Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday movie roundup

I've checked out some movies recently though not as many as, say, a high-schooler or that Ebert fellow. Of the three latest cinematic experiences, I loved one, liked one, and felt rather annoyed at one. Read on for answers...

Spider-Man 3. Well, it's been about three years since Peter Parker went unmasked to bear brawn and brains against evil banktellers, runaway trains, and that scientist that so wanted to be an octopus. He's back for a third spin, and though the world (i.e., New York City) loves him dearly, not all is happy in mundaneland. Pete's oblivious to MJ's pouty face, what with her Broadway career bombing worse than Stan Lee's stupidly useless and contractual cameo. His best friend, Harry, hates him. And, shocking shocking shocking, the man everyone believed had murdered Uncle Ben turned out to be innocent. Instead, we get the soon-to-be-Sandman, motivated by a locket and the thought of saving his child from...something. They never really said. I'm going to assume she's a heroin addict. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand alien goo has invaded the city, or rather just Parker's world where it can knit and sew and overall make him look exactly like Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. Oh, and there's some throwaway characters: Gwen Staci, Eddie Brock/Venom, and Dr. Connors.

I went into the movie initially thinking that they were trying to cram too much into one film. I think I might have been right. The alien symbiote storyline has always been a favorite of mine, and it was not handled well enough here. In fact, this storyline could have been the whole movie if done correctly. Instead, the black shtuff let Tiger be a bit of a Jackass while taking Eddie Brock to a whole new level (from smug to dangerously smug). I'm still meh about the Sandman; his special effects were really neat, and they nailed him exactly like how he was able to recreate his clothing/hair and such from sand. Perfect. But still, reworking the existing storyline of Spider-Man just to fit a supervillain into the mold was annoying. I'd call it lazy, too, but it looked like a lot of work to reshoot those older scenes. Anyways, there's battles and tears and a few flickers of comicy humor. Having Spidey unmasked for most of these scenes was a benefit. Voiceovers can only convey so much. No one really important bites it (sorry, Harry), and looks to be back to normal. Maybe? I've heard there's going to be more films. Ugh. I'd watch if they brought out Black Cat, Dagger and Cloak, possibly Kraven. Maybe Rhino. But they'd need to replace MJ before I even thought of devoting more time to the franchise.

I did, however, enjoy Bruce Campbell. That's what I said: Peh-ker.

The Reaping. I still worry that a majority of folks might call this film by the wrong name of The Raping...Of Customers...And Their Time...Mostly Their Wallets. Hmm, that title might be too long. Regardless, we have a movie (mostly) about the ten plagues of ancient Egypt. You know, back when plagues were the shit. Rivers turning to blood, disease on livestock, locust, death of firstborn, cartons containing Rocky Road ice cream exploding upon human contact. Those ones.

Hilary Swank, after thwarting the evil that is low-income classrooms in Freedom Writers, is called upon to sort out a miracle happening in a backwater locale filled with some not-so-wholesome inhabitants. It's science VS. faith, except there's very little science and a whole lotta faith. Swank's character, Kat Winter, only once really blurts out solid facts to dispute that which is happening around her. When the little devil girl begins summoning magical fireballs from the midnight sky to smite the first-borns,'re just going to have to believe as well. I was hoping for more of a serious film that tackled such issues, that really stretched the argument of what could and what could not happen. Instead, it's a horror film with some jumps and twisty turns that is formulaic in its tepid meandering. Visually, the river of blood was impressive, and the overused quick flashes of scary things did their job to a J. There's room for a sequel, and I hope they answer this question: Why did the director feel the need to spend a good ten minutes on windchime shots when they had no purpose in the film? Why? Dear director whatshisname, may the heavens toss dead frogs on your doorstep until you solve this mystery. I know you did it to be a moron, but I have faith the answer is otherwise.

The Prestige (on DVD). I think I'll be sad when the Harry Potter films end, and not because I'm a Professor Snape fanboy (I am), but it'll make it much harder for film companies to put out movies with magicians in 'em on a yearly basis. So when both The Illusionist and The Prestige were fighting for attention, I saw Ed Norton flick and enjoyed it. Granted, I had problems with it and I'm not too interested in a lovey dovey tale...thankfully, The Prestige offered a completely different story. Two magicians trying to one-up the other, being sneaky and cruel, all while Wolverine searches out David Bowie and Gollum to learn the magic of electricity. Or teleportation. Cloning, maybe. Anyways, it's a slow movie, building up to those precious last minutes where everything comes together. I loved it. I can't say why though. I went into the movie un-spoiled, and generally was surprised by the big reveal (aka the prestige). The competition between two magicians so devoted to their trade was admirable; they knew they weren't doing real magic, but to them it was more than that. It was a show, a gasp, a round of applause. I rarely watch extras on my DVDs, but this time I did (there could have been more), and I'm looking forward to sitting down and re-watching it sometime. To try and catch all those clues, see the magic sparkling just in the background, unclear but there...

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