Posts Tagged ‘PG-13’

Actually, the real title is: “Is Violence in Movies Okay as Long as it Involves Good Guys like Soldiers, Superheroes, cops, etc.?” 

You can see why I decided to keep cut it down to a couple of words. When I was a kid, I lived on Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Black Hawk Down. The only other movies I watched beside those involved dinosaurs. (Land Before Time and Jurassic Park marathon, anyone?) However, I wasn’t allowed to watch movies with gangsters until I was much older. When I was allowed to watch those types of movies, I was accompanied by my parents, and that too had a price to pay: a long lecture on why I shouldn’t be a criminal entitled, “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

Why? Any ideas of mine to become a gangster or a con man were squashed whenever I watched movies like the Godfather, Goodfellas, or shows like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad. They are the single greatest testaments of why you shouldn’t become a criminal. Michael’s descent into the darkness after he is forced to take over the family business is reason enough for anyone to go “straight”. You can see it in his anguished reaction when his pregnant wife is killed. You can see it in the haunted stare he gives his wife in the closing scene.

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It sends a clear message. “You may have a mansion, but are you really ready to deal with losing everything you hold dear?” I have watched the Godfather over a dozen times, and I still ask myself that same question after each viewing. This question is also asked in Tv shows. In the past decade, we’ve experienced a growth in ‘prestige television’. The Birth of the Antihero technically began over fifty years ago with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, wherein he regularly made ‘good people’ do bad things. There was an episode called ‘Revenge’ where a woman is raped (implied, of course. This was the 50’s. Everything was implied), and when she and her husband are driving, she spots the rapist walking down the street. Her husband pulls over, and they kill him. They get back in the car, and drive away. A few minutes later, she points again, and says she’s spotted her rapist. 

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In that single episode of an anthology suspense series in the 50’s, it approached the subject of rape, psychological trauma, vigilantism, and of course, revenge. So, as you can see, we’ve had morally ambiguous characters for a very long time. I remember watching the Sopranos for the first time. My Dad was worried that I might resort to a life of crime because of it, but I simply kept asking myself the same question I asked during Godfather.

The thing that makes the Sopranos so addicting and visceral to watch is the fact that I would never do anything like it, and the realization that Tony Soprano never thought he was capable of doing it either. He’s unhappy with his family, his work, and more importantly, himself. There is a scene where Christopher (his nephew) talks about his trauma after killing someone, and Tony oh-so-subtly asks him if he ever feels depressed. His sideway glance at him says: “Did I do this?”

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Why is it okay for thousands to die in superhero movies (the best example right now is Man of Steel. I assumed by all the screaming and falling buildings that a couple thousand died there), but it’s deemed immoral for a gangster to kill a few people in a movie? Why are children allowed to watch Captain America kill hundreds with barely any effort (as long as there’s parental guidance), but watching Al Pacino shoot the man who tried to kill his Dad and a corrupt cop not allowed? Of course, there’s also a matter of sexual content in some of these movies, and also the amount of swearing. For years, Goodfellas had the most curses in film history. I think Django Unchained got the crown in 2012, but Scorsese stole it back with Wolf of Wall Street. 

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I hope someday there will be a PG-13 movie centered around a gangster. I’m not saying it’ll be any good, but the idea behind it will be more than enough. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (my favorite superhero movie, by the way), no one talks about how Steve Rogers is a cold-blooded killer. It’s mentioned here and there, but our thoughts don’t dwell on the number of men he casually kills. Why? Because they’re bad, and he’s a superhero. 

I’m not asking Marvel to pull a DC, and force Chris Hemsworth to talk like someone kicked him in the throat over a dozen times. (In the eternal Marvel vs. DC debate, I’m with Marvel all the way.) I just think it would be interesting if people took a look at what they’re already allowed to get away with in PG-13 movies, and took it to a different level. There was talk about a Deadpool movie, and how it would be impossible to do a PG-13 version. I think they’re right, but if it’s acceptable to show a dinosaur munching on some random guy, why isn’t it acceptable to show a morally ambiguous character doing morally ambiguous things? (“How ambiguous!” the posters say.)

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In the first Hunger Games movie, they used shaky cam a lot to avoid getting slammed with an R-16 rating because of images portraying children killing other children. Ya know, usual PG-13 stuff. Why can’t we do that? I hate shaky cam, but it’s obviously possible to show that kind of stuff, so why hasn’t anyone tried it? As an experiment, it doesn’t have to be big budget. 

Here’s where the big divide between mainstream films and indie films come in. There seems to be this unspoken rule in indie films that they need  to have mature content. It’s as if the director and writer wants to make sure the viewer knows they’re watching an indie movie. “Okay, let’s show them changing clothes here, and talking about killing their estranged father. They’ll never mistake us for the new Avengers movie now!” 

Indie movies are supposed to be showing you something new and different from mainstream movies, but more and more mainstream movies are adopting an “indie” feel. The Wolf of Wall Street is a mainstream film based on its HUGE budget alone. But, its mature subject matter, morally ambiguous main character, and… well, everything in it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, if indie movies truly want to be different, they should try a PG-13 movie with a hitman as a main character. It could be a failure, but indie movies are already risking a flop every time. It’s strange how they’ve fallen into their own little pattern, or their own safety net. I sometimes feel like you could take ten indie films, switch the actors and titles, and it’d still be the same. 

I grew up watching Saving Private Ryan. I wasn’t mature enough to understand a lot of the things in it, but the images have remained with me after ten years. I despise the idea of war because of it. I understand its necessity in certain situations, but as much as possible, I would avoid war like the plague. Because it is a plague. 

I think it’s time for people to understand that kids aren’t as impressionable as people think they are. I haven’t heard of a thousand kids jumping off skyscrapers to imitate Thor or Superman, so I think they’re smart enough not to copy Tony Montana in Scarface. 

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~Jian

Here’s the synopsis of what I’m about to talk about:

R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.

Some of you may have heard of this upcoming zombie romance called Warm Bodies. Actually, in the U.S., it just came out yesterday. Unfortunately for the good people of whichever country I’m in, it will probably be a week or so before the theaters get the DvD and start rolling the tape. Do they still have tapes?

I did, however, go and read the book. Yup. Owned them. They thought they HAD me, they thought they were SO smart… Well. TAKE THAT. So, anyways. I read it yesterday, and I was a bit surprised.

I really liked it. Why am I surprised? Lately, I’ve been having trouble finding a good book that fits my current mood. Warm Bodies, incidentally, fit my mood. I mean. Let me tell you how I came upon the book. I was at the bookstore, and I picked up It, by Stephen King, The Walking Dead: Road to Woodbury, and Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. It and Road to Woodbury didn’t seem to fit my mood, but when  I started Warm Bodies, I couldn’t seem to stop. It was really good.

Interesting thing – for a romance… The protagonists are really not perfect. Of course, that’s already a given considering the male protagonist is a zombie… but the heroine is surprisingly unique and different. I’m not saying that’s really something new. It’s just that she wasn’t really emo or depressing. Most heroines are. Sad, but true.

The writing is actually pretty good. It’s told from the perspective of R, and it’s primarily first person perspective. Zombies, in this story, eat brains because they get to experience the emotions and memories of their victims. R happens to eat the brain of this soldier, and gets caught up in his memories of his ex-girlfriend, the heroine of the story.

The inner thoughts of R, the zombie, vary greatly from what he actually says. Zombies can barely get a few syllables out, but his ‘voice’ is surprisingly intelligent and interesting. This is a pretty adult book. I mean, considering the stuff the characters talk about, everything that’s happening… Yeah, I’d spoil it for you, but I’m told that’s not a reviewer’s deal-io.

Anyways. I’m actually worried about how the movie will handle this. The movie is PG-13, and the trailer already shows a lot of different stuff. That’s not necessarily bad, but like I said, the heroine is kind of… well, unique? Oh, that isn’t the word for it. I mean messed up. R – somewhere near a quarter through the book – notes she has scars on her wrists that could not have been accidents. She also used to do some pretty hard substances, etc.

Long story short, it’s stuff that PG-13 probably would not allow. Get my drift? I also notice that the narration has been sort of toned down in the trailer. I’m not saying I want R to narrate throughout the entire experience (Dear God, an entire movie of narration?), but I mean that his great knowledge of the English language is not so obvious. From the first four pages of the book, you immediately realize, “This guy was smart in his past life.”

From the trailer, you immediately think, “This guy was a stoner in his past life.”

Hey, we’ll see from the movie. I may even review that a bit. Anyways. This is a very good book. It’s rather short, but it’s lots of good fun. And fun’s always good. (Unless you hate fun… In which case, it’s always bad for you.)

I would suggest you read an excerpt of it, see if the style is to your liking. One thing I did not really care for where the memories of the guy R killed. I understand it delivered some more insight into the world, yeah, but the entire time… All I really wanted to do was get back to R and Julie’s story. I’m a bit of a romantic like that. I don’t want to read about the ex-boyfriend, I want to read about the New guy getting the girl.

THAT is how it should be done. But then again, they were still entertaining. Like I said, I’m just biased. You should also check out Isaac Marion’s blog. He’s a pretty funny dude.

http://burningbuilding.blogspot.co.at/

And in case any of you are wondering, I’m not really a fan of zombies. I just read horror because it makes me feel better. How? Well, if you read about how a world has just gotten overtaken by zombies, and how miserable everyone is… You find that the stuff happen to you is relatively… normal. And that is comforting. Get it?

Also, I don’t watch horror movies. Not normally. They scare the living ********************************************** out of me. That was censored by the Internet because it was just so heinous. It was also in a foreign language, making it even MORE HEINOUS. Yeah, I’m SCARY like that. So. Yeah… Read this book. It’s not really packed with gore or action like most zombie books… It’s pretty funny, though, and I have to say… After reading Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor, I like Warm Bodies more.

Final verdict – it is an 8.1/10.

I give books a bigger rating when they manage to pack it with some awesome writing, great action scenes, and hilarious moments. That’s what counts in my book.

Oh. Someone I know suggested I should give Amazon links or something? I won’t link to Amazon, but I’ll just link to Goodreads.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7619057-warm-bodies

By the way, Stephanie Meyer reviewed this book. NO. DON’T LEAVE. WHY?! Seriously. Don’t get scared away by that if you’re not a fan of her. I didn’t really see her review (on the back of the book) and I only saw it after I’d finished. It didn’t really affect me. The only thing I thought was, “Damn, hope she finally learns how to write a good story after this…”

Doubtful, but I’m an optimist like that. So, don’t get scared away by stuff like that, and just enjoy the book. Yeah? All right. REEEEAD IT.