Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the big, the green, and the ugly

the happening--
even the most ardent m. night shyamalan supporters must acknowledge that the director's product has been in steady decline since he exploded onto the hollywood scene in 1999 with the sixth sense. i felt, going in, that this would be a crucial film for him, considering. smart marketing (including his first R rating) and his reputation for harrowing tales buoyed the first-week take beyond $30M. next week mark the precipitous drop in receipts, cuz this movie stinks. in the past, even when his writing was subpar, his direction impressed, often inspired. here, it's All bad. acting? mark wahlberg gives his worst, while zooey deschanel is simply awful. story? i won't even get into the grade school didacticsim on display. perhaps the title is meant to offer vague reasoning for his own fall from grace; i'm now doubtful we'll ever see greatness from shyamalan again.
stinks: 1 star

the incredible hulk--
everyone wants to know: Is it better than ang lee's hulk, released only five years ago? well, it's certainly different. things, overall, have been markedly so since marvel started running their own show. already steering two franchise characters (iron man and hulk) to top of the box office, the new kids on the hollywood block seem to have a grasp on what their comic fans want to see. that's Action. not weighted down with gravitas, dull exposition, or even much backstory (film smartly doses you with need-to-know info in opening credits), this hulk gets the job done in the trenches. i'm not keen on the casting (william hurt as a career military man?), yet the actors are game. tim blake nelson and tim roth shine. cgi is, uhh, good enough, and script inoffensive. predictable (and apropos) Green light for sequel & director louis leterrier.
action: 2 stars

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

a pair of blockbusters

these two powerhouse franchises dominated the box office last week. for more extensive, specific chatter about either or both, hit me up directly. i've got Loads more to say about each:

indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull--
i am one who was psyched for the fourth installment in the indy series. so yes, expectations were high. the overly stagey opening sequence felt pulp, almost stock in every technical regard, and shifted me quickly into head-shaking mode. then throughout i found myself battling between objective and disheartened. frankly, no matter how i slice it, there are simply too many moments, scenes, sequences that feel forced, corny, derivative.... i couldn't escape all the spielberg-isms & lucas-isms so recognizable from their respective works. i couldn't get over the whelm of the Grande Collective Effort put forth to make this one...live up to expectations. it was all just Too Much.
forced: 2 stars

sex and the city--
i am a fan of the tv series. granted, i didn't feel the Need for a movie; however, one was certainly welcome. not surprisingly--their shrieking reunions notwithstanding--i had fun reconnecting with our fave foursome of nyc gals ... for approximately 44 minutes. at that point, i reached my single episode threshold. i wanted the bitching, bitter, petty, Righteous ladies we All know & love (again i say, i am a fan) to get over it already! (mostly i wanted them to shut the hell up.) of course i expected the label worship and the silly dress-up montages, the catty bickering and the detestable egregious superficiality: that's our girls; that's the show. 142 minutes is just too damn long for that, people. i was done, i got bored, i grew incredulous, then Uber-Bored, finally ... redemption. i enjoy the way it all came together. i like the message we're left with. nicely resolved. now for the sequel can we Please do it all within, say, 90 minutes?
142 minutes: 2 stars

Monday, June 9, 2008

little things mean a lot

the visitor--
another winner from writer-director thomas mccarthey (station agent). he has a real knack for witnessing real people (feeling people) and for telling simple stories simply. like his exceptional first effort, this one develops slowly--with a patience that shows confidence in both his story and his lensing--unfolding and revealing with a steady, beautiful quiet. just as important as what happens is what doesn't (it's fantastic how much you feel what's going on just beneath the surface with any of the principals), so when credits roll, the emotional payoff warms into a definitive sense of wanting more. career supporting actor richard jenkins is the lifeblood of the film in a lead performance that's sure to win many critical praises.
winner: 4 stars