Posts Tagged fantasy

Clash of the Titans

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I am a huge, slavering fan of the 1981 original movie – it wasn’t a good movie, in fact it was very silly, but it was a lot of fun and gave birth to my stop-motion animation obsession. I knew there would be no stop-motion in this reincarnation and made peace with my disappointment and went in with rock bottom expectations and a beer in my hand.

That said, this movie was actually lots of fun! The plot is obviously nonsensical, but who  watched this movie to learn more about the Greek myths?  Seriously, though don’t try to follow the plot; it will just give you a headache like the one Sam Worthington is clearly battling throughout, with furrowed brow instead of a sword.

Sam Worthington is a very good actor, in his way; his range may be microscopically small, but he genuinely looks as though all this is really happening to him. Although maybe his headache came from his leather miniskirt. That costume was so short, I worried that there was going to be some uncomfortable upskirt action in the fight scenes.

All the actors in this movie are slumming it something fierce; seriously, Pete Postlethwaite? Liam Neeson? Oh my lord, Ralph Fiennes. The Greater Fiennes is a thing to behold as our villain, Hades. He devours the scenery, and it’s wonderful!

The special effects are decent – nothing remotely realistic, but these people are marching through volcanic mountains in pristine white tunics draped casually over their shoulders; realism isn’t even an option. More importantly, the special effects are FUN! Giant sand scorpions made of rocks or whatever! It’s no stop-motion skeleton army, but it’ll do.

The various creatures and monsters are all wonderful to look at. Archie the clockwork owl has only 2 seconds; apparently Sam Worthington hated the little contraption as much as he hates America and Freedom. The Pegasus is there, but this time in black. Because white horses are for pussies!

Maybe if I had honestly expected a serious, sweeping epic invested in its ancient source material, I would have hated this. I would also have been stupid to have expected that! A serious Clash of the Titans would be a phenomenal movie, no doubt, but even the posters let you know exactly what you will be receiving – this movie is loud, fast, pretty, and dumb. Nothing wrong with that.

Careful with that miniskirt; we can all see your sword.

Alice In Wonderland

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Tim Burton will never turn out a movie where people drawl in monotones among blank, white rooms and thank god for that. Sadly, this effort is quite a bit more Sleepy Hollow than it is Edward Scissorhands. I would have loved this movie when I was 11, but it takes more than killer costumes and hair to earn my ardor nowadays. Oh, and the outfits and the hair are magnificent; I wanted to pet Mia Wasikowska’s hair and dresses so much it was distracting. I did for once enjoy the 3-D (I was wearing my glasses instead of my contacts, and it was a different type of 3-D glasses, so not sure where to lay the blame but I dug it); it’s a good mix of things popping out at you ostentatiously and the background deepening subtly. If visuals were all a movie needed, this thing would be on the Oscar shortlist. But, turns out, you actually need a story and characterizations that are compelling, even if your name is Tim Burton…

What I found most surprisingly about this movie was how bad several of the acting performances were! Crispin Glover, sweetheart, I am looking at you most pointedly. He appears in movies so rarely (or at least, movies I see) that I get over-excited for a minute when I do find him on the big screen. After the initial 30 seconds of Glovershock wore off, I was dismayed to find him not good in any way.  Well, there was a moment where he tries to put the moves on Alice that just about made my skin crawl off my body and under the theater chair, bravo, but for the most part he just stunk. I expected a little more from a varsity letterman.

Anne Hathaway, as well – some great facial expressions and high notes, but ultimately a one-dimensional performance further hampered by terrible, distracting makeup. Helena Bonham Carter actually imbues her character with some depth and sparkle, and pretty much all of the voice actors are superb (although, really, Christopher Lee as the Jabberwock? Is it a requirement that all evil things be voiced by him?). Johnny Depp grabs your attention as always, but I couldn’t figure out where he was going with his accent. I’m fairly sure his accent fluctuated with the moods and intentions of his character, but I didn’t care enough to think about it long enough to figure it out. Which is really the main problem with the whole show – I couldn’t have given two shits about any of it. All the characters are flat and unengaging, and the plot is far too simple to take so long. It slogs along with so little verve that The Mad Hatter’s crazy freaky dance at the end, when there’s meant to be a celebration, is just plain creepy and jarring. This is Alice In Fucking Wonderland, people, we should be sitting here with smiles on our faces and laughter in our fucking hearts!

Quite pretty, though, and not nearly as bad as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so there you go.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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I put off seeing this movie for 2 reasons: I wasn’t sure I was ready to see Heath Ledger’s last movie, having taken his spectacular performance in The Dark Knight a little hard, and the popular reviews had not been very good.

I think all those reviewers who panned this movie have never seen a Terry Gilliam film in their collected lives, because I fucking loved this flick. If you don’t like Gilliam’s other movies, if you find them weird and creepy and pointless, well…I got nothin’ for ya. Why would you even go see this, then? If you find Terry Gilliam’s stuff magical and exhilarating and delightful and a bit scary, then strap in!

All the Gilliam signatures are there: expansive and inventive fantasy backdrops, wide-eyed innocents with smart mouths, grand decaying costumes, villains simultaneously charming and terrifying, twists that you don’t realize are there until they’ve long passed, creepy delightful music, and little people! If you try to nail the movie down before it’s finished, you’ll get confused and annoyed when things don’t seem to be making sense; he’s testing your assumptions and subconscious bias. If you enjoy the ride and accept what you’re shown, it all flows quite beautifully through to the end.

I had read that Gilliam rewrote the script to have Ledger’s part played by THREE different actors, and worried that it would seem contrived or awkward. In fact, it plays out so seamlessly that I can’t imagine how not doing so wouldn’t have detracted from the movie. I also never realized how much Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all look remarkably similar to Heath Ledger (besides all being criminally beautiful). The 3 substitutes clearly studied Ledger’s footage, and each one so fully emulated him that my suspension of disbelief was complete.

Lily Cole is quite compelling, especially for a young lady who’s most known as a model. Andrew Garfield is a young English actor I’ve not heard much of before, but is persuasively and scruffily adorable. Christopher Plummer is nuanced and powerful (and seems to me to be the future Gilliam himself). Tom Waits blows my mind for the second time this week (see The Book Of Eli), and takes so much visible delight in his role that I reflexively smiled every time he was onscreen (which considering his character’s nature, should bode very poorly for me). Verne Troyer, as the requisite little person, struggles mightily and ultimately cannot fully grasp the material, but I sort of feel like he should be rewarded for trying so hard at “real” acting. That said, there are so many extremely talented short-statured actors out there, maybe they could have cast someone more in line with the role than someone who’s already a minor star.

The true hallmark of a Terry Gilliam film for me is that moment when I’m going along, happily absorbing the fantastical pageant unfolding around me, and he hits me with some frightening image that has me sleeping with the light on for a week, then skips right on to something beautiful or silly like nothing happened and I didn’t just wet my pants in terror. I’m thinking of, say, the scary swollen baby-head masks in Brazil, or the bone-littered cages over oblivion in Time Bandits; deeply transgressive snapshots that go beyond “fucked-up shit”. Only for a moment, just enough to give me a heart attack, then sweeping around the bend back to delight, there there, it’s alright now. This movie did not actually have a moment like that for me (perhaps because I’m not really afraid of heights), which just made it all the sweeter for me.

Ella Enchanted

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cute as hell. this could have been horrifically hokey, but Anne Hathaway makes it work in a non-fakey way.

The Green Mile

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most Stephen King adaptations suck ass, but this one’s pretty good.


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Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.

The Brothers Grimm

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Aw, I liked this, it was funny! Co-starring Monica Bellucci’s boobs.

The Craft

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Why couldn’t this have been made when I was an actual angsty teenager?

Blast From The Past

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This is really cute. Skip it.

The Addams Family

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Are they made from real Girl Scouts?