Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BuboBlog Summer Movie Roundup

I've been remiss with my film criticism, so here are some quick capsule reviews of the big summer movies I've seen so far:

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall": Not quite up there with "Knocked Up" or "Super Bad," but definitely a solid outing. There were a few comedic setups that didn't seem to have enough of a payoff, but the good-natured feel of the film carries you through. (One question, for those of you who have seen it: Didn't it seem like they took pains to set up a scene where Aldus was going to fall off the wagon and become drunk? It even looked as if the waiter was serving him something alcoholic accidentally. But then they drop it abruptly. Maybe the scene was edited out.) Rating: *** (out of four)

"Iron Man": A great action film, but also really funny. Probably the best comic-book adaptation since "Batman Begins" in 2005. In fact, it was maybe even a bit better than that film (and I worship Christopher Nolan). If you stay until after the credits, there's a short teaser for the planned "Avengers" movie. While it was a fun capper to the movie, I actually think it's just as well not to see it. It features a cameo of Samuel L. Jackson in an eye patch (as Nick Fury). And while I love SLJ, having him in a superhero movie (especially if he's wearing an eye patch) usually means it sucks. So that left a slightly funny taste in my mouth. Rating: **** (out of four)

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull": For my review, click here. Rating: **1/2 (out of four)

"The Incredible Hulk": No "Iron Man," but a decent comic-book movie all the same. The early scenes in Brazil are great, and the shots of the shanty towns are so amazing -- with the sheer density of homes -- you may think they're using CGI. That part of the movie almost has the feel of the "Bourne" films. The downside: The computer-animated hulk looks really fake. I think his hair, which flutters in an odd, artificial way, may be the most egregious part. It makes me wonder if the hulk in the last movie (in 2003) wasn't more realistic, despite the five years of supposed advances since then. Lou Ferrigno's cameo was fun, but could anyone understand what the heck he was saying? One other gripe: There's a scene at the end of the movie that was clearly supposed to run after the credits. I can tell because it doesn't follow from the previous scene and breaks the tone. I wonder if they were afraid audiences were going to leave before seeing it, but c'mon, staying past the credits is a time-honored comic-book movie tradition (as evidenced by "Iron Man"). Rating: *** (out of four)

"The Visitor": This movie is about a college professor (Richard Jenkins) who learns to live life to the fullest after meeting some illegal aliens and playing bongo drums. Sounds cheesy, and it kind of is. But it's also a really well-made film -- good dialogue, nicely paced, moving performances. We were a little perturbed that after Jenkins' awakening, he becomes the sort of guy who bangs out rhythms on the table while you're trying to have a conversation. Yeah, in real life those kind of people are not "awakened"; they're just annoying. I also felt the ending left a little to be desired. It may have fit the film perfectly, but I think a great movie should always surprise and delight you with its ending (even if it's a downer). This one didn't. Rating: ***1/2 (out of four)