Tuesday, March 02, 2004

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Went buck wild and rented three movies Saturday. Could have rented four others- there were several I hadn't seen that I was curious about. I'll get them later, my pretties.

First one I watched was Ron Howard's latest, The Missing, sort of like The Searchers meets Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman meets The Manitou. One thing it did do, though, was avoid the cliche more often as not, and Tommy Lee Jones gives a pretty good performance, underplaying for a change. He plays the estranged father of Cate Blanchett's frontier physician, who is raising two daughters and keeping the hired help at arm's length. Her dad left her mother many years prior, to live with Native American peoples ad learn their ways. Why, we're never really told. He shows up out of the blue one day, looking to reconnect with the daughter he walked out on all those years ago- but daughter bears a deep grudge and sends him on his way. Next thing you know, the hired help, while out on a cattle roundup, get waylaid by a mixed-race band of slave traders who kill the men and take the oldest daughter. Now Cate has to swallow her pride and ask her father (who just happens to be a bad-ass himself) to help her track down her daughter before they can get to the Mexican border. Complicating things is the fact that the band of slave traders is run by a big, scary Brujo, a witch if you will, who has a way with powders and casting spells. This wrinkle made this movie interesting to me, taking it out of the realm of the mundane and giving it a nice twist. The Missing is worth a rental- Jones is pretty good, Blanchett is always good and there's some tense moments here and there. But the film is about 20 minutes too long and it seems like there was some confusion about what kind of ending they wanted to have- the one they chose is low-key and a bit anticlimactic, and the bonus DVD has about three other endings that they filmed.

I also watched the latest in Robert Rodriguez' Desperado/El Mariachi series, Once Upon a Time In Mexico, which was as violent, sweaty and dusty as its predecessors but also much higher in the goofiness department. Basically, it's a revenge flick, with Antonio Banderas reprising his role as El Mariachi (His first name is "El", says one thug- as in "The"), coaxed out of retirement by Johnny Depp's goofball CIA agent to prevent the General who murdered his wife and child from pulling off a coup. We also get Willem Dafoe in a bottle tan and moustache and Mickey fricking Rourke as his cowboy right hand man who constantly holds a scrawny looking chihuahua. This is one of those films where lots of bullets are fired but never hit anyone, and sometimes the film takes one too many left turns, but overall it was a fun hour and 40 minutes, mostly thanks to another gonzo Depp performance. See if you don't think Depp looks like Michael Jackson in the final scenes. Now there's an idea! Depp as Wacko Jacko! Hey- he's played Ed Wood, it's the next logical step! Anyway, I'll lay you twenty that he was ad-libbing most of his lines. Park your brain at the door and you'll enjoy this out-of-control flick.

Finally, I played a hunch and rented the 2003 vampires vs. werewolves movie Underworld. Remind me not to play hunches so often. Despite the very real allure of Kate Beckinsale in pleather, this film was mostly a murky mess, reminiscent of The Matrix meets Interview With The Vampire. Oh, Anne Rice, what have you done. It could have been fun, but it took itself waay too seriously- every actor spits out their ponderously melodramatic lines with the grimmest of expressions (kinda like reading those 80s issues of X-Men by Chris Claremont), and it gets funny after a while. In fact, unintentional laughs abound in this movie- since there's no humor to speak of in it, we, the viewers, have to make our own. A couple of scenes reminded me of Rocky Horror, especially a scene in the vampires' mansion where they propose a toast, and I'll be damned if they dont look exactly like the massed Transylvanians from RHPS! There's lots of shooting and pseudo-karate fighting, one silly-looking beheading scene, all photographed in wonderful hues of dark blue, dark green and gray, not to mention black. I wonder if Lee Loughridge had a hand in it... Anyway, Underworld comes across as being written and peformed for and by the serious hardcore gaming crowd (think the scriptwriters had one of those White Wolf books on hand?) or the kind of Goth kids that SNL used to make fun of upon occasion with Chris Kattan in his basement. Sorry, don't remember the skit's name. Don't rent this. You'll thank me someday.

I think I'm just pissed becuase I put Lost in Translation back on the shelf. Oh well, there's always the upcoming weekend...

One other thing, before I forget- two of these DVDs had the trailer for the upcoming Hellboy movie, and one had the trailer for Spider-Man 2. I still don't know what to think about this Hellboy movie...everyone involved says the right thing, and the film looks like they're trying to stay true to the source material, but I suppose I've been burned too many times to trust that little voice in my head that says "that was awesome!". The Spidey trailer looked really good, too- Alfred Molina looks spot on as Doc Octopus, and they didn't tech up his costume and arms too much, like they did the Green Goblin last time. I'm cautiously optimistic about this one as well.