Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: "The Bad Batch" --Can a film be a trainwreck and a triumph?

The Bad Batch Review
Like most people, when I see a movie, I either like it or I don't. Its a common reaction when anybody decides to watch a movie, watch a sporting event, listen to music, read a book, so on and so forth. You will either have a positive or a negative reaction to it. Maybe sometimes it will be uneven, maybe there will be things you like and things you don't like, but your heart tends to pull further in one direction over the other. There have been plenty of movies I have liked and possibly just as many as I have detested, but there aren't too many that I both like and dislike so much that I can't figure out where my heart truly lies. Such is the case with "The Bad Batch."

"The Bad Batch" is like an artsy-fartsy "Mad Max." It takes place in a dystopian future. For reasons never explained, parts of Texas have been shut down and walled off by the rest of society. Whenever this society deems someone deplorable, they are taken out of society and are forced to fend for themselves. A girl named Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is thrown into this undocumented world. And only a mere few minutes into walking in this deserted wasteland, she is abducted by two people on a golf cart. She taken to a place called Comfort, which is a colony of cannibals. Her leg and one arm is cut off for consumption. She is held prisoner for her body parts, until she escapes. 

I should say up front that "The Bad Batch" will feel like a silent movie to most, there is little to no dialogue in the movie, and there are entire stretches of film with no talking at all. Its a ballsy move to make, and I think it will lose some members of the audience, you feel something happening on screen should involve talking. Me? I liked most of it, but there were parts that didn't work for me, just like with every movie. I think there is only enough material in "The Bad Batch" for a short film, and that material got stretched across two hours. That's easily the biggest problem with the film. Others may say that its a weird silent film, and its definitely very arthouse in its execution. But its well made execution. I just wish it had more story to serve for all the eye candy.

Its interesting because all the good stuff is so good that it feels like it should be in a movie with a better screenplay. The visuals of Comfort and other places Arlene goes are striking. The costumes are mesmerizing. The cinematography is top-notch. There are several well-known pop songs that are used to a haunting and sometimes dreary effect in the movie. Jason Mamoa gives a wonderful performance as The Miami Man, a cannibal from Comfort who is at odds with Arlene. Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna and even Jim Carrey show up and disappear in roles that you'll miss if you blink. Its a very well acted movie, and Keanu Reeves of all people gives a performance high in his career.

But like I said, it features a story so paper thin that it should have been a short film. Like something you make in film school, not something you prepare to release to the masses. Plus, it a little disappointing to see so much good work go towards something that doesn't have much going on in it. Its tough watching so much good work go towards a story so sloppy. But I am at odds with "The Bad Batch," because there are characters and moments in this film that have ingrained themselves into my brain. Will they still be there a week from now? A month from now? Who knows. They certainly have potential. "The Bad Batch" is a movie you feel emotionally more than anything else, and its a movie I think I may revisit just for certain scenes. I am just not sure if I will want to watch it all the way through again.


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