Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie Mon. - "Still Funny About the Sheep, Eh?"

Black Sheep: Amusing horror-comedy from New Zealand about genetic experiments gone awry, resulting in a herd of bloodthirsty, carnivorous sheep which can only be stopped by the efforts of a spacey environmental nut named Experience and a former farm boy afflicted with crippling ovinophobia (a.k.a. fear of sheep). Although most of the humor is mined from the absurdity of killer sheep and not so much witty dialog, I have admit that that was enough to keep me entertained -- watching the hapless victims get tackled by flying sheep never wore thin. And while the script might not have been filled with the great witty remarks that set apart the cream of the horror-comedy crop (Shaun of the Dead, Slither), neither was it devoid of non-physical humor. All in all, a solid little film that is well worth watching by fans of the genre.

Live Free or Die Hard: Latest installment of the adventures of John "King of Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time" McClane who this time gets wrapped up in a massive plot revolving around a coordinated attack on the transportation and telecommunications, financial, and utilities infrastructure. One of those nice, check-your-brain-at-the-door action films with fun action set-pieces and snappy banter. My suspension of disbelief was stretched to the breaking point only once, during the fighter jet sequence; the rest of the unbelievable stunts I was able to reconcile, but that one got to me. Still, a fun movie overall.

Rescue Dawn: Interesting look at the real life story of Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. pilot shot down over Laos and taken prisoner during the Viet Nam War, and his eventual escape. Bale does a great job, as does Steve Zahn in an unusually dramatic role. A bit of dark humor throughout, as the ordeals of the P.O.W.s leads them into borderline insanity at times. Extremely well done film, as to be expected with a director the caliber of Werner Herzog at the helm; interestingly enough, Herzog also directed a documentary about Dengler, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, close to ten years ago -- yes, it is now in my queue.

Hairspray: Fun adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, which was itself based on John Water's 1988 semi-musical film of the same name. One of the things I like the most about the music in Hairspray is how well the songwriters were able to capture the style of the times -- where the songs in Dreamgirls felt like Broadway versions of Motown, most of the songs in Hairspray felt like pieces from the period. While I was sorry not all of the songs made it in to the film (really missed hearing a full version of It Takes Two), the songs which did make the cut were all handled very well; I think that the nature of the soundtrack will make this one of those musicals that's enjoyed by people who don't normally enjoy musicals, a la Grease. I was very impressed with James Marsden's performance as dance show host Corny Collins; had no idea the Oklahoma native could sing that well, let alone dance. As for John Travolta donning the fat suit and wig to play the overweight Edna Turnblad, well, while I was never quite sure what his accent was supposed to be, I have to admit, very seldom did the thought "that's John Travlota in drag" distract me from the film.