The most refreshing thing about Push is its recognition that, after a decade of comic book movies (not to mention three seasons of Heroes), the public is now so familiar with superheroes that they no longer need origin stories to make superhuman abilities seem credible or scientifically plausible.

Now that everyone knows what a “mutant” is there’s no need to waste half a movie introducing them or their powers, so Push drops us into the middle of its world and trusts its audience to get it without being patronized by jargon about genetics or evolution. Admittedly some of the Marvel characters are so well-known that their origin stories are themselves classics which require rehearsal when brought to the screen for the first time. But since Push’s characters have no cultural baggage they are free to slough off some of the prescriptive conventions of the comic adaptation genre, and the film is the better for it.

Push’s informal visual style is also much less ponderous than the typical comic book movie which sometimes confuses taking its material seriously with treating it solemnly. In many ways, Push is the Slumdog Millionaire of superhero movies, an English language story in an Asian city that favors handheld camera gestures and the cacophony of local color to deliberate camera movements and a reserved pallettte.

As for the story and the action scenes, it is basically Heroes with a big budget. Chris Evans’ easy charisma is perfect for these types of movies, being the only good thing about the Fantastic Four movies (besides the Silver Surfer himself) and Dakota Fanning impressed me with the way she is defining her persona at the peak of the awkward phase (of any girl, not just a child actress trying to transition to adult actress).

Going in without any preconceptions, I quite liked Push and was really surprised when I discovered what bad press it got (21% on Rotten Tomatoes)! Push shares some similarities with Jumper but I think it is much more successful, especially in the way the evil conspiracy is handled. I would look forward to seeing Push Harder, but Jump Higher not so much.


2 thoughts on “PUSH

  1. jeri says:

    Yes, I totally loved that this movie jumped right into the story without having to set up its world too much. Fanning explains what a few of them do, but otherwise, it’s set and ready for takeoff. And she impressed me too.

    Oh and I laughed at the guns scene more because of the way they shoved into Honsou’s bald head and made it wrinkle up more than anything else, but I did like what you brought up about the shaking guns, and how they played that out.

    I knew SOMEONE had mentioned it somewhere, and I’m pretty sure it was you, so thanks for that. It was definitely worth my buck fifty and more!

  2. Nobody says:

    Thank you, Jeri, for reminding me of the movie, already one of the forgotten gems of of 2009.

    I don’t mean to belabor the point, but for future readers here’s what I said elsewhere about Push’s innovative treatment of telekinetically moved objects as if by invisible marionette puppeters. It might seem like a low-budget effect but I think the result is actually more effective.

    Who knows what it would actually feel like to control an object with your mind? I think it probably would feel a lot like using mental marionette strings, especially in the case of Chris Evans who starts out being rubbish at controlling even dice!

    The problem with computer-generated special effects is the danger of making telekinetically controlled airborne objects move too smoothly, such as Jean Grey mentally picking up a vial in X-Men 1 when she’s standing over Wolverine, or dismantling that dart gun in X-Men 3.

    I think it is much more plausible to have such objects move quite jerkily because every split-second lapse of concentration would make them fall a few inches, and in any fight there will be constant distractions! I think we’ve become far too used to Magneto’s impressive command of bullets, cars, semi-trailers, and Golden Gate bridges, but he has spent like 60 years practicing!

    So I thought it was refreshing to see a complete novice telekinetically manipulating guns badly, and the movie even provided an in-story explanation for any “mutant’s” lack of practice: too much use of their powers would expose them.

    Furthermore (sorry, I didn’t realize how much I appreciated this aspect of the film!) the fact that the gun Chris Evans holds to someone else’s head shakes badly (if I recall correctly) in accordance with his being intimidated, not only parallels the shaking hand of anyone else holding a gun, but emphasizes the much higher difficulty of compartmentalization that might otherwise be possible between someone’s psychological state and their physical actions.

    You know in The Departed when DiCaprio is taking about how no matter how scared he is, his hand never shakes? If you’re a telekinetic, I imagine that your psychological state would be much more transparent in whatever actions you are controlling psychically rather than physically. At least, without a lot of experience.

    Now that you’ve made me think about it, I guess this movie was a lot more innovative than I originally realized!

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