Sunday, August 01, 2004

Slow weekend. Sort of.

I saw The Village, and I'm not sure what I think. It was okay. That daughter of Ron Howard's probably has a career ahead of her. I might add it's nice to see a 20-something actress making an appearance without having to first star in a Nickelodeon tv-show or having had ever appeared on the WB.

Spoiler here

Look, I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know that M. Night Shayamalan is going to throw you a curveball at the end of the movie. So instead of just watching his movies, at this point, you kind of sit there and try and figure what the clues are.

The problem is this: Shyamalan pulled his trick in 6th Sense, and then let you get your guard down for Unbreakable, and then... POW! he got you again. From what I hear, he did the same thing in Signs (I never saw it).

So who really believes at this point the guy isn't just going to keep recycling the same gag? He's like the nerdy kid at the party who got everyone to laugh with his great joke, so he keeps telling it to the same people, over and over, trying to get the same reaction.

Maybe it's a spoiler that this movie has a twist ending. You can be like Jamie and declare you'd pieced it all together before the movie ended, or you can be like me, and feel a bit impatient to figure out exactly what the twist is by the change to the second act... because you know that whatever he's telling you now isn't true.

The point is: watching a movie isn't real-life. In a movie, you're given a limited amount of information, and you have to accept that what the story is telling you is true. Yes, it worked once or twice with Shyamalan, but what if every movie pulled this stunt...? people would abandon movies altogether. Every bit of information you're using to enjoy the movie becomes suspect when you know any bit of it could be misleading.

Sure... you can always surprise people if you lie to them for two hours. At some point, I just kind of wonder what else Shyamalan has other than this one parlor trick. He seems like a competent director and the actors did fairly well with what they had to work with.

Unfortunately, I'm not watching this movie in a vaccuum. I remember Shyamalan's previous efforts. Perhaps if this were my first, I'd have been somewhat impressed. But for me, the entire last third of this movie lost its steam.

end spoilers

Go catch this one if you were thinking of seeing it. It's okay. And it had Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt who are two actors I've always dug. It's creepy, and has some nifty stuff in it.

The new Justice League Unlimited series premiered this weeked. They've taken the show into a new direction I wasn't really anticipating, but I think I can get into. Looks like the JL is officially sanctioned, has more of a space station than a satellite, and has a staff running their various space hangars, etc... Kind of cool. But not what I was anticipating.

The story was a decent enough intro to what this incarnation of the JL is up to. The art is up to last season's standards, they've added 3D for some space scenes, and the voice talent was pretty good. All in all, it was a lot of fun. The opening scene with GA was about as classic GA as I think you're going to find.

My complaint: The new music stinks. Shirley Walker scored a lot of the Batman/ Superman animated work (including the phenomenal theme to the Batman/ Superman Adventures, circa 1997). Why Ms. Walker wasn't selected, and a screaming 80's electric guitar was chosen in her stead is something only Bruce Timm can know.

I really enjoyed seeing so many DC characters get little cameos (anyone else see Zatanna on the people-mover?), and I look forward to JLU plunging into television spotlights for so many of these characters. It was good to see the animated version of Supergirl return, and to see Captain Atom and Green Arrow done spot-on for TV.

Teen Titans was also well done, bringing the Judas Contract storyline from the comics (circa 1982) to a head.

I'm really getting into Megas XLR on Cartoon Network. The G-Force inspired episode from last week was absolutely hysterical, and this week's episode was pretty good as well.

Over at this weekend, Randy ponders what makes a movie good or bad, pointing out that his bottom line is entertainment value. And then takes a pot shot over Dedman's bow by taking a jab at Jim's worship of the Dogme 95 flick, The Celebration.

I see Randy's point, to some extent. I mean, if he enjoys a film, be it The Care Bear Movie or Wild Strawberries, shouldn't that be enough?

There are two answers to this question.

Popular answer: Yes. If you like something, that's all you need to know.

Critical answer: No. All art forms should be held to some critical standard with which to judge their merit for the present and for the long-term.

The movie trailer which raised the question was National Treasure, which I'm going to have to side with Dedman on. This looks like a stinker. Ughhh.. I'm not sure I need a film degree to see this being a paint-by-numbers clunker.

The trick The League has learned to employ is admitting The League is enjoying a movie, even when the The League knows a movie is bad. This doesn't make you, as a viewer, less of a person. But at least you can acknowledge that maybe the film you are watching was not as craftily put together as it could have been. It doesn't mean you're stupid for enjoying a bad movie. It means that you're freely enjoying something awful. If people couldn't do this, we might have Police Academy 1 and 2. But would we have all 6?

Critics be damned..! Movie studios are trying to woo the hard-to-please comic dork fanbase. Funny thing... turns out that if you don't go in and change everything about a comic book in order to bring it to the big screen, it can still make money (ie, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc...)

Apparently it's beginning to dawn on producers that you do have a built in audience if you make these movies according to the comics, but you lose that core if you step away from the source material. And given the money that comic nerds will be willing to spend if you actually give them something they want to see, studios are taking notice.

check out the article here. It details film events at Comic-Con 2004. Thanks to Jim D. for the article.

Unfortunately for the studios: many comic fans cannot separate cartoons from reality, and they tend to be a little blunt if they didn't like your last outing. So don't go to Comic-Con expecting the kid-gloves treatment. Comic fans are not known for their social graces.

I might point out that no self-respecting comic nerd will go see the new film "Constantine," based upon Alan Moore's pet DC creation, John Constantine. If the producers really think the comic fans are going to like the changes they've made, they are wrong. Trying to figure out why Constantine has to be British is like asking why Bond can't be American, or why Catwoman can't be Catman. Between Constantine and Catwoman, it's gonna be a long year for DC Comics at the movies.

Saw the tariler for Batman Begins on the big screen. I enjoyed it. Couldn't tell if a single other person in the theater even shrugged.

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