In 2008, I had trouble getting my A in G when it came to publishing to this blog. I toiled over a few movie reviews for so long that I never ended up publishing them. I’m having the same issue now, with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire reviews still marinating in my “Drafts” folder. Anyhow, I was trying to clean up the hard drive when I stumbled upon some of my unfinished masterpieces. There are too many reviews to write for movies that are fresh in my mind now, so I suppose it would be futile trying to complete these little nuggets. However, it would be just as dumb to keep them to myself. So here you go, my unfinished and unedited thoughts on 6 films from 2008.
Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Fanboys, haters, newbies, and snobs, hear me out…I liked this movie. The emotional stakes are very high this holiday weekend over whether or not you liked this movie, with the discussions generally devolving into factoid pissing contests over the sanctity of the franchise, the relevance of Lucaspielberg (or Splucas), or the overall state of cinema itself. I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as possible over the next few minutes, but let me start by letting you know one thing, I liked this movie.
The Indiana Jones franchise is once of the most lucrative in the history of fiction, which is wholly fascinating since the original incarnation of the fedora’d adventurer first appeared on the silver screen, a rare feat in an industry bloated with repurposed protagonists. Though bits and pieces of him have been culled from various moments of pop, his celluloid scowl we came to love as the 1980s began bore a new kind of hero for a country looking desperately for one in a time of crisis.Â He was steamy, he was smart, and he could crack a phallus like no other, so we immediately latched on with love.
First he conquered the Nazis with decidedly Hebrew magic, then he defeated, uhhh, weird Indian voodoo guys with some awesome magic rocks, and then we watched with awe as he once again showed the Third Reich the door by throwing Christianity in their faces. It was a wild ride and Harrisson Ford slipped into every journey with ease. However, the makers figured he could be dusted off for one more journey.
Our classic baddies, the Nazis, have been replaced by Russian Commies hell bent on beating the U.S. in the cold war. Classic. It’s important to note that George Lucas, love him, hate him, or do either one too much, is extremely astute in choosing his metaphors. He is saying a lot about American military policy over the last few decades…
Review: The Happening
Over the years, we have all conditioned ourselves for the experience of sitting through a film by M. Night Shyamalan. Watch out for empty bits of the frame, because something scary this way comes; be sure not to chatter your teeth when James Newton Howard’s score ramps up; and for the love of Pete don’t let anything happen to the children. While all of those elements fall into place as usual in his latest offering, The Happening, we are also given a delightful taste of a virtuous filmmaker learning from his own mistakes. The film shows a lot of growth for Mr. Shyamalan as a director and really is a step in the right direction for his career. If only his writing could come as far as his helming capabilities.
An homage to zombie/horror films of the 1960s, at least I hope it is, this film isn’t afraid of spreading on the cheese. Some event is causing people all over the Northeast to lose control of their senses and begin committing suicide en masse. The way in which this idea first unfurls is actually quite beautiful in its simplicity. Mr. Shyamalan has a reputation for being a militant preservationist, often to his detriment. He is probably the only filmmaker his age who still edits on a KEM reel to reel.
Review: The Incredible Hulk
I’d like to thank Louis Letterier and the entire team behind “The Incredible Hulk” for helping me to understand the virtues hidden within Ang Lee’s 2003 “The Hulk”. This is not to say that I didn’t necessarily enjoy this summer’s slamfest, but the earlier film, which was mocked by critics and avoided by auds, holds true as both a better film and even a better comic book film. First off, let’s get to the meat of the latest installment from Avi Arad’s juggernaut shingle, Marvel Studios
Bruce Banner’s alter ego has always been a confusing superhero in that his abilities seem too far out of his own control: get him angry and he crushes you. After a quick-cut origin intro that doesn’t resemble anything that happened in the last film, we find our hero hiding out in Brazil, learning to control his rage. This is nice as it seems we might start to see him hone his heroic abilities a bit more later on, but we’ll have to wait for the next film to see more of that.
Review: Quantum of Solace
Quantam of Solace started out quite good, but it sorta devolved into just the same old shlock by the end. I think Malthus’s death is when the film jumped the shark. I don’t, however, believe the franchise did. Ultimately that happened with the end of the cold war, a concept which is toyed with in the previous franchise installment, Casino Royale by Martin Campbell. In this latest outing by costume dramedy helmer Marc Forster, absent is the grief for a bygone era when men in Bond’s line of work were actually necessary, and in its place is a sweeping attempt to humanize a trained killer.
This idea that trained killers possess somewhat of a heart beneath their rock-hard bodes and bloodthirsty training is all to common a concept in cinema these days.
Right down to the cast, Quantum of Solace remind’s me too damn much of Steven Spielberg’s Munich, by which, while I rather enjoyed that tale of humanity lying beneath the cold hard surface of trained operatives, I mean in the most pejorative sense. When I go to see a film with Albert R. Broccoli’s name in the credits, I have a certain set of expectations that ought be met by the time I finish my $9.00 popcorn.
That Oliver Stone’s “W.” is neither a train wreck nor a bloated Hollywood liberal mud-fest does not necessarily make it a worthwhile endeavor. Jumping back and forth through the life of the 43rd President, the film offers us very little in terms of a personal narrative, instead delivering a mediocre perspective on his presidency that one could have acquired for free simply by living in America over the past decade. Still, Mr. Stone has risen to the daunting task of biographing a sitting President whose legacy is still to-be-determined with a steady hand and a shaky camera to create a vivid picture of the man as we have known him thus far. –Poritsky 11/3/08 1:19 PM
The film opens in the oval office in 2002, as the President and his pals discuss the semantic designation of the nation’s enemies. What slowly comes across as this film creeps forward is that the Mr. Bush is a vicious politician, a genius with selling ideas be they right or wrong.
Somewhere in the middle of Clint Eastwood’s latest offering, “Changeling”, the story veers off and becomes significantly more interesting than what you initially sat down to watch. However, unlike some of the tenacious director’s more recent work, the film refuses to capitalize on that newfound interest and instead opts to cycle through the same dreck you had to walk through to get to that point in the first place. This is a real shame because the tale that unfurls is one with so much potential (corruption, resilience, revolution, etc.) that it is hard to believe it could fall short on any of its considerable promise.
First and foremost I would like to say that I am wholly unimpressed with Angelina Jolie’s performance as our heroine, Christine Collins. In fairness to the actress, she really wasn’t given much to work with in the one-note script written by J. Michael Straczynski. Half her lines are either “That’s not my son” or “I want my son back”. Still, she ramps up immediately and never turns it down.