Too Much, Too Little: Taking
, Ninja Assassin
Both “Taking Woodstock” and “Ninja Assassin” are too much, too
little in their own ways.
” is too much leading up to the big 1969 concert event, and too little
actually enjoying it. In fact, we
see none of it at all, either real, imagined, or reconstructed.
What this film is really about is a small Jewish family---Mom, Dad, and
grown son---who own a run-down motel in the Catskills.
They bicker with each other, but are somehow bonded by all the
scrimping and scraping a bare subsistence living in their run-down, flea-bag
motel. Elliott (Demetri Martin)
tries to be entrepreneurial, but it just isn’t happening, until, that is,
the big concert event of the century just happens to land in his backyard.
He’s absolutely overwhelmed, as everyone else is, by the mass of
humanity that begins to flood their tiny hamlet, in the classic “peace and
love” get-together of the height of hippiedom.
Of course, the euphoria would be short-lived, but it was a unique
moment in time, and that part of it, at least, we viewers catch a glimpse of,
but only through the wooden fence, as it were.
The concert is playing just beyond, and though we can tell that
there’s music going on, we can’t really hear it, much less marvel at the
once-in-a-lifetime gathering of musicians there.
It would be like making a movie of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, but
from the point of view of German command headquarters in Calais----close
enough to sense that something momentous is happening, but too far away to
actually be an eyewitness to it. As
event, we have gratuitous nudity and drug usage, but some concert footage
would have been nice……
“Ninja Assassin” is too much kung-fu action and too little
character development. It had a
chance, too, in the buildup: orphan
boy gets raised as a ninja, and recruited to be a cold-blooded assassin, but
after his first “assignment,” realizes that he has a conscience.
That’s inconvenient, because now the whole “brotherhood” is after
him because of his “betrayal.” Yes,
the kung-fu fighting is spectacular, but it would help more if the main
character really was trying to re-form himself, rather than just being
“badder” than everyone else. There’s
a promising couple of moments, when he takes an interest in a woman, but,
alas, she’s either helpless or hopeless in his world, so there’s no chance
for a real relationship here. “Ninja
Assassin” is a guilty-pleasure movie for the hand-combat aficionado, but too
little letup in the blood-spurting, limb-chopping violence for anyone else.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace