Saturday, January 02, 2010

And so it ends....and begins again

The year and the decade have ended. And now like a seemingly endless cycle of days come and gone, we start again. I finished off the decade with a lot of films. Here are the rest of my thoughts.

Taking of Pelham 123 - Not as bad as I'd anticipated. John Travolta is no Robert Shaw, nor does he try to be. He was tolerable, but unfortunately Tony Scott's direction is not. He has no idea how to use the camera other than to 'make it go fast now'. Ridley does a far better job of restraining himself so as to convey an idea or story.

Punisher: Warzone - Well, it wasn't as bad as the the previous film, also with John Travolta. However Thomas Jane played a far better Punisher. The action is over the top here, and the lighting colour palette does lend itself to a comic book feel, but the film is filled with so much hammy acting, bad dialogue and outrageously awful set pieces that it just doesn't cut it. No matter how much blood the Punisher spills. It did have Wayne Knight in it though, and he's always fun. On the plus side, it is a so bad its funny kind of film, so I did enjoy the time I spent watching it, although probably not the way I was intended too.

Franklyn - Good idea, terrible execution. Incredibly contrived. Four seemingly separate stories collide at the end in such a trite way, it really wasn't worth the time spent getting there. Eva Green is in it though, and is hot. And Sam Riley is good. But everything else is bleh. Surprised that this played at After Dark. Are they really that desperate for films, or do they just not watch them?

Rocknrolla - After the abysmal Revolver, Guy Richie goes back home and makes a restrained (read that Tony Scott, restraint, you should learn this) gangster film that is quite excellent. He tried to reinvent himself with Swept Away and Revolver and failed. Here he succeeds in spades. Sure on the surface it looks like a typical Guy Richie gangster film, but the visual orgasms that usually explode across the screen aren't nearly as explosive. Instead, he takes the time to develop character and story and all the other good stuff that's associated with cinema. And Tom Wilkinson steals the show. Very fun and very funny.

The Hang Over - This film was crazy hyped up before I watched it, but it did manage to live up to most of the hype. It made me laugh, which is what it was meant to do. Not the funniest film I've ever seen, but definitely the funniest I've seen in a while.

Angels and Demons - All I'll say is, it's better than The Da Vinci Code. They filled it with a lot of bang and zip, in hopes of covering up some of the films silliness, and for the most part they succeed. But some of it I couldn't get past. One man managed to drive around in a truck full of restrained men, and set up elaborate death rituals in a matter of minutes, all in the hopes that someone would follow the trail? What if they never got the 'Symbologist'? Then no one would have been able to follow the clues, and everything would have been for naught. It was far to complex for its own good. Doesn't make much sense. But, it did have some good deaths and Ewen MacGregor and mullet Hanks.

Avatar - On a visually creative scale, its the most amazing thing you'll see. The world they created is incredible. He beat George Lucas at his own game. However, it seemed like 99% of his creative energy went into creating the world and the technology, and only 1% went into writing the script. There were a lot of 'wow' moments, followed by a lot of 'really, that's all you can come up with for $300 million' moments. If he'd spent more time developing the script, and the characters, having them less cookie cutter one dimensional archetypes that he's used in every film he's made, and creating believeable, realistic and less cliche dialogue, this could have been one of the best films ever. However, it was not. But still damn good. However, if the film wasn't in 3-D, it probably wouldn't have been very good.

Speedracer - I quite enjoyed the film a lot. Maybe its the anime fanboy in me, but nothing has captured the look and film of anime quite like this. Everything I've ever said bad about the Wachowski's I take back. They have imagination to burn. I think they just needed someone to reign them in and tell them that dance sequences narrated by Laurence Fishbourne aren't cool. But race cars and films with Hiroyuki Sanada are!

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan - I've been trying to watch all the original Star Treks, and this is one of the best, like everyone usually says. It captured everything about the original show that was great, plus it actually tied it into the show, giving it big bonus points. And its probably the darkest in tone. Its the Empire Strikes Back for the Star Trek world. And that is Ricardo Montalban's chest!

Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock - I'll give it to Harve Bennet and Leonard Nimoy. They took a simple idea and turned it into a great film. Christopher Lloyd wrote the book on Klingons. I didn't really remember much about this film, but what I really liked about it is how all the films seem to tie together.

Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home - When I was in grade 5 I saw this film in theatres, and it killed Star Trek for me. I'd never really seen any of the films in their entirety, but seeing this, when I was expecting space battles and alien intruders and all I got were whales, really turned me off of Kirk and Spock. Watching it again, its pretty damn good. It doesn't compare with 2 and 3, but it does manage to be funny, touching and poignant. And sadly, still relevant. Plus, the fact that there is no antagonist or villain in the film and no real on screen violence makes it a marvelous feat for a science fiction film. But one question still lingers: Where there whales piloting that large cylindrical ship, and if so, did they come from a planet of whales?


keeperdesign said...

"Where are your nuclear wessels?"

I of course love Wrath of Khan, but my second favorite is VI, Undiscovered Country. As everyone says, the even-numbered ones... No great insight, but I think those are the ones that work because they feel the most like TOS episodes and they scratch the nostalgia itch that 1 and 5 just sort of poke at (3 is pretty good!). Scenery-chewing Klingon villains help no end (see Plummer, Christopher--whew!).

I have yet to see Avatar but what you described is exactly wheat I expected. At this point I'm kinda amazed whenever someone complains about Cameron's characterization and dialogue--I mean, after Titanic and Aliens and True Lies and every other film he ever made, you were expecting Noah Baumbach-level discourse? No, with Cameron you get adrenaline and tension and spectacle. Things blow up, go boom. I wish he'd go the Spielberg route and work with, you know, WRITERS, but with his track record it's not like anyone can tell him he's doing it wrong. When you've won best director and best picture for the highest-grossing film ever made I expect you're not going to be too open to suggestion.

Bob Turnbull said...

I was one of the few that quite liked "Franklyn" coming out of its After Dark showing. Great looking film and it ties up its themes quite nicely in the end. I reviewed it here so take a gander if you wish...

I agree about "Speed Racer". Eye-popping candy everywhere. The racing was great and some of the acting (Goodman and Sarandon) was very good. But the sotry failed it a bit (kinda dull) and that little kid Spritle was one of the worst characters EVER. Just about ruined the whole film.

"The Hangover" just didn't work for me. Great ideas and situations, but a lousy script that dropped the ball at every turn when funny comments could have been dropped. And Mike Tyson should never be framed as someone who is "cool". Yes, my bias is showing...

Pretty much in agreement on the Star Trek films - 2, 3, 4 and 6 are the best. What's your feeling on the new one? I really enjoyed it as it zipped along nicely.