Spent the last week playing catch up on mostly old movies:
“El Orfanato” - spooky happenings at a former orphanage. Engaging story. A few suspenseful scenes, but you can almost see Producer Guillermo Del Toro’s fingerprints all over the ending -- or is it the other way around? If you’ve seen “Pan’s Labyrinth”, you’ll know what I mean.
“Fear(s) of the Dark” - freaky animated anthology -- in french. Meh...
“Forbidden Kingdom” - tone is all over the place. Can’t decide if it wants to be a kid’s movie or not. Gets the fantasy aspect right, but the fights are kinda dull -- hard to believe when Jackie Chan and Jet Li are your stars. Good concept, only average execution. The sequences set in the real world were especially awful.
“Hatchet” - a throwback to 80s horror. Better than average dialogue for a slasher flick, a cast of veteran character actors doesn’t hurt either -- although Mercedes McNabb is kinda wasted here, somebody give her a sitcom! Clings too much to the 80s formula: Unstoppable killer dispatches stranded victims in the most gruesome of manners. I kept expecting an interesting twist to a well-worn concept, but it never came. Shame.
“Rocket Science” - one of the best films of 2007. Released in only a handful of theaters, it’s a coming-of-age dramedy about a teen with a stuttering problem who gets recruited by a Tracy Flick type to join the debate team. Exploits a lot of the cliches that we’ve come to expect in this genre. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like quirky comedies, give it a chance.
“Stardust” - “The Princess Bride” comparisons are accurate -- they couldn’t sell that one either. Too light and fluffy for grown-ups, no draws for the younger crowd -- although Michelle Pfeiffer is a hoot! Entertaining story, but a hard concept to sell. I usually rally against special effects overkill, but this film could’ve used some CGI-poppers. And it doesn’t have as many memorable lines and scenes as “Bride”. Gotta dig up that early draft I have on the hard drive...