Monday, January 7, 2008

Movie Reviews

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekends. Don't have any profound thoughts this early, so here are some movies I've seen recently.

Ghost Rider: Full disclosure: This was one of my favorite comic books when I was growing up. I'm sure there is some psychological insight into my personality that I related to a guy that made a pact with the devil, became his demon bounty hunter, then decided to fight evil and oppose the authority that gave him his powers in the first place - but I choose not to delve too deeply into that aspect. Instead I just think it's cool how he bursts into flames and drives a kick ass chopper. Anyway, this movie - while not great or even good for that matter - was entertaining enough for me. Nicholas Cage was an odd casting choice, but he's fine in it and the special effects are top notch. Plus, I like that they stuck with the basic story and didn't try to make it new age. Looking forward to a sequel if they make one.

The Bourne Ultimatum: The most intelligent action movie ever made. It has an actual plot you need to pay attention to and everything! Matt Damon is perfect for the role of Bourne (you learn his real name in this one, which makes me wonder if future installments will be under that name from now on) as he has the everyman look and never over acts. You believe he's a professional assassin who never loses his cool. I enjoyed the first two, but this one tops them both.

Quick note: While you don't need to see the first two to enjoy this one, I recommend it. It helps to keep the story straight. Otherwise you're inundated with two movies worth of recaps which can be overwhelming (as my wife discovered).

Spider-Man 3: My problem with super hero movies (going back to the first Batman movie) is that there is too much emphasis put on the villians and not enough on the heroes. The first two Spider Man movies avoided this beautifully, but this one falls into the trap. Here we have Sandman, the New Goblin and some strange black goo that coincidentally enough lands from outer space right next to Peter Parker and attaches itself to his suit. What happened to his spider sense when this goo was crawling all over his apartment? Full of implausible, convenient twists (Harry losing his memory being a huge one) and has way too much going on (girlfriend and work trouble are added in, as well), but still has some of the best action scenes of the three. Not terrible, just disappointing compared to the first two.

Vacancy: A slick, mean, streamlined thriller that uses a few ridiculous cliches (the killer showing up out of nowhere being one) in a tension filled 85 minutes. It's the first thriller in a long time I was actually on the edge of my seat. The underground tunnel sequence is first rate.

The Messengers: Another in a long, tedious line of PG-13 'horror' movies that are a complete waste of time. If you're going to waste my time with this drivel then make it R and show some gore and nudity. Man, do I have to do everything?

Mr Brooks: See? Like this. A stupid waste of time, but it has a sex scene and lots of blood flying around. Is that so hard? To be honest, I thought this was going to be a disaster, but it wasn't that bad. I liked the basic story line, but it got bogged down with Dane Cook and Demi Moore's love life, the daughter and winds up getting completely sidetracked. A movie that needed a script doctor in the worst way.

Knocked Up: Expectations can be a terrible thing for a movie. Reviewers and word of mouth had me amped up for this, but it was just ok. Disappointing would be the word. It's not that it's terrible, I just expected more. It was amusing in spots, but underneath the crude humor and pot jokes, this was a chick flick for party girls. When the main female character says 'Who would have known the guy that knocked me up would also be the one', you cringe. Not just because it's lame, but the guy she 'falls for' is a complete loser who laughs at his own lame jokes and you're left wondering if she means it or is trying to talk herself into believing it. If you want to see the crew behind this at the top of their game, rewatch 'Anchorman'.

As for an unwanted pregnancy movie.....

Waitress: Watch this quiet, funny, touching little movie. It stars that 'Felicity' girl who is trapped in a loveless, semi abusive marriage and discovers - to her horror - she is pregnant. I can't give away too much about this as it will ruin the pleasures, just rent it when you have an hour and half to kill. Oh, and here's one vote for Andy Griffith for Best Supporting Actor. Yeah, you read that right.

Sidenote on this: The movie was written and directed by Adrienne Shelley (might not be spelled right) who was murdered after the film was completed. It's a strange story made more depressing when you see how good this movie turned out. Shelley also stars as one of the waitresses.

Alvin and The Chimpmunks: I took my seven year old to this yesterday and it one of the worst things ever put on film. Just a train wreck. Jason Lee (from 'My Name Is Earl') submits one of the worst performances ever and, while the chipmunks are cute, the story is all over the place. My seven year old kept asking me if I liked it and I finally said 'What did you think? Did you like it?'. He takes a long pause and says 'There were some funny parts, but it was boring, too.' Well said, my son. I should point out the few funny parts are what are shown during the ads.

Today's distraction: List of the Top 50 Dystopian Movies of all time. I always thought 'They Live' and 'Dark City' were movies that were over looked. If I catch either one on cable, I'll still watch them all the way to the end. Funny how some movies never catch on, despite being very good in their own right.


Jim Hammen said...

Oh man! I surprisingly enjoyed Mr. Brooks in spite of the Dane Train, and I love Knocked Up. There are definite chick flick tendencies, but way, way too many funny guy parts for this to be labeled a chick flick.

BeachBum said...

There were some funny parts, especially when they focused on the guys living together (the web site, the bet about not shaving or cutting his hair for a year, them all getting pink eye), but not enough of it. They spent more time on the irritating married couple.

Jim Hammen said...

Yeah but 1/2 of that irritating couple was Paul Rudd, who is the shit. Hilarious.

.alex. said...

I may reference your list when I'm hunting for movies. I also thought Mr. Brooks was good. Thanks for the encouragement...the hardest part is putting on the shoes! I have to put on my shoes!

BeachBum said...

Mr Brooks was better than I thought. Something odd happened with Kevin Costner. He could do no wrong early in his career, then everyone turned on him after 'The Postman' and now he can do no right.

I thought he did a good job in Mr Brooks and in 'The Guardian' which I forgot to add to my review list. That was a decent movie, too. A bit too Top Gun in spots, but I respect what the Coast Guard does more now, than I did before.

Give Waitress a shot and let me know what you think. Wife and I both loved that one.

Good luck with the running! I'll let you know when I get up to a mile.

And, JH, you're right - Rudd is hilarious, just less so in this movie. I still wait for the 'You know how I know you're gay?' part in 40 Year Old Virgin every time it's on. Or the 'Big box of porn'. That was classic.