Sunday, July 31, 2005

Movie Mania

I have seen FOUR--yes, four--movies this week, and it's about time for me to express my opinions on them. I'm even going to do something I've never done, and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best.

WARNING: Spoilers abound

War of the Worlds: 2

I saw this on Tuesday with my husband, and when it was over, I turned to him and said, "How many ways did that suck?" He immediately and relievedly agreed (I think he was afraid I'd try to convince him how good it was.)

The acting was fine. The effects were, of course, incredible. But the logic was totally non-existent. Everywhere, from little things like how can that video camera be working when an EMP just blew everything for miles around, to why the countryside is TOTALLY deserted with no signs of any destruction, to why the town with the ferry has electricity but the cars don't work?

Characterization was terrible, too. I'm so tired of disaster movies showcasing a bad father trying to make good only because they're all about to DIE. Of kids who hate their father so they're delinquent and stupid.

Oh, and let's see, how many possible ways can we get the monsters to threaten us? We'll be evaporated into dust, and crushed with cars, then drowned, then picked up with tentacles and stored in cages, then sucked up into starfish-style rectum-looking suckers, then speared and our blood sprayed all over the countryside for these vine things...

Then there's the whole, "we've got to up the stakes" thing. It's not enough to foolishly separate the family, for a reason that I cannot understand at all. They have to have the aliens come into the shelter they're hiding in, looking around at old photographs and drinking the water on the basement floor--never mind the RIVER that's just a few feet away. Then let's have the kid run outside, stand on a hill, and scream loudly while staring at the machine that is NOT LOOKING AT HER. You know, so she can be in jeopardy so Daddy can save her.

The Island: 3.75

Ewan Macgregor. Doubled. Nuff said?

Though when it got to that part, I said to my friend, "ooh, one for each of us!" and we immediately both pointed to the clone and said, "I want that one." I graciously agreed to take the original (using his own Scottish accent for once, and ooooo, baby!), and said I'd just rough him up.

So. Problems with the movie? Yeah, some. The story was fine, and there were no major logic problems that jumped out at me. I don't subscribe to the Michael Bay school of film, though, that believes the more destructive a movie is, the better it is. His box office should tell him otherwise. Can a deep philosophical question co-exist with heart-pounding action sequences? Sure! Does the compellingness of the story get lost when you're shattering cars that could contain KIDS as well as innocent adults? Absolutely. The bottom line would be much better served by shaving off a few dozen million in car chases and building-smashing and focusing on what we REALLY care about--the people.

I don't think Scarlett Johannsen lives up to her hype, in any movie she's been in. She did okay here. I did get minorly bugged by her always perfect French manicure. I want to find the kind of nail polish that stays shiny and unscratched when you fall from the 70th floor of a skyscraper.

Michael Clarke Duncan was superb in his tiny roll, as was Steve Buscemi. I was much more upset at the end of his role than I would have been by the end of Scarlett's. Sean Bean was the best, though, as a villian who managed to convince his products that he cared. Not many villians get to be so multi-faceted.

Must Love Dogs: 3

I love John Cusack and Diane Lane, and much of the supporting cast. The movie was fine, but there was something missing. There was no point at which I was convinced the two main characters had completely fallen for each other, so their being apart didn't hurt that much, and their getting back together was ho-hum. Still, these are beautiful people who look REAL, not all glammed up, and that's always nice to watch.

Sky High: 4

It's been quite a while since there was a movie all four of us wanted to see (me, hubbie, 10-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old daughter). So it was a treat for us to do a family movie, and this one was worth it.

Casting directors are my heros for this summer. In a season of mediocre movies, the one thing I have no complaints about in any of them is the casting. Every person has been perfect for his or her role. Kurt Russell had just enough pomposity, but a good heart. The sidekicks were entertaining but not caricatures, and the heroes weren't all made out to be bad guys (though, of course, the bad guys were heroes). Bruce Campbell was up to his hammy best as Sonic Boom, aka gym teacher.

The plot was fairly predictable, but managed to weave in elements of traditional teenage angst, the spectre of familial disappointment, the value of true friends, and a giant evil plot to be foiled.

I loved the last line in the movie, which is a MAJOR SPOILER: "So my girlfriend became my archenemy, my archenemy became my best friend, and my best friend became my girlfriend. But that's high school."


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I completely agree about War of the Worlds (haven't seen the others). We had to decide between Fantastic Four, The Island, and War. Now, I wish I'd seen The Island because I love Ewan McGregor!

My son and I have seen the original War of the Worlds over a dozen times and I tried to figure out why I didn't like this updated film with better special effects. I finally decided it was because I didn't care one bit for Tom Cruise or his spoiled kids. Since I didn't feel for the characters, it was just an excuse for endless special effects. In the old version, I actually cried when the minister was wiped out as he quoted the 23rd Psalm!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yes, Josie, that's exactly it! And something that's really disappointing for Steven Speilburg, since he usually gives us very compelling characters.

Anonymous said...


did you read Chad's take on "must love dogs" his review of the movie and yours are similar. I have not been to the movies. I was going this weekend but could not becuase I went to the hockey game and after driving 2 hours I had a headache and needed sleep. I must tell you that I had a picture of Michael and Bradley that I took yesterday(Bradley was there with Michael at the game he was with his girlfriend,they drove up in Michael's car,why yes, Natalie I happen to know what kind of car Michael drives and his license plates and where he live,not because I'm a stalker but because we went to his house to deliver a script last year.)


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Rose, you are SO trying to make me jealous, aren't you? Why can't I get a job delivering scripts to actors?

Oh. I live in Pennsylvania. Yeah, that would be it.

I did read Chad's review of Must Love Dogs, and laughed at the "that's such a lie" comment about the petting of the dogs.

AuthorM said...

RE: The Island

Yes, totally agree with regarding the blowing up of cars. Someone commented someplace they thought the chase scene rivalled that in the Matrix Reloaded -- the difference, for me, being that nobody in the Matrix was REAL. They were computer programs -- though I guess you could argue that if you die in the Matrix you died in real life, but really, when you're just a human battery, does it matter? Anyway, I hated the part with the car chase because all I could think of was the people getting killed.

And yeah, to the stiletto heels and perfect manicure, but WHOA BABY to the kissing scene.

"That tongue thing is amazing."
"How come we never did this before?"
"Shut up!" Slam, bam, banging Ewan on the stairs...wheeeee!

A really well done movie in so many respects, more so by the excellent performances of most of the cast. Scarlett didn't bug me as much as she did you, but she didn't thrill me, either. Ewan, both of him, were grrrrreat! And I always love Steve Buscemi.

A really interesting moral question, too, about cloning and clones, more interesting to me because of the book I got 100 pages into and dumped for the erotica. :) I'll get back to it. Cloning's one of those things you can create so many different plots for without being derivative.

We watched Death To Smoochy (surprisingly Excellent) and Closer (a much different view point on it now that Jude's had and tonight we watched another few eps of Long Way Round.

I officially love Ewan. I'll try to finish it up to lend it to you on Saturday.

Glory me, you'd think I was procrastinating from writing or something.....


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I agree completely, M. Now get back to work! LOL