Thursday, January 10, 2008

Holiday Movie Recap: All the Movies I Dreamt That I Saw

The winter of '07-'08 was a good time for moviegoers, or a good time to catch up on some sleep. Here's a rundown of the movies that I dreamt I saw this holiday season:

Charlie Wilson's War – You'd think any movie directed by Mike Nichols and featuring Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman would guarantee a hit. You'd be wrong. It was a train wreck; an absolute mess. The movie is ridiculously short at a running time of about 14 minutes. It starts off well enough, with some snappy dialogue between Hanks and Hoffman (although the fact that it was set in my parent's basement was pretty jolting). Things start to get weird at the ten minute mark when for no apparent reason, Hanks starts to carry around a machine gun. He also flips a coin a lot and while from the left side he appears to have a normal face, the right side of his face is horribly disfigured, giving him the appearance of having two faces. Hoffman tries to salvage this train wreck of a script with a game performance, but I still can't figure out why he was wearing that green blazer covered in question marks.

I Am Legend - Quite simply, the most appallingly lazy and awful piece of filmmaking ever perpetrated against the American public. The first fifteen minutes were simply a rehash of the Fresh Prince episode where Will gets shot trying to protect Carlton at the ATM. After Will recovers, Hillary asks Uncle Phil if she can go shopping at Barney's, to which he says, "Bitch, the aliens nuked Central Park! It's over!" Then in an absurd sequence, they're all on a rollercoaster for about ten seconds. With no explanation whatsoever, we're dropped into the Nevada desert, where Will is mourning the loss of his best friend in the film, Harry Connick, Jr. He then punches one of the vampires in the face and yells, "Welcome to Earf." The last ten minutes are equally confusing: it's just Kevin James asking Smith how he can help him get the confidence he needs to ask Bagger Vance out on a date. Only one vampire made it to the final cut, and he looked an awful lot like Bill Pullman. The film's only saving grace is the character of Uncle Phil, played by my Dad.

There Will Be Blood – Not nearly as good as the critics make it out to be. While the movie was respectable enough for the most part, the scene where Daniel Day-Lewis bangs a pie sticks out like a sore thumb. Come on, PTA. You're better than that.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets - Talk about false advertising. This movie was absolutely NOTHING like the trailers. This movie was, quite literally, five minutes of me riding a brontosaurus through Jurassic Park. That's it. No Nicolas Cage, no Jon Voight, no treasure hunting. Just me, riding a dinosaur. I didn't care for the conclusion either, where *SPOILER ALERT* I fall off the brontosaurus, and then off a cliff. The final scene's ambiguity may confuse some viewers as the movie ended before I hit the ground.

Aliens vs. Predator – See, now we're getting somewhere! This is another one where I question the Hollywood execs for their advertising strategy, but in a good way. I came into this thinking it was going to be an action horror piece of garbage with no plot, character development, or sense of danger that the original versions inspired. And while it was nothing like the movies it was based on, what I got was an intelligent period drama set in Victorian England. The Predators and Aliens are at war in merry old London, but that doesn't stop the gentlemanly but poor William Billingsley Predator from trying to woo his lady love, the kind-hearted and pure Ms. Emily Alien. They are two different worlds – one from a family of lower class cobblers, the other from a line of well-to-do nobility, but their passion for each other cannot be denied. It's a love story told over fifty years, and the aging effects they used to make the Alien look like a little old lady alien were incredible. Also, big ups to Anthony Hopkins, who shines here as the Predator's butler. He was especially good in that scene where he bangs a pie, which was obviously a metaphor for the Predator's lost innocence. What an enchanting film; four star-thumbs way up. It's nice to know that in this age of remakes and sequels, the studios can still churn out something as charming and gripping as a Jane Austen knockoff starring Aliens and Predators.

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