Friday, August 20, 2010

Thumbs Up For Some Thumbs Down

Lately, for some reason, I've been looking forward to reading Roger Ebert's negative reviews more than reading his positive ones. I think it's fair to say that some of his negative reviews are more artistically memorable than the movies they're purportedly reviewing. Other critics shriek and rant and express their moral outrage; Ebert just likes to make himself chuckle. Some highlights:

The Last Airbender:
"The Last Airbender" is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.
One night at a party, his moves don't work. It must be said he uses hopelessly outdated lines. When a man says, "You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen," a woman should reply: "I know. But why would that make me want to sleep with you?"
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time:
Anyway, the evil Nizam insists that the Persian army invade the peaceful city of Alamut. This is a beautiful city surrounding a towering castle. King Sharaman has ordered the city not be sacked, but nooo, Nizam has secret information that Alamut is manufacturing weapons of mass destruction for Persia's enemies. (Poor Dick Cheney. He can't even go to a Disney swashbuckler without running into finger-wagging.)
Eat Pray Love:
Here is a movie about Liz Gilbert. About her quest, her ambition, her good luck in finding only nice men, including the ones she dumps. She funds her entire trip, including scenic accommodations, ashram, medicine man, guru, spa fees and wardrobe, on her advance to write this book. Well, the publisher obviously made a wise investment. It's all about her, and a lot of readers can really identify with that. Her first marriage apparently broke down primarily because she tired of it, although Roberts at (a sexy and attractive) 43 makes an actor's brave stab at explaining they were "young and immature." She walks out on the guy (Billy Crudup) and he still likes her and reads her on the Web.

In Italy, she eats such Pavarottian plates of pasta that I hope one of the things she prayed for in India was deliverance from the sin of gluttony. At one trattoria she apparently orders the entire menu, and I am not making this up. She meets a man played by James Franco, about whom, enough said. She shows moral fibre by leaving such a dreamboat for India, where her quest involves discipline in meditation, for which she allots three months rather than the recommended lifetime.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:
Of Taylor Lautner’s musculature, and particularly his abs, much has been written. Yes, he has a great build, but I remind you that an abdominal six-pack must be five seconds’ work for a shape-shifter. More impressive is the ability of both Edward and Jacob to regard Bella with penetrating gazes from ’neath really dope eyebrows. When my eyebrows get like Edward’s, the barber trims them and never even asks me first.

There is a problem with the special effects. Many of the mountain ranges, which disappear into the far distance as increasingly pale peaks, look suspiciously like landscapes painted by that guy on TV who shows you how to paint stuff like that. The mountain forests and lakes are so pristine, we should see Lewis and Clark just arriving.

Much leads up to a scene in a tent on a mountaintop in the midst of a howling blizzard, when Bella’s teeth start chattering. Obviously a job for the hot-blooded Jacob and not the cold-blooded Edward, and as Jacob embraces and warms her, he and Edward have a cloying cringe fest in which Edward admits that if Jacob were not a werewolf, he would probably like him, and then Jacob admits that if Edward were not a vampire — well, no, no, he couldn’t. Come on, big guy. The two of you are making eye contact. Edward’s been a confirmed bachelor for 109 years. Get in the brokeback spirit.
"Predators” may be the first film in history to open with a deus ex machina. Yes, the entire plot and all the human characters drop into the movie from the heavens.

Who runs this game preserve, and why? If you recall the first “Predator” (1987), Arnold Schwarzenegger and other killers found themselves in the Amazon fighting an unseen predatory alien. Has that race of aliens imported humans to its solar system for a rematch? Is it a wise use of resources to transport several mammals untold light years through space just so you can watch them getting their asses predatored?

No time to think about them. Here come some really vicious warthog-looking creatures. They weigh about half a ton apiece, move as fast as lions, and have so many horns and spikes sticking out of them that fornicating must have to be a sometime thing.

Can you spot the design flaw? Its horns or fangs, whatever they are, extend too far in front of its mouth! Yes, after they kill their prey, how do they eat them? It's as inconvenient as a muzzle on a pitbull. I thought, maybe they lie on their backs and shovel the food in with their feet? But no, how's that gonna work with all the spikes on their backs?

There is of course one woman in the film, Isabelle (Alice Braga). She and Royce slowly bond, and eventually at the end ... but no, I can't tell you if they kiss. That would be a spoiler. One thing you know for sure: The alien warthogs don't spend a lot of time frenching.
Sex And The City 2:
The characters of "Sex and the City 2" are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row. Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies. They must plan their wardrobes on the phone, so often do they appear in different basic colors, like the plugs you pound into a Playskool workbench.

Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) has the two little girls she thought she wanted, but now discovers that they actually expect to be raised. Mothers, if you are reading, run this through your head. One little girl dips her hands in strawberry topping and plants two big handprints on your butt. You are on the cell to a girlfriend. How do you report this? You moan and wail out: "My vintage Valentino!"

There's more cleavage in this film than at a pro wrestler's wedding. And crotches, have we got crotches for you.
Best Worst Movie:
I bought the DVD of “Troll 2” because a friend advised me to see it. “You're busy,” he told me. “You don't have time to see every bad movie. So you might as well see the worst of all time.” Yes, “Troll 2” has a coveted zero percent rating on the Tomatometer: the lowest-rated film ever made. A critic could become the most-hated person in fan circles by awarding it even half a star and spoiling the perfection of that zero.

I always intended to view “Troll 2” but, I dunno, never found the time. Now comes “Best Worst Movie” to save me the trouble. This is a documentary about what happens to you when you appear in “Troll 2.” It stars the star of the original film, a dentist from a town in Alabama named George Hardy. This is one nice guy. Even his ex-wife says so. He has a Harrison Ford head of hair and a smile so wide, it's like a toothpaste billboard. He treats poor kids for free.

He made the movie 20 years ago when he was living in Utah. It was being directed by an Italian named Claudio Fragasso, who didn't “speaka the English” but said he understood Americans better than they understood themselves. The movie was originally named "Goblin" but the title was changed to "Troll 2" because that sounded more commercial. There was a "Troll" (1986), but there was no connection between the two movies, not even trolls, other than that "Troll" ripped off the title.

Fragasso himself, who looks very slightly like an embittered Fellini, attended revivals at the Nuart in Los Angeles and in Salt Lake City, and said his actors were morons then and are morons today. He adds that to make the worst film is as great an honor as making the best one.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

These are quite good. I actually saw a touring showing of Best Worst Movie and met the dentist in question. Also, the kid, who is now all grown up. You can't piss on hospitality.