Saturday, March 20, 2010

Never Forget Remember Me

Seeing Remember Me was something of an unusual experience, to say the least. There were actually many positives to this movie: the performances were really strong (especially from Pierce Brosnan and Twilight’s own Rob Pattinson,) the story was, mostly, really strong and engaging, and it actually engages and grips on a visceral ending. That being said, it has one major negative: the ending.

The ending of this movie, without spoilers, is highly unexpected, devoid of dramatic conflict and resolution, and reeks of Deus Ex Machina. It is an ending so awful that I find myself truly at a loss for words describing it. The truly aggravating part of this is I actually got into this movie. I found myself liking it, despite myself. However, I found myself highly disappointed by the ending. I can only use analogy to describe my disappointment with this ending. If I had been reading the script, and gotten to the ending, I would have thrown down the script in disgust and reached for my cell phone to yell at somebody to rewrite the ending. How anyone agreed to make or perform in this movie, without changing this ending, eludes me. I was so upset I was seriously tempted to begin yelling at the screen, cursing out the movie itself for breaking my trust.

If I were Capt. Jean Luc Picard, this would be my expression upon seeing the ending to this movie. I hope I'm making this clear.

Remember Me is like a new acquaintance you really like who has some incongruous character trait that makes your friendship highly suspect (the example I came up with was an obsessive love of Dave Matthews Band, but you can come up with your own.) Or like a student who gets A’s all through the semester and bombs the final, earning it a grade of C. The ending has to be experienced to be believed, but you can definitely experience it at home in about four months. Or, better yet, just stop watching the movie before the final 10 minutes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Still in Theaters (March 15th, 2010)

The following movies are still in theaters, and, instead of writing individually on all them (although all have 11 Word Reviews up) I’d rather just touch on them in brief.

Alice in Wonderland

I was going to mention how I would argue this fits into my masters thesis about Tim Burton movies being an exercise in abjection and masochism through the construction of filmic space, but, really, I’d rather not get too into it.

Basically, if you like Tim Burton, you’ll at least get some mild enjoyment out of this movie. A lot of liberties are taken with the adapted property, and the third act is pretty miserable, but it could have been way worse. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have some interesting performances, but Anne Hathaway is horribly miscast.

Overall, I would personally rank Burton’s filmography as follows: Beetle Juice > Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure > Sweeney Todd > Ed Wood > Batman > Edward Scissorhands > Big Fish > Alice in Wonderland = Batman Returns = Corpse Bride > Charlie and the Chocolate Factory > Mars Attacks! > Sleepy Hollow > Planet of the Apes. (Note, I’m aware Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t on this list. That’s because Henry Seleck directed it, not Burton.) So kind of middle-level Burton work.

Also, don’t bother with the 3-D, it’s kind of bland. Save the glasses fee for something else, like candy.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

This was basically Warner Bros. desperately trying to reproduce the soon-to-be-ending Harry Potter franchise. It isn’t a bad movie, but its not necessarily a worthy successor either, and not exactly worthy of a sequel (or sequels.) Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Apprentice has a similar problem (although its far worse.) There’s nothing necessarily bad about this movie, but it isn’t exactly strong or memorable but for a few moments.

For example, Uma Thurman is in this movie, and she plays Medusa. Chew on that for a while.

You can probably skip this one.

Shutter Island

I’m not a big Scorcese fan in general, but I give this a big recommendation. The twist is predictable, and its hard to discuss without going into spoiler warning territory, but it’s a really solid movie and excellently crafted on pretty much every level. Some really excellent cinematography and use of light, shadow, and atmosphere. I’d already consider it an early contender for next years Oscars. Of any of the movies on this list, this is the one I’d tell you to run out and see.

Valentine’s Day

The major problem with this movie is there are way too many characters running around, and the movie loses focus really easily, and they are all interconnected in at times painful ways. I would have appreciated if more time had been given to certain storylines (the Topher Grace-Anne Hathaway one, for example, had a lot of promise) and left certain ones out entirely (Taylor Swift/Lautner’s storyline is completely without merit; and she, for the record, is a horrid actress. Both of the “teenagers in love” are actually very weak. Basically any character who doesn’t have some direct if not tenuous link to the Ashton Kutcher-Jessica Alba-Jennifer Garner triangle could have been cut with little consequence.) Gary Marshall isn’t what I’d call a maverick renegade filmmaker by any stretch, so its very by the numbers and inoffensive technically. Unremarkable, journeyman-level, work if there ever was one. Worth renting, especially on a date night.

In summary:
Alice...: Lukewarm recommendation. No to the 3-D.
Percy Jackson...: Skip. Rent if you have to.
Shutter Island: Must see.
Valentine's Day: Rent.