so wow. may's over. what movies did i see?
way more movies than usual, that's for sure. saw the bulk of them while on vacation in Arizona.
- INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM - INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE -
i watched the original Indiana Jones trilogy in preparation for the new movie. what's funny is that i don't think i've ever sat down and watched the trilogy in a row like this. whenever i've watched it in the past, it's been one at a time, and sometimes not even all the way through (catching it in the middle of a showing on TV). sitting down and watching them all back-to-back, i have a few comments.
- Temple, which used to be my favorite as a kid (for some reason - maybe because of the beating heart scene, or the mine cart ride), is now my least favorite of the three. i don't hate it (like a lot of Indy purists do) - hell, i LOVE Short Round, while lots of people hate him - but it's clearly the odd man out, and the weakest of the three. it is an interesting ride though. and DARK. man is it dark.
- Raiders and Crusade have almost the exact same plot outline, right down to both having to do with the search for a religious relic. i think that Crusade was modeled so closely after Raiders because of the backlash the dark Temple caused. maybe. i don't know. anyway, it's not a bad thing. it's hard to pick a favorite of the two (since they're so similar) but i think Crusade was the one that was fleshed out the best and had the best pacing. and it's got Sean Connery. come on!
Raiders of the Lost Ark
4 stars out of 4
Temple of Doom
3 1/2 stars out of 4
The Last Crusade
4 stars out of 4
- INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL -
well, looking back, i'm surprised i liked it as much as i did. i got an email from a friend in which he expressed his utter hatred for the movie (i guess he was done with it in the first 5 minutes) and i could see where he was coming from with almost all of his points - in fact, the cynic in me (which usually comes out when watching a movie) almost totally agrees with a lot of his points - but in spite of myself, i actually liked the film. maybe it's because i didn't have really high expectations.
problem points for me (minor/vague spoilers ahead):
- Indy never really seemed in trouble. any trouble spots he (or any of the other characters) got himself into just felt, i don't know, safe, like no harm could ever come to him.
- is old, and it showed. not all the time, but sometimes. some of the lines he delivered... man, he just sounded tired.
- there were a few scenes that were a little far-fetched, even for an adventure movie like Indiana Jones. however, somehow i managed to look past them. barely.
- i have NO idea what the hell was with the CGI animals, ESPECIALLY the monkeys (if you've seen it, you know what i'm taking about - if not, i didn't ruin anything don't worry). in fact, the scene where a certain someone was playing Tarzan with the monkeys was, by far, the worst of the movie. i blame Lucas. damn you Lucas.
- any archaeological puzzles Indy came across were solved waaay too easily. i mean i know he's good (see the library scene in The Last Crusade), but that good? and there were like, hardly any booby traps.
- the prevailing theme that ran throughout the movie really bothered me in that it was way too literal. i would have liked it if we never saw any physical manifestations of the theme. i would have liked it more if the movie left it open to interpretation, let the viewer decide "well, was it real or not." but no, Lucas HAD to screw it up (i blame everything bad in this movie on Lucas).
- the epilogue bothered me a little in that none of the other movies HAD an epilogue to that degree (Raiders was the closest thing i guess). i know that this is probably the end of Harrison Ford as Indy so that's why they did it, but i would have liked it more if they rode off into the sunset like at the end of Last Crusade. left it a little more open. oh well.
wow, reading all that it sounds like i hated the movie. but i didn't i swear! there were a lot of things - both big and small - that i liked about it. there was a lot of clever dialogue, a lot of neat nods to characters (his dad, Marcus), it was a great ride from start to finish...
3 stars out of 4
- IRON MAN -
perhaps the movie was built up by my friends too much (some said it was up there with Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2). perhaps i placed my own high expectations on it (kick-ass previews had been all over the internet for 9 months). perhaps i just don't care that much about a reformed billionaire and his rogue gallery (never been a big Iron Man fan). at any rate, the movie was a bit of a letdown, but i didn't dislike it by any means. my two main problems: i'm just not a huge Iron Man fan, and the plot was damn predictable - though you can't really fault the movie for that, since they were just following the comics. i loved, LOVED Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. i loved Iron Man in action. Iron Man sneaks into my top 5 comic book movie adaptations - but it's by no means a Batman Begins or a Spider-Man 2.
oh, and i fully expect it to get bumped down to #6 after i see The Dark Knight later this summer. ;)
3 1/2 stars out of 4
- THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM -
a bit of background: i hated the first movie when i first saw it. i'm not sure why. maybe i couldn't see Matt Damon as the next action star. maybe it was the material. maybe it was the director. at any rate, i saw the second movie in the theaters and was BLOWN AWAY by it. maybe i was in a different mindset. i'd like to think it was the change in directors. so i became a Bourne fan. i was eagerly anticipating the third chapter. did it let me down? ...a little. but only because there was no breathing room, no time for character development, and the quest he's on, well, he doesn't really complete it. he was supposed to find out who he was. he finds out his name, and how he signed up for the program... but he doesn't track down his old life or anything. i was expecting a bit more. oh, and the plot outline - higher ups want to shut down Bourne for some reason or another, which reveals yet another top Treadstone guy, blah blah blah... yeah it's getting a little old at this point. that said, it was an AWESOME ride. Damon and the director have said they're doing a fourth, so here's to another great ride. just try and change the outline just a bit. maybe our government doesn't have to be after him for once.
3 1/2 stars out of 4
- JUNO -
going into this one was weird. i wanted to see Juno when it first came out, and of course i didn't, and then the internet latched onto the pretentious dialogue and indie music in the film and started making fun of it, and i wasn't sure if i wanted to see it or not anymore. well, i watched it, and boy am i glad i did. if you can look past the pretentious dialogue (which is at its worst in the first 10 minutes) and indie music, it's actually a pretty great story. only complaint (other than the pretentious dialogue/music) is that they should have focused a bit more on the boy/girl relationship in the fall/winter months, since it became so important later. it's a real treat. acting is pretty good all around too.
3 stars out of 4
- DAN IN REAL LIFE -
i love comedians in dramatic roles. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction. Robin Williams in his countless dramatic roles. so suffice to say, i was excited to see Steve Carell out of his element (or maybe in it?). well... the movie was a bit of a letdown, but only because of the predictable plot. if the film would have taken a few more chances, it could have been a lot better. that said, Carell was pretty good, and a lot of his supporting cast played their part. it was a very familiar movie (both in terms of family get-togethers - a good thing - and in terms of the plot - a bad thing). it was a good film, not a great film.
2 1/2 stars out of 4
- JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER -
an animated, straight-to-DVD, feature-length film based on a comic book series of the same name. i'm not a huge fan of the Justice League (DC Comics collection of its power hitters, like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), so the film had to do a lot to win me over. while it never really won me over completely, i did like it. the main problems: the movie was rushed and the plot was all over the place, not giving all the players enough face time. however, it gets points for the setting - post-WWII, at the start of the Cold War. THAT was really intriguing. i'm a sucker for putting superheroes in different settings, especially historical settings. if anything, the movie made me want to go out and read the comics.
2 stars out of 4
- STARDUST -
any movie that's a fantasy nowadays suffers from "post-Lord of the Rings" syndrome in my mind. the movie may be good in its own right, but i'm going to dock it points right off the bat for being a fantasy that's post-Rings. so you've got a lot of ground to make up if you're a fantasy movie nowadays. sadly, Stardust never made up an inch. it's an utterly predictable story that's mired by pretty bad acting and characters that i never really cared about. that said, i can find beauty in almost anything, so what's good about the film? some of the fantastical elements were pretty cool, and the love story was a little different from your average film. that said, i have no desire to ever see this again. however, it was based on a graphic novel of the same name, so i may check that out one day.
1 1/2 stars out of 4
- BATMAN BEGINS -
last movie i saw on my trip. in preparation for The Dark Knight next month. what a great film. i'm going to have to watch Spider-Man 2 again to make sure that it's #1 and not Batman Begins, because Batman sure puts up a good fight for the top spot. it's just... it's just a damn-near perfect superhero origin movie. and it's BATMAN - a flawed billionaire with no real super powers. a character i can get behind. a MUCH more interesting billionaire than Tony Stark.
4 stars out of 4
that's it for the May movie wrap up. what's on for June? well i've already watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (again), Vanilla Sky (again), and Solaris... who knows what's next? and will i get out to a theater to see one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, Wall-E? stay tuned.