Friday, May 23, 2008

Crystal Skull

First viewing last night and I'm happy with it. It was never going to live up to the hype but it gives it a good old fashioned try. Let me get the failings out of the way first...

(Some spoilers below).

prevalent Supernatural/superscience. In a break with tradition the Supernatural/superscience elements are present almost from the get go. The Arks power was not revealed till the raider denouement, The sankara stones only come to life at the very end, the Grail isn't seen till the last 10 minutes. Spalkos psychic powers are hinted at from the start, and by the halfway point we have seen the skull used and indeed It actively drives the plot along. Oh and there's a UFO.

Underused talent. Karen Allen is woefully underused , as is the excellent John Hurt ( reduced to a mumbling wreck for most of the movie). Ditto Jim Broadbent (although in fairness he gets as much screen time as Denholm Elliot did in Raiders).

Overused CGI. Granted its no phantom menace but there are a couple of places I think they used it where it wasn't need. I'm probably being a bit harsh here but those CGI prarie dogs didn't agree with me at all. If I can tell its CGI it shouldn't be there.

Dialogue. I though some of the dialogue was a little weak towards the end. Particularily in the aftermath of the ship 'taking off'.

Right with that out of the way, On to the Good Stuff.

Karen Allen, if nothing else for her reaction to the 'none of them were you' line, She has an amazing smile. The chemistry between them was great and the dialogue between them was nice and snappy.

Go Shia! Mutt Williams was an entirely acceptable new character to the indy universe. Yes him being Indys son looked terrifying on paper but they played it for laughs. Great to see the little references to the relationship between Indy and his dad in Crusade. The looks exchanged on the motorcycle to 'this is intolerable!'.

Great Set Pieces. The Bike chase (particularily when Indy fights his way through a car..) is really well filmed, the camerawork screams Spielberg. The Jungle chase is excellent too with lots of leaping from vehicle to vehicle and interactions going on.

Great CGI. Along with the bad there was the good, the Nuclear explosion was great, as were the ants and the fairly subtle CGI used during the Jungle chase ( I knew it was there but I couldn't see the seams) .

Indy still kicks ass , the punches still have that satisfying THWAP sound ( IIRC that was created by someone beating a pile of wet leather!) and he can still pull off the stunts convincingly. his two slugfests with the big russian (while not quite as epic as his punch outs with Pat Roach) were pretty satisfying.


All in all it checks all the boxes:
Hat Fedora and whip, creepy crawlies, Booby traps, a mystical McGuffin, Bad Guys defeated by their own greed, losing the hat and getting it back , breakneck chase scenes, fist fights, Quotable lines, A snake and a love interest.

Long live Indy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"besides, You know what a careful guy I am"

So its not far away now.. Thursday night I'll be seeing Crystal Skull*. Been trying to keep the expectations to a reasonable level to avoid a repeat of the spider-man fiasco. However walking past the Irish premiere in the savoy today and confirming my tickets are booked has kind of set me off a bit. I'm off to think calm thoughts!

*think thats what I've decided on calling it rather than Kingdom. guess time will tell whether I chose wisely or not ;)

Friday, May 09, 2008

161: Forrest Gump

Well it only took me fourteen years (isn't that absolutely terrifying, it seems like only yesterday) but I finally got around to watching this.

As the inexplicably talented Forrest bumbles his way through an astounding array of historic events and places, he touches the lives of many, inadvertently teaching them life lessons (or in some cases, making them a fortune). Its pretty much exactly what I expected, a very sentimental moral tale. Forrest as a character starts out with the odds against him having an IQ of 75 and a twisted spine, But he makes it through the difficulties he encounters by living according to the aphorisms his mom taught him as a child. Indeed he seems barely seems aware of the trials he is is put through. Tom hanks Oscar win is well deserved, its a great physical performance as well as his subtle conveyance of emotions.

The movie is well paced , and it needs to be due to the sheer number and variety of Forrests experiences that we see. College football hero, Vietnam veteran, ping pong champion and long distance walker as well as several encounters with US presidents ( scenes which unfortunately have dated badly). In the course of these there is some really beautiful cinematography and effects. For me the best 'act' is the one set around the Vietnam war, we are introduced to Gary Sinise's character ('Lieutenant Dan') and some of the best effects,scenery and humour in the movie.

William Goldman raves about Robin Wright Penn in this movie , I thought she was passable and would in fact rate Gary Sinise's performance over hers. And as a character shes a pain in the ass, putting our poor Forrest through hell when in fact he's the best thing that ever happened to her (then again, guess it wouldn't have been much of a movie if they got together from the start).

In summary I'd have to say Gump is Sentimental,Soppy,Predictable and Silly and I really liked it. The humour and hints at independent movie style save it from being the big Hollywood schmaltz it could have been. If only they had gone a little further
it could have been great.