This is another one I never would’ve watched without painting myself into a corner with this review series. It falls into the small percentage of big summer movies that I just had no interest in seeing at all. Alot of the ones I miss, like, say, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4, I didn’t get around to seeing them, and I heard they were bad, but yeah, sure, I’d watch ’em. Probly will some day. But not this one. I wouldn’t have.
Okay, I know it’s after Labor Day, so it’s weird that I’m continuing with this retrospective on summer movies. But you know what, they also say to never wear white shoes after Labor Day. Did that ever stop Run DMC? Fuck no. So I’m gonna keep going until I get to 2012.
Also, consider global climate change. It’s still go-out-at-night-with-no-coat weather here even though it’s Seattle, so it doesn’t seem like summer’s over to me. Therefore I find myself watching STARDUST.
The nice thing for me about this series is seeing movies that I never had much (if any) interest in, never heard anything that great about, so I watch them with no expectations at all. It’s been kinda funny how easy I’ve been on some of these and then you guys jump in and stab them a thousand times and eat their skin off and pee on ’em (metaphor). Like, I was surprised how much most of you hated VAN HELSING and especially MR. & MRS. SMITH, which I didn’t think was good but didn’t say much bad about. I think that’s ’cause alot of you saw them on the big screen when they were new and there was still hope for them to be classics. And I’m watching them having already written them off years ago.
VAN HELSING is a pretty cool idea for a horror-adventure type movie. The slayer of Dracula continues his saga, a supernatural expert who goes on to encounter other classic monsters like Mr. Hyde, the Wolf Man (or some werewolves, anyway), Frankenstein’s monster, and probly Blacula if they had made a part two. To make it extra fun he’s not just a doctor like in the book, now he’s a badass in a Solomon Kane hat, with an eccentric friar as his Q/Lucius Fox, building him preposterous weapons that fire stakes like bullets or have spinning saw blades or whatever. And this Van Helsing likes to swing around on ropes. And he gets bit by a werewolf so before he turns he has super hopping powers, like all wolves do. Wolves are known for their hopping.
Okay, admittedly some parts of the idea are not that cool. Also it turns out his name is Gabriel Van Helsing, not Abraham Van Helsing, and he actually has nothing to do with the character from the book. He did however apparently kill Dracula, but that was before Dracula was a vampire (I think), and Van Helsing (no relation) doesn’t remember it. Also he might be the angel Gabriel.
WRITER/DIRECTOR STEPHEN SOMMERS: Hey guys, I’ve had alot of fun doing these AMAZING The Mummy movies, but you know what I’ve always dreamed of is to make a movie about the character Van Helsing from Dracula, only the thing is it’s not about that character at all though, it’s about a different guy than that! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?
UNIVERSAL PICTURES: My friend, you have yourself a god damn GREEN LIGHT!
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL could also be called WALT DISNEY’S SAM RAIMI 3D. That’s what I was hoping to see, and that’s what I got. If it had been a WIZARD OF OZ prequel movie made by somebody not as exciting as Raimi I don’t know that I would’ve even bothered, and it’s not my first choice of what he should be doing now that he’s stopped being a captive of SPIDER-MAN. But it turns out to be a better-than-expected use of Raimi’s time and mine.
Before we get into that I’m gonna say what we’re all thinking: let’s call it quits on these revisionist fantasy and fairy tale type movies now. “What if Alice in Alice in Wonderland was really the chosen one and she puts on armor and leads an army against the jabberwocky” made literally a billion dollars, but it was a moronic idea that was not rescued by Tim Burton’s imaginative visuals. I’ll give the Hansel and Gretel one and the Jack and the Beanstalk one a shot on video, but after that maybe it’s enough now, eh fellas? But they’re into this idea now of the recognizable name that’s not copyrighted. (read the rest of this shit…)
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is a Golan and Globus production starring Dolph Lundgren, but it’s a little more mainstream than that implies because it’s for the children, it’s based on action figures and on a cartoon based on action figures. I was looking for that same authorial voice and unique perspective we saw represented in the TRANSFORMERSes and GI JOE, but it turns out that’s Hasbro, this one is based on the works of Mattel. That’s like mixing up H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. I feel like an idiot.
I guess Cannon was trying to make their version of a STAR WARS type fantasy sci-fi-deal. You can tell that when a character says “You got us here, you Thumerian wurbat, now get us home,” but it was already clear from the opening credits over a starfield and the STAR WARSy themes by Bill Conti. Then the credits explode into a shower of sparks. How could this not be exciting? (read the rest of this shit…)
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is one of these magical realist New Orleans storm parable vehicles for an unknown 5-year-old actor. Kinda like early David Gordon Green meets Spike Jonze circa WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE with a dab of BEYOND THUNDERDOME. It deals with the racial and class divide in the face of imminent environmental disaster. You know the type.
Our protaganista and narrator is a tiny little girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) who lives in “The Bathtub,” a town on the other side of the levees. Everything is made of junk and they know when there’s a storm it’ll all be underwater, but they have alot of fun and celebrate more holidays than on the other side. They have fireworks and stuff. There’s music and drink. (read the rest of this shit…)
Remember those LORDS OF RINGS movies and books they used to have, about the magic ring that a bunch of little people had to throw into a volcano because it was so powerful it would warp the mind of even a good man, and dessicate him into a freaky, fish-munching Gollum? I always thought that story was supposed to be about the arms race, but it turns out the ring was actually a metaphor for The Lord of the Rings itself. The power of this thing has turned director Peter Jackson skinny and made him jones for his precious so bad that he’s adapted the first third of J.R.R. Tolkein’s 320 page children’s book The Hobbit into a 169 minute part 1-of-3 that’s somehow gonna have an additional 20-25 minutes added for video, meaning the full movie will likely end up being around 9 1/2 hours by the time the third blu-ray comes out around Christmas 2015. See, Jackson found a bunch of appendixes and supplemental materials, some recipes, golf score cards and a doodle of boobs that Tolkien drew on the back of an Arby’s menu, and he felt it was important to include all that. And in order to pack even more in he developed new technology to shoot at double the standard number of frames so that certain theaters willing to shell out the dough to upgrade their digital projectors can project it to look like a shitty shot-on-video mini-series or an HDTV somebody set up wrong because they didn’t know any better.
Finally the truth can be told. Because you know what? We have the right to know.
Not to brag or anything, but I always thought the official story behind this Nutcracker business was a bunch of bullshit. I mean, how naive can you be? And I knew the truth had to get out eventually. It was only a matter of time. Thank you, Freedom of Information Act.
Here, at last, is Tchaikovsky’s music and the associated Mouse King story (no credit for E.T.A. Hoffman) adapted into non-ballet, special-effects-laden movie form. This unexplainable Christmas fantasy mess was released theatrically in 2010 as THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D. It was directed and co-written by Andrey Konchalovskiy (RUNAWAY TRAIN, THE LION IN WINTER). I read that it was a dream project he’d tried to make for over 20 years, which would mean he started dreaming about it around the time he did TANGO & CASH. But on the making-of extra he said he’d been working on it since 1969. I wonder in which decade he lost track of why the hell he was doing it?
LIFE OF PI is the story of an Indian guy (Irrfan Khan) who for some reason has a white author guy (Rafe Spall) he doesn’t know come over to his house to interview him about his life. It’s kind of unclear what the situation is here, but apparently the writer guy is not in the book the movie is based on, so I guess this is a dramatization of what the making of the book would’ve been like if it was a true story that a a real guy told to the author instead of something that he made up and wrote using his imagination and talents. I don’t get it, but it kind of reminds me of BIG FISH. Sophomore year imagination class. That’s at least a huge step forward for screenwriter David Magee, considering he wrote FINDING NEVERLAND.
[UPDATE: Okay, never mind, I’m told the writer is in the book. It would be cooler if in the book it was Ang Lee that comes over to his house.] (read the rest of this shit…)
In the story of Snow White, if you remember, the huntsman is the guy who the evil queen sends to bring Snow White out into the woods and murder her. He’s gonna do it, ’cause work is work, but then he looks at her and falls in love with her beauty or is touched by her innocence or what have you and he just doesn’t have the stomach to, you know, cut open her stomach. (If she was ugly this would be a shorter tale). The Queen wants to know for sure the girl is dead but probly thinks it would be rude to make this guy haul back the whole body, so as a compromise she asks him to bring back some organs (lungs and liver in the original, heart in the Disney version) so he carves up a pig and brings her impostor parts.
In this new movie-fication of the story the huntsman (Chris THOR Hemsworth) has to go find Snow White (Kristen PANIC ROOM Stewart) in the woods and bring the heart back to the Queen (Charlize Theron) because she needs it to magically stay young forever. He doesn’t know who the girl is and there’s not much tension like he’s really gonna kill her, he just doesn’t do it and then they travel on one of those slow, boring fantasy journeys occasionally enlivened by monster appearances. No pigs are harmed. (read the rest of this shit…)