Monday, April 23, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
1941 - DVD
AndyO review: * 1/2
"1941" is probably Spielberg's worst movie. After incredible success with "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," one can imagine that he probably thought whatever he touched would become gold. The studio probably thought the same thing, so they left him alone.
"1941" is a sprawling, manic mess of a movie, filled with brief moments of absolute hilarity. John Belushi's performance mirrors the movie's performance as well. Why would an insane P-40 pilot be trolling the skies for Japanese Zeros? Sure it's funny for a few minutes, but it never goes anywhere.
There's probably a great story in here about the paranoia after the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack on the West Coast. But it's probably closer to a drama with some comic moments--and Spielberg doesn't have the maturity as a director to recognize this.
Children of Men - DVD
AndyO review: * * * *
The best Science Fiction holds up a mirror to the present -- and also allows us to look through the mirror into one possible future. This future tends to be either hopeful (Star Trek, ET: The Extraterrestrial), dystopian (1984, Minority Report, Brazil), or somewhere in between (Blade Runner, Star Wars). "Children of Men" also falls somewhere in between.
In "Children of Men," the human race has become sterile--and as a result the world has gone mad. The movie begins with the death of the world's youngest person Baby Diego, who is a celebrity on the order of Britney Spears. We see that his death affects the world the way that Princess Di's death did.
Theo Faron (Clive Owen), who lives in London, watches the news of his death a TV in a restaurant. He leaves, and then a bomb goes off (a regular occurrence we learn). He still goes to work, but then tells his boss he's too depressed to be there.
Then Owen gets pulled into a plot much bigger than him--bigger than anyone, really--when his activist ex-wife Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) has people kidnap him. She asks him to help transport a woman to safety. She doesn't tell him why--only than they need his government connections to get the papers. Owen does it--for the money they offer him. From there, the story goes in directions that are truly surprising--and I won't spoil any more.
The director of this movie Alfonso Cuaron, shows once again that he is one of the best directors today (he directed the best Harry Potter movie to date, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"). He uses film technique to drive the story, raise tension, and underscore thematic points--not just for effect. For example, his use of long takes without cuts builds tension subconsciously. His hand-held camera becomes a character, getting dirty and splattered with blood. While I've seen both of these techniques used before--the former in "Saving Private Ryan" and the latter in "The Untouchables," it's that Cuaron knows when to use them.
Cuaron also gets great performances from all his actors, including Owen, Moore, and Michael Caine. Another reviewer pointed out that Caine's character was perhaps what John Lennon would have been like if he'd survived to his sixties or later. (Caine is one of my favorite actors, and I can honestly say I've never seen him play a part like this.)
I was surprised at the feelings that "Children of Men" brought up. I realized that a world without children would be a world not worth living in. I could see how people without hope would go mad--how some would want to commit suicide (the government offers a suicide pill). Children give us hope that the future will be a better place.
Monday, April 02, 2007
TMNT - Theater
AndyO review: * * *
I went to see TMNT with my son and his friend and was pleasantly surprised. Gone are the live action fake Ninja Turtles and cheesy storylines. The 3D animation brings the Turtles to life, and the characters are even pretty good.
The only problem with this movie is the blatant borrowing from other movies for story and visuals -- namely "Ghostbusters."
Zuma - PC Game
One of my son's friends tried out this game on my computer one day (through MSN), so I downloaded the "free" copy. Next thing I knew, I'd used up all my free Zuma time. I had to buy it!
Since then, I've been playing Zuma whenever I feel like zoning out (formally reserved for TV watching).
Zuma is a combination of Tetris, Space Invaders, Galaga, and a few others. Lots of fun. Very addictive.