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Spiderman 3

Posted by james on May 12, 2007

(post.rating: 3)

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What a load of junk this one was. The first two were alright, but I never liked Tobey Maguire; he just does not express much emotion. There were moments in this one where Kirsten Dunst was accusing him, pleading with him, but every time the camera switched back to him it reminded me eerily of when news anchors don't realize the camera's been switched back to them. Just a blank, waiting expression. And spider man is all about the characters, otherwise the action is meaningless.

In this movie, the director (Sam Raimi) just tries to cram way too much stuff. One reviewer mentioned that there's so much going on but it doesn't feel rushed. Of course it doesn't; the movie is 2 and a half hours long! That works for some movies, but definitely not for this one. Near the last third of the movie I actually considered leaving. If I were watching this at home, I would have fast-forwarded to the final fight scene (which itself lasted for something like 20 minutes). The biggest problem with all this is that all that extra time is taken up by things that simply do not add anything to the story.

I almost forgot about the "sandman" character; he was disinteresting from the start (even after recognizing Thomas Church from wings... Hi Lowell!), and then simply disappeared, only to reappear (wait, he's still in this movie?) and do something banal, then disappear again. If he can really spend that much time off screen and not influencing the story at all, then he can simple be removed. Even his fights weren't really that interesting.

By far the worst part of the film is Tobey Maguire. Yes, he's a horrid actor, but then there was this half-hour segment of what I can only deem the "Everything Go Nuts Crazy Jazz Time" where there was no spiderman, only... "Strictly Ballroom"? Wait, wasn't this about a super hero? Isn't this about the powerful and intriguing alien "Venom" who takes over their host? Apparently on planet Venom, ballroom dancing is what happens to superheroes that go bad. Here on earth we call that "Saturday afternoon made-for-tv special". It's about equally as scary.

Kirsten Dunst is usually not too strong an actress; she's not bad, just doesn't always seem believable in her roles. In this movie, you hardly notice; she gets lost in the smorgasborg of campiness in this movie.

Comic-based movies are usually about neat, fantastic ideas, and rely heavily on building memorable characters to make the action relevant and engrossing. This movie is more like someone typed an outline of plot points, and then they rolled a 30-sided dice to see which character would do what. Cue Aunt-May with the all-too-relevant "All you need is love" saying, then make spiderman bump into (roll.... ) The Sandman! Again! Make him say something (roll.... ) that he never meant to kill (roll.... ) his uncle and that he's (roll.... ) never going to be caught! No, wait (little-roll..) that he's sorry. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Lame. That's all I could think when I left the movie. And after the second half of the movie. And every time during the movie that I laughed at the ridiculousness going on in each scene. What in the world happened to this one? I heard a rumor that "they" (Raimi?) have signed on for 3 more spiderman movies. I really hope not. I thought about what could fix this series, and came up with a list. Some time would have to pass, so everyone forgot about this one. They'd have to find a new director (this is key). They'd have to find a new approach for the plot (not simply come up with yet another villain, and milk the best-friends rivalry more than they already have). And they'd *absolutely* have to get rid of Tobey Maguire as spiderman. In short, they'd have to pull a Batman. And the chances of that actually working are so slim, I really hope they just loose too much money and stop making these. RIP, good spiderman movies. Get ready for the rest of the sequels.

The Bourne Supremacy

Posted by james on April 19, 2007

(post.rating: 9)

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Just got done with Bourne Supremacy, and I'm amazed. First, I vaguely remember watching the prequel, The Bourne Identity. I can't remember much, except that it had Matt Damon (doing ok), incredibly fast paced hand-to-hand action, a non-standard female lead (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente), and was mostly decent. I really can't remember much of it though. Oh yeah, and Julia Stiles in a out-of-place strange/confusing role (some pretty girl in a broom closet talking on the phone, randomly).

The previews looked good; they always do. But this time, thankfully, they didn't lie as usual. The action was pretty intense, the characters all seemed right. There's a certain brusque and concise manner to the actor's physical movement, a no-nonsense approach to action and spy-ification (spy as a verb?) that's the complete opposite of all-flash James Bond style movements. Each physical fight under-emphasizes each movement and lets things get lost in a flurry of movement. Frankly, it's what I always wish for while I'm waiting out the typical 20-second slow motion flying-roundhouse kick, plus an extra 3 seconds to watch Tom Cruise's hair move back into place. Do I digress?

I was sad that Franka had a 5 minute role in the movie, and I almost wished they'd established either her character or her importance to Bourne/Damon. But after watching to the end, it makes sense. Any time spent emphasizing their relationship would've been cheesy recap for the "There was a first one?" crowd, and wasted valuable time. Touche, nameless director, touche. I'm beginning to think that Brian Cox is doomed to be type-casted as, what I'll only name, "The Creepy Guy with the Drawling Voice". I didn't even think about Joan Allen as the no-nonsense female boss during the movie, which is quite a compliment; she did exactly the role, perfect. Usually they stand out with "I'm tougher than any guy!" insecurities and get in the way. Karl Urban wins first prize as the best bad guy with the least amount of lines. I didn't even realize he hadn't spoke much, his intensity makes up for it.

Last, the dark horse... Julia Stiles. She's actually a double-surprise. She's supposed to be a favorite, but all the things I can remember her in she's been absolutely miserable (actually, all I can picture is her in "10 Things I Hate About You". Gah). But during that one scene (don't want to say too much), wow. Just incredible. It's one of the most amazing moments on screen I've seen in a long, long time. It's one of those things that make you reevaluate your opinions on a seemingly overrated actor(ress). Is she actually good in anything? Worth trying to figure out...

Last, Damon. Pretty amazing. He's been really good in other roles (Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan of course) and he's still good. It probably has a lot to do with good script writing not trying to ham everything up, but he's just good.

Overall, I'm really surprised to find a great and solid sequel to my vague memories of an uninspiring action movie. I really do think I'll have to rewatch the Bourne Identity now...

PS. I almost forgot! My only complaint about the movie is actually attached to a compliment. They hired some indie-director to do an almost documentary-style approach, which really helps. I really do appreciate the underkey, personal cinematography, it really does engross you in Bourne's struggle. However (and this is a big one), I would also like to deem the action sequences of the movie "NaseaVision". Really close, really shaky, all confusing. Come on man, use some medium shots to balance out those "in your face" closeups. It's like watching an earthquake from 2 inches away. Chaotic, confusing, and gives me a headache.

The Wicker Man

Posted by james on April 16, 2007

(post.rating: 1)

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I just watched The Wicker Man. The previews looked like a typical generic "horror" movie (for lack of a better descriptor), nothing special. However, after watching a hilarious <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo">remix clip</a> on youtube I had to see this movie. My good friend Winton confirmed what Rotten Tomatoes and pretty much everyone else said; this movie was an absolute bomb.

Just... go watch that youtube clip. Almost all of those scenes are continuous clips from the movie, not edited to make it look weirder than it really was. The movie really is that bizarre. The worst part is that you sit through hours of Nicolas Cage screaming "What's going on??" at various people, and then no one answering, and then the movie continues to the next scene. You also see lots of strange things; men who can't talk with deformities, baby fetuses in jars, crows everywhere, bees everywhere. What's does it all mean?? Next paragraph...

I'd have to say that this is the worst "horror" movie (again, a better description may be "annoying butchered American remake fest") I've ever seen. I've seen others that are just laughably, ridiculously bad (Evil Dead 1, Dead Alive, modern B-movie classics like The Relic, etc) but this one just is tops for it's courage. The directors had the audacity to put lots of crazy little things in there to pique the viewers' curiosity (so... Why are there baby fetuses in bottles?), <b>without explaining any of it.</b> Bravo. I'd say it's symbolism and deeper meaning, except that I suspect that it's not. The original British 1973 <i>Wicker Man</i> was supposed to be a modern (1973-era) confrontation of a Christian and Neo-Pagans, with authentic representation of the pagan rituals. The new one? I figure they had 6 year olds watch a few B-movie horror classics, draw with crayon and paper what they thought of it, and then assembled those with dialog for Nicolas Cage. And then told the rest of the cast these instructions:

"Yes, and one more thing... Nicolas Cage has been given lines in this movie, but he has not been told that no one else is actually allowed to speak. If he asks you anything, just avoid answering and keep going until the director yells cut."

And I'm sure Cage still wakes up sweating in his room to this day... "*snort*... The bees! Why is it burned? WHY IS IT WHY IS IT BURNED WHY IS IT BURNED????"


Actually, the most interesting thing about this movie (besides "Why in the world did anyone agree to do this movie?") was that the original 1973 protagonist was an adult Christian virgin. They had to change that for Cage's character, as nowadays an adult virgin would be too unbelievable. The funny thing is, an adult virgin in a modern day movie would be unbelievable even to me... and I <b>am</b> an adult virgin. I sometimes think how much of an anomaly I am, and it's funny and sad all at the same time.

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