We’re talkin’ movies, babe. Big honking blockbustery movies. The kind of movies that make sitting in the dark with a bunch of total strangers worthwhile and not as sleazy as it sounds.
I once heard there are two types of movies. One type is character-driven stories; timeless tales of the human condition that most people will empathize with and plug into on an emotional level. The film Up in The Air is one of the best character-driven movies in a long time.
Type two are visually-driven tales; movies that are eye candy that take you places where reality cannot. These movies are less about character and more about creating worlds of wonder.Right now you can treat your eyeballs to a couple first rate visual wonders: Avatar set in the year 2154 and Sherlock Holmes circa 1891. Movie magic creates the world of the past and worlds of the future, and all you have to do is sit, watch and claw popcorn into your cakehole.
You can get a fix of Avatar in vanilla 2D flat screen, resplendent depth of field wonderment 3D or in your face 3D IMAX. I slipped on the glasses and did 3D. I suggest you at least do 3D since this film is a quantum leap forward in CGI technology and you may as well get the full effect (no, there aren’t any extreme 3D tricks like bullets coming at your head).
On the plus side, this movie is like the Lord of The Rings movies: must-sees to see what computers can do to replicate vivid imaginations. Avatar is a visual smorgasbord and your eyeballs will feast ’til they puke.
There is a story here. It’s plodding and predictable; a mash-up of genre cliches that will give you a constant sense of deja vu and make you feel guilty about man’s intrinsic inhumanity toward fellow man. (Sigh.) I napped in places and still felt the movie was dragging and need some chainsaw editing. The music was a waste of musicians. The score is featherweight with no sticking power at all.
But I forgive Avatar its sins because the visuals on Pandora, where the freakishly tall blue peoplish things called Na’vi live, are spectacular. James Cameron spent six forevers making this film, inventing a lot of the technology that enabled these incredible images, so I’ve got to give the dude his due– it’s eye candy that’s orgasmic for the optic nerves. This film weighs in at almost three hours, so drink some strong coffee, slip on the 3D glasses, watch one-dimensional characters and see how cool technology is in the year 2154. Great advancements have been made everywhere, except in wheelchair design (what’s the deal, science, where’s the love?).
Sherlock’s proverbial sidekick, Dr. Watson, is no doddering old fart here– he’s Jude Law, hardly the dumpy, frumpy Watson we’ve grown up with.
Now, you’d think this movie would be a character-driven tale, after all you have a couple of the most famous characters ever created trying to foil evilniks. But no, it’s more of a visually-driven film. And that’s not a horrible thing. The re-imagined characters are fun and interesting and that’s fine by me.
The computers worked overtime to create a stunning 1891 London. The effects are seamless, the art direction meticulous, sumptuous and filling. Oh, Guy Ritchie does his Guy Ritchie camera tricks, the wah-wah over-cranked slo-mo shots here and there, but fortunately he doesn’t beat the horse dead.
This Sherlock is a fun action flick with plenty of chases and fights and thrills. It’s a romp, and Hans Zimmer’s score is terrificly eclectic and fun.
Robert Downey Jr. is great, as usual, and Jude Law brings his A-game. It’s a movie well-worth seeing, just don’t expect it to be the Sherlock you know and love. For Pete’s sake, even his pipe’s changed!
Not to belittle the other two films, but frankly, there wasn’t much that stuck with me after I left the theatre. Oh, we had a good time in the dark, but it wasn’t a lasting relationship. Just disposable images. But Up In The Air, this is the real deal, a terrific story of fresh interesting characters and a timeless explorations of the human condition.
Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) has a wonderful natural touch with human stories. In this one, George Clooney is a road warrior who specializes in downsizing corporate America. He’s a very busy boy. He is a cynical philosopher king who believes in traveling light, physically and emotionally. By and by he falls for Vera Farmiga and he mentors Anna Kendrick in the art of the hatchet. The screenplay is textured, nuanced and wise. If you expect this to be a comedy you will be disappointed. It’s amusing, compelling and seductively romantic. Most of all, it’s a movie that makes you think about life and living.
And that’s the kind of movie that endures beyond movie making techniques for me.