Monday, November 28, 2005

Review – Diamonds Are Forever

With the probable exceptions of Thunderball and its off-brand remake, Never Say Never Again, this is the worst of the Connery Bonds. He’s too old for the part, and would have done better to have stayed gone after You Only Live Twice. As for the story itself, there isn’t much to it. There’s a Howard Hughes-esque character, a rare nod to the real world in a series that lives largely on the strictly imaginary. Beyond that just about the only unique feature is the pair of gay hit men. Oh, and the acrobatic female bodyguards Bambi and Thumper. Beyond that, this will be a necessary experience for anyone trying to watch all the Bond flicks but otherwise can safely be missed. See if desperate

Friday, November 25, 2005

Review – Duck Soup

Though I’m sure this was revolutionary stuff back in 1933, at this point in film history the Marx Brothers are a bit of an acquired taste. They’re good and all, but they take a little getting used to. I was also surprised at how close some of their routines are to the comparatively low-brow Three Stooges. That aside, this is a solid piece of comedy. Sure, a lot of Groucho’s shtick is cliché, but it wouldn’t be cliché now if he hadn’t done it so well and made it so famous back when it was fresh. And Harpo’s physical comedy never gets old. I could spend hours watching the scenes where he and Chico scrap with the lemonade vendor. This production is also notable for its cleverly subtle exploration of themes that Chaplin would take on with a more ham-handed approach later in The Great Dictator. Overall this is a funny if somewhat dated bit of entertainment. Worth seeing

Review – Dead Men Walking

This movie has more puking than movies about puking. Zombie blood barf appears to be the theme of the first half of the production. But once most of the cast finally makes the transition to zombie-dom, it’s mostly straight splatter from there. All you need to know about the plot is that the dreaded zombie virus gets loose in a maximum security prison, transforming prisoners and guards alike into the rampaging undead. For awhile there’s some pretense at dialogue, all whispered in sub-sonic levels in keeping with Asylum’s usual technical standards. But that’s swiftly abandoned in favor of endless gore shots. In a way, the honest embrace of pointless carnage in place of a plot actually made this a slightly better movie than it might otherwise have been. Verdict: see if desperate

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Review - Fever Pitch

The baseball parts of this production aren’t too terrible, but the romance woven through the Red Sox 2004 season isn’t anywhere near as interesting as the game. Of course with a finish like the 2004 baseball season, it was hard for Hollywood to come up with anything to match the drama of “real life.” Even so, this production falls considerably short. Jimmy Fallon does a much better job as an obsessive Sox fan than he does as a romantic lead. And though Drew Barrymore has successfully played the foil to Adam Sandler in the lovable loser / cute girl story line at least twice now, here her performance with Fallon comes across as mailed in. The result is a romantic comedy where the romance doesn’t work at all. See if desperate

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Review – Dominion

Wow, did this one ever end up taking a strange path to the screen. After Paul Shrader’s prequel to The Exorcist didn’t work with test audiences, the studio brought in Renny Harlin to completely re-shoot the movie. And now I guess Warner has decided to recoup some of its losses by DVD’ing the Shrader cut as well. Oddly enough, I think somewhere between these two productions might have been a really good horror movie. Harlin’s version is too stupid to be engaging, but this outing’s too boring to be scary. I really liked the emphasis on the archaeological, especially early on. The script was also reasonably well put-together. On the other hand, the thrills here were few and far between. And the characters were more engaging in the other one. When you do less with your actors than Renny Harlin does, that says nothing good about your picture. Taken together, these two pictures would make an interesting – if somewhat disorienting – double feature. Mildly amusing

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Review –

I didn’t think this was nearly as funny as it was supposed to be. The blurb on Netflix made this sound like a documentary along the lines of Trekkies only about movie buffs rather than Star Trek fans. But the five people trailed during the production of this movie aren’t fans. They’re mentally ill people with obsessive fixations on movies. Though one might argue that fandom in general is a mild form of neurosis, these folks are well past the mild stages. In particular, Roberta is so far gone that she appears to sit on the verge of the “danger to self or others” standard for involuntary commitment. Even her more functional compatriots left jobs, friends, family and any other semblance of normalcy behind long ago in favor of trying to see as many movies as possible. Mocking Star Trek nerds is bad enough, but making fun of sick people sinks to a whole new level. See if desperate

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Review – Doom

The cut scenes from the game had a better plot. Or at the very least, the plot in the game was clearer and more engaging. Here character motivations are frequently so poorly constructed that it’s hard to believe anyone is doing what they’re doing. Toward the beginning the already-more-or-less-interchangeable Marines get shuffled around so frequently that it’s impossible to keep track of who’s doing what. This problem resolves itself when the monsters start whittling the cast down a bit, but by then it’s already more than a little hard to care about any of the remaining characters. By the end the production breaks down into an extended sequence of first-person-shooter framing followed by that great dark spot endemic to the action movie: the extended hand-to-hand combat sequence. The final result falls well short of the entertainment value of the games (even the old, motion-sickness-inducing versions), and given that the only audience for the movie is probably the game’s fans, I wasn’t exactly surprised to find myself completely alone in the theater just a week or two after the movie’s release. See if desperate