Monday, May 31, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

So this is the type of summer it’s going to be, huh? You can’t even do me the favor of making awful big budget movies. Instead I get movies like Price of Persia: The Sands of Time, which is harmless and forgettable. Hooray … wait … what did I just see?

The main thing I took out of Prince of Persia is that I wish this were an R-rated Assassin’s Creed movie. If you are going to make a video game into a movie at least give me one that glorifies sudden death by knives. The best parts of this movie were when Dastan was parkouring through the villages. I was okay with it until they literally copied the Assassin’s Creed panoramic viewpoint shot when he stood at the edge of a rooftop. Maybe one day the right game will be adapted and it will disappoint me in some other astonishing way.

Finally, someone had the guts to cast Jake Gyllenhaal as a summer movie action hero. And in another shock he got the job done. He may have fallen into the more sarcastic side of hero but it was nothing too annoying. Action hero doesn’t really need much more than a look so good on Jake for working out like a madman. Gemma Arterton is supposed to be a Persian princess? Wait a second everyone is American or British! Did Persia move since the last time I looked at a historical map? Ah well; if that is what it takes to get Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina to class up a video game adaptation I understand. Come on … Ben Kingsley!

There is not much else to say about Prince of Persia. If you’ve seen any popcorn movies in your life, you could call out the scenes before they happened. And I’m unsure if a movie with The Sands of Time in the title makes the ending acceptable. Because if not, that was a whole lot of time spent on nothing.

6 out of 10


Yeah … I saw MacGruber. I’m not entirely sure why either. And the fact that I laughed many times confuses me. This should have been one of the all time worst movies yet it wasn’t. Was MacGruber actually good? Is that possible?

I’m unsure why of all the current Saturday Night Live sketches MacGruber was given the nod. And since it made single digit millions it’s clear that no one was asking for it. Yet if you stumble across it, don’t run away screaming. There is some dark dark humor to be found in there. MacGruber's obsession with the license plate number of a guy who pissed him off, his pleading to get Ryan Phillippe on his team, and the climatic scene that was the movie version of the actual skit it was based on were all highlights. Then again there were just as many parts that were so twisted I’m not sure if they still qualify as funny. This included a lot of Will Forte ass including multiple sex scenes that defy description. I think the balance came out on the funny side of the margin but it was close.

This is Will Forte’s character so he definitely took advantage of the R-rating to provide more depth to MacGruber. Mainly he made him a complete prick. Hopefully Kristen Wiig will get better roles down the road but she shined where she could. She had a couple great scenes where she would answer in such a quiet voice that it was automatically funny. Now the non-SNL folks were Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, and Powers Boothe and who doesn’t want more Powers in their cinema? Phillippe was a solid straight man to Forte, while big fat Kilmer just went all out as the bad guy. Good for them for trying!

So MacGruber has come and gone and the world did not care. I guess I could have saved the 10 bucks but what's done is done.

5 out of 10

Robin Hood

Just wow. In a world where Robin Hood is called something else, is not marketed in anyway as a Robin Hood story, and a few of the more random aspects of the film are fixed, this could have been another solid Ridley Scott epic. Sadly none of those things happened, and the movie that I saw is one of the bigger disappointments I’ve seen in recent memory.

Much like Kingdom of Heaven, even when Ridley Scott swings and misses the movies is not a piece of shit. There is plenty to like within Robin Hood. The initial castle siege scenes were phenomenal if pointless in the grand scheme of things. In fact all of the action beats were worthy of anything Ridley has done until the climatic battle that included too many dumbass moments to ignore. Fine I can’t let it go … halfway through the film there is a scene where Robin dons a hood and robs a caravan of grain and it was awesome and that was it. No more Robin Hood the rest of the movie. Lies!

If I could grade a movie literally by looking at the cast, Robin Hood would have been an immediate 10 out of 10. Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, William Hurt, Max von Sydow, and a quick cameo by Danny Huston are more than I could ever ask for. Everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to mess around in an epic movie. Strong even got to Joker his face up and look even more menacing. The only humor in the film was provided by the merry men, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, Alan Doyle, and Mark Addy, who where never named so but they did act merry. I have no beef with the performances; in fact I would agree today to see the second movie in this story just on the strength of the cast.

It’s hard to get across my annoyance with Robin Hood. This was not a bad movie; it was just a complete misrepresentation. Maybe if the word origin or birth was in the title I wouldn’t have felt hoodwinked. But even with that this would have been like Spider-Man ending with Peter Parker getting bitten by the radioactive spider. And since it was a box office failure, I don’t think the wrongs will get to be righted in a future sequel.

7 out of 10

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 has perplexed me for the last 3 weeks. I just don’t know what to rate it. Although there are no glaring flaws that I want to complain about, it doesn’t feel like Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, X2, or The Dark Knight. Can knock a movie for not feeling right?

If there is one obvious note to take from the second Iron Man movie is that there has never been a more pitch perfect comic book casting than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. It may be as much Downey acting like himself but that energy fits the character of Stark. Can comics be transitioned to books on tape so he can read me all the issues of Iron Man? I recognize that it takes a long time to film a movie but I don’t want to go that long without more of Downey as Stark.

Downey may overshadow everyone else in Iron Man 2 but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any other casting highlights. There may be bigger names and more important characters but I’m starting with Sam Rockwell because he is awesome. If it were up to me, Justin Hammer dancing on stage of the Stark Expo would have actually been the third Iron Man movie or at least the real Step Up 3-D. And if I’m going with Justin Hammer dancing, then I would team that with Natasha Romanoff walking since there were multiple scenes that seemed to linger on Scarlett Johansson even when she wasn’t speaking … weird. Another key part of Iron Man 2 was confirming that Sam Jackson’s take on Nick Fury works and is something to look forward to for the multiple Marvel movies down the road. I did enjoy Mickey Rourke being big scary Russian ex-con who actually stays in the lab and builds stuff. Nice twist even if Whiplash is not Russian and Ivan Denko is actually Crimson Dynamo and that is about enough of that. Finally, John Slattery as Howard Stark was phenomenal casting. He may just look the part after years of Mad Men but he was perfect as Tony’s dad.

There were a handful of topnotch action scenes throughout Iron Man 2. The Monaco fight with Whiplash was the clear highlight. You had Whiplash in full glory along with Tony using the suitcase armor, which was a sweet moment. I was also a big fan of Black Widow tearing through a hallway of Hammer security goons. That could have gone on for hours and hours and I would have been satisfied. Although there may have only been a few quick shots but seeing War Machine in action it was definitely badass. That being said; just like the first Iron Man movie the best parts are not when he is in the suit.

It’s a month later and still don’t have a solid opinion of Iron Man 2. When the credits rolled … and rolled and rolled and rolled until a hammer showed up and I got to say Mjolnir out loud … I was ready to give it a perfect score and be done with it. But I no longer am comfortable with that and I can’t point to a specific reason. Who the hell knows what goes on inside my brain?

9 out of 10