Sunday, August 23, 2009

Manuel on Movies #14

Only five movies this time, but I don't want to let it get too out of hand. Actually been kind of slow with movies this past month. I feel like I have watched more, but apparently not. Maybe Jess will think of something I may have missed when she reads this.

Twilight - This is the movie adaptation of the first book in the Twilight series. First off, I had been avoiding reading these as even though they involved vampires, they just didn't sound like something I would enjoy. But, I would eventually give in to peer pressure and read them. And they weren't bad. I thought the first wasn't bad, the second was a little better, the third was great, and well, the fourth ended up being a big letdown for me to end the series. I would watch the movie adaptation a week or so after I had read the book version.

And I didn't like it. The old saying goes, "But the movie is never as good as the book!" I don't necessarily believe that saying. Sure, the book is USUALLY better, but not always. This was one case where the saying remained true. I just didn't think the book translated well to the screen. Maybe because of choice of actors, maybe because of directorial decisions, or maybe because it just didn't work on screen, the movie was a huge letdown. In fact, some scenes, when translated from words to film looked downright silly and I almost laughed out loud at fairly serious points in the movie. If you haven't read the book, it is probably an ok movie, but for me, it just didn't work. It seemed like it was made by the Sci-Fi, oh excuse me, The SyFy network. 5 out of 10.

GI Joe - I will admit, I liked GI Joe as a kid, but nowhere near as much as Transformers or He-Man. I knew most of the characters and had a handful of the toys, but it came in a distant third in childhood cartoon favorites. Still, when I first heard that they were making a GI Joe movie, I was fairly excited. Then I saw the first trailer and my hopes were dashed. It looked downright silly and future trailers didn't change my view. But then I heard reports that early screenings were giving the movie fairly positive reviews. I had a glimmer of hope and decided to give it a shot.

It wasn't bad. It wasn't good by any means, but it wasn't bad. For a movie based on a cartoon, they stayed pretty faithful to the cartoon aspect of it. This really was a cartoon that just happened to have human actors. People jumped around, cars were driven, and dialogue was spoken as if straight from a cartoon on Saturday morning. The majority of acting was pretty bad and some of the special effects were downright laughable. That being all said, I enjoyed it. Why? Because I took the movie for what it was; a movie based on a cartoon. More than any other movie, you have to dispel all thoughts of believability and simply enjoy it for what it is. There are bad guys who want to blow up the world. There are good guys who need to stop them. Various special effects-laden battles across the globe ensue. Rinse. Repeat. 6.5 out of 10

Watchmen - I will first come out and say that I never read the Watchmen graphic novel. Perhaps I should have beforehand, but I just never got around to it. I never got around to seeing this movie in theaters either so when I recently rented it, I got the extended version. Now, as I never saw the original version, I don't know what was added, but the movie did feel long to me. This movie really had me torn. On one hand, there were parts that were simply breathtaking: beautiful from a visual standpoint, a soundtrack that fit perfectly, well acted, and paced wonderfully. From a storytelling standpoint, it really didn't get any better than what I saw. But then there were other parts that just dragged unnecessarily and to me, served no purpose. Perhaps, these scenes were added to simply be faithful to the source material. I can commend that. But from a simple movie standpoint, some things just didn't work for me and I became bored. By the end of the movie, despite the fact that I had seen some of the most impressive film making I had ever seen, I was ready for the film to end. Now, perhaps, I can go back and watch the shorter version and I will like it better. Perhaps the shorter version WILL feel like things are left out. Who knows? When it comes down to it, I liked the movie, but didn't love it. 7 out of 10

Street Kings - First of all, Keanu Reeves is the main star so don't expect world class acting(and I like Keanu Reeves). With that out of the way, Keanu plays a cop in L.A. who works for a unit who that makes some questionable choices. When a former partner is killed, an investigation begins that opens up the seedy side of the police force. What follows is a series of investigations, undercover ops, quadruple crossing, and death. It was pretty decent and if you like police action/dramas where someone has to get to the bottom of it all, even though it is predictable as all get out, you'll enjoy this movie. It is nothing special and certainly not memorable days later, but it is good for two hours of enjoyment. 7 out of 10.

Dan In Real Life - This is romantic comedy trying to disguise itself as an independent film. Steve Carell plays a man at a family reunion who falls in love with someone he shouldn't be falling for. At first, this movie does seem like it is going to be another quirky independent movie that seems to be really popular of later. The dialogue, the directing, everything seems to point in that direction. But by the middle of the movie, a lot of this charm seems to disappear and it becomes yet another romantic comedy. Now, it is not as cliche a romantic comedy as one starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, or whoever else keeps making the same formulaic movie over and over again. It rises above these, but in the end, it is more a romantic comedy than anything else. That doesn't automatically make it a bad movie, but from seeing previews and enjoying how the movie started, I expected a little more. 7 out of 10.


Miss Sassy Pants said...

Twilight - I loved the book series SO much (minus New Moon.) It was romantic and thrilling and forbidden and exciting and at the end of Twilight, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I wanted to be Bella. There is no way you can translate all that into film. No way at all.

GI Joe - I was so bored I dozed off for a bit, the first time I've EVER fallen asleep in the movie theater. It wasn't a BAD movie, it's just 100%, completely unoriginal; it's been done a thousand times before. NOTHING about this movie was original, nothing. And that's boring.

Watchmen - I had no intention of watching this with you and was pretty successful.

Street Kings - I started watching this with you and your parents and was really enjoying it, then had a few things to do around the house and you guys never paused it so I kind of lost track of the storyline. What I saw I really enjoyed, though it seemed really convoluted, and almost hard to keep track of who was bad and who was double crossing who at times.

Dan in Real Life - I enjoyed this movie but expected a little more. And I wouldn't really call it a comedy, sure, there were funny(ish) parts, but overall, I don't think it was a funny movie.

Sebastien said...

I am staying far away from Gi Joe. Street Kings sounds cool.

Sebastien said...

I'm really looking forward to Inglorious Basterds, have you seen it yet?

I'm also thinking of seeing Ponyo, the animation directed by Miyazaki, he also did Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. I've really liked some of his work.

Oh, I did catch District 9 this week, that was excellent.

Mom said...

I enjoyed Twilight because I love vampire movies. It was not the best but I think it was a great teen type vampire movie. I do really want to read the books.

The only other movie I have seen was Street Kings. Sorry Jess - I guess we didn't even think of pausing it - I feel bad now. But it kept my interest going the whole time.

Love your reviews but missed the pictures of the movies you always have with them.

Sal said...

Of these, the only movie I've seen was Watchmen. I'm a huge fan of the comic it's based on and felt that the adaptation did justice to the source material. The acting was decent, most of the changes from the comic made sense, and the things that were left out I understood were left out for a reason. I saw Watchmen at its midnight premiere and was quite happy with it. That said, the theatrical version, while significantly shorter than the extended version, is still really really long.

I'd like to see G.I. Joe if only so I can make up my own mind about it and not simply say that it looks like crap, as I've been doing for the last several months. I think if I can somehow view the movie through the eyes of my eight year-old self (who preferred G.I. Joe to Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Thundercats and pretty much every other '80s toy line), I might enjoy it.

Oh, and Sebastien - Inglourious Basterds was awesome. As a dyed in the wool Quentin Tarantino fan, I can say without exaggeration that (in my humble opinion) it's up there with his best work. It's one of the greatest things I've seen this year, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it again.

Thanks for the reviews, Manuel!

Tara said...

I fell asleep while watching "Dan in Real Life". I love Steve Carell, but I won't make the effort of rewatching the whole movie just for him.

Keanu Reeves has his good moments. He is not the most powerful actor out there, and I still cringe a bit when I see him in Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I still like him, so I think I'll rent Street Kings.

laura b. said...

Thanks as always for the informative reviews. The only one of these movies I have seen is Dan in Real Life. I liked it, but didn't love it, you know?

Churlita said...

I liked Dan in Real lIfe, but I'm a girl, so maybe that's it.

I never read the Twilight books, but the movie just seemed like a teen girl movie to me. It was alright, but I never quite got the buzz on it.