she gives up her crown, he will proceed immediately to harvest the rest of Earth’s population, so she turns him down. They fight, Caine shows up again and rescues her family, the city on Jupiter where this is taking place begins to disintegrate, she fights her way through the mess, another rescue, etc., and at the end, Jupiter is back on earth, happy to clean toilets, and flying around the skyline with Caine when they have a date.

The reasons I thought this was written by a teen:

The whole queen thing. Jupiter is genetically identical to the most powerful alien of them all, and considered her reincarnation, but except for a pointless ability to get bees to swirl around her, she seems to have no power of her own. In most of the scenes where she’s getting pushed around by aliens, she’s totally passive. It’s only at the end that she shows a little spirit, punching one obnoxious little alien in the face, kneeing the guy who wants her to abdicate, then fighting with him and struggling her way through buildings that are falling apart around her. The other way in which she is assertive is in pursuing Caine romantically. We get no sense of what it actually means for her to be queen except that it gives her control over the destiny of the earth. But we never actually see her govern, and at the end, she’s back in her tawdry little life in Chicago, except that now she’s happy and has an amazing boyfriend.

The werewolf thing and the wings. Caine is a genetically manipulated soldier. His makeup includes wolf genes, so he is a lycanthrope. He also has scars where he used to have wings. They were removed prior to this movie’s events, when he got into trouble for ripping out the throat of a member of the royalty. The werewolf thing never really comes into play, except that he has a keen sense of smell and a dangerous but noble disposition. The really cool things about him are his boots that allow him to skate through the air, and his holographic shield, neither of which has anything to do with being a werewolf or having had wings. So why make him a werewolf at all? And who needs wings? Those boots are awesome!

Sloppy writing. The royal family are so very slimy and deceitful. I get really tired of villains like them. It’s lazy writing. Having Caine burst in at the very last minute, not once but twice, to rescue her from the villainous brothers, is also sloppy writing.

Bad science. A large chunk of the movie takes place on Jupiter, but gravity is not an issue, despite the vastly greater mass.

Another annoying thing: Jupiter (Mila Kunis) wears twice as much makeup as any other character, especially around the eyes.

If a sequel comes out, we’ll watch it, and we might rent this one again to look at the special effects more closely, but this is not a movie that I would buy.

If the Wachowskis are smart, for the sequel they’ll ditch Jupiter and focus on Caine and Stinger. Those guys are in a completely different category from the rest of the cast.

Movie review, My life

Twenty-five things I don’t care about Donald Trump

Fear not, I have no such list. I’m actually reviewing movies.

The blog title is inspired by a Zergnet article title: “25 Things You Don’t Know About Donald Trump.” The few things I do know about him are more than enough.

I have been meaning to do a gripe post for some time. Unfortunately, I forget what I was planning to say whenever I actually open my blog.

Today there was an article on AOL called “11 things you should never put in your freezer.” They were wrong in including coffee, at least if you’re a very occasional coffee drinker and your coffee can or bag lasts for years without running out. They say that thawing and freezing coffee will cause it to become humid and absorb odors. However, if you only take it out long enough to fill the coffee machine, it doesn’t thaw, and if you keep it sealed, it doesn’t absorb odors.

An online article last year lauded the benefits of the “safety razor” (the traditional rectangular blade) over fancy multi-blade options, because it’s cheaper and supposedly shaves closer. I suspect the author has never had to shave in his or her life. I distinctly remember my relief at age 15 when I splurged on a Trac II, after having cut myself over and over again with the old-style safety razor that Mom had got me for my 13th birthday. When the three-blade razors came along, I immediately made that switch as well. Now I use the kind with five blades. They last me 3-4 weeks, so the cost doesn’t bother me, and they are most definitely safer than safety razors.

Grumpy mini-reviews of movies:

Insurgent: The first movie (Divergent) didn’t convince me of the basic premise (that people can be divided according to primary motivations) so I was grumpy most of the way through this one. It was extremely predictable, down to the Harry Potter-type self-sacrificing heroism and the revelation that (gasp) the system is stupid and Divergents are the ones to fix it. Obviously from the scene during credits, the series will go on, now that Cuatro’s mom is the big cheese and appears to be little better than the blonde lady. Yawn.

Mad Max: Fury Road: I watched this because my daughters loved it. It was much too bleak and grisly for my wife, and the jabbering of the bald boys lost much of its charm in the translation to Spanish.

Interstellar: Dr Who meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not bad, but leaves you thinking, “Wait, what?”

Birdman: Another “Wait, what?” ending. But it’s always nice to see Emma Stone.

Magic in the Moonlight: Clever movie about an illusionist getting duped and falling in love. The repeated assertions that lies are okay if they give people hope disturbed me. Also I got the sense that Emma Stone could be Woody Allen’s new Mariel Hemingway.

Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat): The first thing I liked about this movie was getting to see Tom Cruise get pounded over and over. But the story line grew on me, and by the end I was into it. My wife now uses the line, “We’ve had this conversation many times before” whenever she can.

A Thousand Ways to Die in the West: I despise SNL humor. So very tedious, so very trashy. As I told Alicia afterwards, “There wasn’t even a take-away line” (something to laugh about later, like “We’ve had this conversation many times before”). The closest was when a conversation with Native Americans ended with the line “Mila Kunis!” the way Cantinflas used to throw the tongue-twister “Tin marín de dos pingüé” into foreign dialog at every opportunity.

Focus: I had trouble with this movie for a number of reasons. I don’t like getting dragged into rooting for predators. When the characters make their living by elaborate, ongoing lies, it is hard to believe it when there appears to be love between them. The ending is disappointing. And who in the world can travel with a suitcase full of millions of Euros?

The Time Traveler’s Wife: Not bad, but not at the level I had expected. Maybe it was the book that people gushed about, not the movie?

Project Almanac: Fun, although it was unclear why sometimes the main character could go back and undo things and other times it was a big problem to be in the same place twice at the same time.

About Time: We enjoyed this movie a lot. Like any time travel movie, it has its issues, but the characters were well-done and the story is very upbeat.

And that’s all I have time for today.

Movie review

Grumpy movie review: Life of Pi

There are spoilers in this review, but since the movie has been out long enough to make it into Walmart’s $5 bin, I’m not too concerned.

The movie begins with a writer who visits an Indian man in Canada to hear about his experience of surviving 227 days in a lifeboat on the ocean. However, the Indian goes into detail about his life in India before the shipwreck: his name is Piscine, which means “Swimming Pool”; after getting called Pissing in school (it was Pipí in the Spanish soundtrack we used), he memorized the number pi out to a vast number of digits and began introducing himself as Pi; he grew up in a Hindu family but was fascinated by Christianity and Islam as well; he briefly had a girlfriend; his dad had a hotel with a zoo; Pi attempted to hand-feed the tiger, but his father interrupted the proceedings and made Pi watch the tiger kill a goat.

First grump: The Spanish voice-over actor’s fake Indian accent wore on me. It was almost as bad as the “ethereal” voice of the giant Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.

Second grump: The sappiness of Pi’s religiosity. He’s profoundly impacted by a visit to a Catholic church, where he sees the images of the Stations of the Cross and marvels at the idea of the Incarnation and Christ’s redemptive suffering. He begins to worship this God, explaining that Hinduism is polytheistic so he can add one more god without problems. A few minutes later in the film, he’s also struck by the solemnity of a Muslim service, and begins doing the Muslim prayers as well. Oh, how profound, someone who sees beauty and meaning in each of the great religions. Why didn’t they put earlocks and a black hat on him and have him bob and sway at a synagogue as well? Come on. It made me sympathize with his atheist father, who at least appealed to reason in his arguments.

As a result of political turmoil and declining fortunes in India, Pi’s father decides to sell the hotel and take his family and the animals by freighter to North America. The ship’s disgusting cook has no sympathy for their vegetarianism and serves them the same garbage he serves the crew. A friendly Japanese sailor introduces himself as a Buddhist and explains that he survives on rice and gravy because the gravy contains no meat.

Pi goes on deck during a massive storm. The freighter is swamped, and Pi is unable to rescue his family from their flooded stateroom. He does make it onto a lifeboat, however, where he is joined by zoo animals that have escaped from their cages in the hold: a zebra, which breaks its legs while jumping in; a hyena; an orangutan; and the tiger.

The hyena kills the zebra and the orangutan. The tiger kills the hyena and presumably eats all three dead animals, because they disappear after a while. Pi makes a raft of life vests and oars and drifts beside the boat out of reach of the tiger, returning occasionally to get supplies of food (cracker packets) and water. Eventually he ends up training the tiger to keep its distance, and the two learn to share the boat. They survive on fish, mostly serendipitously.

At one point, the boat drifts up to a floating island with edible vines, pools of fresh water, and thousands of meerkats doing that cute meerkat standing-around thing. They rest there for a few hours, but at night when Pi climbs a tree to rest, he discovers a human tooth inside a flower growing in the tree. He also sees dead fish and a dead shark floating in the pond where he had swum and drunk shortly before. He comes to the conclusion that the island is malevolent, and runs back to his lifeboat to escape. The tiger had already returned to the boat at nightfall.

Third grump: So far the movie has been reasonably plausible, if unlikely. Why in the world does it suddenly shift to magical realism? We will find out at the film’s conclusion, unfortunately.

The boat drifts for an unspecified amount of time and washes up on the Mexican coast. Pi jumps out and drags the boat ashore, collapsing on the sand. The tiger leaps ashore and staggers off into the jungle without a look back. Pi is hurt because the tiger doesn’t acknowledge him in any way. His conclusion is that his father was right, the tiger is a beast and was never his friend.

After this, we return to the scene with the writer and Pi in Pi’s home. Pi reports that, as he recovered in a Mexican hospital, two Japanese gentlemen interviewed him on behalf of the shipping company, trying to discover why the ship swamped in the first place. He has no answer to that question, but tells them about his survival experience. They are profoundly skeptical and tell him that they can’t report that to their employer. He tells them an alternate narrative: he was initially accompanied in the lifeboat by the Japanese Buddhist, who broke his legs dropping into the boat; the disgusting cook; and Pi’s mother. The cook killed the Buddhist and used his flesh for bait to catch fish. The cook killed Pi’s mother. Pi killed the cook and survived by eating him. Pi points out that this story also fails to explain why the ship sank.

The writer comments on apparent parallels between the two narratives: the zebra is the Japanese sailor, the hyena is the cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mother, the tiger is Pi himself. Pi congratulates him on his perception and asks him which narrative he prefers. The writer says that the one with the tiger is a better story. Pi responds, “Thank you. And so it goes with God.” When the writer looks at the Japanese men’s report on the shipwreck, he sees that they also opted to report the tiger version.

Fourth and biggest grump: The film rubs our noses in the concept of the relativity of truth. According to Pi, truth is a story, and you choose your own, ideally opting for the best-written one; we can choose to believe the stories of religion or the bleakness of atheism. I have no patience for this kind of pretentious irrationality. If my only choices are either a meerkat-occupied floating island where the flowers hold human teeth, or an unpleasant but at least plausible narrative about people doing horrific things, I’ll believe the latter, even if it isn’t as good a story. As they say, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

Returning to Pi’s father: while I disagree with his atheism, I resonate more with his reason-based worldview than with Pi’s relativism. As a Christian, I am also rational. I don’t believe in Christianity just because it’s a great and powerful story. The Christian story is presented in the Bible as history, with evidence for and multiple witnesses to its miraculous events. Jesus did or did not exist historically, and did or did not do the things recorded about him in the Bible. If he didn’t exist, or if the things reported about him in the Bible are not true, then my belief in him is pointless.


I picked up a collection of stories by Life of Pi’s writer Yann Martel before I watched the movie. The first two stories were somewhat entertaining and moving. The latter two were just weird. My main gripe about all of them was that the writer was too clearly present. It reminded me of a book by Max Lucado that I once tried to read. I only made it through a few pages. It was sappy and pretentious, and Max was also too visible in the cutesiness of the writing. Pretentious, narcissistic writers make me grumpy.

Movie review

Grumpy movie review: Divergent

In the future dystopia of Divergent, the residents of Chicago are divided into five factions based on predominant personality traits: Abnegation, for the selfless; Amity, for the peaceful; Candor, for the honest; Dauntless, for the brave; and Erudite, for the intellectual. (Why not Dauntlessness and Erudition, to keep it all noun form?) The main character, Beatrice, grew up in an Abnegation household. Their group serves the needy and runs the government. Amity are farmers. Candor handles the courts and other legal matters. The Dauntless are the cops and soldiers of the city, and run around scaling buildings and metro bridges for fun. The Erudite are scientists and intellectuals. Those that don’t belong to any group are Factionless and live on the streets.

At sixteen, youths are tested to see which group is appropriate for them. They are told they can choose the group they prefer, regardless of test results, but this is clearly bogus because further group-specific testing weeds out those that use strategies not typical of that group, at least in Dauntless. Judging from the auditorium seating at the selection, the population is exactly divided between the five groups, which can be identified by their garb. Abnegation dresses in gray clothes and look like conservative Mennonites.

Obviously, Beatrice does not test tidily into just one category (she’s positive for three), or we would not have a title or a story. She is told that the Divergent are considered dangerous, especially by the Erudite, who are brilliant scientists but also include fascists that are trying to wrest control of the government from Abnegation. Beatrice opts for Dauntless because they’re cool and fearless and have the most fun (shades of Gryffindor, except that the group’s internal brutality is more like Slytherin).

Dauntless has two young trainers: one is a fascist ass, in charge of cadets from Dauntless families; the other, Cuatro, is an undercover Divergent, in charge of those from other backgrounds. Cuatro has a massive tattoo on his back that ought to give away his Divergent status to anyone with half a brain, but apparently no one has ever noticed, which is odd considering that there is just one large communal shower area in the Dauntless barracks. (The communal showers and the rows of unwalled toilets are fortunately not addressed again after our first glimpse of the accommodations.)

Divergents, according to the movie, are not susceptible to mind control as are ordinary folks. We see this in the tests in which Beatrice is supposed to face her deepest fears: she is able to say, “This isn’t real,” and emerge unscathed. We also see it when the Dauntless cadets are injected with a mind control drug and marched off to round up Abnegation so that Erudite can take over the government: Beatrice and Cuatro pretend to be affected as the others, but split off as soon as is feasible to rescue her parents and halt the slaughter.

Here are some of the stupid premises and contradictions presented in this movie:
♦ The average person is defined by a single primary motivation.
♦ The average person is easily controlled.
♦ Adults do not question the status quo.
♦ Even though Abnegation is the ruling group, there is no freedom of expression.
♦ There is no voice questioning the legitimacy of the system.
♦ The Factionless are useless bums even though many of them are also Divergent.
♦ Teenagers must save the world because adults are mindlessly conventional, helpless, or evil.

This kind of nonsense is typical of teens-save-the-world stories, unfortunately. At least in Harry Potter there were right-thinking, vocal, and powerful adults (Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix) involved in the struggle. Here, however, the only trustworthy adults (Beatrice’s parents) get killed. I do give them credit for heroism in their last hours.

When the assault is halted and the cadets wake up from the mind control and face the horror of what they have been doing, I would have liked to see Cuatro and Beatrice rally them in the name of sense to confront their brutal leaders who kill all nonconformists. Instead, the two catch a train and head for the open country beyond the city wall.

Likewise, although I haven’t read Hunger Games, I wonder why the kids don’t just get together at the beginning of the game and say, “Wait, this is stupid! We don’t need to kill each other. Let’s go after the producers instead.” But that would make for a short book.

Our own culture has dealt or is dealing with slavery, witch trials, Jim Crow, abortion, and euthanasia, to name a few human rights issues. There has never been consensus on these matters; there have always been vocal dissidents speaking out against what they perceive as injustice. So why do teen fiction writers present people as sheep?

The theme of government by humanitarians vs. government by engineers is interesting and makes me want to reread C.S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Planet and his essay on The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment. Maybe I’ll write about that someday.

Movie review

Another grumpy movie review: Equilibrium

The other night, Alicia and I watched Equilibrium, a Big Brother-themed movie starring Christian Bale.

In the dystopia pictured, all emotions are outlawed, and everyone is required to take a daily dose of a drug that suppresses emotion. Christian Bale is an enforcement officer of the Tetragrammaton, the agency that controls everything under the guidance of Father (Big Brother). At some point, he misses a dose of the drug and begins to feel emotions that cause him to question his job and the laws imposed by the Tetragrammaton. He feels sorrow and regret over the execution of his wife, who had violated the emotion law. Thereafter he hides the drugs behind his mirror instead of taking them.

He’s tasked with infiltrating the Underground resistance and bringing them to justice, but becomes a double agent, assisting the Underground in preparing an uprising and positioning himself to have access to Father so he can assassinate him.

Now here’s the stupid part: his partner (Kaye Diggs) becomes suspicious and eventually arrests him when he’s on his knees in an obvious display of emotion. But during the arrest, Diggs is gleeful, capering around, grimacing, smiling, gloating… not the behavior you would expect from someone who is emotion-free.

When they come before the Tetragrammaton, Bale turns the tables on him and reports Diggs as the high-level infiltrator that they have been looking for. Diggs is led away to be executed, only to turn up again later because he is actually on special assignment from Father to catch Bale and the Underground. But nowhere is his emotion addressed; nowhere do they say, “Well, actually we high-level guys are allowed to skip the drugs.” It’s just bad writing, bad acting, or bad directing.

There is of course a very satisfying sequence at the end in which Bale takes on several dozen guards and the Tetragrammaton and eventually Diggs and Father himself. It’s campy action, much like Kill Bill. My favorite part is the katana duel with Diggs: Bale makes a few quick slashes, Diggs stands there, falls to his knees, and turns his head to the right. His face then slides off, having been cut so cleanly you couldn’t even tell! I wonder why it didn’t fall off when he dropped to his knees.

You can see that scene here:

In summary, the movie is perhaps not as bad as The Colony (see my review here). But people who expect things to make sense will find it disappointing.