Thursday, August 7, 2014

Her - Review

Strange looking back now that I thought Her looked like a disaster. That Joaquin Phoenix guy was fresh back from madness. The trailer was just odd. Why would anyone, ever, fall in love with a machine? Not even an android. Some little hipster iPhone of a thing. Nevertheless, I pride myself on watching all science-fiction movies so in I went.

The short story, here, is that Her is perfect in every single way. I mean that. Technically flawless. Masterfully told. I saw the film quite a while ago and was excited to review it until I actually sat down to do so. I found I didn’t want to break it down or talk about it. I just wanted to watch it again. I wanted everyone to just watch it. It speaks for itself better than I ever could.

The sole facet that bugged me at first was the wardrobe. I’d call it “hipster” but concede that’s a moving target. Beltless pants from the 70’s or 80’s. Pastel shirts. What it did in the end was make the future feel warm. Free to use Artificial Intelligence and not conjure images of 2001 or Blade Runner in the audience. Without a bloated special effects budget or LED lights glued to every surface, Her sold me on the idea this was a different Earth. My expectations for “normal” human behavior needed to be checked.

Which led right into a smooth introduction of the A.I., Samantha. I imagine, should one find themselves fortunate enough to have a conversation with Scarlett Johansson in bed, this is what she sounds like. Unguarded. She projects nothing. It is only compassion and sweetness. Objections or apprehensions to machine / human bonding are obliterated in scant words and a minute. It’s no longer “if” Theodore will fall in love with her but why is he’s still denying it. This is the first conversation. In which they exchange names. I was floored.

And I stayed right there for the entire movie. Captured? I went along with every movement, no matter how minor. Their relationship was real to me. It ebbed and flowed according to their desires and moods. I don’t see how anyone could turn in better performances. The whole cast. Far from being a silly concept, I thought this was the perfect scenario to explore so much of the modern relationship. Changes arise organically, without the need for external forces to force a choice on either party. There aren’t any tricks to the plot. Her is way too smart for that.

What’s most impressive is not that Her executed perfectly, but that it reached for something new. To be so confident in an off-kilter concept, to play itself out without concession to skeptics. Truly a beautiful project.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - Review

Not even a comic book movie has any right to be as dumb as Guardians is. Had I watched the movie from Zoe Saldana’s lap I’d still complain about it. Yet, that doesn’t matter! The Marvel Fanatics have already, at 5pm Friday, made this some record breaking opening weekend. They don’t read reviews. The people who call this a Star Wars knock-off aren’t going to see it and aren’t reading reviews. For posterity?

Guardians is meant to expand the Marvel Universe. It seems all Marvel movies do anymore is expand. Setup a new “Phase” or character. Credit to those running the studio for seeing, correctly, it doesn’t matter what the plot is. Avengers featured ramping aliens coming through a portal and a nuke nearly going off over New York City. It was monstrously cliché. It was called the greatest superhero movie ever made.

The Guardians juggle a gem of cosmic power, at first for money then because it’s real strong. No, there isn’t anything more to explain than that. No, it’s not symbolic in any way. It’s purple. A big purple guy wants the purple gem so he sends this other, smaller but still pretty large, blue guy to retrieve it. The over anxious Marvel nerd, “talking” in a voice to fill the theater, can tell you why the blue guy is called Ronan the Accuser. Or what the hell a Kree is. But I will save you time and tell you it doesn’t matter.

Another keen insight on display here is that Villains Don’t Need To Have Any Character. Or development. They just need a big, monolithic, spaceship. Made of black stone. Thanos sits on a throne in a field of rocks! Subtle. Our Ronan kills someone within seconds of being introduced. That particular “subplot” is done and over right there. I understand these films are aimed to include children, but as a youngin’, I was quick to understand the dark figure in the dark room wearing dark makeup attended to by darkly robed minions, spouting some nonsense about “wrongs done” to no one, was meant to be the foil. The hammer is an apt choice for him.

The most starling moments of the film were when it ceased to represent any sort of fictional world. I didn’t see aliens, just people in full body paint. Dressed in some stupid costume. And everyone making a complete ass of themselves. Truthfully, I looked away during these moments of intense shame to spare the actor. It was embarrassing for me to be in the theater. To see a movie fall apart like that… Not even the worst of the worst summer blockbuster films have imploded like that. To be dumb not in the service of anything greater. But just to be dumb.

The action sequences were plain, sometimes seeming to be unrehearsed. It was odd, too, to see how little the environment was integrated into the pieces. Everything felt like it was shot in a green room. Just a big, empty, green room. There’s no weight to anything. No imagination given to any sequence. I wouldn’t be surprised if any particular shot was reskinned with X-Wings or whatever the hell else Disney wanted. I could see anyone doing everything the Guardians do.

I’m sure Guardians will be praised and remembered for its humor. This must have been the Funny Committee’s first foray into comedy. The approach is to bookend everything. Throw out a million quips or, if possible, have someone dance. A dumb slapstick moment (see any recent animated feature for examples) followed by a dry observational remark. Maybe two! I found having a ridiculous scene summarized immediately after it occurred with, max, five words, aggravating. The audience I saw it with ate everything up. Barely a flat joke. Chris Pratt did get me a few times despite the low ambition of each bit. If you find teenage boys hilarious, this movie will kill it for you.

I’m trying to understand the popular adjectives slapped on this travesty. “Weird”, “charming”, “unique”. If this is the first science-fiction movie you’ve ever seen, sure! Talking trees are going to blow your mind! Everything felt like a pulpy knock-off to me. It wanted to be B movie but conscious of the fact. It felt like a bastardization of a really great comic book. A 93% on Rotten Tomatoes? As a dumb summer action movie I’d rate Guardians Disappointing. As space-opera I’d call it Abysmal. This is pure Paint by Numbers, Studio drivel. Congratulations on your bajillion dollars. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

X-Men Days of Future Past - Review

The lead up to X-Men was exciting. Not only was there good buzz but this was going to be a reboot, a smart one at that, done inside the universe. Had someone brought intelligence to the X-Movies? Turns out, no. But this one is a lot of fun. Provided you never think of the scientific plausibility of any of it.

Happily, Days of Future Past impresses right out of the gate. FINALLY, it feels like the mutants are up against something that can actually kill them! The rhetoric has always been present but it has, in every instance, come down to mutant versus mutant ideology, played out with a few dissenting mutants versus the larger group.  Fit in or conqueror, be a mutant or don’t, are again played out in shallow form here (offering zero new ideas or arguments the other five movies haven’t used).

The game changer is the Sentinels. They provide real meaning and consequence for the first time in the series. It’s much less the gentlemanly debate and now, more, a mad scramble for survival. The visceral illustration of seeing a robot rip a mutant in half is a more engaging format than stuffy dialogue. A chaotic, crumbling, world fits the X-Men much better than the matching uniforms with one on one matches upon the open battlefield ever did.

This X-Movie is also more realistic on its number of character subplots. New mutants are shown with barely a name, much less the short vignette of past films. Others have howled about the criminal underuse of the series key supports in Days of Future Past. I get that. It was atrocious what they did to Kitty Pride and Bishop might as well not have been cast. I also understand financially and narratively this is Wolverine & Friends, not X-Men. Given the abysmal development of the leads thus far, I’ll applaud a tightening of the belt. I’d rather the X-Verse dig itself out of the hole it’s currently in than adorn the pit with cute branching tunnels.

I didn’t expect much from Quicksilver. His inclusion came late in casting, on top of a mountain of other mutants, and seemed “me too”, being the center of some studio vs. studio power play coming after Joss Whdeon expressed a lot of excitement in featuring the character in the upcoming Avengers 2. Wouldn’t you know, he turns out to be the most fun? In one scene he embodies what I’ve wanted from the series since the beginning. Play with the super powers. Have fun with how these people mock the limits of human ability.

The action, otherwise, seesaws between the incredible and the campy. How many times am I going to watch Magneto vibrate every object in the room for a full minute before he throws something dumb, like a clock, at somebody? His use of a couple ball bearings is a way more fun, interesting, expression of his mastery. Beast jumping through the air? You might as well not have erased the wires for how obvious they still feel. Then we’ll be treated to Colossus supermaning through portals to slam into Sentinels. The unevenness of it strikes me as lazy rather than incompetent. Good ideas are clearly there.

Setting up Mystique as a force unto herself was another one of those good ideas. Ok, her fighting? Let’s stop being critical for a sec. Her fighting is so god damn cool. Matches perfect the style used in X1 through 3. The wild, frenetic, strikes are too fluid for my brain to keep up with. I’d be one of those slack-jawed guards who’s still wondering, after he hits the ground, how her heel got to be there.

The fact that Mystique is the only person concerned with continuity from First Class just makes her even more likeable. While everyone else is droning on about the morality of This and the historical lessons from That, she’s the real, living, center of the film. The grounded perspective. Really, the only person I care about. I’m curious what happens to the other mutants but their journey to philosophical pillar of the universe isn’t why I look forward to the next scene.

Or the next movie. I don’t have a comprehensive spreadsheet for this stuff, but by my count, Days of Future Past fixed all the problems that X3 and Wolverine Origins left. Bravo. It did the smart thing by deviating from established comic book canon, too.

I wish it could get some fresh blood behind the camera. That would really excite me. All the actors are dynamite. Don’t touch a single one of them. But they deserve better. Don’t tell me this is Jennifer Lawrence’s best work. Don’t say Hugh Jackman couldn’t bring a whole lot more to the character. (Ect) They need someone who doesn’t plop the whole franchise on their back. After six X-Films, I think they, and the audience, are owed a little more respect.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

Cap is in some tough straights. His first film was of decided low ambition. It was fantasy thriller. By which I mean the characters gestured at some vague political message while punching each other. His role in the Avengers is easily overlooked, as his super powers don’t yet seem active and he became a naive idealist following World War II…  Wellp, someone fixed all that. Cap shoulder checks his critics and rallies the faithful around a something they can say “That’s why I love the Cap!”

I mean, Ok, a genuine political thriller it is not. But Cap 2 is a lot smarter about what to use. Absurd Nazi scientists are given minor roles before being mercilessly stomped out of canon. Most of the weaker story elements are carry-overs from the comics. They feel like ritual homage. Cap 2 doesn’t celebrate its comic history as much as pass it like a kidney stone. It wants to be better, smarter, but is saddled. It does its best to setup the factions and technology with modern sensibilities but when the punch line is “brainwashed Russian solider”… How is that ever going to feel rational? Larger themes come half-way to respectable. Issues like government overreach born out of zero oversight are hot. Again, the film does so much to come at these ideas honestly but in the end the comic booky-ness steps in and says “Helicarriers with, like, A THOUSAND GUNS!!!”.

Here’s what’s cool and will blow your mind. Captain America actually has badass super powers. I think the highlights from the first movie were 1) Cap running 40mph and 2) Him punching a car window. In The Avengers he nearly died fighting, what, six aliens? Fighting one brainwashed agent with a gun was touch and go. It’s every little thing here. His morning run is something to behold. And no matter how many times its Cap vs a squad of elite soldiers with guns, he makes it fresh. He rampages. I’m watching these sequences in theater wishing so badly I could rewind to see it again. I’m very nearly shouting in my seat. There is not a single bad action piece in the movie. They just get better. I don’t buy movies to own anymore. I see a lot so it’s always “on to the next one”. I cannot wait to rewatch The Winter Soldier. Everything was done Right. He fights like a soldier. But he moves with power well beyond human levels.

That feeling of Rightness is what I found so compelling. Finally, the potential of the concept is realized. Not only the fighting. The relationship between Cap and Black Widow is dramatically different. It’s apparent in the trailer. These characters aren’t a few special effects on top of a stream of shitty one-liners. They’re much more human than other characters in any Marvel movie. The banter is fun, not filler. There isn’t Dead Time. Those moments between major set pieces. If Cap and Widow are going to talk, it’s an honest talk with purpose. When they’re traveling, it’s with style. Even Nick Fury! Who has been the greatest disappointment to me in each film. It’s Samuel L. Jackson! Why is not doing anything Samuel L. Jackson would do? Well, now he does.

Same with Falcon / Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). I thought he was going to get his abrupt little origin. Cap would give him a high-five so audiences would know he’s a good guy. Go see his movie whenever that comes out. No. Captain America does the unthinkable in an action / superhero movie and makes use of its supporting cast. Falcon is integral. What’s more, Mackie is supremely comfortable. He doesn’t try to get a mini Me Too action moment. Or be the funny guy. Or whatever one dimensional archetype. He elevates the movie through simple, authentic, acting. Who the fuck would have thought more actors in a superhero movies would make it stronger?

For my money, Captain America is wearing the crown as far as Superheroes go. Forget Avengers 2 or hoping for another Iron Man movie. What I most want is Cap 3. The universe building was so smart that I hope, so much, that the writers can transition away from the camp (crap) that is holding back Cap from becoming a legitimate movie. ‘Cause The Winter Soldier wasn’t just good comic book movie, it was straight up Good. Restoring my faith the genre won’t become a parody of itself. Contenting itself with lazy plots so long as there is gratuitous fan service to ward off criticism.

(Note: I didn't directly talk about the Winter Soldier because he fits into the "lousy comic book elements" paragraph and the "hype fighting" one. So, there.)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I don’t get it. I thought this reboot was more focused on realism. So why is science thrown out at every turn? I thought, maybe stupidly, that the lead actor should sorta kinda set the tone for a film. Right? Don’t cast Arnold’s Mr. Freeze opposite Christian Bale’s Batman. So why is Jamie Foxx’s character, in his downtrodden nerd form, the most unbelievable thing in a movie about a kid who gets spider powers? It feels like everyone and everything is working against Andrew Garfield’s stellar portrayal of Peter Parker. With a plot that feels equal parts inevitable and filler. This movie was meant as the groundwork towards building Spidey his own universe to play in. As rich as what Marvel is doing with The Avengers. Yet the bigger this one gets, the less focus on Garfield, who was the saving grace of Amazing Spider-Man.

The absurdity of Foxx’s take on Max Dillon cannot be overstated. It is so stupid and over-the-top… but that’s Jamie Foxx. The man has only been good in two movies and in each he mostly kept his mouth shut and let the stronger lead carry his worthless ass for two hours (Collateral, The Soloist). Thankfully when he becomes Electro he does shut-up, and lets his pulsing blue skin do all the characterization for him.

There is fun to be had, though.  The first act is a riot. It was a genuine pleasure watching Spidey be Spidey. The action was fresh, at times exhilarating, that smartly used the CG effects. Even Paul Giamotti’s atrocious take on Rhino can’t really dampen the high spirits. Spider-Man saving a young dork from bullies? Genius! Offers to walk him home? My heart melted. This is where Spider-Man shines. He doesn’t have the powers or time to be saving the world. He’s your buddy who’s also a Superhero. And the filmmakers blew every ounce of creative juice they had for this first act. So enjoy it. What follows may cause you to smirk, or nod your head in sympathy, but it will lack any power to really excite or move you.

Emma Stone is there. I feel like all of her dialogue with Garfield is made-up on the spot. It reaches toward something poignant, funny, but falls short. They talk in circles, padding out the few arguments, but never addressing the core issues. I would kill for ONE! direct conversation. It’s nothing new either. “Oh Peter, I wished you saved fewer lives so you had more time to indulge me”. Might be better if they framed it in terms of Peter protecting his personal life (a la Batman), since losing his mind will become a real issue when groups of villains unite to kill him. And it’d make Gwen seem less The Most Selfish Person on Earth.

The Parker Parents subplot isn’t really allowed to move anywhere. Peter is frustrated, Aunt May is cryptic and unhelpful, I’m frustrated, then a breakthrough! But it’s fragile. If anyone calls Peter, or the fancy catches him to do anything else, or this whole thing takes more than 10 minutes screen time, he’ll drop the mystery of his parent’s death in a heartbeat. Never to rejoin those narrative threads until, presumably, Amazing Spider-Man 3. I want to care but, when the whole thing is used as filler, I can’t.

Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) invigorates the middle act. Like, maybe things will get back on track! The guy is fun, pretty weird, but puts a good tension into Peter’s relationships. Plus, the kid just has a look. If this is your first Spider-Man movie you will point to DeHaan and say “Oh yeah, he turns into something, doesn’t he?”. A lot of the work DeHaan does is by implication. He just seems like a guy who would have a ball running a giant corporation. Or doing whatever he wants around town. Peeks are offered, hints, but the dude should have gotten more screen time. Huge asset.

Then Amazing Spider-Man 2 becomes a turd. I hate to be so crude in describing it. The fighting, though? Becomes really video gamey. There’s one obvious way to damage the boss, so Spidey has to jump through a few hoops before it happens. At one point Goblin holds Spidey’s girlfriend above his head, taunting him. Are we back in Elementary school? The trashy form of CG comes out full force. I feel bad for the artist who meticulously “drew” those buildings fall to pieces over who-knows how many hours but I glazed over it. I’ve seen it a few times before. Thank you Norman Osborn for having a form-fitting rubber suit with lightning accents ready to go. I don’t know if it was the weak script or DeHaan but the Harry Osborn character falls apart. Grinning villains were thrown out decades ago, bud. At least he didn’t speak in puns… The shame is that Garfield could play off a competent adversary so well! He’s not even given a chance.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 doubled down on every mistake from the previous movie. Reneges on its predecessor’s promise of authenticity. It is, unequivocally, a step backwards for Spider-Man. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Son of Batman - Review

There really isn’t any reason at this stage in The Game for a major studio to put out so awful a movie, especially on one of its leading brands. Despite how well established BATMAN is, and how well DC has done with previous animated features (see Under The Red Hood and Flashpoint), Son of Batman manages to screw up nearly everything. The lead-up seemed good! I watched the behind-the-scenes trailer. Every single person on there was passionate and knowledgeable. So… did none of them have anything to do with this film? I noticed the credits didn’t make any mention of Bruce Timm. Is there really no second in all of Warner Bros. to handle this?

I’m all for reinterpretations of characters. But Deathstroke, master assassin / strategist can’t be transformed into an overly talkative, supremely incompetent, whiny, loser. The rest of the cast doesn’t suffer as bad but they each have scenes of acting contrary to their core ideals. It’s not a case of this character doing things “differently”, it’s that they act so blindingly stupid it defies any characterization.

Worse than my favorite people getting mishandled is the wooden everything. It kicks off with a big battle between ninjas with guns and ninjas with swords. Where, for the most part, they stare at each other. Yes, the swordsman square off and then cry out in surprise and pain when they’re shot. The ninjas with guns forget how to use them as soon as they touch ground. They have automatic weapons yet only fire (once) when some moron lunges for them. Not even a ninja lunge. The guy just leaps, sword up, knowing he’ll never bring it down. It’s that level of action throughout. Batman and Robin surrounded by ninja Man-Bats? Everyone pause to think through the situation. Pull out grapple gun. Aim. Shoot. Zip away. Man-Bats track. Take off in pursuit at their leisure. Thrilling.

Deathstroke deserves special mention for being one of the worst voice actors out there. He is the keystone of Wooden in this stale, “would swear it was made decades ago”, mess. Everyone else has forgettable dialogue. A blessing for Damien. Honorary Mention to Talia for the worst seduction scene in any medium. “I missed you… beloved (lifts leg like Captain Morgan)”.

I need to vent. It doesn’t make any fucking sense for Ras’ to be able to deflect bullets with a sword but lose a sword fight because he’s not fast enough. It doesn’t make any fucking sense for an eight year old boy to match strikes with a grown man, WHO IS ALSO ENCHANCED. It doesn’t make any fucking sense for Deathstroke to dodge under Damien’s sword slash. The kid is maybe five feet. Doing that limbo garbage was easier than hopping? No.

The behind-the-scenes trailer discussed, in-depth, the complex interpersonal relationships each of the main characters has to each other. On screen they opted to explore none of it. There’s a quick “this is weird” exchange between Damien, son of Bruce Wayne that he didn’t know about, and father. I’m sure more can be said. I’m sure more was said in the fucking graphic novel this was based on. How hard would it be to lift dialogue directly and plant it into one of the many scenes of awkward no talking? NOT HARD AT ALL.

I felt, after watching this, the only Justice to come from it would be if the Director and all the Producers were fired from story-telling forever. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Berlin'ing

It’s the unified character that is the most unsettling for an outside observer. Berlin seems to have been built with a single aesthetic choice in mind. Well, save the historical works. Everything modern is right angles and gray, though.  Each building vying to be more subdued than the last. Subdued from the point of a view of an American, where ostentatious sounds like an oxymoron. I cruised down grand sidewalks, easily double the size I’m used to, letting my eye bounce around, noting where it fell. But it did not fall. Storefronts had their signs and flair, but held well back from any level of intrusive. It feels like Berlin is a city for people who know it. My instincts to choose, at any intersection, the bright, the curved, the noisy were flustered.  At most turns were gray, straight, corridors. You should know the city said. (Special note: I am awful at taking pictures. I usually give myself about three seconds. Sometimes I don't stop walking. People looking at me will negatively impact my ability. You will, however, see exactly what I was looking at. Which is fun.)

How little I understood of the German people comes out with my descriptions lazily reduced to “not this”. I did not see people staring at small screens. Bright colors may be a crime. Sneakers far and away too vulgar. There was no snow but boots were the order of the day for all persons. Nice boots, I mean. Not Uggs or Timberlands. I thought of them as Italian because the only people I knew of who wore “nice” boots regardless of the season were Italians. I suppose I’ll need to broaden that to Europeans. It seemed unthinkable to Not be in excellent physical shape. The people were gorgeous. Striking because of my experience but not in their own expression. A simple outfit, hair tied back, clean face. It must be down in the bones. A perfect foundation. Not just the shine of youth or the payout of the genetic lottery.

It was strange the city did not try to rob me. Being a Major One. I’m used to meals being a minimum of $12. For a single, no frills, portion. Sure, most places will also offer half a sandwich for $8, but I’m not going to count that as a meal. It was all reasonable. Even the Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers am Gendarmenmarkt, fancy chocolate shop (it had a volcano!), appreciated the concept of a budget. There is a sightseeing tour for €20 that travels to many of the major landmarks, all day long, and it’s hop-on hop-off. Busses swing by every 10mins. An extra €4 to make it a two day pass? Shut-up. In comparison, there’s an amphibious (ok, extra points for that) tour that’s $28 for an hour and a half. The difference is that the Ducks promise an experience. Germans would have none of this “performance”. The sightseeing bus offered an extremely bored woman listing off the year each building was started / finished and designed by whom, in 17 languages (sometimes an interesting bit of history). And a map. Which, as a traveler, is fantastic. I studied the guidebook the hotel gave, for probably an hour total, and felt certain at the end of that time the map was not actually for Berlin. I could not find the hotel on it. I collected three maps by the end of my short stay, each one offered a piece of the whole picture. I would consult each to get a rough idea of my location, than narrow it down, then widen it again to find my destination, then fine tune it again. I’m absolutely positive had I been traveling alone I would have lost myself to despair and ran screaming through the streets, begging out of this madness, this maze. The pioneer spirit can only last so long. My companion had no qualms about hailing a taxi to which I owe my continued sanity. What pushes the psyche so hard is the monstrous size of the blocks. A decent walking pace yields a block per minute in my city. I felt it was closer to five minutes per in Berlin. You should know the city said. There won’t be a fun little check every sixty seconds, does this look right?

Things Have A Place. That’s a rule and everybody follows it. Advertisements go on these gray (of course) pillars that are situated every so often. Bikes are locked up (or not; unfathomable) on racks. There’s a tiny bit of trash. Dining on the sidewalk is huge (on tables and chairs, ‘natch). For me it was the coolest novelty mixed with the height of luxury. The blankets were colorful. That was allowed. And nobody stole them! It was communal without being forced. As if the mood was why not chat with passersby? Why not be part of the city still? The ubiquitous of it erased any pretention. The seats were not trendy little black and silver pieces. Very comfortable and matched the décor (and had blankets). What is this satisfaction of human desire? Not tarted up fantasy. Keep It Simple a lesson digested nationally, practiced at all times. Except for the traffic. Traffic in England was a ride, to me. Narrow streets driven by men who hauled ass regardless of their vehicle, or turns, or pedestrians. The Germans love to draw lines. As though to catalogue every possible position a vehicle may find itself on the road. Crosswalk signs were not on every street. You should know.

I missed so much. The best piece of art I saw was in the bathroom at a gay café. Which is no disrespect to city or café. My bad for not going to every gallery I possibly could in four days. I missed Currywurst! Though I did not rent a bike, the roads were bewildering enough I don’t really regret it. May I offer this bit of advice? Elevator rides to the top of giant towers should have windows. Bravo on every single person knowing at least two language. That's impressive.