Apr 2008 14

Richard Kelly’s long delayed and highly anticipated follow up to super cult hit Donnie Darko is an entertaining film that upon first viewing is a bit all over the place, but seems to most likely benefit from repeat viewings.
The film stars a trio of actors, Dwayne “don’t call me Rock” Johnson, Seann William Scott, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and are supported by an endless supply of recognizable faces. The story picks up on Chapter IV of this story and is the continuation of a series of prequel graphic novels that tell the origins of the story the movie throws us right in the middle of. The first ten minutes or so of the movie catch us up on the first three chapters, but to fully enjoy and better understand what is going on in this film I highly suggest picking up the prequel saga.
For those of you not interested in reading a little here is what you need to know. Ever since a nuclear attack in Texas the government has produced a national identification system that can track anyone around the United States causing much anger in the liberal left of the population. Also do to the war in Iraq the U.S. has begun introducing a new type of perpetual motion energy system into use called Fluid Karma. This same Fluid Karma has been used on soldiers in test studies, diagnosing the effects it could have in military combat situations. All of this culminates in a Liberal plot to make sure the conservatives don’t win the state of California in the 08′ election and getting them the Presidency. To make this plot work the Liberal group, the Neo-Marxists, must enlist an amnesiac famous movie star Boxer Santaros (Johnson), kidnap a cop like figure of the day and convince his twin brother to frame him for being a racist (Scott) and this is all only made possible by the help of entrepreneur porn star Krista Now (Gellar). If your still sold on this film after this brief but crazy plot catch up, then congrats because the outcome of all this is an entertaining film that constantly keeps you intrigued and guessing as you try and figure out what the hell is going on.
Now, I will say this, this movie isn’t for someone looking for neat and tidy endings with all the loose ends tied up. Almost none are tied up as a matter of fact, but there is plenty of info left for you to ponder and assess into what it all means. The film is an insane amalgamation of genre and style ranging from comedy, thriller, action, and sci-fi with a few other probably peppered in through out.
The actors all do pretty good jobs here even if most of their roles are kind of thin or one dimensional. It’s nice to see Scott do something other than his shtick and I feel like he is a fairly capable actor. Gellar’s character is great and she sells the part wonderfully, but the film version feels a little lackluster then to what Kelly was getting out of the character in the Prequel Saga novels. Johnson is an odd duck here that is fun to watch as he evolves into this confident bad ass and he plays the part well. The supporting cast also does a great job in bit parts and against type cameos that are almost blink and you miss on occasion.
Southland Tales is a crazy and all over the place film that never fails to intrigue and keep you thinking. The plot turns are solid and the pacing is pretty good as well and like I said before, the film is almost constantly entertaining. Having read the prequel novel twice, I wish Kelly would have just filmed that as well and made an epic piece of cinema that I think would have ultimately worked better as a whole film rather then his experimental prequel graphic novel that I think is almost essential to the full enjoyment of the film. In the end, I think this film will age well like his previous effort, but don’t expect this to touch the excellence of Darko or build as such a large following as that one either.


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