Monday, June 01, 2009

Dear Charlie:

I think today should be National Rey Mysterio Day. If you don't know why, you've never seen his signature move. Or you don't know today's date. Or you simply don't watch wrestling. You wouldn't be the only one.

I miss wrestling. I can't find it on the local stations anymore. Woe is me.

Anyway!

On good advice, I rented a couple of movies this weekend, and since I was finally well enough (been sick, but who hasn't?) to watch and actually enjoy, I figured I'd talk about them a little. Not quite "reviews", like I'd link to in the sidebar there, but just...ya know...kinda blab.

First, Taken.

Nothing terribly surprising in this film, but it's a helluva good time for all of that. Liam Neeson is stellar. Not that this is surprising, of course, but seriously. For this part, he gives up the wisened, patient master he picked up for Qui-Gon Jinn and melts himself into a loving, if absent, father. He'd give up the world for his daughter -- and has -- though he's too late to save his marriage.

He's not above admitting that the ex-wife's new husband is disgustingly perfect (if only because he did the background check himself) or that, while his former career was imminently worthwhile, he perhaps shouldn't have done it for so long or so well because of everything he lost to do it. It's not that he's filled with regret. It's that...well...he only has a certain amount of time with his daughter, and he's already missed most of it.

He's...I dunno...trying to win back her trust. Yeah, that's it. Not her love, because he basically has that, but her trust. He wants her to be able to depend on him, that he'll be there for her, and not only when she needs him.

But he still feels the need to protect her as he did for all those years (though she doesn't know that), so when she wants to go to Paris with a friend, he first balks entirely and then gives in...with a few iron-clad ground rules.

Which she, of course, breaks. To her credit, she doesn't do so intentionally.

The only thing I find unbelievable about this flick -- hey, the poor guy even gets shot, so it's not like he's the invincible SuperDad who plows through the underground flesh trade like a nuke-powered Death's sickle -- is that the makers expect us to believe that there's not only one 17-year-old virgin...but several.

Of course, the 19-year-old wasn't one. So that's probably all right. Heh, sorry.

Anyway, this is all set-up for an old-fashioned revenge flick with the added attraction of a possible rescue. There's the friend-who-double-deals (or at least doesn't help as he could). There's the Bad Guy Who Got What He Was Promised (heh, never happily translate something you've said to a pissed-off father in haste and have since forgotten). There's the slog through how disgusting men can be (and no, I'm not a man-hater; some of my best friends are men) when it comes to the flesh trade...and the price they pay to be such utter shits.

All good fun.

But mostly, there's just Liam Neeson, who proves that you don't have to be a member of the Under Fifty Crowd to kick ass in an action movie. I mean, seriously. He took his licks, but he dealt it back out in spades. In spades to the Nth Degree.

Not necessarily the best movie in the world, but definitely entertainment, and that's all a girl can ask for. I am satisfied.

Second, The Spirit.

I missed this one in the theater, mostly because -- while I love this filmmaking style, the graphic novel look and feel -- I didn't know anything about the storyline and...well...it looked a little...woman-heavy. Look, I know the source material. Graphic novels are sexy-chick candy, and that's all well and good. But I don't necessarily want to see it come to life.

Plus, I was out of town when the group of friends went, and it was one of those movies that would probably be better in a like-minded crowd.

Anyway, I kept meaning to rent it and just never got around to it, but I finally picked it up. And until the Octopus said, "Come on, toilets are always funny!", I honestly didn't know what to think. The cheese was almost too much...until then.

At that point, I realized that, yeah, it's supposed to be funny. And it was. But they advertised it as more of a cop drama, a serious flick. I didn't expect cheese.

Of course, I'm glad I got it. Along with all the eggs.

If you've watched it, you'll get that. Heh.

But it gets me thinking. When I saw the trailer for Drag Me to Hell, I was all, "Meh, another PG-13 horror movie; I'll pass". We're all well aware of my opinion of dumbing something down for a PG-13 rating.

But when I happened upon a couple of reviews on the flick, imagine my surprise. It's Sam Raimi, for one thing. And it's apparently the Second Coming of the Evil Dead, for another. Why didn't they advertise that? Why didn't they say it was cheesy horror of the best sort? Why didn't they put that in the trailer, instead of making like it was a serious horror flick that would probably fail miserably because it took itself too seriously for the subject matter?

Dude, if not for the reviews, I'd have never stepped foot in that theater (and still haven't, but I might remedy that this weekend, and I'll definitely see it sometime). The trailer gave me absolutely nothing.

My point is this: if you know your movie's selling points, why not put them in the trailer? I understand not wanting to give away the good parts, but seriously. If you're banking the movie on cheese, why not slice a little off the block for the trailer so people know what they're in for?

If I didn't like cheese and I'd gone to either The Spirit or Drag Me to Hell based on the trailer, I'd have been pissed. As it is, I seriously almost missed out on excellent entertainment because what was in the trailer wasn't what I wanted to see.

Mind you, I got no love for Denny Colt, AKA The Spirit. Pick a woman, for the love of God. And what's with all these women? Don't they see that he'll never love any of them any more than any of the rest? That his roving eye will never settle? That, in his own words, he has no room in his heart for any woman that isn't his city?

Geez, mon.

But the movie itself is a riot. The Octopus is priceless. It's good to see a villain who truly enjoys his villainy. He's not so focused on his wicked goals that he's above having a little fun with his adversary. Heh, and he's absolutely right: toilets are always funny.

But Silken Floss, his lovely henchwoman, is equally priceless. Between the two of them, they have more costumes than a Vegas showgirl -- there's a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not sure where. And she loves her job. Nothing better than a job you love.

And she's not one of The Spirit's girls. She's resistant to his charms. Gotta love that kind of spunk in a henchwoman.

Once I realized it wasn't taking itself seriously, this flick began to really shine. It's slapstick, but it's artistic slapstick. Every gag is lovingly played. Every one-liner is tossed off with just the right amount of glee. And every hard-boiled cop line comes out with a little bit of the bullet caught between the teeth.

Beautiful stuff.

But it should've been advertised better. Or at least differently.

In a way, I feel the same way about Watchmen. I can understand why those not in the know were irritated at the flick. From the trailer, you'd think it was a ripping good action flick, but anyone who knew the graphic novel knew it was more of a drama, more a cop thriller than a bunch of superheroes racing after the bad guys and blowing stuff up left and right.

You don't get that from the trailer. And that's a shame.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just being picky. I'm always wary of a comedy that looked hilarious from the trailer because I'm afraid the trailer's given away the only funny parts, so maybe I should be glad that studios seem to be playing it closer to the vest. But it seems to me that if you're gonna have cheese, you oughtta know you're getting cheese from the get-go.

Or maybe that's just me.

...

Dude. These kinda ended up being reviews after all. Didn't mean for that to happen.

Dammit.

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