Archive for December, 2007

The Golden Compass: His Brief Adaptations

December 30, 2007

As a kid, I was a sucker for fantasy novels. Stick a pot boiler featuring wizards or dragons or stuff like that in front of me and I’d probably devour it within the day. Nowadays, I’m fairly jealous of kids and the type of literature aimed at them. Harry Potter, bless his heart, burst the door open for publishers to flood the children’s section of every Border’s with uninspired, flimsy fantasy epics. I would’ve loved that shit. But I didn’t exit my childhood too deprived. I got The Golden Compass.

I have no idea how to read this

How I came across the book is almost the stuff of shitty children’s fantasy writing, itself. I was snooping around my older sister’s room, I can’t remember why (unfortunately, I didn’t have any mysterious hermit great-uncles with English countryside estates), and came across the paperback on her bookshelf. It seemed strange, since I didn’t know her to read anything other than Clive Cussler books. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I thought the book was at first glance, that the compass on the cover was some kind of treasure from an ancient civilization or some stupid thing like that. But it looked pretty enough to read the snippet on the back cover, and I was surprised to see that it was actually a fantasy novel. Being who I was, I instantly decided to give it a whirl. It turned out to be one of the more rewarding literal leaps of faith I’ve made. Later on I learned that my sister had no idea what that book was or why it was in her room.

After Harry Potter broke everything, everywhere, wide open, I had a thought snuggled in the back of my head: “I hope they do something with the His Dark Materials Trilogy!” Eventually, my hopes and dreams were answered! But probably only because New Line Cinema wanted another Lord of the Rings and was bitter about Disney (it was Disney, right?) producing its own stab at the WETA-effects fantasy pot, another beloved, philosophical children’s fantasy series: The Chronicles of Narnia. So it was with great joy that I finally heard that production on the movie was actually going forward. I was elated to see the trailer! If anything from today’s modern children’s fantasy offerings deserved the red carpet treatment (aside from glory-hog Harry Potter), it was the His Dark Materials Trilogy. Nevermind what on earth they were going to do about the series’ controversial theological stance.

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SHREK SHREK SHREK – I Am Legend

December 22, 2007

Will Smith most likely butchers another sci-fi classic by Richard Matheson – I don’t know, I didn’t read the book – but he escapes my ire, for the most part, with a decent sci-fi/horror flick that manages to be melancholic and bitter despite some of its focus-tested studio bullshit and its horrible special effects. It’s 2007 and effects studios are still churning out movie monsters that look no better than The Mummy Returns. There’s a reason they never showed these bastards in the trailers. Tell you what, computer guys, I know Photoshop is a tough program but if your movie looks like this:

grahhh

Or this:

UGH

For the love of Grodd put that chicken back in the oven because your movie is NOT done yet. Once they quit looking blurry and resemble some sort of solid object then your job’s almost done. Tighten up those graphics, or better yet, put stuntmen in suits and have them run around and yell and bite. When was the last time a guy was in a suit and he actually pulled it off? … My goodness, I think it was the Nemesis in Resident Evil: Apocalypse. How could the effects in Resident Evil: Apocalypse outdo a big budget Will Smith sci-fi cultural event? Unforgivable. The zombie-vampire creatures Will Smith’s Robert Neville hides from used to be human beings so, please, why make them look like Mr. Hyde from Van Helsing? I’d pull up a screenshot of that abomination too, but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for what things might happen. Terrible, terrible things.

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Some Kind of Movie – I’m Not There

December 14, 2007

I’m Not There is the type of self-conscious back-patting art flick I’d normally balk at but I’m glad I saw it if just for the performances and to say it is very weird.

It’s very weird. Abstract, surreal, you name it, a movie about Bob Dylan that jumps back and forth between various timelines and narratives and settings and actors — it’s fucking maddening. It shows some semblance of structure as each vignette finds some way to segue into the next portion, making you temporarily forget it’s a fat mess. Bob Dylan’s music also ties everything together even though I have no clue what most of what’s happening in the movie means.

DYLAN

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La Femme Nikita: GIRL KILLS LOTS OF PEOPLE AND THEN CRIES ABOUT IT

December 13, 2007

Better late than never! I finally fished this oldie out of my dad’s rather expansive DVD collection. I’d been meaning to watch it for years, since this is basically the movie that helped put Luc Besson on the map.

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Grumplet: The Simpsons Movie

December 8, 2007

Despite losing its charm nearly a decade ago with lame guest stars up the ass and gags so outdated only Seth MacFarlane would laugh (Scientology! LOL), Fox finally saw it fit to release that Simpsons movie fans have been waiting their whole reference-reciting lives for. Well, lock up the hounds or the bees or the hounds that shoot bees out of their mouths and pass the Red Tick Beer because The Simpsons Movie is actually pretty good. Matt Groening said he wouldn’t do the movie unless they had the right story and I guess this is as close as they’d get. Springfield’s in danger, Homer and Marge’s marriage is troubled and Lisa… well, she’s still an annoying tart, so, it’s exactly what fans would expect.

What’s unexpected is just how much… character development, I guess is what it can be called, is in the movie. Remember old episodes of The Simpsons that were actually kind of touching? The movie hearkens back to some of that. It succeeds with Homer and Marge’s storyline but Bart’s subplot, in which he spends some father-son bonding time with that GEEK Flanders, feels forced and out of place. There are also several cameos and in-jokes only seasoned Simpsons vets would catch. It looks like every single Springfield resident appears in crowd scenes, though I never did see Sideshow Bob. I was especially pleased spotting Chester J. Lampwick in a shot.

The animation’s great, Hans Zimmer’s music is passable, the voice acting is the same quality it’s always been… it’s a solid flick. The jokes do fall flat time to time but if you’re a Simpsons fan or if you want to give 2D animation your patronage, and you should, there’s no reason not to see it.