Movie Reviews (Now With Lists!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Here are the reviews for this week! Three in-theaters movies for me and a joint review of The Saint from Liberty and I. She has opted for a creative list review style, which is actually quite fetching because it brings new life to the older titles that we are watching. As always, if you don't like spoilers, you may not want to read on.

The Saint: Ways in Which This Movie is UTTERLY RIDICULOUS (A List Review):

1) He wears disguises, but is always recognizably Val Kilmer. Even when he is in his most effective disguise, the nerd one, he is still clearly Val Kilmer. However, his Russian maid outfit is just awesome. His accents are also pretty terrible. They slide all over the place and are ridiculous, especially his British one. And his Southern one. And his weird Swiss one…

2) The bad guy’s son carries a cane for no reason. He doesn’t even use it as a weapon, so why does he have it? Is that what the sons of Russian mobsters do to be cool? He is pretty clearly trying so hard to be cool, with his ponytail and his smarmy attitude.

3) Apparently Russian mobsters gather in fancy clubs and listen to traditional folk music while watching RAT RACES??? Seriously? I’d banned that from my mind, so it was a surprise when I re-watched it. They don’t have anything better to do with their time and money? I would think that they would play poker or something gangster-y, but no. Apparently I am not cut out to be a gangster, because I do not see the appeal of RAT RACES. (Well, I can see it a little…maybe.)

4) Sex scene: there is a weird song playing in the background that sounds like a Alanis Morrisete song, but extremely grating…then they play soft “ooh, this is a sex scene” music over it, which just makes an odd contrast that made it even more awkward.

5) Russia as our usual American enemy. Surely we could find another enemy? Although there are actually some good Russians in this, so that’s a decent change…

6) Whore with a heart of gold trope rears its head again.

7) One black character in the entire movie, but at least he doesn’t die!

8) Attacking someone with a chandelier: always a valid life choice.

9) And yet…I really do love this movie. It is terrible and ridiculous, but it is endearing. I mock it because I love it, even though I don’t know why. The weird mix of 90s action movie silliness combined with Val Kilmer being handsome and dressed in silly disguises makes something in my brain very happy. I hadn’t watched this movie in a long time, and its flaws are more apparent to me now, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review of Despicable Me:
First of all, congratulations Illuminations Studios on your first film! Second, it was really good! While both my boyfriend and I agree that the ending was a little rushed, Despicable Me took me on another sophisticated romp in the land of animated films. It was reminiscent of the quirkiness of Up (which is my all-time favorite animated movie) and the kiddy jokes that attract kids in the first place. I also think that Steve Carrell really did not sound like himself, but was consistent enough to create a believable Gru character with his accent. I really loved this movie because it was an alternative tale about the competition between supervillains rather than heroes and also showed some complex relationships. Gru, a single man, adopts three orphan girls, which was interesting, and the bank teller (from the Bank of Evil: formerly Lehman Brothers, haha) has a derelict son that he tries to bring up as a strong supervillain. Overall, the little girls were also extremely interesting and had distinct personalities to satisfy my desire for movies not to stereotype women. I suggest, however, not to see this movie in 3D because I was already reeling from the graphics in a 2D theater.

Review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice:
This movie was strangely entertaining, but only because of the special effects and fighting scenes. There were a lot of pretty scenes and interesting characters, but I felt that the acting was phoned in and often terrible. I cringed at the "dramatic teacher voice" that Nicholas Cage put on whenever he wanted to say something. Although I am happy that he is paying his bills, this movie was not made better by his presence. And the student to Nicholas Cage's teacher was very annoying at moments; I wanted to get to know his girlfriend more, but she was made into an accent character. Basically all the sorcerers were made into accent characters as well - when I wanted to get to know someone, they were killed within 3 minutes. So, though the movie had an interesting premise and there were a lot of cool cinematic tricks tossed in, I felt like The Sorcerer's Apprentice was really just an excuse to throw together all of Hollywood's special effects and not pay any attention to the storyline or character acting.

Review of Inception:
This was such a complex movie. If you are in the mood for a sit-back movie where you don't have to think, this is not the one for you. But I found it amazing because it kept me involved the whole way through. There were layers of dreams and interesting plot twists and the director allowed you to choose your ending, almost as if you were in a really well-written book. Leonardo DiCaprio has been doing some stellar work with psychological dramas these days and I think that it suits him well; others said that he was phoning in this performance because it was typical of him to be the dramatic man in a tortured lifestyle, but this performance blew me away. I think that the support cast was also great - Ellen Page really came into her own in this movie, separating herself from lighter dramas such as Juno and Whip It. And Michael Caine was just a nice touch (I say this because I love him, even when he doesn't do too much). Anyway, the movie overall was full of great and believable special effects coupled with great action and an awesome concept. I felt that the complexity was great and that the movie was well-timed, so you had enough time to think through all the previous scenes as you were watching. However, I think I will watch this movie again just to see what my new interpretations are. If you like to re-watch movies, this is also one of those that you can see again and again with a new feeling.

Review of The Saint:
Wow, this movie was confusing at first! I didn't understand the relationship between Val Kilmer's orphanage past and his present con-man actions until mid-way through the movie. I think that there is a nice tie-in with the name thing, but those scenes seem to be questionable at best. Also, this movie had the MOST AWKWARD RELATIONSHIP EVER. When he was attracting the woman to con her, I felt like the movie was diving slowly into a soft-core porn. And, in the end, it seemed again like the smart woman was tempted by sex into going for the bad boy, as often Hollywood movies go. There were just some bizarre choices that were made in this movie - he falls in the river and gets hypothermia, the Russians are watching rat races, and everyone is freaking out about Americans. Weird... times... In the end, I didn't feel a particular draw to this movie or a particular dislike. It was just a movie, plain and simple, and so I think if you wanted to watch it when you are very bored, then it might be entertaining with its absurdity.

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.