Monday, July 06, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 29 June 2009 to 5 July 2009

Another week filled with long days at work, followed by taking the bus somewhere on the weekend. The long days at work were the sort of thing that was frustrating at the time but amusing in retrospect: It was something that could have been done with an automated process, but that would have overwritten some code on the first bit I looked at. So I do it manually, only to find it was only that first bit which would have been affected. You want to scream during this and immediately afterwards, but it is kind of funny.

This Week In Tickets!

So, quiet week- work late, come home, watch game, repeat. Saturday was spent up in Maine with the family, which generally means doting on the cutest 2¾-year-old in the world, who I think was even more excited about having a picnic than watching the fireworks on the Fourth.

This week, unless things go horribly wrong, will feature no single movie tickets but a couple of ballgames and an early post as I head up to Montreal for Fantasia. I've been crazy disorganized this year, so all sorts of things from vacation time to media credentials to bus tickets could still fall through, but I've committed to subletting a place, so I'd better head up Thursday to make sure that gets done.

As frenzied as it seems to be, I really can't wait. Fantasia always contains a bunch of interesting movies, which seems like a perfect antidote to a summer that, post-Up, has been relentlessly uninteresting. This week's new releases made an attempt to bring some excitement, but only got halfway there.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 3 July 2009 at the AMC Boston Common #16 (first-run, digital 3-D)

To be fair to Ice Age 3, it's not a bad movie at all. It's more Ice Age, and while the folks who have taken up Chris Wedge's baton at Blue Sky don't seem to be quite so amazing as the guys following John Lasseter at Pixar (or as solid as Wedge himself), they don't do the material or characters any harm. They continue to deliver the goods, and they do a nice job of adding new characters without taking much away from the core group.

This movie's fun new additions are a trio of baby T. Rexes - the valley in which they live is apparently a thin layer of ice away from a volcanically-heated cavern where they're still around - who fixate on Sid, and a weasel named Buck. Simon Pegg voices Buck, and if there's anyone in Hollywood (a) having more fun and (b) doing a better job sharing it with audiences than Simon Pegg, I'm not aware. He gets the fun, motormouth role, and gives it equal parts "crazy hermit" and "casual superhero". The only problem with him is that when you consider that, when added to the three characters carried over from The Meltdown, some of the original characters are crowded out. The script probably could have been written to give his lines to Denis Leary's Diego, who disappears for good-sized chunks of the movie, but Pegg is too much fun for that to be a big complaint.

Both Diego and Buck get a lot to do in the movie's fun finale, though, where the 3-D really kicks into gear and there are enough dinosaurs flying, running, stomping, fighting, etc., to make me really want Amblin to pull the Jurassic Park franchise out of mothballs and do something in the 3-D format. Heck, even Scrat gets involved in the big action/adventure stuff, although for the most part his appearances wooing/competing for an acorn with a gril whatever-he-is are the same Chuck Jones-inspired bits as usual.

Public Enemies

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 3 July 2009 at the Regal Fenway #12 (first-run)

So... How do you take Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and a manhunt for one of the twentieth century's most famous and charismatic outlaws and make it boring? It shouldn't be possible, should it? And yet that's exactly what this movie does. Maybe "boring" is too harsh, but moments of excitement and intrigue are few and far between.

Part of the problem, I think, is that it has two very over-hyped stars at the top. Because, let's be honest - Depp's a good actor, but he hasn't done anything really interesting since Finding Neverland five years ago; it's been a lot of Jack Sparrow (an act that got more and more tired after he mentioned he modeled Jack on Keith Richards in an interview and then felt the need to play to that afterward) and getting funny haircuts for Tim Burton. Christian Bale is also a good actor, but he's at his best with someone equally interesting to play off. He's only got one scene with Depp here, and even if it actually happened, it comes off as a contrived excuse to get his Melvin Purvis and Depp's John Dillinger in the same room.

Mann stages a couple pretty darn good action scenes - both big shootouts and what feel like meticulously recreations of Dillinger's robberies - but he and his co-writers forget to make the movie about anything. It's just a list of things that happened, rather than a story that demonstrates why Dillinger captured the imagination or how Purvis's combination of scientific investigation techniques and ruthless application of violence brought him down. Marion Cotillard is good, but kind of wasted as Dillinger's girlfriend; as much as I liked the character, she just hangs around until very late in the movie, when Cotillard gets to do some acting but doesn't really have her character affect the story.
Ice Age: Dawn of the DinosaursPublic Enemies

1 comment:

JcobCrim said...

I agree with your review on Public Enemies, it could have been so much better but it really did nothing for me. When Depp was off the screen it dragged and all the shootouts felt generic, minus the one in the woods.

Maybe I was expecting to much, maybe I was expecting the shootouts to match that of the one in HEAT...who knows.