Monday, July 14, 2008

A Few Quick Movie Reviews

I realized that we've been remiss in posting reviews of the movies we've been to recently. For the most part sheer laziness is to blame (well... sheer laziness, AND a lot of "life stuff" and "work stuff")

So, just some quick hits.

  1. Kung Fu Panda:

    Best animated kids movie I've seen since "The Incredibles". Fun every minute, attention grabbing, beautifully animated without drawing attention to the animation. Yes, the story is cliched, but actually, that in itself is a bit of geeky metahumor, as an homage to classic Kung Fu movies.

    Also, the voice acting was great. Dustin Hoffman was BRILLIANT, and Jack Black was fun, and funny, without being irritating.

  2. Wanted:

    This is without a doubt the best gun movie since "Equilibrium". Is it ridiculous? YES! But in a good way.

    The stunts are definitely over the top, but it fits with the rest of the movie, the style and the substance; and it all works. Jolie is great, in an atypically understated and quiet kind of way, and James McAvoy was great fun to watch, as he goes from Tobey Maguire to Jason Statham over the course of the picture. Oh and a couple of real fun "Tyler Durden" moments.

  3. Get Smart:

    Funny, sweet, action packed, very human, never sappy or irritating. Steve Carrel and Anne Hathaway were damn near perfect . They didnt try to replace Don Adams and Barbara Felden, so much as to respect and honor them. Some of the writing (especially the pacing) could have been a bit better, bit the chemistry, wit, and performances made up for it.

    Out of this list, if you arent a comic book fanboy, this is the movie I'd see.

  4. The Hulk:

    Nowhere near as good as Iron Man, but fitting in with the Marvel universe very well. Edward Norton was Edward Norton (sweet, "complicated", sarcastic, wry etc...), Liv Tyler was Liv Tyler (think "Armageddon"). The bad guys are VERY VERY BAD AND EVIL, the good guys... Well, there really aren't any good guys, except in relation to the bad guys.

    I'm making it sound worse than it is; it's a good movie, worth seeing, but neither a great movie, nor a great comic book movie. It's really more of a setup for the expanded Marvel universe movies coming over the next three years.

  5. Hancock:

    Holy crap this was a fun, and funny movie. There were moments when I was literally reduced to tears of laughter, as was the whole theater with me.

    Will Smith was completely perfect; managing to mix humor, with anger, and loss, and grit... GREAT performance. At first I thought Batemans performance was a bit awkward.. more shades of "Arrested Development" than what it should have been, but over time his character grew on me.

    I wasn't too impressed with Charlize Theron here; I felt she was a bit one dimensional, both in writing and in performance. Not entirely her fault, but Smith and Bateman did a good job with equally one dimensional characters.

    The only real problem with the movie is a lack of depth. Most people went into this movie presuming that it was based on a long standing but obscure comic book (as "Wanted" was for example). In fact, the movie was written as sort of an excercise "what would you write, iif you were to write a comic book movie from scratch, without any source material". So, you end up with a lot of potential there, that is wrapped up a bit neatly, and left unexplored.

    Some critics found this aspect of the film disappointing enough to review it poorly. I say, treat the film as a traditional short form science fiction story (which is basically what it is), and you'll love it. Expect too much out of it... well, this isn't exactly "The Dark Knight Returns".

  6. Hellboy II:

    Don't let what I'm about to say put you off this movie...

    I was disappointed.

    Don't get me wrong, I really liked it. The movie was beautiful, and fun, and exceptionally well acted by the leads. Ron Perlman put in a more human, and funnier, performance under all that makeup, than most actors are capable of on their best day. Selma Blair was a bit one dimensional, but had a great (and VERY sexy) presence and chemistry with Red.

    I was also greatly impressed by the performance offered by Luke Goss (an actor I generally don't like) as Prince Nuada; who again played off Perlman very well; though it should be noted they worked together in heavy makeup before (in Blade II).

    Also both the cinematography, and the general run of the direction, were excellent. It was a beautiful movie, at the same time both large, and claustrophobic (intentionally). There were a couple of really great set pieces.

    Where I was disappointed, was in the story. There was SO much potential there, that just wasn't realized. The depth of the backstory is in the character, and the storyline explored here, to really have made this a classic of the genre...

    Which may in fact have been part of the problem. The thickness of that back story may have got in the way of the storytelling a little bit; because Del Toro wanted to touch all sorts of areas; but couldnt go deeply where he needed to to make those areas important... or in some cases even make sense.

    Honestly, there were SO many plot points raised, and dropped. SO many unfollowed leads, or story elements jsut barely touched and either abandoned or adressed shallowly; that it hurt the movie.

    What bugs me the most though, is that the quality was there, what they really needed was more time to explore; and they could have had it. The movie was only 110 minutes with credits; and audiences in this genre are fully prepared to sit for 150 plus credits. If they had taken the 150 minutes, this movie would have been spectacular. As it was, it was just OK. A competent sequel that you should see, but nothign to write home about.

    Here's hoping for a directors cut.