Monday, June 24, 2002

The Bourne Identity

In a Nutshell: Not bad for a different twist on the spy thriller genre.

Quick Plot: Matt Damon wakes up on a ship with no clue as to who he is, except that he was pulled out of the sea with bullets in his back and a tiny cylinder embedded in his hip listing a Swiss bank account. People are after him, trying to kill him, and he has no idea why. He is also trained in many skills, not the least of which incapacitating people without much fuss or fanfare.

In Detail: I liked this movie fine. It had good suspense, and great car chases (reminded me of older James Bond films). I love films set in Europe, so this was an additional plus in my book. I do feel that it was missing something, though. It's like someone gave the screenwriter a 5-minute synopsis of the book, and he wrote the screenplay from that. Now, I have *not* read the book, this is just my feeling. I'm sure the book has all of the intricacies that I'm looking for that the movie was missing. It was still a fine 2 hours spent in the theater. Possibly worth full price, but a matinee is best. Again, wouldn't lose much on the small screen if you chose to wait. And I definitely want to read the book!

Will I Buy It? Probably not, unless the sequels are good and I need this one for the set.

Bad Company

In a Nutshell: Funny in spots, not really a waste of 2 hours per se, but mainly blah.

Quick Plot: This is the latest "mismatched buddy cop" movie, this time starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock. Rock and his twin brother were separated at birth, the refined works-for-the-CIA brother gets killed, and street hustler brother is recruited to take his place to finish out that last mission.

In Detail: Not much detail to give really. It had its moments. I think Chris Rock has it in his contract that he is allowed a 3-minute spiel on the topic of his choosing in each film; that said, this one's pretty funny. We laughed, and we didn't feel like we had wasted 2 hours. Is it worth full price ($7.50 here)? Probably not. Will it lose anything on video? I doubt it. Anthony Hopkins was disappointing in this role, so if that's you're only reason for seeing it, don't bother. It was like he went through the whole movie with the "I can't believe I'm doing this" attitude, and it showed.

Will I Buy It? Nope.

The Sum of All Fears

In a Nutshell: Not a bad addition to the Jack Ryan series, but I definitely prefer Ford or Baldwin.

Quick Plot: Jack Ryan is a new recruit the CIA (14 months, I believe they said). There's a 3rd party out there making the US and Russians think they are attacking each other. A nuclear device has been purchased by said 3rd party and shipped to the US. It goes off, bringing the US and Russia to the brink of full-scale nuclear war. Can Jack convince his superiors and the President that it's not the Russians?

In Detail: You know, I used to wonder why there was such anxiety by some people about Cold War films, such as Hunt for Red October. The thought of nuclear war seemed so far-fetched to me by the late-80s and early-90s. "Like that would ever really happen." Well, after September 11, those movies are not nearly so much fun. I had heard critics saying that it might be too soon, and I didn't believe them. After seeing it, perhaps they are right. The scariest part is knowing that it depicts precisely the actions that I would expect the US and Russian governments to take should such an event ever take place. Very scary indeed.

**Warning, here comes a rant.** Why was the film set in 2002? I am willing to suspend disbelief enough to accept Ben Affleck as a young Jack Ryan. Marketing kept pushing it as the "Jack Ryan prequel." Then shouldn't it have been set in the 80s?! I know the book is a sequel, not a prequel. I know the screenplay was written for Harrison Ford, then altered to accept a "younger" Ryan and formulated as a prequel. Fine. But there is NO way that Hunt could be early 90s, Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games could be mid-late 90s, and this prequel could be 2002. If you were already tinkering enough with it, then you could have simply shifted the timeline. But then you wouldn't have had cell phones and PDAs and stuff. GRRR! Either it's a prequel, or it's the next one with a different actor as Ryan (a la James Bond). You can't have it both ways! /end rant.

Is it good? Yes. Did I like it? Reserved yes. Worth full price? Probably. Lose much on small screen? I don't think so. And the real question....

Will I Buy It? I'm not sure yet.

Lilo and Stitch

In a Nutshell: Or should I say, coconut shell? Cute film, but feels a little off-kilter from its more "normal" Disney brothers and sisters.

Quick Plot: Genetically created alien to be put in prison as a danger to intergalactic society. Escapes to Earth (Hawaii specifically); creator and sidekick sent to bring it back. Meanwhile, alien adopted from a pound by badly behaved Hawaiian girl obsessed with Elvis, who lives with her sister after their parents' death, and is about to be taken away by child services.

In Detail: If you haven't seen the film and/or you don't know much about it, after reading that plot summary, I'm sure by now you're saying, um, okay. I'm still saying that after having seen the movie! It was different. :) I thought it was very pretty to look at, especially with the watercolor backgrounds. It had plenty of laugh out loud moments, plenty of "poor alien" moments, and plenty of "family is important" moments. I liked it fine (I think), but I don't think I loved it, and I'm not sure I ever will. And "stupid-head" is not a phrase I would like my 4 year old to pick up from any film, and certainly not a Disney movie. (Can you tell that irked me?)

It was fine, really. It just feels a little "off" for a Disney. And my brain is still having trouble meshing Hawaii and Elvis with deep space. LOL Almost like they spliced a Hawaii movie and a space movie together, then had to write a story to make the pieces fit. Having said that, it fit pretty well! Again, not a bad execution, just very different. I loved the 2 Hawaiian songs (especially Hawaiian Roller Coaster) enough that I plan to buy the soundtrack just for them. (Alan Silvestri, in case you were wondering).

Will I Buy It? I'm leaning towards yes.

Minority Report

In a Nutshell: Good, but not great. I was expecting more from Cruise/Spielberg.

Quick Plot: Cruise is the head of the experimental "pre-crime" unit in Washington, DC, where three "pre-cognitives" predict murders before they happen. Pre-crime officers then move in an arrest the suspect before the murder has taken place. When Cruise is accused of murdering a man he doesn't even know, he becomes the hunted and must find the flaw in the system before they get him.

In Detail: I guess this film was just not quite what I was expecting. Not really sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't really it. There were no traces of Spielberg's trademark humor. A couple of smiles, one small chuckle, and that's it! The rest is all action and drama. Seeing as it's based on a Phillip K. Dick story, the same guy who wrote the book that Blade Runner is based on, it's not surprising it has much the same tone and feel. And you know that sort-of whitewashed look all the previews have had? The entire film is that way. I thought it might be used for some parts to make a point, thematically or tonally, but it is present is some way throughout the film. It does get stronger or weaker, but it is always there. Another "good but I'm not sure I liked it" film. Definitely worth seeing, though. A little icky in some places (not blood and guts, but other squeamish things), NOT a movie for kids without parental preview, IMO.

Will I Buy It? I don't think so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

In a Nutshell: Cute and very funny vignettes, absolutely no plot.

Quick Plot: Sue is offered a temporary assignment at the Los Angeles division of her father's newspaper. She and Mick decide it would be good to expose their son (age 8-ish) to more of the world, so they make the trip a family affair. Fish out of water funnies follow, along with jokes that only viewers of the first two films will get.

In Detail: Was this movie supposed to have a plot? I guess it had a little, 20 minutes worth perhaps. So I guess it's to their credit that they only spent about 20 minutes on the plot. The rest of the film is composed were "fish out of water" vignettes, starring Mick and Mikey. Now, don't misunderstand me; it was a funny movie! I love both of the previous Crocodile Dundee flicks. Many of the laughs in this one simply cannot be enjoyed unless you've seen the other two films, so if you're new to the franchise, this is not the film to start with. It is, however, a good way to remind yourself of how good the other two films really are. Probably worth the cost of a rental if you're seeing it in a group. Would be better to catch it if it comes on television one day. Notably absent is Wally; John Meillon died in 1989. Not sure if it would have helped the movie any to have him, but he was missed all the same.

Will I Buy It? Probably not. The other two movies so much better, I don't feel the need to have this one to complete the collection. It just doesn't add enough.