Strange but true: Good movies coming out this summer!

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Strange but true: Good movies coming out this summer!

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:42 pm

It may become know as The Summer of Stuff That Didn't Suck Real Bad. It looks as though Hollywood is actually going to try to make some good movies this summer. Most of them are sequels, but that's A-okay with me.

What are we looking forward to and why? A couple that I'm definitely looking forward to:

Narnia 2: Prince Caspian - It's Narnia! Prince Caspian was the worst book in the series, but that's mostly because Lewis was lousy at describing action scenes (nobody's perfect). I expect the movie version will make up for that deficiency.

The Dark Knight - Batman Begins rocked, and I haven't seen Chris Nolan drop the ball yet. (He even made "The Prestige" watchable.) I love how the series reboot makes the whole idea of Batman seem plausible.

The Happening - Shyamalan's nailed 5 out of 5 thus far. Fingers crossed that he keeps up the pace.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - I fondly remember seeing the first "Hellboy" on Easter Sunday with my pastor. Fun, witty and unique. After seeing "Pan's Labyrinth", I'm expecting Guillermo del Toro to pull off a sequel that surpasses the original.
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Re: Strange but true: Good movies coming out this summer!

Post by Goldenrat » Sat Apr 26, 2008 2:17 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:It may become know as The Summer of Stuff That

The Happening - Shyamalan's nailed 5 out of 5 thus far. Fingers crossed that he keeps up the pace.



So you liked "The Lady in the Water"? I haven't seen it yet (on the NetFlix list) but it got panned by the critics and didn't do well in the box office. I've seen all of M.Night's other movies and really liked them all.

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Apr 26, 2008 3:40 am

Critics are fools. One of the characters in "Lady in the Water" is a movie critic who doesn't understand or appreciate the story. I thought that was brilliant. "Lady" might be the only movie ever to satirize its own reviews.
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Post by normsherman » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:38 am

Lady may be my fav of his.
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Post by AynSavoy » Thu May 01, 2008 4:03 am

I'm also looking forward to Get Smart, a James Bond parody starring Steve Carell, and to a lesser extent WALL-E, the latest Pixar/Disney release, about a robot. I guess excitement about the first depends on how much of a Steve Carell fan you are (I go back and forth)...and second one, how much you like movies geared toward children, or animation in general.

Definitely looking forward to Batman and Hellboy, though. I actually was only mildly amused by the first Hellboy...I thought it was pretty shallow in terms of humor and character. But I have faith in Guillermo del Toro (plus, I followed along on Neil Gaiman's blog while he hung out for a week on the set in Prague learning about directing from del Toro, and Gaiman sounds positive on the film, so there you go. I'm THAT kind of geek).

And I might get to see a sneak-preview of Batman, as it was filmed in Chicago and I go to a school in Chicago with the country's oldest student film group. I dearly hope our event people can set that up.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu May 01, 2008 4:43 am

I'll go see Wall-E because it's Pixar. I thought Rat-a-too-ie :? was pretty weak, but aside from that every single Pixar movie has been theatre-worthy. I respect them like I respect Apple: If you see their logo on a box, it's safe to assume that whatever's inside the box is really good... at whatever it does.

But that fills me with a sort of dread, because when you respect somebody, then it hurts when they make something that bad. I feel a genuine anxiety about The Happening. It's Shyamalan's first R-rated movie. That doesn't concern me of itself, but it's coming right after the box-office bomb that was Lady in the Water. So I'm really nervous that he's going to sell-out and go Hollywood, fill his movie with a bunch of sleaze and needless gore because he's lost faith in himself and thinks he needs to stoop low to make a movie that will sell popcorn. That would be terrible. It would hurt me for Shyamalan to sell out after ten years of brilliant art. I would feel like a friend had betrayed me.
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Post by AynSavoy » Thu May 01, 2008 4:48 am

Well, I hope for your sake that he doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of R-rated films out there that have nothing sleazy about them. It could just have a few too many curses for the censors, and not all gore is needless.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu May 01, 2008 4:54 am

Oh, absolutely! I regard ratings as almost completely irrelevant and have favorites on my shelf from the full G-R spectrum. It's not the "R" that makes me nervous. It's the timing. If "Lady" had been a success I'd have no worries.
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Post by AynSavoy » Thu May 01, 2008 5:00 am

So your worry is that he might just be courting success? That would be unfortunate, I agree.
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Post by Goldenrat » Thu May 01, 2008 8:29 pm

AynSavoy wrote:Well, I hope for your sake that he doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of R-rated films out there that have nothing sleazy about them. It could just have a few too many curses for the censors, and not all gore is needless.
I'm with you guys. I hope he doesn't take that route. One of the things I love about his movies is that I can watch them with my teen and almost-teen and not have to worry about some gratuitous nudity or adult situation. Here's hoping he sticks to great storytelling. I'll have to look in to the reason for the R-rating.

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Narnia

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri May 23, 2008 4:58 am

Got out and saw Narnia last weekend. My reaction is mixed.

The good: Production values. Holy cow! This movie looks unbelievably good, from the first shot to the last! Centaurs, gryphons, talking critters, monsters, nature spirits and (of course) Alsan all look just perfect. The humans look similarly cool, from the distinctive style of the Spaniards-in-Narnia Telemarines to the return of King Peter's über-cool armor. The effect near the beginning where the four kids are pulled into Narnia is easily one of the best I've ever seen. I could go on, but I can synopsize by saying that "Prince Caspian" is worth seeing solely on the merit of it's visuals. It looks that good.

The bad: Unfortunately, I felt like those visuals were too much the focus of the movie. Battle scenes* might be engaging, but there is definitely such a thing as too much action, and "Caspian" flirts aggressively with that line. Scene after scene of killing, killing, killing didn't get boring, because the scenes were so well staged, but they didn't do much to advance the narrative either. The major theme in the story is that the Narnians need Aslan's help to win, and that they screw themselves over by failing to seek it. Really, a lot of the movie is about the Narnians making terrible mistakes and suffering for it, but that theme gets glossed over and crammed into the last few minutes of the movie, sacrificed for the sake of action, action, action.

Verdict: I like it and recommend it, but I am disappointed that it wasn't better. It could have been great but it settled for being merely good for what I perceive as marketing concerns. Action** is easier to sell than character interaction and philosophical depth, so Disney pushed those off to the side to focus on spectacle. Fortunately, it's some really great spectacle. Three stars.


*I think it's simply absurd that this movie is rated PG. The only explanation I can think of is that Disney bribed the MPAA, because any other movie with this level of violence would certainly have been rated PG-13. I felt uncomfortable watching scene after scene of humans and Narnians being slaughtered knowing that many parents had surely brought their young children to see what they expected to be a "family" movie. Not quite. Heaps of corpses without blood on them are still heaps of corpses.

**Ironically, I thought the greatest weakness of the book "Prince Caspian" was it's lack of action and I think the movie's greatest weakness was excessive action. Maybe I'm just hard to please. :wink:
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Post by strawman » Fri May 23, 2008 11:36 am

I'm a big fan of Lewis, but I've got to agree with the reviewers who point out that Caspian was the weakest of his works, and that the movie was a big improvement on the book.

Interestingly, the only blood in the movie is a scratch from a sword held at a throat. To have a movie that consists of 50% battle scenes and keep it not only bloodless but with no amputations or decapitations is a feat of fantasy, in line with the dream-like premise.

That this was written during WWII gave it added meaning, as subways served as bomb shelters.

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Post by AynSavoy » Fri May 23, 2008 4:26 pm

strawman wrote:I'm a big fan of Lewis, but I've got to agree with the reviewers who point out that Caspian was the weakest of his works, and that the movie was a big improvement on the book.
It's been a long time since I read it, and I never got around to reading the whole series, but Prince Caspian was my favorite. =/
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri May 23, 2008 7:42 pm

My favorite was always "The Magician's Nephew." Probably because it had a more sci-fi feel to it. The characters hop in and out of four different universes, making all sorts of discoveries about the nature of reality as they go. It was more of a "big ideas" book with almost no sword and sorcery. I also loved how it fleshed out some of the other characters in the series, especially the White Witch. Her character is really kind of flat unless you know her back-story.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu May 29, 2008 8:47 pm

Anybody else seen this trailer for The Happening?

I don't know if it will be a good movie or not, but I'm already fairly unsettled by it.
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Post by Goldenrat » Thu May 29, 2008 10:55 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:Anybody else seen this trailer for The Happening?

I don't know if it will be a good movie or not, but I'm already fairly unsettled by it.
Yes. It looks like something really bad happens. It's an M. Night movie so I plan to see it on the first weekend.

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu May 29, 2008 11:10 pm

Goldenrat wrote:It's an M. Night movie so I plan to see it on the first weekend.
Yes. He is the only filmmaker who I would say that about.

It looks like there's a plague that makes people suddenly go mad and kill themselves? Millions of mean and women, boys and girls just drop what they were doing and commit suicide, en masse? That's, like, the most horrible thing imaginable. That makes every other horror story idea sound quaint.
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Post by tadmaster » Sat May 31, 2008 9:45 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:Anybody else seen this trailer for The Happening?

I don't know if it will be a good movie or not, but I'm already fairly unsettled by it.
Yikes. Faces of Death with a plot and a twist ending? I'm with you on your earlier comments about Shyamalan... great so far, but worried about where he might be headed. I'm intrigued enough by the cast and wondering what the hook will be to risk it, though.
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Mr. Tweedy reviews The Happening

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:28 pm

I just saw “The Happening.”

Going in, I was expecting to come out with one of two opinions: 1.) That–like “Lady in the Water” before it–it was an deep, insightful film that had been unjustly slandered by critics too dense to understand it. 2.) That it was abhorrent and offensive piece of anti-human propaganda, using graphic suicide to preach the message that all humans are vermin who deserve death. You see, whichever way it went, I assumed that it was going to be effective. I was caught totally off-guard by option 3: The movie sucks. It sucks bad. It sucks so bad that parts of it slip over into so-bad-it’s-good territory, providing a few good laughs.

Plot synopsis: “An act of nature that we will never fully understand” causes lots of people to kill themselves. After a while, it stops. The end.

While it might have been impossible to make a good movie from that premise, it should have been possible to make one that was at least scary or suspenseful. Nope. The much-hyped R-rated violence is mostly so cheesy and poorly staged as to be merely odd. One scene of a man getting his arms torn off my lions–a scene strongly reminiscent of the Black Knight sequence in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”–was so absurdly fake that my whole group burst into genuine, spontaneous laughter. There was exactly one scene that made me say “ew!” But that wasn’t scary, just sort of icky.

Aside from the fake (and, really, not very graphic) violence, the film is filled full of conventions more reminiscent of a 50s B-movie than of Shyamalan’s previous work. Talking heads on TV and radio provide convenient exposition. New characters enter the movie on cue as needed. Characters narrate what they’re seeing so you’ll be sure to understand its importance. The protagonist is supposedly a brilliant scientist, but he speaks in empty jargon and takes about 10 minutes longer to figure out crucial facts than you will if you see the movie. And the writing is bad. I can hardly believe that Shyamalan, who wrote “Unbreakable,” who wrote “The Sixth Sense,” produced a script where the characters all sound so vacant, so artificial, so stupid.

My dad, who saw the movie with me, thinks that Shyamalan made the movie bad on purpose as a satire of suspense movies, sort of poking fun at himself. I think that’s grasping at straws. I don’t really know how a filmmaker with the evident genius of Shyamalan could turn out a film that fails so completely, but fail it does. But I am comforted, because The Happening merely sucks. It isn’t offensive or exploitative, just really, really stupid, and because of that I feel that I can continue respecting Shyamalan with the caveat that he made one bad movie. 5 out of 6 is still a good record.

1.5 Stars (The half star is a because it was funny.)

If you do go, get there early. The ominous clouds that billow over the opening credits are easily the best part.
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Post by Goldenrat » Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:01 pm

I saw The Happening last night. I didn't hate it as much as Mr. Tweedy did but I agree with pretty much everything Tweedy wrote in his review. I heard a lot of hype about his first "R-rate" movie. The R rating was entirely based on the violence, which was absolutey ridiculous. The lion encounter, the lawnmower scene, it was over- the-top crazy. I guess I kind of liked the basic premise about nature getting back at humans and bought in to that possibility (explained excitedly by the last talking head). But, yeah, some of it the movie was so ridiculous that I had to shake my head. So I guess I would rate it a little higher based on the fact that I bought in to the message, even if it was a little preachy. I told my friends that were interested in the movie to wait to see it on DVD if they really want to see it.

Still haven't seen the other M. Night that got savaged by the national movie reviewers - Lady in the Water. It's on my NetFlix list.

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