Snakes on a Plane (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417148/)

SOAP

Holy cineschlock! A summer movie that satisfies one’s desire for sex, violence, and I guess a bit of drugs (snakes on crack.. err pheromones). It’s exploitation cinema to the max, with sometimes crappy dialogue, gratuitous amounts of gore, and cheesy predictable fun. I’ve always been a fan of the B-movie, especially one that embraces its B-movie-ness. These movies are unpretentious but humble, in their own little world where the subtleties of high-art are thrown aside for grand, yet frequently low budget, visual indulgences. Good B-movies sometimes fall into the “so bad it’s good” category, and Snakes on a Plane is no exception, for it provides the entertainment one expects, making it one of the more satisfying movies of this summer.

So Snakes on a Plane is a bunch of fun, and you should see it. Beware though if you are a realist, this movie veers far from reality. From the computer graphic snakes to the silly character roles of the cast (rap star bodyguards, pretentious Brit, fat ugly woman), the movie is all jokes and fun. As mentioned in many other reviews, the snakes have an affinity for going after orifices of the human body, causing squeamish giggling among viewers. If you’re not into this sort of “so ridiculous/so gratuitous, it’s funny” gag, then this movie may not be for you. The target audience should know who they are though; the movie’s simple title is either interesting or repulsing.

If you want to have some fun at the cinema this summer, check out Snakes on a Plane! Don’t take it too seriously, because I’m pretty sure the creators didn’t.

3.5 poisonous and lethal snake bites out of 5

Next time: EXTREME ASIAN CINEMA

A magical disappearing act

August 23, 2006

The Illusionist (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443543/)

Illusionist

The Illusionist stars Edward Norton as Eisenheim, a magician who comes from a less than fortunate background but builds a great audience and reputation. This period film is set in Vienna around 1900 (I think) and deals with the mystery, romance, and magic between Edward Norton and Jessica Biel, his childhood forbidden-love girlfriend. Since Jessica Biel is of nobility (duchess), she is to be married to the power hungry prince. Of course, Eisenheim does not want to lose the duchess’ love and involves himself in matters concerning her, the prince, the police (Paul Giamatti as an inspector dude), as well as the public audience. I don’t want to give anything away, so you should check it out if you want to know more about how these affairs are resolved.

In my opinion, there’s not much to say about The Illusionist.  It’s a straightforward flick that is pretty predictable.  It entertains and is engaging for the most part but never tries to be anything more.  Its potential is there, but in the end the movie plays well and wraps up fairly cleanly.  (I have a few questions, but on the whole pretty straightforward)  The movie has a lot of pretty magic tricks; however, the tricks are obviously impossible and made with hollywood magic solely for a narrative purpose.

The Illusionist is a film that is really, truly harmless.  It’s worth seeing only because there’s nothing much to see in theaters now.  It’s a movie that will fly under the radar for its plainness and its satisfactory grade.  In a sense it’s a disappointment since it could’ve been so much more, but at the same time, the film saves itself from being pretentious and just plain bad.  The Illusionist is a disappearing act, a nice diversion though it will fade quickly from your memory.

3 disappearing people out of 5

Next time: Don’t know yet, maybe some soap or asian stuff

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0415306/)

talladeganights1.jpg

Will Ferrell is an acquired taste for sure. Some people love him, others can’t stand him. Usually I fall into league with the former; his roles in Zoolander, Wedding Crashers, and Anchorman have made me laugh till it hurts. His ridiculousness is equivalent to hilarity, and I love it. Except this time.

Talladega Nights, the un-funny Will Ferrell flick, is WAY too long, clocking in at almost two full hours. This is not to say that the movie didn’t have its moments, but I expect more riotous jokes from the man who said “San Diego, it’s german for a whale’s vagina.” Maybe the humor was lost on me since I don’t really watch Nascar, but still it’s a sad day when Will Ferrell isn’t funny at all. While the entire cast was quite capable, the ENTIRE movie was not THAT funny. It was frequently slow and filled with half laughs. If it had not been for the gay frenchman Formula One driver, Talladega Nights would not really have a single memorable moment. Thanks to Da Ali G, Sacha Baron Cohen, the show went on.

But like I said earlier, it went on too long. Ricky Bobby’s character loves to “go fast,” but the movie certainly did not follow his lead. The movie also tries to be sweet at times and comes off boring. His female “love interest” almost had no role in this film. Talladega Nights certainly is no “Anchorman,” and I hope Will Ferrell returns to Ron Burgundy while leaving the Nascar act in the dust.

2.5 knives in Will Ferrell’s thigh out of 5

Next time: Magic tricks!

I have been on a sort of vacation the last few days. I visited an old friend in Cleveland, and we decided to kill some time at the old second run theater, trying to avoid the recent burning heatwave. It’s fifty cent tuesdays so we checked out some flicks that we probably would never see for more than fifty cents. All in all, it was good fun and relaxing.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463985/)

Put your brain on cruise control! (I couldn’t wait to say that) The second return of the male adolescent, testosterone fueled franchise brings faster cars, furious racing, and foreign women. This time around Paul Walker didn’t even join up, perhaps a sign of this series’ decline (hopefully). In any case, the movie provides some thrills, and I was actually impressed to see that the racing seemed mostly real – I had thought there would be gratuitous computer effects.

The movie is ridiculous with the American protagonist’s heavy southern twang and his Japanese nemesis: a punk nephew of a Yakuza boss. I laughed a little when I saw the Yakuza gangsters looking disgruntled while holding bats and chains. But that’s not what we came to see right? The “drifting” or tire-damaging slides of the cars was pretty exciting, and in the end worth two quarters of entertainment.

Poseidon (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0409182/)

While not “boatloads” of fun, Poseidon provided periodic “waves” of entertainment (Don’t hate me for saying that).  It’s good to see Kurt Russell run around again, and Emmy Rossum is a pretty eyeful herself.  The movie has all the usual dangers, flames, rising water, tiny suffocating passages, deep chasms, electricity, etc., and it’s all on one boat.  It’s exciting to see these passengers try to escape, and it’s a quick paced ride as the movie doesn’t drag a la Titanic and other disaster flicks.  Although I enjoyed Poseidon moreso than Tokyo Drift (I don’t care for cars much), I can see many people seeing it the other way around.  Poseidon is the old school mindless action, and it’s done right with a name like Wolfgang Petersen helming the project.  Dripping with computer effects, the movie is pretty fun to watch.  Like Tokyo Drift, it’s basically harmless loud noises and flashing lights to pass some time.

2.5 – 3 Japanese import models sinking in the ocean out of 5

Miami Vice (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430357/)

Miami Vice

Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Oh the delights of Jerry Bruckheimer production and Michael Bay’s action buddy comedy of two miami cops destroying the city while trying to unravel massive webs of drug trafficking from Cuba. Unfortunately, Miami Vice does not provide us the same buddy cop fun flick, but instead becomes a broodingly slow though visually stunning undercover cop movie. The whole movie deals with Miami PD Sonny (Colin Farrell) and his partner Ricardo (Jamie Foxx). Their lives get mixed up with drug trade as they go undercover as middle men transporters. Colin Farrell’s character flirts it up with a smokin’ Isabella (Gong Li), the wife/female object/business partner of drug lord Jesus Montoya. Quickly, the intrigue and tension build up and boil to a predictable finale.

Stylistically, Miami Vice is great. Visually pleasing for the two and a half hours, the movie has a cool gritty look due to the use of HD video instead of traditional filming. Please read A.O. Scott’s review of the film here; I think it describes the movie pretty well.

As pretty a face Miami Vice has, the movie was a little dull to me. I felt it focused mostly on Sonny, and I was tired of watching Colin Farrell with his ridiculous mustache and long hair. Also, there isn’t THAT much action. The movie mostly focuses on Sonny and Ricardo’s undercover work, and I’d say that the guns blaze only at the end of the film. While not a bad movie, I didn’t find Miami Vice to be particularly enjoyable either. I think this may be because it’s the summer, and I’m looking for a quicker pace and less brains. You know, a fun dumb flick. With film though, the really pretty ones like Miami Vice (“Operatic” – A.O. Scott), are sometimes a little less fun and a little more intelligent. It’s long, it’s visually stunning, it’s not for the summer movie player. Make sure you’re in the mood to see it.

3 locks of Farrell’s long hair out of 5

Next time: Fast cars and a sinking ship