Now, I've been waiting for this movie for some time (many of us who watched and loved Donnie Darko have been) and I have to say that after months and months of watching it get beat up by the media and go through recutting and release dates being pushed back and none of my local cineplexes running the film, the DVD has foinally arrived to mixed response. In some ways the movie is exactly what I expected and so many ways it is very much not. The trademarked Richard Kellyisms are all there (the satire, the sci-fi, the high-concept, ensemble cast and the socio-political commentary) but they are organized in such a way as to make the film almost totally impenetrable. I read the three graphic novels that comprise the prequel trilogy and still had a hard time following certain sequences. Sure, it sort of comes together in the end in a somewhat understandable manner, but on the whole it feels like the movie fails in paying off the 144 minute running time.
I knew going in that I would have to do some work on my own, that I would have to read the prequel trilogy and hit the website and dig through additional sources to fully appreciate the movie, but on a basic sit down and watch a show for a couple of hours level, Southland alienates the viewer almost from the outset with its wealth of backstory that you're never really given a glimpse of, the awkward dialogue being delivered by Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Geller, and the often improvisational nature of Kelly's shooting style (I don't know how much of it was improved, but seeing as how half the cast are ex-SNL alumn, I'm thinking a bunch).
Is there method to the madness? Perhaps. Is this gleanable upon a single viewing? Certainly not.
I want to like this movie, and I'm willing to put the work into it to see where it takes me as a viewer and as someone who appreciated the technical side of filmmaking, but I'm not reccomending this one for everyone. Unless you're already a Kelly fan, this may not be appropos for you.
More on this story as it develops.