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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day Late, Dollar Short Movie Reviews; Downey, Burton, Gilliam & Strange Animals

Had a chance to redbox a couple of movies in recent weeks and now have a few moments for another edition of the day late dollar short movie reviews.

Movies like this always reminds me of the sage words on an ex girlfriends sister. Whenever asked about a recent movie she saw would always respond with "ehh, it was ok" in about as neutral tone as one could ever find. It used to amuse me that no movie was ever great or outright sucked. Years later, I debated whether she was brilliant or the wisdom of her words was mere coincidence. When someone says a movie is great the hopes and expectations get built to a point where reality can never live up to expectations. On the other side of the ledger-when you say a movie sucked big time; actually seeing the movie and finding some redeeming qualities can raise the bar. With that in mind and based on some reviews for Holmes maybe I expected less and received more.

Sherlock Holmes- As of right now Robert Downey Jr can do no wrong...this guy is on one heck of an amazing roll. When was the last time an actor has been in so many big name movies and done well in such a short period of time? Between Sherlock Holmes, Ironman, Tropic Thunder, The Soloist-this guy is hollywood gold.

That said I really enjoyed this movie in spite of the fact the hollywood-ization of one of literatures most beloved characters was off the chart. While I admittedly have never read one, count ‘em not a one, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books I cant help but think that not a one of the featured Sherlock Holmes participating in mixed Martial Arts Events and being adept at applying a rear naked choke hold that would make George St Pierre Proud. Same with Watson, I always envisioned him as a portly cherubic side kick-not a tall lanky stud who also happened to me a 5 time junior welterweight boxing champion. That Said-

This was an entertaining movie and Guy Ritchie was a very good choice to direct the film. I am sure there some purists are bemoaning Ritchie’s mainstream work, but he is very good and adept at setting mood and feel and using this time period is a perfect choice for him to show his wares.

Wont go into trivial things like plot and amusing anecdotes; but for a few hours of fun and interest Sherlock Holmes did well to hold my interest and I would not mind at all if this became a series of films as Downey and Law played well off of each other and had good chemistry. As a matter of fact-I would much rather see and trust the continuing quality of a Sherlock Holmes Series of Films then anything coming out of the Indiana Jones or Star Wars Series. And once again when we speak of conjecture my waxing poetic and lamenting of hollywood bastardization of fictional characters is purely speculatory as I have never read any of the works of Conan Doyle-nor Carroll which leads me to.......

Alice in Wonderland

I will preface this with the widespread announcement and proclimation that I am by no means a fan of Tim Burton. The 1st Batman film is widely overrated and would haven been a monumental bust if not for the casting of Jack Nicholson. Batman 2 made Batman 1 look like the Godfather and probably my choice for worst movie of all time being that at least “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and “Troll2“ have comedic value. Edward Scissorhands has not aged well at all and the Planet of the Apes remake was saved by the fact it didnt reach the horrid scale of the Rollerball remake. Dont even get me started on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That said I enjoyed his work in Ed Wood, Big Fish, and Peewees Big Adventure so please dont start a facebook page of “Hipcheck hates Tim Burton” as did enjoy some of his movies.

As for this flick....I can pencil then is as one of Burtons movies I liked. Ironic that this was the one Disney film that bored my kids but the wife and I enjoyed. I had never heard of Mia Wasikowska before this flick but she is beautiful and charming, Depp is as bizarre and extravagant as can be, visually the film is stunning, and my only regret is that I wasn’t able to catch this at the Imax, in 3D, after taking one semi large inhalation of something of the high quality hallucinogenic variety. Watching this movie made we want to re-explore the works of Lewis Carroll much the same way as Holmes made me want to read at least one Sherlock Holmes book. Considering I fancy myself an amateur writer does never having read anything by the two aforementioned authors besmirch the most basic and low level of my credentials? I must ponder this fact.

Burton’s characters are always so over the top that it borders on the grotesque. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt. But the one character in this film that was perfectly cast was Leo Bill as Hamish-the prim English Lord Alice is set to marry. He did more in 10 minutes to stereotype English Upper Class Twits then Monty Python did in 20 years. Seriously funny stuff from this guy. The shape of his nose alone is worthy of mention almost more so then Helena Bonham-Carters head.

As with Holmes I wont get into plot and what not but this is one of Burton’s Better Works in that he controls himself enough to keep it inline without going into bizarro world territory. Thats not to say going into bizarro world territory is always a bad thing but Burton tends to go to the well one too often with unsatisfactory resorts. Once again I do not mind going mad on film-but for that genre I prefer Terry Gilliam over Burton.

I would be remiss as well if I did not mention the work and revitalization of Crispin Glover’s career. While I do not think he will go down in history as the world’s greatest actor; he has done enough quality work where he can be known for his body of work as opposed to the guy known for his erratic borderline emotionally disturbed Letterman appearance. Odd to think 20 or so years later and without having any inside info whatsoever I would almost trust Glovers opinion and morale compass over that of Letterman. The March of Time in conjunction with age and opinion truly creates strange animals.