Monday, July 12, 2010

Recent Viewings, July 2010

Ok, let's see... Gad, been awhile again... Where does the time...? Ah, screw it. Been busy and lazy; I have no real excuse.

Saw some flicks; here's what I thought.

In The Theatre (a more common occurrence since MPC 2 is 5 and MPC 1 can babysit):

An OK popcorn movie, but to me it was just another retread of the Aliens/Predator franchises: get a group of badasses in an inescapable situation, mix in alien that's somehow a superior killing machine, hilarity ensues.

The one unintentionally entertaining aspect of the movie for we was the main badass was played by Adrien Brody. He's that very skinny guy from The Pianist and the latest King Kong. Not the first guy you'd think of as the alpha monkey.

Here he adopts the gravelly Clint Eastwood-esque measured monotone, which made me grin every time he did it. And I just waited for the scene where his shirt is torn off (ala the cliche articulated in Galaxy Quest) where we would see how much gym time he'd put in for the role. I'm guessing a solid year. But you can get only so much muscle on a toothpick of a guy, and he just looks extremely toned, not buff and mean like the action hero needs to have.

Oh, and while technically the first death doesn't continue the very real tradition of BADF (Brothers Always Die First), the brother does die second (if you think this is a spoiler, then you've never seen one of these movies, and apologies); and the way the first guy dies does make it feel like it was yet another instance of BADF. And they really really could've nuked one of the others first. Shame shame.

If you like the franchises, catch this on DVD; if not, read about She's Out of My League, below for something you might like.

Toy Story 3
While MPC 1 and the Spousal Unit hit the latest Mormon vampire installment, MPC 2 and I visited Woody, Buzz, and the gang.

As you've probably read en masse elsewhere, this is one of the few worthy second sequels ever floated; a beautiful end-cap to the trilogy.

This ain't a spoiler, but the final shot is a pan up to the same field of clouds that you see in the first shot of the first flick, creating a perfect circle. Nice touch.

The plot extends from the most poignant moment of the 2nd flick when the cowgirl from Woody's original toy set joins the gang thanks to a toy collector, and her backstory includes the heartbreaking "When She Loved Me" sequence where she tells of her original owner outgrowing her. Andy is now college age, and the few toys left (we hear of garage sales and Goodwill donations) know their fate is at hand.

I'll leave the rest of the surprises intact for ya, but I will say that at one moment near the ending, the situation is pretty harrowing and I bet it gives some of the little ones nightmares. If you've got lil' kids that are sensitive to such things, take them yourself rather than let them go as a group with a friend's parents or a babysitter. They will need you to hold their hand. You'll need theirs through some parts, too.


It's All About Steve
Yes, all the reviews said this was pretty bad, but I like Sandra Bullock, and so wanted to see how she played a psycho-betty, to see if she could pull it off.

In my opinion, she almost does, but the character requires such a large suspension of disbelief, only a more homely actress who wasn't afraid to really bring the tragic side of this character out could come close to selling it properly. Sandra's comic chops are well-used, but she's just too pretty and charismatic for us to believe she's this mess of clueless neurosis.

SPOILER: And the child-down-the-well subplot is waaaaaaay too heavy for the material.

I didn't listen, but maybe you will: skip this one.

The Man from Earth
The hyperbole in various places on the web and the obscurity of the movie (I don't know if it even played in theatres, and don't care enough to research it) made me dubious about the flick, but I made sure I didn't have the plot bombshell spoiled for me because I figured that would be the only thing that made it worth watching. I was right, so I won't give it away here, either.

The premise is these college prof buddies get together for a going-away party for one of them who's moving on, and during the festivities he reveals to them (after they bring it up in a joking manner noting the age of some of his knick-knacks) that he's lived forever.

The dialogue is often too precious and the acting is just a hair away from regional theatre, which makes it kind of a slough.

Then the bombshell is released and, in my opinion, it gets sillier.

Still, if you're looking for a biggish plot twist, and don't waste any money to see it, it's just entertaining enough that it's worth the time it takes to watch it. I'm sure the author thought it would provoke debate and conversation afterward, but the treatment of the topics are simplistic and probably only young teens would be intrigued by any points anyone in the flick makes.

Oh, and as usual, the supposed Christian of the group is portrayed as a cipher - a hand-puppet that betrays the author's lack of understanding of Christianity rather than a fully-realized character with a legitimate understanding of the same. The author would have been well-served by having a Christian fan vet that character's lines.

Thrill Seekers
This was a made-for-TV flick that had an interesting premise: in the future when time-travel machines exist, a company sells trips back in time to visit the biggest tragedies. A reporter detects one of the tourists in enough historical photos that he is able to track the guy down and verify that's what's going on.

It's been a few weeks since I've seen this, and I remember coming out the end of the movie with the same thought I had going in: interesting premise. It didn't deliver on the promise of it, according to my dim memory of it, so it'd be cool to see a good writer make something of the idea and try again. Save your time for that, if it ever happens.

She's Out of My League
Of all the flicks called out in this post, this was my favorite. I greatly enjoyed myself throughout. The title pretty much gives you the plot.

"She" is played by the truly hot Alice Eve, who's British according to the info in the interwebs, which was a surprise to me as her American accent is perfect. Take a look, though:

Wow, huh? (Note she has one blue eye and one green eye.)

What I liked about her character is that she's aware she's pretty, and aware that some of the reactions she gets are about that, but she still seems like a real person. It would have been too easy to have her be arrogant, or clueless, or untouchably goddess-like; but props to the writers, she has enough of a distinctive personality that you come to know and appreciate the person wrapped in this amazing visage.

And that pretty much makes the movie.

But, even better, the geeky guy she supposedly falls for is fugly enough, but charming and funny enough, that you believe she'd actually give him a chance. It's as realistic as a comedy like this can get. It even sneaks in a good message about how we can sabotage things through our own unrealistic fears.

The group of buddies are recognizable and real enough, too, even if they do come close to a now-cliche collection of guy buds:
1) The fat guy who's childlike and clueless. 2) The "regular" guy who's the primary goofball of the bunch, but the one with heart who does something big to move the plot forward. 3) The hot guy/ladies man who gets all chicks and sometimes instructs the other guys on how be less hopeless in that regard (when he either takes pity on them or is annoyed enough that his wingmen can't maintain altitude at least until he scores). 4) The victim of the plot, and for our purposes here the aforementioned "geeky guy".

This was the same group of character types found in the recent hit The Hangover, you'll note. However, it doesn't knee-cap this movie. And, to be honest, a lot guy bud groups in real life are comprised of these guys, which is probably why they're used with some frequency.

The only fault I found was a set-piece that should've been left on the cutting-room floor, which I'll try to reference in a non-spoiler way: it involves a hair-clipper.

Outside of that, the two leads do such an excellent job, you enjoy every moment they're on the screen. And that Alice Eve is the nicest piece of eye-candy I've seen in a while.

Put the kids to bed, grab the spouse, and fire it up. Or if you're single, have the boys and girls over for a movie party night.

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