Sunday, April 04, 2004

Movieblogging: Dreamcatcher
As a glutton for punishment, I decided to celebrate the time change by staying up way too late to watch Dreamcatcher (2003). I saw this in the theater last year, though I'm fairly sure I didn't blog it... Nope. It's based off a Stephen King novel that I haven't read, but about a quarter of the way through it I started picking out the standard King archetypes and plot devices. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but I started figuring out stuff early on.

Last night was the first time I'd seen it since the theater, and what I remember the movie best for is the beautiful filming of snow. I'm sure that a lot of it was digital or artificial, but they did an amazing job with it. We had just a light dusting of snow one day this winter here in Memphis, though I didn't see it when it was actually following. These days it's easy to forget what snow looks like.

Good acting, compelling story, and mostly good use of special effects. The monsters at the end struck weren't that great. The designs were fine, but there was still that edge of CGI that tells you it's fake. Some movies pull it off, some don't. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is perhaps the best example of CGI working properly. Very few movies make it that smooth.

Watching the movie last night reminded me that I ought to read the book one of these days. I'm interested in more detail on the various powers of the four men and how they developed...
Movieblogging: Walk Like a Man
A lot of people have never heard of this. Others know it well and regret it. Walk Like a Man (1987). A bad 80s movie that's not really interesting enough to be bad in that good way. Which is a shame, because it's got several highly talented actors in it: Howie Mandel, Christopher Lloyd, Cloris Leachman, and a handful of recognizable character actors.

When I saw this on the schedule last night, I had to see it in order to satisfy my curiosity. When I worked at the public access cable station in high school, we had a bunch of promo posters on the walls of the office. One was a life-size poster for this movie, featuring Christopher Lloyd and Howie Mandel both wearing white suits, except that Mandel was on a leash and crouched down like a dog. For you see, they play brothers, and Mandel was lost as a child and raised by wolves. Now there's a massive inheritance involved, and the lost wolf-boy is found! Hilarity will ensue! Or not...

As goofy as this sounds--and the feral child concept has worked in several different genres--it really doesn't work. The three great actors in this movie are wasted on the bad script. It's not weird or edgy enough to be a cult classic, it's not enough fun to be a good kids' movie, and any adult is going to be bored to tears. But they do play the titular song in a couple of places. So it's got that going for it.
Movieblogging: Identity
Saturday evening, I watched Identity (2003). I didn't pay much attention when this came out last year in theaters, and even less when it came out on DVD. However, it was on HBO last night, so I figured what the hell... Knock another Cusack film off the list.

The previews are sort of cryptic, but it's a weird movie. There's a big surprise ending, so I can't say too much about it. The acting was fairly good, but I just didn't care for the story that much. It's a psychological thriller, but I didn't find it that compelling. Rebecca De Mornay looked like hell, though--I didn't recognize her until I checked the list of actors. It's been 21 years since Risky Business. Damn.

Cusack wasn't that compelling in this one. It's an ensemble piece without a lot of focus on one or two characters, so there's not as much development. Amanda Peet was OK... I like her work in general, but eh... Alfred Molina and Ray Liotta are both decent actors, but I'm not a huge fan of either. Ditto for John C. McGinley, perhaps best known as the skinny, younger "Bob" from Office Space. Jake Busey did his creepy psycho thing, but how many times have we seen that?

Clea DuVall is a damned good actress, but again, she got lost in the shuffle here. She got fairly well known in Little Witches, but I think her best role thus far was in But I'm a Cheerleader along with Natasha Lyonne. She's taken almost exclusively dramatic roles, and I'm interested in seeing what she's able to do in the future.

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood to see this last night...
Movieblogging: Hellboy
I'm finding it easier to blog these movies on Sunday morning, which lets me knock out several in a row... Without further ado, here's the first, from Friday afternoon: Hellboy (2004). The Ring Bearer dragged me to see this, contrary to my reluctance to actually go to the movies these days. But the theater was mostly empty, and the people present manged to restrain themselves for the most part.

The movie was brilliant. Great casting, great music, great storyline, and incredible special effects. OK, so baby Hellboy looked sort of goofy, but everything else was perfect. I'm not terribly familiar with the comic beyond the basic backstories of the main characters, so I can't comment on how close it is to the original. However, plenty of background detail is provided for the benefit of the regular viewer (much like the recent Spider-Man and X-Men). This one's bound to be a big hit--go out and see it. I'm anxious to get the DVD when it comes out.

A few little notes... I found the character Abe Sapien to be a lot more interesting than you'd gather from the trailer. He's played by Doug Jones, but voiced by David Hyde Pierce. The voice work comes through seamlessly. I also loved the clockwork assassin--Kroener? I remarked to The Ring Bearer that the self-winding automaton was considered the Holy Grail of mechanical automata builders in 18th/19th century Europe. Unfortunately, such a creation would be a perpetual motion machine, and with entropy and friction and glavin globin you lose energy at every transfer. (Not to mention the torque required to wind up something like that.) I mention that not as a nitpick; we're dealing with demons and big tentacled beasties and various forms of magic. You just don't see much in the way of clockwork in modern works. It was fun to see a steampunk character in a present-day setting.

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