Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review Day: The Sequel

Why have I watched so many movies this month?

Tropic Thunder:
This satiric skewering of the movie industry is also funny enough to be enjoyed by an average joe who know's nothing about movies. It starts with faux advertisements and previews (which just might be the best part), like Scorcher VI, and Alpa Chino's Booty Sweat energy drink (audio not safe for work). Highlights include Robert Downey Jr. pretending to be a black guy and Tom Cruise dancing his way through the closing credits. Jack Black costars, but his performance registers very low on the "I'm Jack Black, Look At Me Act" scale of annoyingness.

Final Grade: A-

Dark Knight:
By the time I finally watched this movie, it had been three years since I watched Batman Begins. I didn't really remember any of that movie, but was able to jump onboard pretty quickly with its sequel. The acting is top-notch and the ending is gratifying while also setting up the final movie in the trilogy. However, I have no idea how a third movie can be made without Heath Ledger -- his interpretation of the Joker character is really a foundation of the movie, and working around it in the future seems pretty impossible. Musically, I was impressed with how many scenes had no music at all, letting the onscreen action direct the momentum.

Final Grade: A-

This movie is a three-hour Baz Luhrmann special, which will either sound wonderful or terrifying, depending on your impressions of Moulin Rouge. It's far less weird and more coherent than the previous movie, but still ends up as a mashup of multiple genres -- it's Dances With Wolves meets Pearl Harbor meets City Slickers with bits and pieces of several other movies thrown in. All the music in the soundtrack is organically spun from two themes, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and that shepherdy hymn that shows up in everyones' weddings. This is intellectually appealing at first, but gets old around hour two. In fact, the entire movie might have been stronger had they cut about forty minutes from the running time. Rent it and watch in two parts.

Final Grade: B-

Letters to Santa: A Muppet Christmas:
This Christmas special aired last night on NBC, and was about what you'd expect from a Muppet special. The first fifteen minutes are a glorified commercial for the US Postal Service (starring Jesse Martin of RENT fame), and the actor chosen to portray Santa seemed to have some sort of strange pasty skin disease. It was at its best with the snarky one-liners and dragged the most during the three or four obligatory songs. Cute, and definitely not rated R, although Beaker makes a Christmas wish and ends up with a half-naked female model who talks just like him.

Final Grade: B-

Boy shoots parents to play Halo 3
Armed robbers steal egg beater
Introducing body spray from Burger King

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