PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

July 29, 2008

Catch-Up Movie Reviews

I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I blogged, but I had a message sitting in my draft folder with the titles of a number of movies that I saw this summer that had titles of movies I needed to review.  I know there were a few more that I hadn’t added to that list, but here are one-sentence reviews for all of them, for your reference when they hit cable or DVD.

Hancock.  This superhero vehicle starring Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jason Bateman starts out as the relatively light “screw up makes good” movie that’s on display in the trailers, but about halfway through, it veers off in an unexpected direction (which I usually love), which has some interesting potential but is so poorly explained and confoundingly executed that it drags the movie down, ultimately making it a forgetable entry in the summer superhero sweepstakes, rather than the upstart it could have been.

Journey to the Center of the Earth – 3D.  Brendan Fraser, as an even blander version of his Mummy character, in a movie which, to its credit, acknowledges its heavy debt to Verne’s novel, and is saved somewhat by a good nature and eye-popping 3D effects.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.  The wisecracking, cigar chomping demi-demon is back, this time trying to stop a seriously hacked off elf from taking command of an ancient, unstoppable army.

Mama Mia.  The infectious stage musical featuring almost all of ABBA’s best-known songs is translated to the screen in a fun, frothy musical, with gorgeous scenery and some gorgeous singing (Amanda Seyfried), some passable singing (Meryl Streep), and some singing that should have been left unsung (I’m lookin’ at you, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgard).

The Dark Knight.  The second installment in Christopher Nolan’s reinvention of the Batman franchise is everything that it’s been cracked up to be in the press, and easily the summer’s most satisfying comic book adaption, thanks to solid performances by Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhall, and Aaron Eckhardt, and the chilling, outside of the box interpretation of the Joker by the late Heath Ledger.

X-Files: I Want to Believe.  A longer episode of the tv show, with good performances by Amanda Peet as an FBI agent, who brings back Scully and Mulder (Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny) to investigate a defrocked priest (Billy Connolly) who’s having visions that may or may not have bearing on the disappearance of a number of young woman in the wintry northeast, this one is not enslaved to the show’s intricate mythology, which makes it more accessible than the first movie.

Tropic Thunder.  This rollicking, fun movie starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr. as archetypal Hollywood types (the action star, the fart comedian, and the way-too-method actor) who find themselves stranded in the middle of an Asian drug operation, thinking that it’s part of the movie they’re making, is stolen by a near-unrecognizable Tom Cruise as an over-the-top agent.

Political Ad

Filed under: Entertainment,Politics — CPav @ 9:49 pm

Presented without comment.

The 300 Project: 5/122

July 19, 2008

Movie and Comic Book Review – Wanted

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 12:41 pm

Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman, is loosely adapted from a six-issue comic book series published by Image Comics’ Top Cow imprint back in 2003. I hadn’t read the comic book before seeing the movie, but the movie made me curious, so I read it shortly after. So, in something of a departure, I’m going to review both here.

Wanted the movie, as noted, stars McAvoy (Atonement) as Wesley Gibson, a young cubicle dweller with not many prospects. His job is a drudge, his boss is overbearing, and his girlfriend is schtupping his best friend (and he’s paying for their condoms). One day at the pharmacist’s counter, as he’s paying for his anxiety medicine, he’s approached by the mysterious Fox (Jolie), and soon finds himself in the middle of a gun battle and a car chase. Fox tells him that the father who he’s never known was in reality a master assassin, and that the man they’re battling has murdered him. Soon, he finds himself enlisted into the Fraternity, a league of assassins who take their orders from the mysterious Sloan (Freeman), training to become an assassin to avenge his father, and attempting to stay one step ahead of his prey.

Wanted requires a tremendous suspension of disbelief, accepting everything from mud baths that heal injuries to curving bullets and physics-defying car chases, but if you’re willing to suspend, you’ll be richly rewarded; the movie is a joy ride of twists and turns, with some really neat action sequences, and an intriguing “agents of fate” sort of setup. McAvoy is convincing as the schlub-turned-action star, and Jolie and Freeman are their usual excellant selves, though I’m always disconcerted for some reason when Jolie doesn’t speak with an accent.

All in all, Wanted is a fine summer action flick, overly violent and extremely frenetic, but with good performances and some ground-breaking action scenes.

Wanted the comic book shares a couple things with the movie: its title, its “son taking the place of and avenging the father he never knew” basic plot, and the names of the two main characters. Outside of that, the two are very different animals. Wesley Gibson’s backstory is the same, but rather than a Fraternity of assassins, Fox introduces him into a sort of super-villain mafia.

It would seem that, many years ago, the villains finally vanquished the heroes, and disappeared underground. They divided the inhabitable continents under a handful of villain “families”, and operated under the radar, paying off the media and the authorities to keep their actions secret. Now, years later, the families are divided. One faction wants to begin operating in the open, reveling in the fear of the populace, while the other wants to keep their good thing going.

Where the movie version presents a somewhat sympathetic cadre of characters doing reprehensible things, the comic book doesn’t. The characters are utterly venal, admitted villains out to benefit only themselves and dedicated to maintaining their lifestyle. I’ve never been much for the unrepentant anti-hero, and that’s pretty much what’s happening here.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, I didn’t care for the comic book.

The 300 Project: 4/121

July 13, 2008

Movie Review – Get Smart

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 10:55 pm

I’m a bit behind on my reviews, so I’m going to do my best to get caught up before this Friday — the day I’ve been waiting for all summer, seeing that I’m both a musical fan and a comic book fan; The Dark Knight and Mama Mia both open this Friday, both are getting great reviews, and I’m planning on using them as bookends to my day, seeing an early morning showing of Dark Knight with my sons and a group of their friends, and Mama Mia later in the day with my wife and daughter.

But first I need to clear out the movies I’ve seen in the past few weeks.

I need to start out with a couple of confessions. The first is that I was not a particular fan of the original Get Smart television show. It’s not that I disliked it, I just never watched it much. I was, of course, familiar with the basics: Don Adams as a bumbling secret agent, Barbara Feldon as his attractive partner, the forces of CONTROL battling the agents of KAOS. So I could appreciate the various nods to the original in the new movie version, but wasn’t particularly invested in how closely the movie relates or doesn’t relate to the series.

Second confession: I am a particular fan of Anne Hathaway. I’ve watched the Princess Diaries movies, Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada. Heck I’ve even seen Havoc. Well, okay. I’ve seen a few of the more…interesting…scenes. But I intend to watch the whole thing someday. Really, I do. So from that aspect, I was more predisposed to enjoy at least one performance.

To my delight, I enjoyed all the performances. But first things first: Get Smart, the new movie starring Steve Carrell (The Office), Anne Hathaway (Hoodwinked, which I have not seen), Alan Arkin (Wait Until Dark), and Duane “The Rock” Johnson (Southland Tales), is based on the Cold War television spy spoof created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. In this version, Maxwell Smart (Carrell) is an analyst for top-secret spy agency CONTROL. Max finally passes his field agent exam, only to find that the Chief (Arkin) values Max too highly as an analyst to allow him to transfer to the field.

Circumstances change for the worse, thanks to CONTROL’s rival organization, KAOS. Max is drafted to join the field agents, and partnered with the ultra-cool, ultra-capable Agent 99 (Hathaway). Together, they try attempt to infiltrate KAOS and prevent the evil organization’s latest plan for world domination. Along the way, the movie presents updated takes on a number of the original series’ signature moments, including a couple of nice cameos featuring well-known actors as supporting characters from the series.

Carrell is well-cast as Smart, eager to finally break away from his desk, and stumbling his way into success almost despite himself. As his reluctant partner, Hathaway is sexy and sly, reluctant to open up to Max due to being burned before. Johnson shows a different side to his usual tough guy image, with a lot of physical comedy, and Arkin makes the Chief much more a man of action than his predecessors.

If the movie has a serious flaw, it’s that, in the end, it leaves behind the parody and becomes just another action movie. It’s not a bad action movie, but it’s not particularly new either. It’s still a lot of fun, but not quite what it starts out as. Still, as an action comedy, it works quite well.

The 300 Project: 3/120

July 9, 2008

Incredible Photo Blog

Filed under: General — CPav @ 6:28 am
Tags: ,

So we here at PavCo had a corporate outing on Sunday, and went to the St. Louis Zoo, one of the crown jewels in the St. Louis experience.  It’s a fabulous experience, and it’s (mostly) free, which ranks it even higher on the PavCo list of things to do.  But that’s neither here nor there.  (Actually, it’s there; if it were here, it would put us in all kinds of violations of our hometown’s zoning ordinances.)

Anyhoo…

Mrs. PavCo made the mistake of handing me the camera at one point, which meant that for the rest of the afternoon, everyone was waiting on me, as I stood motionless, the Kodak to my eye, waiting for the perfect shot of a chimpanzee indulging in an afternoon banana, or a peacock preening, or a group of prairie dogs…prairie dogging.  And I got some pretty good shots.  I impressed myself which, admittedly, isn’t hard to do.

And then I saw Jerry Mercier’s photo blog.  It was recommended to me by a mutual friend (actually, my friend, his relation), and I took a look, and was blown away.  For anyone whose idea of America is mini malls and soccer fields, you’ve got to take a look at Jerry’s work, which highlights amazing sights in America’s Badlands.  Please take a look, and let all your friends know about it.  Heck, let your enemies know.  Maybe they’ll change their opinion of you.

Jerry Mercier’s blog is available at http://jerrymercier.blogspot.com/.

 
 
 
The 300 Project: 2/119

July 1, 2008

Overwhelming Politics

Filed under: Entertainment — CPav @ 11:45 am

Okay. So yesterday, I posted that I had a number of political messages that I was going to post. And I do; I’ve got three political blog posts on five handwritten pieces of paper with the titles “War Hero?”, “Debating the Debates”, and “Public Funding”. And I started typing in “War Hero?” yesterday, when I realized a couple of things.

First, as indicated by the name, this blog was originally intended to deal with a variety of issues, from television and movies to books and comics. Politics was certainly intended to be a part of it, but recently I’ve found that it’s taking over. And, quite honestly, things are happening with such frequency in the political world these days, and I’m somewhat slow in posting, that by the time I’m ready to write about it, everyone else is on to the next topic.

So I’m going to cut back on the politics. I’ll still post about it, but probably not in great detail. There are plenty of other places out there to get the same information, and if anyone wants to know my views on any particular subject, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to devote a post to it. (That goes for everything, not just politics.)

So I’ll be back later today or tonight with a high-level political post, then try to get on with the media stuff.

Thanks for reading, and keep the cards and letters coming.

The 300 Project: 1/118

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