The end of the month usually means I would take note of the best and worst films to be released. Due to circumstances, I was only able to see a few of this month’s films so I felt it would be disingenuous to follow through on making a definitive announcement. Instead, here are some quick reviews of everything I did see.
The Avengers – It is one of the better summer movies in the past decade. The film was handled with care by everyone involved and, while not perfect, was everything I was hoping for and more. The script was well written; no character was mishandled or diminished. The action scenes were fast paced but were still easy to follow without resorting to quick cuts and incomprehensible CGI. The alien invaders did not have much of a presence so the threat never seemed real, which knocks it down a star rating. Yet, I would gladly recommend it to anyone. 4 out of 5
Dark Shadows – A mess of a third act and extreme reverence to its source material hurts what was an above average film. Until the finale, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s ode to the classic television serial was an amusing diversion with a few problems. The love story was the weakest link as the character of Victoria would disappear for long stretches of time, making it difficult to believe the love between her and Johnny Depp was nothing more than a plot contrivance. There were too many subplots to wade through, which says the filmmakers were afraid to cut things out from the television show that doesn’t work with this cinematic narrative. In the last 20 minutes, it devolves into an action cliché finale that it doesn’t earn. While the end doesn’t ruin what came before, it does leave one with a sour taste. A low 3 out of 5
Battleship – Yes, this is a bad movie, but only in the critical sense. The characters and dialogue were cardboard thin and the movie was overly long for what is the briefest of plots. On the other hand, the action scenes were well executed and I did find myself at times with a goofy grin on my face. It is much better than Michael Bay’s trilogy of awfulness that is Transformers and the film exceeded the extremely low bar the marketing had set. It will be forever known as a financial disappointment, but there are worse ways to spend 2 hours. 3 out of 5
Men in Black III – The only true disappointment of the month, Men in Black III fails in almost all respects. Will Smith turns in an absolutely annoying performance in his third outing as Agent J. He spent the majority of the time whining about one thing or another that he eventually broke my nerves. Tommy Lee Jones has what amounts to an extended cameo only to be replaced by Josh Brolin, who is the only one that turns in a good performance. The comedic scenes were not funny and the villain is forgettable. Stay away. 2 out of 5
Out with the old and in with the new. Two films are being released this first week of June, but I believe only one will be playing locally. The second film on the list is a sequel to an extreme guilty pleasure of mine so I wanted to include it in the hopes it gets here soon. What is opening here is the second telling of the same fairy tale this year, this time with a darker edge.
SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN
In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman who was ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen. *
I’ve been told that I have been getting increasingly negative on these previews. To counter that opinion, I offer this fairy tale twist. I’m actually looking forward to this film. The marketing behind it has primarily concentrated on Charlize Theron’s (Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest) wicked Queen, and it’s effective. She is delightfully frightening. It’s a far turn from Julia Roberts’ approach to the same role in Mirror Mirror, the other Snow White movie released this year. While Julia’s was more light hearted and family friendly, Charlize’s is more monstrous and, quite frankly, evil. I’m looking forward to this portrayal most of all.
That is not to diminish the other casting choices. Kristen Stewart (Catch that Kid) has been Bella-ing it up for the past few years, but if one takes her away from staring open mouthed at sparklingly vampires, she is a good actress. I really liked her in Adventureland and she has received good reviews in In the Land of the Women and Into the Wild. Unfortunately for her, she has been saddled with the Twilight series that, while making her millions of dollars, has the rest of the non-teenage girl movie going public dismissing her as just a vapid actress.
Chris Hemsworth (A Perfect Getaway) is in his third movie since April, having previously starred in the Joss Whedon penned The Cabin in the Woods and the Joss Whedon directed The Avengers. It is not too far of a stretch from what he’s done recently. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s currently working for him so why change now.
The only thing that gives me pause is the “From the Producers of Alice in Wonderland” tag that accompanies every single trailer I’ve seen. Alice in Wonderland was far from a good movie, turning Alice into an action hero in a Lord of the Rings-type fantasy adventure. It was unwarranted and unwelcome in that movie. This could be heading down the same road but it looks to be better utilized than in Alice. Looks can be deceiving.
All in all, this appears to be a good time. Here’s to hoping that the successful marketing carries over into the final product. I’m Heigh-Ho-ing off to the mines with 4 whistling dwarfs out of 5. Snow White & the Huntsman is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality.
After the events at Lake Victoria, the pre-historic school of blood-thirsty piranhas makes their way into a newly opened waterpark. *
While I have a strong inclination that this movie will not be playing in Lexington this weekend, I felt obliged to mention it, mostly because of how I view the original. Trust me when I say that the first (and more than likely this one) is far from decent cinema. Still, there was a teenage glee in watching what is essentially a higher budget and extremely gory SyFy film. These movies are not for everybody (or really anybody who isn’t me) but I don’t care. It’s going to be bad. It’s going to be gross. It will reside on many of critics’ worst of the year lists. It hopefully will be an awesome time. After all, it has David Hasselhoff and the Hoff can do no wrong. I’m throwing out the chum and wrangling up 4 legless Ving Rhames out of 5 (everybody else should settle for a 1). Piranha 3DD is rated R for sequences of strong bloody horror violence and gore, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.
That will do it for this week. Stay tuned next time when Ridley Scott will take us back to a place where no one can hear you scream. Until then, don’t Hassle the Hoff.
*all summaries taken from IMDB.com