Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews: Tomorrowland and The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

Into the future with George Clooney, into the dumper with Tom Six's last trash fest.

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Tomorrowland
Walt Disney Pictures

Tomorrowland has so much going for it that you wonder, as you watch it stretch past the two-hour mark, why it isn't actually going anywhere—or anywhere you feel able to go with it, anyway. The director, Pixar genius Brad Bird, is a master of both digital animation (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and complex live action (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). The top-billed lead, George Clooney, is a star of well-established charm. And the script that Bird has fashioned with cowriter Damon Lindelof (Lost, alas) tells a cute sci-fi story with a bright shiny message of a sort not much heard in these days of dark movie dystopias.

All of which sounds perfect for this Disney film's target PG audience, and you can't help hoping it is. But the story is a little jumbled right from the start. It begins with middle-aged inventor Frank Walker (Clooney) addressing the camera over protests from a young woman named Casey Newton (Britt Robertson). These two have tales to tell—very similar tales. After some introductory squabbling that's confusing at this early point, Frank goes first.

Back in his childhood, young Frank (played by Thomas Robinson) visited the 1964 World's Fair in New York, bringing with him a newly constructed jetpack that he hoped to enter in some sort of junior-inventor's contest. After being turned away by a condescending contest official named Nix (a glowering Hugh Laurie), Frank encountered a mysterious little girl called Athena (Raffey Cassidy). She admired Frank's can-do spirit (asked why he made his jetpack he said, "I got tired of waiting for someone else to make it for me"), and she gave him an odd little pin with a large letter T on it. This pin transports Frank to Tomorrowland, a city of classic futurism: gleaming chrome towers, whispering hover-trains, saucer-y aircraft cruising through the skies. Young Frank thought he'd found a cool new home. But then he angered Tomorrowland's mayor (or something–it's Nix again), and soon found himself banished. Back in the present day, he's been nursing his bitterness ever since.

We miss Tomorrowland immediately, and soon we're missing Clooney, too—he spends the next hour or so back in his trailer while Robertson's Casey takes over the narrative. (Which is fine—she and the freckly Cassidy are the real stars of the show.) We grow antsy watching Florida girl Casey attempting to sabotage the dismantling of a NASA launch site where her father (Tim McGraw) is employed. But then Athena reappears, gives Casey one of those Tomorrowland pins, and the story gathers speed, with a gang of black-clad robot guys weighing in to keep things hopping.

A number of wonderful scenes follow. There's some frantic action at a sinister memorabilia shop (run by Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key). And when the action switches to Paris, Bird engineers an Eiffel Tower sequence that makes CGI spectacle seem wholly fresh again. Back in Tomorrowland, there's a passing shot—no more than a few seconds—of a series of diving pools that has a lovely offhand enchantment.

But these scenes are interspersed with passages of unexciting exposition that prevent them from melding into a satisfying whole. And all of the Disneyism on display grows a little oppressive (we see both Disneyland and Disney World, and there's a scene set in the It's a Small World water ride that Disney introduced at that 1964 World's Fair). There's also an odd, creepy vibe given off by the relationship between Frank and Athena. He fell in love with her as a boy; now he's a grown man and she's still 12, but his continuing infatuation is obvious.

The movie is really undone by its overbearing message, which is admirable in its space-age optimism but trite in its effect. Tomorrowland, we learn, was built by the best and brightest of the human race (surely Ayn Rand has a seat on the city council) as an escape from the collapsing world of the present day. But Casey believes that earthly doom is not foreordained—that if we just look on the positive side and set about finding solutions for contemporary problems, everything will work out fine. It's hard to imagine any rational person disagreeing with this point of view. But when the most pressing problems to be overcome are explicitly listed (they range from global warming to "the obesity epidemic"), we feel a familiar political wind wafting in. Are we really in Tomorrowland, or someplace closer to Hollywood?  

IFC Films
IFC Films

The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

If he has accomplished nothing else—and Lord knows, he hasn't—Dutch filmmaker Tom Six has managed to give political incorrectness a bad name. Six's Human Centipede trilogy, of which Final Sequence is the concluding installment, hammers away one ostentatiously gross idea—the stitching together of human victims, mouth to anus, to form a "centipede" with one common gastrointestinal system. The initial film in this series, the 2009 First Sequence, featured three such victims, and was an effectively appalling midnight movie. The unnecessary followup, Full Sequence, shot in black and white and upping the segment count to 12, was peerlessly grotty and already boring. Now, with Final Sequence, Six enters a new realm of dismal tedium.

Dieter Laser, the serpent-faced German actor who played the mad doctor in the first film, is back, this time playing Bill Boss, the demented warden of a desert prison so vile that the governor of whatever state we're in is determined to shut it down. (The governor is played with check-cashing detachment by Eric Roberts, an actor who was once nominated for an Oscar.) The warden's accountant (Laurence R. Harvey, the tub-like star of the second film) has an idea to preserve their jobs. As a fan of the first two Centipede films, he suggests pacifying the violent prison populace by sewing the inmates into a super-centipede—200 segments long!

Also passing through this mess are cheery ex-pornstar Bree Olson, who must surely be contemplating a return to her old day job, and Six himself, who swans through the proceedings with smirky irrelevance. Since the big centipede reveal is held back until the picture's end, the movie expends most of its 102 minutes on witless affronts. There are graphic gags about female genital mutilation, male rape and castration, and, inevitably, much worse. The intended effect here is rule-breaking shock; but the movie's execution is too inept to be anything more than numbing.

Six promotes himself as a master of cinematic transgression, but it's transgression at the level of simian poo-flinging. He has little talent for horror—these are not scary movies—and none at all for dialogue, camera placement or any other skills normally associated with competent filmmaking. And yet he's already embarked on another movie, something called The Onania Club. You can guess what it's about, and be bored in advance.         

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60 responses to “Movie Reviews: Tomorrowland and The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

  1. Why is Reason reviewing “Human Centipede”? Are you going to review Japanese tentacle porn next week? If so, I recommend “Fisherman’s Wife 2: The Retentacling”

    1. Well, hundreds of people forced to eat eachother’s excrement is a pretty good description of Congress.

    2. Loder lost a bet?

    3. Because after decades of supposedly serious art critics lecturing us proles on how Transgressive images were Great Art (see tom Wolfe’s THE PAINTED WORD for background) it is culturally important to call out these tiresome, vulgar, stupid little exercises for what they are.

      Before they completely take over.

      1. Transgressive images can be great art. I don’t know that anyone ever claimed that they were always great art.

  2. The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

    Nope.

  3. “Find this and hundreds of other interesting movies at the Reason Shop, powered by Amazon.”

    But I thought Centipede III wasn’t an interesting movie!

    1. That in itself makes it interesting, no?

  4. Wow, Hollywood must be going through a new Golden Age!

    1. In the sense of “golden” used in “golden shower”.

  5. I didn’t even want to know that a second Human Centipede movie existed.

    Thanks a lot.

  6. Serious question. Has Clooney ever made a good movie other than From Dusk til Dawn and the Oceans movies?

    1. People seem to like Oh Brother Where Art Thou? but I have yet to see it.

      1. Damn, I forgot about that. Yeah, its a good movie.

    2. Perfect Storm was good. Oh Brother was OK. Three Kings was lame. That’s about it for his movies that I’ve seen.

    3. Oh, and a coworker said Monuments Men was good, but I haven’t seen it.

      1. I don’t recommend it if you like history at all, as I do. It’s not a horrible movie by any means, but it has the feel of a light-hearted caper through Europe amid WWII (with some obligatory references to how horrible the Holocaust was). It was sort of like Ocean’s 11 in Occupied Europe. Just felt very unserious.

      2. I liked MM. However it’s more of a mystery than a war-action story. Which is why my wife liked it as well. And it’s a part of WWII seldom told.

    4. I enjoyed ‘Burn After Reading’ but then again a lot of people did not. But Clooney was pretty funny in it.

    5. Sure, lots. His Coen brothers work is good to great. Gravity. Out of Sight is a classic. Good Night and Good Luck is solid. I think Three Kings is great. The Descendants wasn’t great, but it was a good little film with some good acting from him. I’ve heard people say The American is a really solid genre piece. Michael Clayton. Fantastic Mr. Fox.

      And, of course, Batman and Robin.

      1. Batman and Robin sucked so bad that the entire theater I was in passed out from oxygen deprivation.

      2. The American fucking sucks but other than that I approve of your list.

        1. And obviously Batman and Robin was terrible but I assume you were joking there anyway.

    6. Out of Sight. Not to mention Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly good in this film.

    7. The Men Who Stare at Goats was not terrible.

      1. That’s probably the best praise for the movie I’ve come across. Clooney’s role in the film is great, however, but there’s only so much an actor can do to fix a shallow slapstick comedy pretending to be a Coen bros-level satire.

    8. I liked Men Who Stare at Goats. And since I’m totally not normal, I also liked him in the remake of Solaris (which was actually approachable, unlike the original).

  7. If he has accomplished nothing else?and Lord knows, he hasn’t?Dutch filmmaker Tom Six…

    Not a big fan of his earlier work, like Gay in Amsterdam? Homophobe! 😛

    Seriously though, I thought the first Human Centipede movie was OK for what it was. (Plus it resulted in a pretty good South Park spoof episode.)

    The sequel, however, was abysmal.

  8. The ninnies that run the world of Fine Art will hotly deny this, but the HUMAN CENTIPEDE films are a logical inference once you tolerate “art” like Andres Serrano’s PISS CHRIST. Both are vulgar, tiresome, devoid of anything smacking of artistic talent, and exist exclusively to allow a small group of nastly little minds to feel they’ve gotten away with something. The sole difference is that Serrano received public moneys to display his little adolescent excressence, and so far as I know the twit resonsible for the films did not, though it would not astonish me to learn that he had.

    1. I’m sure the studio that produced this shit got subsidies. They all do.

    2. Oh, Jesus Christ. Piss Christ is quite a nice and interesting image, I think. The only thing remotely vulgar about it is the title. Why do people always use it as an example of vulgar, offensive art? It just isn’t.

      And please, please stop with the “art” in quotation marks. You might not like it. It’s still art.

      If you aren’t interested in art, which seems to be the case, you aren’t required to have an opinion. In fact, I would advise against it as it makes you sound like an idiot. If you just want to look at nice landscapes and portraits, tha’ts fine. But don’t act like there isn’t more to art than pretty pictures.

  9. The unnecessary followup…was peerlessly grotty and already boring.

    Well done. The only other time I ever heard that word used was with Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier in Sleuth. I wonder which is the better movie?

    1. There are unexposed rolls of 8mm film that are better movies than any of the three CENTIPEDE films.

      1. Ah, you saw that amazing film adaptation of 4’33”

  10. Let me get this straight, what the cool people think is offensive and unredeeming is, in fact, offensive and unredeeming, but what the squares think is offensive and unredeeming is actually just too cool for them to get? Yes, I’m sure this is a repulsive movie like the others and an exercise in ineptitude and horrible aesthetic sensibility, but I think there is a sliding scale with mere repulsiveness at one end and edgy iconoclasm at the other end and what determines where something is placed on the scale is the degree of consensus coolness involved. Or something to that effect.

    1. Give Loder some credit. Unless somebody can pint me to something he’s said or written defending NEA support of tripe like PISS CHRIST, I tend to assume that (as an ostensible Libertarian) he supports the artists right to make fools of themselves in public, and derides the idea that they deserve public monies.

      It is the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressive establishment that deserves to have the CENTIPEDE films crammed up their backsides, sideways.

    2. On the other hand, how many of the people who are outraged by “Piss Christ” get positively giddy about “Draw Mohammed Day”? Both of them are interesting in a way the Centipede films never do, not because they have any artistic value in and of themselves, but because the reactions they precipitate say something interesting about society (with the usual libertarian disclaimer that this still doesn’t mean it should have gotten government subsidy).

      1. That’s one of the dumbest false equivalencies I’ve ever seen.

        Here’s the winning picture at the Mohammad contest. It’s well done, artistic, and has a point – that the artist is drawing the picture specifically because he refuses to bow to outside threats and as a protest on behalf of free expression.

        There’s another picture I can’t find from a French magazine that drew a picture of Mohammad and the face of Mohammad is made entirely out of the phrase “We mustn’t draw Mohammad” repeated over and over again, which makes substantively the same point and is also a legitimate artistic expression.

        Furthermore, the primary outrage over Piss Christ was that it got public funding. I’ve never seen anyone argue the guy shouldn’t have been allowed to make it on his own dime.

        1. No. The difference isn’t one of artistic merit. Yes, I agree that PISS CHRIST has none, but that is an opinion. The difference is that PISS CHRIST was exhibited around the country with money from the National Endowment for the Arts. Public money. It would be just as outrageous if the Mohammed cartoons were being exhibited with public funds.

        2. “the primary outrage over Piss Christ was that it got public funding”

          ding ding ding ding.

          the better example stormy might have gone for was the thing where Giulinani wanted to prevent the display of a picture of the Virgin Mary smeared with Elephant Dung in the Brooklyn Museum

          http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb…..-art_10-8/

          he deemed it “anti-catholic” and threatened to revoke the museum’s lease.

          Which, when you boiled away a lot of the legal technicalities, turned out to be censorship. it would have been different if the museum had never agreed to do the exhibit in the first place for reasons of public interest, but isolating the one work after accepting the exhibit turned out to be a legal fail.

          however, using this example would have required that Stormy think it through first.

          FWIW, i agitated on behalf of the museum back then. (*to my very-catholic father’s dismay). It was a “libertarian moment” for me, because I thought Giuliani was one toke over the line trying to dictate what goes in museums, among other things.

      2. I’m not outraged by PISS CHRIST. Bored, maybe. I’m outraged that some self-important twits feel it is an acceptable use of public money to display the thing. If some body managed to get public money for an exhibit of the “Draw Mohammad” works, I would feel the same. It is unacceptable to spend public funds on a gratuitous insult to some of the taxpayers.

        1. What art museums don’t get public money? Why single out Piss Christ? Works of old masters are just as publicly funded in many cases. It is a fine work of art. You are clearly willfully ignorant about art. Please stop.

    3. I don’t understand your comment, but I find it offensive and unredeeming.

    4. We should go back to the patronage system, if it was good enough for da Vinci…

      Needing govt subsidies for your “work” is a tacit admission that there is no demand for it.

  11. Tomorrowland has so much going for it that you wonder, as you watch it stretch past the two-hour mark, why it isn’t actually going anywhere?or anywhere you feel able to go with it, anyway.

    … with cowriter Damon Lindelof (Lost)…

    A wandering plot that fails to satisfy from a Lost writer? The HELL you say!

    1. Talk about unexpected plot twists!

  12. Six promotes himself as a master of cinematic transgression, but it’s transgression at the level of simian poo-flinging. He has little talent for horror?these are not scary movies?and none at all for dialogue, camera placement or any other skills normally associated with competent filmmaking.

    Wow, first earlier this week Gillespie call Sid Blumenthal “the human equivilent of a semen stained dress” and compared him to “shit flinging howler monkey” and now this.

    IMO, too many opinion jounalists play way too nice with people who are talentless hacks and/ or complete scumbags with no redeeming qualities, so I like it when they say how they how they really feel withno pulled punches.

  13. Two Human Centipedes, One Cup will be his next endeavor.

  14. I was hoping Clooney was in the Centipede movie

    Because that might have been worth seeing.

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  16. They missed a chance to revisit the real-life adventures of Dominic Tucci at that same World’s Fair. Tucci stowed away in a lifeboat, bathed and gathered real silver coins in the fountains, and had a rollicking good time.

  17. I was hoping tomorrowland would be good but suspected not. I can wait for Netflix 😉 what I don’t understand why anyone would take time to watch any of the Centipede movies much less review one. But then I’ve never bothered to see Saw either.

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  19. I am here to warn everybody. Tomorrowland is one of the worst POS I have seen in a long time. There is nothing good about it.

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  22. “the script that Bird has fashioned with cowriter Damon Lindelof…”

    And yet you’re still mystified that the story doesn’t go anywhere? Damon Lindelof is like Rockne O’Bannon. Being the kiss of death doesn’t stop either of them from getting more work.

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  24. Tomorrowland is being made carefully and many people are looking forward to it .The Human Centipede III is also a good movie

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