Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stepbrothers: Step out the door and down the hall to The Dark Knight.

We all knew this day would come. We didn't want it to come, but it was inevitable.

The day when Will Ferrell comedies become stale. When you watch one of his movies, and say to yourself, "Oh, this again."

I'm not celebrating this moment. This is a tragedy. Truly, it is. This guy has been a consistent homerun since headlining Elf 5 years ago, and that's quite an accomplishment for an SNL alumni. To churn out 5 years' worth of movies and hit the mark nearly every single time? Come on!

But this time around, you get the heavy-hearted feeling early into the film that you're going to see the same jokes all over again, but this time in [insert funny setting here]. Whatever stereotypical situation any of you could imagine two fully-grown stepbrothers getting into, you'll see it here. You can almost write the jokes yourself.

Don't get me wrong; this was still entertaining. If you rate a comedy on how many minutes you spent laughing vs. how many minutes were in the total movie, then this gets about a 50% rating. But I was never surprised. The laughs trickled out of me, they didn't burst forth with Diet Coke spraying out of my nose and chewed-up popcorn sprayed all over the two rows in front of me.

And as a frequent curser myself, I was still a little dismayed at the language. Comedians need to master the art of the F-bomb. The F word can be funny, but only when you make full use of it shock value. When it's said over and over and over and over, it's not funny anymore. It's offensive, and needless, and detracts from the film rather than adds to it. I don't remember hearing it so much in a Will Ferrell movie ever before. I hope to never hear it this much again.

I have to give this mildly entertaining poop pattie a disappointed 5 out of 10. This could have been so much better. Will, say it's just one bad apple in a wonderful basket of entertainment. Say it's not the beginning of the end.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight: Two of the Best Movies EVER MADE!

Where do I begin here? With the heaps of praise, or with my disgruntled grousing? I guess I'll get the negatives out of the way, since that's a much smaller pile to disperse.

First off, I know Batman's trying to mask his voice with that gruff, guttural half-whisper of his, but it's getting old. Can't we have Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) whip him up a voice modifier or something?

Second, a word to screenwriters Christopher and Jonathan Nolan: It's ok to kill bad guys in Movieland. And when the good guys are getting mown down like bunnies on a country higway, it's a little empty feeling when every bad guy mastermind lives to see another day. Or sequel.

Which feeds into my third- and last- complaint. This movie went on forever. And when you have THREE super-villains to contend with, it HAS to go on forever. I shudder to think of what Batman 4 or 5 will clock in at. They'll have to have an HBO mini-series and an old-school "cast of thousands" to cover all the still-breathing bad guys in those sequels.

Seriously- we can handle one bad guy per film, folks! (That goes for you Spiderman writers, too!)

Ok, gripefest over, let's get to the meat of it:

This movie is absolutely unbelievable. Believe the hype. And ignore the legions of Batfans who laugh too loud and too obviously at ever word out of the Joker's mouth, same as they did twenty years ago when Jack Nicholson had his go-round in the clown make-up.

Believe it when people tell you that Heath Ledger is Oscar-bound with this performance, because he is. It's probably unfair to compare the apples-and-oranges performances of him and Jack Nicholson, but come on, you HAVE to. Jack Nicholson was a great Joker, but he was basically Jack Nicholson in clownface. Heath Ledger, on the other hand, created something completely unique with this guy. If you didn't know it was him, you'd have never, ever figured it out, I guarantee you. And not to go all homophobe on you here, but it's nice to see him hitting on MAGGIE Gyllenhaal this time around, instead of Jake.

And thank you, Christopher Nolan, for replacing Kate Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal for this sequel. She's a MUCH better Rachel Dawes.

In fact, every performance here is noteworthy. From Batman himself (Christian Bale) right down to Alfred the butler (played by the other actor-who-has-kissed-other-men-on-film in this movie, Michael Caine, who made out with Superman Christopher Reeve in 1982's Deathtrap... what's with the superhoeroes-in-tights films loaded up with actors who play gay men? I see a trend... but I digress.)

The Dark Knight really is a completely different breed of Superhero/Comic Book movie. Not quite "true" to any of its predecessors- be it the comic books, TV show, or other movies- this series is panning out to be a gritty, this-is-how-it-would-really-be kind of superhero movie. No silly antics and fun gag-punches here. When you get hit, you get hurt. When you die, it's brutal and violent. When the world turns on you, they don't magically relearn how to love you before the closing credits roll. No, in these movies, when you're the Dark Knight of Gotham, you're alone and unloved and that's exactly the way you made it for yourself.

I give this movie a solid 9 out of 10. It's about as good as it possible could have been, all things considered.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

HellBoy 2- Oh HELL Yes!

A couple of weeks ago I was treated to the audio-visual ecstacy of watching an enormous green guy smash things to pieces. "Could it possibly get any better?" I mused to myself at the time.

Oh HELL yes- how about an enormous RED guy destroying everything in his path??

I have to admit to a bias here. The original Hellboy still sits firmly entrenched in my personal Top-10 of All-Time list. But that actually should have worked against Hellboy 2, since my expectations were so high.

It's such a rare delight to have your expectations met and exceeded.

Hellboy 2 is not just dazzling to behold, but true to the style of its predecessor, it's funnier than- well, Hell- and it's smart, too. The plot isn't overly intricate, but it's not just a simple minded Red-Guy-Breaks-Crap kind of movie, either. Not that there's anything wrong with that kind of movie, and not that the Red Guy didn't break a lot of crap. But it's a treat to get a little cerebral stimulation to go along with the adrenaline rush.

And I have to admit, along with the aforementioned smashing of crap and smart plot, this movie actually had a satisfying and sweet continuation of the love story that was started in the first film. The relationship between Hellboy and his firey love isn't all sunshine and marshmallows; they are suffering through the same real-life drama that so many of us suffer through as we try to make relationships work, except that they have the added element of staving off an impending war with an army of unbeatable golden warriors to complicate things further for them.

Hellboy 2 is a fully-engrossing joyride that satisfies a discerning movie-goer on every level. I'm giving this movie my second-ever 10-on-a-scale-of-1-to-10 rating. I couldn't think of a better film to earn that accolade.