Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movies Galore!

I was going to write a review of The Dark Knight, which is a little art house film that came out this past weekend. I've read dozens of reviews for it already, and in doing so I determined that there was really nothing left to be said. Yes, it's amazing. Yes, Heath Ledger steals the show as The Joker. Yes, it is definitely the best comic book movie ever made. Yes, it is Oscar-worthy and would surely win if the Oscars were tomorrow. I'm hesitant to say that it will 'definitely win awards' because we're only halfway through the year, and a lot can happen between now and January, but as of right now, it is easily the best movie of the year. I could say all of those things, but they've been said to death at this point. If you don't believe me, check out the 95% rating that the film has received at Rotten Tomatoes. So that's all I'm going to say about that. Though I reserve the right to come back to it. And expect a post at some point about what I want to happen in the next film.

So rather than review a movie that has been reviewed and reviewed again to death, I thought I would review the other big release of the past weekend, Mamma Mia!, a film adaptation of the ABBA musical. If you have a chance to see this film in the theatre for free, do yourself a favor.


I would like to begin by saying that I think it's important to separate the film version of Mamma Mia! from its stage show roots. I find nothing wrong with the show itself. The songs are catchy (they're ABBA, after all), the story entertaining and appropriately cheesy and funny. I'm sure that, as a stage production, in the hands of a competent director and trained theater actors, this show would be extremely entertaining. I have several friends who have seen the stage show several times and they love it.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the show, but within the film.

Let's start with the acting, as that is obviously the first thing that you will notice upon watching the film. The acting...leaves something to be desired. The two main characters are played by Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried. Meryl Streep is a proven commodity, veteran actress of such excellent films as Death Becomes Her and Adaptation. Amanda Seyfried...isn't. As far as excited teenage girl screaming goes, she's a professional, and she sings wonderfully. Anything else, though, and all you'll get is a variation of a teenage girl scream. If the film had been an opera, it probably would have worked better, because the less she actually spoke the more she sang, the better.

Then there are the male leads, played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard (whose name I had to look up because a) I haven't seen him in anything else, and b) his character is utterly forgettable, as he really does nothing at all in the film). Both Firth and Brosnan have singing numbers, and while Firth pulls his off decently - he's not great, but he doesn't make me want to die - Brosnan fails stupendously. He ends up being the main love interest for Meryl Streep, and the songs - more than one! - that he sings are painful. PAINFUL. Pierce Brosnan should not sing. Period.

The choreography of the film leaves something to be desired, in that is is nearly non-existent. I imagine the choreographer telling Meryl Streep, "You've seen musicals before, right? Well, you know how people move in those? Just, um, do that. Go!" The result was a lot of people flopping around on their backs, accompanied by random hand movements. There is no actual dancing to be found in the film, save for during the bachelor party scene, in which a large group of scantily-clad young men jump and strut around in swimming gear, including snorkels and flippers. As a result of this scene, I have decided that, at my bachelor party, I will make everyone wear flippers on their feet. And we'll all dance around on a pier. It'll be great.

The film isn't without its redeeming qualities. The "What the Hell?!?" factor is fairly all-encompassing, from the flipper-wearing bachelors to the tying-up of two of Sophie's potential fathers by all of her friends at her bachelorette party. Oh, and then there was the part during the bachelorette party where all of the bachelors swung in on ropes and were wearing scary masks. That was the point at which I more or less threw my hands up into the air and decided that, not only did things not make any sense anymore, but nothing ever would. Once I stopped trying to make sense of things, the movie was actually enjoyable. At least until Pierce Brosnan sang again. Then it stopped being fun.

Seriously, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but the film adaptation of Mamma Mia! ended up being most definitely a not good idea. I would recommend staying home and hitting yourself on the head with a rubber mallet instead. That's at least cheaper. And probably more fun.

Tonight I'm seeing the 25th anniversary re-release of the 1983 classic WarGames, starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this one on a big screen. It'll surely be more enjoyable than the train wreck that was Mamma Mia!.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm back!

Hello, cruel world! Joe has returned!

I've been thinking, and the thought that I have come to that I think I am going to think on a regular basis is this: there is absolutely no reason why I should not be writing on this blog on a daily basis. It's been over a year since I posted anything, and that's ridiculous. Google has afforded me this real estate, this small half-acre of the internet, on which to write anything I want, and I am squandering that luxury.

I'm back. Consider yourself served.

More to come.