Thursday, October 07, 2010


"You know it's funny, but as old as we are, people like you and me, we're the future."
-Carnegie, Book of Eli

OK time for me to play movie critic again. My brother and I have rented a lot of movies from Netflix over the months and I want to touch on some of them here so you can consider them for your queue.

Gamer: Better than I expected. Starring Gerard Butler (300) and Michael C Hall (Dexter), this movie is a science fiction tale about gaming taken to another level, with real people being used instead of computer avatars. Gerard Butler is a death row inmate (put in prison because he Knows Too Much©) who is participating in a live action first person shooter like Call of Duty. Controlled partially by a 17 year old boy in a lavish virtual reality computer room, he has just 3 more games to go before he is set free after surviving 30 total games. His wife sold herself as an avatar for a disgusting slob in the sim-style game called Society. Recommended, slightly

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Visually stunning, but not very strong and it didn't hold my attention despite the quality acting. Unfortunately, although I like his work still, Terry Gilliam just hasn't been the same since his failed Don Quixote movie attempt and it just isn't as good as movies like Twelve Monkeys and The Fisher King. Starring the incredibly underratd Christopher Plummer, cutie model Lily Cole, Vern Troyer (great role for him, finally), and Tom Waits as the devil, it was especially interesting to watch the main male role. This was Heath Ledger's last movie, and he died during filming. He does a great job, but because he wasn't around for the full movie, Gilliam instead had several other actors fill in during the dream/imagination sequences: Johnny Depp, Colin Farrel, and Jude Law. They do a great job of playing Heath's take on the character and it works really well, but not enough to really lift the movie up to where it could have been, with Gilliam at his best. Recommended

The Wolfman: Actually this movie was more interesting and thoughtful than I expected. Anthony Hopkins is really understated and actually kind of dull at first, but it all makes sense by the end, and he comes alive once he's gotten what he wants. Benicio Del Toro turns in a great performance and the film was well done. It suffers a bit, though, from not being exactly sure what its supposed to be: is it horror? Is it suspense? Is it gothic? Is it a monster movie? The film finally falls apart at the end with a fight between two furry wolf men who despite the great make up simply look like two idiots in costumes and it just doesn't work. Still, most of the movie was pretty interesting stuff, and as usual Hugo Weaving is terrific to watch. Recommended, slightly.

The Book of Eli: Amazingly good. I really liked this movie, not just because of its unashamed Christian themes, but the acting and setting was interesting, and the story kept my attention very well. Denzel Washington puts in another good performance, and for once he's got a story worth working in. Gary Oldman plays another bad guy, this time a lot more low key than his usual screaming lunatic. There are some very surprising twists and the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic setting which always is fascinating to me. Recommended, strongly.

The Forbidden Kingdom: Jet Li and Jackie Chan in a historical Chinese movie? Sign me up. Except... it doesn't really work very well. The fight sequence between them in the old temple was great, and some of it was wonderful, but the "New york kid learns martial arts and saves them all" bit was just clunky and didn't work well. I know they were trying to find a way to make it fresh and relevant to American eyes but it just felt contrived and more like The Neverending Story rather than Fist of Legend. Still, some good fighting and an interesting story, so Recommended.

Kick Ass: I expected this to be better, but it wasn't terrible. The little girl murdering machine was a bit disturbing, and the main character is such a hapless loser its hard to watch him fail and fumble through life incompetently getting beat to a pulp and buffooned by everyone around him. Very, very violent with many stabbings and shootings; at least fifty people die horribly in this movie, if not a lot more and a little girl is beaten savagely. I was hoping it would be a lot more fun and it really wasn't. Not recommended.

Inglorious Basterds: Well, it was better than Kill Bill or the atrocious "Death Proof" sequence in Grindhouse, but not as good as Pulp Fiction. The movie was about twice as long as it needed to be, and the overall theme of the power of motion pictures and what movies mean to us was lost in the rest of the story. Too much talking, not enough Brad Pitt and his buddies, too much talking, too long, too much talking, and well, too much talking. I know Tarantino loves dialog and I know he speaks so fast that he probably envisions these long conversations being much quicker, but man. He needs an editor. Still cut back it would be a pretty great movie and how many times do you get to see Hitler shot like 900 times in a movie? And Colonel Landa was a very interesting, subtle and complex character well acted by Christopher Waltz Recommended.

Next: This is one of those "I have one superpower" movies that came out the last couple of years, with Push and Jumpers and so on. Its about a precognitive, but for once in movie history, he's intelligent and creative with the power rather than an idiot who sometimes gets something right. Nicholas Cage is good at these kind of roles and the plot is fascinating, showing more and more clever and intelligent ways of how to use precognition (even very a limited sort that he has) until the end is just amazing to watch. And the writer and director understand that you don't have to explain everything, leaving the conclusions up to the viewers with just enough information to make it clear without making it didactic and annoying. Recommended.


Unknown said...

Allow my to present my rebuttal

Gamer: Haven't seen it.
Dr Parnassus: Haven't seen it
Wolfman: Haven't seen it
Book of Eli: Didn't care for it and the big surprise at the end was totally a lie. (Spoiler Alert) He was blind come on. Lame.
Forbidden Kingdom: Haven't seen it.
Kick Ass: I enjoyed it. It was so over the top it amused me.
Inglorious Basterds: Boring!! Boring!! and Boring again!!!
Next. Haven't seen it.

Your move Taylor!! Your move.

Christopher Taylor said...

Strangely enough, early on in the movie my brother asked "is he blind?" Turns out...

There were subtle hints in his behavior and with the sunglasses, but the sun was so overpowering it sort of made sense... just not indoors. Yet you never know in movies, maybe they just thought he'd look badass. It was pretty well done, I think.