Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Kraken

Clash of the Titans, directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes: The original Clash of the Titans wasn't very good, and the remake proudly follows in that tradition. The original mashed up some different Greek hero stories; threw in the Scandanavian Kraken, Burgess Meredith and a mechanical owl clearly related to R2D2; and then added in some Ray Harryhausen stop-motion monsters. This remake replaces Burgess Meredith and the owl with an immortal hottie; removes all the human and monster female nudity (ultimately, we live in a far more prudish mainstream movie environment than people did in 1980: strange but true -- the topless Medusa now wears a sports bra, and Andromeda doesn't come anywhere near a nude shower scene); scrambles, folds, spindles and mutilates Greek mythology even more than the original; and throws in some Arabian djinn who resemble no djinn ever imagined by Arabians.

Some occasionally nice effects related to Hades quickly become boring as they're used again and again, and Sam Worthington demonstrates once again that he's the 21st century's answer to Dolph Lundgren, only more wooden and in far bigger budget movies. In a half-assed nod to The Lord of the Rings, there are a number of long shots of people walking. There are also a number of long shots of giant scorpions walking. I think a six-year-old boy might enjoy this movie. I myself didn't really.

Date Night, directed by Shawn Levy, starring Steve Carrell, Tina Fey and Mark Wahlberg: A movie with Fey and Carrell really should be funnier than this movie. Maybe next time they team up, they'll write the script. Still, I laughed out loud a number of times. Carrel and Fey play a suburban husband and wife who accidentally get involved in some shenanigans in New York. Tame but still recognizable hilarity ensues. Mark Wahlberg has a nice supporting turn as a security expert who never wears a shirt, and James Franco and Mila Kunis also fare well as drug-addled, incompetent blackmailers.

Hot Tub Time Machine, directed by Steve Pink, starring John Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry: I think this movie has underperformed a bit at the box office because its ideal target group -- people in their early 40's -- don't go to movies that often without children in tow. Oh, well. Also, the depiction of the 1980's is in many ways more nostalgic than sarcastic, which means that young, Axe-product-addicted punks who believe that their time is the only cool time will probably be slightly confused by the movie. In any event, I have to endorse any movie in which someone projectile vomits on a squirrel, and in which subsequently that action has dire consequences for the space-time continuum. Sort of. At least if you cheer for a particular football team. Or own Google.

Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton, starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham Carter: So far as I know, this is the first Tim Burton movie in history to have too much plot. The frame story is clunky and somewhat stupid, and the Wonderland part is pretty much stuck in that fantasy movie quest groove, for all the absurdities of the landscape and the characters. Still, the acting is excellent, and the character and set design are quirky and occasionally lovely.

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