slipstream.jpgrating-3.5"A dream within a dream," someone says, and that is the movie summed up in simple words. That's the only simple words I can give you, as there's nothing simple that can be said about this film.

As Anthony Hopkins' first script and one of his few directorial efforts, I was pretty surprised. You expect a Shakespearian such as himself to give you a drama of either a theatrical or independant quality. Instead, Hopkins delivers a straight and hard dose of Lynchian psycho-drama. Anthony Hopkins never would have struck me as an experimental film maker, but he out-Lynchs Lynch on this one. This is Mullholland Dr., but watchable.

As soon as you think the film starts to get on an even keel, there's another paradigm shift and the movie loses you again. It's a web of ideas and thoughts, none necessarily coherent, not always ordered. Hopkins had a mission in making this film and it wasn't for you to understand it. If anything, it was made to assault your senses. To "annoy" you, he said.

In the end, you won't understand what you see and there will only be a few possible outcomes: you'll be intrigued by the ride, you'll be lost and confused, or you'll be angry and contemptful. How you perceive and view the movie is what you'll get out of it, which could range from "everything" to "nothing at all".

As far as the elements themselves, it's an intriguing piece of filmmaking. The technique by which it was crafted and edited is at least worthy of kudos, if nothing else. The script must definitely have been something to see as well and you wonder if this would have ever been made if we weren't talking about Anthony Hopkins. His array of celebrity friends that appear in the movie and deliver excellent performances help bolster the whole thing and make something more out of it than the film school disaster it could have been if it hadn't been Anthony Hopkins making it.

In the end, you get a strange dose of movie satire, experimental filmmaking, and all-out weirdness. You may like it or you may be part of that 90% of people that fucking hate it.

imdb   amazon

27 Dresses

27_dresses.jpgrating-2.5Given that this is a film for women and all that comes with that, it still doesn't work very well. It tries hard to be enjoyable and not overly sentimental, but it fails in several major ways that make it rather hard to watch.

The writing is a huge problem, as it's just not consistently very good. In fact, the movie is split into two seperate cases. In one half, there's the comedy, which works fairly well; in the other half, there's the dramatic aspect which constantly fails on every level. It doesn't help that Katherine Heigl's character is a milquetoast sop at every turn and puts up with bullshit from everyone, most particularly her cunt sister. And we're supposed to come along for the ride for far too long.

Heigl herself actually keeps us onboard for much longer than we should have, because she is an enjoyable actress and her big round eyes are more expressive than most of the rest of the movie's actors. The only other performance that works is James Marsden, killing his role and coming out of the film as the only actor unscathed by bullshit.

You're never exactly sure if you're supposed to side with the sappy, feminine view of the wedding as bullshit fantasy story or Marsden's view of the oppressive wedding industry bilking women and providing nothing but fluff instead of realistic marital expectations. The whole argument is lost over the film's course and it becomes Heigl's struggle to come to terms with her own life as a sap who gets trod on.

Sadly, that doesn't leave much, as only when the thorny Heigl and smug Marsden are scraping against each other does the movie provide any wit.

imdb   amazon

The Incredible Hulk

incredible_hulk.jpgrating-3.5I wanted to like The Incredible Hulk as much as Ang Lee's Hulk. It would have been great to have another franchise to root for again. Sadly, I don't think I can feel the same about The Incredible Hulk, despite all my trying.

The Incredible Hulk starts off at a brisk pace, rocketing through the revised origin in the credit sequence. I think this is the first failing of the movie, as it isn't so much an adaptation of the Hulk comics as it is an adaptation of the Hulk TV show. And as much as I enjoyed "The Incredible Hulk" on TV when I was a child, it wasn't very good and definitely wasn't smart. So, we springboard off that silly 70's idea and through some gamma pulse bullshit that makes less sense than anything from the "talky" Ang Lee film that every fucking retard in the world bitches endlessly about, leaving us with Bruce Banner hiding out in Brazil, trying to find a cure for the monster within.

Though the pace is hyped up a bit, the movements of the film are fairly standard. Every so many minutes the Hulk shows up on screen and there's a satisfyingly destructive fight. It feels somewhat cookie-cutter and we grow a bit weary of it by the end.

The direction is, as usual, top notch from Louis Leterrier, though I feel that, in many ways, this is his least interesting film, falling behind the smooth and bright texture of The Transporter 2 and Unleashed. He does provide an excellent visual sense, a dead-on eye for action, and manages to draw good performances out of his actors, who all do a good job in their roles. Maybe you can't replace an actor like Sam Elliot with William Hurt and come out ahead, but Hurt does his damnedest and I was able to forget how much more I preferred Hulk's actors for the length of the movie. Sadly, Tim Roth feels awfully underused in his two-dimensional role, but that could be said for much of the movie, which is fairly malnourished in the writing department.

There isn't nearly enough emotion or pathos built into this iteration and you can feel it as it goes along for two hours. The Hulk itself lacks the spark of the last film's and seems to be more of a video game character than a creature bred on emotion and frustration, who could stand to appear disturbingly human at times instead of just flatly animal-like.

All-in-all, the reboot is less than satisfying, but will inevitably do well and please the more average movie-goer, who looks more forward to the Hulk tearing shit up than having a plot that doesn't feel desperately "comic booky".

imdb   amazon

10,000 B.C.

10000bc.jpgrating-2.5I wanted to enjoy this movie in some simplistic way. More or less a fantasy movie about the time before recorded history as tribal man roamed the earth, forming the basic elements of future societies, it looked to be stupid, illogical, and ahistorical fun from the same guy that brought you the stupid, illogical, and ahistorical The Day After Tomorrow and The Patriot.

A second-rate Michael Bay, riding a series of 90's big-budget action extravaganzas to a big name and continuing career, Roland Emmerich makes big, dumb action movies, usually strung around some gimmick like a global climate catastrophe, the American Revolution, or an alien invasion. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and, though some people love his fairly brainless fare, he's nothing special in the way of direction, relying heavily on his effects to carry the day. This film is no different from Emmerich's usual fare, but lacks much of the fun that usually comes with it.

Stripped of all need for reason, fancy plots, or gimmicks to tell a story of a tribe of mammoth-hunters, 10,000 BC should have provided ample room to create an adeventurous fantasy tale about dreadlocked hunter-gatherers, but instead was a tepid boy-loses-girl adventure where people are chasing people for over two hours. And really there isn't much in those two hours that's all that interesting or impressive.

It's indicative of the movie in general that the sabre-toothed tiger appearing in trailers, TV spots, and the very DVD cover itself is in the movie for 2 to 3 minutes out of over two hours of material. The mammoths, while setting up the clan and lending some basis to the traits of the characters, aren't in it much more than that. Realistically, the tale could have just as easily been told in a fantasy world or with African tribes nearly anytime over the past several millenia. Though I don't always agree with the principle, there's the idea that if a story can be told without being in a sci-fi, fantasy, or period setting, then it probably should be. In movies, as opposed to novels, this becomes a matter of set dressing and aesthetics and, therefore, it probably matters less than in literature. But that idea kept occuring to me as I watched what, more or less, felt like the Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes equivalent of a Beastmaster remake, minus the beasts. Because when you've got ancient prophecies, magic, people fighting with spears and swords, and god-kings from Atlantis ruling over a bunch of savages, you might as well drop the bullshit idea that this movie takes place in prehistory and just make a fantasy film that's interesting.

Though it tries hard and looks decent, the whole thing seems to trudge toward a flat ending. And no amount of muddied-up young stars will make that any better.

imdb   amazon


hulk.jpgrating-4.5In anticipation of The Incredible Hulk I've looked back at my favorite comic-related film, Ang Lee's Hulk.

Vastly underrated and oft-maligned, Hulk is still, despite the fun of Iron Man, the best-made comic-related film to date. Unlike every other film based on some comic hero, it totally lacks the kitschy gloss of a "comic" movie, Ang Lee instead being content to film this movie to look like any other film, aside from "comic" style shot transitions. That's one particularly annoying feature of your average superhero film: it lacks any dramatic resonance and feels like hollow, flashy eye-candy. Even with the Iron Man-lke balance of humor in the equation, it still feels somewhat hollow of an experience.

Hopefully this isn't a trait that will transfer to The Incredible Hulk, unfortunately a reimagining that throws out the baby with the proverbial bathwater, though in this case I don't think there was a problem with said water.

What we have instead is an audience unprepared for a more intellectual take on a character that is, in essence, not a super hero. Expecting to see "The Incredible Hulk" TV series or some new iteration of Spider-Man, audiences were disappointed. To which I say "Waah. Too fucking bad." If we were to chide every movie that made audiences feel stupid because they don't get it, then film history would be very dull indeed. But apparently mediocrity was desired and this movie failed the masses by being the most cerebral comic-related film to date, a boast that should be made by every movie that comes down the pike instead of being a stigma.

This Hulk, instead of your typically retarded and inexplicable comic tale, tries to translate the character into something more logically feasible. Bruce Banner is the son of a scientific dabbler, a scientist in search of a supersoldier formula who, in his desire to discover the formula to immortality, opted to experiment on himself. He creates a concoction from the genetic material of primitive creatures with regenerative capabilities like the starfish and the jellyfish and injects himself, tampering with his own genetics. This leads to his child being born with inherent genetic mutations predisposing him to a violent temper and a body that reacts to his frustration and rage, which he keeps locked away as almost a defense mechanism. After being dosed with microscopic medical nanites and hit with a lethal dosed of radiation in lab accident, the alterations in his genetics are accentuated and completely awakened, turning his growing frustration and rage into a physical transformation. It's dense stuff, but for a simplistic rip-off of the stories of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll it damned well ought to be. If you can't improve on the source material, then you probably shouldn't do it at all.

For fans left wanting of some bomb blast or lab accident just turning the man into the monster, you should probably limit yourself entirely to the more intellectually-malnourished realm of comics, where simplistic, illogical and implausible explantions are the coin of the realm. Or just get fucked. One of the two.

As films go, it's an excellent mix of dramatic weight, pathos, and action. This is more or less a science-fiction Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, where our hero becomes an uncontrollable monster and learns how to control the beast to harness its power. It also has the added benefit of a tightly-written and intelligent script that doesn't burden itself with the need to fit in a supervillain to fight in addition to the origin story. That Bruce's father is in his way a nod to The Absorbing Man and there is a final fight with him is more of an aside and tying up the tale than it is a supervillain battle. It's a necessity to bring closure to his father's machinations and to show that he is required to do something that the Army can't, proving that he might be needed as much as he is feared.

The acting par for this movie is set higher than likely any other comic film, it's only closest competitor being in the new Batman cast and in the improv-ing genius of the Iron Man players, though there is a more humorous mix. Instead, we're treated to an emotional resonance through the leads that will be hard to produce with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler, though I trust Norton to do his best and do it well. And though Louis Leterrier is an excellent director and the "sequel" will no doubt feature top-notch action, it's doubtful that it will carry any of the three-dimensionality of Ang Lee's movie.

I have no real sympathy for those that didn't like this film and no respect for people who prefer bullshit like the Spider-Man movies, every film of which was a pile of unbelievable shit.

For the thinking man or non-loser fanboys, this film will likely remain a point of pride.

imdb   amazon