Monday, May 28, 2012

Men in Black 3

I've never been a big fan of the MIB movies, but I thought this one was the best of them. It's a good story and Josh Brolin is great as young K. Will Smith is better in the movie than he seems in the commercials too.

I really liked the story aside from one major complaint (SPOILER ALERT)...

When K is killed in the past and prevented from deploying the arcnet, why didn't the blogon (or whatever)invasion happen right then? Why does it happen 40 years later, conveniently in J's present? This is something all the MIB movies do, which is to have a smaller story but introduce an element of unnecessary global disaster that has nothing to do with the story but gives the movie the illusion of scope. The story would have worked a lot better if J had gone back in time to help K and inadvertently prevented him from deploying the arcnet, thus forcing him to redeem this mistake and stop the invasion. With that one tweek all the other events of the movie could have happened exactly the same and made a lot more sense.

On a lesser note I also didn't think that the events of the story properly explained why K becomes a taciturn, emotionally shutdown zombie for the next 40 years. I'm sure in MIB he sees lots of people get killed all the time. I thought it would be a lot cooler if J got killed and witnessing that made K removed and emotionally withdrawn in future dealings with him. Knowing how his dad died would have helped J in dealing with his absence instead of treating it like some big weird dark secret.

But whatever. All things considered, I thought it was a pretty good movie. I certainly think if you enjoyed the other two movies you should enjoy this one.


This movie's getting a bad rap because the commercials make it look like Transformers and it's an adaptation of a board game, but it's actually a lot of fun.

The story doesn't really work over all, I think, but as a summer action flick it works. The aliens aren't invincible (for the most part), so seeing them square off with Navy ships is fun. The best part of the movie is actually like the game, where they're blind and trying to pinpoint the enemy ship's location. It's more about tactics than explosions, but of course the movie doesn't stay with that formula.

There are elements of the movie I don't like, where the aliens deploy weapons like big spinning things that wreck everything (but target bridges and baseball diamonds instead of enemy battleships), and superpowered alien footsoldiers in HALO outfits just start trashing everything. These are too powerful to be believable compared to other scenes where they're vulnerable to machine guns and missiles even though they have force field technology.

Over all, I enjoyed it. The need to make it a big special FX movie hurts its credibility, but it's a summer scifi so it's okay so long as it's all in good fun. It also has a lot of humor in it and is much more fun to watch than I thought it would be walking in. If you like movies like "Independence Day" you ought to enjoy this one.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dark Shadows

I can't say I'm disappointed with this movie because it was pretty much what I expected it to be. As a fan of the old soap I tried to put away any preconceived ideas about what I thought they should do and just give Tim Burton's vision a chance.

The problem is, the approach didn't work. It makes a few stabs at being a comedy but the jokes come off as an after thought and end up falling flat. There's a bit of a pass at earnestly adapting the show, but it doesn't really have the tone and feel of the old show enough to work as an adaptation. With a few character name changes, this movie could have been anything. If I hadn't heard that Burton and Depp were big fans of the show I would have assumed this was just another redo that fell into the hands of people who didn't know or care much about the source material.

What's sad is there was so much fodder for a fun revamp given that the show was a gothic vampire daytime soap opera. All you really had to do was play it straight to get the laughs, but this was just a standard atmospheric Tim Burton movie with everyone painted and hamming everything to the point that it felt more like famous people playing dress-up. Not that the performances are bad (especially Michelle Pfeiffer, who does her best to class the whole thing up), but it's like they're getting together to do a Halloween haunted house instead of a movie.

Even the music becomes infuriating. Danny Elfman is credited with the score, but it must have been the easiest money he ever made because the movie is crammed with period appropriate pop hits that constantly remind us that the story is set in 1972. It just robs the story of that fun gothic feel that was so great about the show and should have been right up Tim Burton's alley.

I'm happy they got to make the movie they wanted to make, but I'd rather watch the old show or even the 90's revamp series than watch this one.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Avengers

I thought this movie delivered everything it promised. I went in with a measured expectation, given all the build-up and the challenges inherent in combining several franchise characters in a single movie, but they did it. They actually made this movie work.

After seeing "Cabin in the Woods" I recently decided that Joss Whedon should spend more time in the horror genre where he's shown so much skill, but "The Avengers" makes a bigger and better point, which is that Whedon's singular skills can be applied to something that is successful in and makes a positive contribution to the mainstream. Not only did he direct this movie, but he wrote the screenplay, and it shows. It's wall to wall wit, humor and posturing character conflict with just the right amount of reference and sass.

This movie also makes great use of the characters and where their respective films left them in terms of story. It's a powerhouse mash-up, like Universal used to do with their classic movie monsters (except this one works where those really didn't). And it has the biggest, best and most exciting superhero action that's ever been in a movie.

The audience was cheering and I don't blame them. Go see this one folks and, as with all Marvel movies, stay through the credits.