Sunday, January 5, 2014

Movies 2013, Fantasy, pt2

            These are the more "action" oriented fantasy films outside of "The Hobbit" franchise.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, or "Fuck.  Witches am I right?  Fuck."
Overall: 7/10
This movie apparently made about 4 times its budget, a lot more than I thought, so here is hoping for a bigger sequel.
            If you liked "Army of Darkness" you will like this.  "H&G" has a lot of fun gore, make up effects, goofy over the top fight scenes, and is exactly what it was advertised to be.  The script ties together well, they set up and pay off on ideas that make perfect sense (like Hansel having diabetes that weakens him during a crucial point, or why spells don't work on them properly).
            My only real complaint is that Jeremy Renner is about 12 years older than the actress playing his sister, Gemma Arterton, when they are supposed to be around the same age.  It is odd to me that this sort of lopsided age casting is so common (like in "Oblivion"), and I guess it is a silly thing to notice and complain about, but if they had cast Charisma Carpenter for Gretel, or Zac Efron for Hansel then there would have been no difference in age to notice.
            I had no expectations at all and was blown away.  I would really like a sequel set in a more exotic location.  Maybe they could have them fight a genie or a some kind of fey creature to mix it up.

Jack the Giant Slayer, or "Why was this not set up as the beginning of a franchise?"
Overall: 7/10

The movie has a great sense of scale and a lot of cute little visual cues to signal to the audience that the situation is getting out of control.  A good example as to why Bryan Singer is a really good director.
            Great costumes, great monsters, cool looking sky world, classic simple protagonists, and a nice little ending.  I liked it a lot and recommend seeing it.  The only issue I have is that they kind of killed all chance at a sequel.
            Spoiler time discussion: the end of the movie has a flash forward to show the magical artifact that defeats the giants is now part of the royal jewels in the Tower of London, rather than this being an alternate Earth with a lot of the same kingdoms and look, but being magical and distinct.  So they have kind of tied it off.  There will be no, "Jack and the Magic Carpet" or "Jack and the Singing Sword".  It is just over with.
            There is one other thing, there is a point in the movie in which it could end, the heroes have escaped the land of the giants, the main villain is defeated, and the giants are stranded... you could have wrapped the movie, and gone on to one of the many potential sequels I just suggested, but the movie continues and it is sort of unnecessary, there is a cool big battle that is a lot of fun, even if it probably shouldn't have happened.

RIPD: Rest in Peace Department, or "Ryan Reynolds is pretty good when he is playing the reserved straight man rather than the boisterous clown... Who knew?"
Overall: 5/10
If the script had gotten another pass (or one fewer) then this would have worked a bit better.
            A lot of the appeal of this movie comes from a very cynical wit, good special effects, quirky acting, and some cool action.  I like the look of policeman purgatory, I like how the number of people living and dead all over the world is overwhelming the celestial inbox of "shit to sort out".  When it gets going the movie really is fun... But it often hits bad notes.
            There are a lot of problems, like the idea that monstrous undead are all over the place and none of it shows up on the news with any regularity when it should be.  They don't have a memory erasing device, or some elaborate media conspiracy which would allow what they do to stay under the radar.  There are scenes that seem to be from a much earlier draft of the script with needless trust issues and horseshit thrown into it for no reason.  There is way too much CGI, way too god damn much CGI.  Why not just more practical effects like "Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters", this movie has a lot of tone and over the top violence in common with that movie, in fact it would have worked better with an R rating, emphasizing the undead monsters exploding into bloody chunks rather than vapor.

            So yeah, it is alright.  Lacks a bit of an edge that would have made it work better, a little clunky, not as bad as people are saying.  It is "watchable".

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