Monday, January 09, 2006

Movie Mon. - One "Yes," One "No," One "Maybe"

Slow movie watching week, mainly because I just wasn't in the mood for any of the movies I had available to watch. Plus, I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting at my computer transcribing tapes from my holiday driving; kind of hard to watch a movie and listen to recordings of your own mindless ramblings at the same time.

But, that's neither here nor there. On to the reviews.

War of the Planets: Extremely low-budget SF film about a group of colonists on an alien world terrorized by the planet's native inhabitants. I don't remember where I read the positive review of this film that prompted me to put it in my queue; if I did, I would return to that site and drown it in a storm of trollish posts that would make John Byrne envious (I know only Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger will get that reference, but I'm okay with that). Where to begin with the film's shortcomings? I don't know if I even want to dignify it with that much time and effort; it's already sucked up more of my life than it should have.

My Date With Drew: Here's the premise; semi-loser Brian Herzlinger wins the jackpot on a game show thanks to a final question about his life-long crush, Drew Barrymore. Seeing it as a sign, he decides to use the winnings to help finance his quest to get a date with Drew, and document it all on film. The size of this windfall? $1100. Since he doesn't have a video camera, and buying one would make a sizable dent in his budget, he takes advantage of his friend's credit card (his credit being too horrible to do it himself) and Circuit City's generous return policy to obtain a video camera for 30 days, which then becomes the built-in deadline for his quest. I have to say, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed this film; I didn't exactly have the "I laughed, I cried, I gave it a 5 minute standing ovation" reaction that they recorded on the special features about the journey of the film to the big screen, but I did laugh quite a bit. Herzlinger is sort of a goofball, but an entertaining one; at one point he complains after watching footage of himself that he was acting like a muppet, to which all of his friends reply "But that's you! You are a big muppet!" The harshest critics of the film blast it for lacking meaning, for spotlighting a talentless hack, for promoting a stalker, for buying into the idolatry of celebrities, to which I reply: get off your freaking high horse, ya snobs! Is this film going to help foster world peace or change the way people view cinema? Doubtful. But then again, it's a film about a dork trying to get a date with a movie-star; if you're expecting it to be more than that, you're a bigger fool than the guy who gave a positive review to War of the Planets; man, did that stink.

Wolf Creek: Australian horror film with that time honored hook "inspired by true events." Not your typical slasher film, which is probably why it has gotten such wildly differing reviews from horror fans. I saw a matinee, and was satisifed that I got my money's worth; might not have felt so if I'd paid full price, but we'll never know for sure, will we? One of my problems with the film is the first hour, which is agonizing, but only in its slowness; I had a flashback to Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate's "There's an awful lot of driving in this picture" comment from when we saw John Carpenter's Vampire$; luckily, this film was nowhere near as crappy as that one. I have no problem with a horror film that takes time to set up characterization before unleashing the terror; some of my favorite horror films follow this formula (Jeepers Creepers and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre come to mind). No, the problem I had with the first hour of "characterization" was that there was precious little of entertainment value to be found; there were flashes here and there, but all in all the first half of the film left me underwhelmed. It definitely picked up after they discovered that their car wouldn't start and the killer was introduced; defintiely not your typical psycho killer, which was nice. The movie then became an odd mix of characters doing the stereotypical stupid stuff that characters always do in horror movies, and eschewing the same. I don't want to go into too much detail here, lest I ruin any suspense; the only thing that made me really want to slap a character around was when one of the victims decided to use time better spent making her big escape to slowly go through the killer's memorbilia; yes, it gave us some exposition, but dang, did it make her seem like a moron. "Hmm, the crazy killer man could come back any second, I'd better hurry . . . oh, look, video cameras! Wonder what's on them?" Sheesh. Most of the other "logic holes" the film's more savage critics point to are easily explained away, I think, but that one just bugs me. To sum up: worth a matinee/rental if you don't mind horror films, but don't expect a non-stop thrill-ride.