Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's On Your Mind?

Push (2009)

“Mind over matter” is the subject in a movie that matters very, very little. Push is the cinematic cousin to the TV series Heroes, in that it seeks to do the superhero genre but without the spandex and capes or even the leather get-ups of the X-Men films.

The storytelling is extremely muddled for such a simple premise: a drug is created that can enhance the naturally occurring psychic superpowers in those so gifted/cursed; it’s injected into a girl who then goes on the lam with the only remaining sample. Everyone wants to find this girl.

The movie spends an assload of time explaining everything. It could easily be re-titled Exposition: The Movie. We even get one of those narrations at the beginning telling us how psychic powers have always existed, blah-blah-blah, Nazis tried to harness it, blacht-blacht-blacht, Cold War Russkies ditto, blahski-blahski-blahski, now our government is following suit. Boy, oh, boy, the movie goes ape-shit in CONSTANTLY TELLING US the many different types of psychic superdudes. There are Pushers, who imprint phony thoughts and memories on others. There are Movers, who move stuff and can even stop bullets mit der brains. Watchers can predict the future, but, as Yoda (the good puppet one, not the fucked up CGI one) said, “Always in motion is the future” so it’s really a worthless power. Then there are Bleeders who…and Shifters who Stitchers…and Sniffs…and Shadows..FUCKING ENOUGH ALREADY! (The movie's Wiki entry lists NINE different super-psychic types. NINE!)

When you watch a war movie, does it stop to explain what the First Sergeant in a Platoon does? Did Saving Private Ryan have to explain the difference between a Company, a Platoon and a Squad? Does it explain the ranks of the soldiers – is a PFC higher than a Corporal? In the original Star Wars, the planet where Luke is from is NEVER named. The Harry Potter movies are FULL of little details, but they don't overwhelm the story. So in this stupid psychic powers movie, why is it necessary to stop and explain who and what everyone’s power is? Because that’s all there is to the movie. Or at the least, that shit is a HUGE part of it. Take that away and there’s not a lot there in this very poor script.

Push is set entirely in Hong Kong, but you never get the flavor of that great country. Most of the main characters are Caucasian, so they don’t exactly blend in (in one shot, Chris Evans is walking down a crowded street and he TOWERS over the locals). So aside from the night shots of the cool Hong Kong skyscrapers, the locales were wasted. Evans is usually fun in his movies (he was the best thing in the lousy Fantastic Four movies) but here he is very bland as a Mover. Camilla Belle as the Pusher everyone wants sort of sleepwalks around the movie. Dakota Fanning comes off the best of the lot as a Watcher. But she does the screen’s WORST drunk. Booze helps a Watcher focus. Go figure. (Dakota was only 13, so I'm guessing she was probably too young to watch an R-Rated movie like Leaving Las Vegas as “research” for her drunk scene! Should have Googled “Foster Brooks” then, sweetie.) Djimon Hounsou’s accent made it extremely hard to understand his dialogue as the “Division” agent sent to retrieve the girl. Why would a covert American spy agency have a South African agent anyway?

The absolute best part of the movie was one guy. One Hong Kong mob was headed by a family of these super psychics and one dude, a Bleeder, looked EXACTLY like a manga or anime cartoon character due to his hilarious facial contortions when he screamed (a Bleeder is sort of like DC Comics’ Black Canary with their sonic screams). It’s one thing to stand in a crowded market and scream at Evans and Dakota, but when he’s standing in a hallway and screaming at a hotel doorknob....I fell on the on the floor laughing.

Guess I'll need a Stitcher whose power is blah-blah-blah-blah.

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