Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Week In Tickets: 10 January 2011 to 16 January 2011

Busy week at work + snow + all-day Chlotrudis society meeting =

This Week In Tickets!

After a whole day spent discussing independent film, seeing a couple of mainstream movies seemed like a good idea. And both turned out to be firmly in the "good enough" category - not great examples of their genres, but pretty ably handled. The particular genres are common enough that a good job isn't enough to make a person really fall for a movie, but when folks ask you about it, you can say "yeah, that was pretty good."

They at least aren't upstaged by the previews, although the ones before Green Hornet gave it their best shot. For example, I'm actually finding myself pretty excited about Thor, even though it's never been a comic I ever followed (and quite honestly, I tend to scratch my head when the guy shows up in other Marvel books). It looks like a really fun movie, though, and I'm kind of excited by the look of the thing - the safe thing to do would likely have been to give it a realistic, Viking-influenced style, but Kenneth Branagh has opted to Kirby it up much more than I expected. That, I think, is going to make it a lot of fun.

And the Transformers 3 teaser... I think I've seen it three times now, and every time, every time, it fools me into thinking it's going to be for something a lot cooler than Transformers 3. Fortunately, it's scheduled to come out while I'm usually in Montreal, so I suspect I'll be able to resist the temptation to spend $20 and/or a lot of time getting to it.

The Green Hornet

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 16 January 2011 at AMC Boston Common #2 (first-run, digital Imax)

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I respect the heck out of how Sony, Seth Rogen, and company have handled The Green Hornet. Rogen dropped enough weight that it wouldn't just be gags about a fat superhero - indeed it was going to be a straight-out action movie at one point. Then Stephen Chow got attached, wanted more comedy, and writers Rogen & Evan Goldberg had the good sense to say "Stephen Chow wants funny, we add more funny!". Chow drops out, and instead of getting some pliable non-entity - a Brett Ratner or Martin Campbell - they hire Michel Gondry, and apparently rejigger it to be a Gondry film. This could have been homogenized and forgettable, but for all its faults, it's not that.

The main fault, I think, is that the "clueless" dial is turned one notch too high on Rogen's Britt Reid. On the one hand, I admire how uncompromising they are in that - Britt is a danger to himself and others when he tries to be a superhero, and Rogen, Goldberg, and Gondry aren't going to back down from that with a prefab plot about him just needing to gain confidence in himself. On the other hand... Well, I didn't much dig it the last time Rogen went this way, in Observe & Report. The unpleasant lead can be a really hard sell, even when it is the honest route.

Still, there's plenty else to recommend the film: Jay Chou is a really great Kato, and actually does the buddy-comedy stuff as well as the action. Christoph Waltz is a hilarious but still threatening villain. And while there are only a few moments that are absolutely and obviously Gondry's, his distinctive visual style does show up, and the finale is a rather nifty alchemy of silly, cartoonish slapstick and clear, well-directed action: It displays a sense of the absurd that more conventional directors wouldn't have in them.

The $12 ticket was likely an overpay - though I suspect the 3-D conversion is pretty good as far as such things go, it's clearly not built into the film's DNA the way it is for others, aside from a very nifty end credits sequence. It's a worthwhile matinee, though, maybe more if the idea of

The Fighter

* * * (out of four)
Seen 16 January 2011 at AMC Boston Common #7 (first-run)

The Fighter is a more conventional movie, and perhaps works better for that. It's a boxing movie, but a good one; I generally don't have much patience for the genre, but this one's got a nice cast, a straightforward storyline that doesn't so much avoid hysterics as it keeps them on a leash. You can see director David O. Russell and his cast walking the fine line between playing to the rafters and chewing the scenery. It's the sort of sports movie where the hero's athletic technique perfectly matches what's going on in his real life (take all the punishment life gives you, strike back when you're counted out), but that's okay, because there's no speech about it.

It's got some pretty nice performances, too. Mark Wahlberg does well as the film's stable center, giving us full and heartfelt emotion without yelling too much, Amy Adams does trashy & sarcastic better than one might expect, and Christian Bale leverages his eating disorder to even better effect than usual. Add very nice supporting performances by Melissa Leo and Jack McGee as the parents of Wahlberg's Micky Ward, and you've got a nice portrait of a loving, but far from perfect, family.

The Fighter isn't a great movie, but in a year as relatively unimpressive as 2010, it looks pretty good. It gets the job done, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Green HornetThe Fighter

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