Saturday, January 21, 2012

That Week In Tickets: 26 December 2011 to 1 January 2012

Man, if I would have finished this on the bus ride home yesterday, I could have actually said I was caught up with TWIT. Instead, I went and saw not one, but two movies at Kendall Square last night.

Still, the plan is going to be to keep up with this in 2012, even if it means some late Sunday nights. For now, I'm closing out 2011 with this busy page:

This Week In Tickets!

It's kind of amusing to see Monkey Business just a couple days away from My Week with Marilyn; though the former was part of the Brattle's Ginger Rogers tribute series, it's got a great big picture of Marilyn Monroe on the cover if you buy it on DVD. She's really only got a supporting role in it, and that's kind of being generous with her contribution. Still, it wouldn't be much of a surprise that studios would later build movies around her being sexy the way they previously did around Fred & Ginger being able to dance; she seemed to hit an intersection of child-like innocence and fully-realized sexuality without making it sound creepy.

Michelle Williams does a pretty good job of capturing that in My Week with Marilyn, deliberately making it difficult to see where Norma Jean Baker ends and Marilyn Monroe begins, even while insisting they aren't exactly the same. Of course, I suspect that's a result of the source material, where even though Colin Clark may have felt like he was getting close to the woman, he was still only really meeting the movie star.

The Darkest Hour

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 31 December 2011 in AMC Boston Common #9 (first-run, digital 3D)

There's a lot of product placement in The Darkest Hour, and I wonder if the filmmakers ever found themselves trying to rationalize all those shots of signage for McDonald's and Starbucks Coffee with Cyrillic lettering. See, they might say, we're doing a movie about an alien invasion, and by showing all of these American things, we're making a statement about how Moscow has, in a way, already been invaded...

It's the sort of thing you almost have to say; otherwise you're looking at a movie that feels like a string of compromises and wondering what you gained by them. It's set in Moscow, but follows a group of Americans almost exclusively for the first half, and never really has them come across cultural or language barriers when more actual Russians show up. It's shot in 3D, but what good is that when the villains are mostly invisible? It needs to end, but wants to leave the possibility of sequels open.

And, on top of that, it's just not very good. There are certainly signs that director Chris Gorak could stage a pretty good action scene given some inspiration, and while the CGI for the aliens could use a little more money thrown at it, the vision of a suddenly devastated Moscow (which appears to be a truly beautiful city) is quite impressive. The movie just can't escape how utterly generic it is, though - it is full of interchangeable characters, the aliens are a bland cross of between familiar grays and Dan Dare's Mekon, and it doesn't add even one original concept to the annals of post-apocalyptic adventure.

I don't think that The Darkest Hour was ever going to be a great movie, but even as sci-fi/horror "product" it fails to stand out from the crowd for much more than a couple of cool shots. Some of the people involved will undoubtedly do good work someday, but this tops out at "kind of slick for a low budget" (if it had a low budget).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (USA)
Monkey Business & The Major and the Minor
Swing Time & The Gay Divorcee
The Darkest Hour
My Week With Marilyn
War Horse

1 comment:

Myron said...
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