In an effort to get caught up with the six weeks of non-blogging I just did, and to push the last boring monolithic post down the page a bit, short reviews of the last few movies I saw.
Get Smart was entertaining, but not great. I liked it largely because I like Steve Carell and I used to watch reruns of Get Smart on Nick at Nite growing up. It didn’t seem like it could make up it’s mind whether it wanted to be a summer blockbuster spy movie or a parody of them.
The TV series had Maxwell Smart as a terrible screwup who only succeeded and survived by dumb luck and the help of Agent 99 . The movie has him as a bit of a clumsy doofus, but actually not a bad secret agent.
Carell sells it pretty well, and I particularly enjoyed that halfway through the movie, Alan Arkin (the chief) gets unchained from his desk. He’s a hilariously grumpy old man, and I genuinely thought he was one of the better parts of the movie. I thought The Rock was really good, too, but then I like pretty much anything he does. I even liked Doom, largely because it was awesome, and if you disagree you probably suck.
If that last statement didn’t turn you off on reading the rest of this post, Wall-E and Wanted are after the jump. I saw them more recently, so they’ll be a little less vague.
Iron Man, or, as I really think it deserves to be written, IRON MAN, is pretty much exactly what you want from a summer superhero movie. It’s better than Transformers, and leagues better than any of the Spidermen - which isn’t saying much, since I thought those were all crap. Maybe not as good as Batman, but then I think it’s a wholly different type of movie - Batman is a violent lunatic hell-bent on revenge, so the movie is very serious business all the time. Tony Stark is a womanizing alcoholic who can fly and shoot lasers, so he’s pretty much the most awesome man you can imagine.
It’s entertaining, and doesn’t suffer from that lull in the middle of a lot of action movies, between the set up and the climax, where people keep talking and having feelings and shit - it keeps moving the whole time. I wish the fights had gone on longer and had more punching dudes through buses and whatnot. The jokes work, the writing is solid, the characters are not unlikable, and casting Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is pretty much the best casting decision anyone could ever make.
The only real complaint I have is that apparently Ghostface Killah (of the Wu-Tang Clan) had a brief cameo, which was cut for some stupid reason like “plot” or “pacing”. The reason this matters, beyond the simple fact that it is Ghostface from Wu-Tang, is that he’s been using “Tony Starks [sic] and “Iron Man” as his rap aliases for years. He needed to be in this movie, and I’m glad it was good enough for me to justify buying it on DVD when it comes out, solely for the possibility that his scene may be restored.
Spoilers and pedagogery after the jump.
I don’t feel like this movie warrants a full review, plus I’m lazy, so here is a bulleted list.
- It’s pretty much the ancient China equivalent of Pirates of the Caribbean. Which is to say, completely ignorant of anything like history or reality.
- But, who cares? It’s meant to be fun and entertaining, which it is. It’s not a deep movie by any means, but the (predictable and ludicrous) plot sets up the Kung Fu well enough, the jokes aren’t completely awful, and that’s really all I was looking for. Not worth seeing more than once, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time or money watching it.
- The fight between Jet Li and Jackie Chan was fucking awesome, and went on for probably 10 or 15 minutes. It could’ve gone on for an hour and a half, for all I cared. The climactic battle at the end was pretty good, too.
- The Kung Fu was pretty decent, not at the level of Fearless or anything, but considering how involved Woo-Ping Yuen was, I expected even more cheese-ball wirework and people flying around. All in all, the Kung Fu is satisfying and well-executed.
- I just want to reiterate how awesome Jackie Chan fighting Jet Li was.
It’s probably worth seeing just for the fights, but I’m hesitant to actually recommend it, since you can find much better examples of Jet Li or Jackie Chan beating up like 50 dudes on DVD, probably for cheaper than a movie ticket.
Cloverfield has an indecipherable title, no-name actors, and a no-name director. About the only person of note involved was JJ Abrams, and since I don’t watch Lost, that’s not exactly the strongest pedigree. The premise is one that’s been done dozens of times before, and the shaky-cam thing has a history of not working.
So the genius of Cloverfield isn’t in the cast or crew, or the plot -it’s in the execution. And it is a monster movie executed brilliantly, though not perfectly. It’s short, clocking at around an hour and a half, and I wished it had been longer, but it’s tight, and doesn’t drag at all. The cameraman - the one supposedly shooting the footage - is hilarious in a gallows humor kind of way.
Spoilers after the jump, because this is sort of movie that’s a lot better when you go in blind.
Two-thirds of this movie is awesome. The end falls apart a bit, and it has very little in common with the novel, but it’s still worth seeing. It really does a great job with the isolated, lonely, paranoia that’s the bread and butter of these “Last Man on Earth” type movies. The only other complaint I can mention without spoiling anything is that the monster special effects are pretty bad. For a movie that cost $90 million and had such great ruined cityscapes, the monsters looked surprisingly bad.
Still, a lot of it is legitimately creepy, and there’s no good reason not to see it.
Spoilers, as usual, after the jump. Pretty big ones, too.
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