not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake
nothings

movie log part II

Ratings from -4 to 4.
  • LOTR: The Two Towers: 1
  • Monsters Inc.: 2
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: -1
  • Ran: 3 (re-view)
  • The Others: -1
  • Hideaway: -3

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Two hobbits meet the creepy creature Gollum as their quest takes them as close to Mordor as you can get without entering; the remaining members of the Fellowship pursue each other across Rohan. I was a lot less satisfied with this one than with the previous one. I didn't see the need for the whole sequence with Faramir as another Boromir and the encounter with the Ringwraith (which just makes the Ringwraiths seem awfully wimpy); Gimli as comic relief was incredibly tiresome; the two-sides of Gollum--shades of the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man movie--was overdone to about three times the length it could have been, and was just tedious. (In part because they were trying to make clear there were two beings, something which Spider-Man pulled off in only a few lines mainly by using a mirror instead of camera cutting.) Then there's lots of little nitpicks--not at the movie vs. book, but in terms of internal consistency--such as the fact that the other Ents show up nearly instantly when Treebeard discovers what's happened to the forests. Then there's complaints like the excessive anthropomorphization of the Ents--they didn't have to be like I was imagining them, but couldn't they have been a bit more alien? Rating: (-4 to 4): 1

Monsters Inc.

Two monsters at a scare factory have a rough time returning an escaped kid to her bedroom. Go Pixar. Not quite the same quality of story as Toy Story 2, I think, but pretty reasonable. There are a few plot oddities--like the fact that during the chase, they can come through doors that aren't powered up--and I anticipated most of the little twists--but only by a little bit, so I'm going to chalk this up to my increasing screenwriting mentality. The graphics were a bit weird; sometimes the machines were ultra-realistic; Sully is ultra-realistic for a blue furry monster; but a lot of the other characters were much more cartoony and plastic. Rating (-4 to 4): 2... or maybe 1

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

My mother had rented this and I had nothing better to do on the night of the 26th, so what the hell, I watched it. Argh. It is bad in every way the first book is bad--Harry is an incredibly passive protagonist--the only thing he's active about is Quidditch, and even there he's got a natural talent, a broom he doesn't deserve, and he's playing the dumbest game ever invented--and he still just sits there for the first two-thirds of the game watching the other people play, instead of actively seeking out the golden whatchamacallit. You can't get much more lamely passive than being the most famous wizard of the generation because you are "the boy who lived", but in the end he managed to top it by winning the final battle by standing there and being "the boy who was loved". Also, in the book, didn't Hermione have a logic-puzzle with some potions or something she had to solve during the endgame? In the movie, she's relegated to "help Ron"--she still contributes by being the one who casts a few spells and knows how to get past the stupid plant thing, but her contribution felt way lamer to me in the movie. There seem to be three things I can judge this movie on: story, character, and spectacle (special effects). The story was lame--just like the book; the characters were lame--at least the book didn't have endless shots of Daniel Radcliffe gazing in amazement and some wonderful thing (I swear there were SEVEN things he was amazed at during the opening hour); and the special effects were sometimes lame and sometimes in service of nothing--the latter aptly describes Quidditch; the former was how I felt about most shots of the three-headed dog, and especially the partially-invisible-but-you-can-see-his-head shots of Harry. Rating: (-4 to 4): -1

Ran

An aging warlord yields his kingdom to his eldest son, banishing his youngest son who dares warn him that things will not go well if he does this. Things do not go well. A 1985 Akira Kurosawa epic. I tried to get my then-girlfriend to go see this at the Harvard Film Archive a couple of years ago, but she didn't like the idea of interminable battle sequences and we opted to see the rather odd Rhapsody in August instead. Her loss, but also mine, since Ran is definitely a movie to be seen on the big screen. The story is simple but effective--the revelation of who is driving the plot is no surprise if you've been paying attention, and the motivation behind it seems plausible, if perhaps everyone else was too easily manipulable. The acting is often overdone, especially by Tatsuya Nakadia in the lead role, but this is clearly intentional, theatrical acting, emotion conveyed by the entire body instead of by facial expression. The composition, and especially the use of color, however, are what make this an incredible movie, and why my ex-girlfriend really should have seen it, as she has a masters of fine arts in photography. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings epic is often lauded for showing off the glorious New Zealand scenery, but I think people forget that every country is possessed of beautiful stuff, if you look in the right places. Nolan's Insomnia shows some beautiful imagery of Alaska and Vancouver in the opening sequence; here, Kurosawa shows off some beautiful landscapes from Japan, a country you might have thought was too small to have much to choose from. The shot of two horsemen riding down a ridgeline on a lush green hilltop, and stopping short at a steep slope, is a beautiful coupling of scenery and story, one that Jackson has never touched. Rating (-4 to 4): 3

The Others

A woman with two children in a mansion experiences mysterious goings-on best explainable by invisible intruders. I knew the secret behind this movie before I watched it, so I tried to pretend I was watching it for the second time when I watched it. I had a very similar reaction to it that I had to The Sixth Sense: what a great idea, what a lousy script. I don't get the impression that the director had pulled together a coherent set of rules for what the ghostly beings abilities were, vis-a-vis interactions with the real world. Certainly, the movie as showed to us, if it happened literally, would involve an outrageous level of interaction. Too, the business with the keys never made sense. Why did the doors need to be locked rather than merely closed? And locking and unlocking doors isn't very typical of ghosts; simply opening and closing of them would have played better into our existing beliefs of ghosts and made the story more palatable. (My guess is that locking/unlocking was simply something that allowed the use of the big keyrings which are a nice, visual, movie element, despite adding nothing to the story--there aren't any particularly important moments where the keys get lost, where the locked doors present a palpable barrier.) What determined why and when she could see the intruders at certain times and not others? Convenience of the screenplay, seemingly. Sigh. Rating (-4 to 4): -1

Hideaway

Jeff Goldbloom gets a telepathic link to a serial murder after a near-death experience. Man, this was laughably bad. I'd like to imagine that maybe Andrew Kevin Walker's screenplay wasn't so bad. I'm guessing I rented this because I went looking for other Alicia Silverstone movies, and saw Jeff Goldbloom and AKW. But bleh. The central idea is kind of cool, although it's just totally The Eyes of Laura Mars all over again. The good bits are things like the wife thinking this is because Goldbloom is overcompensating about losing their youngest daughter. I'm hoping that the original script didn't have the journeys to "heaven" and "hell" (I don't care that the directors says there's no judeo-christian elements in the graphics; he's not seeing the forest for the trees). But that theoeretical original script is all overrun by the lame parts. The cliche presentation of Satanism was nonsensical. The fact that the serial killer wanted to be damned if being damned was as horrific as he ought to have known it was made no sense. The ending was exceedingly lame. The fact that the two characters forged a link because they underwent a similar procedure at radically different points in time made no sense. Argh argh argh. [The one bit I enjoyed the most: Alicia Silverstone goes upstairs at the summer house and turns on some loud music that drives her parents batty and makes them decide to go home early. That loud music is Peep Show by Miranda Sex Garden, a song I included on the second of the two mix CDs I sent out in November.] Rating (-4 to 4): -3
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