Monday, July 14, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW WRAP UP

SHORT TAKES
So, there are a few movies I’ve seen that I simply cannot muster enough excitement to churn out a big review, so here are the cliff notes on a few of the summer films I’ve seen that rate somewhere between the “meh” to the good.

Sex and the City
My wife is a huge fan of the show and has watched the entire se
ries from top to bottom a number of times and I’ve caught it in between those viewings with genuine interest. It was a well written and somewhat racy show, with great bits of comedy and evenly spaced drama. In short, it was a typically well made HBO series.

That being said, I wasn’t exactly frothing at the mouth to watch SJP and co. strut their middle-aged stuff on the big screen, however that doesn’t seem to matter seeing as I am not the core audience. What surprised the hell out of me was the huge gap in the demographic when I went to the theater. I expected to be labeled a pussy whipped man-boy for venturing into a darkened theater to be adorned in the world of shit talking, white bread bitches in New York…and I was. But, the sight of girls and women, from sixteen to sixty, joining up in their own little “fangirl” group and even dressing up as their favorite characters, was an experience to behold.

Sex and the City is essentially a female’s Star Wars.
Where the Star Wars nerds dressed in cloaks, wielded toy light sabers, and battled one another while waiting in line to see Yoda and Dooku battle it out, the SATC nerd bitches dressed up in Gucci and Prada, hit the malls and bars, liquored up on cosmos and shopped till they plopped down at the theater and sat for two and half hours to watch SJP sail through heartbreak and Kim Cattrell put sushi on her naked body.

Despite the substance of the movie itself, Sex and the City was an experience, a trip into the world of something that has been taken ownership by women around the world and heralded as their own venue of honest comedy, exploiting the crass while tackling the real-world issues of middle aged ladies in love in the Big Apple.

The movie is entertaining enough, full of the cheeky “woman-talk” that may leave some men in the dark. And rightfully so, in many ways. Men don’t need to understand every aspect of the show or its characters in order to appreciate the movie…however, it’s doubtful many of the male chromosome will hail this as their favorite comedy of all time. And again, that’s just fine. We don’t need to move in on this territory. Women can have the babies, the periods, $150 haircuts, and an affinity for purses and shoes. And they most certainly can have Sex and the City.

Ultimately, men should rejoice. Sex and the City promotes women empowering themselves but still being loving, sexy, smart, and most of all, human. If women can find role models in these characters, well, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. We’ve seen enough of the vampy, goth, hard-as-nails, bad ass comic book babes. As hot and enticing as they may be, they’re the fantasy version of the male mind…and although the SATC girls aren’t picture perfect, they’re much more in tune with real women than the cookie cutter chicks in most romcoms and blockbusters.

Now, guys, don’t go thinking I’ve lost my nuts. I’m not saying all this to woo the ladies and hope that it makes them salivate for my man missile. I’m saying this because I believe it to be true. Sitting down and watching this movie with your spouse, girlfriend, or first date could win you some mega points, even if, by the end, you still think it’s shit. The bottom line is, we drag our lovely ladies to some torturous shit throughout the year, the least we can do is sacrifice a few hours to show our appreciation for a movie that gives them their due.

Think of all the times you made her sit through something with the Rock or Vin Diesel. Even if she says she doesn’t mind because she thinks one of those guys are “hot” don’t let ‘em fool ya. They’re sitting through torture for you. Thankfully, SATC isn’t torture. It’s pretty damn entertaining, melodramatic, and pretty happy with itself, but seriously, you would really rather watch “Doom” again? That’s not gonna get you a blowjob, dude.

Movie Grade: B+

HANCOCK In the past few years I have come to really appreciate and look forward to the next Peter Berg film. He has a distinct, shaky, hyper-realistic style with a great understanding of the action opera formula.

Berg directed “The Rundown” which was a way better than expected action romp, then followed with the brilliant adaptation of “Friday Night Lights,” whic
h amazed the hell out of me. He followed that with “The Kingdom,” an underappreciated action thriller that attempted to dramatize the terrorist threats of today.

And now, we have “Hancock,” which is a superhero movie
that leads you to believe it’s one thing then turns everything on its head and becomes something else entirely. Hancock starts out fun and exciting and light and entertaining with big, cool Peter Berg action set pieces.

Then, it starts to turn, like rotten eggs, and becomes something dark and mythical and very, very far from the superhero rags-to-riches story it set out as.
I know they had issues from the get-go, with reshoots, re-edits, and the like, and unfortunately you can tell. A lot of movies go through growing pains as they are kicked and cajoled into the final product, but they succeed best when you can hardly tell or not at all.

Hancock has so many things going for it: Berg, Will Smith, the always great and hilarious Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron looking hot instead of “Monster-ish” and a superhero story that’s grounded in the real world. And then. There’s always a “and then” in these types of situations. Hancock gets serious. All that fun you had at the beginning? Yeah, we were just fucking with you. This is serious. Sit down, get that smile off your face. This is for real. Now, I could care less if the movie wanted to be serious…but it needed to decide on that theme as the opening credits began, not forty minutes in.

There’s a big twist and a mystery which all turn into a mythological superhero theme that’s cool enough, but too little too late. Then, the movie cuts everything short, just as it starts to win you over with its newly shifted serious tone, it simply ends. Clocking in at almost ninety minutes exactly, the film could have easily kept asses in seats for an additional thirty minutes, allowing a smoother transition from light to dark and given us a little more depth and story in the process.

I mean, come on, it’s obvious that audiences love Will Smith. His last ten films have proven this. They will watch him in nearly anything. I think there is room to breathe at this point. Chopping up a summer blockbuster in order to give us just the sweet topping isn’t necessary in every instance. Let us get to the bitter center to get the all around taste.

I’m expecting “The Dark Knight” to live up to the dark and serious comic book tone, but for Hancock I was hoping for something fun and fast and really loud with a well thought out story. If they wanted deep and dark they should have just gone for it rather than simply testing the water with their toe for ninety minutes.

MOVIE GRADE: C+

HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY Ah, Hellboy. Yet another comic book adaptation sequel, this time from a dark horse character created by Mike Mignola. I’ve actually never read a Hellboy comic, but have heard mostly good things. It just never grabbed me.

However, director Guillermo Del Toro’s adaptation of the first film wa
s that perfect blend of comic book coolness with fresh and funny material. Del Toro gave us a comedic, but conflicted character in Hellboy, while actor Ron Perlman embodied the character to perfection. He was born to play Hellboy. Plain and simple.

The great strengths of the first film, the imaginative characters, locations, creatures and effects are multiplied to an extreme level in this sequel. Almost too much. Now, many would disagree with me. They would say that Del Toro merely operating with more money and resources expanded his vision and created something past the limits of his imagination. And they’d be right to an extent.

After the success of his brilliant “Pan’s Labyrinth” Del Toro has been granted a pass to create more and more of his devilish and vibrantly odd visions. Hellboy 2 is that new venue, expanding on the use of eyeballs and miniature evil creatures to great lengths.
But, I missed the simplicity. I felt that the strength of the original was the fish out of water concept that gave us glimpses of the supernatural within the real world.

The sequel takes us deep into the heart of the underverse instead of teetering on the edge, leaving us wanting more. When you let the cat out of the bag too early it can be at a great expense and I feel that Hellboy 2 opened the floodgates way too early. Now, don’t get me wrong, the sets, the creatures, the comedy, the comic book action, it’s all there.

But, in some ways that’s the
problem. It’s all there, in your face, right off the bat. I realize that once the origin story is done everyone wants to just get down to the action. Stop the dry humping and get to the naughty bits. I got it. But, I tend to like the foreplay and it makes the final act a lot more satisfying when I had something to build up to. Drunken, sloppy cinema is what you get when you skip the celluloid foreplay.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the “hell” out of Hellboy. All the characters are back as if they never left, Perlman once again bringing it home as the title character. Doug Jones does a great job once again as Abe Sapien, and Selma Blair is…well she’s Selma Blair. On fire. I was mostly interested a
nd impressed with the Prince Nualla (Luke Goss) character. For one, he looked bad ass. For two, he kicked serious ass. For three, he was the most interesting of all the characters to me. Actually, if he had unlocked the golden army and toppled earth and killed Hellboy I would have been fine with that. Seriously. All right, yeah, fuck me, right?

The angel of death sequence seems to be in the film simply because someone, possibly ol’ Guillermo, had a vision and wanted to put it onscreen. Truth be told, I thought the angel of death looked pretty bad ass, but he just kind of comes out of nowhere. As Hellboy and co. venture into the “underground “ where the golden army lies dormant, they take a little shortcut to the angel of death’s office, lead by a quadriplegic troll. “And down this hallway we have the angel of death…” Weird. Cool, but weird, and totally random.

The action sequences are fun and “action-y” and it’s a fun little ride, but I am still partial to the first one. If you haven’t seen the first one yet, I recommend watching them in reverse order just to see how you feel afterwards. I think you’ll agree with me.

MOVIE GRADE: B

I've got a "Wanted" review in the works that's turning into a term paper as I compare and contrast the movie with the comic book it's based on. It's pretty interesting, so hopefully it's worth the wait.

I'm also going to post my thoughts on the new HBO series "Generation Kill," as I'm sure there are a few that may be curious. The show actually gets a storm brewing in my brain and instigates a lot of thought about the war on terror and the state of the current boots on the ground soldier. I'm sure I'll piss somebody off. Not that that's a bad thing.

Other than that...The Dark Knight is beckoning me to a midnight screening and I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts.

Last, but not least, I've got a good old fashioned blog in the works, complete with my unique perspective on the world around me. Those are always fun. For me at least.

See you soon! Enjoy!


5 comments:

agent y said...

YAY, made my morning!! I needed a good smile.

I think Ive figured you and your reviews out. You somehow, somewhere in the midst of retelling the storyline, always get around to comparing a portion of the film to sex or war. Two things that are inevitable in this human life. You make the audience connect.

I have come to think that is why your reviews are so "un-put-downable". Kudos.

And Kudos for braving the SATC crowd. Even I wasnt that bold. It's a wonder you made it out alive without getting raped or beat up. Whup, there's the sex and war again...see, told you it was only natural.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"Sex and the City is essentially a female’s Star Wars"....

Spot on, spot on!

You were such a good sport for going with me to SATC.

-Cherie

BUCK SARGENT said...

Here's my Final Jeopardy! question of the day (in true reverse-Jeopardy! fashion) [and why do they even call that gameshow Jeopardy!? Maybe if they shot the losers on camera, a la Uday and Qusay in the Saddam Olympics days, then you could consider it some form of "jeopardy" (!)] {But I quadruple digress...}:

Answer: "Sex and the City: the Movie"

BUZZER: "What is, 'You know how I know you're gay?'"

When can we expect your reviews of last week's TiVoed Lifetime Network menstrual marathon? I'm not sure I can wait much longer. Sally.

Paul said...

SSG Buck (now THERE's a conundrum!),
Perhaps, for your pleasure, I'll review an episode of Army Wives for you.
Unfortunately, it's a terrible show and I couldn't bring myself to "fake it" for that one.
I am going to start praying nightly that your lovely spouse will force you to watch the 2.5 hours of Sex and the City: the movie which would probably be a lot like Alex being tortured in "A Clockwork Orange."
Stay sharp, you bastard.

BUCK SARGENT said...

I hope you at least got a monster bj out of the deal. That MAY nullify my previous comment. A little.