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Monthly Archives: June 2011

The critic's quote should be warning enough.

If a movie’s poster says “hip and happening,” it probably isn’t.  And if the movie has a year in the title, it’s a surefire warning sign to stay away.

I knew there was a problem when the first thing that happened in Dracula 2000 was a flashback to the year 1897 for a two minute montage of a boat. After the montage, we head back to the year 2000.  But the couch was comfortable, so I settled in for an hour and a half of pain.

You would think that a movie with Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, Danny Masterson, Shane West, and Jeri Ryan might at least be slightly watchable.  It’s not like those actors are terrible — but they all suck in Dracula 2000.  It’s a wonder they were hired for anything after this.

True, they don’t exactly have Shakespearian dialogue to work with; they get to yell lines at Dracula like, “You’re not from that coffin! You are not from that coffin!”  But he is. And he should have stayed in it.

But even bad dialogue doesn’t matter when we can’t hear you speak.  All throughout the movie, Mary (the female lead) whispers. Literally.  Every line she says to everyone is whispered! Speak up! Apparently she’s moody. Who knows? Gerard Butler seems to have the whisper problem in this movie, too.  And then you have Simon (the male protagonist) doing the opposite – he yells his lines at everyone.  It’s an assault on the aural nerves.  Any semblance of acting dies in this movie with Christopher Plummer.

The plot isn’t exactly well done, either (which is kind of difficult to mess up — you have a book already! It’s called Dracula! Can’t you just make it in modern times? Easy!). For example, Dracula comes back from the dead and (thats right!) goes to Louisiana.  Because London wasn’t cool enough, I guess.  Too many people, too many buildings. 

Ahh, man! This movie sucks! I hope no one else watches this.

The dumbest plot issue, however, was the “backstory” of Dracula they concoct.  Apparently, Dracula is really Judas.  Right. That one.  He sucks blood now because he sucked when he betrayed Jesus…no that’s not right. He became a creature of the night because that’s the only time they accepted his 30 pieces of silver? He bites people because he bit Jesus? No.  This isn’t really working with any other piece of vampire lore.  And apparently, you kill vampires by hanging them. Got it! I knew we were all doing something wrong!

About an hour into this movie, I started thinking, “Are they still talking? Blah blah blah blah blah,” and “my critical thinking skills are starting to shut down.”

There’s a scene where Danny Masterson gets a vampire leech in his eye.  Watching this movie is like that.  Avoid.

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If you like superhero movies, watch Thor. 

Anthony Hopkins as Odin

Thor is fun, full of action, and entertaining.  It’s also directed by Kenneth Brannagh (mind-bogglingly) in a departure from his well-known (and well-recieved) Shakspearian and classic fare.

Great direction by Brannagh, great acting by Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and cool superhero action scenes make this movie great; as long as the other actors don’t suck (which they didn’t) this movie was going to turn out alright. And it does. The story of Odin and his two sons make the plot (fairly) feasable and provide a sound basis for story development.

That’s not to say that the movie didn’t have its flaws.  Why is it that every superhero movie tries to look like a comic book?  The costuming looked ok when the entire background was CGI, but as soon as the gods made their way to earth, they ceased to look god-like.  It looked like they bought their outfits at Target on Halloween.  With all this CGI, can’t they at least make chainmail costumes look like actual chainmail? I think the costumes came from the same bin as Indiana Jones’ “crystal” skull.

Loki: "Our costumes are plastic!" Thor: "Yeah, but look at my awesome cape!"

I also wasn’t such a fan of Thor “falling” for Natalie Portman in the span of two days.  Or that Loki’s supposed motivation for genocide was to make his adoptive father proud, even though he seemed to hate his father for not telling him he was adopted.  Well, you know. Superhero movie.

Overall, though, a good, entertaining superhero movie that stands up well with Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Check it out.

Man up!

Somewhere, somehow, someone's going to pay.

My beard just grew 6 inches in the last hour and a half.  Commando is that testosterone fueled.  

Within the first five minutes of this movie, we learn two things: 1) the things people do aren’t going to make a lot of sense. 2) There will be action. Lots of action.

The movie starts with bad guys killing random civilians for absolutely no reason.  I guess we just need to understand that they’re bad.  check.

Then we move on to a sickeningly sweet montage of Arnold feeding a deer with his daughter, getting into a tickle fight with her, and playing in the water.  I was expecting him to wear a tutu and have tea next, but luckily, the song ended and we  get to the action.

This is where the action starts.  Awesome.  Stuff blows up, bad guys shoot millions of bullets that don’t hit anything, and the governator kills people with his bare hands. The idea of “acting” doesn’t seem to bother any of them, either.  I also wonder how one claymore mine magically makes three buildings explode.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Arnold asks the girl (there’s always a girl, after she uses a rocket launcher).

“I read the directions!” she responds.  How then, did she point the wrong end at the enemy?

But I overanalyze this too much.  Stuff blows up.  Arnold is beefy.  Bad guys die.  And you will laugh, though not because of the script’s witicisms.  It even ends with 80’s-tastic “We Fight for Love.”  Not terrible as far as 80’s “man-movies” go,  but I’d say watch Predator instead.

An ancient curse is about to be ignored!

“I will come back, you hear?  I will come back to kill!” Professor Morlant cries on his deathbed. 

But he doesn’t.  Not really.  Oh sure, he comes back from the grave.  And he does kill — just one person, though.  One person who really has nothing to do with the storyline at all.  For that matter, most of the characters are just periphery.

Bascially, Professor Morlant (Boris Karloff) has a bunch of old Egyptian statues, jewels, and the like lying about.  He is dying, and it’s supposed to bring him back from the dead.  Which it does, except he can’t stay alive unless he puts the jewel that brought him back to life in the hand of a sun god statue.  Of course, almost every other character just wants to steal the jewel for no reason other than to be rich.  The hero and heroine of the story are in line to recieve an inheritance from Morlant, but they just try to stay alive. 

This movie was bascially Frankenstein/the Mummy + Clue.  It’s not that it was that horrible (the acting was), but it was made in 1933.  And to give it some props, it had a few cool atmospheric elements:  The house was cool-looking, and the fog was well-made for a B&W film. 

No scares here, but a few laughs.  Unless you love old B&W “horror” flicks, check out something else. 

“I’ve just had some excitement,” one character says.

“Well, don’t do it again!” the heroine retorts.  My sentiments exactly.

The Rite

 Rite or Wrong? Either way, good acting.

The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins, isn’t too bad.  Though, I’m pretty sure that Anthony Hopkins could make the phone book sound pretty decent. 

Anyway, The Rite is about American seminary student Michael.  He has doubts about his faith, the existence of God, and anything supernatural.  So his professors send him off to Rome to take an exorcism course.  He meets super-exorcist Anthony Hopkins, who brings him along to a few exorcisms. 

Everything is going well ( if failed exorcisms and getting yourself on a demon’s hit list means “well”) when Anthony Hopkins lets himself go and gets possessed himself.  I hate it when that happens.  Now the new, faithless seminary student has to perform the rite of exorcism on his new buddy.  Bummer. 

Where I wouldn’t call this movie “scary,” it does have some genuinely creepy moments, and it makes you think about life, death, and the supernatural.  The acting is great, and Anthony Hopkins steals the show as usual.  The effects aren’t overused or corny, and though the lack of effects may decrease the “scare factor,” it increases the “believability vibe.”  Which is good, considering this movie is “based on a true story.” 

Overall, worth seeing.  I just hope you aren’t afraid of the dark — or prone to possession.