Saturday, August 21, 2010

Piranha 3D

Movie: Piranha 3D

In short: if you're the type who finds the premise of this kind of film hilarious, you'll love this movie. If you're the type who wants to take this kind of film seriously, you'll hate it. Me, I'm the former: I always think of these kinds of films as comedies, even if they aren't, and this one fits the bill perfectly. It's so ridiculously over-the-top it's wonderful: corny, gratuitous, outrageous, scandalous, gruesome, and utterly hilarious. It's not scary at all -- the people feel like cartoons, and they're treated as such: there are perhaps more half-eaten torsos and severed limbs than intact bodies in the movie! The "plot" of the film is perfectly minimal: spring break on a lake with prehistoric piranha released by a recent subterranean earthquake. That gives the producers full license for a literal bloodbath of scantily clad beauties being eaten by veracious piranha. There's a slight story involving the rescue of the female sheriff’s two young children, which gives the film some needed tension, but I was impressed by the film's pitch-perfect setup and build-up to the grand fishfood climax. The film's definitely better done than most of these kind of low-budget made-for-cable flicks, with some big stars hamming it up (Christopher Lloyd was awesome and Elisabeth Shue was surprisingly terrific as the sheriff) and quite good special effects. The 3D is actually pretty cool. I hate the stupid glasses, but once you get into the film you soon forget about them, and in several of the scenes the 3D really added to the atmosphere. Overall, this is not a serious film by any measure. It's mere popcorn silliness, but it's a blast. Definitely rated R, this isn't for kids, but if you aren't offended by naked spring breakers being eaten by the dozen (or find it a positive thing ;-), then go for it!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I had never even heard of the comic book this was based upon so I came into this with any expectations. The plot sounded interesting: a guy must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to date her. What surprised me was the film's unusual style -- perhaps that's similar to the comic, but I wasn't expecting that at all. It's very much a live action video game, completely with game sounds and animations when players -- I mean actors -- punch each other. Other aspects are comic booky, such as animated text indicating sounds (i.e. a phone goes "RRRIINNNNGGG") and text panes as transitions between scenes. This creates a certain surrealness to the proceedings, as well as a hip sense of humor. I like that a lot. At times, however, it seemed a bit much, and as the movie went on, it occasionally became irritating. Part of the problem is that the plot feels too slight, with the result that the film's style soon becomes the film's only depth, and that feels quite shallow and a bit silly. The plot is pretty much what I'd heard about the fighting the exes. It's very well done: each of the ex-boyfriends has a different fighting style, personality, etc., and the way Scott Pilgrim defeats them is cool and interesting. There's a hint of further depth -- sort of a catharsis of saying goodbye to your ex-loves and moving on -- but it's not very well handled and there never really is an explanation about why Scott must battle the exes. Ultimately, this is a wonderful spectacle: fun, imaginative, and colorful, with excellent performances by the cast who go whole-heartedly into this world, but the film lacks purpose and heart and ends up feeling like an experiment in style. That's too bad, because this could have been incredible. Instead it's worth seeing for the interesting style, but not much else. The story's just too weak to support the spectacle.


Friday, August 13, 2010

The Expendables

Movie: The Expendables

Decent actioner, a bit of a throw-back to 80s action movies, with tons of huge older stars though most aren't much more than cameos. I liked the atmosphere of the film, the cast, and a lot of the shoot-em-up action was excellent, but the film's 30 minutes too long and the plot is far too simple. (Basically, it's mercenaries hired to kill an island nation's dictator.) With such a simple plot, when you get to the end you say, "What was the point of all that?" and "That's it?" Go for the cast and don't expect much and you'll be pleased.


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Other Guys

Movie: The Other Guys

I wasn't super-excited about this as the trailer was hit-and-miss, but I had a ball. It was hilarious. I really like this kind of absurd, over-the-top humor. I actually laughed out loud on several occasions, and that's rare. Sure, it's a silly film, but there's nothing at all wrong with that. Some of the jokes are quite clever, and it's a lot of a fun. I worried there would be a lot of childish potty humor, but there wasn't too much. Mark Wahlberg's angry character got annoying after a while (I wanted to punch him myself), but fortunately that toned down as the film went on. The second half of the film is definitely weaker than the first, as it strains for sustainable ideas, but the ending is satisfying enough. I loved concepts like the wooden gun given to Farrell's cop character and how that was a running joke throughout the movie (same with the joke of Wahlberg's character having shot the famous baseball player I'd never heard of). Overall, I thought this was awesome. Way better than something like The Hangover (which was funny, but in a nastier way). This had a sense of fun to it, as though everyone involved was having a great time.