Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Marathon Part 4 - Let's Have Sex

Now, let's start off by saying that I am not the target audience of Sex and the City. I'm not a woman. I'm not self-obsessed (though readers of the blog might beg to differ). I'm not middle-aged. I'm not gay. I'm not one who spends copious amounts on money on shoes. I don't have a "New York - specifically Manhattan - is SO much better than anywhere else" stick up my ass. I don't own the show on DVD.

That said, the movie isn't half-bad.

Okay, I'll be brief with this (I feel better after the Lucas rant). The movie runs long - 2 1/2 hours long. It feels more like a short season than an actual movie. So it drags a bit. The first half drove me NUTS. Nothing but selfish, self-obsessed women making an absolute mess out of their lives. The second-half is them realizing this, growing, and patching things up. Good ending, bad beginning.

Part of what made it bad was that this was pretty much territory already covered in the show. The show ended too well (from a character standpoint). They had to take a step back for everyone to give us what they did. That was terribly annoying and a cheap cop out.

But, they did a decent job moving them forward.

Did I love it? No.

Did I hate it? No.

Was it really worth making? No.

Did I enjoy it enough? Well... yeah, pretty much.

Decent. B-

Movie Marathon Part 3 - The Bottom of the Barrel

How many weeks into the summer season does it take Hollywood to crap out? Four baby. Count 'em, FOUR.

Enter: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (or, as I like to call is: Indiana Jones and the "Jar Jar could have made this piece of shit better").

Exit: Filmmaking

Okay, so, let's recap here (Spoilers ahead for any of you without the common sense who still want to see this movie):

George Lucas. Made a few decent movies (THX, American Grafitti) and then made the holy grail of geekdom: Star Wars: A New Hope. This movie was great. He, wisely so, got "too busy" to write and direct the next two - which was a good thing. He hired writers who knew how to write tight scripts withe real characters and directors who knew how to work with actors. The result - on the of the best trilogies of all time (so good, in fact, many an overweight or gawky skinny men have foregone their chance at sex for).

Then, now that's he's hopped up on ego and Endor (oh ho! good geek joke), he thinks he's God among filmmakers. It doesn't help that he helps helm the Indiana Jones trilogy - which, while it is no Star Wars, is good in its own respects.

So, let's go back to the eighties - and what do you do to follow them up? Willow and Howard the Duck. Body shiver. A disturbing Val Kilmer Midget-fest (I present that George Lucas, while a talent-less and confused young man, fell into a drainage canal and was saved by a midget. Owing his life to the pint-sized rescuer, he vowed to incorporate midgets into EVERYTHING HE DOES from that point on) and a movie about a midget duck from outerspace that talks.

Do you see what I'm getting at? Everyone gives it to him that everyone is hit or miss.

So he decides to retire to Marin County and build his empire (see: smoke some weed) of toys, games, memorabilia, effects houses (ILM), sound stages (Skywalker Sound), etc. Things go well. So well, in fact, that his delusions of grandeur return and he decides that "The technology is finally to a place that I can revisit the Star Wars trilogy." Which is his first mistake - thinking the effects in Star Wars is what made the movie great.

No, no, no...

The first sign of his decent into madness (read: CGI) is his remastering of the original movies. What did Return of the Jedi always need? An unnecessary music video with badly animated, annoying slugs. Of course! That's what my Id was crying out for all those years! How could I have been so blind.

Greedo shooting first, aside (another nerd reference - zing!), it was still cool for a new generation of under-sexed unwashed masses to see the films on the big screen.

Enter the new trilogy. Oh, could I rant. From Mannequin Skywalker to Hayden "Whining with a edge to my voice means emotion) Christenson to ruining great actors like Ewan "If I could have shown my penis this would have been better" Gregor and Natalie "We should have hired Jean Reno for this" Portman - I could never end.

Suffice to say - we all realized that lightning only strikes ONCE.

But, we all paid to see these. So, Lucas begins to think that he's not only the master of filmmaking (all though he's the only Oscar-less filmmaker out there among his graduating class), but a master of revitalizing old franchises.

Cue the John Williams soundtrack.

Enter Harrison Ford.

Cue the flying monkeys...? WTF?

Okay, Indy Jones starts out bad, tries to stabilize, and quickly deteriorates into crap. The first scene, in an obviously bad green-screened warehouse sets the stage. Quickly, Indy finds himself in an entirely unnecessary nuclear testing site where the only way to save himself is to shut himself inside a lead refrigerator - which proceeds to be blown about 1400 feet across the desert. Good thing our hero can shake it off.

Then we're all over the world without a definition of why or why we care. Pretty soon we're running through a CGI jungle with Shia LeBeouf swinging from vines with monkeys - and beating cars. Giant fake ants eat people - we get to meet plexi-glass aliens (I know, I know, wtf, scream it with me, people) that can melt minds and setup a civilization thousands of years ago that we're supposed to care about (with no motivation to whatsoever).

Then it's all gone in a flash of (again) OVER-USED special effects.

Oh man, it's bad. Even Harrison Ford looks disinterested. The characters make no sense. The story doesn't either. Not grounded in any simile of reality. The script is a total mess. I just felt insulted by the time it ended.

It's always a good gauge of when a movie has stretched its believability to the max when my wife rolls her head to me and gives me the "Are you serious?" stare. The whole last hour of this movie - she never even looked back at me.

This was a textbook entry on over-blown summer movies - there mere definition of why we don't see crap like this.

A resounding D+.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Movie Marathon Part 2 - Days get Darker

Summer movie season was off with a blast - how long would it last?

Two weeks.

Enter: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: or How I learned to Love the Nuclear Bomb: Part Duex: Could this Film's Title be any Longer?

Now, let's go back, oh, 2 1/2 to 3 year to the first movie. It was surprisingly decent. Came across a little like Lord of the Rings-Lite, but good story, cute English kids, and good effects. It was good. The allegory worked well (if not so heavy handed it could bludgeon a child), and the structure of the thing supported it's weighty running time well enough.

Previews for the second one looked good (and how is it that most movies' trailers are better than the actual films. Like EW suggested years back, why don't we hire the people who make the trailers to just make the movies - they'd be far more entertaining) - a darker look, interesting concept, and all the kids hit that awkward ugliness of teenage-dom.

But things went downhill from there...

Okay, so I'll be fair - I actually enjoyed watching the movie. It's filled with lots of action (an extreme amount of violence and gore for a PG movie - that rating was totally bought by Brazilian hookers or something) and intense action scenes. But by the time you hit the two hour mark - the aesthetic of fighting with no real story has worn off - and it's made even worse when, once again, as soon as our characters get stuck in a tough situation - the damn Lion shows up and saves the day.

Which leaves all of us wondering "Why the hell didn't he do that earlier in the movie and saves countless lives?" I know it's a Christian Allegory - but it just makes you mad to think about it. It's the lamest cop-out ever. And the incredibly deep explanation "Things don't happen the same way twice" didn't help the taste of bitter taste of bile in the back of my throat as I walked away.

In short - fun to watch, entertaining - if not light on story, but with a cop-out ending (that, I guess shouldn't really bother you unless you're a movie nerd like me). I'd wait for the dollar movie or a cheap matinee.

Even though I bitched a lot, the film was done decent enough. The structure was smoother and leaner than the first. All in all, at times better, at times worse, than the first.

An "eh" B-

Movie Marathon Part 1

Wow - summer is off to a good start and I haven't said a thing. I'll say it's because all my spare time has been spent at the cineplex, viewing an insane amount of movies - that and building a Paul Rudd fansite that would rival my John Stamos shrine (heretofore to be known as "John's Rine"... which sounds a bit off, let me see what I can come up with...).

So, let's play some catch up.

It's the beginning of May and I'm still optimistic that the summer might be a good movie season (as I am at the beginning of every summer before some dog-awful sequel ruins it and leaves me a jaded and bitter nerd (see: X3 in 2006, Spider-Man 3 in 2007, Indiana Jones 4 in 2008)). I'm in NY on business, but still find time to squeeze in a little $11.75 sneak preview of a film called Iron man.

Now, let's be honest - in my ever-loving support of the comic industry (I already owe my first born child to Satan and all my creative dignity to Mephisto (very inside joke for Spiderman Nerds) because of comics), I try to see every comic adaptation like it (X2) or not (anything with Jessica Alba in it). But, Iron Man isn't exactly a namebrand - heck, I spend half my monthly salary at the comic store and I've never bought an Iron Man comic regularly.

So, off to the plex with one of my best chums to give Iron Man a shot.

And holy shi....zzle (trying to watch the vulgarity for the child readers of the blog - all none of them) - it was incredibly good.

I ain't going to summarize the story - if you haven't seen it, stop here and go now. Best movie of the year so far.

Robert Downey Jr. (as everything he stars in) is a revelation. He plays the most perfect unlikeable, can't not like him, charming, charismatic, funny comic character ever created. Have you noticed how damn glum all screen superheroes are? Even Spiderman, who is witty and hilarious in the comics, is a total "My goofy stare means I'm haunted inside" douche-bag in the flicks (the only funny thing is unintentional "Emo-Spiderman" and dear Lord, don't get us started on that poop-stain in the already messy underpants of Marvel Films). But Downey's Stark is awesome. I not only was entertained the whole time - I was laughing the whole time.

In addition to the humor, the movie carries a lot of weight - examining the roles we are in and the responsibility of our actions. Great stuff.

The rest of the cast, too, is amazing. I was hesitant in hearing about Gwynneth Paltrow playing a token female sidekick/love interest - but from her first scene, she shows that she's got a pair. She doesn't play the helpless/spineless character I feared - even to the last scene, she's a great addition to the cast.

So, yeah, go see it. One of my favorite comic movies ever.

A solid: A-