Saturday, March 10, 2007

Movie Reviews

Pan’s Labyrinth
Katie and I went and saw this at the Nickelodeon Theater, and I honestly find this movie hard to talk about. It was well-done but such a strange plot, I don’t know where to start: In Spain during WWII, young Ofelia and her pregnant mother move into the home of her new stepfather, a violent general using a mansion as his HQ while battling rebel groups operating in the nearby woods. At the same time, a Faun and his fairies appear to Ofelia and inform her that she is actually the lost princess of the Underworld and has but a few days to prove that she is not too “mortal” to reclaim her throne. Slowly these two situations begin to merge in the escalating violence that surrounds them.

Excellent story, strong acting, a mind-bogglingly creative fantasy world, all tempered with some shockingly brutal violence. You know those scenes when something violent is about to happen and then the scene cuts away and you think “Man, I’m sure glad they didn’t show that…” Well, no such luck here. It is rough stuff. And the monster with the eyes in his hand is one of the most disturbing characters I have ever seen on film. This film definitely deserved all its accolades.

Marie Antoinette
Our neighbor loaned us this one, and I wasn’t really pumped up to see it, but Katie wanted to watch it so we curled up on the couch and gave it a viewing. Ironically, I liked it a lot and Katie didn’t like it much at all. Her complaint was that it didn’t really tell us anything (to which I replied “That’s what encyclopedias are for.”) But I liked that it wasn’t heavy on the fact and was more of an artistic take on the facts (“impressionistic” was Katie’s word). It’s definitely “eye-candy” because the Oscar-winning costumes are very well done. However, all the talk about the use of modern music was really overblown in my opinion, because it wasn’t used throughout the whole film and when it WAS used it was used to good effect. Not a masterpiece, but not bad.

I took the Somali guys to see this on opening night. Looked like a video game, was violent and gory, but I must say I enjoyed the heck out of it. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, which in turn was loosely based on the actual Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The real battle was of course not as cut-and-dry as the movies “us vs. them” mentality, nor did Xerxes army consist of so many monsters. Nor was there likely a bombastic rock score at intense moments. However, as a movie goes, these guys did Frank Miller right once again (after Sin City).

As for the dialogue, it worked fine for the simplistic take on the events in question, but it was like listening to a White House press conference: soldiers talking of giving their lives to ensure the freedom of others (though not of the Spartan’s own indentured class- that was left out of the plot), Queen’s telling the council of elders that “Freedom isn’t Free!” Kings proclaiming that the Spartans are ushering in a new era of peace and democracy based on logic that will replace the “world of mysticism” etc. (And this is especially interesting in that Xerxes commanded the invading Persian Army, and Persia is, of course, modern day Iraq. Interesting, no?). OK, all silly political speculations aside, the movie entertained me and that was enough for me.

Casino Royale
This is a late review, so I’ll just say- Great flick. Awesome. Daniel Craig was awesome. See it. Really. See it.

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