Friday, April 20, 2007

Quickie Movie Reviews

Just because I haven't posted any movie reviews recently doesn't mean I haven't watched any.

It just means that either A.) the movies I've seen weren't worth writing about or B.) I got lazy, errr busy, didn't do a review in a timely manner, then forgot about it.

So now I am going to present to you my quickie movie recaps, or QuickCaps if you will.

-The Good Shepherd Drama starring Matt Damon/Rated R/On video now
I just got finished viewing my copy of this (thanks Unc Tony) and I have to say I am torn by the complex, multi-layered film.

On the one hand the story, the cast, cinematography and overall appearance & presentation of the film are impeccable. Director Robert DeNiro has crafted a mesmerizing account of the early days of the CIA, and I was immediately drawn into the secretive life of intelligence officers and the isolated, paranoid lives they lead.

But on the other hand the film is hard to follow at times, either because of the low-talking agents or the highly complex storylines. Throw in the fact that it drags in parts (it has a runtime of nearly three hours) and flashes back & forth between decades, has few likable characters, and that I was unconvinced by fresh-faced Matt Damon playing the part of a grizzled agent and I came up with more than enough reasons not to recommend it.

Don't get me wrong, the film is excellent; but with a little bit of editing and an actor that could bring a bit more gravitas to the role, like Liam Neeson or Damon's buddy George Clooney, in the leading role, this historical spy flick
could have been a classic.

-Borat Comedy starring Sasha Baron Cohen/Rated R/On video now
I was in no hurry to see this raunchy comic adventure in the theaters, mainly because I had seen all of SBC's hilarious HBO episodes of Da Ali G Show, so I knew what to expect.

And when I finally got around to renting it, I was not disappointed. The movie, like the Borat segments of the series, is a stand-up act gone amok, where the comedian is actually taking his character to the next level and launching himself on unsuspecting Americans, usually with outrageous results.

If you're not a fan of anti-gay, anti-Jew and anti-woman humor, don't bother. But if you're the kind of person who loves to see two naked men 69 each other for fun, this movie is for you.

-Happy Feet Animated comedy/Rated PG/On Demand now
The first thing I said after I viewed this Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature was "am I missing something?"

Seriously, this little trifle of a film, with a too-cutesy-to-be-cute premise of a little odd penguin who just can't help himself when it comes to tapping his little flippered feet, was one of the worst, most uninteresting, unamusing and utterly unimaginative pieces of animated garbage I have ever seen.

And I know I'm not alone, because my wife, son and stepdaughter all thought the same thing, namely how the f--k did this beat out Cars for the Oscar?! Every five minutes the animals broke out in a song & dance number, and just in case anyone missed the premise of the "plot", the cute little penguin would do his silly little happy feet gag about every 10 minutes or so.

It just goes to show you what a huge marketing campaign, decent word of mouth, and hitting the theaters at the right time (holiday season) can do for a film.

You want to see a great little flick about talking penguins? Check out Farce of the Penguins, a raunchy retake with filthy voice work from Bob Saget and Tracy Morgan.

-Meet the Robinsons Animated comedy/PG/In theaters now
Another attempt by the folks at Disney to bring back the glorious days of yesteryear, you know, before Pixar and DreamWorks came along and stole the legendary studio's animation thunder.

How desperate are the Disney-ites to get people to believe in their product again? How about in place of trailers showing an ages-old Mickey Mouse cartoon, which left most of the Gen-XYZers in the audience staring at the screen in silence, like they'd just seen a dinosaur. Which they had.

The film itself is a forgettable bit of fluff, with ideas stolen from James Bond, Blade Runner, Wild Wild West, The Jetsons, Robots, Star Wars and Back to the Future and full of lame attempts at being another Shrek. Young Lewis is an orphan with a penchant for making incredible inventions that somehow always thwart his potential adoptions. One day he gets a visit from a villainous man named, originally enough, the Bowler Hat Guy, who wants to steal one of his inventions and use it for his own dastardly deeds.

If you've seen any of the aforementioned films, then you can see how this one is going to turn out. I won't spoil it, but the ending involves a special message from Walt Disney himself: Keep Moving Forward

If only the bottom-line loving suits running Walt's company now would follow that sage advice themselves.

-Saw III Horror/Rated R/ On demand now
After watching the latest installment in this shock-filled gore-fest, I wasn't sure if I had just seen Saw III or Hostel II.

Old friend Jigsaw is back for more bloody mayhem, but this time he's got help: former victim-turned-accomplice Amanda. Since Jiggy is laid up in a makeshift hospital room, slowly passing away from cancer, he's not able to construct his elaborate schemes of torture and death. So he has his new protege do the deeds for him. Trouble is, Amanda may be more ruthless than Jigsaw, and that could lead to both of their downfalls.

The problem I have here is that the makers of the series wanted to blend jump-from-your-seat scares with puke-your-guts-out gore. The result? A decent story about a guy who must work his way through a maze of tortuous puzzles in order to get to the ultimate finale is ruined by a non-stop stream of rib cages being ripped open, men drowning in shredded pig carcasses and power drills performing brain surgery.

Because since the original came out in 2004 we have been subjected to vile, bile-filled frightfests like Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes and now simply placing a man on a floor for 2 hours and then having him come to life is no longer good enough.

How I long for the days when a simple hacksaw to the ankle was sufficient.
(side note: this was one of those rare times I wished I didn't watch something in HD)

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