Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.


YOUR HIGHNESS (2011)
Eh, I thought it was funny. It's basically a fun, 80s-style fantasy adventure with a bunch of stoner humor and dick jokes. Your mileage may vary, but for me it was hysterical. Good special effects, funny performances, Natalie Portman looking more delicious than ever, and I always love Danny McBride, especially when he's one of the writers. ***1/2

PAUL (2011)
Critics really punished this one; I think critics (AND fans) are going to always punish Simon Pegg for not making Shaun of the Dead over and over again; I'll just be happy if he never makes another How to Lose Friends & Alienate People. Besides, he and Nick Frost wrote it, it's much funnier than I thought it would be, and Paul is actually an interesting character (Seth Rogen is reining it in a little here). It's a love letter to a specific generation of science fiction fan which I'm a part of, and I enjoyed it a lot. Call this only the second movie ever where Kristen Wiig didn't irritate me. ***1/2 stars.

SOLOMON KANE (2009)
Too bad they've never released this in America, because after Conan the Barbarian it's the only other good Robert E. Howard movie. James Purefoy is a great Kane, especially in the early, very Howardian pirate scenes. Good special effects, though they do take one a bit out of what's a very convincing non-specific period piece. It reminded me a lot of Highlander--a low budget fantasy movie that ended up being much more than I expected. ***1/2 stars.

MIRANDA (1948)
Cute flick with Glynis Johns as a mermaid who comes onto land to experience society and makes everyone fall in love with her. One of them is David Tomlinson, which I found charming. Insubstantial and light, but nice, and it has Margaret Rutherford (always a good thing). *** stars.

MAD ABOUT MEN (1954)
This follow-up to Miranda features Glynis Johns in three roles, including Miranda, but is a lot more bubble-headed than its cute predecessor and not nearly as fun. Just men falling all over Miranda until she finds the right one. But it is nice that Margaret Rutherford is back. ** stars.

LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE (2010)
An epic quest where all the characters are owls. I was surprised at the emotional conviction with which director Zack Snyder approaches the story. He doesn't demand that you take the story seriously, but he does take the characters seriously, which makes this surprisingly dark story about slavery, justice, racial purity, and war more palatable. Well-animated, well-voiced, and surprisingly strong considering it's a movie about helmeted owls fighting a war based on racism. Interesting and surprisingly involving, though not really essential. *** stars.

SUCKER PUNCH (2011)
Very meta. The adventures of five girls attempting to break out of a brothel is heavily symbolic, punctuated by over-the-top video game-style action scenes that are comments on both the nature of geek sexism and the nature of heroics. There's a lot going on, but in a story sense, there's very little going on. It's a balancing act that you'll either enjoy or won't; I loved it, my wife hated it. That seems to be 98% of the reaction I've seen to this flick. Zack Snyder hasn't once let me down, and he doesn't here. Sucker Punch is, however, so widely open to interpretation that the point will either seem clear or maddeningly vague. An exercise in audience frustration--even audience trolling at times. I dug the experience and felt it had something to say; others didn't. So, since all criticism is totally subjective, I'll just say ***1/2 stars for me, and for you... eh, see it yourself, what do I care?

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