Rubber (2010) – Movie Review

Writer and director Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber is one of those movies that’s not really good or bad–just odd. It opens up with shots of a desert landscape until finally focusing on a car tire half-buried in the dirt. Slowly, the tire begins to tremble and soon fixes itself upright. It starts to move around on its own, falling down every few feet until it’s able to maintain balance. It rolls about, crushing a plastic bottle and a scorpion. It comes across a beer bottle, realizing that it’s unable to destroy it by simply running over it it starts to utilize psychokinetic powers to explode it from a distance. Then we see that there are a horde of people watching with binoculars, more impressed by the tire than shocked or perplexed. And it only gets weirder from there…

So, yeah, this is a movie–a movie about a killer tire. Well, you can make a movie about anything, can’t you? But the problem with Rubber is that the premise, despite the movie ticking in around only 80 minutes, runs thin pretty quickly; it would have made for a better 10-20 minute short than something feature-length. To compensate, Dupieux inserts some weird “meta-ness” via the crowd of spectators. The spectators are supposed to represent the audience as they are fixated on the tire and its shenanigans, commenting as it discovers its powers and watches a woman its obsessed with shower at a hotel. Soon, some guy with glasses is employed by an off-screen “master” to poison the spectators so the film can end, but one spectator survives and everything goes on. The remaining spectator represents the few people in the theater who have managed to stay with the movie.

In addition, the movie is classified as a “horror-comedy,” but it’s really neither. It’s not a horror film for it’s not scary, nor do there seem to be any intent, within the film, to shock. It’s closer to being a comedy, but the problem is that it’s not really that funny. The humor is mostly derived from the film’s absurdity, but that’s it; there aren’t really any “ha-ha” moments, just a single joke being stretched-out.

As I was watching I kept thinking of the film, Holy Motors, a movie that also seemed like they were making it up as they went along. Like that movie, there was some unrealized potential here as well. Instead of trying to be a post-modernist take on the horror genre and its inherent voyeurism, the movie really should have tried to excel as a silly B-movie. Yes, there are a lot of over-the-top comedic B-films out there, but this movie’s premise was just crying out for a similar treatment. And there could still be some elements of post-modernism of course, but emphasize the head-exploding and the possible scenarios surrounding a homicidal tire.

A teenager who might conjure up a similar concept for a film might think that Rubber is “out-there”–but it’s not. It’s interesting that a movie like this exists, but, beyond that, not much else can be said. What am I doing with my life?

The LEGO Movie (2014) – Movie Review

Not a terrible movie, but incredibly overrated. It has clever moments and I chuckled a few times, but on recall there aren’t really any jokes that come back to me aside from a few gags. The movie also isn’t that “smart,” nor is it very deep as some critics seem to assert. Narratively it’s basically a “hero’s journey,” albeit one that doesn’t take itself seriously. The animation is cute as it sort-of mimics stop-motion animation, but the effect wears off quickly. Otherwise, the movie, while fun, is too predictable and formulaic, preventing it from being truly entertaining.

There are a few reasons why I think this movie has been so widely praised, one being nostalgia. Another reason, however, might be the same reason why the children’s cartoon show My Little Pony has become so popular amongst people in their twenties. My Little Pony, from the few episodes I’ve seen, is basically like every other kid’s show: relatively well-made and colorful, inoffensive, but utterly mediocre. Out of the episodes I watched each plot and character arc were instantly familiar and predictable to me, but people like that show so much because it’s the television equivalent of comfort food. The same applies to The LEGO Movie: it’s well-wrought and nice to watch with a lot of memes people can latch onto, but because people are so used to shit they mistaken such things as signifiers for genuine quality. It’s as if people are desperate for something that isn’t gritty or depressing that they end up hyping certain movies that stray from the norm to an unwarranted and undeserving degree. The LEGO Movie represents qualities people like and represents them well.

Recently, one of my friends saw Inherent Vice and complained that the director, Paul Thomas Anderson, is all style and no substance. Unfortunately,  a lot of “Grade A” directors suffer from a similar affliction for not only is it easier to don a certain style or aesthetic, but also because critics tend to confuse or conflate style with depth. People, in general, praise certain films mostly because they fit into their idea of what good movies should be like, not because they’re actually good. While no one is going to place The LEGO Movie within the same category as Inherent Vice, they are both movies that have been hyped despite their (obvious) flaws. This reminds of, perhaps, the lone noteworthy moment of The LEGO Movie: when the main character, Emmet (Chris Pratt,) is arrested he’s shown footage of his fellow construction workers struggling to remember who he is. One of them theorizes that Emmet’s anonymity is the result of him not having a “personality,” or “thing” that differentiates him. The worker uses examples of people who have their own “thing” which are usually insignificant like whether they wear a hat or eat a certain type of food. It’s an interesting comment on how shallow people’s view of individuality is. Perhaps this is also applicable to people’s view of art as well, a view that’s lacking in depth. Or maybe I’m just talking out of my ass. Anyway, The LEGO Movie, despite what everyone has told you, is okay, but not great thought it probably doesn’t matter, considering that you’ve probably seen the movie already, making this review kind of pointless…um…thanks for reading anyway!

More Lazy Semi-Reviews

The Interview (2014):

Finally saw The Interview and it was shit. I don’t understand how anyone, let alone the film’s creators, can call it a satire. The only time the movie approaches cleverness is when James Franco’s character gets manipulated by Kim Jung-Un, a commentary on how the media can be deftly used by those in power, but, then again, the movie goes about this rather poorly. And the only real funny moments involve a Katy Perry song, but the underlying joke isn’t all that original: “hey, guys, especially evil dictators, aren’t supposed to listen to girly pop music!” Seth Rogen was okay, but James Franco was infuriating; he came across like one of those kids in school desperate to be the class clown, trying way too hard to be funny. In fact, I can extend that comparison to the entirety of the film; instead of allowing humor to naturally grow from the situations and the characters’ reactions to them, they settle for hammy camera-mugging and tired poop/gay jokes. It’s a brain-dead, pointless film that might be somewhat entertaining to watch with friends, but just don’t let the hype convince you it’s anything more.

Z-Nation, Season One (2014):

This is The Asylum’s answer to The Walking Dead, and while it’s clearly an aping of a show that’s an aping other of entries in the zombie genre (a photocopy of a photocopy) it manages to be better than The Walking Dead for a few reasons: 1.) it doesn’t take itself too seriously, 2.) the focus on the plot doesn’t allow it meander nearly as much, 3.) it has a more interesting central character: a criminal who has the cure for the zombie virus coursing through him. We want him to succeed, but at the same time the character is a sociopath. We feel some sympathy for him as his body begins to deteriorate from the virus, but he’s also a complete asshole who is willing to let others die. This tension created within the viewer is the best thing the show has going for it. Another positive, however, was its killing of the lead (not the criminal, but the group’s leader) a few episodes in which was actually unexpected; The Walking Dead should consider taking risks like this, that is, if the writers have any interest in increasing tension and toying with expectations.

Despite this, the show, at least so far, isn’t close to being good. There are numerous instances of cliches and some really tired tropes (how many deranged cults are they going to come across?) Some of the dialogue is also weak and the first couple of episodes were pretty awful. There is are also a couple of episodes, back-to-back no less, that are built on dreams and hallucinations which are completely unnecessary. The finale is also pretty ridiculous as nukes are launched across the globe (how are the characters going to escape this?–and I know they’re making a second season.) Also, a more minor thing, but the antagonist at the end looks like Dr. Evil, especially when he is running away, that’s distracting.

Is it really that hard to make a good series built around fighting zombies? I haven’t watched the current season of The Walking Dead because the fourth season was so shitty and really showed that the writers have no idea what to do with their characters, problematic considering characters are really the most important aspect of any show/film/narrative/etc. At least Z-Nation is somewhat entertaining and isn’t afraid of killing-off the audience’s favorite characters (we’re in a zombie apocalypse after all!)

Fallout New Vegas (2010):

I’m not really a fan of video games, but I do like the Fallout series (though I haven’t played spin-offs Fallout Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel.) Last few weeks I’ve been replaying New Vegas on-and-off and I’m still convinced it’s better than Fallout 3, a game that is still good for what it is. However, I’m not sure if it’s better than the first two Fallouts for they’re pretty much entirely different games though they share the same atmosphere.

I remember a while back this online series called Extra Credits that discusses the artistic possibilities of vidya games had an episode on Fallout 3 and New Vegas. They said Fallout 3 had the better story because your character was given more background and allowed us to experience it through vignettes. This is a good point, but that game’s story also has a rather A-to-B-to-C formulaic plot line that takes precedence over everything. Nothing wrong with this, but there is a difference between plot and story, and while Fallout 3 has a tighter plot, New Vegas has the more engaging narrative, suffused with far more interesting characters and ideas. No, there aren’t great archetypical characters (though Mr. House comes close) on par with the original Fallout’s idealistic villain, The Master, nor like the affable ghoul, Harold (though he was shoehorned into Fallout 3 for no good reason,) but there are some more nuanced characterizations, even for some of the less ancillary characters. Even the factions have their flaws and characteristics, from the corrupt, but well-intended New California Republic, to the paradoxically cultured and savage Legion, and to the hermetic Brotherhood of Steel.

New Vegas also trumps Fallout 3 when it comes to player-choices and their consequences. Early on, Fallout 3, the character is given the decision to disarm a bomb in the center of a town, or blow it up. If you commit the latter, you can watch the town blow-up…and that’s it. There’s hardly any perceived effect despite the town being somewhat important to trading within the region. And this is one of Fallout 3’s biggest issues: the illusion of choice–what’s the point of a decision if there is hardly an outcome? The choice of blowing up the town was just a ploy by the creators to trick the player into believing, early on, that they have any sway within the game’s parameters. New Vegas, however, has a similar issue, but it’s not nearly as wide for your choices can impact one or several of the factions battling within the game. The end-game consequences are also presented more effectively as different characters, before the credits role, tell of how they, or their communities, were impacted by the player-character. This makes the consequences seem more real as they are given an individuated voice, a nice touch (this device really shines in the New Vegas add-on, Dead Money.)

Perhaps there may never be a good show about the apocalypse, or zombies, but the Fallout series shows that such things have been dealt with better, and, strangely, more realistically (for the characters and groups are more “real”) within the supposedly low realm of vidya gaimes.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – Movie Review

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is supposed to be a lament, but it just sucks. Visually, the film is great; there’s all sorts of neat tricks with lighting, camera movement and special effects to conjure the illusion that two drug addicts stumbling about is somehow interesting, but, unfortunately, the illusion’s effectiveness quickly fades and all that is left is the bad script. The script is so bad that they should have called it Dull and Boring in Las Vegas instead.

There isn’t really a plot. We follow two druggies, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney, “Doctor” Gonzo (Benicio del Toro), as they engage in a chemically-induced assault on the Las Vegas strip. Duke is supposed to be there to write on a bike race in the desert, but is instead inspired to write about the American Dream and the failure of the 1960’s counterculture. However, the narration Duke provides only makes the film seem pretentious as if he’s trying to make the things depicted on screen seem more significant than they actually are. It’s a shame for the premise had potential; perhaps the problem lies in the source material, Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 book of the same name, but I haven’t read it so I cannot say.

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say about this movie so I’ll let another do the talking. Here’s what one Ron Wells says of the film, when it first came out in 1998:

For all of you idiot film reviewers, do the two main characters, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) really look like they’re having a grand old time? I don’t think so. Like Hunter S. Thompson’s classic tome, we see the ugly downside of the drug revolution. Revolutions tend to end in anarchy and pointless bloodshed. Instead of a higher consciousness, we get Duke, and we get a ringside seat for how meaningless and cruel the real world is, and a close look at the demons within himself. “Fear and Loathing” does for psychedelics what “Boogie Nights” does for cocaine; displaying in graphical detail the ultimate failure of drugs as an escape route. You feel the psychic thud as our anti-heroes hit bottom. It ain’t pretty.

Okay, maybe I should add my two cents here. Yes, the film displays the “ugly downside of the drug revolution,” but the problem is is that it hardly does anything more. There’s the narration, as mentioned before, and some images that try to heighten things, but they mostly fail because the “insights” Duke provides aren’t exactly mind-expanding. And the images are quite blatant in their meaning as we see, during one of Duke’s more potent highs, Richard Nixon’s distorted head on a television screen along with Jimi Hedrix’s rendition of Star Spangled Banner juxtaposed in the background. During that same scene Gonzo offers Duke more cocaine that he sprinkled on his knife, then seconds later he offers more but on his gun, then Duke’s mind molds him into the Devil. A bit obvious, no? But even then, the emphasis is still on how “crazy” Duke’s and Gonzo’s shenanigans are. Wells goes on:

It’s a valid complaint since we barely see what the poor bastards are like when they aren’t binging, so no level-headed base line is ever really established. These guys didn’t end up this way overnight, though. They worked their way down. “The Truman Show”, one of the best films of the year, doesn’t make a lot of sense without knowing the conventions of television. However, we all know about sets and cues and product placements. In this case, uneducated about drugs, these bozos look like a couple of joy-riding assholes pissing on anything standing in their way. They aren’t exactly doped up on any judgement enhancers. Duke and Gonzo’s understanding of the repercussions always comes too late. They have no guide for their descent into hell, just the psychic corpses of everyone they ran down on the way to mark their way.

This is just Wells making excuses: It’s not the movie’s fault, but your own for being too square to understand the psyche of a junkie, okay? Seriously, the film really is just “a couple of joy-riding assholes” with a message merely tacked-on. That’s it. It could have worked if the film had more to rely on than just the visuals. Oh well. So, what else does Wells have to say?:

Now this is a damn funny film, but it’s not some Bill Murray flick. Vegas is surreal enough, without turning into a cross between Sid Vicious and Otis, the town drunk. You can either laugh at the buffoonery and/or cringe with recognition from your own experiences. I know I did. Duke, Thompson’s alter-ego, has moments of clarity throughout the film. He knows the 60s are over. Like a lot of habitual users, though, he’s always trying to move the bottom of the well lower to prevent hitting it on the way down. The drugs may expand your mind, but sometime you’ll look down and see only the filth you’re standing in.

Notice how he doesn’t mention any specifics concerning the humor in the film. Yes, the movie attempts to be funny, but mostly fails. For one thing, Depp’s performance is silly at first, but it’s, in the end, too cartoony. All he does is stumble about, make jerky arm movements and eye-twitches. There really isn’t much of a character to laugh at, but rather a collection of traits and eccentricities that are seemingly designed to illicit laughter. I’m not saying there should be a deep characterization, but at the same time this isn’t a 1930’s slapstick; the film is established in reality (or, rather, crashing through it) so there at least needs to be something a little bit more to the character that we can laugh with/at. There are also a number of scenes and moments that try so hard to be funny, like the scene in which Duke is pulled over by a cop (played by Gary Busey) which ends with the punchline of the cop wanting a kiss on the cheek.

Also, note how Wells defends the film for what it depicts, instead of how it depicts it. Now, what he describes can also describe almost every movie about drug usage and addiction. This reminds me of another “review” by wannabe internet celebrity Jeremy Jahns where he calls The Avengers an amazing film, but says so because it featured superheroes who didn’t get along at first. What’s silly about this is that every movie about a team assembling to save the world, or whatever, starts the same way. Just because certain tropes are present doesn’t mean the movie is “better” or “more believable,” but it’s in the way in which the tropes are used or whether if they work for the film. Wells concludes his review:

What kind of moron thinks this film glamorizes drugs? “Die Hard” can be a lot of fun to watch, but I wouldn’t want to live through it. “Fear and Loathing” is a sort of psychedelic action film. It’s a blast, but I wouldn’t want to be there, either. If you want an easy rush, get on a roller coaster. The other stuff is just pants-shitting terror. Buy a ticket, take a ride.

He’s right in that the movie doesn’t glamorize drug use, but one also can’t deny that the movie expects us to be intrigued by it; perhaps, this isn’t an unrealistic expectation for there are the sheltered who will be drawn to such “dangerous behavior and lifestyles”; however, drug usage and its predictable outcomes aren’t immanently intriguing. And this is, again, the film’s greatest flaw; it’s almost nothing, but druggie shenanigans even with the inclusion of Duke’s narration. Shenanigans can be interesting, but with Fear and Loathing we just get the same shit over and over that’s about as exciting as a ride on the Ferris wheel. However, as much as I like to rag on critics, especially “professional” ones, they, overall, seemed to had gotten this movie right when it came out, perhaps for the wrong reasons (maybe reasons Wells was originally trying to counter in his review,) but whatever. This movie is lousy and I don’t know why I wasted two hours on it. I guess maybe because it’s one of those “cult films” that are supposed to be once-neglected gems, but now have been pulled from the muck. But after watching this, I’m hoping there are more deserving films out there, ready to be truly seen.

Things I Watched This Week

Here’s a bunch of movies I saw recently that I don’t feel like writing in-depth reviews of:

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013):

Everyone on earth has already seen this movie so at this point it would be superfluous to write a review of it, so here’s a (short) review of it. According to ninety-eight percent of the globe this movie is a “modern day classic”, however, it’s mostly just fluff, albeit entertaining fluff. People have made the obvious comparisons to Goodfellas, but it’s not nearly as good, in fact, I would argue that it rips off that earlier classic in a number of ways (either Scorsese now, somehow, lacks confidence, or has become lazy.) The best scene in the film is when Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) is trying to “play” and bribe an FBI agent (Kyle Chandler), but has his head so far up his ass he doesn’t realize that the agent is merely playing along. At the end of the scene Belfort tells the agent and his partner to go screw and as they’re leaving he starts flipping bills into the air in a pathetic attempt to affirm his status. However, for the most part, the film gets too repetitive and the characters simply aren’t that interesting. The ending also isn’t very good, with the camera panning toward the faces of people attending a “get rich” seminar Belfort is speaking at, which is supposed to be a commentary on how people want to be like Leo’s character despite everything. It’s a bit too blunt and forced. Still a fun movie, but even if an hour were trimmed-off it still wouldn’t be as great as Goodfellas for we never get much insight into Belfort’s character.

The Piano Teacher (2001):

Another overrated film, but even more so than The Wolf of Wall Street for, while that movie is at least good, The Piano Teacher is a mediocrity. It’s about a repressed, manipulative woman (Isabelle Huppert) who teaches piano at a music conservatory. She’s obsessed with the music of Schubert whom she spouts highfalutin nonsense about in order to make herself seem like she has an exclusive relationship with the music. She’s also a pervert, making regular visits to a porno shop–later, she scolds one of her students after she catches him there, looking at magazines–she also becomes obsessed with a handsome student (Benoit Magimel) who is smitten over her. It starts out as an interesting character study, but then devolves into a trite depiction of obsession and psychosexuality; the ending is also lousy. I guess what saves the film are the performances and some good moments throughout that give insight into the characters. Not nearly as bad as some other critical favorites, like Lincoln (more like Nixon, if you ask me! Actually, Nixon is pretty good so never mind) and American Beauty (more like Boring and Shitty!), but I’m baffled by all the praise its received.

Dead Ringer (1964):

Old Bette Davis film that’s well-crafted and entertaining. A woman, played by Davis, kills her wealthy twin sister and takes on her name and life. It’s a nice little thriller with some decent characters that aren’t merely cardboard cutouts. However, as well-wrought the script is, there are some holes in the plot, the biggest at the end where the main character is sentenced to death for killing, not her sister, but her sister’s husband (who, ironically, she loved); the problem is that the evidence for her involvement is circumstantial, at best, yet she still gets the gas chamber. It’s a movie that’s probably not going to “stay” with me for very long, but at least it succeeds at what it sets out to do, for the most part.

Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014):

Finally saw this one and it was terrible. Jarring cuts, wretched symbolism and cliches up the ass. The plot is nearly the same as Spiderman 2, except that movie didn’t have to rely on ham-fisted scenes to get its point across, scenes like when Peter Parker is on a building’s ledge, watching her girlfriend crossing the street below only for him to turn and see a building on fire. He has to choose between his girlfriend and his duties as Spiderman, decisions, decisions. Can we stop it with the comic book films for a while? Even the supposed “good” ones like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are merely passable. The recent X-Men film was good, but I still think that Hollywood should try milking some other cow to death, you know, to spice things up a little.

Goodbye World (2013) – Movie Review

The main issue with Goodbye World is that it’s basically a teen soap opera set during the apocalypse. No, none of the main characters are teenagers in high school, but their conflicts (and how they deal with them) are like those of a generic high school romance flick. This is problematic because (aside from the fact that the characters are adults) no one really gives a shit about watching people moan about infidelity and who-kissed-who when the world is collapsing. It also doesn’t help that the characters are poorly-sketched and wholly generic. There are a number of other issues which are more minor like some of the heavy-handed symbolism, such as an image of a giant bubble bursting shortly before one of the characters coming by and telling everyone that the world is ending (unfortunately, this symbol is also reused at the end, except we don’t see the bubble bursting, signifying that everything’s going to be a-okay.) The film dabbles with the same tropes that other “end of the world” movies are defined by, and is suffused with numerous cliches. You’ll see what I mean once you read the plot:

The movie opens up with the wealthy Palmer family who live self-sufficiently in a cabin in the mountains of Northern California. The father, James Palmer (Adrian Grenier) tells the audience that he predicts the eventual collapse of civilization. But before the collapse we see a bunch of his friends from college: Nick (Ben McKenzie) and his wife Becky (Caroline Dhavernas) are heading to see the Palmers who they haven’t seen in years due to James buying him out of the company they founded together. We soon find out that, aside from merely making amends, Nick wants to steal James’s wife, Lily (Kerry Bishe), whom he was engaged to in the past, either as an act or love, or revenge, or both. We also see Benji (Mark Webber) an activist who went to jail for five years for burning down a factory (or something, I forget and don’t care) who now lectures at colleges and eventually fucks a student, Ariel (Remy Nozik) who he, later on, brings to the Palmer’s cabin. We’re also introduced to Lev (Scott Mescudi) a suicidal computer hacker and Laura (Gaby Hoffman) who loves democracy so much that she fucked a senator.

Soon, everyone in the country starts receiving the text, “Goodbye World” then the power grid is knocked-out, prompting the country (or the world’s) collapse as people begin to riot. All of the main characters, fortunately, huddle together at the Palmers’s cabin which has a well and solar panels, allowing them to survive alone for a couple of years. It’s not a bad set-up, but we start running into some problems. For one thing, everyone seems way too calm given the circumstances. There’s one scene where they’re all having dinner together as they go around, stating what they’re going to miss most about civilization. Everyone comes off a bit glib, as if they’re talking about their favorite amusement park closing down, not the end of days; I’m not saying that they should be in hysterics, but not only does this scene (from the way it’s written to the acting) seems unrealistic, but it doesn’t help create any sense of tension, if anything it alleviates it. This alleviation of tension also makes things more predictable for now the viewers are preparing themselves for something to bad to happen. Like in the next scene when we’re introduced to a couple of soldiers who want to quarter the cabin. There is no ambiguity that these guys are bad given the ominous music that plays once they leave (after Becky tells them that they cannot force themselves in because of the Third Amendment) and also when they’re checking out Ariel lounging in a bikini. Again, more predictability, and also stereotyping as we see them later on drinking and making demands like a couple of thugs.

So the movie comes off as a generic apocalypse film, but it turns out to be an even worse soap opera. Cliches abound, such as the exchanges between Nick and Lily. They kiss and then are interrupted when Becky calls for her husband. He hides and Becky enters, asking if Lily’s seen him around. Lily then proceeds to tell her how great of a man she is and how lucky she is to have him:

Lily: Becky, you’re really lucky to have him. He’s kind and he’s loving; he listens. James fell out of love for me when he fell in love with Hannah [Lily and James’s daughter–did I forget to mention they had a young daughter? Whoops.] He wouldn’t even notice if I was gone.

Becky: I’m sure that’s not true.

Lily: I really don’t belong here…

Becky: You know it’s your home–you can make it whatever you want it to be…

No, I’m serious, this is actual dialogue from the film; I swear I didn’t rip this from a dull soap opera (though I might as well have.) Not only is it terribly cliched, but it’s all the worse considering that the characters are dealing with the end of the world; should they really be giving a shit about such dramatics? One might argue that the point of the movie is to show how petty people are regardless of their situations, but the movie legitimately wants us to care about such melodrama; they even play sappy alt-rock when Lily and Nick are kissing, unironically. And even if the point of the movie was to show how petty people are, then the movie fails for, even if people are that petty, they’re still going to prioritize. There are some good (bad) lines that are contained within the preceding scene as well, like when Nick reveals that he’s co-owner of the cabin and they argue (yes, they’re arguing about finances) Becky chimes in with a stunner: “We’re in the middle of an apocalypse, the property value’s going to shoot through the roof!” Again, with no irony.

It should come to no surprise then that many of the characters are poorly-wrought; there’s the aforementioned soldiers, but also Lev who is a character with zero substance. The only thing that he has going for him is that he’s a techno-whiz and has a gun, also he may or may not have caused the whole end-of-the-world debacle (there’s a terrible scene where James asks Lev, in the most flat, bizarre manner, if he’s a terrorist or not–he later tries to justify this by saying he was trying to catch him off guard, but it still doesn’t change how comical the delivery was.) The movie probably would have been better off without him and have Benji adopt some of his traits instead. We already know that Benji is (or was) a radical and, even though the audience would still doubt his involvement, it would at least be a little more compelling considering that Benji is a more fleshed-out character.

Another frustrating aspect of the film is that characters often do stupid things to propel the action. Benji, for example, feeling inadequate as a “revolutionary” decides to confront the soldiers, who have taken control of a nearby commune, after one of them molests Laura and points a gun at Lev; he does so by grabbing a baseball bat and marching into the woods. While it makes sense that he wants to do something about the soldiers I doubt anyone would be dumb enough to think he can take a couple of armed solders on with a stick. But this is quickly resolved when he steps on an animal trap, leading Becky to help him out and eventually want to fuck him. There’s also James who also decides to confront the soldiers and  try to convince the commune that he’s the good guy (they’re mad that he’s hoarding medicine and supplies,) but he doesn’t come with a gun and expects everyone to listen to reason. This might be a bit more forgivable considering that he had just found out that Nick kissed Lily and that they still love each other and his reasoning might be clouded by his emotions, but it’s still frustrating to watch.

Some positives: the acting is decent, overall. The weakest performances come from the guys who play the soldiers, Lev, Becky and James, but it’s really the writing that lowers the characters. The cinematography also isn’t that too shabby, especially with the opening shots. Some symbolism is decent, such as when they’re trying to fix the antennae on the television, they only receive a staticy/distorted image of President Obama speaking; it’s obvious, but it’s still an interesting way to encapsulate the nation’s overall downfall, both societal and technological. Some symbolism sucks though, like the bubble, but also the giant, stuffed bear that Nick and Becky brought Hannah as a gift. For whatever reason, the filmmakers tried to make the image of the bear deeper than it actually is; the attempts are too obvious and almost cringe-worthy (especially at the end where Becky grabs the bear, sits it down in front of a tree and says goodbye to her family and the world before getting on a motorcycle with Benji.)

No, the movie isn’t terrible, thus it’s undeserving of its 24% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s barely mediocre, almost falling into the “bad” category. What’s odd, however, is that I watched this movie after trying to watch the show Jericho on Netflix. What’s interesting is that that show is hardly better than Goodbye World, yet is lauded by critics and people on the internet. So while I think the internet is right to think this movie isn’t “the tops” I wouldn’t take that as a sign that people, in general, know what they are talking about; even when they are right it’s almost by chance. So would I recommend this movie? Not really. Even if you like soap operas and post-apocalyptic whatever, you’re more likely to find (if not better) more entertaining examples of both elsewhere.