Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Review – Bulletproof Monk

Chow Yun Fat once again lends his talents to an all-too-Hollywood martial arts action movie slash goofy buddy comedy. This one wasn’t quite as bad as Rush Hour in the offensive ethnic humor department, and a lot of the choreography was pretty good. But it’s still the story of an Asian kung fu master who takes a westerner under his wing for no readily apparent reason other than potential box office receipts. If they’d left the dumb white kid out and just focused on the Tibetan monk (Chow) pursued by an evil Nazi and his mercenary henchpersons, this would have been a much better movie. Mildly amusing

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Review – Darkman 2: The Return of Durant

Durant (Larry Drake) may be back, but he’s about it. The switch from Liam Neeson to Arnold Vosloo is fairly indicative of the change in the whole thing: the first had class and originality, while the second one is reasonably well crafted but uninspiring. Once again our hero battles crime while he searches for the formula for non-light-sensitive artificial flesh so he can have a face for more than 99 minutes at a time. There’s some mish-mash in here about energy weapons, and a new scientist gets stirred in so Durant will have someone new to kill. But beyond that this is strictly leftovers. Mildly amusing

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Review – Black Hawk Down

With such an interesting story to tell and such a gifted storyteller at the helm, this should have been a better movie. Visually this is Ridley Scott business as usual, with lots of jump cuts and heavy filter work. The MTV rah-rah should have made an interesting combination with the sad tale of an American military mission gone horribly wrong in Somalia. However, the story soon sinks under its own weight. Perhaps if the cast had been more tightly focused on a smaller group of characters, or at the very least not been so jam-packed with interchangeable 20-something white boy Hollywood hunks, it might have been easier to empathize with the protagonists. As it was, the whole thing comes across as stupid and random, accurate perhaps but not as genuinely tragic as it might have been. Mildly amusing

Review – Barry Lyndon

This is a visually stunning, technically brilliant, virtually unwatchable movie. If memory serves, this is the first big budget drama ever shot with film stock so sensitive that the whole thing was done with available light. Combine that with Stanley Kubrick’s natural gift for shot composition, and you get some of the most impressive images ever incorporated into a motion picture. Getting the Chieftains to do the soundtrack didn’t exactly hurt, either. Unfortunately, it almost seems like Kubrick decided that he didn’t want plot or character to interfere with his technical genius. So he employed his talent to make a movie out of a dreary old Thackery novel, a story so vastly uninteresting that it wouldn’t sustain a production half as long as this three hour monster. The acting is of similarly dubious quality; if nothing else, Ryan O’Neil is better suited to movies in which a young Drew Barrymore wants to divorce both her parents than to Napoleonic costume drama (especially given his inability to maintain a consistent accent). Thus while I admire the skill involved, there’s just no getting around the fact that no matter how beautiful it may be, minute after endless minute of watching British aristocrats pay their bills just doesn’t make a good movie. See if desperate

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Review – The Bone Snatcher

The Thing relocated to the desert. Here’s another batch of leftovers that didn’t reheat especially well. The characters aren’t interesting, and the plot meanders so much that after awhile I kinda lost interest. The basic premise is that a group of scientist (or technicians and hangers-on) unearth some kind of creature that’s approximately half Thing and half flesh-eating ooze. Some of the monster effects were bush leagues cool in a big-black-blob-of-goo-with-a-skull-for-a-head kind of way, but that’s about it. See if desperate

Review – Being There

If this had been Peter Sellers’s last movie, there wouldn’t be a curse named after him. Certainly this is the last good movie he made, and it’s a quiet, subtle, high-quality capper to a legendary career. Sellers plays Chance the Gardner, a gentle, elderly, mentally-differently-abled gentleman who finds himself cast out into the cold, cruel world after the man he’d served his entire life passes away. Through a series of coincidences he ends up the toast of Washington, houseguest to a terminally-ill captain of industry, object of the old guy’s wife’s affection, advisor to the President, and accidental political pundit. Throughout he maintains a genuinely touching sense of innocence and simplicity, something that I usually find annoying but here found compelling. The odd yet oddly charming ending helped seal the deal. Worth seeing

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Review – The Chronicles of Riddick

At least it wasn’t as boring as Pitch Black. Of course that’s due at least in part to the decision of the film-makers to steal from several different sci fi movies rather than limiting their pilferage to Alien. The main “homage” here is to the Borg, unfortunately proving that even good Star Trek is still Star Trek. Even the art direction – probably the high point of the picture – was all shamelessly derivative. Vin Diesel is his usual ham-handed self (but then what kind of hands would one expect a ham to have?). The script is bad, as is the acting. Toward the end I actually started to drift off, no mean feat considering I caught a matinee and wasn’t especially tired going in. I assume that isn’t the effect they were going for. See if desperate