Sunday, May 11, 2008

Don't Feel The Need

The start of summertime. Shit! That means it’s soon going to be time to figure out which of the big summer movies I ought to try and see. Or rather which ones I don’t want to have anything to do with. That means the time has come to forswear visiting the Apple website’s movie trailers page for a good few months. At least until the time comes when the upcoming films on offer reveal an intriguing story rather than the perpetual banging and crashing of bright colours and loud noise.

Years back I used to catch all those gloriously dumb movies. After 1991, with Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Rocketeer, I must have pretty much lost interest, because I can’t really remember any of the major summer flicks for the rest of that decade. Then again, after the growing hype typically revealed inevitable disappoints maybe I just got to thinking of each film simply on its own terms, and not as some event movie conjured up by the hard-driven publicity-fucknuts. Then, if it turns out to be not that special, it isn’t that big a deal.

Rather than see the whole summer stretching ahead, it’s probably better to take it one month at a time. For May I was considering Iron Man. It seemed an unusual character to pick but, from the amount of money that’s pouring in, has turned out to be a good choice for Marvel. Jon Favreau’s choice of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is an inspired bit of casting, and the trailers always looked fun. That may seem obvious but there seem to be some movies where the cretins in the publicity department don’t even seem to manage that.

When the poster for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull appeared last year I had no real interest in it. But then the trailer arrived, and those opening notes of John Williams’ Raiders March bursting onto the soundtrack elicited the most remarkable Pavlovian response. Frankly they could have stiched together any old clips as long as the music was there. I was just beginning to think that maybe it would be a good idea to see it when the BBC started broadcasting the original trilogy in the run up to this new release.

Watching Raiders of the Lost Ark again simply reminded me why the further films were not only disappointing but also wholly unnecessary. Although there have been a reference or two about age in the trailers, you just know that this time Kingdom of the Crystal Skull really is going to be about the years and not about the mileage. Still, at least Spielberg and the producers have apparently made a conscious effort to make it fit in with the previous entries in the series. That includes keeping to physical effects with the stunts rather than rely on a whole lot of digital.

I wonder if the CGI-overload is why Speed Racer has crashed and burned on its opening weekend. So far the box office estimate is $20,210,000, which puts it deep in the crapper. The only Japanese cartoon I remember watching as a wee kiddie was Marine Boy. Speed Racer? Until recently, never goddam heard of it. After watching the headache-inducing trailer, never want to see it. Splattered with a retina-burning colour palette, it looked more like they had brought the Mario Kart raceways to life. Shot greenscreen, with all the action contained within a computer-rendered environment, what does that do to the thrills and spills?

They can be wilder and more outlandish, certainly, but it also makes them rather toothless. There’s certainly not the same adrenalin rush exhibited in races or car chases filmed live in what is hopefully a controlled environment. Watching the car chases in Ronin and Bullitt, The French Connection, To Live and Die in LA or Mad Max 2 and the trio of Jason Bourne films certainly gets the blood pumping, but when its just ones and zeros crunching, the experience may appear fast but lacks real fury.

Perhaps the worst thing about Speed Racer is that it runs for two hours and fifteen minutes. The only way to sit through that is seeing it in a cinema that sells sweet, salted, and Nurofen popcorn.


At 9:31 pm, Blogger james henry said...

Iron Man is GREAT.

At 11:20 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I was all set to see it last week at the Odeon Leicester Square until I discovered the ticket price was £13.50. Hopefully I'll catch it in the next couple of days.

At 12:03 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

Or why not spend twenty quid to see Sex and the City? Or that cool new Britcom starring Mackenzie Crook and the lovely Kerry Katona?

Most movies are absolute shite.

They really are.

I've just binned my subscription to Lovefilm because there simply aren't five or six movies a month worth watching.

Looking back through the account history, it's depressing to think that I paid to sit through junk like The Invasion, The Wicker Man, Wedding Daze, Next, The Fog, Basic Instinct 2 and plenty more like them.

At 7:15 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

What happened to that "Britcom"? It was probably pulled from the cinemas and replaced before the final reel had run through the projector. Why do the bother with things like that?

Jeez, that is a list of pretty piss-poor movies. Twenty quid to see old horse face? I don't think so.

Because I have to be somewhere late tomorrow afternoon, I'm thinking that if I have a "long lunch" I can nip off and see Iron Man ...which sounds like a plan.

At 9:36 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

I have to say that, IMHO, Iron Man rocked like a fat one.

It possibly rocked even as much as me... ;-)


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