Friday, July 1, 2011

Second Age Reviews: The Running Man

Ahhh, this was just the balm I needed after Hollywood Boulevard. Oh it's not a great movie. Hell it's not even a good movie. But what it was was enjoyable. It's a perfect middle ground between the classics (Princess Bride, Halloween) and the flat out godawful films (Hollywood Boulevard, Rock 'N Roll High School) of the last few weeks. Oh it's not deep or exceptionally well made, but neither is it incompetent or terrible. If you're in the right mood The Running Man can be a silly little romp.

The plot is based on a mostly forgotten Stephen King story, partially cuz these days it's painfully generic. It's the future, things have gone to shit, the public is kept under control by a violent game show where criminals fight for their freedom against psychotic hunters who... Hey come back. Hey, if you come back you'll get to see The Terminator fight The Fury from MGS3. Yeah that's what I thought. Oh and the main character is a wrongly convicted cop forced to partic- Okay, okay, come back I'm sorry.

This is, put simply, silly. The story is the worst offender and seems for a couple minutes like it might actually threaten to sink the entire production. The dialogue is laughable and unsubtle, the story initially poorly paced and predictable and at times it's downright...random. Several scenes can be boiled down to 'Here are some scantily clad chicks dancing for no good reason.' Not that I'm complaining. And someone really needs to remind Arnold Schwarzenegger that he can't technically act.

But you know what, once they've stopped setting up why Arnold is down in the pit fighting, why everyone else is there, what the world is like and, for the love of god, stopped trying to make anything resembling a point or make the plot go anywhere and just got the guys going at it in the pit, then it can get pretty damn enjoyable. The villains (named Stalkers) are a colorful gang of psychopaths, each with their own weapon and arena (though I'll maintain: Fireball is The Fury and no one can convince me otherwise). The music is well used and written for the most part, Techno-Ride of the Vakyries will stick with me for a while. The cinematography is well used if unspectacular, the special effects well utilized, the action sequences clean and exciting and more importantly plentiful. And while he uses them more often than Mr. Freeze uses Ice Puns, Arnold's action-movie-one-liners are actually amusing this time around, in an ironic sort of way.

Okay, I don't want to oversell it, it's still not very good. The problems with the dialogue aside (and oh boy does it have problems) the story has other problems, aside from cliché and predictablity. The pacing seems rather wonky for starters. It opens alright, with a setup and then an action sequence and then...sort of meanders for a while. There's some BS with a resistance that only comes up in the end, and the introduction of an absurdly bland love interest, none of which really NEEDED to be set up in that particular way, and if they'd skipped it, probably would have been a better movie.

Also, there's not one actor on board who can act, and while this is a minor complaint, the villains' end speech might as well have “MESSAGE!” written on the bottom in subtitles. But those complaints don't stop it from being a good time. It's honestly very similar to Total Recall: A silly little action romp with Ahnold in the lead. And if you're in the mood for that, you could do a lot worse than this.

Next on Second Age Reviews: Alligator

Elessar is a 21 year old Alaskan born cinephile and the tube sequences in this film still give him a headache.

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