August 12th, 2012

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The Bourne Legacy

I very much love the Bourne movies. Well Supremacy is a little weak (relatively) and extra confusing than the others, but Identity and Ultimatum are fanastic, and among my favorites. This led to mixed feelings about a new Bourne movie with a new, well Bourne. Sorta Bourne. The books (I've only read the first one) did establish that there had been multiple agents, so I was definitely on board for bringing in a new one.

I really do adore Jeremy Renner, and from the beginning I was really excited to see what he'd bring to the franchise. But, he's no Matt Damon, and this type of pseudo-spin-off can be incredibly difficult to get right. Well, as far as I'm concerned, I think they succeeded.

The reason I say this is difficult is that there's a really delicate balance to be maintained. You want a unique story, but you want to tie it into the source material. You want a character that is reminiscent of your original, but an individual. So not a carbon copy, and not a polar opposite. You want a plot that follows similar structure, but again not too similar without straying too far.

Because the comparisons are gonna be inevitable, let's just get down to it. Renner vs Damon. Renner was rougher with more attitude than Damon. His style is gritty. He also has a sense of desperation, but its source is different. I'd really love to see what would happen if you put the two of them together.

Continuing the inevitable comparison, Rachel Weitz vs Franke Potente. I liked the dynamic that was established in this movie. She wasn't just a girl who was in the arguably wrong place at the arguably wrong time. She was connected, she had skills to contribute, and she also needed help. In other words, it was a mutually beneficial situation, which made much more sense and raised the stakes.

The people in charge were the same as always, action wise at least. Our major players were different. This time, they were led by Edward Norton. You don't often see him take a supporting role, but it suited him (and the streaks of gray were a very nice touch). As is the Bourne signature, conversations on their side involved a lot of name dropping and worrying. But the substance of the conversation was very minimal and confusing. I also feel like they may have tried just a touch too hard to keep Jason Bourne in the viewer's mind. It's like they felt they had to justify this being a Bourne movie, but I dont think it was necessary.

One of my favorite parts of this movie was a really amazing motorcyle chase at the movie's climax. Renner and Weitz did their own stunts for this, and it added something invaluable, being able to see our actual actors and their expressions. I also found the scene quite hot, with badass Jeremy wearing his glasses, manuevering the bike, holding his girl onto the bike. Temperatures were rising, and not just because of the heat wave outside.

The Bourne Legacy - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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Tarantino/Rodriguez: The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl

Think back to when you were a kid. You probably had a lot of weird and crazy daydreams, huh? Maybe you wrote those down in a journal or drew a comic book. Maybe you acted them out with your Barbies and G.I. Joes. Now, what if your dad was a kind of a big deal filmmaker? And then what if he turned your ideas into a movie? That'd be pretty \m/ cool, huh? Well that's exactly what happened with Sharkboy and Lava Girl. Robert Rodriguez' son, Racer, thought up the idea that became the movie. As it turns out, there's a damn good reason why seven year olds don't write movies.

Rodriguez is going back to the 3D world that didn't quite work out so well for the last spy kids. But this time instead of being inside a video game, we're inside of a kid's dreams. The message behind the movie is good, keep dreaming and it may come true. However, everything else just feels so dumb. I get that its aimed at seven year olds like the one who created it, but it is entirely possible to make a film that is just as enjoyable for the big kids as well.

What I find most amusing about this movie is that Sharkboy is played by an itty bitty Taylor Lautner. Yeah, that's right kiddos. Before he was a wolfman, he was a sharkboy. Whoa. I have a theater friend who often jokes about the-role-you-leave-off-the-resume. How much you wanna bet this one is Taylor's? It's actually kinda hilarious.
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Hope Springs

Under normal circumstances, Hope Springs is not the kind of movie I would have any interest in whatsoever. Throw Meryl Streep into the mix and all bets are off. That woman is a goddess. I would see her read the phone book, and would then lead the campaign for her Academy Award nomination. I was still a little on the fence about it though, but Steve Carrell was the tipping point.

I did not expect to relate to the movie at all. And in truth, I didn't. But that doesn't mean that I didnt get anything out of it. God knows I'm a looooooong way off from being an aging woman in a rut of a 31 year marriage, but the movie gave me so much to think about in terms of where I want my life to end up and how to go about getting it there. Vague enough? Not quite worth going into details on that.

Anyways, as to be expected, Streep was worth the price of admission. I felt my emotions bouncing up and down along with her, and it really just took a slight change of facial expression for her to convey a whole lifetime's worth of experience and feeling. She had this very careful vulnerability and cautious excitement in her character. Very unlike the characters in most movies I tend to watch.

The boys were good as well. Tommy Lee Jones plays such a loveable grump, and was incredibly well matched with Meryl. Kinda toed the line of being so ornery that you didn't like him, but he too had some incredible vulnerability and sweetly tender moments. Steve Carrell was fantastic too. He's mostly known for his comedy, but he plays it straight just as well. Such a calm and soothing demeanor, I really could buy him as a therapist.

I was debating back and forth whether or not to recommend this movie to my mom. Ultimately I decided not to suggest to my conservative mother that I enjoyed a film that had a lot of candid conversations about sex. Nothing was raunchy or inappropriate about it, but there's just certain things you dont discuss with your parents.

Hope Springs - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/