Movie Reviews postsFriday April 15, 2011
Movie Review of the Day: Ebert on “Atlas”
“I was primed to review 'Atlas Shrugged.' I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: 'I’m on board; pull up the lifeline.' There are however people who take Ayn Rand even more seriously than comic-book fans take 'Watchmen.' I expect to receive learned and sarcastic lectures on the pathetic failings of my review.
”And now I am faced with this movie, the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms.
“During these meetings, everybody drinks. More wine is poured and sipped in this film than at a convention of oenophiliacs. There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, ”What did they just say?“ The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily. Much of the excitement centers on the tensile strength of steel.”
-- Roger Ebert on “Atlas Shrugged”
Anticipating Guilty Pleasures
But it's not summer yet, you say.
But summer movies haven't been released yet, you say.
How can they know what's guilty, or a pleasure, if they haven't seen anything yet?
For the record, I thought Matt Singer's response was charming, Glenn Kenney's was funny, and Devin Faraci's incomprehensible. Who doesn't feel guilty over pleasure?
My favorite response, though, came from Jeff Wells. No, not “Super 8”—a movie that doesn't appear too guilt-inducing to me. Wells responded first on his own site, Hollywood Elsewhere, which is how I came upon the MSN piece in the first place. I love his impatience with the folks at MSN who waited 48 hours to post the piece. “I'm sorry,” he writes, “but in this era of instant worldwide expression the idea of writing something and having it gestate and cool its heels off-screen for 48 or more hours seems ridiculous to me.”
He has no idea. In the summer of 2008, I wrote a piece for MSN about a film opening that Friday. Submitted it on, I believe, a Wednesday. Was told it would be posted the following Monday. “But shouldn't we post it on Friday?” I asked. “Since fans of the movie will want to read about the movie over the weekend? Won't Monday be too late?” I was assured otherwise. I was told nothing could be done. Besides, how big could the opening weekend be?
That movie was, of course, “The Dark Knight.”
But it's not Wells' impatience with MSN that I loved. It's the summer 2011 guilty pleasure he writes about that MSN didn't post:
“My other biggie is Bad Teacher (6.24) because I've been nursing fantasies about secretly slutty, ill-mannered teachers (not to mention secretly slutty nurses and pre-vow nuns) since I was ten years old, and this looks somewhat fulfilling in that regard. Why oh why didn't a teacher try to take advantage of me when I was 14 or 15? Why do today's teenagers have all the fun?”
The response is itself a guilty pleasure.
Dueling Movie Critics: O'Hehir vs. Edelstein on “Your Highness”
“Gingival surgery would be more fun than watching this brain-draining, spirit-sucking attempt at a stoner spoof, which combines the cutting edge of frat-boy wit, the excitement of a mid-'80s made-for-TV action flick and the authenticity of a Renaissance Faire held in an abandoned field behind a Courtyard by Marriott. A bus trip from Duluth to Sioux City would be more fun, and don't think I didn't do my research: That takes 13 hours and costs 96 bucks.”
--Andrew O'Hehir, “Is 'Your Highness' the Worst Film Ever Made?” on Salon.com
“How low does Your Highness go? As low as the deepest pits of Adam Sandlershire, the darkest pools of Kevin Smithport, the coprophagic caverns of John Waterstown. As its title implies, it also soars as high as Mount Cheech-and-Chong. It features geysers of gore; bare boobs; Natalie Portman’s bum; and a long, stiff Minotaur knob, which is something you don’t see every day. The trick is that Your Highness is played like a straight sword-and-sorcery epic, with nary a whisper of camp — a cunning weave of low and high, regal and smutty, splendiferous and splattery. It conforms to popular (bad) taste in ways you might find alarming. But on the far side of alarm is nirvana.”
--David Edelstein, “'Your Highness' is Bad Taste Done Right,” in New York Magazine
Looks like O'Hehir on points: Rotten Tomatoes' top critics currently have “Your Highness” at 10%.
This is similar to the critical reaction, too.
How the French Feel Watching Americans Blow Up the Eiffel Tower
This weekend we get to see how dumb these guys are. And by “these guys” I mean 12-to-18-year-old boys. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” opens today in—Jesus!—4,007 theaters? My god. Enough of this. Wait til next week for “District 9.” Go out and play already. With a G.I. Joe, sure, just play. Just don’t hurt us anymore, kids.
The movie didn’t screen for critics, of course, but it did open earlier in the week in France, where the following review appeared in Le Monde. First my crappy English translation, then the French:
The distinctive feature of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra” is that it was inspired, not by a comic strip or a video game—that’s become routine in Hollywood—but by children’s dolls; by toys to whom the film gives life. It goes withou saying that their origin myth is particularly poor.
You can’t say Stephen Sommers' film has much consistency. These G.I. Joes are special troops devoted to preventing a mad scientist and a rich and megalomaniacal arms merchant from becoming the rulers of the world—helped in this by hardened and cruel veterans who have at their disposal the most up-to-date and extreme technologies of death and destruction. (They destroy the Eiffel Tower!]
This production, consisting of shamelessly borrowing from everything in the universe, from comic strips to martial arts films to the inventions of the Matrix saga, contains numerous action scenes that are particularly confusing.
The use, ad nauseum, of digitalized special effects and infantile humor, quickly give this G.I. Joe the feel of a big cartoon.
La particularité de G.I. Joe Le réveil du cobra est de s’inspirer, non d’une bande dessinée ou d’un jeu vidéo, ce qui est devenu la routine à Hollywood, mais de figurines pour enfants, de jouets à qui le film a pour objectif de donner vie. C’est dire à quel point la mythologie d’origine est particulièrement pauvre.
On ne peut pas vraiment dire que le film de Stephen Sommer lui donne beaucoup de consistance. Les “GI Joe” constituent une troupe spéciale vouée à empêcher un savant fou et un riche et mégalomane marchand d’armes de devenir les maîtres du monde, aidés en cela par des combattants aguerris et cruels, disposant des technologies de mort et de destruction les plus récentes et les plus radicales (ils pulvérisent la tour Eiffel !).
Cette production, constituée d’emprunts éhontés à toutes sortes d’univers, de la BD au cinéma d’arts martiaux en passant par les inventions de la saga Matrix, contient de nombreuses scènes d’action particulièrement confuses.
L’usage ad nauseam d’effets spéciaux numériques et un humour infantile donnent des allures de gros dessin animé à ce G.I Joe. Le Réveil du cobra.
The Rise of Something Anyway
From Richard Kuiper's Variety review of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” which was not screened for most critics:
Playing more like a highlights reel from an established franchise than a movie intended to launch it, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” interrupts its barrage of CGI action for only the barest minimum of anything resembling character development. Still, young auds switched on to precisely this sort of entertainment should turn this futuristic, military-themed pic into a significant worldwide hit...
No they shouldn't.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard