Thursday 5 May 2011

Pentuple Bill Mini (and Cine) Musings: Thor, Billy, Romans, Gangsters, and Randy Teens...

Thor 3D:
First off the bat - the 3D is pointless. Each time I see a movie in 3D now, I become even less bothered about the whole thing, and I wasn't particularly fussed beforehand. The last time 3D was any real fun was Jackass 3D, and that revolved around poking stuff into the lens. Even Drive Angry 3D wasn't all that in 3D. Indeed, despite knowing of it, and somewhat noticing it on other 3D flicks, the 'dimming factor' of 3D glasses was very evident with Thor. Particularly during night scenes and anytime we're in Thor's home realm, the image was ridiculously dulled.

The movie itself is basically thus - it's no Iron Man, that's for sure, but it's much better paced than Iron Man 2, however I'm much more looking forward to Captain America. There's a decent amount of humour splashed throughout, Natalie Portman is likeable as ever, Hemsworth does a solid job playing the hammer-flinger himself, and it's a generally impressive movie visually. However, I wasn't especially looking forward to this movie - hardly in fact - and while I did enjoy it, it wasn't particularly memorable for me. Good, but not great. One final thing though - it's possibly the loudest (and bassiest) movie of the year.

Billy Madison:
I've never understood why some people like these particular Adam Sandler movies so much. The scripting is rarely polished, never mind vaguely tight or organised, and Sandler seems to do the same schtick from one to the other. He was really good in Funny People, but I just don't get why some people dig these Adam Sandler comedies from the 1990s so much. Like with Happy Gilmore, which I saw for the first time a little while ago, there was only a few chuckles to be had. It's just a random load of old nonsense cobbled together.

I loved Dog Soldiers, The Descent was terrifyingly claustrophobic, and Doomsday was a gleeful mash-up of 1980s genre cinema. I dig them all and own them all on DVD. However, Centurion never struck me with much interest and so, long after its cinematic release, I come to it on Sky Movies. It's okay - a Roman army find themselves at the mercy of the Scottish Picts in 117AD Britain, and one-by-one the survivors of a bloody encounter are picked off as they make their way home to the nearest Roman outpost. The main battles are bloody, but there are few characters to really root for, as pretty much everyone is a bloodthirsty bastard or part of a vicious empire. The scenery is fantastic, but it doesn't elevate the movie to any lasting status for me.

Once Upon A Time In America:
When I originally saw Once Upon A Time In The West, I didn't like it. However, that was several years ago, and a recent second viewing changed my opinion entirely. This time around, it's another Sergio Leone epic - this time about the rise and fall of a group of gangsters in New York, following them through the streets of early 20th century life, Prohibition, and the dying days of the 1960s. It's epic, to say the least, although I preferred the first half of the movie to the second. Perhaps a second viewing would improve my response to the movie - which was a bit cold and distanced - like what happened with Once Upon A Time In The West. Or then again, maybe it wouldn't. Perhaps I prefer Leone's westerns. America was certainly grand and sumptuous, but I wonder why the first half interested me much more than the second half.

National Lampoon's Barely Legal:
Two years before the superior (obviously) The Girl Next Door (which was essentially Risky Business for the 2000s), came this - an unfocused, only slightly amusing, American Pie wannabe about three randy virgins who decide to make a porno. There's some cheekiness throughout, but few chuckles, and the script in particular is a let down. I know for a fact I could have written something better (and I say this not from a position of arrogance) - indeed I have written better things than this - so it's grating to see such a half-assed job get made when I spend so much time focusing on character, motivation, and banter-style humour. Then again, if you've got the connections, and someone is willing to stump up cash for the project - in this case an American Pie-a-like - then you're set. So it's doubly grating as someone struggling to get into the business.

I look at a script like this and think "I could have done so much more with this idea, I could have really gone for the meat and served up some actual yucks" - I can do gross-out comedy, I can do comedy/drama, and right now I'm in the midst of doing a drama/mystery. If only I could get a paid gig, even on something like a cash-in comedy such as this, I would bloody well make it worthwhile seeing ... or at the very least give it some bloody good chuckles, like Miss March, another American Pie-a-like which wasn't great, but it sure had some bloody good laughs and a bit of style.

This, on the other hand, was cheap and mostly dull, and never delivered on the comedic promise of the central premise. National Lampoon has fallen a long way since the likes of Animal House, Christmas Vacation, and even Loaded Weapon.

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