Superman Returns (A-) It may be egotistically fitting that my first review in a long, long time coincides with this particular movie. First, let me say that this movie, more than any other in recent memory, took me back to my childhood. From the opening credits to the last shot of Superman, I had a smile on my face that still reappears as I write this and is highly attributable not only to this movie, but to my high regards to the Superman mythology. By now you know the plot revolves around Superman (Brandon Routh, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) returning from his 5 year hiatus, Lex (Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea) doing what he does best and Lois (Kate Bosworth, Beyond the Sea) taking on the role of motherhood. Routh pulls off the titular role and at times is almost surreal in his channeling of Christopher Reeve. I won’t get into the plot details, but much is made that this movie could very well be part 3 (in director Bryan Singer’s mind, the original part 3 and 4 never existed…Quest for Peace or Richard Pryor anyone?) and the subtle tributes to the first 2 originals are a nice touch. Is the film flawless? No, but then again, what movie is, especially for a comic book adaptation in which one has to suspend disbelief that a man can fly. For this reviewer, I recommend this movie and overall, I think this film reminds me why it is that I love movies as much as I do.
An Inconvenient Truth (B-). As a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, I was not terribly enthusiastic about watching Al Gore preach for an hour and a half or so. He did grate on me, but the subject-matter of the movie is undeniably interesting. His argument is simple: the temperature of the earth changes in direct correlation to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thanks to human activity, principally the burning of fossil fuels, the level of CO2 is now at an unprecedented high, and it is continuing to rise. This will lead to large-scale climate change and probably turn central Florida into beachfront property. The science and the graphics were interesting, but where was the balance? Is the scientific literature on warming really as unanimous as Al makes it out to be? And what are we supposed to use to replace fossil fuels? I think the elephant in the corner there is nuclear power, but Al won’t say that for fear of alienating his green allies. And I was annoyed at the digressions into Al’s personal life–his son’s life-threatening accident as a six-year-old, his working on the family tobacco farm. Judging from this film, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Gore in ’08….
Perhaps it was just too much to hope for three excellent movies featuring a merry band of mutants. Everything about this film seemed a little tired to me. Even the outrageous special effects had a been-there, seen-it-before feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I love big explosions and Famke Janssen just as much as the next guy, I just wished for a little more after the first two films. Is it just me or has Halle Berry been the star in only one good film? And was the film really good or was it just controversial? I digress. Here the X-Men must fight their own. A battle of mutants ensues. If you love or loved comic books, then you will enjoy this movie. If you still love comic books and you are over the age of thirty, move out of your parents’ basement. If you are a casual X-Men fan and saw the movies because they were big summer blockbuster movies . . . I say save your money for Superman Returns. I give X-Men a “B.”
Well, ain’t that a poke in the eye. This sounds crazy, but the book almost seems less controversial to me now. (Spoiler) When Robert Langdon looked at Sophie Neveu and proclaimed her the “the direct descendent of Jesus Christ …” I almost heard the critics laughing at the Canne film festival and organized religion the world over screaming for another screening of the Passion of the Christ. Perhaps because the book was longer and located in the fiction section, the book just seemed like a fun read. It has been two years since I read the book, and I honestly could not remember how it ended. This should perhaps be a reflection on the quality of the book. The movie … well it was a fun watch, I like a good mystery and Ron Howard can tell a good, if formulaic story. The scenery is very cool and the pseudo-history lessons are interesting. If you can set aside your religious leanings and are not easily offended, I say go see this movie. If you have a thin skin and thought the book “was based on real life events,” then you should stay away. I give this movie a “B.”
Big Daddy (C). Has Adam Sandler ever made a really good movie? I have avoided some of his most successful movies (The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison), being convinced that watching them would kill many more brain cells than I can afford to part with. But the ones I have seen have pretty much left me cold too (Anger Management and Spanglish come to mind). Only The Wedding Singer sticks in my memory as being a decently entertaining flick. Anyway, in Big Daddy Sandler plays his typical childlike character, this time named Sonny Koufax. An amiable lug, he is about to lose his very attractive girlfriend Vanessa (Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer) because he refuses to grow up and get a job. Fate drops a five-year-old boy on his doorstep, and Sonny pretends to have adopted him to try to impress Vanessa. The first half of the movie has some laughs as man-boy Sonny tries to raise real-boy Julian, with many misadventures. The second half descends into maudlin tedium as Sonny’s paternal instincts come to life and he decides its time to grow up. Mediocre.
Sketches of Frank Gehry (B). Has there ever been a bad documentary about an architect? Based on the two I have seen (this one and My Architect), I would say the answer is No. This is Sydney Pollack’s first documentary, about the architect who designed the world-famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Gehry is still alive, and he gets plenty of screen time. He seems like a nice enough guy, but the footage of his buildings is what made the movie for me. Are they great? I don’t know, but they are certainly spectacles. For human interest and drama in addition to great visuals, My Architect is a much better movie, but that is probably because its protagonist, Louis Kahn, was a much stranger and more troubled individual than Gehry is. Anyway, check out Sketches, but don’t miss My Architect.
Sketches of Frank Gehry. (B) I am not much for documentaries, but I really enjoyed seeing this one, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in architecture. Sydney Pollack, who is a long-time friend of Gehry’s, does a great job of directing the film, interviewing Gehry, and bringing Gehry and his work to life. The list of cameo appearances by famous people makes one begin to wonder if this is a Robert Altman film. I really found it interesting and humorous that Gehry’s shrink speaks about Gehry and their relationship. But, of course, the most fascinating aspect of the film was seeing Gehry’s product and seeing how he gets ideas for something and then how he and his staff make it come to life. I was left with the feeling that I need to go see some of his architecture first-hand. And, this review would not be complete if I did not mention that the musical scores for the film were excellent.
After having seen this movie my only conclusion is that one of the producers of the movie must have a series of compromising photographs of Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, and Beyoncé. Nothing else could possibly explain why this movie was made. Well, money. Money could explain it. Remarkable to me that at this point in their careers any of the three of these actors need any money. Kevin Kline’s wife is an actress … they must have gobs of moo-laa. Steve Martin is not married and has no children … he probably has a few million stuck in his sofa. Beyoncé? Isn’t she the only one that really was Bootylicious and as such doesn’t she have all of the cash from her all-powerful girl group? I was so thoroughly disappointed with this film that I am going to stop asking for the advice of the sixteen year old working at my local Blockbuster. Save yourself the time and pain. Rent the original Pink Panther. Not any of the sequels. The original. Get some popcorn. Put on some clothes from the late 70s or early 80s and have a good time. I give The Pink Panther with Steve Martin a “D.” I give The Jerk an “A.” I give the original Pink Panther an “A.”
I blame the time I wasted watching this movie on The Movie Snob. He would not tell me how it ended and it forced me to watch it when it came on HBO this weekend. The plot centers on Goldie Hawn, no wait, not Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson’s character being hired to take care of an elderly couple in an old plantation house in a Louisiana swamp. Much voodoo ensues. It is supposed to be creepy. I only found it moderately so. Movie has three plot twists. I sniffed out the first two much too soon. The third plot twist I never saw coming. My guess is the movie might not have been much of a hit because of the last of these plot twists. Since you can catch it on cable now, I saw watch it if you have access. If you have to rent it, rent something else. I give it a “C.”
I watched a few minutes of this movie this weekend while my son was taking a nap. I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid. I also remember crying my eyes out. Makes me wonder if I should have seen it when I did, but that is water under the bridge now. This 1970ish movie features a very young Ricky Schroder (TV’s NYPD Blue), a middle-aged Jon Voight (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), and a still very good looking Faye Dunaway (Bonnie and Clyde). The plot centers around a washed-up boxer who is trying to make one last comeback because he needs the money. Things don’t go so well for him in the end. It is a heartbreaker. Ricky Schroeder’s meltdown at the end of the film is so convincing, if you aren’t welled up by the end you are a robot. Very good film. Underrated. If you happen to catch it, I recommend watching for a few minutes. It will suck you right in. I give it an “A.”