Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven: A rags to riches to rags story


This movie had a heck of a beginning. The royal dad comes back from the crusade to pick up his really healthy looking blacksmith bastard son, Orlando. (He has some French name but I'll skip that). Orlando takes a pass, then changes his mind (I won't give away why, but it's chilling) and rides off to catch up with dad. Once he does, they reconcile and decide they're going to head back to the land of the crusades, Jerusalem. But here's the cool part: Dad is hooked up with this really cool band of knights, one of whom is this amazingly strapping looking German with braids in his blond hair. During a skirmish with another band of knights, he takes an arrow in the neck and continues to fight - an axe in one hand and a sword in the other. It was totally badass! Unfortunately he expires and is gone from the movie. I was sad to see him go. The remains of the crew head off to Messina. Before they can leave for Jerusalem, however, dad succumbs to his wounds and, in a bizarre ritual, makes Orlando a knight.

Here's where things get hinky. Orlando was presumably raised by his mom and somehow learns this blacksmith trade. That allows him to have these seriously beefy arms. (Nice) But his transformation to a knight somehow gives him the clarity of thought and education that a nobleman would (might) have had. There wasn't enough time to do a "becoming a nobleman" montage before dad kicked it. So where did he get so smart? Let's review the life of a serf in France in 1184: Live in a hovel, wear rags, toil from sunup to sundown, eat poor quality food (especially in winter), pay exorbitant taxes to the lord, repeat. Reading, writing and arithmetic weren't part of the package. Yet, once Orlando assumes his role as lord of his sandcastle, he is seen in his "home office" reviewing the accounts and WRITING things! Oh, and in his spare time, he woos the married princess and becomes an expert battle tactician. I find it hard to believe he would have the class for even being able to touch the bottom of her sandal. But hey, that's Hollywood.

The English dudes in this movie do a much better job at looking haggard and dirty. Even Liam Neeson was much more roadworn than Orlando as the blacksmith. I will NOT talk about Orlando's teeth, even though I really want to say how inappropriately white they were. No toothbrushes for serfs! No Crest! No dentists! I have an obsession with teeth.

You know who I liked in this movie? Jeremy Irons. He played Tiberius, the king's man-at-arms I think. He has this cool eye scar (not like in Alexander) that made him look fierce and authentic. I thought his name was odd, however. Tiberius is a good Roman name. I would have thought something Christian would be typical.

The best line in this movie was delivered by Liam. He says to his son: "I once fought for three days with an arrow through my testicle." That's good stuff. We chuckled.

This movie had a good start but petered off into a ho-hum boring, trite storyline of the boy who makes good. I couldn't buy his motivation or those of all who found him to be so compelling. Ridley, where's my Bladerunner?!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Longest Yard: Adam gets his kicks in the can

I can't believe I picked this movie to watch by myself. I needed "Cheers" style friends (those who know my name), beers and nachos. That's the kind of atmosphere that really makes this movie pop. But whatever, I watched it anyway.

I usually skip Adam Sandler movies. I can't stand it when he uses that simpering lisp for his characters in roles such as "The Waterboy." But this was different. When it came out I read a couple of reviews that said, hey, this one's alright. And it was! I was amazed. Adam's character is subdued and sticks to dry humor. This allows the other characters, such as Chris Rock, to take center stage. Adam stood still in the middle of this motley crew and let them do their stuff. That was odd, but sometimes funny.

I found the casting also strange until I saw he was one of the producers. Then it made sense. I have a 411 for folks: Adam Sandler is not incredibly good looking, nor is he tall or especially buff. Did I believe he was a former star quaterback, now fallen from grace? No. I also couldn't believe that Courtney Cox would ever date him, but she was gone shortly into the film so it didn't really matter.

You know who I really liked in this film? Nelly. I had to go to imdb to find out his character's name: Megget. I couldn't remember because I never heard it correctly. What the hell kind of name is Megget? Why can't it be Bob or something easy? Anyway, Nelly was clever and engaging and had seriously ugly teeth, which as a prisoner, was believable to me. Go Nelly.

This is the way to watch a football game. I like football. It's fun and cool. But it's better when it's set to rockin' tunes and the whole game lasts about 20 minutes. Plus, you know which team will win. Your team! No annoying time outs, or commercials, just foot tappin' action.


During the movie we waited patiently to learn about Adam's point-shaving past. "That was never proven!" he exclaims. But his fellow inmates are skeptical. And then, in crunchtime, it finally comes out - he did it! That simple scene made it real for me. He was a true criminal, disgraced in his career, and he deserved to pay for his crime.

Sahara: A series of improbable events


Wow. Does Clive Cussler know how to spin a story or what? The plotlines in this movie were wound tighter than the Gordian Knot. There was not a loose thread anywhere. I liked that. Although I had a groin pull by the end with all my leaps of faith. I was worn out by trying to maintain a shred of believeability. But hell, that's what the movies are for, right?

Let's talk about teeth. Specifically, Matt's and Penelope's. It's no wonder they found each other attractive. They both bring new meaning to the phrase "megawatt smile." I'm not exactly sure how they do it, but I have never seen teeth bigger or brighter than on those two folks. Their dentists should get a bonus for that one.

Did I enjoy this movie? Yeah, I guess. It was really fun to watch on my new big screen tv (I'm in dvd-watching nirvana). Did I really like it? No. Not really. Maybe I could pretend that rebels in foreign countries could be sympathetic to Americans if it were a historical piece. But Sahara is a modern film and most likely our protagonists would all have had a bullet in the back of the head for their trouble, relatively soon into the film. But that would have made for a very unsatisfying 30 minutes or so.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fair Game: A stinker of immense proportions.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****but no one will care.

I'll come right out and say it. Cindy Crawford's breasts are shown in this movie. Or a body double's. It doesn't matter. This is noteworthy because if this 1995 movie were made today, with the same actors (unlikely), there would have been only sexual tension in their banter in order to recieve the coveted PG-13 rating. This movie had enough of a stupid plot, dialog, and explosions to court the pre-teen market. But the boobs and the Baldwin-butt sex scene knocked the kids out of the running.

This was a really bad movie. And I typically enjoy them. I tried very hard to give Cindy the benefit of the doubt and I even gave her a small thumbs up as she told a bad joke with a goofy smile. What I'm ashamed of is Salma Hayek, cast as the fiery hispanic ex-girlfriend. She was shrilly overacting her part as she inexplicably worked to get Max' crap out of her apartment. I needed to know why she hated him so much. It was important to me. He seemed like a nice guy who was trying to get a new place. O.k., so they broke up. Why was she so angry? It didn't work.

There was the typical parade of villians with bad accents (Russian and Cuban) this time. They were really boring and predictable. I found the basis of the plot amusing - they were hacking into the PHONE LINES! Wow! That's catchy technology. They used MODEMS. This led to the annoying mistake. I could accept that they were tracking Cindy's location (through inexplicable mobile technology - a satellite on top of their black SUV?) when the cop uses her account to buy a pizza. Sure, the restaurant has it on file. She's a regular. But then, during their high paced race to safety, Cindy and Billy keep checking into hotels with her credit card. "Do you have any cash?" asks Max. Jesus, the woman was blown from her balcony by a bomb in her TV! "I have a credit card," responds Kate blithely. I saw her. She was wearing her blouse, (very short) skirt, and heels. I'll give them that she didn't lose her shoes in the lagoon but give me a break. She wasn't carrying her purse.

Yawn. I'll try to do better next time. I promise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hitch: A chick flick that gets some laughs

I swear, I must have been in the best mood last night. Maybe it was the holiday and all, taking the kids trick or treating, cracking a beer, whatever. But the man and I bought a movie-on-demand and there it was. As a quick aside, whatever happened to Pay-per-view? I thought that worked perfectly well and then they went and changed it. But onto Hitch.

Why did I like this movie? I have no idea. It was formulaic and adhered to it's script with gorilla glue: Hero Will Smith is on top but has no love. Hero meets girl, falls in love. Makes strides with her. She does a bad thing, relationship falls apart. Hero is down. Intrepid sidekick (Kevin James) points out the error of his ways. "Fight for her, you coward!" Hero pulls himself up by his bootstraps, chases the woman of his dreams. They get together. Cue wedding montage. That's boring stuff.

I probably liked it because of Will Smith and Kevin James. They were good together. Will plays the smooth, charming guy that gets the chicks. (Anyone remember his work with Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys?) Kevin played the awkward, anxiety ridden chubby guy with skill. They are both really funny! Their antics made me laugh.

Unfortunately, the women weren't funny. Eva Mendes was brittle, and I didn't buy her warming up to Will. The heiress, Allegra, was a cardboard cutout. They just carried her from place to place, propped her up, and had Kevin talk to her. Eva's sidekick was a weak little mouse with no brain. And maybe it was my TV, but none of them seemed particularly gorgeous or interesting. I had a hard time understanding why the men were falling for them so hard.

Odd script note: Both Will and Eva used the term of endearment "Pumpkin" in the movie. Will when speaking to that dastardly villian Vance, and Eva with her sidekick. But they never got close enough to use it with each other.

You know what? New York City gets a bad rap because of these movies. Folks who have never even been to Manhattan see these movies and think everyone lives in a penthouse, or in a loft in Soho. Did you check out Eva's apartment? We're talking millions of dollars. There is NO WAY a gossip columnist at the local rag (NY Post equivalent) would be making enough scratch to afford a place like that. We're talking multiple thousands of dollars a month. Not happening.

I think the way to enjoy this movie - and I really did - is to check your brain at the door. One must NOT think too much about it. I left my brain in a plastic pumpkin full of trick or treat candy.