Monday, May 09, 2005

Weekend Movies

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Pleasantly surprised here... it wasn't all it could be but it was far from the disaster that had been hinted at. I had just done a refresher course on the book, so it was not hard to recognize where the movie goes south, not that such things are always forgivable, but with movies, especially those based on things you enjoy, there's a bit of give and take. The first third of the film is pretty damn faithful, and it kind of unfairly sets you up to start really getting into it. It's the "second act" where things go sour, in an entirely hollywood-fabricated plot twist that is disappointing to say the least. Apparently Hollywood can't make a movie without a potential love interest between two leads, nor can they ever, ever, ever stray from the tired cliche of "let's go rescue the helpless woman, who by the way is good for nothing except being put into situations of distress and being the object of affection." At this stage in my moviegoing, it's slightly insulting. For the last third, the movie generally gets back on track, altho they have to hang on to alot of silly details they introduced along the way. If Arthur and Trillian have to fall in love, so be it, there's plenty of other cool stuff going on.

The movie, even the new material, hangs onto a british sense of humor and it does give things a certain flavor. Most of the movie is just plain weird, as you would expect from a cinematic version of the source material. I have to say the thing that pushed it over the top for me (in the sense of things that made it overall enjoyable vs. disappointing) was Sam Rockwell as Zaphod, that guy has it nailed. It really was like how I imagined him in my many readings over the years. He's got the two-heads-thing going on to a degree, but what was an integral (and intricate) sub-story in the novels is glossed over rather harmlessly. Too bad about that, and some other things, but I think they did a fine job with what they had and if anything I'll be humming the tune of "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" for a while.

The Chronicles of Riddick. Caught this on cable. Meant to see this a while ago, I wanted it to be good, but... It's best described as an over-art directed showcase for how non-appealing it is to watch Vin Deisel. How am I supposed to care at all for his character? Pitch Black was good enough for him, but now he's the end-all be-all of a intergalactic threat? These types of movies shoot themselves in the foot, by announcing what a big deal they are. If this Riddick dude is going to be around for Deisel's new "franchise," it's pretty obvious he's gonna stick around for a while. Therefore I have no investment in his actions. The entire movie was poorly written, barely acted, and had an awkward pace. It tried to be Dune but fell very short. The only thing I liked about it was the ending, which I have to admit was pretty good, even if it was lifted from Conan.

As a side note, that same night I caught the tail end of Return of the Jedi on UPN of all places, and damn if I wasn't riveted to the set. That shit still holds up. There may be alot of Star Wars fever going around, but watching Jedi I could sense a tangible realness that was completely absent from Riddick.

Garfield. Another cable offering. Now the lengths I've gone to support Jennifer Love Hewett rival her brazzire, but we all have to draw the line somewhere. Twenty minutes was about all I could handle before my brain started threatening to seize of it's own volition just so it would not have to be subjected to another minute of CG animal hyjinks. I tried, Love, I tried.

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