Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More thumbnail reviews

Apologies for posting just reviews as of late, but life's been kinda sedate recently (which is nice). Both my lovely wife and MPC (most precious child) were sick all the way through the holidays, so we didn't do much. We even missed the much-anticipated New Year's Eve party thrown with our buddies, alas. So, we've watched a LOT of movies, and have remained planted at the homestead. Thus, review-o-rama:

The Bourne Supremacy was touted by most professional critics as a decent movie. So, while watching, that's what I kept anticipating, and at about the hour and a half mark, I decided my mild disappointment was real and that the movie just wasn't all that.

Now, most of those same critics that liked Bourne II didn't like the films of Michael Bay (Pearl, Harbor Armageddon, The Rock), for precisely the same reasons they mentioned liking Bourne - overly short and hyperactive cuts throughout the whole flick. So, I'm puzzled.

There was no story, as far as I was concerned, because the movie starts where the original left off: Bourne has no idea who he really is and why he can't remember anything. The whole movie thereafter is a chase for Bourne who's been framed for a whack job, the only plot developments being the deaths of those around him.

My wife noted that you (the audience) were given no more reason to care for Bourne than you did for any other good guys or bad guys. I hadn't noticed this until she pointed it out, since the rapid cuts keep you mesmerized enough where you don't really notice anything but the flow of images. Then she noted how little acting that Matt Damon had to do for the role of Bourne (largely because of the dearth of character development), and she's right on that count, too. This thing's essentially a long music video, sans good music.

So, that leads me to suggest a game. If by chance you find yourself having to watch The Bourne Supremacy, and if you actually catch Matt Damon acting, have a drink! I guarantee you'll be sober at the end of the flick. Heck, you won't catch even the hint of a buzz at any point. (Which leads me to conclude my game sucks as much as the movie did. Oh well.)

Shaun of the Dead

"Shaun" joins An American Werewolf in London on the 'til now lonely shelf of movies that are as scary as they are funny. Like "Werewolf" it takes a while for "Shaun" to creep up to the creepy, but once it starts it's relentless.

Shaun himself is a guy in the McJob stage of his life, rooming with former college buddies, taking his dedicated girlfriend for granted largely because he's still more dedicated to his lout of a childhood buddy, and generally spending too much time at the pub pounding pints. At first he notices people dropping on the street, but his natural state of oblivion returns and he makes it all the way to the store and back barely noticing all the havoc and zombies wandering in the street. I've had days like that.

Which is why "Shaun" is so funny. (And for the grammarians out there, I know that sometimes I italicize the shortened title, other times I put quotes around it - I have no consistency - and I don't rilly care.) This is sorta, kinda how a bunch of dazed twentysomethings would deal with a zombie epidemic. In my opinion, the best comedy arises out of how real people would respond in bizarre circumstances. "Shaun" delivers on that level.

Another delight of "Shaun" is that it gets right the appeal of the loutish buddy. All guys have that one friend (or more) that their SO's just hate on contact. He's rude, crude, sometimes smelly, always somewhat of a leach, but he gets away with it because he so much fucking fun and can belch the entire chorus of the latest hit song (or fart percussively to it, take your pick). Ed, the loutish buddy, is played perfectly by Nick Frost. You're repelled and amused by him in the proper amounts.

That said, I want to warn you, dear readers, that "Shaun" contains the most graphic and disturbing evisceration scene I've ever seen anywhere. I'm not often compelled to look away from the screen because I'm too shocked, grossed out, and appalled at what's unraveling, so to speak. I instinctively raised my hand and shielded my eyes from the screen when my brain finally registered that I was seeing what I was seeing. I said things like, "Holy Cow! Jeez! Cripes!" right out loud. I did NOT back it up to watch it again; once was enough. Wowsers. Dinna watch this one during dinner, lads and lasses.

Make sure you check out the extras, especially the storyboards on Plot Holes, but only after you watch the flick, natch. The storyboards where so good, I almost wish they'd made an animated film that looked just like the storyboards.

Because it's rated "R" for language (all the worst words are trotted out regularly, which is realistic for twentysomethings with no kids) and the one amazing evisceration scene, this movie should be OK for strong-stomached teens who don't scare easily. Sensitive kids (such as myself as a lad and my MPC) and pasta lovers should avoid until they're about 15 or so. Don't say I didn't warn you about that one scene.


Anonymous said...

Loved Shaun! I got a lot of weird looks from other moviegoers 'cause the final scene of the film made me laugh - and I mean a big belly laugh - all the way to my car (and then some).

Anonymous said...

Bourne Supremacy's action scenes have the human scale of seventies action films. No insane computer graphics. Nothing too excessive. Bay's films are all about the excess.

On the other hand, I might just like the fast editing. My favorite fast edited action scene is from Die hard III. Bruce Willis is in an elevator and opens a can of whoop-ass on some fake cops.

Joe O

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