Friday, November 30, 2007

Walking into random parts of movies

I recently started working at the local cinema (or movie theater as those wacky Americans call them) again. I had to quit back in April when my mother passed away. This time, I'm working as an usher three days a week, which is much better than being stuck in the box office all the time. And I get to walk round and watch movies to make sure they're playing ok. So I have an opinion on pretty much every movie playing right now, or at least the parts I've seen (which is mostly the beginnings and middles). Here's what I think about some of the fantasy films playing right now.

- looks stunning in 3D. Some of the action scenes literally made me jump. The acting and story's not bad, and the "synthespians" eyes are slightly less dead than in Robert Zemeckis' previous film, The Polar Express. Grendel (voiced by Crispin Glover) is a fascinating creation - terrifying yet oddly sad and pathetic. It's also a surprisingly raunchy film, especially in the scene where Grendel's nude mother fondles Beowulf's . . . ahem, sword.

The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel starring Troy McClure. I mean Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium starring Dustin Hoffman. As the title suggests, it's a very silly and twee film, best enjoyed by a young and undemanding audience.

Enchanted - typically Disney fluff, with the mix of live action and animation offering little new.

Next month should be better for movies, with several that I actually plan to watch all of, including I am Legend and Sweeney Todd!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Mist

Just got back from seeing The Mist. It's always been one of my favourite Stephen King stories and I've been looking forward to the film for a long time. For the most part it didn't disappoint, though I did have some issues with the ending (more about that later).
Frank Darabont's screenplay stays very true to the novella for most of its running time. The setup (there's a storm, the mist rolls into town and a group of people are trapped inside a store with something horrible waiting for them outside) is handled very efficiently. There's plenty of humour in the film, which makes some of the plot absurdities easier to swallow.
When the creatures do start to appear, they're fairly successfully realised. The CG effects looks a little ropey in parts, but the prehistoric creatures from another dimension are pretty damn creepy (especially the spiders which burst out of their cocooned victims). As in the novella, the religious zealot Mrs. Carmody makes a very hissable villain who's even scarier than the monsters in some ways.
When the survivors finally leave the store for good, Darabont veers away from the novella and manages to give the film an ending that is somehow more hopeful and yet far bleaker than the original ending. I won't spoil it, but needless to say it will leave a bad taste in many viewer's mouths.

Despite that, this is definitely one of the more successful King adaptations in recent years (along with 1408, which has made this a good year for King fans). As he showed with The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Darabont is one of the few directors who really understands King's writing, and is able to transfer the author's voice to the screen intact. The acting is generally good - Thomas Jane makes his second appearance in a King film after Dreamcatcher and the supporting cast make their characters stand out. The film manages some impressively apocalyptic visuals with its low budget (I was especially happy to see the haunting image of the giant, Lovecraftian monster from the novella makes it into the film). I'd recommend the film to any monster movie fans. Just don't expect an upbeat Hollywood ending.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

30 Days of Night

I just saw that movie where Josh Hartnett decides not to have sex with vampires for 30 days . . . or, er . . . something. I'd heard it was a different take on vampires, but the only new thing it seemed to bring to the genre was that the vampires had their own language. And constantly screeched like they were body snatchers.
I haven't read the graphic novel, so I don't know how faithful an adaptation it was, but I was somewhat underwhelmed. It was mostly entertaining, but pretty much just Assault on Precinct 13 spread out over 30 days . . . with vampires! John Carpenter would have added more humour if he'd directed it, though. I also found it distracting that the head vampire looked like Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys. It's worth catching when it comes on TV, but I wouldn't pay good money to see it (luckily I didn't, since I get free tickets at the cinema I work at). Hopefully The Mist will be a better horror film.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

TRON 2!!! And some new Tim Burton projects

The most exciting news I've heard for a while is that they may finally be making a sequel to Tron, one of the most awesome movies of the 80's (and an even more awesome video game). This has been rumoured off and on for a long time, but according to this interview with Jeff Bridges it may really be happening this time.
Oh, and Tim Burton has some new projects in the works, neither of which I can get that excited about. First there's an Alice in Wonderland movie (which has already been done to death) using motion-capture technology. Then he'll remake Frankenweenie in stop motion. Why Tim? It's bad enough that nearly all his recent films have been remakes. Is he gonna start remaking all his own films now? Oh well, I'll still go see them, because there's always some magic in even Burton's worst movies.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My first celebrity interview!

I did my first celebrity interview today, with actor Max Casella (Doogie Howser, MD; The Sopranos and Paul Marco in Ed Wood). I was waiting anxiously by the phone all day, getting annoyed when people who weren't Max kept calling. Finally he called and I think I managed a pretty good job of staying calm. I stuck to my scripted questions for the most part, though we did go off on a few tangents. He was warm and funny, so I found it easy to just treat it like a regular conversation.
I'm still doing the transcript for the interview, so look for it to appear on The Tim Burton Collective in the next few days. Now I want to do more Hollywood interviews!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sweeney Todd review and new Joss Whedon show!

Aint It Cool News has the first review of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd that I've seen anywhere. Of course the review is by Harry Knowles, who loves practically everything, but it sounds promising.

Even more exciting is the news that Joss Whedon is developing a new show called Dollhouse with Eliza Dushku! For the diabolical Fox no less! While I'd prefer another Buffyverse show (still no news on Ripper, unfortunately) the idea of secret agents with custom identities and powers sounds pretty cool, if a little Matrixy. Here's hoping that Fox don't cancel it after the first couple of episodes.