Friday, June 03, 2005

Fist Fulla Movies

I have a horrible approach to watching movies - I don't catch the film when it comes out, then I wait a week so there isn't as many people there, then wait a couple more weeks for it to hit a budget theater, then wait a couple months for it show up on DVD, then don't rent the DVD, then flip past the edited-for-television version in order to catch a rerun of Iron Chef. While I recognize the triumphs of the art of cinematography, I am exactly the type of consumer that makes movie moguls pound their heads against their desk until bloodstains start appearing on their blotters.

But with my recently-altered circumstances, I have a little more time on my hands and a little more desire to get away from my home office (the walls do start to close in after a while). So I have seen four honest-to-goodness modern films in the past month.

Hitchiker's Guide the Galaxy was OK. Just that, OK. It was amusing and well put together, but as I watched it I came to realize that knew all the jokes. Including the jokes that I had sworn I had forgot. I enjoyed the radio show, and the books, and the TV show and the breakfast cereal, and as I progressed through the film, I had this definite feeling of deja vu. I knew where we were going, like a production of Shakespeare that you've seen in different forms. Now you're just watching to see how they pull it off. A friend suggested that, before going to see a movie, I should hit myself in the head with a shovel so as to drive all such facts from my brain and just enjoy the film.

And for Sahara, I did just that, going to see it the day after the boom was lowered upon me (head, meet shovel). This is a goofy adventure movie that operates under the idea that if you just keep loading stuff up, no one will really question what is going on. There are plot holes the size of civil war ironclads in this, but it marches smartly along, feeling at times like an episode of "Miami Vice" with a redneck rock soundtrack. As an added bonus, you get Penelope Cruz as the World Health Organization scientist/hottie (you can tell she's smart - she wears glasses in a couple scenes). The Lovely Bride, who has a thing for this type of movie (she rented National Treasure while I was out of town, for similar reasons) had the most telling review: "It gives you the experience of reading a Clive Cussler book without having to, you know, actually READ a Clive Cussler book."

And then we watched Hellboy together on DVD, which was left here by Brainstormfront when he moved back to Wisconsin, and it was a bit of a letdown. Maybe the move to a slightly smaller screen did it in, but it felt stilted and empty. Great visuals but sort of a hollowness at the heart of it all. And I would be just the person to like a movie that mixes together Nazis, Cthulhoid monsters, and Jeffrey Tambor (who stole his scenes).

And lastly, yesterday, Revenge of the Sith. No way I can give this a fair shake, since I've been hip-deep in Star Wars for the past year and so was privy to a lot of bits that had not been revealed (for example, in an early draft - Darth Vader was to be revealed to made of chocolate. Darrrrrk chocolate). And most of the people I know were separated into hostile camps of "Doesn't Suck" and "Fooled Again!". Parts I liked (Obi-wan's humor in the opening sequences), parts I didn't care for (the tooth-pulling dialogue). All in all, it felt like going to Easter Sunday Sermon - you know you're going to have to go, you know what's going on, and you're there for societal reasons as much a spiritual ones. Episodes I-III seem to operate for me as the ultimate ret-con (retroactive continuity). If you watch all the films in correct order, you will find everything in Episode IV revised, changed, or deepened (right down to Luke looking off into the double sunset, or 3P0's comment of "Thank the Maker"). Its an interesting time-loop that has been set up, where the original generation's experiences with the film series will not line up with those who approach it in final running order.

In the meantime, pass me that shovel - I think I'm going to see more films.

More later,