Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Staying in on a cold, wet day

[Film] There's nothing like a cold, wet Canberra weekend for rugging up & staying in watching movies. Last weekend I saw four - most good, one not so:

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation is to Starship Troopers what The Blues Brothers 2000 is to The Blues Brothers. I can understand why the sequels were made - popular originals in seemingly easy formats to reproduce - but as with BB2000, ST2 ended up a lame imitation of the original and on a much smaller scale (IMO they looked like they'd been shot for TV). At least BB2000 had a decent soundtrack. There's really no reason to see ST2 unless you're really into everything Starship Troopers. That it went direct to rental should be enough of a warning.

I can't remember where, but I'd heard bad things about Underworld, so I wasn't expecting much. As it happens I enjoyed it. It redeemed Kate Beckinsale from her shithouse part in Van Helsing and Bill Nighy's slow regeneration was pretty cool. The pacing was enough to keep it moving along (coming in at just over 2 hours) and it leaned more towards assuming knowledge rather than telling the audience everything through dialogue & exposition (which is how I prefer it) on the hows & whys of werewolf & vampire lore (not that I know much more than vampires being intolerant of daylight & werewolves being intolerant of silver).

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World takes ship-bound adventure out of the small screen hands of the Hornblower telemovie series and puts it up on the big screen. It's fun. Apparently Rusty learnt to play the violin for the part. I'd be surprised if the other books in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey series hadn't been optioned, though I suspect that any sequels would suffer the fate of some others & get scaled down.

I ventured out on Friday night because I thought that Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban deserved to be seen on a big screen with proper surround sound. Despite the horde of family groups out to see it on opening weekend, we managed to get excellent seats in the middle of the cinema without anyone irritating too close.

I really enjoyed HP3. I thought it looked good & the cast were good to watch, though I have to ask when's Daniel Radcliffe going to relax; he seems so restrained. I thought Emma Thompson was good, but I always imagined Joanna Lumley as Professor Trelawney, and Maggie Smith must've been wondering why she bothered with the little screen time she got. I guess that's going to happen as more & more characters are introduced into the series. As with the first two HP's, Rupert Grint's comic timing was excellent, but it was the Whomping Willow that got the most laughs in my screening.

One thing I noticed is that this one is scored differently to the first two films. John William's scores are generally repetitive & easy to identify, but I was pleasantly surprised that in HP3 the familiar Hedwig's Theme (it's used in the promos and with almost everything HP related) wasn't played until about half way through the film. I had to wait for the credits to check if Williams had scored this one.

I was pleased that this movie opted for assumed knowledge over tedious reexplanation of everything in the Potterverse. But I can see how others might opt for the reverse. My housemate was a bit confused by a few things; I've loaned her the books to read. Topic for discussion: Someone I talked to about the film this week was of the opinion that you shouldn't have to read the books to enjoy the film, that the films should be able to stand apart from the books. What do you think?

Posted by Dean @ 6/16/2004 08:03:00 pm

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Jeez, I didn't even know there was a sequel to Starship Troopers.... the first movie was fun but hardly a great film. (Though I loved how Denise Richard's character pilots a massive starship as though it were a Mack truck making its way through a road-side truck-stop).

But to console me on this very cold and surprisingly wet Canberra weekend, I have... master and commander and harry potter 2...


Posted by Blogger Nick @ Saturday, June 19, 2004 6:25:00 pm #

I agree re: ST2 - I unfortunately got it out the other night, and despite liking the first one for all its faults, this was horrible on all levels!

I also got Along Came Polly which didn't even get a chuckle out of me, despite like Ben Stiller and comedies of that nature. I hope Big Fish, which is my next target, is better, and I've heard it is!

Posted by Blogger Matty @ Sunday, June 20, 2004 1:21:00 pm #

Along Came Polly was so disappointing, especially after Zoolander. I'll be interested in your take on Big Fish.

Posted by Blogger Dean @ Sunday, June 20, 2004 6:52:00 pm #
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