Uggh, I think I hate the title of this thread.
Anyway, three new movies open this week that are worth discussing.
Puss in Boots - Don't be fooled into thinking this is a Shrek sequel. Aside from Puss, you won't see a single Shrek character in it. The cast features Antonio Banderas as Puss, Salma Hayek as Puss' female rival Kitty Softpaws, and Zach Galifanakis as Puss' childhood friend Humpty Dumpty. It had some funny moments but it felt more like an adventure story than a comedy. Befitting that, there is some very nicely done 3D here -- much better than usual for this kind of film. But, the bottom line for me was that the story was a bit dull and just wasn't all that smart. There wasn't enough humor to carry the film (no one was nearly as funny as Eddie Murphy and Mike Meyers are) and the adventure wasn't tense or interesting enough to keep me connected either. Despite some real effort, the film lacked emotion and heart -- which was a staple of the first couple Shrek films. All in all, it was a decent-good flick, but not nearly a great one. If your kids are dying to see something at the theaters, you could do worse.
In Time - You know what is worse than a bad movie? A bad movie that had the potential to be really good! I loved the concept for In Time -- you have a timer on your arm that counts down and when the timer runs out, you die. Time is money -- you can earn time at work and spend your time to buy things -- a cup of coffee costs 7 minutes, a long bus ride might cost an hour, a new car costs several years. The rich have centuries on their arms, the poor have about one day and are constantly rushing everywhere trying to earn more time. Justin Timberlake is the main character, a guy named Will Salas who befriends a rich dude who is sick of living and who gives Tiberlake a century of time (and then dies). Amanda Syfried (Mean Girls, Mamma Mia) is a rich girl Timberlake befriends. Cillian Murphy (Batman films, Inception) is a timekeeper, a police officer, who suspects Will stole the century from the rich guy and chases him. The movie was directed by Andrew Niccol, who did the very good sci-fi film Gattaca and wrote the screenplay for Truman Show as well as Tom Hanks/Spielberg's The Terminal. Niccol is high quality and I full expected him to create a film that would make Justin Timberlake into a action movie star -- like the way Will Smith became a mega-star after Independence Day...
That is why I was so angry at this movie being so blaah. How did someone as talented as Andrew Niccol make a story that is as low-intellect as this one. It is just dumb at times. Things happen for no reason. Characters do things for no reason. No one reacts in a genuine way to anything. Time is too easy to steal from people or banks. On the one hand, Niccol wants us to believe that people look down and see their life tick away moment by moment but he does not infuse any desperation or drama into that fact. He constantly runs people's time almost to zero for no reason and the people never react in a genuine way to that peril. It is absurd! What should have been an intricate and intellectually stimulating plot with some real moral questions at its core -- like in Truman Show or Gattaca -- instead becomes disjointed and just lame. My whole family was dying to talk about this after the movie was done-- talk about how the story did not work and which scenes made no sense. The potential for something great is here, which is what makes its failure so bitter. Grrrrrr.
The Rum Diary - This film is about a journalist (Johnny Depp) who is more interested in getting drunk or high than he is in reporting the news. He is living in 1960s Puerto Rico where drugs and drink are very easy to come by. Seeing as this movie is based on Hunter S. Thompson's first novel, the drugs and drink are hardly surprising. The film is a bit like spending a day laying out on a quiet beach -- it is pleasant and you enjoy yourself but not much really happens... and that's ok. The movie has some very funny moments -- including one with Johnny Depp driving a small car that is just hysterical. It features some great acting, especially from supporting players Giovani Ribissi and Michael Rispoli and (to a lesser extent) Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins. The story is a bit disjointed and it is never clear what kind of story it is telling. At times it feels like it wants to be important or go off down a meaningful path, but that soon goes away and it just goes back to somewhat funny hijinks... which is fine. So long as you don't go in expecting anything overly meaningful. The film was made 3 years ago but it took a while for it to find a release... probably because the studio knew there was not all that much here. Still, you certainly won't hate yourself for seeing it, but you won't leave the theater deeply moved either.
Here is the radio segment I did this morning on all three of these films on one of the big local FM stations.
-Jason "grades: Puss B, Rum Diary B+, In Time C-" Evans
Last edited by JBDuke; 10-28-2011 at 03:11 PM. Reason: fixed typo
Don't ask me why, but my mother is making me Tweet. Says it will be good for my career. So, follow my ramblings, mostly on the film industry, @TVFilmTalk