This Blog Has Been Glanced at This Many Times:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

REVIEW - "The Mist" (2007)

“The Mist” has the makings of a really bad movie. Like a Sci-Fi Channel Original Motion Picture plotline, “The Mist” is absurd enough to dismiss as cheap, b-movie fodder. Perhaps in some way it is, but Frank Darabont, the writer and director of “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” gave Steven King’s monster story the benefit of being more than another bad movie. “The Mist” may start off kind of bumpy with a typical set-up and some cheesy lines, but Darabont recovers with every passing minute of this film.

David Drayton (Thomas Jane) takes his son with him to gather supplies after a massive storm hits their home on the edge of the lake. Once in the store an ominous mist covers the town and whoever exits the store is met with a gruesome death. As the store becomes a less safe place to stay, Drayton tries to plan an escape that will lead him in contact with the most bizarre and terrifying creatures anyone has ever seen. Thomas Jane pushes his acting abilities to places I was happy to see them go. This is easily his finest performance.

Characters trapped in a single building sounds awfully too close to a zombie flick or a certain vampire movie I despised this year. (“30 Days of Night”) But, unlike those movies, the characters we meet in this store are interesting enough to carry the film. Laurie Holden plays the lovable Amanda Dunfrey who is ever so pleasant in her quest to help Drayton and look after his son whenever he’s away. Marcia Gay Harden plays the maddening antagonist Mrs. Carmody, a religious fanatic who takes the Old Testament to heart and preaches to the entire store about the end of days and how God demands sacrifices. She may be more infuriating than “Harry Potter’s” Prof. Umbridge.

There’s never a dull moment with these characters-- Even when the monsters aren’t onscreen. When they are onscreen, however, it’s a thrilling, terrifying event. The attacks are gruesome much of the time, but using that same old “Jaws” and “Alien” method, it’s what you don’t see that’s the scariest. (On the other hand, the scene with the spider creatures nearly made me puke. That’s what I get for being arachnophobic though.)

The movie spares its quantity of thrills for quality and we’re often watching it with questions in mind. Mrs. Carmody slowly begins to sway the store’s people with her skewed religious babble. Does God really want sacrifices? Is that how it works? In one scene a person volunteers to go outside to see what’s in the mist and claims he believes in God too, but he doesn’t believe He’s the “blood sucking, son of a bitch you (Carmody) say He is.” Like many of Steven King’s stories, he questions faith or analyzes how it could be misconstrued, but doesn’t ever seem to bash it. What is God’s purpose here? Is he really throwing down punishment for mankind? Is Carmody right? Or is there a deeper rooted, more complex lesson here? Perhaps.

Drayton notes that he wants to get out of the store because of Carmody swaying the people to her point of view. Amanda assures that as a civilized people we wouldn’t “sacrifice” each other, but Drayton retorts with, “What happens when you take away water, electricity…” Are we so dependent on our comforts as a nation that its what has kept us in check? Is America, or other industrial nations for that matter, really just as “savage” as third world countries? Maybe more so?

And, typically, there’s the concept of government cover-ups. The ridiculous explanation for these creatures is revealed to be a military screw-up and that, of course, causes much drama in the store. Luckily it’s handled as well as it possibly could be and the film doesn’t dwell on the origin of these monsters for too long.

“The Mist” asks a lot of questions and it wants the audience to ponder on them after it’s over, but what type of ending makes an audience member rethink an entire movie for its message? Obviously, not everyone will like this movie because America demands the typical Hollywood ending-- All I have to say is that it took balls to push this finale out the door and it’s strong enough to cause either reflection or backlash. I say this remembering how amazed I was while several people exited the theater. It’s a shock.

There’s so much in “The Mist” to look at and think about that multiple viewings are a necessity. Along with “The Host,” “The Mist” is one of the strongest monster films out there right now and a must-see—If you dare to walk in to it.

***½ out of ****

REVIEW - "I Am Legend" (2007)

It’s comforting to say “I Am Legend” is not your typical apocalyptic zombie adventure—I actually hesitate to call it a zombie flick. It bares enough difference to the overall zombie mythos that people who are turned away from filth like “28 Weeks Later” and “Resident Evil” might enjoy it. Will Smith gives a performance you will remember in this “Cast Away” akin, creature feature and it offers enough thrills to satisfy the zombie fans.

All of the previous compliments I write with hesitance. While “I Am Legend” knows how to be a fun movie that does a lot of things right, it also feels like it’s missing some essential touch-ups: Special effects, emotion, narrative, psychological thoughtfulness—Take your pick, but the film just feels like it struggles to be something greater than it is.

Will Smith stars as Robert Neville, the supposed lone survivor of a virus outbreak that has turned humans violent and unresponsive to rational behavior. (They’re zombies.) These creatures only come out at night, so Robert, and his dog Sam, hunt game, golf on aircraft carriers and broadcast his existence on a daily basis before heading inside to hide from the creatures.

Will Smith’s Robert Neville is a character forcing himself to remain optimistic as he tries to find a cure for the virus. To keep his sanity he stays close to his dog, drives to the video store daily to pick up a new movie and talk to mannequins. Smith is probably the film’s only complete aspect. He tries so hard to bring the film to the emotional level that it desires to be, but, ironically, the material won’t always let him. The scenes he succeeds the most in have to do with events concerning his dog. (Slight spoiler, but dog lovers beware…)

What really made me question the film’s integrity was the third and final act. Suddenly the suspense, torment and thrills that the film built on are tarnished by the inclusion of new characters and improbable events leaving the film hanging on to the thread of Smith alone. It already had its flaws, but by this point it’s just disjointed. The pacing becomes lightening fast and in twenty minutes we’re suppose to take in a whirlwind of heartfelt scenes, religious speculation, action, suspense and extreme character development. That’s a lot to breathe in during a short amount of time. So what was the movie doing beforehand? Why didn’t we see more character development and the questioning of faith earlier?

For all its faults, odd pacing and bad CGI, “I Am Legend” knows how to entertain with a few thrills and Will Smith certainly knows how to command the screen. Perhaps the legendary message of hope isn’t the strongest I’ve seen it portrayed and the ending doesn’t have the effect it should have had, but it has the soul of a strong, heartfelt movie. Smith was able to see that and bring out the best in it. Now imagine if the crew working on the film was more competent. We might have had a legend on our hands.

**½ out of ****

Edward as Bruce Banner

It's been pretty slow, I know. I've also been enjoying my vacation, so, there! But here's a little treat. Edward Norton as Bruce Banner.

It's not much, but it gives more more confidence in this movie for some reason. I love how the device Norton is in looks a lot like the one from the television series.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Poll Results 2 - What Film Are You Looking Forward To The Most Next Year?

And why do I bother capitalizing every first letter of each word in my title? No clue.
Anyway, I apologize for the slow news week. Not too much has been going on and I do have, oh, five reviews to put up here pretty soon. In any case you can look forward to that and some other end of the year stuff to come your way. As for your most anticipated movie for next year, a whopping 53 votes gave the unsurprising win to "The Dark Knight." "Harry Potter" followed in a close second.
"Wait, what about 'X-Files'?" you say! Well one of my good friends was genius enough to let me know he screwed the voting system to hike the tally for "X-Files 2". So that's disqualified. Sorry "X-Files" fans. You can thank my friend for that. I don't know how much of that goes on, but don't do it. Thanks.

Anywho here's the final poll:

"The Dark Knight" - 13 Votes - 24%
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - 7 Votes - 13%
"Cloverfield" - 4 Votes - 7%
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - 4 Votes - 7%
"Iron Man" - 4 Votes - 7%
"Rambo" - 4 Votes - 7%
"Other" - 4 Votes - 7%
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" - 2 Votes - 3%
"Bond 22" - 1 Vote - 1%
"Speed Racer" - 1 Vote - 1%
"Star Trek" - 1 Vote - 1%
"Incredible Hulk" - 0 Votes - 0%
"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" - 0 Votes - 0%

So "The Dark Knight" wins by a lot. "Cloverfield,"Indy 4" and a few others were tied and there's no love for "Hulk" and the third "Mummy." I am curious what the 4% "Other" movies were. I'll have a new poll up in the coming days. Stick around.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas From GMAN's Movie Blog!

I hope all of you who visit have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Festivas...etc...etc...

Stay safe. Enjoy yourselves. And God bless.

- G.J.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

TRAILER - Hancock

I have not been following this movie, but I decided to take a look at the trailer. Will Smith stars in this mock superhero movie about a bum with super powers. I wasn't too interested in it until the very end of the trailer-- I stared howling laughter. Plus it's Will Smith. I enjoy him a lot. Take a look: