Monday, October 31, 2005

The Terminal

I watched The Terminal, and it was good (Tom Hanks? Steven Spielberg? Of course it's going to be good).

But it wasn't great. The premise is tough (man without a country stuck in the international portion of JFK, not being able to go home, and not being able to enter the U.S.), so you're really left with a hefty character film.

And it just wasn't as good on that front. Characters make these sudden changes, and they didn't feel organic. Or I didn't feel prepped for them. Or something.

And Catherine Zeta-Jones does an atypically wooden performance (atypical outside of Entrapment, anyway).

But there are some great character moments.

I think Diego Luna is really underrated.

And for me, there were two powerful/ingenious moments in the film: Viktor Navorski's (Tom Hanks) reaction to the news of military violence in his home country (watch for the scenic metaphor -- subtle and telling), and a great Don Quixote/tilting at windmills moment.

The film's worth a watch overall.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I saw Doom last night.

OK, I wasn't expecting a great movie, and it had its moments, but overall, Doom perpetuated the "bad movies from licensed from video games" trend.

Movies are shot out of sequence, and I felt like I could tell which scenes were shot earlier (where the acting almost sucked), and which scenes were shot later (where the acting sucked a little less).

And they messed with the premise of the game. It's not marines on Mars where a gateway to Hell has opened up and is letting Demons through. It's a pseudo sci-fi -- And by "sci-fi", I mean "skiffy", the semi-derogatory sub-genre that is the lesser sibling to better sub-genres like speculative fiction and space opera -- semi-horror, and zilch supernatural.

And they they seem to try to make excuses for it being out of whack with the games' continuity -- things like half-hearted references to the situation ("this is hell") to trying to classify the monsters ("these demons"). Even the website tries to bridge the disparity when they summarize the story: "... researchers at this Red Planet station have unwittingly opened a door" (they're being metaphorical); and "A hellish zoo of demons, Imps, Barons, and Hell Knights ..." (which is their way of trying to get the games' menagerie into the tale).

I don't get what went south on the acting.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has recently done a decent job in things like The Rundown, Walking Tall, and Be Cool. He's got like 7 new films between now and the end of 2006 in various states of production, so maybe this performance will just prove to be an aberrancy.

Even Karl Urban did a much better job as Eomer in The Lord of the Rings, but was pretty uneven here.

Solid supports like Deobia Oparei and Brian Steele (the man behind many good creature performances) do a good job.

On the upside, Rosamund Pike (Samantha Grimm) does a great job throughout.

Again, the flick had its moments. There are nods to Doom (the video game) conventions throughout -- many of them somewhat clever. There's a subtle "pick up moment" between Ben Daniels (Goat) and Al Weaver (The Kid); and some good refreshes classic Doom tunes.

One of the best nods, though, is the much-ballyhooed first-person sequence, which is a great video-game-fanboy-slash-music-video-moment, but not a great music-video-slash-movie-moment (for that, you want to see Underworld).

Speaking of which, the high point of Doom wasn't in Doom -- it was the full trailer for the upcoming Underworld sequel, Underworld: Evolution. I'm a fan of the first film, have been fairly stoked since the sequel was greenlighted, and, I admit, I'm taken with Kate Beckinsale's work.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Guess Who

I just watched Guess Who from Sony Picture's.

I dunno; who thought "a comedy version of Look Who's Coming to Dinner was a good idea? That's an important, deep flick dealing with a tough issue. Methinks you would want to tread lightly with spinning it on its ear.

Don't get me wrong -- the film has its moments. Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher do a good job, and there are some funny moments, and at least one, "Ah, now that was kind of important" moment.

But a lot of the film feels uneven and an overall missed opportunity. There's a dinner scene that typifies this, and I don't want to provide any spoilers, but I was expecting it to got a different way. I think the scene could have been handled such that it could have still been humorous, but been used to subtly and powerfully show whites and blacks do some of the same things to each other. Instead, it turned a little dark and lost its point. When you see the scene, you might get what I'm talking about.

Zoe Saldana (Theresa) and Judith Scott (Marylin) do well in this film. Both were fun for me to watch, and have a whole bunch going on, especially in their faces, and especially when they're listening.

If you want an Ashton Kutcher comedy, see Dude, Where's My Car?. If you want a movie that deals with race issues, see Crash.

Or the original Look Who's Coming to Dinner.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Clifford's Really Big Movie

I'm watching Clifford's Really Big Movie, which has some great voice acting.

On the celebrity front, Wayne Brady does a passable job on one of the supporting characters, I wasn't all that fond of Jenna Elfman's performance, but John Goodman was decent.

As far as professional voice acting, Jess Harnell (Dirk) is a prolific animation and video game talent (recently with Kingdom Hearts II, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, and has been a mainstay in games since at least 1996).

Then there's Grey DeLisle, who is an absolute powerhouse of a talent in animation, film, and live performances. Check out her uber slick website for a ton of info, but fans will recognize her from Everquest, Hunter: The Reckoning Wayward (and Redeemer), Doom 3, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, and so on. I really like her diversity in projects and sound -- a real artist.

And a lot people don't seem to realize John Ritter was the voice of Big Red himself for years-- we lost a good one when John went ...