Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movies: I Love You, Nick Cage!

I saw a couple of movies that I thought were surprisingly good. Yesterday my girlfriend and I caught Knowing on $5 night at the Paramount. This was actually exactly the kind of movie I like seeing for $5... somewhat plausible and a few holy shit movies that were genuinely surprising. And there's the magic of Nick Cage - you could tell he was on the verge of mailing this one in, and then he got a little hunch that maybe this movie wouldn't suck if he just put in enough effort to make it to the end. There are some pretty awful scenes at the beginning of the movie, but things really pick up at about the 30 minute mark. Again, for $5, it was a great popcorn flick. Plus, this movie will probably make enough movie that it will continue the Nick Cage leading man phenomenon for another five years. (As an extra, I just read that Knowing was directed by Alex Proyas, who did Dark City. And that explains why this movie didn't suck at all.)

And then there's I Love You, Man! This is old-school comedy done right, by a couple of genius actors. The movie is understated, but consistently funny and believable. It's also got the right mix of comic red herrings mixed in with feel-good conventions... it plays with the romantic comedy structure a bit and adapts it for the platonic relationship, but it doesn't stray so far away that the movie isn't entertaining. Honestly, it just feels like they nailed it with this one. Rudd plays a straight-man perfectly, and he does it by not being boring. Apparently Apatow wasn't involved, but he might as well have been, so I'll chalk it up there with 40 Year-Old, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah, and Knocked Up as a another success for the crew.
And finally, I caught The Incredible Hulk on "DVD", as we like to call our internet connection, and I gotta say - WTF? Why was this film necessary? I'm not a comic-book movie hater by any means, but this film was particularly vapid and meaningless, especially since it was effectively a repeat of the surprisingly superior Hulk from five years ago. I mean, Hulk wasn't a great movie, but at least you had a director in Lee who was willing to take some chances and add a little direction to the film. This movie was by the numbers shitty - Liv Tyler reprising her husky Arwen-esque voice is not an upgrade over Jennifer Connelly, nor is Ed Norton an obvious improvement over Eric Bana. People may have had issues with the first movie, but I kind of liked the fact that when Bana as Banner got mad, he looked like he was losing his shit. Norton looked like he was experiencing Nerd Rage, to borrow the term from Fallout 3.
And wasn't this supposed to be the Hulk movie where they fixed the Hulk? If anything, Hulk looked worse in this film - like a Playdough version of Peter Jackson's King Kong. Guys, turn down the reflectivity on the CGI models, please. Crank that spinner down, boy. Environment maps are no longer impressive, and they don't look real. Skin does not reflect, it diffuses. Jesus, I'm getting angry.
And why the heck does every superhero have to fight his evil twin? Iron Man fights Evil Iron Man, Spiderman fights Venom, Hulk fights an abomination, Wolverine is going to fight Sabertooth, Superman fights evil Superman over and over again, and on, and on, ad nauseum, et cetera. At least the first film had Hulk fighting his father who ended up being nothing like him - the fight was incomprehensible (Hulk beat the shit out of a cloud, if you'll remember) but at least Ang Lee was willing to give us something with artistry (even if it failed) instead of the steaming green turd we were handed at the end of the most recent film. I respect the former film, even if I didn't like it much, but the latest movie was just a waste of everyone's time.


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