Wednesday, May 23, 2007


What’s the deal? A group of people I like (really like, I guess) wanted to get together to see this movie, so I obliged and went.
No Carlos, I mean the movie: Are you serious?
At least tell me something about it: OK. There are about five storylines going on here, and they are all mish-mashed together into the one movie.
Wait, so you didn’t want to go see it? There you go. You’re starting to catch on.
The New Yorker said: Something to the effect of ‘This movie is bad—but there is a sequence of about seven minutes where you don’t want to be anywhere else but there, in the theater, watching those seven minutes. I kept looking for them but I didn’t find them ever.
I would like: An explanation about the very beginning when the meteorite or whatever lands. Where’s it from? Why? Does it die? Etc.
Sequel: Should be about the new, black Spiderman—he’s way more interesting/cool/entertaining to watch than Peter Parker.
Wasn’t this movie really expensive? Not sure how much, but my friend said $400 million, which sounds ridiculous. Maybe I’ll look it up. When he told me that I said, “Wow, $400 million worth of fancy computers. Cool.” Because they didn’t spend any of it on the acting, especially the extras, who were so over the top it felt like an infomercial for the Ronco Rotisserie Chicken thingy.
But Carlos, aren’t comics supposed to be kind of like that? Honestly, I don’t care for this defense anymore. The “comics are cheesy and then so does a goo movie adaptation have to be.” Forget it. Cheesy is cheesy and bad acting is bad acting. I’m sorry, but genre isn’t a valid excuse for that. Maybe Toby McGuire is a master actor for being so dorky and cheesy and getting through the whole movie without just stopping and going “how much am I getting paid again?” But it isn’t fun to watch, that’s for sure.
What this reminds me of: An article that David Foster Wallace wrote a long time ago. I think. It was when Terminator 2 came out and it was equating the movie to pornography. Special-effects porn he called it. There is no acting, the movie is simply a showcase/vessel for all these computer effects. It’s a demo for what you can do on fancy computers (although in all fairness, I really enjoyed Terminator 2, but I think DFW was hinting at a larger trend). Impressive? Maybe. Entertaining? Sure, just take out all that cheesy fluff acting and leave the action in—we all fast forward to the good parts anyway.
What I’d like to see on the DVD when it comes out: McGuire breaking down and crying in the middle of a scene and everyone coming over to him, consoling him and going, “I know Toby, I know. I’m sorry.”
Things I noticed: There was a website I used to check out a lot dedicated to catching mistakes in movies. Like lack of continuity or wardrobe errors. Stuff like that. Well the first is that $400 million apparently can’t teach you how to sing or make it look like you can sing. Fly through New York on a web you shoot out of your wrist? Yes. Singing? No. Never for a second do you buy that Dunst is singing. EVER. Why not try a little harder? Oh, right, fast forward. Also, her phone message changes in the movie. Fist she actually says “beep!” before the beep and then minutes later she has the same message but no “beep!” Details people. With all that money, don’t forget to sweat the small stuff—it comes off as real sloppy. Also, the guy who has his face disfigured at the end—the first time we see it and the second time (minutes later) are different. They probably forgot to take a polaroid of the first time so the makeup person could replicate the face the next time he did it. Polaroids for for, what, $50?
More on Dunst not looking at all like she’s singing: It’s the root of a bigger problem. I call it the Matrix II problem. What good are special effects if we can immediately tell that something is fake? Toby McGuire is barely in this movie, unless you count his grunting and “Yeah!” while a CGI Spidey does his stuff. It all looks fake, like Dunst singing. Technology and special effects should convince us, make us believe that what we are watching is real. The perfect example is The Matrix. This movie used as many computers and effects as anyone else. The reason those fighting scenes are so great is because they look real. They spend some money on training Keanu and Co. They are really fighting and you can tell. That, along with some clever pulleys, harnesses, and computer effects, creates a believable, kick-ass movie. Here Dunst singing doesn’t even pass muster. If you want a more recent example of how to do it right, check out 300.
So what’s the Matrix II problem? Remember the scene where Neo fights like 500 of those bad guys who all look the same? The guy who always calls him Mr. Anderson instead of Neo? That scene is horrible because there is no fighting, it’s all a CGI Neo making all those moves. It looks fake. Like Spiderman looks fake. It’s one of the reasons that The Matrix franchise deteriorated as it went into the 2nd and 3rd movies—they strayed from the idea of using effects to complement a really cool idea.
Wow, anything else to say? Yes. I would like to point out that, after the movie, we all walked out asking each other what we thought. Even the friend who really really really wanted to see it had the same comment as the rest of us, “Wow, that was a long movie. Look how late it is!? Look how late it is indeed.
FYI: Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Fountain (now available on DVD)) was going to direct the new Batman movies. Unfortunately, he didn’t. But his concept of a comic-book superhero sounds fascinating: He wanted to make a movie about a regular guy—no super powers—in a costume running around the city playing hero. He puts his car together himself and all that stuff. In other words, the gritty reality of Batman as he would really exist in the real world. Now that sounds interesting.


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