Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Greetings Sporefans. This week we have a special guest review from fnord12 over at SuperMegaMonkey. Apparently he and min went to go see Max Payne this weekend.

Then some bad things happened.

As a result, fnord12 wrote this review. I've only made minor editorial changes because Blogger has a thing about swear words, and have taken the liberty of adding imdb links. Other than that, you won't hear from me.

OK, you will, but only in the captions. There were no pics with the review, so I added captions with disclaimers, so you know I'm butting in. As an ass, I do that. Anyway, here's fnord12's review of Max Payne!

[Please note that this review is from memory. By memory, I mean the painful images burned permanently into my brain. While the accuracy of the plot points may be suspect, the agony is most certainly real.]

The circumstances that led us to a movie theater on what may have been the last sunny day of the year are not directly relevant to this tale, but be assured that they were convoluted and not entirely of our own doing. Suffice it to say that this was a compromise movie, but expectations were high, due to the following facts:

  • The trailer looked pretty good. Admittedly we watched it with the sound off while arguing about the presidential debate, but it looked like there would be demons and flying people and a post-apocalyptic landscape. Looking back, this may have been the fatal flaw in our reasoning.

  • We like the Marky Mark. I'm not familiar with his Funky Bunch days, but he's been in a number of snappy action movies, and he's generally quick and witty.

  • This was a video game movie, and it wasn't directed by Uwe Boll. So it *had* to be good.

Looking back, this may have been the fatal flaw in our reasoning.

The movie started with what i thought was a symbolic scene of Payne being dragged down in an icy river (it turned out to be quite literal). "I don't believe in Heaven," Max said, "But i do believe in Payne". I laughed out loud and then looked around, embarrassed that no one else laughed. That was supposed to be funny, right?

Then the movie jumped back a week in time and started in earnest. By started, i mean 'lurched uncomfortably towards the Starting Line, and then got tired and decided to lay down for a nap.' Yes, things seemed to be moving around up on the screen, but upon closer inspection, nothing was actually happening. An interesting detective character, assigned to Cold Cases because of an Internal Affairs investigation, is introduced, only never to be seen again. But we still got a good 10 minutes devoted to his job orientation, providing insight into details of processing unsolved crimes that had nothing to do with the movie.

Then, in a cut so fast i thought it was a dream sequence or another flashback, Max Payne is beating up junkies in the subway and then leaning on his stereotypical informant friend at a party. Max sees a girl with a feather tattoo on her arm. "That's a very interesting tattoo," he says, holding it up to the camera for the audience to see like an anchor for Animal Planet. He takes her back to his apartment, where she immediately gets naked and jumps in his bed (but have you noticed that you don't see boobies in movies anymore?). "Get out", he then tells her. Uh....

Spored to Death here with a caption comment. Apparently the girl with the gun is Mila Kunis. I must admit that I am saddened by the fact that she did not get topless in this movie. Mila Kunis without clothes on might have made me watch this movie. But the PG-13 rating tells me that this ain't happening. At least, not here.

OK, so obviously he didn't want to sleep with her. So the interest in the tattoo wasn't some weird sexual fetish, right? It was a clue? Nope, because later in the movie, after the girl is killed for no good reason, Payne's ex-partner figures out that that tattoo is the same one worn by the people who killed Marky's wife and kid. The ex-partner dies getting Max this information, and when he finally gets it (following the lamest half-hearted "No.. stop... don't..." scene in the history of movies as Max walks into the office of his dead partner over the protests of the police), he's totally blown away by it. It's a complete surprise to him. I want to point out that Max Payne was supposed to have been investigating the death of his wife like a man obsessed, but the tattoo never registered before.

Payne is similarly slow to put the pieces together when it comes to just about every clue that comes along. You'd think once he started hearing that the feather tattoos had something to do with the Valkyries, he'd start making the mental connection with his wife's former company, called Aesir, and the fact that his all-too-helpful friend from Aesir seemed to be constantly popping up and leading him around. I don't expect everyone to grow up with Edith Hamilton and Walt Simonson, but you'd think one day, he might ask "Hey honey, what's the name of your company mean?" The question, "So what are you working on at your job, anyway?" might have been useful too; instead he has to beat up on poor old Chris O'Donnell (who has gained a few pounds since donning Robin's tights) to get that information. Nice to take an interest in your wife's life, Payne.

Spored to Death with another caption comment. In this scene, Max Payne holds a gun.


Yeah, that's it.

!!!!!!!!!Sweaty Red Herring Man interlude!!!!!!!!! Yes, every 10 minutes, we will provide you with the latest footage of a sweaty bald man that, it will turn out, has nothing to do with the plot. He may be screaming, he may be torturing someone, he may be standing around looking shifty, he may just be playing solitaire on the computer, but never fear, no matter what he's doing, we'll cut to him every 10 minutes on the five, with close-ups on his beady sweat whenever possible. And then it'll turn out he's not really relevant to the story after all. It's like a plot twist, but without the plot.

Remember in the beginning when i thought they were making a joke but they weren't? The tables were turned on me later in the movie. The Aesir guy's #2 man says, "Now that he's the security chief, we have to laugh at his jokes." Someone made a joke? Please, tell it again. After an hour of this depressing movie, i crave the mirth.

Then there's the tattoo girl's sister. The sister was at the party too, hanging out with a gang of tough looking guys in shades and leather trench coats and brandishing what looked like a futuristic weapon (or maybe it was just an uzi, but still). She had a cryptic conversation with tattoo girl before Marky Mark took her back to his place for the aborted make-out session. All signs point to the sister being part of some sort of straight-out-of-the-Matrix organization that is in-the-know about all this stuff, but later she's just as clueless as Max, and the rest of her gang is never seen again. "You know what i do for a living" she says to him at one point. "*I* don't!", i shouted at the screen, to no avail.

In between shots of Sweaty Red Herring Man, we got a lot of scenes of Max Payne being dour. Walking alone down dark corridors, sitting dumbly at his desk trying to put clues together, frowning into the empty boxes that he's recovered from his wife's place of work after she died that he never bothered looking into before. Between Sweaty Man and Contemplative Max, about half this movie is literally facial shots (no no no, not *that* type of facial shot, and it wouldn't have helped if they were) with no dialogue. There's a certain type of movie where that could work (one with a plot!), but this was not it.

Spored to Death here with another caption comment. Check out Mark Wahlberg being intense. The intensity of his intenseness was so intenese that it intensified the definition of intenseness to intense degrees.

Then someone bought me a Thesaurus.

In the end Max takes a lot of drugs and shoots a lot of people. There's no drama to it; he just walks into room after room shooting people whose return-fire aim would make a Stormtrooper blush. Occasionally we were subjected to Matrix-lite special effects. One defender of the movie makes the point that the first Max Payne game came out soon after the first Matrix movie, and therefore, five years after the third Matrix movie, it's OK for Max Payne to steal its special effects. I... can't argue with that (literally, i'm too stunned to argue with that), but at least in the Matrix, the "bullet time" scenes were used to show how Neo could dodge bullets. In Max Payne, there was no need, as the bullets were never in any danger of approaching Max anyway.

Spored to Death with a final caption comment. Take a look at some of the preliminary ideas for the Max Payne movie. Check out the sophisticated techniques here, used by professional Hollywood effects studios with advanced programs like "Adobe Photoshop Elements". See how they made Max Payne look like Mark Wahlberg? Now write a movie around this image. Instant hit! This movie will be the most intense movie of intense intensitude ever!

Oooh, look! A Thesaurus!

Technically there is a plot in this movie, but it's worth about a half hour of story. It probably worked very well as a frame for a video game - ten second cut scene and then you get to run around and shoot stuff. Stretched into two hours, and being forced to watch Max shoot stuff (we had a friend in high school who used to make us watch him play video games; this was kind of like that except i'm old enough to drive now and i shouldn't have to humor people anymore!), it's way too thin. Sure it has a lot of other problems: it's way too joyless and serious, there's the usual Action Movie Plot Holes, the characters all have to act extremely dumb in order for the 'shocking' reveals to work, THERE'S NO SPORING FIGHTS WITH DEMON CREATURES IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC WORLD AS ADVERTISED IN THE COMMERCIAL... Ummm, there was gonna be a "but" here, like "but what really made the movie agonizing was having to sit there, waiting... waiting... as the plot slowly oozed its way towards its two hour finish, revealing each mundane plot point like a game show host showing you what Contestant #3 has just won". However, after typing up that list, i realized that the tiny plot is only one of several large, unredeemable problems. Ugh, was that a terrible movie. I walked out of there in a daze, muttering "horrible... horrible...".

Bring back that Cold Cases detective, i think he might have had an interesting story.

*Terrible title at the suggestion of our host.

Final note from Spored to Death: Here's the trailer for the Max Payne movie. I humbly offer it as an example of false advertising. Don't bother watching the movie itself. You might wind up like those guys at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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