I've been unforgivably slack in the writing department of late. Truth is, I've been having a summer. I went on vacation to Hawaii where I learned to snorkel and decided that I would really like to find a job where I get paid to do that. Some kind of reference librarian for tropical fish perhaps. I've been working. I'm also officially "in training" for the upcoming Breast Cancer Three Day in September, which means I'm spending alot of time either walking, or making myself feel guilty for not walking.
I have watched my share of movies this summer, and each time I intended to write something, but then honestly, what more can I say about the summer slate of blockbusters that hasn't already been said a thousand times elsewhere? Indiana Jones was a very nice return to form. Hellboy 2 was cute, like a kid friendly Pan's Labyrinth. Batman, while great, had at least one storyline too many. I'm embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed Mamma Mia, but it is the perfect movie for a date with your mom. (If you're unwise enough to force a guy to see it with you, you deserve whatever Monster Tractor Pull he demands you to attend in exchange.) Wall-E is cute as a button. Tropic Thunder is funny. Pineapple Express is funny, though not as funny as Tropic Thunder.
Of course summer movies means lots of previews, some of which I've now been exposed to several times. To ease myself back into my commentator gig, I thought I'd do a little review and handicapping of the upcoming movies being shilled now at a theater near you.
Bangkok Dangerous - I'm sure this movie is about something, but I was too distracted by the stringy black creature sitting atop Nic Cage's head to pay any attention. Lately I've been having a growing concern that Cage has surrendered his acting talent to his various toupees. Since other action stars, such as Vin Diesel and Jason Statham, have transformed this into the age of the bald badass, I think it may be time for an intervention. I'll start it by not watching Bangkok Dangerous.
Quantum of Solace - truly, the worst name for a Bond flick, possibly the worst name for a movie, ever. It sounds like something directed by Darren Aronofsky about an autistic chess player. BUT, this trailer is the shit, man. There are clearly some interesting twists on display this time around which prove the powers that be are serious about this Bond re-invention thing. Traditionally Bond films exist in vacuums, never referring to other films in the series, always starting off with Bond as a blank slate awaiting orders. This time around, along with Danial Craig's blood chilling scowl, we have references back to Vesper Lind, and a Bond who is possibly off the reservation on some kind of killing spree. I like where this is going!
Lakeview Terrace - Sometimes there comes a genre that is hard to believe is actually a genre. People have actually made multiple films on the topic of nice people moving in next door to a closet psycho/sociopath who then sets out to make their nice lives a living hell. I don't like this particular genre of film. I've had crazy neighbors. I once had a neighbor who asked me if "anything ever happened to me", could she please have my cat and my antiqued wastebasket. I know what it's like to not want to go home at night because you might run in to the guy who insists that your cats are too loud when they walk on the floor. I don't find "nice people's lives ruined by crazy neighbor" movies entertaining. I find them instructional, and therefore terrifying, and they make me want to move somewhere with no people, lest I end up with Samuel L. Jackson as a psychotic cop living next door.
Eagle Eye - You can't really accuse Steven Spielberg of "jumping the shark" because the man invented the shark movie. Nevertheless, the preview for this film does make me concerned that Spielberg is losing his touch as a producer. There seems to be this all knowing, all seeing, all powerful nefarious organization, played by an ominous female voice on the telephone, which goes around hijacking people's lives to force them to do bad shit for them.
Each time I've seen this preview, I could not help but wonder if this omnipotent organization has the resources to "control the grid" and blow up an FBI building and make the Times Square digital reader spool out commands for a hapless Shia LaBeouf* to follow, why not just take some of those same resources and hire some dudes from the back of Guns and Ammo magazine to do whatever it is they want done, willingly and without all the bother of forcing innocent amateurs to do their dirty work? Eagle Eye breaks a cardinal rule of action flicks. They must either be so well plotted there's no need to ask why, or so incredibly entertaining that it never occurs to you to ask why. When you're asking why during the trailer, it's a bad sign.
*My friend Pat asks "Is there any such thing as a hapfull Shia LaBeouf?" His point is well taken.
Deathrace - Running Man meets Mad Max, with death row prisoners racing souped up attack vehicles for their freedom, starring Joan Allen and Ian McShane? I'm confused, but I'm liking it. All that's missing is Dame Judy Dench, perhaps as one of the lovely navigators bussed over from the women's prison, to make this the action Caligula of the new millennium. Alas Dame Judy was busy cuddling James Bond through his Solace. Instead, I will make due with Jason Statham as the innocent man screwed out of his freedom bent on revenge. God, it just keeps getting better and better. I love this movie, and I have only seen 2 minutes and 30 seconds of it. I am so there.
Twilight - One of the occupational hazards of working in a library is that occasionally books come along that push a lot of librarian buttons and have you discussing things like the post-feminist implications of Mormon vampire fiction on the teen girl's psyche. So when I saw the trailer for the eagerly anticipated adaptation of Twilight (volume 4 of which just hit our library shelves and hence have us all pondering the post-feminist implications of Mormon vampire fiction on the teen girl's psyche), it was something of a startle to be reminded that this Romeo & Juliet tale of beautiful teenagers, some of whom happen to be vampires, does have the ingredients for a blockbuster teen hit which will cause no normal human to ponder the post-feminist implications of Mormon vampire fiction.
Actually, the books, which are each about one hundred thousand pages long, will probably benefit from film adaptation since you will not have to read one hundred thousand pages of lines like "He had the most beautiful soul, more beautiful than his brilliant mind or his incomparable face or his glorious body". In that respect, we should really look on the films as a kindness, and be appropriately grateful.
Watchmen - If the official job of a film trailer is to convince you that you have been dying to see a movie and will be incomplete until you do, Watchmen knocks it out of the park. The two superhero movies I saw this summer, Ironman and The Dark Knight, both had an underlying question at the heart of them: do people get the superheros they need, or do they get the superheros they deserve? The only logical end to this line of questioning is a film version of Alan Moore's adult graphic novel The Watchmen, set in an alternative past in which mankind did, in fact, get exactly the superheroes it deserved. It's dark, creepy and totally gripping. I want more!