Thursday, June 23, 2005

LIghts, Camera, Blog!

Hi Folks, remember me?

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I spent an hour Saturday morning writing a review of Batman Begins, which included some marvelous word play, and brilliant cinematic insight, but when I hit the post button my computer decided to crash. I'm only just getting over it. [well, ok, at least the part about spending an hour writing it, and the computer crashing is true. ;-)]

Anyway, I am going to regale you now with some opinions of the movies we have recently seen. Two at the theater, and three at home. So, without further ado:

Batman Begins

More than two decades ago, Tim Burton (the second wierdest person in the US) made what many, including yours truly, thought of as the definitive Batman film. It was dark, edgy, and well written. It sold well enough to spawn several sequals, each one getting stupider, and flashier. Finally Joel Schumacher made Batman and Robin, the silliest, stupidest film yet. The Batman franchise imploded in a rubber-nippled (except for Batgirl, I might add) puff of homo-erotic irrelevency, punctuated by nauseating editing, vertiginous camera work, and a longing for the Wonder Twins to lend the film some gravitas. When the day-glo dust settled it was clear, and somewhat comforting, that there would be no more Batman films.
Then, a few months ago, the buzz began that there would be a new Batman film. One that would go back to the beginning and show just how Bruce Wayne became The Batman. I held my breath, and dared to hope. And I wasn't disappointed. Batman Begins does not redefine the genre, nor does it push the envelope of special effects, but it does one thing very entertains. I had a blast watching this movie. Christian Bale does a servicable job as the Dark Knight, mixing equal parts method angst with Saturday morning cartoon camp. Micheal Cain was born to play Alfred, and Liam Neeson...well I don't want to spoil the surprise, but at least he finally makes it to the end of a film. And the Batmobile is finally what it was supposed to be all along, a freaking tank! So wait for a matinee, buy the biggest tub of popcorn you can carry, and go have a great time at the movies for a change.

The other film we saw at the theater was Madagascar. It was cute. The animation was well done, and the story didn't quite conform to the 'be careful what you wish for' mold it seemed to be heading toward. The high point, and reason why this movie should at least be on your rental list, is the penguins. They kick ass!! If you have ever wanted to see a mega-freighter hijacked by an elite squad of Special Forces penguins, this is your film. There is one scene that might be a bit much for the younger kids, but overall a good family pic.

In the rental category, I'll begin with Team USA. Parker and Stone are absolutely insane, and I haven't laughed so hard since the South Park movie. They attack everyone from Arab and Russian terrorists, to the hyper-liberal Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.) with equal venom. And the puppet sex scene, which had to be cut down to avoid an NC-17 rating, is as erotic as watching Barbie and Ken do it. (the MPAA really needs a sense of humor transplant) If, like me, you grew up watching The Thunderbirds, and you enjoy South Park, you'll love this movie. A word of warning, though. This one should only be watched when the children are very, very asleep. ;-)

The last two flicks we rented were National Treasure, and Cursed. Both were entertaining, and ultimately inconsequential. Nicholas Cage does his usual excellent job as a man searching for clues to a treasure that has consumed his family for generations. It's a Disney film, so the bad guys are menacing, but lousy shots, and the intrigue never really rises to the level of stressful, but it's a fun ride.
Cursed is Wes Craven's latest. It's a werewolf movie starring Christina Ricci. She has grown to be quite the actor, but her talents are wasted in this one. It's pretty standard fare: a girl and her brother are attacked by a large, scary animal, then they spend the rest of the film trying to figure out 'what's happening to me?' There aren't any surprises, except maybe the fact that Rick Baker is using CGI now, which I found a bit disappointing. It's odd to say this, but the most unbelievable part of this whole movie is a kiss at the end. (nerd-boy brother gets the girl, but in a very contrived way) Again, if you feel like a pitcher of margaritas and a good-bad B movie night, this is a worthy rental.

Ok, time to go to work. The next flick on my radar is The War of the Worlds. I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan, but I am a huge H.G. Wells fan, so we'll see how it goes.


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