Monday, February 13, 2006

Movie Mon. - Surprisingly, the "First Person Shooter' P.O.V. Was Not the Worst Thing About "Doom" . . . That Would Be the Plot.

No real unqualified raves this week, and even a couple of "avoid if humanly possible" ones. I'm hoping tomorrow's new releases fare better than last week's; I'm particularly looking forward to Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Mirrormask, which has all the makings of a cult classic

On to the reviews

Daltry Calhoun: Incredibly bland comedy about a pot-head turned sod salesman having to deal with the teenage daughter he never knew he had. The movie tries to be quirky, but fails miserably, drowned out by its schmaltziness. Johnny Knoxville does a passable job acting, but there's really just not much to work with. Not a bad movie, per se, but far from a good one, either.

Doom: Sub-par action flick based on the first-person shooter game which sucked up way too much of my time back in college with very little to show for it other than frustration; keeping that in mind, the movie was pretty faithful, I suppose . . . Honestly not as bad as all the reviews made it seem (quite a bit better than any of Uwe Bol's efforts, for example), but still pretty bad. I think I might have been able to give it the benefit of a "mediocre" rating if it hadn't been for the idiotic fist fight that comprised the endpiece of the film; I'm all for senseless violence but come on!

The Dark Hours: Psychological thriller about a criminal psychologist whose weekend in the country with her husband and sister is interrupted by one of her former patients looking for revenge for her treatment of him. Pretty tense movie with good acting and interesting characterizations, and although I wasn't too fond of the big twist on general principle, I thought it was handled as well as such a twist could be. Think horror fans who aren't die-hard gorehounds might appreciate this one.

Evil Alien Conquerors: Intentionally stupid comedy about a couple of would-be alien conquerors who are unbelievably inept. The first hour or so of the film had moments of mild entertainment, but the last 30 minutes or so were filled with things that made me laugh out loud, almost all of which centered on the character of Croker, an evil alien giant who refuses to admit that a teleporter mishap has reduced him to normal human size. I don't think any description I can give can do adequate justice to the performance of Tyler Labine (currently seen as the conspiracy-nut brother on Invasion) in the role; his infomercial scenes made the whole film worthwhile, for me at least. One of those films that I can't really recommend to much of anyone I know other than possibly Zinger.

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit: Feature length Claymation film starring everyone's favorite British crackpot inventor and his long-suffering canine companion. As a fan of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, I'd been looking forward to this one. While it contains the same sensibilities and sense of humor as the shorts, I think W&G works better in short form. Gotta love all of the bunny scenes, though, and the Rube Goldberg devices are entertaining as usual. Entertaining film, with lots of little visuals gags throughout.

Two Men Went to War: True story of two British soldiers during WWII who struck out on a solo mission into occupied France to destroy Nazi targets, but went AWOL in order to do so. The film plays up the bumbling nature of the two, striving for a comedic tone which never really worked for me. Well acted film, but I just couldn't get into it.

The Innocents: Subtle horror film from the 60s based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw about a nanny who becomes convinced that her wards are being possessed by the spirits of their old nanny and her abusive lover. Stylish and creepy, the film leans heavily towards the "this is actually happening" interpretation of the story, although the ambiguity of the nanny's sanity does come into play throughout. Very well done film

Elizabethtown: Have you ever been frustrated at a film, and then been frustrated at your frustration? That pretty much sums up my Elizabethtown experience: as I watched the film I became frustrated because I felt it didn't live up to its potential, and then felt frustrated with myself because I was doing something I hate to see other people do, i.e. judging a film harshly because its flashes of brilliance are just that: flashes. Every time the film floundered all I could think was "but you were doing so well!" The film revolves around a recently fired shoe designer (Orlando Bloom, doing a pretty nice American accent) whose suicide attempt is interrupted by news of his father's death; on his way to retrieve the body he becomes involved with an outgoing stewardess (the always charming Kirsten Dunst). I loved most of the scenes between Bloom and Dunst, and was also appreciative of most of the scenes between Bloom and his father's side of the family, a great big boisterous clan that reminded me of my own family in several ways. But then there were the scenes dealing with his mother, almost all of which brought the film to a screeching halt, particularly the ill-advised stand-up/tap-dance routine at the memorial; it just felt out of place, not to mention over-long. I'm giving this one a cautious recommendation; yes, the film is far from perfect, but I think there are enough nice touches to make it worth your while.