Monday, January 12, 2009

Mega-Movie Monday Pt. 1 - Lot o' Catching Up to Do

I've seen quite a few movies over the last couple of months, especially over Christmas break with my folks. With over 30 films to review I figured I'd try to break them down into a couple of posts, and then label them with categories for your browsing pleasure.

ANIMATION

Horton Hears a Who: So-so animated adaption of the Dr. Seuss tale about an elephant trying to protect a microscopic world that only he believes exists. Nothing really negative to say about it, just didn't really hold my interest.

Happily N'ever After: Sub-par animated film about what happens when Cinderella's evil step-mother gains access to mystical scales that govern whether fairy tales turn out "happily ever after" or not. Couple of clever ideas here and there, but on the whole, I recommend just re-watching Hoodwinked or one of the Shrek films.

Kung Fu Panda: Animated film about a bumbling panda whose dreams of becoming a master of kung-fu become reality after being named as the chosen one from prophecy. One of the better animated films I've seen recently; not spectacular, but definitely enjoyable, especially the fight sequences.

Wall-E:
Excellent animated film about a lonely trash-compacting robot whose solitary existence on a long-abandoned Earth is interrupted by the arrival of survey robot with whom he falls in love. Gotta love Pixar films -- well, except Cars, didn't really care for Cars -- and Wall-E is one of their best efforts. I know some folks felt it was a bit preachy with its "green" message, but I didn't think it was preachy at all.

ACTION/ADVENTURE/SF

The X-Files: I Want to Believe: The second big-screen X-Files film revolves around a defrocked priest besieged by visions of murder which bring Mulder and Scully back to duty to investigate. An okay film; I might have gotten more out of it if I'd been a more die-hard X-Files fan, but as it was, it just didn't hold my interest.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon: The third installment in The Mummy series sees the O'Connell clan once again battling a mystically reanimated mummy, only this one is Chinese and not Egyptian. As far as sequels go, I've seen worse, but this one definitely didn't live up to its predecessors, not the least of which was the lack of Rachel Weisz.

Sukiyaki Western Django: Highly stylized Western from Takashi Miike about a gunslinger caught up in a feud between two rival gangs on the hunt for treasure. Although filmed in Japan with a predominantly Japanese class, the movie was filmed in English, leading to some interesting line readings here and there.

Doomsday: Post-apocalyptic tale with heavy Mad Max vibe ; the plot revolves around a doomsday virus which decimated Scotland, turning it into a quarantined no man's land whose surviving inhabitants have turned savage. Quite a bit different from what I thought it would be, but in a good way. Although I have to say, the gratuitous exploding vehicles during the climactic chase sequence were waywayWAY over the top.

COMEDY

An American Carol: Super-right-wing spoof that takes copious shots at Michael Moore and other liberals in the most ham-fisted way imaginable. I won't say it was a total waste of time, but pretty close, and I say that as someone who can't stand Michael Moore. You'd think a movie mocking him would be right up my alley, and yet the utter lack of subtlety in its anti-liberal message drove me insane.

The House Bunny: Story of a ditzy Playboy Bunny (the always hilarious Anna Faris) who gets kicked out of the mansion and becomes house mother to a Sorority of misfits in danger of losing their charter if they don't increase their numbers. Pretty predictable plot, and occasionally squirm-inducing due to unbelievable awkwardness on the dorky girls parts. Still, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud sections, most of which are the work of Faris, such as this bit which never fails to crack me up.



Comedy gold, people, comedy gold.

Sydney White: Film loosely based on the tale of Snow White, with Amanda Bynes as the titular character who is drummed out of a sorority by a girl jealous of her burgeoning popularity, and is forced to move into a ramshackle house populated by Seven Dorks. Another pretty predictable film, but it managed to keep me entertained largely through the Seven Dorks, particularly "Grumpy" (Danny Strong of Buffy and Gilmore Girls) and "Dopey."

School of Scoundrels: Movie about a meek parking meter attendant (Jon Heder) who enrolls in a secretive class designed to make him more assertive lead by a manipulative jerk (Billy Bob Thornton). Had trouble getting through some sections of the film early on when Heder's character was in full-on spaz mode -- especially his first date with Jacinda from The Real World London -- but there were enough funny parts scattered throughout that I didn't feel like this was a complete waste of time. Still, glad I caught it on my DVR and didn't pay for it.

Mama Mia!: Big-screen adaptation of the smash Broadway hit musical about a girl who tries to find out the identity of her father in time for her wedding. This one didn't really gel for me at all, although my parents both loved it; mom even bought it for dad for Christmas*.

Fred Claus: Film centering on the centuries-old sibling rivalry between Saint Nick (Paul Giamatti) and his older -- and equally immortal -- brother Frederick (Vince Vaughn). Much better than I thought it was going to be, although that could be a case of damning with faint praise.

Step Brothers: Will Ferrell vehicle finds him playing a petulant man-child still living at home with his mother whose world is turned upside down after she marries a man with his own over-grown slacker child in tow. Alternates between cringe-worthy sequences and laugh-out-loud moments, such as the moment when Ferrell's character and his older brother try to hug for the first time**



Not Ferrell's best effort, but more than enough funny parts to make it worth a look

DRAMA

Shotgun Stories: Low budget drama about two sets of half-brothers who erupt into a blood feud following the death of their father. Acting is hit or miss, but on the whole, not a bad little film.

Red: Erroneously billed as a horror film, this drama tells the tale of a widower whose dog is killed by some rebellious teens, leading him to at first seek restitution, and later, retribution. A bit too slow-moving for my tastes, but that could have been a result of me going into it thinking it was a completely different sort of film than it really was.

The Visitor:
Engaging drama about a listless college professor whose life is transformed after he discovers that his New York apartment has been illegally sublet to a couple of illegal immigrants. More of a character study than anything else.

Seven Pounds: Tear-jerker about a man (Will Smith) trying to atone for a mistake which claimed the lives of several people. Fairly well-done movie, although not one I'd enthusiastically recommend to people; for my money, I'd say wait for a rental. But, since I saw this with my folks and they bought the tickets, I can't complain.

Married Life: Period piece set in the 1950s about a married man who wants to leave his wife for his mistress, but hates the thought of causing her pain and so decides that the most humane thing to do is kill her. This one turned out to be nowhere near as dark and twisty as that synopsis might make it seem; don't know if that was a product of the period nature of the film or what, but while the movie had solid acting from its impressive cast (including Pierce Brosnon, Chris Cooper, and Patricia Clarkson) I felt a bit short-changed, which is why this is included in the "Drama" category and not the "Odd Squodd Friendly" category which will kick off part two of my reviews.

*
She did, however, buy it in BluRay instead of DVD, which was a bit of a problem . . .
**When I showed that clip to my mom, she asked "Is that what's it's like trying to give PigPen a hug?" I responded "Pretty close."

2 comments:

Flunky lover said...

When I saw Sydney White, I thought you might be interested in the dorks. I'm surprised you saw the movie. It was on tv and I found it hard to stop watching for some reason.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Fluffy and Blondie had seen it and talked it up quite a bit, and after I saw several actors I like in the cast I was intrigued, so when I saw it was on cable last week I decided to give it a try.