Monday, December 29, 2008

Back in Black

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...


Kristin said...

I saw "Stardust," and it was all right. I thought Claire Danes was horridly miscast. I didn't like her in the role of the 'star' until about halfway through. Plus, her accent was distracting.

I agree with you on "The Orphanage." One reason I did not like "Pan's Labyrinth" was the horridly depressing ending. And usually I'm okay with sad endings. But that one just seemed really uncalled for and awful. But with "The Orphanage" I was expecting more 'horror' with some twisty ending or other, so it was good. Just tear-inducing....and I felt very very bad for one person in particular, whom I guess you can figure out. Kind of cruel, actually.

screamwriter said...

Danes was okay, but she isn't much of a draw. Someone like Keira Knightley would have more appeal among young moviegoers.

The Orphanage's ending was a bit of a downer, but I give them credit for not tacking on some outlandish Hollywood ending.


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