Jan 20 2011

Movies: Not All Winners

Published by at 10:58 pm under Entertainment

I definitely had some mixed results from the last batch of movies. Is is cause I let other people pick the viewing? Possibly. Is it cause I’m running low on Hitchcock movies to watch in my netflix streaming queue? Certainly doesn’t help. Both of those items did prevent me from getting to too many of the movies for my IMDB top 50 quest, but I should be hitting some more of those again next week. Hopefully the viewing should be better. Oh, and no more romantic comedies if I can help it.

Cronos

For all intents and purposes, Cronos is a vampire movie. They don’t go so far as to say the ‘V’ word throughout the movie, but you have a man who is bitten by a bug that drinks blood and bestows on it’s host a desire for blood themselves, immortality with only a vulnerability being a pierced heart and photophobia. I don’t know about you, but those attributes sound pretty strikingly similar to a certain breed of common horror film monster. So lets just call a duck a duck. Even though the characteristics are there, they do go about it in a slightly unique way. It isn’t transfered from beast to beast. Instead, there was a gold device created (called the cronos) that was kind of a wrist watch with an insect inside that would give eternal life. The device trapped the insect and made for a nice accessory for the owner. It was directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) so I was expecting to read subtitles through the whole thing. It’s kind of a hybrid foreign film though as Ron Perlman’s character speaks English a good portion of the time. This actually was a bit off putting as they often had conversations where Ron’s character spoke English and other characters spoke Spanish. Most of the acting was pretty well done and the story was unique. The late 80′s fashion kind of made me cringe a bit, but if that’s what I am resorting to find things to pick on, it speaks well for the movie. While it doesn’t hold up to Pan’s Labyrinth in quality or story, it’s still a pretty good movie.

3.5

Despicable Me

2010 really has been a good year for family animations. Despicable Me is just another example in a seemingly extensive list of movies in this genre that I liked. Steve Carell could make a full career of doing nothing but voice over work. Some people can do wonders giving life to animations with just their voice and he would definitely make the list. I was surprised to see the list of other actors that were in the film. Many of them not sounding anything like their normal selves including Jason Segel and Russell Brand. There is a decent story with, of course, a decent message (can’t try and persuade the offspring to fall into lives of being drug dealers and prostitutes, now can we?) and there are plenty of funny moments to keep the movie moving. It was one of those movies that just seemed to fly by. I always appreciate it when we can find family friendly movies that I like. After about the billionth time of it playing, I’m not sure I’ll feel the same way, but it was good enough so I shouldn’t mind the first half dozen or so viewings.

3.5

Once Upon a Time in the West

Your typical hero draped in a white coat with a bleached hat facing off against the villain adorned in unrealistically black (considering the dusty landscape) wardrobe. Mix in a charismatic outlaw living by his own code, a strong willed, busty widow who needs some help but won’t admit it and a greedy business man trying to pull all the strings and you round out the main characters of the movie. The bad guy took me a while to place him, but still figured out that it was Peter Fonda from 12 Angry Men that I liked so well. I’m actually enjoying that I’m starting to recognize a lot of these older actors almost as much as the more current cinematic celebs. He gives another terrific performance in this movie as well. Sound ends up playing a huge part in the movie. Everything from the harmonica that main characters plays, to the sounds of water dripping and the flies in the open sequence while sitting around waiting and even to build suspense like when all the birds and insects suddenly stop making sounds right before an important scene. The harmonica was a truly interesting touch. It takes on the stereotypical old western scene where the good and the bad face off and slow, deliberate tones play to signify and build the tense moment. Instead of it being background music intended only for the viewing audience, it’s now entwined into the story line with the character providing the mood music as he plays it in many of the face of scenes. There were a few parts that were really slow in the movie, but I didn’t mind them too much. There was such a wide breadth in character types that it didn’t suffer from the same complaints I had about Casablanca with stoic male leads and frail female characters. I still have another western to watch to hit my imdb 50 quest (this movie comes in at #20) and it will be interesting to see how The Good, The Bad and The Ugly holds up to this one. As of now, this is my gold standard for westerns. A new bar is set.

4.5

The Bounty Hunter

Some how in a moment of weakness, that I don’t recall, I added this movie to my netflix queue. My sister in law (pretty sure she’s my sister in law – she’s my wife’s brother’s wife and I don’t really know what that technically makes her, but that’s not important to this post anyway) made me regret my error in judgement by selecting this movie of all to watch when she was over. But, I’ve had a really good run recently of pretty good movies so I can’t expect them all to be awesome. It’s a predictable romantic comedy that really struggles to to keep your attention and only really had a few funny moments. Maybe I’ll refer to it as a romantic semi-comedy. Yes, that’s right. I’m critisizing the funny-ness of other things with that joke. The irony is not lost on me. It doesn’t even pull the whole romantic part off all that well. I don’t think I’m giving anything a way by saying they sort of get back together at the end of the movie. But it happens in such a way that if it happened to people I knew, I would say “meh, I give them 2 weeks”.

2.0

Metropia

This is a surrealistic animation populated with disproportioned people having large heads and alien like large eyes set in a gloomy, Al Gore foretold future. Think kind of like 1984 only with mind control shampoo and no rats. It tries to be a kind of psychological thriller but meanders on at a pace that doesn’t quite fit. The animation is unique and I think the story could be quite good, but it lacked the suspense necessary to carry the whole movie. I believe what was missing was the feeling of danger. While the main character didn’t really know who to trust and was being pulled in different directions, neither one really seemed to be wanting any harm to come of him. It’s like saying “OMG, I’m gonna fall off this ledge” when in reality you are just teetering on curb a mere 6″ above the street. Doesn’t hold a lot of weight or urgency. I don’t regret watching it, but I don’t know if I would recommend any one to see it. If you wanted something visually interesting, then it’s a good watch. Or you were high. It would probably work for that too.

2.5

Just so you can get an idea of the unique animation style, I decided to embed the trailer.

The Secret of Kells

Despicable Me seemed to pass by quickly. So did The Secret of Kells, but for a different reason. It’s only 75 minutes long. It kind of came and went a little too quickly. The animation was interesting but more so since it was more artistic than visually stunning. It reminded me a lot of the animation from the cartoon network show from a few years ago, Samuri Jack. It’s kind of refreshing to see something nowadays that isn’t just cgi. There are lots of scenes where things were drawn in to look like things they weren’t. Trees grouped to look like faces and leaves to look like water. The characters were all interesting and it didn’t play out to be too serious which I was kind of expecting from it. It did have some darker scenes that really seemed to be a bit scary for younger kids but nothing that was objectionable. I kind of did expect more from the story though and the ending was kind of disappointing, but overall a pretty decent movie.

3.5

I believe the local cinema group is going to have a viewing of The Secret of Kells this spring. I don’t think it’s a big secret that I won’t be there to see it.

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