Friday, April 29, 2005

Movie Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I tried, really tried to like this movie. I loved the previews and even though I had never read the books, I was really looking forward to this movie. I even began to re-watch the BBC series just to get in the mood for all things Adams. That may have been my tragic mistake.

When comparing this big budget Hollywood production to the relatively cheaply made BBC mini-series there is little similarity. While the effects in the BBC production look like they may have been part of a grade 9 art project, in this latest incarnation of the Douglas Adams novels, they are as close to perfect as you can get. The animatronic aliens are perfectly done (thanks to Jim Henson's Creature Shop) and the CGI is top notch. Everything looks perfect. However, there is one component of the BBC series that I believe they should have kept, the humour.

Like the novels that inspired it, the BBC series was truly funny, while most of the jokes in this movie die a horrible horrible death. It looks like they were trying so hard to fit in as many punch lines as possible that they forgot to actually bother to set them up. It would be like walking up to an alien and saying "Orange you glad I didn't say banana" or "to get to the other side" and expecting them to start laughing. It just doesn't work. Even the few jokes they do set up are generally killed by awful timing or flat deliveries. The BBC series, on the other hand, took their time to set up the humour and it paid off.

As for the acting itself, while I didn't have much problem with Martin Freeman as Dent or even Sam Rockwell as Zaphod, there were really no great performances. Not that that was necessarily the actors faults as they seemed to have a very poor screenplay to work with.

About the only people who may find this movie at all entertaining would be 10 years olds who might like the visuals, and the four college goofs who sat behind us at the theater. (Of course they were laughing hysterically at the Hitchhiker's inspired "Chicken Little" ad as well as the New Pink Panther trailer which one stated "looks awesome!". So you may want to weigh their opinions with that in mind.)

Basically it comes down to two choices. If you want flash, go to the theatre and watch this movie but if you want substance, go find a copy of the BBC series. I'd suggest the latter.

1.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Friday April 29

So it looks like this weeks movie is going to be (drum roll please) .........
....... The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

a)We all get sick and MacDaddy decides to go see Kung Fu Hustle
b)We all get drunk and decide to go see XXX2: State of the Union
Neither of which I give good odds for.

So here are the specifics:

Movie: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Time: 11:10
Place: SKC


This may actually be the last club outing for MacDaddy for the next 8 weeks as he is about to take on the role of Mr. Mom (although in his case voluntary).

So how does this affect the group dynamic?

Well it might stop Rat from complaining that Mac is causing him to miss movies due to his drunken curling weekends or trips down south but other than that I think we'll all miss Mac's wild eyed enthusiasm at being able to get out of the house for something besides work.

Whenever Mac's around every Friday seems a little like Christmas with a 5-year old. While it's always nice to receive a gift, half the fun is in seeing the kids get so excited.

So tomorrow don't forget to raise your bladder busters of chosen theatre beverage to wish Mac a good 8 weeks of R-and-R with the MacDaughter.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Movie Review: Interpreter

Divorced from reality and not looking to reconcile anytime soon.

While I try not to let political views affect how I feel about the quality of a movie, with this one that is almost impossible to do. It's not hard to see why the Interpreter was the first movie to be given such unrestricted access to the United Nations building in downtown New York. The entire movie is essentially a giant ad for why the UN is still relevant to today's world. The only problem is that this UN, as shown through the Hollywood lens, shares little in common with the real one.

The entire premise of this film is that the brutal dictator of an African nation is so afraid of a UN resolution calling for him to stand trial for crimes against humanity that he has to come to New York to personally defend himself. There is no mention of any type of military action against him, in fact the very idea of that is dismissed several times as being against what the UN stands for, just a resolution. This may sound good on paper, but in reality UN resolutions come and go with very few nations paying them much heed.

Even more preposterous is the fact that it is France, of all countries, who is trying to push the resolution in question through the general assembly. (This is the same France who's Premier just the other day while on a state visit to China said the French have no problems with Chinese military actions to prevent Taiwan from seceding as well as called for the lifting of the arms embargo between the EU and China. Just a bunch of peace loving hippies they are.)

Even with the UN's baggage removed the story has some problems that come directly from the writers needs to move things along to a certain forgone conclusion. The biggest example of these is the use of the standard technique of exaggerated hesitation. That's is when one character decides not to bothering filling another one in on very important information when it's most needed. Say when you are standing in a bomb makers 'lab' and you are on the phone with an agent who is standing a few feet from said bomb maker (who just happens to be carrying a satchel). Why would you bothering filling the agent on the scene in on that particular bit of info when instead you can ask several unnecessary questions and bark orders without explanation. Because directly telling the agent that "he's got a bomb!" would make the rest of the scene very hard to get to the point you need to further your story. Overall a very lazy job of writing.

They even go so far as to try to build sympathy for the man responsible for the genocide in his own country by showing him look disappointed that the parades and celebrations of his arrival in NYC of a few decades ago have now been replaced by angry protestors. As if to show that even though thousands upon thousands of innocent people are being killed by his orders, he's just a man and has feelings too.

The acting on the other hand is above average. Of course with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman as the leads that was to be expected. Although Penn's character of the trouble Secret Service agent is one that shares many traits with several of his past roles, you can easily see the reason that he is often called to play that part and Kidman is perfect as the interpreter who alternates between being defiant and terrified.

However, even with the good acting, there is little else in this movie to make it worth recommending.

If all you want to see is Nicole Kidman running around New York trying to save lives, rent The Peacemaker instead.

2 out of 5
(mostly because while looking at Kidman I can forget about the rest of the story for a little bit.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Friday April 22

Once again it's time to decide on what to watch. I would have posted earlier but I was getting Java errors from Blogger.

This week it looks like the time of the movie is more up for debate that the actual choice of movie. As of right now the movie for Friday looks like Interpreter. Kung Fu Hustle did have a good head of steam built up but with MacDaddy out of town, the Rat Pack seems to have gotten their choice through pretty much uncontested (although AJRimmer did make a few grumblings).

So this is what Fridays schedule looks like:

Movie: Interpreter

Time: 10:10 (SKC)
Place: SKC

Friday, April 15, 2005

Movie Review: Sahara

If you've seen the trailers for Sahara you've probably already thought to yourself "Oh great, another mindless Hollywood Action/Adventure movie!". For the most part you'd be right. There isn't much in Sahara that hasn't been seen or done before in countless other movies throughout the years. But does that mean it's a bad film? Far from it.

While it never come close to breaking the action/adventure mold, it manages to all at once be predictable but still fun an lively.

Without a doubt, the casting is one of this movies greatest strengths. The interactions between each of the characters manages to feel natural, even when in totally unbelievable situations. While everyone in the cast plays their parts perfectly, a special mention has to be made for Steve Zahn as 'Al Giordino'. While Zahn doesn't fit with the books description of 'Al', it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the part. With his perfect timing and delivery that never seems forced, his wise cracks always seem to feel right. Not that Cruz or McConaughey do not play their parts to perfection, but without doubt, Zahn is the one to watch.

As for the overall story, as I've already said there aren't too many surprises. Right down to the automated voice in the factory, it's all been done before. Which leads me to ask two questions;
  1. Why do all 'evil' factories require constant audio announcements as to what is going on?
  2. Why do they all have the same English female voice making the announcements especially when run by a Frenchman in a predominantly French speaking country?
As with most of these types of movies, especially when adapted from a book, there are jumps in logic that are never quite explained. It's much easier to explain something when you can take 20 pages for back story. Sahara does a good job in these situations however, by having 'Al' often voice the same questions the audience is thinking. It's that type of touch that helps make this a great example of the genre.

While Sahara isn't a ground breaking movie, it is a very good one that is easy to watch. With just the right balance of comedy and action to make everyone happy. And since the same characters do appear in several Clive Cussler novels, don't be surprised if they decide to make a sequel.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Friday April 15

So it looks like this Friday may be one of the most open for debate. Nothing too big coming out so the choices are wide open.

The front runners are probably (by category):

Action/adventure: Sahara
Horror: The Amityville Horror
Comedy: Guess Who or possibly Fever Pitch*

Let the voting begin!

* Fever Pitch is only an option if the fact it is a Farrelly Brothers movie can outweigh it's inherent "chick flick" qualifications, seeing to the best of my knowledge, Scarlett Johansson is not in the cast.

It looks like Sahara has won by a vote of 2.5 to 1. So the details for today's movie are:

Time: 10:20
Place: SKC

Friday, April 08, 2005

Movie Review: Sin City

While I actually saw this last weekend I figured it would be bad Karma to review a movie before the club went to see it. But since everyone's seen it now, here goes my review for Sin City:

As a date movie, Sin City is quite possibly the worst movie ever made. The never ending violence, gore and blood spattering (even if the blood is not necessarily red) just does not lend itself to cuddling up with your significant other in the dark.

As a comic book/graphic novel adaptation, it has no equal. Sure, based on your preferences, there may be other comic inspired movies that you may like better, but none even come close to translating the drawn pages to the silver screen the way Sin City does.

From the choice of only using black and white, with the occasional bit of colour, to the slow moving acting, there are times you could swear what you are seeing on the screen is actually one of Frank Miller's sketches. It's almost as if they used the storyboards for the movie instead of bothering to act them out.

The dialogue style is another area that is pulled directly from the graphic novels. Since the layout of comics do not lend themselves well to long conversations between characters, most comments are short, sweet and to the point. With the exception of the abundance of internal monologuing, another common comic device, most of the interactions between characters leave you with much more to see, than to hear. Just the way a well drawn comic should.

In other movies the overall style may have been a drawback, making things seems slow and awkward, but here, it all works to capture the viewer and pull them in. It is so close to the original comic source that spawned it that you can almost picture the words up on the screen.

If you want to see a comic book come to life the way it was meant to, do not miss this movie. On the other hand, if you just want an excuse to make out in the dark, go see 'Fever Pitch' or something.

Oh yeah, and the outfits aren't bad either.
I smell an Oscar (and I don't mean that creepy guy in the second row).

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Friday April 8

While the obvious choice for this Friday's movie was Sin City, Rat (and member at large Rat Sr.) are trying to make a case for Sahara.

Having already seen Sin City (I know, I should have waited but in all fairness I went and saw it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am willing to make the 'sacrifice' of seeing it again from the club) I'll abstain from this weeks vote.

So here are the choices:

Sin City: SS @ 10:35
Sahara: SS @ 10:55

I'm pretty sure which way MacDaddy & AJRimmer are going to vote on this one so let the negotiations and bribes begin.