Monday, December 12, 2005

Movie Mon. - Unacceptable! You've Confused Beams With Rays!

Thanks to UNT closing all day on Thursday I was able to get several movies watched and sent back to Netflix, with luck I'll have timed the returns just right to get the new releasesThe 40-year Old Virgin, The Baxter, The Island, and Pretty Persuasion shipped to me today, although I'd settle for the special edition of the original King Kong in preparation for the Peter Jackson version that comes out this week.

Now, on to the reviews

Sky High: Have to say, I really enjoyed this one. Yes, its plot is pretty formulaic, but it’s a movie aimed primarily at kids, so I kind of expected that gong in. The one thing I was worried about from the trailers was the over-the-top, slapstick-style humor, but it was mercifully a very small part of the film. Lots of fun with super-hero tropes in this, especially all of the sidekick class stuff. Especially enjoyed Dave Foley as Kurt Russell’s former sidekick; if you rent the DVD be sure to watch the alternate opening to see Dave in full "Boy Hostage" mode. A nice cameo by former Mr. Show castmates and current spouses Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as the couple whose house narrowly escapes destruction at the end. Also liked the character of Stitches, the villain's henchman.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Wow, and I thought that episode of Buffy where she and Spike brought the house down had a twisted message about sex and violence, although I have to admit, the post-coital breakfast in the ruined kitchen the next morning was a nice touch. And you've gotta love the mass evacuation of the she-spies from the top of the skyscraper, just for the wonderful absurdity of it all. All in all, a pretty enjoyable action film that could have benefited from some better pacing. Oh, and a satisfying ending with real resolution would have been nice, too.

Cinderella Man: You know how sometimes there's a movie that just doesn't appeal to you, and no matter how many awards it winds, no matter how much acclaim it gets, no matter how many people you know rave about it, you just have no real desire to see it? Sometimes, after finally seeing the movie, the avoidance feels justified (Titanic, Meet the Parents), and sometimes you find that all of the praise was on target (Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator). Well, Cinderella Man turned out to be one of the latter for me. A lot of my reluctance to see it came from a general distaste for Russell Crowe's public persona, which was compounded by the knowledge that the film plays fast and loose with some of the facts, particularly in the way it portrayed Max Baer as a blood-thirsty villain who bragged about killing a man in the ring, a portrayal that did not sit well with Baer's family. And yet, once I started watching it, all of that disappeared. Yes, I cringed at the demonization of Baer (although, to be fair, both the backhand and the low blow in the final fight did happen in real life; I just doubt that they were delivered with quite as much gleeful malevolence as seen here), but outside of that, the story of the underdog rising up to victory and inspiring a nation at the same time . . . heady stuff.

War of the Worlds: I like the way the film tried to stay faithful to the spirit of the novel, to some degree, keeping the focus on an ordinary man trying to survive in a suddenly extraordinary world. Cruise's character is always on the periphery of things; he's not the big hero who saves the world, not the only person with the key to stopping the invasion, just a man trying to keep his family from fracturing any more than it already has. Oh, sure, he takes down a tripod single-handedly, but hey, who hasn't? And, yes, he's the only one smart enough to notice when the sick tripod's shields are down, but . . . no, now, that, that was definitely a "Tom Cruise has to be a hero" moment. Now, as for the fractured family aspect, that I wasn't quite so thrilled with; the constantly questioning, disobedient children annoyed me greatly. I also liked the way they adapted quotations from the book for the narration bookends.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: A very well done adaptation of one of my favorites books from my childhood. I would like to see it again in a different setting while in a more suitable mood; I was feeling a little A.D.D. this evening, and I've decided that I only really enjoy movies at the Movie Tavern if they're shown on the biggest screen. But, non-helpful mental state aside, some excellent FX, and several examples of what the Sports Guy calls "chill moments," almost all of them revolving around Aslan, of course. I had been curious about how well they were going to pull of the sacrifice scene, and was very impressed; touching, and creepy, without going too far into the horrific for the little ones in the audience. Great acting jobs all around; Tilda Swinton is perfect as the White Witch, of course, but all four of the kids give fine performances as well. The overall battle scene was pretty well done, although I felt the choreography of the sword-fight between Peter and the Witch was a little weak. But the attack gryphons and charging centaurs and battling cheetahs, white tigers, and rhinos more than made up for that.


Fort Worth Squatch said...

So I FINALLY clicked on your link in the PFL Forum. Pretty entertainin' stuff. I must say that I'm pretty jealous that I don't have a code name. Maybe you could work on that? I think your blog will be pretty kick-ass when you get more stuff about me on there. Then again, most sites would benefit from a slew of stories about me. Not that I'm conceited or anything, I just lubs me some me. Let me tell you a little story about my blog. There is this ONE dude that is always commenting and he somehow finds a way to make his comment about himself no matter what. That's frikkin' annoying, isn't it?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

And here I thought The Squatch was a code name . . .

Welcome, oh Squatchy one, glad to see you could make it over to visit. And, as G'ovich, Cap'n Disaster, and Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate will tell you, the more you comment, the more you'll get mentioned. I am nothing if not a shameless sell-out.

CAP'N Disaster said...

I'm still waiting for more mentions of ME! Because the world revolves around me. F.O.S.M. (still needs a better nickname than this I think) says I'm concieted. I say I'm not CONCIETED, I'm just confident that I am beautiful and funny and deserve the praise and adoration of the masses, because the world revolves around me. And I'd only be concieted if I looked down on those poor unfortunate ugly people that are so much less cool and popular and deserving of attention than I...and I don't...much (will Cap'n Neurotic respond to this?)!

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

(that would be me following Cap'n D's instruction that I'm supposed to laugh at her "I don't look down on them . . . much" joke; I have now done my duty)

Bubblegum Tate said...

Far be it from me to take away from the trend of loving yourself and everything you do that these comments have strayed into.

I just wanted to ask some other folks' opinion about something. I saw Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this weekend as well. I really enjoyed it and also thought the kids did great. Did anybody else get the feeling that the casting call for Edmund read something like "Needed: Slouchy, scowling English boy-bastard."

Seriously, when Aslan asked everyone how Edmund could betray them to the Witch, the pause was so long I leaned over to my wife and whispered "well, he's always been a bit of a prick."

Cap'n Neurotic said...

What? Actually commenting on the film itself? It's madness, I tell you, madness!

Spot on on the Edmund comments, Tate, spot on.