Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Happening? Or The Crappening?

I finally saw M. Night Shyamalan's latest "masterpiece" today (what can I say? I get free tickets). It was actually more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It may not be a good horror film, but it's a great comedy.
The early scenes, where scores of New Yorkers stop what they are doing, start talking funny and then kill themselves in nasty ways, are quite disturbing. But once we meet teacher Marky Mark the film rapidly descends into complete silliness.
Wahlberg, who has been good in other roles, plays this character even more soft-spoken and wimpier than his character in Planet of the Apes. Needless to say, trying to get his students excited about disappearing honeybees is a losing battle. As the suicidal outbreak spreads, the story soon turns into a cross-country escape movie like War of the Worlds, except that instead of aliens the heroes are being chased by the wind blowing through the grass and trees (I kid you not). It turns out the trees are out to get us for what we've done to the planet, and this is just the warning for a far worse outbreak to come. Wahlberg and his wife Zooey Deschanel manage to survive and even pick up an instant daughter when his teaching friend leaves her an orphan.
Shyamalan has always been a better director than a writer, but in this film even his directing talent seems to fail him for the most part. Many supposedly scary or emotional scenes are laughable (although I think we were supposed to laugh at Wahlberg talking to a plastic plant) and most of the performances are flat. The gorgeous Deschanel, who is normally a bright spot in any film, seems completely lost here. On the other hand, we have Betty Buckley as a crazy religious woman who seems to have wandered in from a Stephen King film. Even the minor cast are laughable, including the most nervous Military Policeman in history.
It may sound like I hated the film, but I didn't. There are the seeds of a good paranoid nature gone wild film here (clearly The Birds was a major influence) and it was never boring. But Shyamalan clearly needs to try something different before he destroys what little is left of his reputation. Based on this film, a comedy wouldn't be such a bad idea.
In a related story, I noticed the film was banned in a town in South Wales because of their high suicide rate. Truth is stranger than fiction!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hulk Smash!

Just saw The Incredible Hulk, which was mildly enjoyable. It was no Iron Man, but was thankfully above the depths of Spider-Man 3. It felt more like the Hulk TV series (even including the Lonely Man theme) but was also part of the Marvel Universe most recently established by Iron Man. The performances were generally good, especially Tim Roth, and it had better action than Ang Lee's film. It didn't take itself too seriously, and I was amused by Bruce Banner's dilemma of not even being able to have sex without fear of hulking out.
I did prefer the comic book style visuals in the 2003 version, though, and I also thought the Hulk was better animated in that film (the hulk in this one was too veiny and not green enough). This new version got the job done, but aside from Hulk saying his catchphrase and the Tony Stark cameo at the end there was nothing that really wowed me. The Avengers movies is looking better and better, though.
In sadder news, I still can't believe Stan Winston has died. The world of imaginary cinema is an emptier place without his fantastic creatures.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Dark Shadows Movie

I just heard that Johnny Depp is gonna be making a Dark Shadows movie. I've only seen a few episodes of the original series on DVD, but it was an interesting soap opera cum gothic horror. What's really exciting, though, is the rumour that Tim Burton will be directing. Not that I'm desperate for him to work with Depp again (they're overdue for a break) but it'd be cool to see Tim make a vampire movie. If a Dark Shadows movie is successful, can a Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie (a good one, this time) be far behind?