Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Spider-Man 2

In a Nutshell: Definitely worth seeing. Most of the individual elements were better, but the editing/pacing was *way* off, which detracted greatly.

Quick Plot: When Peter's idol becomes fused to four robotic arms, mayhem abounds. The situation is complicated by Peter's struggle with the choice of pursuing MJ or continuing as Spidey.

In Detail: Okay, so that was a sorry plot summary. Please forgive me. It's just rather hard to sum up well. First, let me say that the opening credits are awesome! I really really liked them. As I mentioned, most of the individual film elements were better than the original. The whole film was visually more stunning, with better (and less obvious, which is always better!) special effects. I liked the layout of the love story better (not great, but better), I liked the villain better (I could relate to him and feel sympathy for him). But the pacing of the film and the weaving together of the story elements (love story, humor elements, to Spidey or not to Spidey, Harry, Doc Ock) were TERRIBLE!!! How can a film where all the piece parts were better still feel unsatisfying? And how can a movie with such great action sequences feel slow? So I'm feeling rather conflicted about the film. I'd definitely rank it above the first Spidey (which I don't love), but probably below X-Men (both of them). Definitely worth seeing, but a little unsatisfying in the end (unless you go prepared, which I'm hoping this review will accomplish).

Will I Buy It? Probably. It's mainly up to DH. I do think I'd be more likely to watch this one more than the previous one (I just love Alfred Molina!).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In a Nutshell: Somewhat disappointing to this lover of the book, particularly as this is my favorite book in the series. Worth seeing, I guess, but not as good of a movie (story-wise) as the second one.

Quick Plot: Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban prison with one thought on his mind: kill Harry Potter.

In Detail: I know, I am dreadfully late with this review, but I figure anyone who really wanted to see it would have seen it anyway, and anyone who wasn't sure probably wouldn't have been persuaded to see it based on my rather poor review of the film, so in the long run, it probably didn't make any difference, unless you were dying of curiosity regarding my opinion of the film. :p You got all that? LOL Anyway, as I mentioned above, I found the film, overall, to be disappointing. Visually, I liked the film better, and the acting itself was better (hey, the kids are getting older and they have more experience now; I *hope* they're getting better). But with all of the edits they had to/chose to make to the story itself, it seemed to fall a bit flat. This perception is not helped by the fact that this is far and away my favorite *book* in the series, so it had a lot to live up to for me to be happy. However, given that DH (a non-reader) was even a little confused after seeing the film and I had to explain several things (including the tell-tale question "so *what* was up with those Dementor things?"), this tells me that the filmmakers did not succeed in their objectives of relaying the story well, at all. (For heaven's sake! You should know all about the Dementors by the end of that book, I mean movie.) They also took out a few points that I feel were totally key and that made the story "magical." The book has a lot of thinking/internal type elements, so I realize it was difficult to translate to the screen. Not a bad movie, but not as great as it could have/should have been.

Will I Buy It? Seeing as we already have the first two, I'm leaning towards yes, but if the films don't start improving from this point (and I find it hard to believe they can, since they intend to chop down the massive book 4 into a single 2 hour film), I will find it difficult to continue to purchase them. That is, of course, until I decide that my child needs a new film to watch, because I'm tired of seeing the same ones over and over and over and.... :)

I, Robot

In a Nutshell: Surprisingly good! After my other summer disappointments, I wasn't expecting much from it, and I came away really enjoying it. Not the greatest film ever, but really quite good. Definitely worth seeing, and definitely on the big screen!

Quick Plot: On the eve of the largest robot roll out in history, the "father of robotics" commits suicide, leaving his friend, the robot-phobic police officer, to investigate if it really was suicide, or if he was murdered by one of his own creations.

In Detail: (Note: I have never read, nor am I familiar with, the Asimov stories that "suggested" this film, and I am an admitted sci-fi junkie. Take this review with those particular grains of salt in mind.) Unlike Spider-Man 2, this film was *beautifully* paced. It flowed smoothly between story elements, and you really ride the adrenaline waves. Unlike King Arthur, the humor here was not only surprising (all the previews I had seen made it seem really serious), but it was perfectly timed and executed, bringing huge laughs. That's not to say that the movie isn't serious and/or doesn't have serious points to make. It is and it does, and it does indeed make them, but it doesn't do it in a preachy or heavy-handed manner. It just makes you go hmmm. The humor is well-placed for effect, usually tension release, which you need after some of the intense action sequences. Much of the film is CG, but I did not find it distracting. Every once in a while, the thought of "wow, that was amazing; too bad none of it was real" crossed my mind, but that's it, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's not an overly deep movie, though it does have its moments. But I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless.

Will I Buy It? Not sure. That may seem strange after the above review, but I think I need to see it again (rented, most likely) to decide if there is enough to keep me interested on repeat viewings. Definitely worth seeing, though!

Addendum: After seeing this one a couple more times on television and finding it on sale for a great price, we did decide to buy it.

King Arthur

In a Nutshell: Not great, not bad; just another somewhat disappointing film. (This seems to be a trend of my summer film viewing of late.) Could definitely wait to be rented, IMO. This is especially surprising when you consider that I usually at least *like* Jerry Bruckheimer films.

Quick Plot: A more historical view (note I did *not* say "accurate") of the Arthurian legend, set just as Rome prepares to pull out of the British Isles, leaving the locals to fend for themselves against the ruthless invading Saxons.

In Detail: This film just falls very flat, at almost every turn. It is very heavy, quite different in that aspect from most Bruckheimer films. It does make some attempts at humor, but each and every attempt fails miserably. Most don't even bring a smile. There was no spark whatsoever between Arthur and Guinevere. Sure, he was interested in her, but it was more from a curiosity and intellectual perspective. I did feel some of the bond between Arthur and his knights, but I really didn't care too much about most of them or their fates. How very sad. They did work in some of the elements of the "classic" story in a convincing way (where you could see perhaps how the legendary elements came about, similar to the way Troy handled such things), but there were very few. Quite a letdown, given all the hype. Honestly, I think it hyped itself up to the point that there was no saving it from a fall, but it's still not a great movie. Rent it if you feel like seeing it, or catch it at the dollar theater. Certainly don't pay more than matinee price.

Will I Buy It? No.