Sunday, June 9, 2013

Moonlight Movie Reviews - The Purge

Wow, a review of a movie that actually just came out! Pretty timely for me...

So, "The Purge" just came out and is already recognized as a huge hit. I guess I wasn't the only person who was pretty excited by the premise as described in the film's trailers. It's the year 2022, so, the near future (in case you didn't catch that). However, our country has changed greatly. It has been "reborn", so to speak, with new founding fathers and a new philosophy. Crime, homelessness, unemployment and stuff like that are way down, next to nothing, and the reason is "The Purge". A special day each year in which all crime is legal for a 12 hour period. ALL crime is LEGAL and all emergency services are stopped for 12 hours. That's a pretty freaky thought, because the people living in this near-future version of the United States believe greatly in the therapeutic effects of the annual purge. They LOVE their annual night of hunting down and violently murdering other people. 

And, that's really what it is about for most of them, it seems: violently murdering people. Funny, I would have expected to see waaay more rape. Like, more rape than anything. This movie barely hints that anything like that is going on. It's mainly about hunting down homeless people and people you know and just don't like. Still, pretty freaky.

Now, I hate to say it, but while I already knew what I wanted to say about this movie after seeing it this evening, I went ahead and watched The Cinema Snob's review first, and he pretty much said the exact same stuff, including what I just mentioned about the rape stuff. So, forgive me if this reads like a rehash of what Brad Jones and his friend, Sarah, said last night. But, before that, more on the plot...

The film is centered on a specific family during the Purge, that of James Sandin, played by Ethan Hawke, a man who is heavily involved in his career of selling elaborate security systems for wealthy, suburban homes to have as defense during the annual Purge. James has a wife and two kids, thoughtful introvert Charlie, who is something like 13, give or take a year, and teenage Zoey, who is basically your standard beautiful teen girl obsessed with her boyfriend, Henry. Henry is in the first part of the movie quite a bit, and surely enjoying his role, which mostly consists of making out with Zoey. Must be nice. I spent high school making out with my pillow. And college. And earlier today. Incidentally, let me just say, Zoey is pretty smokin' hot. And I can say that without fear of backlash since, yes, she's in her 20's, even if she doesn't look it and is playing jailbait here. 

So, during the Purge, there are people who love it, and people who appreciate it but prefer to bunker down behind locked doors to wait out the "cleansing" violence. The Sandins are the second sort. However, Charlie is not so sure the Purge is a good thing, and when he sees a homeless man running frantically through the neighborhood in search of help as a group of criminally insane (for 12 hours, anyway) young people in scary masks hunt him down, Charlie can't resist letting him inside the Sandins' home to hideout. This is where all the trouble starts (though, trouble would have started anyway, but this made it much worse, probably). Anyway, beyond that, it's spoilers, and I'll try to refrain from those tonight.

If "The Purge" sounds like a fascinating concept, well, that's because it certainly is (incidentally, what is with this new trend of "Battle Royale" type films these days? What is the world gearing up for? What's with the obsession with government programs where we kill each other off for a flawed concept of the "greater good"?). And, overall, it's a pretty good movie. However, it could have been really great. In fact, pretty good may be a little too much. It's okay-to-good, but, yeah, this movie had a lot of potential, and yet it really does turn into your standard home invasion type stuff, as you may have already heard the Cinema Snob say. The futuristic aspect is only seen in the concept of the Purge itself, and the few mentions of the back story, which is fascinating but which we don't get details on. The performances are all great, if some of the characters are a bit two-dimensional, even the main family. The crazy group that spends the rest of the film harassing and trying to kill the Sandins are very typically crazy home-invasion movie psychos. The leader is focused on, and he's good, but he also seems like he is trying to emulate the Joker. Perhaps too soon, and not as good as that guy from "Night of the Comet". Oh, there are some other baddies too, as the film has a bit of a fun twist. However, that is also one of those aspects that could have been done much more effectively. 

Bottom line, "The Purge" is a great concept that isn't used to it's full potential and just comes out as an okay film with some great ideas. One person I saw this with actually made a good point, and this is in regards to the futuristic setting: "The freakiest part was the stuff being broadcast on TV." It's true, but that's often true of these kinds of films. Even greats like "Night of the Living Dead", which is an excellent movie throughout, don't get me wrong. Now, in the case of this film, there was a while in it, brief as it was, that was a bit boring, but overall, a film okay to kill a couple of hours with, and a very interesting idea that maybe we could get more angles of in a sequel. I didn't LOVE "The Purge", but it was was still an enjoyably dark night at the movies. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to look up this Adelaine Kane, a bit. She might be in need of a "Crush of the Week" space of her own! And, here's hoping Ethan Hawke's next film lives up to its potential AND is a big success. His past few that I've seen have been disappointing in one way or the other. Felt similar to "Sinister" as I did with this one (actually, this one was probably better). Good idea with moments of really bad execution. And before that one, there was "Daybreakers" (I think that was a the name), a vampire movie that was actually really good, though no one saw it! He's a great actor and I'd really like to see him getting his due soon. 

Okay, g'night for now, everybody! I'd write more, but big day tomorrow, and I need some sleep for a change!

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