Daily archives: September 12, 2004

Film Fan

We’ve been doing the Orange Wednesday thing for a while now, and it’s about time I reviewed some of the movies. These are the ones I can remember, with a couple of non-midweek ones thrown in for good measure.

Van Helsing– The first OW film we went to see, this one set a standard for the others to follow. A very low standard, but that’s life. CGI uber alles, with so many effects shots there was no actual excitement, no “cool stunt” moments. It did have Kate Beckinsale in a corset and leather trousers, but that just wasn’t enough.

Troy– I’ve never read The Iliad, so I couldn’t judge how much this was mangling history. Gorgeous to look at and with special effects properly used- the thousand ships got a “Cool” response rather than “Yeah, but they did it all with computers”. All in all it’s just as silly as the historical epics of the 50s and 60s only this time they have the ability to do the epic scope shots.

Connie and CarlaSome Like It Hot, only with transvestites. A competent comedy adventure in the traditional model. The gayness of the drag queens was mainstreamed a bit- camp but asexual.

Shaun of the Dead– Brilliant. This works on so many levels- geeky, very British, gory and hilarious. We need more movies like this and fewer Notting Hill Wedding, Actually type things.

Dawn of the Dead– The other zombie movie. Not bad, but surprisingly not as gory as Shaun and without the dark satire of the original. The end titles sequence is very effective and creepy in its own right.

Shrek 2– Definitely the film of the year. It deserves repeated viewings just to catch all the visual jokes and homages.

The Day After Tomorrow– A disater movie in the classic style. This does all the characters in extreme peril/ who’s going to die stuff you’d expect from Earthquake etc., though they can’t afford to be quite as all-star as ‘7os movies. Despite sounding ludicrous, the premise for the disaster is based upon an accepted scientific theory- that fresh water melting into the Atlantic would mess with the Gulf Stream and its warming effects on the Northern hemisphere.

Spider-Man 2– A top quality sequel. With characters rather than cardboard cut-outs and believable set ups for the fight sequences it’s possible to watch the obviously animated Spidey swinging between sky scrapers and really care.

King Arthur– Kiera Knightley in a leather bikini and, erm….. swords. Based on “the true story the legend is based on”, the film is full of gaping holes. The Saxons came ashore in Scotland- when Northumbria or even further south would have been more realistic- just so there could be a battle at Hadrian’s Wall. Then Arfur and his k-nigets open the gates and let the Germanic hordes through! What’s the point of having a great big wall if you’re going to do that. And don’t get us started on the accents.

Jersey Girl– Disappointing outing from Kevin Smith. He’s excellent at observation and there are lots of neat little details, but the film just doesn’t work as a whole. The supporting cast are all far better than Affleck’s unlikeable main character. It was brave to take this route after all the fart jokes, but I think Smith went too far into the earnest. Certainly, the rudest character- Liv Tyler’s cheeky, horny video store assistant- is the most interesting.

Donnie Darko– This film does make sense. Sort of. I can think of a few explanations of the plot, but to do so would give the ending away. Is it me, or does romantic lead Jena Malone look like Jodie Foster.

Fahrenheit 9/11– Not as powerful as Bowling for Columbine was for me. I think one of the problems was that little of this was new to me in the way stuff in BFC was. If this film was a revelation to American viewers, then the US media really is as bad, biased and inept as people say. Moore has promised the equivalent of a whole films worth of extra footage for the DVD. You have to hope that the film succeeds in its stated aim of toppling the Bush presidency.

I, Robot– Another example of sfx being used to support the story, rather than just because. A mish mash of Asimov’s robot stories with a plausible use of the Three Laws as a basis. It’s still mostly an excuse for a bunch of action sequences, but it does them well.

The Bourne Supremacy– One of those rare films these days that doesn’t rely on sfx for its action sequences. This takes the style of Bourne Identity and pumps it up. I’m looking forward to the third one already.

Catwoman– The film that toppled Van Helsing off it’s Worst of the Year spot. When you look at the special effects and think the PS2 is almost as good, in real time, then there’s something wrong.

The Chronicles Of Riddick– A passable attempt at space opera, with the fate of the universe hanging on the actions of a dangerous anti-hero. The film doesn’t aim low- it wants to be an epic. Whilst it doesn’t quite reach the heights it aspires to, it’s a damn good try.

I’m certain I’ve forgotten some films. If anyone would like to remind me I’ll add the reviews.

UpdateThe Terminal. It says something that I saw this film on Wednesday and forgot to put it in a list compiled on Sunday. Like Jersey Girl, this is a disappointing outing from this director with occasional bits that show how much better it could have been. For example, the most interesting subplot- Hanks as romantic go-between whilst trying to get his visa- is poorly handled, then dropped for half an hour before being hurriedly wrapped up. It’s just over two hours, but feels much longer.