Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tardy Tuesday - Playing Catch-Up from Missed Movie Monday

Today's reviews will be going from "Best" to "Worst," just because I feel like it

Juno: Off-beat comedy about a teenage girl (the excellent Ellen Page) who decides to carry her unexpected pregnancy to term and then give the baby to a well-off couple with fertility problems (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner). Some people who didn't like the film cited the overly precocious dialogue, feeling that it was too self-concsiously hip, complaining that teenagers wouldn't talk like that, saying it's like one gigantic episode of Gilmore Girls. And if any of that sounds like it might turn you off, then please, feel free not to see the movie. But for me, the dialogue worked, the characters worked, the humor worked. I don't know if I'd buy into the "best movie of the year" hype, but definitely one of the better comedies I've seen recently.

Eagle vs. Shark:
Quirky comedy from New Zealand about a social misfit who falls in love with another social misfit (Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords) and travels home with him to witness his planned revenge on his old high school nemesis. Loved this movie, but be warned, it is most definitely not for everyone. Some have made the observation that it's almost a Kiwi Napoleon Dynamite, and I think there's some truth to that, as the humor is derived from the strange, quirky, but dead-pan behavior of the protagonists and their family and friends.

3:10 to Yuma:
Remake of the classic Western about a rancher fallen on hard times (Christian Bale) who volunteers to help guard notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) as he's transported to prison, all the while being pursued by the outlaw's bloodthirsty gang, led by his psychotic second in command (the increasingly creepy (in a good way) Ben Foster). The update was quite a bit more violent than the original, which was to be expected, and the addition of the whole rebellious son angle made me roll my eyes a bit, but I was pretty much all in on the movie until, oh, the last 15-20 minutes, when the writers of the new film decided to change the reason for Wade's decision to play along with the run to the train. In the original, the reasoning held true to Wade's twisted sense of honor and obligation; in the remake, it merely left you scratching your head while you did the mental gymnastics necessary to get the Wade of the rest of the movie to match up with the Wade of the last part. Not enough to ruin the movie for me, thanks to the bulk of the film being energized by excellent performances from all of the cast, but definitely enough to keep me from jumping on the "This is the best Western since Unforgiven" bandwagon that almost all of the critics seem to have joined.

Boy Eats Girl: Mildly amusing Irish horror-comedy about a teenager whose mother tries to bring him back to life with magic, only to unwittingly unleash a plague of zed-words on the town. As far as zed-word comedies go, this one ranks quite a ways below Fido, let alone Shaun of the Dead, but it does have its own strengths, including a likable cast and one of the most awesome scenes of zombie destruction by farm equipment in movie history. This one will probably only play to fans of the genre, whereas both Fido and Shaun have the potential to bridge the gap.

Resident Evil: Extinction:
Third (and possibly final) installment in the video-game based franchise finds a world almost completely overrun by T-virus infected being, with a few small pockets of humanity staying constantly on the move to survive. In terms of the franchise, I thought Extinction didn't live up the first film, but was better than Nemesis by far. A few too many "Why the heck did so-and-so do such a stupid thing?" moments for my liking, and the final battle with the mutated bad guy was a bit anticlimactic, but as far as mindless horror action movies go, you could do worse.

Shoot 'Em up:
Cartoony, over-the-top, incredibly stylized action film about a crazily proficient gunman named Smith (Clive Owens) who is trying to save an orphaned baby from a never-ending army of mercenaries led by the almost preternaturally perceptive Hertz (the incredibly effective Paul Giamatti). Let me first start off by saying that before starting this movie, you need to check your brain and sense of disbelief at the door; the action sequences are so mind-bendingly unrealistic that they make Crank and The Transporter films look like documentaries; if you go in prepared for that, you might be able to make it through. For me, it wasn't the unbelievable action scenes that pained me, it was the horrible one liners and mostly unlikable characters. In effect, if the moments which liked high-octane violence didn't contain Paul Giamatti, my interest was nil; I guess it's lucky that there were practically no non-violent scenes in the movie, huh?

Bland, unengaging "thriller" about a rogue assassin (Jet Li) starting a gang war between the Yakuza and Triads, while being hunted down by an FBI agent (Jason Statham) with a score to settle. Honestly, I just didn't care enough about this film one way or another to inspire any sort of rant about it; I will say that my favorite scene in the film was the one where Devon Aoki (Miho from Sin City) ordered a sandwich, which is really much more entertaining than it sounds. No, seriously.

Dragon Wars: Incredibly disappointing fantasy about a girl born with the power to elevate the giant serpents known as imoogi into full-fledged celestial dragons, a power that is coveted by the evil imoogi Baraki. Man, what a mess this was; horrible dialogue, execrable editing, plot holes you could herd a giant killer snake through . . . pitiful, pitiful film. I will say that the big battle sequence in the middle of L.A. -- the sequence which made up the bulk of the trailer and made me actually want to see the movie -- was pretty well done, but overall, the film was a waste of time.


Flunky lover said...

I enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma. I never saw the original but was still able to understand the end of the movie although it did take some reflection once the movie was over.