Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Movie Wrap-Up

For some reason I've seen a lot of new movies these past few weeks. Some capsule reviews:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - It seems as if each successive Harry Potter movie is darker than the last. I expect that for Deathly Hallows Part 2 they'll finally push the saturation knob all the way down to 0 and it'll effectively be an audiobook that you listen to in the dark. Aside from that -- frankly, this was the most boring, angsty Harry Potter movie I've seen so far. I think that breaking the final book of the series up into "Part 1" and "Part 2" is a rather obvious effort on the part of the studio to extract every last possible penny from our pockets. Also -- I'd strongly advise not seeing this unless you have at least a passing familiarity with the rest of the books. My family made the mistake of taking my father to see this while he was visiting, and he didn't know what the hell was going on (and I was a bit fuzzy on some of the plot details myself).
  • Night of the Demons - Any movie that uses Concrete Blonde's Bloodletting as the background soundtrack to scenes of New Orleans debauchery automatically gets a +1 from me. But the rest of this movie was just pointless. It failed at least half of the rules Mark Twain laid out in Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, primarily the one that mandates that the reader / viewer care whether the characters live or die.
  • TRON: Legacy - An expensive disappointment. And by "expensive", I mean I dropped $56 to take the family to see this in "Real3D DX" and it really wasn't very good. Frankly, it was like watching the original TRON re-rendered at 8x the resolution with .25x the plot. The Daft Punk soundtrack (and their brief cameos) were the real standouts. Visually, it looked like a Syd Mead wet-dream -- but somehow it still managed to be trite and forgettable.
  • Predators - As with Night of the Demons above, this was pretty much pointless from the beginning and totally lacking in sympathetic characters. There's a "surprising plot twist" near the end that I'm sure anyone with an IQ over 100 figured out 15 minutes in. There's one cool part where this Yakuza guy takes on a Predator with a samurai sword, but beyond that, there's pretty much nothing of interest here. Disappointing. I sure hope Machette is better than this.
  • Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall - I really enjoyed these movies (perhaps because I had low expectations). Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a pretty basic "boy loses girl" plot but I found myself actually liking the characters, and I enjoyed the quirky humor (for instance, Sarah is the star of the television show "Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime"). Also, I cannot lie, it was also nice to see Kristen Bell wearing a lot less than she ever wore on Veronica Mars. Get Him to the Greek is something of a spin-off, based loosely on My Favorite Year with Russell Brand's unflappable, burnt-out rock star "Aldous Snow" playing the part of Peter O'Toole's "Alan Swann" -- but with a lot more sex and drugs. Again, a lot of quirky humor (and a fun little cameo from Metallica's Lars Ulrich) and likeable characters. But beware: you don't wanna watch either of these movies with the kids.
  • The Ring - Again, I'm one of the last people in the world to see this. And I know a lot of people think this was just an awesome horror film. But it left me with a big "meh".
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World - One of -- maybe the best -- movie I've seen this holiday season. And, oddly enough, my teenage kids enjoyed it too, and I had fun watching it with them. My only criticism is that they could have trimmed 15 minutes. But don't let that put you off of seeing this gem. I've seen a lot of movies that are based on comics--errr "graphic novels"-- but this is the only movie I've ever seen that managed to successfully pull off "graphic novel look-and-feel" in a manner that was fresh and original throughout the entire film. A fast-paced movie that's fun and sweet at the same time.
  • The Box - I'd read the short story and also seen the Twilight Zone version. The movie succeeded in taking a simple concept and making it, well, sorta stupid. It's the kind of movie where you get hooked watching it, trying to figure out WTF is happening -- and then at the end, it's like "oh". Visually, I'll give the movie points for capturing a genuine 1976 look-and-feel, and some scenes were a very effective homage to the whole 1950's Cold War / Bodysnatchers kind of alien paranoia (I assume this was on purpose).

So I guess I'm kinda hard to please. I could go on -- I've been working my way through a number of lists of "most disturbing films ever made" (which probably deserves a post of its own -- I'm finding myself surprisingly un-disturbable)(although Martyrs certainly left an impression) and also watching some mindless-but-fun action movies (2 Fast 2 Furious, District B13, the Transporter movies and some horror classics like Final Destination and Hellraiser).

That said, I watched a few trailers last night for upcoming 2011 features that look somewhat interesting:

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