May 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

thedavincicodeGuest Review from EKD: This cinematic whipping boy was not half as bad as I expected, which was pretty bad, considering the book is like a Choose Your Own Adventure for adults, with all the choices pre-made for you. With low enough expectations, it might even seem like a great movie -- emphasis on "seem," because it's at least 30 minutes too long for a romance-free one-track "McGuffin" chase. Tom Hanks (and I had no problem with the hair) and the Amelie girl traipse around Paris and London, following cryptic clues about art, secret societies, the Catholic church, and whatnot, pursued by a dyspeptic Jean Reno and apparently rabid Paul Bettany. Each set piece works well, and the interspersed flashbacks were surprisingly effective, but there's just too many of each, they start to blur together. Some of the switcheroos are clever, others are at a sub-Word Search level (the cryptex spells WHAT?), so take your fun where you can get it. Incidentally, I can't understand the religious controversy over this thing -- the whole "Who was Mary Magdalene?" bombshell is soft-pedaled at best, with the whole movie ending on a bit of a "maybe so, maybe no" whimper. I think this might actually have made a better Sunday night miniseries than a feature -- again, the power of low expectations. One extra point for Ian McKellen in a semi-Gandalfian turn as wise old mentor, complete with not one but two walking sticks!

My Note: Let me just add that the movie's so-called "ending" is a total cop-out. Think about the ending of Contact and you're on the right track. (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

May 26, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

It's been over a month since my last entry in this Diary. A planned Mission: Impossible III Guys Movie Night fell through, thanks to my poor planning (I neglected to check to see if the Red Sox were playing that night). April is usually a pretty quiet month for movies, and Emily and I made up for the lapse by seeing two of the early-"summer" blockbusters in one weekend.
X3 is a fine conclusion to the X-Men series of films, even if it's clunky and overlong compared to X1 and X2. A teen-romance subplot between Rogue, Iceman, and Kitty Pryde slowed the proceedings to a crawl, and dragged the drama into "The OC" territory, even if it seemed like it was a necessary evil to establish Rogue's motivations. Brett Ratner, a Hollywood hack whom I have no respect for, replaced director Bryan Singer after pre-production, (Singer chose to resurrect the Superman franchise instead.) As a result, the elements which were in place before Ratner arrived are quite solid. The screenplay is topical and dark, daring to kill off three major characters and "curing" three other major characters of their mutant powers. These fatal choices, plus the law of diminishing returns, spells the end of the X-Men franchise, except for a possible Wolverine spinoff.

Theater Notes

Mr. Jack Pelletier joined Emily and I at the AMC Boston Common. X3 was showing on 4 screens at once, yet the theater was still 98% full. We ended up in the fourth row from the front, which in the old 1980s theaters was a death sentence. In this marvelous modern age of theater design, the movie was quite watchable from up front. As the lights came up, I proclaimed in a pedantic, Comic Book Guy manner: "C plus!", but Jack and Emily talked me up to a B-minus.

Stub Hubby Sees The X-Men Movies

...or click the label Marvel in the right column

Also On Memorial Day, Through The Years

I have been to the movies on Memorial Day Monday 13 times in 24 years, but it's not a great track record.