Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Last Year’s Movies

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

…And the first of this year, in review.

Last Year's Movies

First, there was the Simpson’s Movie. That was part of the Saddest Bachelor Party ever. Half of us didn’t drink, half of us were gay, and I wasn’t quite done with chemotherapy treatments. No alcohol, no strippers, and I looked like a walking corpse. Hell, I felt like a walking corpse.
I’ve never been a huge Simpsons fan, to be honest, though I love Futurama. We went at the request of the groom, J. I bought dinner at my new, favorite Thai restaurant and I bought J.’s ticket. The movie was hilarious. Everything that was ever good about the Simpsons crammed into one movie. At one point, Homer is trying to catch up to his family and save Springfield. He’s using a dog-sled to do so and driving the dogs hard. They run away in the night and Homer whines “Why does everything I whip run away?” I verbally sympathized. We missed the next five minutes of the film while we laughed. But, really, if you missed this one, rent it. It was good, even if you’re not a fan.

Next was Dragon Wars. This was a Korean import staring mainly unknown American actors, or B-movie actors that should have retired years ago. The best thing I can say about it is…
“Dragons! With rocket launchers on their shoulders!” It was our catch phrase for the evening. Don’t bother even renting this one unless you want to reenact Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Then, I went to see American Gangster with J. and L. just after Thanksgiving.
This was very, very good. It was so hyper-real that it was almost unbelievable. But, it’s pretty well all true. This is the story of the Black Mafia in Harlem in the Sixties and Seventies. It’s all about gangs, criminals, heroin, and the mob. Again, very real, very violent and very good. Another one to rent if you missed it in the theater.

After that, though, we started picking up speed.
Midway through December, I saw the disappointment of the year, the Golden Compass. After the massive build-up and comparisons to C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I had high expectations for this film. I was betrayed.
The entire movie was rushed and it felt like huge sections of plot had been left out leaving indecipherable gaps. The only thing that saved me, frankly, was having talked to a friend who read the books about the premise of the first book, on which this movie was based. The CG was very good, but not good enough to distract me from the butchered plot and lack of real sparkle in the film despite some brilliant actors. To say that it was a huge disappointment is, at best, an understatement. If you haven’t seen it, but feel compelled, I’d wait to rent it.

On Christmas Day, I went with my mysterious artist friend, for whom I’m doing some creative work, to see No Country for Old Men. If you haven’t seen this yet, skip work this afternoon and go see it. Yes, it is that good. I hope to see it again while it’s still in the theaters and I almost never see a movie more than once in the theater. That is how good I think this movie is.
First of all, it stars two of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. Yes, Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin and husband of Diane Lane. Very, very under-rated actor, in my opinion. Also, I didn’t realize that this was a Coen Brothers’ movie until I was there with Mark. So, by the time I sat down in the theater, I had pretty high expectations. They were exceeded.
Now, true to their form, this is a violent film. And, a very realistically violent film. I’ve seen a lot of wounds, on myself and others, fresh and not quite so, and the effects in this film are very, very good and the most realistic I’ve seen outside of… Well, actually, they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. Period. So, if you have a weak stomach, don’t plan on eating Italian after seeing this one. However, if you’re up for a bit of the old ultraviolence, then this movie is for you.
The story follows Brolin’s character, who finds a drug deal gone very wrong in the Texas scrub while hunting. He hunts around until he finds the money from the deal and takes it. The rest of the movie is about the consequences of that decision and that act. Brilliant work.
If you see no other movie in the next twelve months, see No Country for Old Men.

Now, to wrap things up, I started my year with I Am Legend.
The weakest thing about this movie was the CG. Based on a book, which I’m currently reading, by Richard Matheson, this is the story of biology gone wrong. Will Smith plays an Army doctor who is the only survivor in New York City after a plague sweeps the world. The plague, which is the side-effect of a reengineered virus meant to cure cancer, kills most people and transforms the rest into Dark Seekers, zombie-vampire-like creatures that feast on living flesh and hide from the day-light. A classic monster movie. From what I’ve read so far, the movie is only vaguely similar to the book. In fact, it’s more like the Charlton Heston version of this movie, The Omega Man. (Apparently, this was also a remake of an even earlier version of the story staring Vincent Price called The Last Man On Earth, but I haven’t seen this version. Yet.)
As far as the movie goes, it’s worth seeing. I won’t spoil anything, but it does end on an up-beat. I do recommend that you see this with a friend, though, not alone like I did. At least, not if you’re feeling depressed or lonely. This is a very, very lonely film and Smith gets that feeling of hopelessness and futility across to the audience very well. If they’d spent just a little more on the CG, this would have been a truly great film. As it is, if not for Will Smith’s fame, I doubt it would have done well.
Of course, I might have enjoyed the film more if not for two of my fellow audience members that intruded on the experience. The first was an older gentleman that kept asking his much younger companion, daughter I assume, what was happening. When he asked where all the people were in the opening scene, I almost asked him if he knew what movie he’d come to see. The next time he asked a similar question, I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping back at him that if he’d just shut up and watch the movie, the plot might answer his damn question! The other audience disturbance was the non-English-speaking family that brought a toddler into the movie 3/4 of the way through. You know, right before the horde of monsters stormed the hero’s stronghold. Perfect timing to scar the kid for life.
Other than that, though, it was an enjoyable experience.

So, here’s to the new year and many great movies to be seen!

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