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.

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