May 27th, 2012

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Men in Black III

I had an utterly fantastic trip to NYC yesterday, thus reason for postponing this write up (I wanted to get enough sleep after the movie since we'd had an after-the-fact second cast party for Urinetown the night before). First up was Evita. That's been my "favorite show I've never seen" for almost as long as I've been doing theater, so I jumped at the chance to see it. Ricky Martin and Michael Cerveris were a wonderfully welcome bonus! Then was Gore Vidal's The Best Man. Mostly, I just wanted to see Eric McCormack. So yeah, rousing success.

Right, so Men in Black III. I wasn't sure how I felt about it going in. I'm past most of the skepticism that comes with these long after the franchise is forgotten about sequels. On one side, there's a sense of wondering if Hollywood is really out of ideas, but conversely, it gives them time to think thru a new direction without just cranking out the next installment as quickly as possible. I do quite love Men in Black, well the first one at least. I'm kinda ambivalent on the sequel. I think I'd rank this one in between the two.

While I enjoyed it, something just felt off and I'm not sure what. Maybe too much time had passed. Maybe Will Smith was a bit too complacent. Or maybe I just cant buy time travel stories because my mind thinks too hard about the grandfather paradox or the butterfly effect. But while there was something off in the feel, it had plenty of redeeming qualities. There were some great laugh out loud moments, fun inside jokes for the MIB fans, and a beautiful twist.

But the most reedeming of all positive qualities was Josh Brolin as the younger Agent K. His channelling of Tommy Lee Jones was uncanny. He claims his main goal was to make people forget they were watching a different actor. Mission a-\m/-commplished. The mannerisms, the attitude, the speech patterns, it was all there. Just amazing. And because of how the story worked out, he got to add a bit of a softer side to K, which almost felt like a wink at the audience. Loved it.

Will Smith was, well, Will Smith. The boy's still got the attitude, although at times it felt almost phoned in. I dont think he was giving anything less than his all, but I didnt feel there was much at stake with him. There just wasn't anything too new and fresh for the Fresh Prince. I still love watching him do his thing, but something was missing to make him amp up to the next level.

There isn't really much else to say about it. I mean, it was the MIB. If you're a fan, it's definitely worth checking out for Josh Brolin.

Men in Black III - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n
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Edward Norton: Death to Smoochy

Another favorites overlap. I did hit on most of the major points last time around.

This is a real head first dive into comedy for Norton. If this hadn't been one of the first movies of his I saw, I would have never believed it if you told me he was Smoochy the Rhino. But I really love seeing this side of him, I do. Oh and the guyliner he wears in costume certainly helps. And for me this is the ultimate dark comedy. I usually find "dark comedies" are heavy on the dark and light on the comedy, or the other way around. This one finds that delicate balance.
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Chernobyl Diaries

Whenever I see the word "Chernobyl", I always hear a strong emphasis on the first syllable, Reduced Shakespeare style. That's neither here nor there, I just felt like sharing.

I dont really know why Chernobyl Diaries ended up on my list. The concept looked cool, but nothing that really made it must see. Guess the movie just benefit from a long weekend with only one other major release. Although I suppose one selling point was that some of the Paranormal Activity team was involved. I dont quite think Paranormal is the be all end all of the new wave of horror, but they def know what they're doing.

Turned out to be a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon, if only because it gave me an excuse for a rather pleasant walk to and from Somerville. For the movie itself, I really liked the characters. Thats kinda important in a movie like this. You dont wanna find yourself rooting for them to die. Sure, some of the relationships used cliche to quickly establish them, but hey it sufficed and kept the movie going. What was a little frustrating was that there were just too many stupid decisions made by each of them. I felt like the whole thing could have been so easily avoided if they just chose better. True, then we wouldnt have a movie, but you can't really believe that the entire group was that dumb.

The horror was decent. It very much had the feel of a "found footage" film, though it technically wasn't (a couple scenes kinda were though). But there was that gritty low tech look and minimally scripted dialogue. I've always felt that the longer you keep the big bad hidden, the scarier it is, and that's a philosphy they tended to stick to. I certainly found earlier scenes more intense than the amped up ones towards the end.

I guess there really isnt much to say about the movie because there really isnt much to this sort of thing. But it worked. Nothing that wowed me, but it kept me entertained for 90 minutes

Chernobyl Diaries - \m/ \m/ \m/