Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie Monday

Watched a mess of movies over the holiday weekend. A lot of them were old favorites, but these were new to me, and of course I have opinions on them:

IRON MAN 2: Terrific fun to watch, and I loved the involvement of Nick Fury & Shield (and a throwaway Captain America reference, plus the teaser after the credits, which really whet my appetite for an Avengers movie). Scarlet Johannsen is so beautiful, it should be illegal. As in the first movie, I love the interplay between Tony Stark and Pepper Pots (I love Downey & Gwenneth in these roles) but the rapid fire patter that Downey delivers throughout went right up to the edge of Annoying and stared into the Abyss of Asshole. At least the movie gave him a reason for relapsing into Jackass. It was good to see him pull himself up out of the depths. BUT, I was somewhat less sold on the character development arc, which was what really set the first movie apart from the usual smash and ‘splode superhero action movie. They nailed it so perfectly in IRON MAN--without delving into the poor-me-navel-gazing of, say, SPIDERMAN. This was solidly entertaining, worth a rental.

UNDER THE MOUNTAIN: This was a New Zealand kids movie that I picked up because it has Sam Neill in it. (Looking rather rough and shabby in the Kooky Old Man/Wizard Mentor with a Secret role. Shabby and awesome.) I’ve watched some crap movies because of Sam, but this, fortunately, was not one of them. It wasn’t high art, either, but enjoyable. It was shaky on the sci-fi backstory details, but genuinely creepy in places (especially if you’re a kid, or a pansy, like me). I liked the lead, and the story was interesting while I was watching, though I’m not sure it would hold up to close scrutiny. I think my enjoyment may have been also swayed by the setting--it was neat to see a movie that was not set in America, and actually FILMED not in America with not American actors. I’ll bet this one will come on cable; put it on while you’re knitting or something.

PREDATORS: I really wanted to like this movie. A movie doesn’t always have to be well crafted to be enjoyable. Lots of explosions, aliens, guns, shooting, dismemberment, crazy-ass Lawrence Fishburn, Adrian Brody (who must have spent HOURS in the gym). The premise is these people wake up as they’re being air-dropped onto a planet, where they’ll serve as prey for the Predators. Who are also hunting each other. Or something.

Here’s the problem. Besides the one with how, of all the bad ass creatures in the galaxy, the predators would consider humans a challenge. These people, half of them are reprehensible. Which isn’t a deal breaker, because we know most of them are going to get picked off, and we hope it’s the most unpleasant character who will die the most egregious death. Unfortunately, the lead character, who is played as a stone cold, abandon-the-weak-and-injured-if-it-keeps-you-alive type pulls his ending about face too late and too unmotivated for me to give a rat’s ass about him at the end. Well acted (None of these actors was dialing it in.) but there’s a conceptual problem there. I mean, it’s PREDATORS, yeah, but I should at least be happy that the last man standing is someone I don’t want to shoot in the head.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: Yeah. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes in the middle of this movie and missed nothing. Formulaic and all flash, no substance--which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that it was full of unpleasant characters I didn’t care about. I cared so little about this movie, that’s all I’ve got to say about it. Sadly. I usually enjoy a fun swashbuckling movie.

So, what have y’all seen lately? Anything good?

7 comments:

  1. My friends surprised me with a Disney movie marathon for my birthday (disregarding the fact that it was practically two months ago...). You can't go wrong with some Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas, Pocahontas Two, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast...again, and Hunchback of Notre dome ;)

    ~Aliya

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  2. Oooooo! Those are some good ones! I love Tarzan, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favs. (I watched it this weekend, too. I was, however, distracted by the fact that Belle's fingernails are crazy long and pointy in some shots. Not like I'd think a country girl--even a country girl who doesn't do anything but cook and clean for her father--would have. Stupid thing to obsess over, but once I noticed it, I couldn't NOT notice!)

    Sleeping Beauty is my BFF's favorite of the movies. Maleficent is such a GREAT villain!

    (Happy belated birthday. :)

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  3. Anastasia isnt a Disney movie, but you cant go wrong with that one either! Ugh...its so good!! I watch it over and over and never get sick of it.

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  4. Oh man, open the floodgates giving me the forum to talk film?

    I'm currently working on Das Boot in my spare time, but it's about four hours long, so during Christmas travels it's been set on the backburner (I'm not getting the family to sit down for a four-hour, claustrophobic, German character study).

    Aside from that, my latest few viewed films were:

    THE FALL
    Decent. My wife loved it, but I'd say 3/5. Paralytic in 1920s weaves epic story for little girl in order to trick her into stealing morphine from the hospital for him—a literary mise en abyme. Visually, it goes to eleven (would the Gen-Y cliche be "it goes to infinity and beyond" instead?). But the acting was stiff and the storyline was not cohesive enough to build any proper tension.

    DEFIANCE
    A solid 4/5. It had some great drama and action in it, and I cared about the characters. Just something about it falls short of greatness, but I can't put my finger on it.

    EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
    Documentary about a would-be documentarian of street art. The film was extremely well made. A great documentary about a man, a plan, a canal, and the graffiti on the canal. 5/5.

    SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
    This is a really good comedy/action film. Bass-playing Scott has to defeat new love's seven evil exes in order to date her. The action is very, very good, but I don't know if someone who doesn't at least play video games or read comic books would enjoy it. The visual and narrative paradigms diverge from standard film almost the entire time. Time is linear but practically skip-darake[1], characters attain super powers as if they had stood in front of an arcade cabinet and become Street Fighter, et cetera. Many sound effects are updated versions of 60s Batman BOOMs and SOCKs and POWs, scrolling across the screen. Babes, booms, and the band the Sex Bob-ombs. 4/5.

    [1] This is one of those times where I wish English had a great word like the Japanese "darake," which is a suffix connoting "chock full of." Just oozing with time skips. (In a good way, if you ask me.)

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  7. Kyle-- You managed to list three movies I haven't seen. Defiance is in my Netflix queue, and I do want to see Scott Pilgrim.

    And you can always rave about movies here. I really do love talking movies, though I could never be a film critic. I tend to like what I like, regardless of whether it's artistically worthy or not.

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