Tuesday, January 10, 2012

3-Sentence Reviews: Movies I Saw Over Christmas

I'm surprised I liked The Help as much as I did. It's the closest thing I've seen to a chick flick in a long, long time (there are approximately two male characters with lines), but it won points for not being too relationship-y or sappy, instead focusing on a solid script and a well-told story.  It also won points for starring Emma Stone, whom I may have a bit of a celebrity crush on.

Following in the welcome trend of Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech was a Best Picture winner that was entertaining, well-made, and wholly deserving.  It's a World War II movie that's about so much more than the war; it reminds us that for all their royal trappings, the Kings and Queens of England are people too.  Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are brilliant, and Helena Bonham Carter delivers the best performance of her career.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo may have pulled off the rarest feat in book-to-film adaptation: being more entertaining than its novel counterpart.  Minutiae of 1970s Swedish politics are part of what gives the Millennium trilogy its unique "charm," but they make for a much better reading than viewing experience.  Instead, we get all the action and intrigue (and yes, disturbing graphicness) of the book, distilled into about two and a half hours of movie that don't seem nearly that long.

Considering all the possible stakes for losing a particular bet, forcibly watching Ghostbusters is far from the worst thing that could have happened.  It suffers a bit from Lethal Weapon syndrome, in that it's a product of the '80s, and boy, can you tell.  But the comedic talents of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd (not to forget perennial third-man Harold Ramis!) keep it afloat, and if the the aesthetic trappings seem egregiously dated, the "just this side of absurd" humor is oddly timeless.

I often describe myself as more of an Atlanta Braves fan than a baseball fan, but I think you have to have at least a little baseball fan in you to appreciate Moneyball. The human element to the story is fine--and if Jonah Hill doesn't win a Supporting Actor Oscar based on this movie, then the system is totally invalidated--but in the end it takes a back seat to a fascinating look at a transformation of America's pastime. For anyone who's ever wondered why we suddenly care about OPS and WAR in baseball, Moneyball explains it and tells a compelling story at the same time.  

The James Bond franchise was "rebooted" after Die Another Day, and it's easy to see why. By the mid 2000s, Pierce Brosnan's 007 had become so smug and over-the-top that the franchise was in danger of becoming a vehicle for one-liners and CGI explosions. To its credit, Die Another Day has some downright spectacular CGI explosions, and there are far worse Bond films out there (I'm looking at you, anything starring Timothy Dalton), but there are far better ones too.

Currently listening: "Simple Song," the Shins


Cathy Pavlovich said...

One more -- The King's Speech. What did you think?

Matt Pavlovich said...

Can't believe I forgot that one! Editing to add it.