Sunday, December 16, 2007

Flick the Button

1. 28 Weeks Later. Lively, but doesn't come close to the greatness of its predecessor. Big problem with the way Carlyle's character didn't exhibit the typical zombie mindlessness. While watching it, I enjoyed the ride (you can't beat a handheld camera and running from zombies), but it didn't stick in my head very long, and the more I think about it the more I'd rather just watch the original again. You're Fired.

2. X-Men: The Last Stand. Did this look better on the big screen? A big-budget action movie without many scenes that inspire awe. Seemed more like a Daredevil or an Elektra than a summer franchise movie. The second one was a classic compared to this Ratnerfied mess. You're Fired.

3. Death Proof. There were a host of issues I had with this, and I get that most of the problems are probably homages.  I thought the movie was either about 45 minutes too long, or should've had 2 more chase/crash scenes. The lapdance scene was useless. The one thing that bothered me the most about this movie: how much so many of the actors struggled with the Tarantino dialogue. So unnatural - several scenes had a real Dawson's Creek-nobody-actually-talks-this-way feel to them.  In fact, the most natural and I'd say the best actor of them all in this movie was Zoe Bell - and she's a stuntwoman. She ran circles around the others in her scenes. I usually like Tarantino's films, but this one didn't do it for me. You're Fired.

4. Transformers. So what happened to the plotline with the soldiers and the hackers after about 75 minutes? Did the film just ignore them or did I fall asleep for a minute and it was all resolved.  I'm confused. Wait. Why am I concerned about plot? It's gigantic robots punching each other. And when it came to that, it seemed to me that the CGI was really realistic and nice looking. I also sensed that they were holding back a little though. Like they knew it'd be a hit and they wanted to save something for sequels. I expect robots punching each other atop numerous world monuments. You're Fired.

5. Spider-Man 3. This trilogy is like a rock band who found success by singing songs about their blue collar roots, then once they made it big, could only write new songs about how much it sucks to be famous and rich. While the first two were never a garage band, they did have a completely different sensibility from this one. Too long by a half hour or more. Not memorable like the first two. And this one relied so much on deus ex machina, or people just in the exact spot needed for plot reasons, but for no real reason at all. A frustrating third part. You're Fired.

6. Goal! - The Dream Begins. What I liked about this was that it was clearly made for an international audience - which meant that it didn't insult people who knew anything about soccer, like 90% of the movies made about soccer. It was well-made, not horrendously acted and actually depicted the lives of professional athletes somewhat realistically. If you don't enjoy Oasis or you are annoyed easily by montages, you probably won't like this. But do, so I sort of liked it. Steak Knives.

7. Ocean's Thirteen. So it's not as good as the first, but more like the first than the second. It's tricky and fun, though riddled with inside jokes. Words I never thought I'd write: Pacino should've hammed it up more. They should've used Cassel more too. So it's flawed, but still an enjoyable way to spend 2 hours. I'll watch it again. Steak Knives.

8. 1408. What is it about Stephen King adaptations lately that has allowed the male leads to have so much fun playing their parts? Like Johnny Depp in the underrated Secret Window, Cusack is pretty great in this. It's kind of spooky, but the payoff isn't as great as I was hoping. Dull Steak Knives.

9. We Are Marshall. They could've cut 5 montages set to early 70s music and there still would've been about 8 left. Great story, but the movie was annoying despite it. McConaughey did a pretty good job, really - not too bombastic, kind of silly. Matthew Fox does his tortured soul bit. It's also nice to see a few people I know personally on the big screen. But the direction, man... it's weak. You're Fired.

10. Live Free or Die Hard.  So it was way more ridiculous than the other Die Hard movies, but I still liked it better than most of the summer blockbusters I've seen recently.  Justin Long was stunningly not annoying as hell.  Here's the problem: I had fun watching it, but it's significantly less memorable than any of the other Die Hard movies.  Unfortunately, that means this is a You're Fired.

11. Sicko. I could write a lot about this, but I'll just leave it to this: people need to watch this and ask themselves, "what kind of country do we want to live in?". Moore's most significant film. Goddamnit. Cadillac.

12.  Superbad.  Fantastic.  I thought I'd missed the boat on this, because I was afraid I'd seen all the funny parts in previews.  I do think it would've been better to see in the theatre, with the crowd laughter adding to the experience, but it's pretty spectacular on DVD.  Michael Cera is a comedy genius.  Cadillac.

13.  A Mighty Heart.  This is a movie that makes me confused about how I feel about it.  On the one hand, Angelina Jolie does a fantastic job purely acting - it's an Oscar-reel role, but it didn't come off like a Lifetime movie.  On the other hand, I think the movie might've been better if she weren't in it at all.  I found the investigation scenes and the political intrigue parts significantly more interesting than the human interest side.  Winterbottom is one of the most capable storytellers in the business.  Look at his IMDB profile and the true stories he's taken on (or look at Paul Greengrass'), and then think about how much McG butchered the Marshall air disaster story.  Steak Knives.

14.  Rescue Dawn. This movie is a total throwback.  A war movie without politics, without irony, without forced comedy, without a forced romance.  And it's nice that a movie like this can get produced.  This is the sort of movie that got made in the mid-60s, but not really since.  That, to me, made it a nice movie, but it was also kind of "too" straight for my own sensibilities.  I see that as kind of flaw in my own personality though.  Bale is as good as always.  Steak Knives.

15.  Waitress.  Not quite lives up to the hype, but considering how terrible most romantic comedies are, I guess I could see why a lot of critics liked it.  The moral of the story is that being unfaithful is great in most cases?  Likable bit players get big roles here, so there's probably something for a lot of people.  Notable things: Jeremy Sisto's character captured the insecurity of an abuser well; Eddie Jemison's character will annoy you at first, but after a few scenes he's great.  For me, You're Fired, but in comparison to most rom coms, Steak Knives.

16. Ratatouille. Now here's a nice story, though I'm not sure that America's yet got the idea that animated movies aren't necessarily just for kids.  In fact, I'm not sure this movie is right for kids under 12 or so.  But it's very good.  Funny, sweet.  Patton Oswalt's fingers seem all over this movie.  Also, the camera moves (sort of, I guess) are some of the best I've seen in a movie in a few years.  Not quite as great as Monsters Inc., but far superior to Cars.  Cadillac/Steak Knives.

17. The Bourne Ultimatum.  The best action movie since Casino Royale.  Here's a movie that is just slightly below the perfection of the first two Bourne movies, but it fits in the trilogy just right.  The Waterloo Station scene was classic, as well as the chase in NYC.  It's an exceptional movie.  Cadillac.

18.  Hot Rod.  If you watch this with low expectations, you'll love it.  I laughed a whole lot.  The timing of the editing perfectly added to the comedy.  The axiom that "if it's funny once, it's funny every time" is proved true again and again in this movie.  A goofy comedy is good if it makes you laugh.  I was in a crappy mood when I watched it, but laughed my ass off.  Sharp steak knives.

19.  Letters From Iwo Jima.  I wasn't in the right mood when I watched this, so my judgment is probably not to be trusted.  It was OK, though I don't think I saw anything different from what I already knew about WWII in the Pacific.  Some of the images shown are startling.  Cinematography is good (though it was hard to tell what was going on in some of the scenes).  But I was kind of tired/bored/distracted.  Like I said, probably an unfair viewing.  But I don't think I'll watch it again.  You're Fired.

20. Veronica Mars - Third Season. From reading other views on this, I would've thought this would've been the worst of the three seasons. But, while there wasn't a moment in the third that compared favorably to the first season, the third season was much better (tighter, more fun) than the second. It's a shame that the network didn't give them a full 22 episodes. 100 more minutes would've been nice - especially since the finale was rushed but fantastic. This is the kind of TV show more should aspire to be.

Here's hoping I didn't miss any because I forgot watching them.


peacedog said...

1. I guess it depends on who you ask. FWIw, I thought it was a bad movie. I'm all about suspending disbelief to a point, but this one just stretched the grounds of credibility. But here's a theory of reknowned game critic Tom Chick:

Carlyle's "super zombie" wasn't really Carlyle the super zombie. Basically, after he becomes a vehicle to unleash the rage virus again, he's done and we don't ever see him again in the movie. What we see, though, is the glimpses that the children are catching as they flee, frightened, London. So it's all symbolism about being abandoned by parents, and how you can't trust adults, and blah blah blah. When we see Carlyle, he's either not there or it's just another infected, but if it's him it's because it's the POV of one of the kids.

I thought it was an interesting theory, but a too-large stretch. And the entire setup just pushed the bounds of credibility too far. The first movie fell back on the tired "corrupt army guys" cliche, but was still a great flick IMO.

Are you looking forward to Cloverfield (our very first entry into the hand-held camera giant monster movie sub genre)?

2. I thought X-men 3 was awful. Which is too bad.

3. Ok, bear in mind that in the theatrical version, we skipped the lapdance and a few other scenes (as part of the charm - missing/broken reels with messages saying as such; Planet terror had the same things happen). So your 45 minutes too long was probably ~15-20 too long for that half of the double feature. But I mostly agree. . . not enough car scenes, a little over the top on some of the dialogue.

I thought Russel was good in his part, though. A letdown for me in the end.

4 + 5 - haven't seen. Skipped spiderman 3 out of fear, and haven't heard a single good thing about it from friends.

6 - I liked it too. A little too fantastic, perhaps (* end subtle dig at poor Newscastle fans, who don't deserve it*), but very enjoyable/watchable. Though I Thought the whole thing with his dad was a little weird.

The guy who played the crazy partying attacking midfielder (at least, that's what I took his position to be), wasn't he Pollux Troy?

7 - haven't seen it yet but I was hoping it'd be better than the second. Which had it's moments, but mostly felt like a series of enjoyable but disconnected scenes with lots of filler. Big Cassel fan here.

8 - nice to hear. I was very pleasantly surprised by Secret Garden.

9 - I think I'm done with this kind of sports movie (Goal was a pleasant exception). In much the same way that I'm done with historical epics like Braveheart. I think both genres peaked some time ago, and both need a rest.

17 - best of the series, no question. But it could still use some help on the editing/camera work front. I read somewhere that the reason the car chase in #2 was so filmed is because they got to Moscow and discovered they would not be allowed to go over 35mph. Lol.

Damon was surprisingly effective in the role, though, dating back to the first movie. With a better hand over seeing the action scenes, this series would have been a classic start to finish.

20. One of the reasons they did what they did with the "3 smaller story arcs as opposed to one large one" is because Kristen Bell was apparently suffering from Exhaustion after season 1, and so they scaled back on her a little bit in season 2, which helped her but maybe caused the series to suffer a bit. Still, Season 2 ended on such a bang.

Season 3's end was a bummer, IMO, simply due to the threat of cancellation hanging over the show. The attempts made by the CW (or whatever) to present the show in a slightly different manner were not welcome at all. They took the effective Dandy Warhol opening song and neutered it, and for the first few eps of the season they'd go to commercial but first spend 30 seconds at a "round table" of younger highschool chicks discussing the show//issues like what's going on in the show.

Season 3 was doomed right out of the gate, in other words.

I think the Veronica-Logan storyline was badly mis-handled, but then I also tend to think that the show suffered just from all the negativity surrounding the cancellation rumors, and that caused this. And yes, I just wrote about a boy-girl storyline in a positive manner (shoot me now).

Still, a very big fan of the show overall. Bell was completely wasted on the awful Heroes Season 2 this fall, alas.