Thursday, December 30, 2004

13 Going on 30

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo
Category: Romantic Comedy

This movie does a slight variation of the 'What if you were given the opportunity to do things over again, would you have done anything different?' theme. Instead of looking back, it looks forward. The movie asks, 'If you could live the future today, would do something different now?' Semantics but still meaningful. The movies follows the life of 13 year old Jenna, who after a wish, finds herself at 30. She finds that she has gotten what she wished for and then some. She finds out that she made some changes to herself after that wish and that was what largely got her there. Of course, with change comes a price and the more she finds out about her life between 13 and 30, the more she questions whether it was worth it.

This movie grows on you. Each time I watch it or it comes on TV, I become more and more enamored with Jenna, Jennifer Garner's character who gets to be older with a wish at 13 to become, thirty, flirty and free. At first, it does come across as a bit awkward. Then, I realized that it was because it was probably awkward to find yourself 30 years old with the smarts (and the life experience) of a 13 year old. The energy Jennifer Garner brings to her character carries the movie and made it believable.

The supporting cast was good too. Although Mark Ruffalo did seem to be underwhelmed by the whole thing. Judging by what he has done in the past, I can't really blame him. It was also a bit jarring to watch Andy Serkis as Jenna's boss. But I guess as an actor, he needed to do something that didn't require white balls being stuck to him, as in Lord of the Rings and King Kong. 

The commentary was very informative too. For some reason, the director in his commentary seems to be apologizing for a lot of things. One of the themes of the movie seems to be 'be careful of what you wish for' and it does seem so in the director's case too. As his first major mainstream studio film after several smaller movies, he too is in a transitional process from one realm (of movie-making) to another. Though he does not say it, one does feel his contemplation of whether he has 'sold out'. Or maybe because he was a producer for so many other movies and that he (the director) was just talking to himself (the producer).

There is a whole lot of pointing fingers at the inaccuracy in the time-line at IMDB. Not a major flaw. It was probably due to how long the movie took from script to celluloid. Minus the years it took and you'd get to the time when the script was written. Minus 17 years from that and you know why the whole Thriller thing was in the movie.

All in all a good movie to watch and keep for a rainy day.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Van Helsing

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale
Category: Action Horror

Horror is was the last thing on my mind as I watched this movie. OK, maybe the horror that someone thought this was a good idea, maybe.

Van Helsing is supposed to be some sort of supernatural trouble shooter. Attached to some inter-religious order that detects and troubleshoots supernatural threats to the world. That's right people. Though the organisation may be based in the Vatican there were a whole lot of other religions represented. There was at least some buddhist monks in the background. What is it saying? Just believe in God, a God, any god?

Back to the story. WARNING: SPOILERS. Count Dracula supported Doc Fankenstien's research into animating the dead. He suceeded but like most scientist accepting money from dubious sources, he didn't expect the Count to have his own agenda. Anyway, scientist gets a backbone, losses it, literally, all within the space of 5 minutes. Fast forward to 14 years later. Van Helsing is sent to help Anna Valerious and her brother, to prevent them from going to hell. Apparently, grand-dad made a promise not to go to heaven until Dracula is killed and entrusted his generations to do the deed if he fails. Logic is that is that if Dracula is not killed, all of them will go to hell. Making a bet against the life expectancy of someone who is already dead seems a tad foolish. To make a long story short, Van Helsing kill Dracula and all is well.

If this movie is just a 'ride', then it probably is just ok. Despite the visual thrill, the director made no attempt to hide that they were CG. Absolutely none at all. Ridiculous camera angles and movement. Choosing to switch to CG at every available chance. All of that only adds to the disbelief.

And don't get me started on the plot. What plot? The only plots I saw in the movie were the one for the grave digger to fill in. If there were any, it was only to set up the next big stunt and CG fest. The storlyline is uneven and while Stephen Sommers did make the Mummy movies, I hate to be the one to tell him that although we liked the effects and all but what made the movies great were the characters and their stories.
So if you are using back ideas, take the good ones.

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Prince and Me: Charmingly Disarming

Starring: Julia Stiles, Luke Mably
Category: Romantic Comedy, Romance

Let's get one thing straight. This is light material. This is eye candy. And romance at it's most romantic. Which girl never dreamt about her own prince charming? And to have the boy that you are in love with turn into one is a bonus. Big time. Plus he wasn't a frog to begin with.
Julia Stiles is amazing and beautiful in her own wonderful way. She is totally believable as Paige Morgan, the driven country girl out to be the doctor she wants to be. In fact, Julia's beauty is that she can be plain jane and beautiful at the same time. Luke does an ok job overall but did his best work when he was in the meeting with labor reps and business heads.

However it is unfortunate several things happened that failed to lift this movie from run-of-the-mill to a classic. Let's run through them.

First. Poor secondary character development. Neither Paige's friends nor Zoren is properly developed. Zoren had the most opportunity but only showed flashes of it in the scene where he describes how the palace caught fire. Paige's friends also had potential and were probably well developed, character-wise in pre-production. They just wasn't used.

Since this is not a high-minded movie, let's not pretend that it is. Realism here will not help, espcially when there is a prince involved. So, let's take Pretty Woman as an example. Very good secondary charaters. Even when they have limited screen time. Everybody remembers the store manager that tried to suck up to Richard Gere's Edward. And who can forget Laura San Giacomo's Kit, the best friend to Julia Robert's character. Maybe there were too many and there wasn't time to develop them.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Cody Banks 2: Destination London

Starring: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Hannah Spearritt
Category: Parody, Adventure

If there was an example of a pointless sequel, this is it. It piles on more of what some Hollywood exec thought why Cody Banks was popular (over-the-top action, babes, cool gadgets... well mostly action) and cut out almost all the stuff that made the first one so likeable (fish-out-of-water-ness, balancing act between the spy-life and the real life, comedy and most important of all, fallibility).
This Cody Banks can't seem to fail and in the process becomes a cartoon character and looses his appeal. I respect Frankie for his efforts, if you want to become a cartoon character, you have to have an outlanding character. Case in point, Mr.Gov of California. Look at the Terminator movies, True Lies and to some degree, Eraser. But even he couldn't save The Last Action Hero.
If you want to follow a formula, you can't loose some of the ingredients and expect the same thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

About This

I like to watch movies and TV. And usually I have an opinion on them. I don't think I watch that much or all the new stuff to warrant a 'review site'. I just watch what I watch when I watch it. At the end of it, I like talking about what I've seen but usually the people around me don't see what I see. Thus, this site. Not everybody agrees with me, but hey, thats what the comment button is for.