Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews’ Category

Movie Review: Troy

Posted by Arlo on Jun 21, 2004 under Movie Reviews

Troy Movie PosterTroy. Hmmm. Troy was a long movie. Normally, I enjoy movies that teeter on the edge of 3 hours if only because they make me feel as though I’ve got my money’s worth. Perhaps my mistake with Troy was in going to see a show that started at 10pm. Long before the end of the movie, I was already thinking about my nice, comfortable bed at home.

I’ve never read Homer’s Illiad, nor have I studied ancient Greek history enough to know the true story of Troy. Come to think of it, I’ve never even seen a movie about it, either. I guess everything I know about Helen, Troy, and the Trojan Horse, I’ve learned through pop cultural references. Add to that, now, Brad Pitt’s sculpted interpretation of Achilles, I suppose that I’m now as well-informed as 90% of America.

Troy wasn’t a bad movie – in fact, it was actually pretty good. I thought it odd to focus the story of the fall of a city on a single character’s vanity, but I suppose this story has already been told so many ways, the scriptwriter was probably just looking for a new angle. I can respect that, but if you’re going to focus a movie on a single character, I think there’s a strong argument to make the audience sympathetic to that personality. Brad Pitt got top billing, but it was Eric Bana and the others behind the Wall of Troy that I found myself rooting for.

The effects in Troy were impressive. Massive armies clashing, gruesome deathblows, sweeping camera angles of an imagined city… Unlike Van Helsing, I never caught myself thinking, “Oh, that looks SO fake!” But I heard from a friend that the city of Troy had a population of only 3000, the walls were only 6 feet high, and the war lasted ten years. I suppose that if you simply much have an army siege a castle, post Lord of the Rings, you damn well better have an epic amount of carnage. History be damned, Homeric movies sell tickets.

Trivial thought: Notice that there is only one female speaking role for the Greeks vs. countless supporting females for the Trojans – no wonder they don’t come off as sympathetic!
What did I find worthwhile about the movie? The (mostly concealed) special effects – the best SFX are the ones you didn’t realize were SFX! Most of the non-Greek characters. Plus the eventual sacking of Troy was surprisingly affecting.
Would I recommend the movie? Yeah, I ‘spose.
Will I buy it on DVD? No.

Overall Summer Movie Ranking
Van Helsing

Movie Review: Van Helsing

Posted by Arlo on Jun 20, 2004 under Movie Reviews

Van Helsing Movie PosterWhat is there to say about Van Helsing? I can tell you this: Right from the previews, I expected that it wasn’t going to be a good movie. I can’t pinpoint exactly how I knew that, but it sure turned out to be true.

Maybe it was because I knew that it was written and directed by Steven Sommers. He was the guy responsible for The Mummy, the Mummy Returns, and The Scorpion King. I’ll admit that The Mummy was an okay movie… once I realized that it was going for camp, I actually started to enjoy it. I liked The Mummy Returns… not so much. Would you blame me if I told you that I skipped The Scorpion King altogether?

Van Helsing was destined to be the epitome of a special effects laden summer action movie. I went in with low expectations and it was only because of that that I wasn’t completely disgusted. The best thing I can say about the movie is that often the special effects were amazing (if not totally convincing). We’ve come a long way in the 25 years or so since Star Wars. I’m anxious to see where Hollywood will be 25 years from now!

The worse thing I can say about Van Helsing is… hold on. Let me think. There’s a lot to choose from. Okay, I guess it’s that the plot was obviously tacked on as an afterthought. I’ll grudgingly admit that there was a plot there – one that definitely wasn’t difficult to follow. It’s just that the characters were barely given enough time to say a few story-propelling lines before being hurled back into yet another fight with a computer-generated beastie. (For what it’s worth, I might have chosen another aspect of the film as being the worst part of Van Helsing, but for an interview I read with the writer/director. He was so proud of the story he had crafted, cunningly able to bring together three Hollywood monsters of yore! Let me tell you, Mr. Sommers desperately needs to learn the difference between “an idea” and “a story.”)

Trivial Thought: Werewolves are apparently unaffected by the laws of gravity.
What did I find worthwhile about the movie? The special effects. Plus Kate Beckinsale and the lead vampiress were very hot!
Would I recommend the movie? Probably not.
Will I buy it on DVD? No.

Movie Reviews

Posted by Arlo on Jun 18, 2004 under Movie Reviews

Summer’s here and it’s blockbuster season at the cineplex again. With a glut of big-budget, low-plot celluloid, an argument can be made that it’s the perfect time to avoid a Hollywood production. Me? I look forward to that magical weekend in April or May when the first mega-hit hopeful kicks off the weekly chain of movies that doesn’t let up until Labor Day.

Movie tickets are worth their weight in RAM nowadays. Once, the day after treating my wife to one of Hollywood’s finest, I made the mistake of opening my wallet. In the distance I heard a coyote howl and a small, lint tumbleweed blew out from between my credit cards. Now that the Juneau monopoly charges $8.75 for a regular showing and something only barely vale la pena for the matinees, you have to be prequalified for a loan before offering your date some popcorn and a soda. It’s quite understandable how many people look to the critics’ reviews before shelling out for a movie these days, but I don’t have to work very hard to justify trips to the theater. There are so many angles from which I can enjoy a movie that I rarely ever leave feeling like I threw my money away. (Cough-Battlefield Earth-Cough)

The Internet needs another amateur movie review site like I need another half-finished project, nonetheless I feel it’s my duty to share my opinion digitally. Figuring out how just how to do that is the hard part. Should I use my thumb or a varying number of symbols representing celestial bodies? Can I get my point across with another symbolic smashed fruit, or do you think I should fall back on the traditional A-through-F grading scale? I know! I could be the first person to come up with an incredibly detailed, 947-point scoring system that uses a matrix of variables such as “believability of visual effects,” “aspect ratio of lens utilized,” “supporting actors’ conviction,” and “applicability of songs licensed for the soundtrack,” to arrive at a precise percentage point designation for each movie. Has that been done already? Sounds like too much work, anyway. Nevermind.

Pre-millenium, I used to write some one-line movie reviews for the Whalesong, the student newspaper at UAS. Despite the lack of fame and fortune associated with my byline, I enjoyed doing it because it was fun and challenging, yet an eminently non-time consuming commitment. If I’m going to try to write a movie review for each movie I scrutinize, that’s the route I want to go. Especially if I can eliminate the “challenging” part.

Some of my friends’ movie opinions have made it painfully obvious that not everyone uses the same criteria to judge a film. That’s reasonable. I can appreciate that not everyone thinks that a movie full of fancy special effects is worth seeing. I don’t want to be responsible for someone spending their children’s college money on a movie they hate, so you’ll understand why I’m not terribly keen on giving recommendations. I think, instead, I’d rather write about what in a movie was worthwhile for me. So, if fashion is your thing and I write something like, “Boy, I sure did like the costume design in Shrek 2!” well, you’d better just whip out that debit card and get your butt to the theater.

I hereby deem that it will also be interesting if I arrange the summer movies in a best-to-worst fashion.