DVD review from The Movie Snob

Troy (B). I saw this movie once back when in was in the theaters, and I bought the DVD not too long after it came out, but I only recently got around to watching it. Clocking in at 2 hours and 43 minutes, it’s barely shorter than the Trojan War itself! (Especially as portrayed in the movie, in which the War seems to take about two weeks after the Greeks arrive on the shores of windy Ilion.) I like the movie, despite its many obvious departures from the Iliad. Brad Pitt (Babel) makes a brooding Achilles, Eric Bana (Star Trek) is an admirable Hector, and Peter O’Toole (Stardust) is pitiable as aging King Priam, ever-trusting that the gods will reward him for his piety. Chief among the film’s demerits is the goofy love story between Achilles and the captured Trojan priestess Briseis (Rose Byrne, I Capture the Castle). But if you like swords-and-sandals epics, I don’t see how you could fail to like Troy.

The Eclipse

From the desk of The Movie Snob

The Eclipse (C). Part romance, part ghost story, this strange Irish hybrid doesn’t fully work as either. Ciaran Hinds (Race to Witch Mountain) plays Michael Farr, a sad widower with two kids, a dog, and a job as a woodworking instructor at a college in a smallish Irish town. He volunteers to help with a literary festival, where he meets Nicholas Holden, a successful novelist and jerk played by Aidan Quinn (Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius), and Lena Morelle, a warm, decent woman who writes ghost stories, played by Iben Hjejle (High Fidelity). Michael’s acquaintance with Lena comes in handy, because he has started to suffer from ghostly apparitions of the “Boo! Scare ya!” variety. Maybe I’m a little sensitive, but to me the ghostly encounters were sufficiently scary to knock the subtle drama of the Michael-Lena-Nicholas triangle right off its feet. But the acting was good, and I have wanted to see Hjejle in more movies ever since High Fidelity. She was in a little-seen but worth-seeing movie called The Emperor’s New Clothes a few years ago. It was certainly more enjoyable than this odd (and short, at 88 minutes) movie.

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Clash of the Titans (B+). I’ll begin by confessing that the 1981 original version of this movie was very important to me in my youth. I was about 13 years old and way into science fiction and fantasy, not to mention Dungeons & Dragons. I didn’t see many movies back in those days, but I think I managed to get to this one at least twice. I’m sure the special effects were terrible, and the story made a hash of Greek mythology, but Perseus’s quest to find a way to save Princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the monstrous Kraken was good enough to fire my imagination, especially since it involved the snake-haired Medusa, giant scorpions, the winged horse Pegasus, and heaven knows what else that I have since forgotten. Plus, even though the film was rated PG (or else my parents never would have let me see it), there were a couple of fleeting examples of female nudity. How that got past the MPAA, I will never understand. Maybe they loved Greek mythology as much as I did.

Anyhoo, enough reminiscing. This remake departs from the old version in many ways, but I don’t think the departures bring it any closer to mythological accuracy. In this version, mankind is rebelling against the capricious Greek gods, which somehow works to the advantage of Hades (Ralph Fiennes, The Reader) in his secret plot to overthrow Zeus (Liam Neeson, Batman Begins). As in the original, the Greek city of Argus gets cursed to be destroyed by the Kraken unless Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos, The Mist) is sacrificed to the beast, and Zeus’s son Perseus (Sam Worthington, Avatar) goes on a quest to stop the curse from coming true. A sad-faced gal named Io (Gemma Arterton, Casino Royale), who’s laboring under some curse of her own, tags along with Perseus and his merry band and offers him pointers on how to slay Medusa. The movie doesn’t make any sense, but I just went along for the ride and enjoyed it just fine. I will say that I remember the original Medusa being a lot scarier than this CGI-looking version. The original one slashed her own arm open so she could poison arrows with her own blood, for crying out loud! It’s fun to pick out the many other familiar faces along the way. There was reliable old Pete Postlethwaite (The Usual Suspects), plus Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale), Polly Walker (TV’s Rome), and even Nicholas Hoult, all grown up from his performance in About a Boy, as one of Perseus’s faithful followers. Go with low expectations, and you’ll be entertained.

Oh, by the way, I heard the 3D version was terrible, so I opted for the 2D version and liked it just fine.

When You’re Strange

Move review from The Movie Snob

When You’re Strange (B+). This is a documentary about The Doors, a 60’s era rock band that, according to the narration by Johnny Depp (Chocolat), still sells a million albums a year. I’m probably the perfect audience for the film–somebody who has long liked The Doors’ music but has never been interested enough to read a book about them and doesn’t really know their history. The entire movie consists of archival footage and photographs of the band, in and out of concert, and the narration traces the band’s arc from 1965 to 1970. Of course the film focuses heavily on lead singer Jim Morrison, who drank himself to death at age 27, and there are lots of clips of Morrison driving through a desert, apparently from a film project that was never completed. The narration gets a little banal at times, but otherwise this is a solid, enjoyable film . . . if you like The Doors.

Love Happens

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Love Happens (D). This is what happens when you rely on The Borg Queen’s Netflix subscription, people! I like Jennifer Aniston (Management) as much as the rest of America, but dang she has made some bad movies. This recent bomb stars Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking) as self-help guru Burke Ryan, whose specialty is grief counseling. His own wife died in a car crash three years earlier, and now he is on the motivational-speaking circuit touting his book, entitled A-OK. But Ryan is plainly not okay as he blows into Seattle (where his wife died) for one of his gigs. He meets Eloise (Aniston), a local flower-shop owner fresh from a break-up, and tentatively goes after her. The movie is all over the place tonally — the tentative romance gets no more screen time than Ryan’s grief-therapy encounters with a seminar-goer named Walter, and on top of that Ryan has to deal some with his deceased wife’s father (Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now). Painful stuff.

The September Issue

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The September Issue (B). This is a documentary about Vogue magazine and its legendary editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. (Wintour is supposedly the inspiration for Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.) The cameras just kind of follow her around as she does her things, which are primarily (1) going to fashion shows, and (2) making snap judgments about what pictures will and won’t go into her magazine. The movie is more interesting when it follows Grace Coddington, who is one of Anna’s top lieutenants. It’s kind of fun to watch Anna torture Grace with her arbitrary decisions. Anyway, it’s not the most earth-shattering topic, but it’s an enjoyable documentary.

How to Train Your Dragon

Movie Man Mike favors us with a review

How to Train Your Dragon (B+). This is a surprisingly good animated film for both adults and children.  I saw this in 3-D and the special effects are quite good.  This film is rated PG, but I’m not sure why. I don’t recall any bad language or “adult situations.” I suspect that it got a PG rating only because “G” ratings have more of a drag on a film’s marketing than a PG rating. The storyline in this film is original and entertaining. Hiccup is the son of a Viking king. The Viking’s village has been plagued for centuries by dragon attacks. The King takes great pride in killing dragons, but poor Hiccup is this very small guy who pretty much embarrasses his father. Hiccup wants to fit in though and manages to shoot down a night fury dragon, which is a terror-of-a dragon, but which had never before been seen by a Viking. From that point on, Hiccup learns many secrets of the dragons and becomes a champion of the village as a result. The animation in this film is great, and so are the voices of the characters. I heartily recommend this film.