Monday, June 20, 2005

On Second Thought...

I’ve had second thoughts about some movies that I’ve seen, even those I’ve reviewed. Most are those I publicly said were dandy and had second thoughts in the morning. You know, like when you wake up and think, “What could I have been thinking?” in unmitigated horror.

1. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I must’ve been blinded by the beauty of the robots. This movie has very few surprises, a script that doesn’t evoke nostalgia but an understanding of why we evolved from the forties, and dialogue that must have embarrassed the three talented leads. And to steal the voice of the greatest actor who ever lived, Laurence Olivier, well, that’s beyond arrogance. This film is a thumb’s down even though I loved it even after seeing it twice. I must’ve had two of Frankie’s eye patches on.

2. Shall We Dance? I gave it a thumb’s up, but upon more thought, think it a mundane film brought up to a higher level by the wonderful actors within. Still, they couldn’t overcome a morose plot and not-very-imaginatively-filmed whole. Unfortunately, even with the stars, it’s pretty boring going.

3. Titanic. When I first saw this Jim Cameron film, I was blown away. On second thought, the first half of the film should be pitched down a cinematic dark hole. But the second half, with real-time imaginings of what the last hour on the Titanic must’ve been like, still sends thrills down my spine. That is, if you can possibly remove the image of the beetle-browed Billy Zane from your mind as he floats from lifeboat to lifeboat, trying to bribe his way aboard. But the story lags, the dialogue is stilted, and the love story sucks.

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I’ve seen this movie twice, as my dark despair, I thought, must’ve been a terrible mistake. Nope. The plot is so terribly truncated -- something about fitting a 500-page book into a 2-hour movie -- that all the fun is sucked out. You know, like the Dementors took over the entire audience, sucking out our good thoughts, but only with the able help of the director and editor. God help the following books.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the yada yada yada. What a big mistake. Oh, and horrible, confusing plotline. Oh, and stupid casting. Except for one brilliant casting move, one that rises distinctly above the mundane and boring plot (how can you have a boring plot about pirates? Go figure.), this movie should be on everybody’s ah-but-look-what-it-could-have-been list. But Johnny Depp is tremendous. Imagine, if you will, that the producers thought his performance was too “nancy”. Outrageous! Depp brightens any movie he's ever graced.

6. The Matrix Reloaded & The Matrix Revolutions. I didn’t care for either film upon seeing them in the theatre some six months apart. But, after some time to reflect upon the meaning of The Matrix, I accept each of these films as a continuation of the story, a story that leads to a conclusion, one that’s depressing but that was indeed inevitable. I think once we all recognize that movies 2 and 3 couldn’t give us the “whoa!” factor, we can come to accept them as great films. Revolutions, especially, gives us the huge payoff we deserved.

7. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. When I first saw the second of the LOTR films, I walked out of the film thoroughly depressed, wondering if I would even go to the theatre (a full year away!) to see the third edition. Of course I did. Looking back at TT on DVD, I recognize this film as the greatest of the trilogy. It dares to film TWO spectacular battles with fearsome and seemingly undefeatable villains, and in doing so, shows us what a hero figure Aragorn is developing into, and leads with our hearts held in the hands of the hobbit characters. Spectacular, and only improves upon multiple viewings of multiple variations (thanks to Peter Jackson, the director).


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