Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Crap: Branded

Are you ready for some lying?  Today's film is Branded, a film that abruptly got a bunch of ads run for it the week before it premiered, bombed and then fell off the face of the Earth.  It's on DVD though, so I Netflixed it.  That's a word now, you know.  So, in order to truly understand why I reviewed this movie, I want you to see the trailer.  To be fair, it's not a complete lie like the Paranormal Activity 3 Trailer or the Highlander: Endgame 'Magic Trailer.'  If you know anything about this movie, it's probably from the Trailer.  Let's dispel all of that, shall we?  Branded tells the tale of a Russian Ad Exec whose life takes a weird turn after a major PR Fiasco.  He comes home to find something weird going on that only he seems to be aware of.  How can he stop this menace?  There will be SPOILERS, but you will thank me later, I think.  To find out, read on... 
It's a tired old cliche.  Try to stay with me...

A young boy in Russia is struck by lightning from Ursa Major (who's also the Narrator).  This makes him see the error in Communism and pursue a career in advertising.
In the present, we are treated to some awkward narration to explain our hero's present situation.  He's working on a reality show in Russia, although he's actually a British Ex-Pat (and Tom Stoppard's son).
He's working on a 'Get Skinny by Surgery' Reality Show Produced by his boss' daughter.  All is going well until...
...the woman goes into a coma during one of the surgeries.  There's an uprising against him and people like him, the boss dies and he moves away from the city.

If you're wondering why this has nothing to do with the evil Advertising Monsters, it's because it doesn't.  Well, mostly.
You see, this is all a set-up by a secret cabal of people led by Max Von Sydow.  I love you, Max, but this is one of the silliest things you've done for money.  Yes, even counting Flash Gordon.
So the film cuts to SIX YEARS LATER and our hero does some weird ceremony that involves butchering and burning a red (yes, red) cow.  When he comes back, he finds his lady had a son and that he can see shitty CG creatures everywhere.

They are the representations of the brands and our desire for them.  No, really.
His plan to change this involves corrupt marketing and turning the brands against each other.

As for the 'evil guy who runs the world' plot, it ends abruptly when he gets struck by lightning.  Deus Ex Bullshit.
The high point (for laughs) involves the brands- shown here as terrible CG monsters sometimes based on familiar shapes (Soda Soda- aka Coca Cola- is a Transformer made out of a Soda Bottle)- fighting in the city.

They cause no actual damage, of course, as they are merely theoretical concepts that only this crazy guy...I mean, our hero, can see.
The film ends with all advertising in the World being outlawed, something that pleases Ursa Major (or whatever it is) here.  Hurray for millions of unemployed?  The End.
This is the stupidest smart film that I've ever seen.  You want to make a film that diagnoses us as being controlled by corporations and advertising?  That's fine.  My all-mighty ruler Microsoft will be upset, but I'll live.  That said, make a good movie about that.  Instead, they made a poorly-paced film that just sets up some of the silliest use of CG this side of the baby from Breaking Dawn: Part 2.  Seriously though, why is that baby CG?!?  This movie suffers from problems that could be easily fixed.  One- don't make the set-up part take nearly an hour.  Second- remove the heavy-handed narration and just have the star narrate.  It's his own life, for crying out loud!  Third- make the CG creatures (if you must use them) either look better or less goofy.  This CG is laughably-bad.  It's the flying shark (not the stretched JPEG one) from Jaws in Japan bad.  It's 'The Asylum can actually do better' bad.  Fourth- be less preachy.  A lecture on the origin of marketing going back to Lenin is not necessary.  If you're an English Major (not that there's anything wrong with that), you don't have to be a dick about it!  As a side-note, what's the deal with American films being filmed and set in Russia?  My DVD actually came with a trailer for The Darkest Hour (ha ha ha- pun title)- another film like this.  That's weird, right?  This film might be good if you want to be confused, but otherwise it kind of sucks.  I will give you points for making fun of the Resident Evil films...
Next up, an Indy film with a far-out premise.  Will this homage plot be good or just make you yearn for the real thing (or the multiple Remakes)?  Stay tuned...

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