Saturday, March 17, 2012

Clear Eyes, Four Arms, Can't Lose!

So, despite all the negative word of mouth and exaggerations about the budget and diminished expectations, I went and saw John Carter (nee John Carter of Mars). Or as I like to call it, The Chronicles of Riggins.
Damn his charm.

This is apt, because the movie basically plays almost beat for beat as Chronicles of Riddick. It has long, nonsense passages of exposition that's quickly ended with a charming and charismatic lead doing things or a large setpiece of CG battles.  Granted, the ones in Carter look phenomenal (save for a flying sequence out of Judge Dredd).
This is one of the good ones.

But the script is all kinds of a mess, which I found fascinating considering that the night before I watched a TED Talk with director Andrew Stanton, who went on about the importance of story and how audiences don't always want everything spelled out for them preferring to figure things out on their own.

My guess is that Disney panicked, and without the Pixar cushion behind him, Stanton (genius director behind Finding Nemo and Wall-E) had to play ball or walk away. And playing ball got them here.

Despite my problems with the nonsense plot and silly words (Jasoom=Earth!) I enjoyed the movie. I was never bored, I found Taylor "Riggins" Kitsch to be an engaging and fun lead actor, I really loved the special effects, the princess of Mars  Lynn Collins was an interesting character with dimensions and motives other than swooning, and a lot of the characters are played by awesome character actors that put a smile on my face. Plus, I'm a sucker for any sci-fi flick, so this just worked for me. My friend I saw it with found it to be nonsense, and didn't like it as much as I did. I recognize his gripes with the film, but went along for the ride and dug it.

3 other movies I checked out recently: Wanderlust! What a hilarious and fun flick. It's full of every actor that makes you laugh, it's made by smart people, and it has a brilliant call back to Role Models' hit Wings' song "Love Take Me Down To The Streets". How come nobody saw this movie? It's easily the funniest movie I've seen in a very long time, and one that I'll probably purchase upon home video release, which is something I RARELY do anymore. RUDD POWER!!!
Yes, most of The State is in this movie.
Also caught Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, which is not as funny as Wanderlust. Or their show. It definitely has some great moments, and some horrible moments. (Shrim). But overall, it feels like it was a movie made for expanding outside of the fanbase (which is great) but not nearly achieving the moments of comedic brilliance they reach on their 11 minute episodes. A little of this movie goes a long way. That being said, I'm amazed this film got released. If you can see it with a crowd, I suggest that.

Feelings towards the movie aside, I want this painted on the side of a van.
Finally, I caught Better Than Something, a film about rock musician Jay Reatard, a fascinating fellow and insanely talented musician from Memphis who tragically died way before his time in 2009. (Or early 2010, I'm still not sure yet). The film has great long scenes of Jay driving around town and just talking, and it's these scenes that are utterly fascinating. I could've watched a few more hours of just this. Alas, there are other scenes of folks talking about Jay the genius and Jay the missed friend, which are good but don't work nearly as well. Still, as far as rock docs go, this is up there as it shed a light on someone I barely knew and made me want to know more about. It also made me a fan of his music, which is always a plus when making a film like this. It's touring the country, but will probably be available on a streaming service soon.

Not Carrot Top. Or Wendy's girl. Whose name is Wendy.

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