Monday, July 15, 2002

The Powerpuff Girls

In a Nutshell: Saving the world (before bedtime) has never been so fun! And I don't even watch the show.

Quick Plot: How the girls came to be (happens during the opening credits, so don't be late!) and all about their first days, both at school and kicking butt.

In Detail: I liked this movie a lot. I have seen the show occasionally; I find it very "hit and miss" for me, so I wasn't sure what I would think of the film. It was so much fun! It tells the story of how the Powerpuff Girls came to be in the first place, so you don't feel left out if you haven't seen the show. There may be some in jokes I missed, but I still had a ball. I do think that a couple of segments (playing tag, fight the monkeys) went on a bit too long. Too violent (though roughly on par with the show) for parents sensitive about such things. The flow and pace were excellent, and it wasn't too childish (for the most part); plenty of adult only humor available here. Great fun! Won't lose anything on the small screen, but that driving techno music in the background just won't be the same at home.

Will I Buy It? Mmmm, I don't know. More than likely, we will own it eventually, but perhaps not as soon as it comes out.

Gosford Park

In a Nutshell: Toooooooooooo slow. Possible rental if you like slow British drama, otherwise skip it.

Quick Plot: A tale of the interactions among and between the "above stairs" (servants) and "below stairs" (wealthy socialites) guests at an English country manor in the early 1930s, including clandestine meetings and murder.

In Detail: I really wanted to like this movie. The previews looked pretty good. A witty comedy intertwined with a whodunit murder mystery. The few witty lines were in the previews, and they came off better there than in context. How can it be a murder mystery if the murder didn't happen until 45 minutes from the end, and even then there was no set up per se IMO? Add to that the fact that I had the "mystery" figured out as soon as they gave the blatantly obvious clues, so there was not even that to carry me through the rest of the film. Though I am normally good with accents, I often found the constant British mumbling difficult to follow. This may have come off better in a theater where the background noise would have been "behind you" due to the surround sound, while the dialog was "in front of you," but I'm not convinced that would have wholly solved the problem. And I do know after watching this film that Robert Altman has very little use for Americans, and significantly less for the police. Mostly a waste of my 2+ hours.

Will I Buy It? No way.

Ocean's 11 (2002)

In a Nutshell: Fun film, great cast. Didn't love it, but liked it a lot. Definite rent!

Quick Plot: Danny Ocean, recently released from prison, gathers together a group of 11 to help knock off three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas.

In Detail: A pretty good movie. Better than I can say for some I've seen lately! First of all, the cast is outstanding. Just to see all of these people in the same movie is worth the price of the rental. I'm not a particular George Clooney fan (don't like or dislike him), but he was perfect for this role. I think it could have used a couple of extra twists, but that's okay. I may have just lucked up figuring out the last couple in advance. Some good humor, some good tension, some good mystery, and some fabulous one liners! Certainly worth seeing.

Will I Buy It? Probably not. I prefer similar type films in other genres. Still good, though.

Reign of Fire

In a Nutshell: Okay, but needed more dragons!

Quick Plot: Dragons, awakened after hundreds of years lying dormant, have obliterated most traces of life from the Earth. A small band of humans just try to survive, until a dragonslayer comes with the promise of hope and freedom from fiery terror. (Hey, I just made that up on the spot. Sounds pretty good, if I do say so myself!)

In Detail: Well, it certainly wasn't the worst film I've ever seen, but not the best either. It had tension, it had humor (especially the little play they put on for the kids), it had awesome dragons. OTOH, the film is uneven and really really really needs more dragons! Almost every dragon shot in the film is in the trailer, so if the dragons are all you're going for, be prepared. However, if you are interested in seeing it, do see it in the theater, because what little dragon awesomeness there is will be lost on the small screen. Their roar is bone chilling, and you hear it a good bit. Seeing them is scary as *&%$, but you just don't see enough of them. We won't even talk about the plot holes that are big enough to drive a truck (or in this case, a tank) through. And, on a more personal note, what the heck is the point of going to see a Matthew McConaughey movie if there's no blonde curls and dimples to be found? He's all buffed up with an awesome body, but I found it really hard to make that be him. Bummer. Bottom line: it's a fun ride. See it in the theater if you're a dragon lover, but don't pay full price. Rental would be fine if it won't hurt you to miss big-screen beasts.

Will I Buy It? Doubtful, unless the special edition adds *lots* more dragons.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

In a Nutshell: I'm glad we waited to rent; not sure it was worth even that.

Quick Plot: Jimmy Neutron (boy genius) discovers that aliens have captured all the parents in town. He leads the kids out into space (on converted amusement park rides) to rescue them.

In Detail: As a fan of most animation, I found this one to be a major disappointment. This might be fun for kids, but I didn't find it particularly enjoyable. The few laughs I did have did not outweigh the borderline boredom created by the rest of the film. I think what bothers me the most about this film is that it could have been so much better. It just had no depth, and it's hard to carry off something so shallow for 1.5 hours. It also contained 7 year old versions of gross-out humor that I could really have done without (as I'm sure you all know by now). The one surprise that almost made the film worthwhile (but not quite) was the voice of the head bad guy. I nearly fell off the sofa when I realized who it was, over an hour into it. If you have little kids, they might enjoy it, but check it for content to make sure you find nothing objectionable. Otherwise, don't bother. There are too many good movies out there for kids to bother with this one.

Will I Buy It? Nope.

Men in Black II

In a Nutshell: Enjoyable, but the original is better. See the matinee or wait for video.

Quick Plot: An interstellar baddie from K's past returns to find "the light" she believes was hidden there 25 years earlier by K. MIB cannot fight her without his help, so J collects his former partner in order to "de-neuralize" him and save the world, again.

In Detail: Comedies are always better when seen with a bunch of people, so if you want to see it, do so in the theater. Just don't pay full price or you might be disappointed. Sadly, most of the best gags have been seen in the various trailers for the film. I found the ending to be quite blah, and the obvious opening for a sequel irked me a bit. My biggest problem with the film was the portrayal of J (Will Smith). The beginning of the film sets up J as the "it man" now that K (Tommy Lee Jones) is gone. Everyone respects, even reveres him. Once K does come back, he's back to making rookie mistakes and comments like he did in the original. How does the return of K take away his competence as an agent? Anyway, the film is a bit uneven. Pay attention for brief, sometimes important, references to the first film (such as what happened to the coroner who became his partner at the end of the first film). Frank (the dog) steals the show; he should get a raise and definitely return for MIB3, which has already been confirmed by studios.

Will I Buy It? Haven't decided yet. Might need to wait and rent it again before such a decision is made.