Snakes on a Plane

My friends and I had been looking forward to Snakes on a Plane for many months. I can’t remember which one of us spotted it first (I think I saw something about it early this year at Ain’t It Cool), but SoaP Fever quickly spread amongst the clan. I honestly don’t remember the movie too much, but I will tell you this: it does not disappoint. It was easily the best movie-going experience of my entire life. If every movie was as fun as this movie, I would gladly pay $20 for a ticket. Why was this movie so thoroughly excellent? Two words: audience participation. The movie itself was not good, but the reactions it drew out of the crowd were hilariously entertaining. I believe I was laughing almost the whole movie. For example, the moment Samuel L. Jackson walked on screen, the theater immediately erupted in cheering and a standing ovation (by some). All during the movie there was at least some type of audience reaction: quiet scenes were drowned out by the entire crowd hissing, exaggerated screams were made during gruesome deaths, sage advice was shouted out to the doomed characters, and always laughter.

If you love campy B-movies and love audience participation, go see this movie immediately before SoaP fever dies off.

Pros: Samuel L. Jackson, the other movie goers, Snakes. on. a. plane.
Cons: None.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand

The third installment in the X-Men franchise is easily the worst of the three, but did anybody really expect it to get any better? Both of the previous installments were probably significantly better than most expectations. I know the second was definitely better than what I expected it to be. However, even though it is the worst, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s just not that great. It’s a pretty forgettable but entertaining movie.

I don’t have too much to say about it. There are some startling new developments in Mutant Land, and I’m guessing this movie had better really be the true last stand because the X Men are almost made into the X Man. I’m guessing there was a conversation like the following during the planning stages:

[Movie exec 1]: The first two movies rocked. The movies were good, the fans were happy, and we made money hand over fist. I think we should kill the franchise off with this one. Go out on a high note, you know? That whole Seinfeld thing. Leave a good taste in people’s mouth.
[Movie exec 2]: Sounds good. Let’s do that. Make it so, Mr. Scriptwriter.
[Mr. Scriptwriter]: Okay.

Later, when the movie was wrapping up there was another conversation that went like this:
[Movie exec 2]: Hrrrmmm. . .I’m not so sure if we should end the franchise yet. We could probably milk this for 10 more installments. We could go to made for TV even.
[Movie exec 1]: Yeah, I’m getting cold feet about this. Let’s keep it going, you know, just in case.
[Mr. Scriptwriter]: But everybody is dead or powerless.
[Movie exec 2]: So?
[Mr. Scriptwriter]: Should we at least change the title to something like “The Last Stand. . .Maybe”?
[Movie exec 1]: No. “The Last Stand” will make people think we are going to end the franchise and come see how it ends. A brilliant marketing movie I must say!
[Movie exec 2]: Yeah! And X Men 4 can be “The End of the Mutants” or something equally apocolyptic.
[Movie exec 1]: Brilliant!
[Mr. Scriptwriter]: Whatever.

What results is a hint at the very end of the movie that the X Men will be back much to our dismay.

If you like action movies and the previous X Men, I’d say this is at least worth a matinee. It’s got a lot of fun mutant action and fights. Though it is pretty creepy with a hot woman goes berzerk and destroys everything. Women. . .

Pros: Mutant action, Wolverine, Ian McKellen, Halle Barry, destruction
Cons: Not as good as the first two, bad script

Mission: Impossible 3

Mission: Impossible 3 is pretty much what I expected it to be: Tom Cruise does action, Tom Cruise does romance, Tom Cruise does serious, Tom Cruise does tough guy, Tom Cruise does masks, and Tom Cruise does looking-good-in-black. M:I 3 is better than M:I 2, but M:I 1 is still the best of the lot. I guess that’s all you need to know, but I can ramble on for a bit about it.

As Jeremiah mentions, the plot is thin. Indeed, it’s a mere skeleton on which a capable cast hangs fascinating action ornaments. I’m a sucker for action sequences, so of course I found these ornaments fun to watch. The harebrained schemes remind me a lot of the plots in Knight Rider: no matter how crazy it sounds, the good guys can always pull it off (but if it does fail, the good guys will come up with an equally crazy plot that will succeed). Clearly, Team Impossible has a lot of luck and/or God is most definitely in their corner. Many times I was thinking, “Oh Tom is going to be seen for sure lying right there in the open” or “Well, Tom’s definitely doing to snap his neck now” or “There’s no way Tom will get there on time.” I was always wrong, but that’s good otherwise the movie would have been awfully short and Ethan Hunt wouldn’t be the legendary super-agent that he is. I’m all for suspending copius amounts of reality for the sake of a good action plot.

Turning to the acting, I wished they had used Laurence Fishburne more than they did. I think he’s a superb actor, and I enjoy seeing him on the screen. Unfortunately, for this role he only had a few lines, and half the time I didn’t like him as the pushy boss. Ving Rhames does a good job as the technical catalyst for Tom’s brilliant schemes, but he’s given some lame, predictable lines. Simon Pegg (the dude from Shaun of the Dead) delivers a fun performance that adds the bit of comedy relief, allowing the audience a chance to catch it’s breath. According to the IMDB trivia page, Ricky Gervais was supposed to play Pegg’s character. That would have been hilarious. Tom himself gets his job done quite well, in my opinion. It’s a typical Cruise performance, and I hope he counts his lucky stars that his only schtick looks good on the big screen. Personally, his real world antics are easily forgotten when I see him on screen, so I think I’m less Tommed-out than most others. The real star of the show is Philip Seymour Hoffman, but this was to be expected. Hoffman is a fantastic actor and pulls off the vicious, cunning, coldly calculating villian fantastically. His final scene is great. It hits the audience like a speeding truck, leaving them stunned, looking around in disbelief, and muttering, “Did I just see that?!”

Final recommendation: It’s worth a matinee for sure, and it’s a winner for the action flick crowd.

Pros: fun movie, crrraaaazzy schemes, Tom Cruise, really sweet bullet noises,
Cons: Tom Cruise, good actors used little, not enough explosions, really thin plot, destruction of killer cars

Augh

Double augh. Now I have to plunk down an “attractive” amount of money to get the original version of Star Wars, the true Star Wars that takes place in the universe in which Han does indeed shoot first. Mr. Lucas is lucky I’m not the violent type. Very lucky.

V for Vendetta

I really wish I didn’t get these dry spells. It seems every so often my creative spirit shrivels up, rendering me incapable of generating any creative output. These past couple of weeks I’ve felt my mind was not operating at it’s usual 110%. My brain feels muddled, my thoughts do not have their customary clarity, and forget about any real writing. Though, right now, I’m going to try to kick myself out of this little funk. There are too many things that cannot be ignored.

I saw V for Vendetta last night. I’ve spent some time mulling over how exactly I should write a review for this movie, and only one sentence kept springing to mind. This review will have to remain short lest I get worked into a fury again. I spilt too much bile last night, probably to my friends’s embarrassment. I’ve chosen my words, and I realize the import of these words. Sometimes we need to call a spade a spade. Sometimes punches really shouldn’t be pulled and all the batteries of a verbal broadside should be brought to bear. Such a time is now: V for Vendetta is a steaming pile of cinematic shit. I abhorred this movie like no other movie in my life. This is the only movie I walked out on. I was physically sick to my stomach and tembling with rage as I waited for my friends to finish watching the film. The movie is a disgusting vision of the future. It’s perversion and paranoia is only matched by it’s lack of perspective. If one were to take my moral compass and switch the N with the S, then my moral compass would match the movie’s moral compass. My only comfort that as long as these fools rely on comic book stories to push their shit, there’s not much to worry about.

What I’ve said should be considered in light of how I react to things and what my nature is. First, I’m a guy who focuses on ideas. If a movie seriously tries to pitch an idea, I will focus on that to a degree that I will ignore all other attributes of the film. Second, I have a character flaw in that my temper has a flash fuse when it comes to certain things, and this movie happened to ignite that fuse during the climax. Third and finally, 9/11 is still very fresh in my mind, and I think I was affected by it more strongly than most. The climax of V for Vendetta is a terrorist event that drew too close a parallel to 9/11. I found it abhorrent and beyond the pale.

The only point at which I agreed with the movie was when the hero reminded the heroine, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” So, for roughly 5 seconds, it was a movie after my own heart.

I’m not sure if I should say that this movie should be watched. A shrewd man will know both his beliefs and his adversary’s beliefs, and sometimes the contours of one’s own beliefs are brought into high relief after being exposed to adversarial beliefs. Indeed, we should not walk through this world with blinders or with eyes squinted shut. Even with that said, I can’t bring myself to recommend this movie for such philosophically pragmatic reasons.

Munich

I am having trouble determining what I think of Munich. It is a well shot, well acted, well paced, and well scripted movie. Eric Bana is superb as an Israeli who is hired to assassinate the Palestinian masterminds behind the 1972 Munich terrorist attack. However, there is just something about the movie with which I didn’t connect. Another way putting it is that I know I should give it an 8 but I only want to give it a 6.

I’d rather not deal with the possible historical merits or mistakes. I’ll just assume it’s loosely based on real events and take it with a grain of salt. However, I am having trouble understanding why some think this paints Israel in a highly critical light. I didn’t come out with an overly negative view of Israel. The Machiavellian nature of its actions are both understandable and expected. Haven’t we seen plenty of films that paint the US government in the same light? I think the film does show well the destructive impact such activities (viz. assassination) has on the security and well-being of the individuals involved, and I appreciated Spielberg’s portrayal of how a man motivated by patriotic desires can still be torn apart by what his country asks of him. The follow up question of whether if it is worth it or not would take some thought.

My only real complaint with this movie is Spielberg’s failure to use Dainel Craig, the next James Bond, to his full potential. Craig’s character could have added some extra zing to the overall plot, indeed I expected him to, but it never happened. A shame.

Pros: A well made and interesting movie, strong acting.
Cons: Somehow doesn’t engage the audience? I don’t know.