Tuesday, March 18, 2008

10,000 B.C., Semi-Pro, 27 Dresses, Trailers

I did something this weekend, I haven’t done in a long time. I went to the show three days in a row. The mediocrity of all three offerings, plus a series of coming attractions trailers that had me praying for death, leads me to believe I’ll be spending more time at home watching DVDs and TCM than I will going to the local cineplex.

I didn’t expect much from “10,000 B.C” but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Granted it wasn’t very good, but most pre-historic movies aren’t. The film seems to be set in some alternate dimension, where primitive man trod the Earth with prehistoric beasts, while still having the intellect to construct giant pyramids. Omar Sharif narrates, and tells us at one point that the pyramid builders (the villains) came from an island that sank, so I assume we are meant to believe they are refugees from Atlantis, with its more advanced civilization. Naturally there’s a hero and a heroine who are prophesied to do great things for their people. Why must everyone fulfill a prophecy these days? Why can’t they just embark on an adventure without their fates being foretold in the stars, or some such hooey?

It sounds like I’m knocking it, and I am, but I wasn’t bored. Probably the best scene involves the humans being attacked by some giant birds. I also enjoyed the wooly mammoth stampede at the end, on ramps leading up and down the pyramids. That’s something you don’t see every day. I haven’t mentioned the cast, because I didn’t know anyone in it, but they’re buff enough and certainly acquire themselves no worse than any other cave people in film history. At least it’s less than two hours, which these days earns it an extra half star.

Rating for “10,000 B.C”: Two and a half stars.

“Semi-Pro” is the latest “comedy” from Will Ferrell, and it’s pretty bad. It’s just as bad as another Ferrell comedy, last year’s “Blades of Glory” which is really saying something. “Semi-Pro” is set in the 1970s with Ferrell as Jackie Moon, who serves as the promotions director, coach and player of the Flint (Michigan) Tropics, a basketball team in the dying American Basketball Association. The ABA may merge with the NBA, but the NBA is only going to take four teams. The four teams with the best winning records will join the NBA and the other teams will be dissolved. Lots of hijinks to ensure a winning season, and fill the stands with screaming fans.

Ferrell is often exhausting to watch, so determined is he to make us laugh. He reminds me of early Danny Kaye, so frantic and loud that you wouldn’t want to be in the same room with him. I will admit to laughing at a scene where he throws up for the first time in his life (fortunately we don’t see this). Tasteless to be sure, but the build-up is funny. And a poker game scene with a gun is funny. But the laughs are few and far between, I’m afraid, at least for me. Ferrell is talented, such as in the screamingly funny “Anchorman” (2004), but “Semi-Pro” was a waste of his talent and our time.

Rating for “Semi-Pro”: One and a half stars.

On Monday night I went to the Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, one of the greatest theaters in the Chicago area, to see “27 Dresses.” Normally not my type of movie, but I love going to the Tivoli so much that I’ll see pretty much anything there. It’s a beautiful theater that opened in 1928 with gorgeous French Renaissance architecture inside. It hasn’t been cut up into multiple screens, so we’re able to enjoy the huge screen in the large auditorium (which seats about 900 people). What a jewel and gem of a theater.

Oh yeah, “27 Dresses.” I like romantic comedies if they’re good, but this one was just average. Katherine Heigl plays Jane, a good-hearted woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times, but never has the time for her own life. James Marsden plays Kevin (fine name for a character) a reporter who covers weddings, and I like Marsden. He was good as the Prince Charming character in “Enchanted” (2007) and he’s equally good here as he looks on Jane’s frantic life with a bemused affection.

Unfortunately, Jane is in love with her boss George (a zombie-like Edward Burns). Complications ensue when George falls in love with Jane’s sister Tess (Malin Akerman) and Tess wants Jane to plan her wedding. It’s harmless enough, I guess, but formulaic and very contrived. George is such a bore, you have to wonder why she doesn’t latch on to Kevin right away. Kevin has so much more personality and likeability than George, but then most men named Kevin are the superior beings.

Jane and Tess finally have it out in a hardware store scene that has to be seen to be believed, with mood shifts dictated solely by the screenwriter’s attempts to wrap it up as quickly as possible. And they say old movies are unrealistic?

Rating for “27 Dresses”: Two stars.

And then there were the previews. Dear God, save me now. I don’t even know where to begin. I know you can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but if the purpose of a trailer is to entice people into the theater, these convinced me to stay far, far away.

Let’s see, there was the movie version of “Sex and the City.” Never saw the show, so this holds zero appeal to me, but fans of the show will undoubtedly like it.

“The Happening” the new film from M. Night Shyamalan, looks very intriguing, and I like Mark Walhberg. I’ll be checking that one out.

“Wanted”, what looks to be a colossal piece of garbage starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman. What are they doing in this? Lord, this looks awful. Lots of CGI on display, because, after all, you can’t shoot an action movie anymore using real stuntmen and real explosions. Nope, you need special effects to have your characters defy the laws of physics in ways that no human being ever could. This is to satisfy the tastes of the idiot teenagers and young men weaned on video games who want their movies to duplicate their video game experiences. I was originally looking forward to this, since it was filmed in Chicago and right outside the building where I work, but it looks like a truly excruciating experience. Loud and stupid, like most action movies today are. Damn video games.

“Iron Man” More good actors in what looks to be the silliest movie of the summer. The loudest, most annoying heavy metal music ever, played at ear-splitting levels on this trailer, had me wishing for an aspirin. And Iron Man can fly too. I don’t think I’ve seen a sillier sight in a trailer than Iron Man flying through the air. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges – what are they doing in a movie version of “Iron Man?” Surely they didn’t need the work that badly. Enough with the comic book movies, please.

“Prince Caspian” the Narnia sequel, looks good. No heavy metal garbage blasting away, thank you.

“The Dark Knight” or whatever they’re calling the new Batman movie. I’ll probably go see this since it was filmed in Chicago, and again, in front of the building where I work, so it will be fun to see so many familiar sights. But I thought the last one, “Batman Begins”, was an overrated bore, and since it’s being directed by the same guy, Christopher Nolan, who also gave us one of the worst movies of all time, “The Prestige” (2007), I won’t be holding my breath. Hopefully Nolan hired a second unit director to help stage the action sequences, because the fight scenes in his last Batman movie were pitifully amateurish. Enough with the comic book movies, please.

“What Happens in Vegas” a comedy with those paragons of wit, elegance and sophistication, Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. I’ll likely be a grumpy old man when that comes out, stay home and watch a William Powell and Myrna Loy movie instead.

1 comment:

Aki said...

Kevin, I liked 10,000 BC too. It is not a great movie but it was entertaining and better than I expected. I really loved the scene where the hero frees the saber-toothed tiger and he saves the hero later in the movie. The mammoth scene in the end was awesome. I liked the music by Harald Kloser and I bought it for my iPod. I didn't fret over the fact it was not historically correct. I just sat in my theatre seat and enjoyed the movie. Oh, I bought it on DVD.