Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Movie watching, heavy on the rambling.

I have been trying to make good use of our public library as a resource for movies that I think that I want to see but have no current intention of owning. Every once in a while I get lucky and find a movie that warrants repeat viewing, but I'm perfectly fine with some movies just being a one-shot deal.

Since I own the first Ghost Rider movie (Don't laugh. I got it for $4.00.) and have been trying to keep up with the current wave of Marvel movies I figured that the second Ghost Rider movie "Ghost Rider:Spirit of Vengeance" was worth a watch. I didn't notice right away that the producers of the film thought that it would be important to say "From the guys that brought you Crank". I found that rather odd, seeing as 'Crank' isn't exactly in the superhero genre, but I presume it's to attract the 20-something male audience that thinks that they're too cool to watch a superhero movie. Between the cold open that's supposed to tell you something about what Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (played by Nicolas Cage) will have to deal with later in the film, and the long expository narration during the opening credits, it's clear that the story is not particularly streamlined. It also suffers from the possibility that hardly anybody watched the first film so they have to re-explain a lot of things in a way that develops the character but without making too many specific references to the first film. I have made it approximately halfway through last night and don't particularly care if I watch the rest of it now.  Since Ghost Rider is sort of an antihero, it's hard to care whether he wins or not, and the chemistry between Mr. Cage and the female lead is not as good as it was in the first film. (Actually, the chemistry between Nick Cage and anybody in this film is not as good as it was in the first film.)

If the guys that brought me "Crank" learned anything from making that film, they should have learned a) have a good idea to center the film around and b) stick with it. "Crank" had a very clear albeit ridiculous premise, and they didn't take too many unnecessary side trips. "Crank 2" was actually better since it was more tongue-in-cheek than the first one. So, even though "Crank" is a ridiculous action film with a low maturity level, the story keeps cooking along, stays focused, and holds your interest. I cannot say the same for "Ghost Rider:SoV", so perhaps Jason Statham will be getting a pass from me more often than Nicolas Cage. At least I know exactly* what I'm going to get with a Jason Statham movie.

Tonight, instead of attempting to finish "Ghost Rider:SoV" we tried to start "John Carter". It starts with a crazy story-in-a-story exposition, and then gets around to telling the story. It's very visually polished, but there's a tremendous number of characters introduced over the course of the first act. By the time John Carter figures out the Deja was a princess, my kids were playing with plastic army men and ignoring the movie at point-blank range, so now I am wondering if we're going to finish that one either.

On the good side, the Ghibli animated version of "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton called "The Secret World of Arrietty" turned out to be fantastic and my younger son watched it a second time the day after we watched it the first time. It has very cute animation as per Ghibli usual, most of the story focuses on the title character, and the fantastic world portrayed feels totally natural in the context of the film instead of self-referentially being amazed at its very existence.

*Jason Statham film summary - He's a regular dude with a checkered past, or possibly a hidden past, some stuff happens to him, and then he beats the tar out of everybody that screwed him over so he can finally go on that vacation at the end of the movie.

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