Movie Review: 13 Sins (2014)

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Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber Scott Pilgrim vs The World) is a down on his luck salesman who always bore the brunt of his family’s needs. He pays for his special needs brother’s care, he puts up with a father who is unpleasant and ornery, he’s not respected at work. He does have a loving fiancee, Shelby (Rutina Wesley, “True Blood”) and a baby on the way. But Elliot’s already bad luck takes a turn for the even worse when what should be an interview for a promotion turns into a firing; with scathing comments from his superiors. He’ll lose his insurance and his brother’s program won’t be covered and his father (played by Tom Bower, Thr3e, Hills Have Eyes) is in failing health and has to move in with him.

Certain elements make me feel for Elliot. He went to college but studied a foolish major, he’s a Type B with a Type A job. He never could take risks because he had responsibility beyond his years already caring for his brother while his father acted like a self centered asshole following their mother’s death when Elliot was nine.

But when he lets his father move in… his father -a vehement racist, sexist and all around asshole.. Elliot lets that shitbag move in with his black bride to be. A man who asks Shelby to zip his pants for him. I lost all sympathy for Elliot there. Worse yet, it was just thrown in to give another reason why Elliot’s life was so shitty… but in a twist of somewhat bad writing it’s also made out that Elliot wants to impress his father. It was just pointless really, just to show that Elliot was wishy washy -understandably as a way to show how quickly Elliot evolves (and devolves) in the film.

Elliot is having his worst day ever when he receives a phone call. The voice on the other end instructs Elliot to kill a fly, and then eat it for a reasonable sum of money. He is then told that he has the chance to win a life changing sum of money All he h) as to do is complete 13 challenges …and hey, he’s already done 2! On the list? Destroying a nativity scene, desecrating a corpse, amputating a childhood bully’s arm, making a small child cry …and killing someone.

The police respond to the crimes and get descriptions from eyewitnesses. They realizes that there is one perpetrator for all these crimes. Detective Chilcoat (Ron Perlman, Hellboy, “Sons of Anarchy”) starts to investigate and meets a conspiracy theorist who tells him about “The Game.”

This game has a few rules. The player can’t tell anyone about the game, for example. So Elliot spends much time ducking his wife on his quest. Once Chilcoat gets involved it reaches pandemonium. Then Elliot realizes that there are other players and the carnage ramps up again.

Only one problem. No one acts like this. Rutina Wesley’s Shelby is the only characters who acts like a human being.

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Everyone else acts like a caricature. The plot is good (and also ripped off from a Thai film called 13:Game of Death which makes more sense as a title since killing a fly and eating it is not a sin at all). But the character development is terrible. Especially towards the end. Chilcoat’s actions are random and make no sense. The movie seems to want us to root for Elliot over Chilcoat from the get go (even though Chilcoat is doing his job an Elliot’s actions are reprehensible) so they throw in this foolish twist to make Chilcoat corrupt. But Elliot has devolved into a frantic fiend at that point.

Elliot could have been a badass anti-hero. This film could have explored the human condition, what capitalism and desperation will bring out of a mild mannered person. But the character development is just not there.

Interestingly, Mark Webber grew up homeless living in cars and eating scraps and doing anything for money before he broke into the biz. He and his mother participate in activism to raise awareness about homelessness, attend protests and they volunteer time in shelters. …And he’s playing a man who becomes a murderous asshole in a matter of hours after losing his job. Done well, it would have been great. A man pushed to the brink because he’s in poverty, he’s unable to “be a man” in the eyes of society and he is driven insane on this quest to get rich quick and provide the American Dream for his family, like an able bodied man “should”. But instead, Elliot’s actions become so reprehensible that the only conclusion on his character is that poor people would kill you for a dollar. And fuck that.

Chilcoat’s actions also make no sense. He’s painted as the “bad guy”, the antagonist that’s going to stop Elliot. But he should! Elliot is causing wanton destruction and injury. But then Chilcoat joins up with the game runners and it makes no sense. Why? Money? So is the moral of the story that ALL people would sell their soul and toss aside their beliefs for a payout? What the…

Not only that, the game runners are everywhere and can see everything. It’s been happening for decades but no one knows because the police all sell out and cover it up. There are multiple people playing at once who run into each other all the time. Elliot has a bank app on his flip phone. It’s just not believable.

SO close, but so far.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT

For the final challenge: Elliot has to kill a family member. His father who is a fucking racist is an excellent choice, especially after it is revealed that their father killed their mom to win the game. And I watched it screaming at the screen: “Just do it together, Elliot and Michael kill dad together and they both win!” but they DONT DO THAT. Elliot spends too much time yapping after dismissing Michael …why? To keep Michael innocent? Can’t be. Michael has already killed people. So Elliot is that greedy. Or ableist. Maybe both. anyway, dad slits his throat rather than let Elliot win. That leaves Elliot and Michael to face off. There’s also this weird connotation that Michael doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong which also seems ableist and gross.

And even more baffling: after Elliot kills Michael, Elliot kills Chilcoat and forfeits his prize.

It makes no sense.

It makes no sense and it was awful.
I could have suspended disbelief for the see all gamerunners but the ending was so terrible and the character development was heavy handed as all hell. The pranks were somewhat creative and there was plenty of gore and mayhem. Just didn’t hit the mark, even the badass cast couldn’t save this shitshow of classism and ableism.

2/5

V-Wars #2

This cover:

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I hate it. It looks like a cheesy direct to DVD horror flick. It took me forever to “see” that vamp in the corner left so it appeared to me at first that the woman in the center had her hand down lipring vampire’s pants. Who ok’d this?

A reporter is held hostage by vampires, they’re saying that she doesn’t care about the truth, that she just reads lines. He tells her that vampires aren’t getting due process, that they’re Americans too. He thinks that someone is diverting attention on purpose. He throws around stats proving that humans are more violent.He wants her to tell their side of the story. Yuki Nitobe has to decide whether or not to be their spokesperson. She’s released and calls Luthor (the man from issue 1 who was an expert on vamps, his family turned) . She confesses that she doesn’t like the ratings queen that she has become.

The next day Yuki meets with a vampire named Kyra who has been badly tortured by humans. This scenario happens all the time, “We are the new minority. People are afraid of us and they hate that they are afraid.” That would be reasonable except for that vampires are dangerous and bloodthirsty. Not Kyra, Kyra is a quaker and abstains from violence even as she is being beaten and raped. 

The go to The Red House: a church/cult for vampires to worship and form community.

The black vampire who looks mostly human uses the phrase “One that, like me, can pass” Holy fucking shite with this appropriated garbage. 

Yuki and Martyn go to stop a terrorist plot. Luthor is also there along with homeland security. But when they arrive, it’s not criminals or terrorists, just an abandoned dwelling full of squatters and vagrants, but homeland security open fire while Yuki and Martyn watch in horror. The news reports it as if Homeland busted a volatile terror cell, except for Yuki who asks viewers to question what evidence or weapons they had to show. It nearly costs her her job, but she has a solid contract and great lawyers. Kyra thanks her, but then they are attacked at the Red House. The whole plays explodes. “No one saw anything.” 

She and Luthor drink their problems away and then she goes back on air and proclaims that she is always on the side of truth and she will make sure that the responsible party -no matter who they are- is dragged into the light.

The Movement #12

The final issue. I’m heart broken. This was a consistently good series with unique characters and nods to the rest of DC Comics, Gail Simone’s other titles and Coral City’s sister city Gotham. 

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Freddie Williams II has always provided art that well suits the feel of this title, but it’s above and beyond when we’re treated to a 2 page spread of Virtue’s ultimate dream for “The Movement”: Virtue and crew are fighting side by side with Justice League bigwigs. Mouse vs. Cheetah, Katharsis sword fighting against Deadpool, Virtue throwing down against Sinestro. It’s gorgeous and really showcases all that Channel M’s hacktivists could have accomplished. I’m so bummed. Virtue thought they could be big like the JLA, but with a twist, they could show people that empathy was as important as strength, that anyone could be a hero, “But then I remembered that I live here. In the ‘tweens. And they were never going to ask us to join a club that lives on mount Olympus.” 

24 hours ago (after a “we’ve come so far” montage where Burden cracks a joke and Mouse finds a new woman to like) Mr. Cannon infiltrates the sweatshop. He tells them that his son is the Cornea Killer. And that he needs to be stopped. The Movement confronts them and offers him an easy way. Come quietly and he’ll go to the police… if not, “the ‘tweens gets some of its blood back.” The Cornea Killer does not comply. In a twist, Cannon has Whitt on back up to take out The Movement. 

The Cornea Killer sacrifices himself in front of Whitt’s bullet to save his father. But it’s too soon, Vengeance Moth takes out Whitt before anyone dies. We get Holly’s whole backstory as told to Captain Meers and it all ends on a note of hope instead of death or disbanding. 

Gail Simone did a wonderful job wrapping everything up, I hope to see Virtue make a comeback somewhere in Gotham. I enjoyed the DIY nature of the heroes in this book, they’re a resourceful bunch, I’m sure they’ll pop back up somewhere. I hope. I’m really sad to see this one go. It’s one of the only DC series that I read and the only I actually consistently enjoy. I think this could have gotten a better start is it wasn’t billed with the Green Team. That one didn’t appeal to me and I think there was a huge misconception that you had to read BOTH; so people missed out. 

Comic-book Catch up #4

Featuring Ms Marvel #3, Tomb Raider #3, Lazarus #8

Ms Marvel #3

Kamala Khan is experiencing the backlash from sneaking out. Her parents are upset, she’s still upset with Bruno. Bruno has his own mayhem happening, his brother asks him to steal from his register at the convenience store. Zoe is getting all the attention for getting saved while Kamala tries to get a grip on her powers and ends up in hiding even though she’s the hero in this story. She’s worrying she’s outgrowing her life “like a pair of pants that no longer fit” and in the next moment she’s confronting both teenage drama and an armed robber head on. G Willow Wilson writes teenage well, and she provides insight to the way that Kamala’s culture separates her from others in Jersey City, but also how it bonds her with her friends. She questions authority but is realistically insecure and charming. 

Tomb Raider #3

We’re treated to a bit more backstory on the hard hitting Reyes. In Dublin, her daughter is in imminent danger from the Solarii cult. They want the artifact Lara stole. Only, she still doesn’t remember it. She tries to lie, but the cult members don’t buy it. Suddenly, someone takes aim and shoots the gangsters and Lara breaks a glass over someone’s head. Meanwhile, Sam is in trouble. Lara and Reyes make a break for it, with the men in hot pursuit, Reyes and her daughter split from Lara (I love when characters don’t all orbit the main protagonist, btw. So Reyes calling Lara out on being the cause of this, on being bad luck. Worthwhile). Lara clubs a goon with the a busker’s guitar and grabs his gun. Reyes’ daughter says she was too mean to Lara. Lara finds out that Sam has been taken and throws down, but one goon sneaks up on her- she averts disaster but causing a soccer riot. But the goons just keep coming. Luckily, Reyes shows her daughter what it means to be loyal and double backs for Lara, with a “Don’t thank me, it was Miss Manners here.” And Lara declares they’ll go back to Yamatai to stop this and save Sam.

Sam Nishimura has the best answering machine message of all time. “I’m either off shooting an award winning documentary or passed out drunk. You know what to do.”

Lazarus #8

The first 5 were amazing, a new series with so much promise. One with a female lead (and still more females with their own agendas) that creates a world that is bleak, violent and corporate. One of all out class warfare. How could I not be in love? But the momentum has slowed, flashbacks to Forever’s childhood bog down the series instead of advance it. Currently, Forever is looking for and IED while the Barretts are looking to go get jobs with the Carlyles, they’re headed for Denver. Them and everyone else. Like pioneers travelling to a new frontier, to their last ditch effort: the road is hard. Worse when Forever finds that Denver is the target of this attack. But her father refuses to cancel the lift. Forever is in a race to stop the plot in the final pages. but it won’t be resolved til next month. 

Lazarus #5

I said this in my review for #4

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I HATE this cover. Forever is a child with her head so big. Stiff arms + no action + zero background art… OMG WHY?! Forever and her Lazurus crush had blown up, fought their way through armed mercenaries. She just found out that her “family” has been lying to her!

But inside “Lift: Part One” it’s all explained. We are back in time. Forever is a child trying to earn her sword and the title of her family’s protector. Her father visits her and she is forced to fight the adult badass Marisol. Forever loses, she is not fit to wear the sword. 

In the present day: Forever apologizes to a woman whose father she executed… takes a cell phone call while she does it. Forever heads to the Mississippi River. She’s after Jonah. SHe also thinks Jonah beat up Joanna. 

Jonah appears to have crossed the Mississippi River… into Bittner and Hock’s territory. Bitterner and Hock lost land and resources in a real war between the 1% itself. Forever antagonizes the other side and in response gets called, “Sweetheart”, “bitch” and receives a rape threat. The trifecta.

Worse when one of them shoots her in the back. Bittner and Hock’s men execute the offending soldier… the only way to avoid war between families.

A family in Montana begs the regional administrator for protection against the flooding. Their about to lose all they have but their “Government” won’t help them. 

In South Central Los Angeles, the devious Joanna plays nice with Forever while organizing workers to get the water and sewage running. They’ve narrowly averted a Cholera epidemic. Joanna is, presenting herself as doing the right thing. Earning back the trust of their… err… her father. 

That family in Montana… they lose everything.

Forever is no closer to knowing who she is.

Really a sad start… since this is a part one, I will stay excited. Excited to see more of Forever’s past, Joanna’s master plan and if the Carlyle’s who seek to exploit the oppressed will be taken down!

The world created here is monumental… while this issue didn’t thrill me, I’m sure it’s setting up to something rad. The disconnect between Forever and the “waste” population. Between Forever and her own siblings who treat espionage, war and profits as their right. Rival families bitter over not the way humans are treated but how much money and resources they are entitled to.

For those of you not sold on monthly issues, waiting for the trade: there’s always extras, timelines, fan letters, columns by Rucka on weirdly real science.

This month’s was on lab grown brains: which you can read about here:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37262/title/Lab-Grown-Model-Brains/

Next month- LIFT: part two

 

Lazarus #4

For those of you who haven’t been following along: The world now lies divided amongst financial boundaries. Wealth is power (but, well… what else is new? amirite?) and that power rests in the hands of a few families.

Forever Carlyle is the Lazarus of the Carlyle family genetically engineered to be unfailingly loyal to her Family and nearly unkillable. Her father dispatches her to avert war with the Morray family while her traitor brother and his twin plot Forever’s demise.

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That’s how issue 3 ended. With Forever and Joacquim (Lazarus for the Morray family) Attacked by a missile… a unit of soldiers are en route to ensure their deaths.

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The explosion leaves her with a broken neck, dislocation of her left shoulder, fractured left wrist, multiple cracked ribs and a penetrating wound through her left thigh.

Don’t worry, to quote her father, “Forever’s a big girl, she can take care of herself.”

Dr. Bethanny Carlyle and Dr. James Mann are monitoring her from afar. Carlyle soldiers move in to finish off Forever. Forever orders them to stop. “To disobey me is to die. To strike me is to die. You will release me at once.” They don’t but Joacquim gets the drop on them and Forever pulls the piece of goddamn car out of her leg and starts beating and stabbing people with it…

…That’s so fucking bad ass…

Meanwhile Joanna (Jonah’s twin) is ordering Mason to beat her up. She’s going to blame it on Jonah.

Who cares? People are getting SUV parts through the neck (the alternation between the two scenes every other panel is genius Lark and Arcas nailed it. It’s beautiful).

Joanna says Jonah better run before the Lazarus gets him.

Forever and Joacquim overtake the soldiers and Forever heads back home… Where she falls for Joanna’s deception and vows vengeance on Jonah. Her father tells her good job with the Morrays….

And then she gets an email saying that he is not her father and this is not her family.

Weird.

Unsurprising, however, since Forever is a lab experiment more than a sibling, a hammer more than a daughter. But she is a person. Somewhat… other than that “no free will of her own” thing.

The story is great, born out of real life weird science and unstable economies. Suped up with motorcycles, swords and hardcore badassery. I’m still kind of hoping for a love story between Forever and Joacquim.

I have to wait 2 months??!?

“Go well, Forever Carlyle”

(Also, if you are in to that sort of thing… Greg Rucka is a good person to follow on twitter he’s always posting interesting science breakthroughs and downright scary socio-political news… because art imitates life until life imitates art. get freaked out.) 

The Movement #5

After panicking and flailing my arms because I could decide what to read first:

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I settled on the Movement #5-

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Channel M/the Movement still has officers Pena and Whitt hostage. They have Katharsis back and they are planning a trial for the two cops.

Captain Meers meets up with Virtue to make a deal. (That cops can patrol the ‘tweens but can be monitored by the Movement. A civilian board of claims for complaints against police. He needs the cops back. He warns her that professional hitmen are coming to stop the Movement.

They meet at a diner called Calvins and dunk donuts in their milkshakes. Virtue doesn’t wear her mask. “Oh no, you might see the skin around my eyes!” (I know, right?)

At the trial in the abandoned warehouse: The officers are being charged with sexual harassment of a minor. Speaking for the defense is Tremor, who we just found out had been the mole in the last issue. Her conscience got the better of her and she truly aligned herself with the Movement. Or that was the idea, anyway.

Whitt refuses to participate. Pena pleads guilty. (Whitt’s still missing a ton of teeth, BTW).

Captain Meers is trying to track down Virtue, guessing at clues about where she might work.

Tremor, defending the officers brings up how Whitt saved an infant from a fire, risking his life. Katharsis angrily points out that it’s no excuse for scaring 16 year olds and attempting to assault them (true again. When charges of rape/abuse/harassment come out- especially when perpetrators are men in authority leads back to “but he’s such a nice guy” “oh I can’t believe he’d do that” Well, he did. and if you do that, you are a bad person. It’s nice to think it’s only evil men…). The victim herself steps up to say how scared and threatened she was and that Pena’s apology means nothing. (And frankly, it doesn’t. they both abused their authority). Whitt says that they don’t know what it’s like for cops, to be in the line of fire, to be helping people but to be disrespected and called “pigs.” (Oh, boo hoo). The officers try to bust out as the Cornea Killer shows up to claim another victim nearby.

Tremor quits?! & Mouse attacks the Cornea Killer until the stalker is backed up by the THE GRAVEYARD FACTION.

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(possibly) Unintentional unanswered question:

Our girl Vengeance Moth was about to get her violence on. Katharsis, who can’t resist a fight… or knocking more teeth out of Whitt’s head… jumps in. Tremor sets of a quake. Katharsis (touching the ground) was hurt and Tremor orders the men out. But Ven was in the air… sooo… why did she let them go?

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The last pages are Calendarman underground reporting for Channel 52, and of course: the big story is Superwoman unmasking Nightwing as Richard Grayson! LOOK YOU CAN SEE THE SKIN AROUND HIS EYES! OMG haha, love it.

This series continues to be great. The Movement is fighting against society’s everyday evils and a very weird killer and now they’re about to face some Super Villains on top of in-fighting as each member tries to figure out what justice really means to them.