I haven’t seen it and I’m really psyched to, but I’m kind of baffled about how he saw the movie as just a movie about “violence”. Well, is it or is it something more? Is he missing the point?
“What country are we in? The movie never tells us. (It was filmed in Indonesia.)”
Yes. Foreign movies should always make sure to spell out in which country they take place, otherwise the American critics might get confused. What kind of comment is that?
I also gave it one star, for the same reasons. In fact, I may have been at the same screening… It’s an overserious film which is never “fun” and is just, like, absurdly violent for no good reason. It’s more like a video game.
His review makes it sound like martial-arts torture porn.
I read his review yesterday and while I don’t agree with him at all, I understand where he’s coming from. Either you’re into this kind of thing or you’re not. I’m not usually a fan of this genre so I can sympathize with his impatience. But I thought this film transcended the genre and was completely engrossing (as well as technically amazing – it’s no surprise they spent months rehearsing).
Always roll my eyes when Ebert mentions video games because the guy continues to rag on them despite proving (multiple times) he knows jack shit about them. Stick to what you know, man.
I haven’t seen this, but its been on my radar for awhile, and nothing Ebert said turned me off. As Santino said, you’re either into it or you’re not, and its very clear Ebert isn’t so I don’t really have any reason to put any weight into what he says. The better question is, is Ebert still really relevant in 2012? Even when I agree with him, I haven’t found many of his reviews to be worth reading in the last few years.
“Yes. Foreign movies should always make sure to spell out in which country they take place, otherwise the American critics might get confused. What kind of comment is that?”
Well, if you consider that comment in the context of the review, I think he’s saying that the film fails to make any real effort to establish any specific filmic “reality” at all, beyond the rudimentary plot conceit of the film—which is, I take it, fight up from the ground floor to the 15th floor—that there are no real specifics in the film. I haven’t seen the film, but if that’s true, I think that’s a legitimate criticism.
It is a very strange statement. I see American critics tend to give foreign action films a bit of a bump for being made elsewhere when they are boiler plate action films. Like most of the OPs, I was pretty excited to see the film.
Ebert’s criticism made me think of films that were made in the 1980s and how the older critics could only use the buzzword “MTV” to complain about editing styles they found too flashy or what they saw as excessive editing.
Sooner or later, you might get left behind on certain types of films. Ebert has his headset on, but his buddies are completing the mission without him.
I love Ebert but you should never really judge whether or not to see an Action or Comedy film based on his review. The same goes for most critics. Different taste are different taste.
@Matt Parks : I haven’t seen the film either, but if what you say was to be the case, it still strikes me has a weak example and a very vague way to say what you just did. I guess it’s a legitimate criticism, but 99% of martial arts out there don’t “make any real effort to establish any specific filmic “reality” at all, beyond the rudimentary plot conceit of the film” so that’s kind of a granted.
“Well, if you consider that comment in the context of the review, I think he’s saying that the film fails to make any real effort to establish any specific filmic “reality” at all, beyond the rudimentary plot conceit of the film—which is, I take it, fight up from the ground floor to the 15th floor—that there are no real specifics in the film. I haven’t seen the film, but if that’s true, I think that’s a legitimate criticism.”
Matt hits the nail on the head. There really are very little specifics in the film and Ebert is right to point this out. But within the context of the film, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not important where we are, who these people are, etc. The film isn’t interested in this. So while Ebert’s observation is correct, it’s irrelevant.
I like action movies. They are exciting. I want to see this one in the movie theater. I will buy popcorn.
It’s silly to expect any film critic to be infallible, always alert and keenly observant to every detail of every film they’re sitting in some screening room watching at 10 a.m. or whenever. It’s a job, y’know.
“But within the context of the film, it doesn’t really matter.”
If there’s no reality in the film, there’s no context of the film, so pretty much anything could be argued as acceptable (this is the problem with a lot of contemporary horror movies, too).
“99% of martial arts out there don’t “make any real effort to establish any specific filmic “reality” at all”
Well, look at it in comparison to Prachya’s films. I don’t think he’s necessarily a particularly distinguished director, but at least in Ong-Bak and Tom-Yum-Goong, there’s an attempt to ground the film in certain aspects of Thai culture, or even Chocolate, there’s an attempt to frame the experience of the film within the experience of an autistic character (as far-fetched as the realization of that actually ends up being) .
^ I would say that Prachya’s films is part of the 1% (seriously, as far as martial arts directors go, he gives more thoughts about the setting of his films than most, just not the basic premise which is always the same!) – 99% was a bit of a hyperbole (so tempting to use), but I’d still say most.
Now, I realize I probably sound like a nitpicky jerk, but that wasn’t my goal, really the line I brought up just jumped in my face and seemed vague and throwaway (I take back the weak example part, that was defensive speaking).
“I probably sound like a nitpicky jerk”
No, it’s fine. The way Ebert phrased the issue is a little too glib. I was just pointing out that if you read that remark in the context of others like “they require no dialogue, no plot, no characters, no humanity”, it’s a little clearer what he means than it is if you just read that remark in isolation.
Critics… they can be really dumb sometimes.
This just reminded me of Manohla Dargis’ review of ‘Taken’ where she spent the whole article ranting about racism and violence in the film.
I’d expect someone like Ebert to (try to) be familiar with the genre, or even the trend and culture of a country where a film originated from. I believe IMO that critics should refrain from reviewing films/ genres that doesn’t interest them. Perhaps it’s slow day at the movies and they are assigned a title not of their choosing. That could create a problem whenever they feel obligated to watch and review something they don’t like.
Outside of film studies and film journals, I doubt if critics’ opinion still matters to the public, at this day and age.
^But what happens if they are forced to see a film in a genre they don’t like but end up loving the film? Wouldn’t that be beneficially to read such a review? “I usually hate this genre but this film knocked my socks off”.
I’m not really into dance but was dragged to see Pina. And I loved it.
@SANTINO- "…(as well as technically amazing – it’s no surprise they spent months rehearsing)‘’.
That’s the kind of artistry, hard work (something critics ain’t known to be capable of) and aesthetics that critics appreciate on films that they like, but often overlook on others they don’t fancy.
BTW, what is ‘filmic reality’?
^sounds like nonsense to me. lol
^ Ha-ha,I hear you.
No, in all seriousness (well, maybe not “all seriousness” but a little bit of seriousness) I think “filmic reality” means that in the world that the filmmaker has created, the “reality bar” that has been set – certain rules are established. These rules give you a guide of how the world relates to our own – for instance, in Superman the rules are set that this guy can fly. This is established and we accept it even though in our world a guy doesn’t fly.
I probably am not articulating this as well as my undergraduate screenwriting professor would but hopefully you get the gist.
@MATT- “…which is, I take it, fight up from the ground floor to the 15th”
Not to be facetious, but that’s how it was in Fallujah and many places, from the ground straight up. Raids are like that- single focus on the target (extreme prejudice) the background story of the targets don’t matter at that moment, their death or capture does.
I only saw the trailer, but it’s Asian so I’m expecting a nice body count and corrupt good cops vs. corrupt evil dudes.
“BTW, what is ‘filmic reality’?”
At the very least, some internal logic or consistency that, though fantastic/fictional at least provides an entry point for the audience to care as if it were a real-world or verisimilitude. What many of us are getting from Ebert’s point is that that is what is lacking — ability to say, “Okay, this follows, I’m interested, and I care.”
^For instance, I am down with plotless action movies if the action itself is inventive and keeps one-upping itself, but movies like the Japanese Versus can be very dull, especially once the one of three plot points reveals that the characters have never, can never, and will never stop fighting, so that at that point it’s merely repetitive until the filmmakers run out of set-pieces to chop up. You can get exasperated for audiences and especially critics demanding that the characters have any character or the story follow any dramatic beats, because at least Versus is original, right? but the lack of those things plus building action makes what action there is numbingly boring.
Here’s an interesting interview with Gareth Evans:
HR Interview with Gareth Evans
@POLARIS- Got it. Thanks!
If the filmmaker just wanted to showcase pure non-stop adrenaline fueled sequences (which is the heart of the genre) in expense of character development, I believe action film enthusiasts can live with that.
If the filmmaker just wanted to showcase non-stop adrenaline fueled sequences (the heart of the genre) in expense of character development and dramatic pauses, then I believe action fans in general can live with it.
@SANTINO- I appreciate the link.
Director Gareth Evans:
“I’ve watched so many martial arts films since I was a kid and what tends to happen is I’ll watch it once from beginning to end entirely, and then I’m hitting the fast forward button, skipping chapters to get to the fight scenes. I didn’t want people to kind of do that with The Raid —I wanted enough meat on the bones of it so that whenever they watch it, that they actually want to rewatch the entire film and not just skip to the fights.”
DiB has pretty much answered this already, but to put it in different language, it’s that which makes a film seem “real” enough so that one feels vested in the film. But different from, you know, actual reality reality.
“Not to be facetious, but that’s how it was in Fallujah and many places”
Right, my point, though, is that as an artist you have to give us something else besides a situation, otherwise it’s not an experience, it’s that Call of Duty commercial with Jonah Hill in it: