Sunday, 2 August 2009

Brief Notes On Films Seen

Am a little busy so these won't be too long.

Let's start with the stupidest. Val Kilmer and his amazingly camp performance in The Saint. This is a film that's way too long, self-serious despite idiocy (cold fusion formula is best placed in a woman's bra, not making this up), and doesn't get around that all the Saint disguises are terrible. But this is definitely one of my guilty pleasures, to be watched every once in a while. Its sheer accumulation of bad or dodgy moments make it irresistible.

For better stupid we have Tron. Its plot is dumb as hell, its pacing basic and very uninspired but it's consistently visually beautiful, now having a wonderful retro feel, a very silent movie meets video game stylisation that's consistently intriguing. Its silliness just makes the entire thing work even better. The sequel is coming and hopefully will stay visually interesting but have a plot worth following.

For brilliantly stupid we have Land Of The Lost. Its this year's Speed Racer, a wonderful film that will alienate most of the audience as it drifts away from conventional set-ups into odd images and very peculiar jokes. The film feels like an update of its very sixties premise, adds a bit of TV Batman knowing ridiculous yet playing it straight (Will Ferrell would make a great TV Adam West type Batman) and some sexual humour. All of its big effects shots are thrown-away in the background while the strange characters discuss the absurdities from strange viewpoints or argue over minor details. Ferrell ends up in a feud with a T-Rex by insulting the T-Rex's intelligence "He's even dumber than the Polish." If you like the sound of that joke you'll love this film. If not, stay away.

In the better than it ever should have been category there is Rob Zombie's Halloween. I thought this was a a terrible idea and the film does have substantial flaws in the latter half, when it has to replay some moments from the first film and isn't as interesting. But the first half, with the young Michael Myers slowly going mad (the kid playing young Michael is great), has some wonderful moments and Zombie does possess some real visual skills that you would not expect from someone called Rod Zombie, and I'm actually glad it was made. Its in the Psycho remake territory in that most people will hate it but if you are on its wavelength there's something intriguing going on.

In the worse than it should have been category we have Virtuality, a TV pilot based on a decent idea, of astronauts going from Earth to our next star system, to find an inhabitable planet, while things go wrong in flight, adding some aspects of reality TV and virtual reality and then messing it all up. The script, by Battlestar Galactica duo Ronald Moore and Michael Taylor, does have good ideas but feels under-written dramatically, with not enough early intriguing events and ending on what felt like halfway through the first story. What's worse though is the casting, where they cast interesting women (with one exception) and dull men. Few characters end up emerging as people you want to follow. The biggest flaw is the direction by Peter Berg. It has no momentum, no building of pace for scenes to contrast, uses the actors horribly, cut ups important scenes so you can't visually follow it or are distracted to lose the point of what you are watching. Its one of the worst directing jobs I've seen in a long time and I think a better director could have gotten better performances from the actors and made the flaws far less obvious, Because the pilot obviously had a lot of potential, despite the flaws, that could be built upon, and was starting to go in an interesting direction by the end. But its probably not going to continue and understandably so.

So that's its for now.