I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we get on TV for free! If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker!
By this point, with nineteen years worth of episodes under its belt, the need for a feature length version of The Simpsons seems like a dubious proposition at best. If you really need to see ninety minutes of America’s favorite yellow-skinned losers, there are probably at least that many reruns on Fox’s associated networks that you either haven’t seen yet or don’t remember that you’ve seen. I have the same problem with Law and Order repeats on TNT.
This movie wants to be The Princess Bride so bad it almost makes me feel like a heel to break the news. Almost. Unfortunately, this desperately earnest fantasy overstays its welcome and drags on far too long.
Rob Reiner’s fantasy clocked in at a spry 97 minutes while this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel is weighed down by a 127-minute running length. It is not without its charming moments, but this movie lacks the light touch that it needs to be successful.
It was probably inevitable, but a faint hint of repetition has crept into the Jason Bourne franchise. This third movie feels an awful lot like the second, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. There is enough energy to what’s happening on screen that you don’t notice the similarity between the two films.
Of course, film franchises thrive on a bit of familiarity but we can at least hope that they have the sense to stop long before they have to use ever-increasing numbers of stunt persons to double a geriatric Matt Damon.
2007 appears to have been the year of thirds, meaning the third entry in some highly visible film franchises. We had a third Shrek movie, a third Jason Bourne movie, a third Pirates of the Caribbean movie and a third Ocean’s Eleven movie. What does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing. It’s just a coincidence but I needed a way to open this review.
The real pleasure we get from watching movies like Ocean’s Thirteen has very little to do with storytelling, but derives from watching a lot of rich, good-looking people having a lot of fun doing things most of us just dream about. It’s fortunate that this is actually entertaining because there’s not a lot going on here in terms of story. Continue reading →
At least Disney has the sense to release its animated sequels direct to video, because no one wants to fork over ten bucks for one viewing of a craven attempt to cash in on our children’s affection for these characters. Dreamworks, of course, doesn’t have the luxury of a vast tradition of animated features. They have one tent-pole animated franchise, the Shrek movies, so they obviously feel forced to milk the property for everything they can until another they produce another hit.
I have a feeling that a lot of trouble could have been avoided if our current president had just asked his father one simple question. “Dad,” he could have asked, “exactly why did you leave a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein in power after the 1991 Gulf War?” Bush 41 could have gone on to explain how they foresaw that power vacuum in Iraq could leave the country in a state of sectarian chaos and Iran as the sole regional power.
Before the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the practice of shooting two sequels in quick succession had a short and unspectacular history. In the eighties, they tried with the Back to the Future movies and, while those sequels had some charms, they were pale imitations of the original. These efforts, however, were masterpieces compared to the Wachowski brothers’ follow-ups to The Matrix, which managed to completely suck all of our good will for the original into that blank space behind Keanu Reeves’ eyes.
I’m not much of a comic book aficionado, so I’m not certain where the Fantastic Four fit in the pantheon-slash-food-chain of super heroes. I guess the fact that I’m aware of them means they’re pretty popular. As a film franchise, however, they are strictly bush league. Continue reading →
It’s been a good couple of years for restarting movie franchises. 2005 gave us Batman Begins and 2006 begat Casino Royale. It also gave us Superman Returns, so no trend is bulletproof. However, it did continue in 2007 with a fourth installment in the Die Hard series, which was easily the most consistently entertaining of the sequels. The original is, of course, still miles ahead, even from this one, but that’s to be expected.
With the creative pedigree behind this film, if it had merely been good, that would have been a tremendous disappointment. The writer, director and two stars have no fewer than five Academy Awards between them and none of them earned cheaply. It should come as either no surprise or a great relief that American Gangster more than delivers on every promise made by the names in the credits.
There is a clear pecking order when it comes to computer-animated features from Disney. On the top tier are the Pixar films like The Incredibles and Ratatouille, which push the envelope technologically and are usually have a deeper, more sophisticated story than your typical animated film. On the next rung down is, frankly, everything else.
Meet the Robinsons clearly falls into this second tier, lacking the lushness and complexity of its Pixar brethren. That doesn’t make a bad movie, just simpler and less challenging. While even films like Finding Nemo have the ability to keep the adults entertained while still engaging the kiddies. This bright and cheerful sci-fi tale, however, is one you let your eight-to-ten-year-old throw in the DVD player while you pour yourself a Pinot and curl up with a book.
Despite its Hallmark Hall of Fame title, A Mighty Heart is a spare, unblinking look at the last days of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl through the eyes of his wife, Mariane, and those who desperately tried to find him after he was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan. With a subject just asking to be sensationalized, director Michael Winterbottom’s matter-of-fact documentary-style approach is not only much more effective, it’s downright commendable.