Under the Skin vs. Lucy: Dueling Johanssons

Under the Lucy 01

Seeing as though two somewhat similar new Scarlett Johansson science fiction projects came out this year within a few months of each other; one being Lucy, coming out this week, and the other being Under the Skin, which came out a few months ago but is now making its run on rental and streaming services, I thought I’d do everyone a service and hold a very important FAQ.  So you don’t get confused.

What’s the premise of these here movies?

Lucy is about a girl named Stacy who, wait…  Maybe it was Lucy?  Anyway, she gets mixed up with a drug dealer, and he puts a pouch of super drugs in her “lower tummy” (quote from the movie), and it starts leaking, causing her to gain access to percentages of her brain that no human ever has before.  Under the Skin is about an alien (or something) that goes to Scotland and seduces dudes into her feeding room (or something), where they die in the most symbolic kind of ways.  Then she starts questioning things about herself, and yes, we eventually do get to see what’s under the skin.

First thing I noticed, these are both rated R, do you see Scarlett Johansson’s boobs?

Oh, c’mon.  That’s an awful, misogynistic question.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Grow up, buddy…  People like you are what gives people like me a bad name.  Have some respect, for the first time in your life.  For shame.

Ok, sorry.  Does she tastefully get naked, for the betterment of the film?

TOTALLY.  She gets tastefully naked about six times in Under the Skin.  IN LIKE THE FIRST SCENE, TOO!  Then later on she gets tastefully naked again, and then like two scenes after that, and then another three scenes after that.  SO TASTEFUL.  She keeps her shirt on in Lucy, though.

How’s the rest of the cast?  Follow up question: do you see their boobs?

A couple of dudes hang dong in Under the Skin, and the acting from the weird faced guy was kind of intriguing.  Nobody bothers to get naked in Lucy.  But I did read an article that Morgan Freeman had a full-frontal scene where he just does helicopter dick in front of a mirror for 45 seconds, but it got cut from the final film because it “took away from the story.” (rolls eyes)

What movies would you closely compare these to?  So the common man can relate!  Do that thing where you say it’s “[this] meets [this]”!  People love reading that!

Lucy is kind of like The Matrix meets Limitless, except now Bradley Cooper has boobs.  If you refer to the previous question, you don’t see Bradley Cooper’s boobs in this particular picture.  Under the Skin is kind of like Species meets Drive.  An alien is seducing humans for her own gain; but done with the slow, brooding style that makes it so you can’t recommend it to anyone.

How do the movies look?  Like, cinematography wise?

They both look great!  And in totally different ways!  Lucy is very colorful and vibrant, and that plays nicely with the fast paced editing and goofy atmosphere.  Under the Skin uses black space to its advantage, having some downright beautiful and haunting photography in the process.  The two couldn’t have more contrast, while each having their own merits.  They’re both very pretty to look at.

This is Lucy.

This is Lucy.

The metaphors!  Are they obvious?!

Under the Skin makes you wonder what the hell is going on the entire time, while Lucy literally splices in footage of a cheetah hunting an antelope during an equivalently tense scene with the human characters.  A film theory student’s entire basis for a term paper vs. “HEY THIS IS WHAT THAT IS LIKE”.

Under the Skin looks kind of like a smarmy indie movie, and Lucy seems like an overblown special effects picture…  Are these accusations true?

Under the Skin is pretty smarmy.  It leaves a lot to the viewer’s discretion through gloomy, almost silent imagery.  I could imagine a student film attempting to do something like this, but much worse.  Lucy actually has some worthy special effects, except for that one scene where she’s rolling around on the ceiling and her hair isn’t falling downward as gravity intended.  ILLUSION BROKEN.

Yeah, but are they overblown, though?

Nah, the effects fit the story pretty well.

They both take place overseas?  Please tell me ScarJo doesn’t try to do any accents…

Thankfully in Lucy she plays an American abroad, but in Under the Skin she attempts to do, uh, some kind of accent. (tugs collar of shirt)

Will these stories make sense to the audience?  Or to clarify, will they make sense to my Uncle Jerry?  His favorite movies include Batman ’89, Training Day, and Grown Ups 2.

Lucy might be alright for him.  Though, as the movie ended and a bro was walking out of the theater past us, he made a fart noise with his mouth to his girlfriend; and a couple of other bro-y dudes in the bathroom didn’t care for it either.  Maybe it went over their heads?  I don’t know.  Everyone else I’ve talked to who has seen it thought it was fine though.  Under the Skin on the other hand, I would not recommend to Uncle Jerry, and would just forward him a link to the relevant Mr. Skin page instead.  That’s all he cares about anyway.  You aren’t going to have a serious discussion with Uncle Jerry on the alien’s overriding humanity in the face of countless emotionless relationships next Thanksgiving dinner, I imagine.

I know these are both science fiction, but how’s the science hold up?

Director Luc Besson has stated himself that Lucy’s science doesn’t actually hold up very well, but it does in the universe of the film and/or for what works for the story, so I guess that’s all that matters, right?  Look, if it was a boring movie that dribbled on and on trying to explain the science, everyone would have hated it.  It offered simplified, entertaining science.  No, I wouldn’t argue with a single person on the validity of any of what the movie was trying to say in that regard, but I would argue with them on the film’s entertainment value.  On the other side, Under the Skin is about an alien, so yeah, if you want to debate alien science with me I’ll start making you a tin foil hat right now.

And this is Under the Skin. You see, the difference is the hair.

And this is Under the Skin. You see, the difference is the hair.

You always complain about movies being too long…  So are these movies long, or what?

Lucy is only 90 minutes, and that’s awesome.  It doesn’t wear out its welcome, and ends at about the right time.  For Under the Skin, to be honest, I hit “display” a few times in the second half to see how close it was to being over.  Little too long.  The deliberately slow pacing doesn’t help either.

You saw them both on Friday, did either of them leave a lasting impact in your brain today?

There were a couple of moments in Under the Skin that still are kind of haunting me today.  And I don’t mean the tastefulness.  That underwater feeding pod scene was, um… so god damn weird and mesmerizing.  Lucy as a whole, though, was probably more impactful to me.  It was a collection of weird imagery that actually seemed somewhat coherent.

Are there lots of closeups of eyeballs in these movies?


Are they empowering movies for women?

Uh, yeah.  Sure.  Why not?

Most important question: Are there dinosaurs?

Lucy has dinosaurs.  Under the Skin does not.

Would you recommend these movies?  Would you watch them again?  What scores would you give them?

I wanted to like Under the Skin more than I actually did. I commend the effort, and I guess I’d have it on again the background while I did other stuff if it’s ever free later.  I’d give it a 6 out of 10.  Lucy was very entertaining, and while I wouldn’t pay full price for a Blu-ray when it comes out, I would consider picking it up from a Best Buy $7.99 Blu-ray bin in 2016, and I’d definitely watch it again for free on HBO or the like.  I’d give it an 8 out of 10.

3 thoughts on “Under the Skin vs. Lucy: Dueling Johanssons

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