Jenny and I saw the CGI animal western, Rango, in a theatre on Friday, and like everyone else in the audience, we didn’t laugh. (And I don’t think most of the kids there got into it.) The quality of the animation gives Pixar a run for its money. But the difference is in the storyline. Most Pixar movies are engaging from the start. “Rango” never rises above being clever and amusing.
Searching for Bobby Fischer became one of my favourites when I first saw it in a theatre in 1993. I was hooked after the opening narration by 8-year-old Max Pomeranc that recounts Bobby Fischer‘s rise to fame as one of the best chess players in the world and ends with the whispered words: “He disappeared.” Then we discover the narrator is a child prodigy, a genius chess player who some call a young Bobby Fischer. But where Bobby Fischer was a nut, this kid stays on a path that keeps him sane. He plays baseball and goes fishing and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. It’s a good story and a good movie.
There is no trailer available online, but there is this scene:
Iron Man — I enjoyed Iron Man more than any super hero movie that has come out in recent years. It’s well-acted and it tells a good story that doesn’t exist just to show off special effects. Had the producers gone heavy on the CGI, it could have easily slipped into mind-numbing territory like Transformers. Instead, it’s in a league of its own, presenting us with real characters and a compelling origin story that doesn’t feel childish or cartoonish but is still entertaining and full of really cool stuff. (May 4/08)
28 Weeks Later — The sequel to the apocalyptic zombie thriller 28 Days Later. That movie, which fell a little short of being great, scared the crap out of me and is worth watching because it presents such a convincing last-man-on-earth scenario. 28 Weeks Later gives us all-new characters and then brings on “the infected” (or the zombies) in full force. It effectively re-creates the run-for-life elements of the original movie. The ending is stupid, but it’s passable, creepy entertainment. (May 2/08)
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem — Even with some occasionally impressive cinematography, AVPR is unwatchable for anyone with an IQ over zero. It’s not even passable as a B-movie. Thank gods for the fast-forward button. (May 1/08)
The Maltese Falcon — I saw it tonight in a theatre. It was okay, but it’s not in the same league as Casablanca. Bogart’s performance is uneven, the romantic element is unconvincing and the story isn’t too intriguing or compelling. For me, it has more style than substance. And even then, it’s not spectacular. My favourite film noir starring Bogart — if you really want to aim for cool just for the sake of being cool — is The Big Sleep, which would be great to see in a theatre. (April 7/08)
The Forbidden Kingdom — A forgettable martial arts film with Jet Li and Jackie Chan. It’s not unwatchable but it ain’t worth watching. (April 20/08)
The Mist — I couldn’t watch more than 30 minutes of Stephen King’s The Mist. Judging only from what I saw, it’s a horror film in the sense that the writing is horrible, the acting is horrible and the special effects are horrible. Everything is so bad, I thought I might enjoy it as a B-movie. And maybe I can. But not today. (April 27/08) Okay, I managed to come back and watch the rest of it. The special effects get a little better and the acting gets worse (the script certainly doesn’t make it easy for them). I can see how the story of a bunch of people stuck in a grocery store while a mist outside full of tentacles and creepy crawlies kills anyone who walks out the door could be a scary movie, but by trying too hard to be dramatic, it’s just stupid. The person I saw the movie with said this: “Man, that movie sucked. Were we ever afraid of anything? Did we ever feel any emotion the director wanted us to feel when he wanted us to feel it? I can’t believe it gets a better rating on Rotten Tomatoes than The Science of Sleep. That’s messed up.” Yup. (April 29/08)