Saturday, July 11, 2015

Self/less Review

I really don't understand the title of this movie or why it's stylized the way it is. Self/less? I'm trying to figure out what that means and why they felt the need to put a slash in the middle of the word "selfless" to come up with the title of the movie. Oh well. A title's a title. When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was intrigued. I really love a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller. I was hoping that this movie would turn out as such. But it was a proceed with caution sort of thing, not letting myself get too excited, because this could go one of two ways. It could be like this year's Ex Machina, which is still one of my top movies of the year. If you haven't seen it, then you need to fix that. The other direction this could go is last year's Transcendence, which had good ideas that were extremely poorly executed. Early reviews started to clue me in that this would sadly turn out more like Transcendence, but I still held out hope because there have been movies like this that the critics hated, but I enjoyed. Critics weren't too nice to Lucy and they hated Chappie. I loved Lucy (ha ha, that wasn't intentional, but I do enjoy the show I Love Lucy) and I enjoyed Chappie. So yeah, there was hope. Unfortunately, though, I do have to side with the critics on this one. Self/less is about as weird and dumb as the title of the movie. You can kinda see where they are coming from, but overall it's a miss.

The idea of this movie is not an original one. I was watching a review just now from YouTube channel "What the Flick" and on there Alonso Duralde mentioned that there is a 1966 movie directed by John Frankenheimer called Seconds that Also said is this movie done right. I haven't seen that movie, but I go look it up on IMDb and this is what I read, "An unhappy middle-aged banker agrees to a procedure that will fake his death and give him a completely new look and identity - one that comes with its own price." Yup. That's what I essentially just watched with Self/less. That movie is at a 7.7 on IMDb and a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently I need to go give that movie a shot so I can see this premise executed well, because it is an interesting premise. In the movie, Ben Kingsley plays a very rich man who is dying of cancer and is approached by a guy who offers him to take part in a procedure where he can essentially gain immortality by putting his soul into a young man's body and live life again. But of course this comes with a price. A price that Ben Kingsley is not informed of until after he is conned into going forward with this and is already in the body of Ryan Reynolds.

I won't inform you what this price is because I don't like spoiling movies for people on my blog unless I have already warned them early on in the review. This is not a spoiler review. No spoilers. However, if you have no interest in this movie and you just want to know what happens, go watch the trailer. It's all in there. Like pretty much the whole movie. I'm wondering when studios will ever learn that they DON'T need to spoil their movie to get people to see it. Seriously. But even so, if you just think about the potential outcomes of this movie, you can probably successfully think of exactly what is going to happen. That's one of the big problems here. I like a sci-fi thriller like this to surprise me by taking some crazy twists and turns. One of the best moments in film is that jaw-dropping moment where you can't believe what just happened. I wanted that to happen in this movie. It didn't. It was just a by-the-numbers sci-fi flick that does pretty much exactly what you would expect by reading the plot. No twist. No turns. Not even much suspense. It was just pretty boring and bland.

The other big problem is that when I go see a movie like this, I want it to actually be thought-provoking. When you leave a movie theater and you are just lost in thought by how deep and interesting the movie was, that's another really good moment in film. Nope. Not here. In fact, not to far into the movie it actually almost stopped being a sci-fi movie and just became a brainless action film. I was like, what? What's happening? Why is Ryan Reynolds suddenly a Jason Bourne-like action star? It didn't make sense. There was no build up. This new body this character was in wasn't this super athletic, coordinated action star. He was a family man. Well, kind of. But when Ben Kingsley turned Ryan Reynolds starts to figure things out, at that very second, this company is somehow right there and they try to stop him. And for some weird reason, they know exactly where he is going to be every step of the way before he even knows it. How everything turns out is even more ridiculous. I can do brainless action movies. But I have to be prepared for a brainless action movie. When a sci-fi thriller becomes a brainless action without hardly warning me, there's a problem. I could even dive more into the brainless part because there are a lot of plot holes and elements of the plot that just don't make sense, but I think you get my vibe.

If there is an area where this movie does get a plus, it's in the acting category. Ben Kingsley is in the beginning of this film and he is good in the film, but since that's all he's in, the person that deserves attention here is Ryan Reynolds. For all intents and purposes, he looks like he's having fun throughout, which is a plus. I also really like the guy on an acting level. He's a good actor. He does a good job in this. He's just stuck in a movie with a lot of bad writing. Coincidental or not, I've also noticed that this is a trend for Ryan Reynolds. He's a good actor who for some reason is just not in a lot of good movies. Green Lantern, R.I.P.D., and now this are good examples of the types of movies he is in. I really like The Croods, but he's just a voice actor there. I liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine more than most people, but I will admit that his version of Deadpool in that is pretty darn weak and I'm glad it's getting a proper redo next year. The Proposal? Is that really his best film? I guess so. I do think that's a decent film. But being classified as the best movie that Ryan Reynolds is in seems pretty sad. Sorry girls. Don't hurt me too much for saying that.

Overall, this wasn't a movie that was hard to sit through, but it's not one that's worth your time or money. Ben Kingsley, Ryan Reynolds, and the other actors in this movie do a good job acting. The cinematography is fine. The idea of the movie is an interesting one, but that idea in someone's mind didn't translate to paper or film quite right. I'm not sure who to point to for blame. The movie is directed by Tarsem Singh and written by David and Alex Pastor. Those three might be good candidates for blame. But whatever the case, this just didn't work out. July is a pretty crowded month with Inside Out and Jurassic World acting as excellent June hangovers into a loaded month of huge new releases. Because of that, this movie didn't get a huge release and it's not getting a lot of attention. This is a good thing. There are a lot of great movies out right now and a lot of interesting ones coming up, so please do yourself a favor and forget about this movie. Don't see it. It's not worth it. There are too many movies out there that deserve being seen right now, so don't waste your time with this one. My grade for Self/less is a 5/10.


  1. Looks like it could be pretty good. Finally a movie that's not a reboot. A fresh concept.

    1. No it's not a fresh concept. This exact premise has been done a few times before