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The Fantastic Four movie was definitely a mixed bag for me. I’m a Marvel fan, but I always followed Spidey, the X-Men, and the Avengers more than the Four. Hence I don’t know the exact origin story very well, nor the origin of Dr. Doom, the villain of this picture. If you liked the X-Men movie and don’t require an airtight plot, you’ll probably like this one.

Light spoilers follow if you’d like to read on.

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Sounds like Melissa’s interested in us seeing Fantastic Four this Friday. Cool!

Spoiler warning – if you haven’t yet seen this movie, you’re lamer than me and should expect it to be spoiled. 😉

I forgot to blog the fact that I finally saw ROTS on Friday with Melissa. What’s there to say that hasn’t been already said? I felt the final 20 minutes were well spent to set the stage for the original SW trilogy. I’m a huge Artoo fan, so my favorite part was his chuckle when he and Threepio are given to Captain Antilles and Bail Organa tells him to wipe Threepio’s memory. Which of course means Obi-Wan and Artoo now share secrets throughout Episode 4 (Kenobi: “I don’t recall ever owning a droid before.” Revisionist fan: “Hah – he’s playing dumb.”) Sir Alec Guinness was already less than enamored with how big the character of OWK became; the fact that Lucas has “altered” the SW storyline to introduce continuity with the previously barely-imagined backstory of Darth Vader might cause him to roll over in his grave. Well, probably not.

OK, one minor rant out of the way. The movie was entertaining, but it spent too much time with fighting and not enough time on Padme and Anakin. After the wooden performances in Episode 2, I had higher hopes for the love scenes and they were hurried and choppy and unfulfilled. How are they supposed to get away to Padme’s dream love nest on Naboo when Anakin is supposed to be jumping around the galaxy as a Jedi Knight? Their spoken hopes seemed unbelievable in the context of the overall story. I did like the fact that Padme was buried with a seemingly pregnant belly (only from the perspective of the overall plot of the series, of course) since that effectively covered up the fact that she gave birth to Luke and Leia from the public and hence Anakin.

I thought the rushed birth of the pimped-out Darth Vader in the end was a mistake. Were they paying James Earl Jones $1m/word or something? Also thought it was weird that Palpatine himself came out to find the badly beaten Anakin on the volcano planet.

What did I like? Technically, the movie was a knockout. I enjoyed watching General Grievous, Artoo, and the droids. I always dig the light saber battles. Ewan McGregor should get an Oscar for “Best Performance By An Actor In An Obligated Leading Role”; he made the movie more fun and he kicked ass.

I’m glad I got that movie out of my system. Now I have to get some buddies together and go see a movie I expect to be better: Batman Begins. I have high hopes for Fantastic Four as well.

I pointed to this Slashdot article in my link blog; I’ve only had a chance to check out Sith Apprentice so far. It’s hilarious. There are some great references near the end. Required viewing!

Do away with the pre-show interviews. The hosts sucked and the clips were hastily pasted together on the fly. Jann Carl even committed the faux pas of saying “and the winner is…” when anyone who actually watches the awards knows that it’s “and the Oscar goes to…”.

I found about 25% of Chris Rock’s act funny. I think the message he sent to African-Americans who were watching was “make more meaningful films”. The recorded bit from the Magic Johnson theaters would probably have elicited the same responses in many predominately white theaters, so it wasn’t really that inventive. He did some of the playful digging that all Academy Awards hosts do, however some of his comments (Jude Law?) seemed caustic, given his “outsider” status.

My favorite recipients:

  • Morgan Freeman, Best Supporting Actor (whom I’ve enjoyed ever since hearing and seeing him on The Electric Company)
  • Brad Bird, Best Original Screenplay (The Incredibles)
  • John Dykstra, Achievement in Visual Effects (Spider-Man 2) (“Boy, am I glad there wasn’t a fourth episode of Lord Of The Rings.”)

I liked the best original song nominee performances, especially Carlos Santana and Antonio Banderas’ rendition of Jorge Drexler’s “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from The Motorcycle Diaries.

The HD production, which I watched from about 10:15p on, was actually quite nice.

On review, I didn’t like the fact that the “behind the scenes” winners weren’t afforded the luxury of the full walk down the red carpet and onto the stage. The aisle shots and the stage lineups were time-saving measures that didn’t work for me.

Please come home, Billy Crystal!

I forgot that yesterday was a two-movie day for Melissa and me. We took the afternoon off together for lunch and a viewing of In Good Company, starring Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace. It was a good matinee; an enjoyable character study and criticism of mega-corporations. Definitely not a paint-by-numbers drama/comedy. The characters aren’t predicable at all, and the climax of the movie is pretty strong. It’s a good date movie.

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We watched The Village last night, and I’m glad I avoided reading too many reviews of it beforehand. Like director M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, the twist of the movie is so big that it sours repeated viewings. In fact, just when you think you know what the twist is, the “real” twist comes. 😉

That being said, we liked it. The acting on all fronts was great, especially Joaquin Phoenix‘s stoic “Lucius Hunt”. William Hurt’s performance really helps sell the 1890s setting. Definitely a recommended rental; only Shyamalan’s Unbreakable is a DVD I would recommended puchasing. It has a lot of staying power. It would be hard for me to rank this film against Sixth Sense and Signs. I probably would rank Signs as my second-favorite M. Night film.

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We watched DodgeBall last night and thought it was hilarious. I think anyone who likes Stiller’s previous comedies, particularly Meet The Parents and Zoolander, will like this film. It’s good for at least a rent.

Besides Stiller’s and Vince Vaughn’s performances, I thought Rip Torn and Justin Long were quite good. “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” There’s a killer cameo near the end of the movie that I won’t reveal here. And, hey kids, even William Shatner shows up for some fun as the Dodgeball league commissioner. One of the best things about the movie is how it sets the rules up for “professional” dodgeball and takes them seriously; even though the movie is full of jokes, the dodgeball tournament is quite entertaining because you’re believing the notion that this could be a sport. 🙂

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My collection is now complete – at least until the Extended Edition DVD of “The Hobbit” comes out in 2008. 😉

Will I ever be able to block off a whole day to watch all three LOTR:EE DVDs back-to-back whilst my shirt is off and I’m eating a brick of cheese? Probably not. But one can dream.

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Melissa and I watched Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind on Friday evening and it was a lot more detailed and quirky than I expected. Kate Winslet plays way against type, and Jim Carrey puts in a strong performance. All the supporting actors are great (especially Mark Ruffalo) and the story is a chronological mess, but in a good way. This movie made me think about the power of the memory of love and seemed to reward me for paying attention. It’s definitely worth at least a rent; it’s probably good for two inital viewings, the second with the commentary on. I’ll be doing that when I get a chance.