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October 17, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-17

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 7A

'Arrow'hits a high mark

CBS FILMS
"So how much are they paying you to be in this movie?"
Clever confusing
'Psychopaths'

Superhero show
works within
limitations
By SAM CENZHANG
Daily Arts Writer
A compelling superhero origin
story has a lot in common with a
successful television pilot. The
past few years
have seen a glut
of blockbust-
ers explaining Arrow
a superhero's
traumatic past Pilot
and whence his Mondays at18 p.m.
powers came,
then launching The CW
their respective
franchises with the initial, bring-
the-team-together fight. Just like
in a pilot, character outlines and
plot elements have to be made
clear without dwelling too much
on background or exposition,
because, after all, we're there to
see some ass-kicking.
What makes the "Arrow"
so successful really doesn't
have much to do at all with the
eponymous Green Arrow's ori-
gin story, which the pilot leaves
deliberately vague. To sum up:
Wealthy playboy Oliver Queen
is stranded on an island and
presumed dead, then mysteri-
ously becomes a martial arts and
archery master and comes back
to wreak havoc on the corrupt
wealthy of his city. The absent
mythology is unmissed. The
episode had plenty of cheesy
expository lines and hammy
voiceover from Queen (Stephen

By AKSHAY SETH
. Daily Arts Writer
The first scene in Martin
McDonagh's recent film "Seven
Psychopaths" evokes classic
Tarantino - a
forcibly boring **-
setting, pains-
takingly "nor- Seven
mal" characters Psychopaths
and, of course,
dialogue. Pithy, At Quality 16
nonchalant, and Rave
beautiful dia-
logue. From a CBS Films
distance, it's
just two run-of-the-mill mob
hitmen shooting the shit as they
prepare to brutally execute their
boss's ex-girlfriend. But sitting in
the theater, it's a bracing display
of how effective writing can take
complete hold of how the most
overused, rundown movie tropes
can come to life on screen.
Those first five minutes, along
with a few more moments littered
throughout the movie, are some
of the most entertaining snippets
of film released this entire year.
The rest of the flick, for lack of a
better phease, sucks. It's boring,
scatterbrained and overwhelm-
@ ingly plagued by McDonagh's
feeble attempts at ridiculing the
predictability of modern Holly-
wood. Even though the assertion
is valid, it's psychopathic (get it?)
to try and demonize the notion of
predictability by making a film
so completely defined by its own
unpredictability.
Don't get me wrong - some
strangeness can go a long way. But
McDonagh isn't just satisfied by
making his plot weird. No, he has
to randomly stick in three more
bizarre stories that serve only
to disrupt the film's already off-
kilter pacing. Why do the stories
seemingly appear out of thin air?
Perhaps the-oldest excuse in the
book: The main character, Marty
(Colin Farrell, "Total Recall"), is a
Hollywood writer suffering from
alcoholism and a severe case of
writer's block.
Marty's current project is
a script called "Seven Psycho-
paths," about a group of uniquely
insane individuals on a quest. The
problem is, Marty doesn't know
who the psychopaths are, or what

the quest is. The onlythings set in
stone: The movie can't have too
much violence and can't end in
a massive shoot-out. It's a shitty
idea and Marty, knows it. So as
he struggles to string something
together before deadline, our
beleaguered protagonist hesitant-
ly accepts the help of Billy (Sam
Rockwell, "Moon") and Hans
(Christopher Walken, "Click"),
scam artists who make a living by
kidnapping dogs and then return-
ing them for the reward.
Maybe it
should have
oniy been four
psychopaths.
As it so happens, the duo's lat-
est victim is a shih-tzu owned by
the fiercest dog-loving mob boss
in town (Woody Harrelson, "The
Hunger Games"). Finally, just as
the fun starts and the dog hunt
begins, McDonagh's film col-
lapses in on itself and simply stops
being entertaining. The surpris-
ing part is that the performances
by the three leads never slip into
that same category.
All the cheesy impersonations
aside, the fact of the matter is that
Walken is the type of actor who
could stand in a corner reading
an encyclopedia and somehow
manage to make it entertaining.
So when "Seven Psychopaths"
starts to feel drawn out and irrel-
evant, the character the audience
really looks toward is Hans who,
through his wonderfully accented
quirks and mannerisms, is able to
keep them chuckling along.
But McDonagh has never
really had a problem coming up
with fascinating characters or the
necessary dialogue to keep them
interesting. The trouble is that
after looking past all the clumsily
executed side-stories and sub-
plots, no concrete narrative exists
to dictate the flow. And maybe
that lack of structure is exactly
what McDonagh was going for,
but for god's sake, Marty, why
does it have to be so damn boring?

Putting the hood in Robin Hood.
Amell, "Hung"); it is, after all,
a CW production. Despite that,
it moves at a brisk pace, and if
anything more had been added,
it probably wouldn't have sus-
tained the viewer's credulity or
attention.
It's clear that the Green Arrow
of the original comics is heav-
ily indebted to Batman, right
down to having an "Arrowcar"
and an "Arrowcave" - no, seri-
ously. Visually, it's all too easy to
compare "Arrow" to Christopher
Nolan's trilogy. It's a little unfair
that any superhero story with-
out too much sheen immediately
becomes categorized as a "Dark
Knight" clone, but that speaks to
the ubiquity of the Nolan movies
more than anything else.
To its credit, "Arrow" doesn't
really try too hard to be "The
Dark Knight." The glimpses of

Starling City, the New York clone
du jour, show a clear (but not too
onthe nose) contrastbetweenthe
lives of Queen and his plutocrat
friends and those of the strug-
gling poor. The action sequences
are appealingly acrobatic and
choreographed. Most impor-
tantly, there's not a whiff of the
self-important, intellectual pon-
derousness that critics of "The
Dark Knight" accused of drag-
ging down that franchise. While
the dialogue is at times stilted
and certain plot elements exas-
perating, the show is ultimately
enjoyable for its straightforward
approach.
Stephen Amell is a surpris-
ingly solid presence as the Green
Arrow. He had a hard time not
sounding lame with the afore-
mentioned voiceover, but Lau-
rence Olivier himself would have

struggled with lines that clunky.
To Amell's credit, he rises above
the requisite CW cheese, bring-
ing a certain asshole-ish dlan to
the millionaire playboy fagade
that serves as his cover and a
strong physicality to his scenes
as justice personified.
"Arrow" is a series that is well
aware of its limitations, and
never tries to overstep them.
The pilot demonstrated that
the show is well able to sustain
attention through a dynamic
hour, balancing generally well-
executed action, with sprinkles
of exposition, and the end of
the episode managed not to be
the most hackneyed possible
plot twist. For a CW superhe-
ro series, consistently staying
out of its own way is a serious
accomplishment, and "Arrow" is
on target. (Oh God).

THE LOSING STAFF HAS TO POST A
PICTURE TO FACEBOOK WEARING
THE WINNERS' COLORS.
WE DON'T LOOK GOOD IN GREEN.

DON'T LET US DOWN!

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