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Scrivener

Night at the Movies: Hero

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I'll make this simple - if you liked Crouching Actors Hidden Wires then don't bother reading anything else, go see this right away.

But hereÔÇÖs a more detailed breakdown: The concept is great. The story is very fable-like and centers around two characters (The Hero and the Emperor) exchanging different versions of the same story. Had this been handled with a little more respect to realism then this movie could have been great.

But then people start flying, running on water, and tossing around lots and lots of poor-CG leaves and arrows.

What is with all these 'quick and cheap CG swarms' in movies these days? Can't a film get made that doesn't do this?

There's also some very bad footage in there and some shockingly sloppy editing (very likely the result of Miramax rejiggering the original print for us stupid Americans) - this is worth mentioning as it is so bad as to be distracting (this is very unprofessional even for independent filmmakers).

Truly inspirational locations and ideas are simply ruined by your typical tall-tale shmuck. Even if one were to suspend disbelief that people could fly, the execution is so bad that it's like watching Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan. Then there's the overdramatic Shakespearean ending, which is typical of this kind of film. Maybe it's more reasonable in its own cultural context but the ultimate resolution seems particularly illogical and forced.

Anyway - if your kids don't mind subtitled movies this could be a good family film. It's pretty much a bloodless movie and the fighting is about as intense as Olympic synchronized swimming. The colors choices for each story are very loud and lend the film an almost cartoon-like quality.

All in all it's a sterile, forgettable, and relatively kid-friendly diversion (there's one brief scene of sensuality but it's mostly implied and nothing is shown - ie, you've seen worse commercials on on the tely).

5/10

P.S. On the Offense-O-Meter it's about as bad Ninja Turtles.

[ 08-29-2004, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: Scrivener ]

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I already have and saw this on DVD (import purchased through Amazon). Can't wait to see it on the big screen...probably later today.

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If you are going to the theatres to see Hero to see a Kung Fu movie, go home. If you are too lazy to read subtitles, go home. If you want to see a movie with a captivating story, memorable characters, phenomenal cinematography, and acting that makes you believe that the people on screen are the real Nameless, Broken Sword, and Flying Snow, you have struck gold.

The first thing you have to know about this film, is that not everything is supposed to be taken literally. When all the flowers turn red in a certain fight scene (i'm not going to spoil it), you're not supposed to believe all the flowers ACTUALLY turned red. It is helping to depict something. I feel the way they filmed each scene with a differnt color and tone was a very clever way toexpress the personality of each character's versions of the story, not necessarily meaning that everything in the scene really was red or green or whatever. People too stupid to understand that end up walking out of the theatre complaining about the story not making sense.

The story of this film draws you in immediately, and more importantly, so do the characters. I give my thanks to god, heaven and whoever else influenced the decision to NOT dub this film, because the actors had such passion and magnetic charisma, that for the duration of the film, I forgot I was watching a movie, and that is a VERY hard thing to accomplish.

The ancient China setting, sword-fight scenes and over-the-top wirework, at first glance, remind you of a certain foreign film that begins with "C" and ends with "rouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Thus, many people walk into the theatre expecting "Crouching Tiger on Crack" but it is oh, so much more than that. There are subtleties in this movie that are not obvious, and if you go in expecting them to be pathetically conspicuous and thrown in your face like most American movies, you're going to miss a lot. Something that should be addressed is the wire-work. It is a tool used to excentuate their super-human fighting abilities, however I believe this is another something that is not meant to be taken entirely literally.

Basically what I'm saying is, if you look past the subtitles, walk into the theatre with an open mind, and pay attention, you will love it. Go see it.

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Guest Hellbinder[CE]

quote:

But hereÔÇÖs a more detailed breakdown: The concept is great. The story is very fable-like and centers around two characters (The Hero and the Emperor) exchanging different versions of the same story. Had this been handled with a little more respect to realism then this movie could have been great.

But then people start flying, running on water, and tossing around lots and lots of poor-CG leaves and arrows.

What is with all these 'quick and cheap CG swarms' in movies these days? Can't a film get made that doesn't do this?


Ok.. just when i was starting to respect your opinions a little

You are either blind or Biased or Both. The CG through the entire film is some of the BEST EVER. Thats what irritates me when i read stuff like this. No its not "just another opinion" you are freaking WRONG. The CG looks Great to the point where it DOES NOT LOOK LIKE CG. the Arrow swarms look impressive and the Fight scenes in the leaves is just phenomonal.

The Fight on the lake looks like they are actually fighting on a lake.

Basically it pisses me off to no end when people like you will degrade a superior accomplishment like this movie by INVENTING problems with the movie right out of thin air.

Furthermore this movie is a CHINESE FANTASY. You either get it, or you dont. in which case you obviously DONT. As you somehow think if we take all the FANTASY out it might actually be a decent movie.

Frustrating...

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Ok - let me elaborate.

The fight on the lake (indeed all of the flying fight scenes) looked like people on wires. I can break down exactly how those scenes were accomplished. Most of the water effects on the lake were CG but they looked great. The actors were filmed against a green screen and keyed into the scene of the lake. Technically impressive - but they still look they are suspended from wires. Wirefu just hasn't been honed enough to seem both reasonably believable and fantastic (such as the way Sam Raimi's Spiderman moves).

The problem with the arrows is not so much the color matching (which is almost always a serious problem with CG) but the animations. The physics were just plain wrong. Not the flying through the air per se, but the way the characters were interacting with them when Nameless and Flying Snow were defending the building.

I think of these movies as essentially the Chinese equivallent of a Steven Sommers films. I have nothing against fantasy, and nothing against art - but I despise sillyness.

I think of wirefu on the same level I think of the fake-Neo vs. 100 Smiths sequence in Matrix Reloaded. I know a lot of people try to make this solely a cultural issue, and I assure you that it is not. I am a self-proclaimed fan of Japanese horror. I love how those films seem to break established conventions and aren't restricted by our narrow-minded American limitations on film content. Reviving a previous comparison - if Spiderman can be done believably then movies like Hero can be done so too.

Anyway, if you want to see what I'm talking about when I say " Had this been handled with a little more respect to realism then this movie could have been great" then rent get out there and Kaige Chen's "The Emperor and the Assassin." It's an excellent film and a prime example of what I'm talking about.

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I went to see it again; and I was pleasantly enthralled again at the big screen presentation, featuring thundering soundfx. Once again, the story, the characters, the CG (check out those arrows!!!) - everything - was just right.

This movie is a masterpiece and I intend on seeing it - again - before it finishes its run.

10/10

ps: Hellbinder, haven't you learn to read Scriv's reviews by now, then go "....meh" and move on? If not, try it. Your blood pressure will thank you.

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Saying Hero would be better if it was more realistic is like saying Lord of the Rings would be better if you took out the magic, the wizards, and hobbits, and fantasy creatures.

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Lord of the Rings *was* realistic. That's my point.

Hero is more like Van Helsing than LOTR, which was presented as almost a history. The magic also wasn't 'magicy' either. It was fantasy presented with an impressive ammount of realism.

Now, I'm not saying Hero is a bad movie. I'm just saying 'meh'. It would have earned a 6.5/10 if it weren't for stupid little technical problems. Chief among them were instances of blurry, grey, useless untreated junk footage that just shouldn't have been in the film. Most other instances involved bad cuts where the color and/or audio didn't sync properly.

That dropped the score a whole 1.5 points as those are the types of silly things that just shouldn't end up in a feature film. If I presented something for class with those kinds of egregious errors, I would get reamed.

Again, I loved the story, and the way the story was told (flashbacks to POVs). However, I am a vocal and unabashed wire-fu hater. There are times where you can have Cirque du Solieil-like "OMG how the heck did they do that" physical feats... and then there are flying people who run and bounce on water... yeeaaahhhh. I didn't dig that stuff when I was 9 and I don't dig it now.

BTW, Hero and Emperor are based on the same story.

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