Monday, May 08, 2006

Movie reviews.

This was a movie-watchin' weekend at our house. Two movies Saturday night, two movies Sunday night. Todd has been on a total movie kick lately, and I've been making him watch by himself, mostly, because I seem to have a hard time devoting two hours to anything anymore...but I switched into total couch-potato mode this weekend and made him happy.

First was Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I'm still not sure if I liked this or not. A little too violent for my taste, but there were some humorous tidbits, especially in the first half or so. Angelina Jolie didn't seem to put too much into her character--seemed like Brad Pitt carried the whole thing. I've never been a Brad fan, but I appreciated his humor in this one. But the whole scenario, and especially the over-the-top stunts and effects, seemed beyond unbelievable. When Angelina's hit-woman team zip-lined out of the 99th floor of their office building...that's when I started to lose interest!

That same night we watched Bruce Almighty. I didn't intend it to be a Pitt-Jolie-Aniston love triangle night--they just came from Netflix that way, honest. I liked the movie, can you resist Morgan Freeman as God? Jennifer was quite good, too...and I even liked Jim Carrey. He usually annoys the bejeebers out of me, but he's becoming more likeable as he ages, I think. I liked him in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, too. The movie got awfully sappy, which I don't have a lot of patience with...I thought they could have gotten the desired character growth without going all sappy, but overall, a fun movie. It was especially fun watching Jim Carrey run amok as he starts testing out his God-powers.

Sunday night we started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this one, because the book looms extremely large in my childhood religious life. I really didn't know if they could do it justice. Overall, I'd say they did. Since the story really pivots around the character of Lucy, I knew she'd have to be really well-cast...and she was. The little girl who played her was truly wonderful--I instantly loved her and sympathized with her, just the way you do in the book. The rest of the kids were really well-played, too. Some of the effects looked awkward or funky, but Aslan seemed fairly real. Not as impressive as I felt he should have been--his presence dominates the book, as I remember, even before you meet him, but for a computer-generated character, it was probably as good as could be expected.

The only element I felt they missed was C.S. Lewis's gentle humor that really makes the book come to life, particularly the scene where Aslan frolics with the girls after he comes to back to life, but before they head off to the battle. That was always one of my very favorite scenes, and right after, when the girls ride on his back to the battle--that scene didn't have any of the wonder of the book.

There were a few moments, though, that improved on the book--Lucy's huge grin of amazement as she enters the world of Narnia, and each time she returns to it; the moment when Peter and Edmund embrace after the battle and forgive each other; the Witch in her chariot fighting Peter. She wasn't
quite scary enough to satisfy me, but she did seem evil.

Anyway, it's fascinating to see a childhood book come to life. I really enjoyed it. Watching it on the small-screen made us really wish we had made it to the theater to really experience it...but we were in the middle of our move when it was out and never found the time, darn the luck.

After we wiped away our Narnia-induced sniffles, we took a major turn and watched The Island. I've wanted to see this ever since I saw the theater previews and realized it was a remake of parts: the Clonus Horror, which the guys at MST3K spoofed. The Clonus director, Robert Fiveson, filed a copyright infringement suit against Dreamworks and Warner Brothers, who produced the film, and I think he definitely has a case. However, since this movie had a budget increase of about $99.5 million over the previous version, it was a lot better! Todd and I are both big fans of Scarlett Johannsen, so we liked seeing her in something really different. Lots of chases and things exploding--very cool--but you really do feel sympathy with the characters, and that's because Scarlett and Ewan MacGregor are so good. I thought it was terrific.

I bought the Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview issue last week, which is a little ritual of mine every couple years. It's fun to read about what's coming out and what I might like to go see. Summer is movie season for us, and I'm looking forward to The DaVinci Code, Superman Returns, The Break-Up, Pirates of the Caribbean, among others. I think it's time to gear up for movie season!