“…was definitely an experience. Not a good experience, more like getting shot…”
Every other day of my life I have to make a decision. Now these decisions aren’t anything special, or life changing for that matter, but they are decisions nonetheless. Of course I’m talking about my decision of what movie I will watch and then subsequently review. Like I said, these decisions don’t usually mean much, but every once in a while I make a really bad decision. I make a decision to sit down and commit to a movie, only to find out that the movie that I chose is fucking terrible. I’m sure you’ve already guessed why I’m saying all of this and you’d be right; last night I watched Maps to the Stars and I regret it wholeheartedly. This is the portion of the review where I give you a brief synopsis of the film, but I honestly can’t do that. To explain the plot of Maps to the Stars I would need about 300 words, and you would probably only understand what I was talking about if you had already seen the movie. Instead of a synopsis, I’m going to give you some general themes that Maps to the Stars covers. Maps to the Stars is a story that features: incest, fire, weird therapy sessions, crazy people, men peeing in girls’ butts, and Robert Pattinson. If any of that intrigued and you are thinking about watching Maps to the Stars, I beg of you please do not. I feel that it is my duty to at least warn people that although Maps to the Stars has a runtime of only 2 hours, it feels like a lifetime in Hell.
My first red flag when watching Maps to the Stars should have been when “A David Cronenberg Film” appeared on the screen. Now I have nothing against Cronenberg, actually I’m not even familiar enough with his work to give you my opinions on it, but I do know that Cronenberg is not one to make a film that is easily accessible. When I sat down to watch a movie last night I was not prepared to watch a Cronenberg film, so it was at that point I should have turned the movie off. Unfortunately I am too committed to this whole ‘movie review’ thing (for which I don’t even get paid), so I soldiered on. The best way for me to describe Maps to the Stars would be to say that it is like a weird dream. The film has a problem with, especially in the beginning, showing you everything without having explained any of it. I compare it to a dream because as soon as you think you know what’s going on, the film switches gears and you are left wondering “how did I get here?”. Of course pieces start to fall into place as the movie goes on, but that doesn’t mean that the completed puzzle makes any more sense than the individual pieces. I want to call Maps to the Stars pretentious, but I think to do that I would have to understand what the film’s intentions were in the first place. Even when you start to get an idea of the story, going back to earlier scenes with your newly acquired knowledge doesn’t help you one bit. To say Maps to the Stars is a cluster fuck would be criminally understating it. The film also features a whole lot of well known actors playing all of these really fucking bizarre characters. You have Julianne Moore playing a really stuck-up actress who is trying to get a part in a movie, John Cusack playing a strange televangelist/guru who belittles you while you are in your underwear, and Robert Pattinson is there too for some reason. I don’t even know if any of their performances were good, because I’m not sure what the intention was. Often times the characters would embrace the dream-feeling that I mentioned earlier by seemingly delivering all of their lines via ADR. I’ll just say this: If it was everyone’s goal to play a narcissistic psychopath then everyone did a great job.
Now it is at this point where you are certain that I hated this film and therefore am going to give it the lowest possible score I can; but you would be wrong. Well, you would be wrong on the second point because I did in fact hate this movie. About halfway through it’s runtime, when I was already at the end of my rope, I said to myself that the only thing that could improve Maps to the Stars is if somebody dies. A few minutes later, like my voice was heard by God himself, a character in the film died. I was happy, even though the character who kicked the bucket was less than important, but it didn’t stop there. What happens in the second half of Maps to the Stars is an all-out bloodbath. I asked for one death and I got at least five; It was fucking great. Now these deaths didn’t improve the movie necessarily, but I was right in my assumption that watching these characters that I hate cease to exist was very satisfying. This bloodbath brings us to what I would call the worst part of Maps to the Stars, the fire. Now fire is a tricky thing in movies; the real thing is very dangerous, so it makes sense that filmmakers tend to not use it as much, but the CGI counterpart never looks good. That being said, never in my twelve years of watching movies have I seen a CGI fire that looked as bad as the one that can be seen in Maps to the Stars. This fire looked so fucking fake that I even questioned if it was real in the movie. Going back to the dream-like equality that Maps to the Stars had, I actually thought that this fire was in someone’s imagination. I’m not joking when I say that it looks like the filmmakers scanned an old copy of a Fantastic Four comic book, took out a few scenes of the Human Torch, and pasted them into this ridiculous scene. This was the final nail in the coffin for me, and I would have turned the movie off right there had it not been five minutes from ending itself.
Maps to the Stars was definitely an experience. Not a good experience, more like getting shot; it was extremely painful to sit through, but now I know what it feels like.
I give Maps to the Stars a D