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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Resident Evil lumbers toward a 5th movie like one of it's brain dead zombies

I am a fan of simple and streamlined story telling; so I enjoyed the first movie in the Resident Evil franchise which came out in 2002. The story was easy to follow and enjoy - killer day at the office when all of the employees of the evil multi-national Umbrella Corporation are killed and turned into zombies by a super virus. Survivors and rescuers must fight their way out. I was totally there.  I was not such a fan of the second movie and pretty much ignored the third except for a glimpse here and there on cable.
 My desire to check out "Resident Evil: Afterlife" was driven by being a sometimes but enthusiastic Milla Jovovich fan ever since first seeing her in the dazzling, hyper-kinetic, Jean-Paul Gautier drenched movie "The Fifth Element".  For her fans I have some good news and bad news. You will see a lot of her in "Resident Evil: Afterlife", including, I counted, 11 clones in the opening scenes, but not much of her acting skill. My first big complaint is that she is nothing more than post-apocalyptic eye candy to fill the space between supposedly impressive 3D effects.
I was hoping this movie would have the prerequisite amount of zombie action sprinkled with dark humor and basically repeat the first movie because repetition is not always a bad thing. Nope. Instead there are 97 minutes of what feels like nothing except set up for a fifth movie. Sure there is a story (loosely) where Alice encounters a group of survivors but some of them are so expendable and cliched they are a waste of time. It all moves too fast and there is never a connection.
 I don't know what to say about the 3D, really. There was some stop action moments which if you took the time examine them were visually trippy and interesting but they were overshadowed by the multitude of slow motion fight sequences which were over wrought and boring. So much slow motion in fact that I began to wonder if someone had slipped a valium into my blueberry slushy(?).  Not to mention that this over used effect turned the big bad villain into a tired Agent Smith impersonation.
In the end Alice and her cohorts are on a giant ship full of survivors who look like they work for an Apple store in 2020. An army of black clad Umbrella agents are on the way promising an overblown and empty showdown for the next movie.  A funny note. Even though I am sure most of the audience, like myself, were heading to the restrooms, we all turned back to the screen like cattle for a super special bonus scene at the end. That's the last slight of the movie because I did not even know who the female villain reveal was until I got home and Googled it. Shame on them. Don't do that people who have to pee.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unstoppable - There's a runaway train on the tracks but wait, it get's worse.....

..the train is carrying explosive chemicals and it's heading straight for another train... but wait, that other train is carrying children... but wait, each of those children is holding a puppy.
Ok the puppy thing isn't true but it does sound like an exciting movie.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A New Addition to the Definitive Travel Porn Movie List

I'm reposting this because I've recently discovered a new movie to add to my list - "Cairo Time". This recent release stars the fabulous Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig who any real Star Trek fan will recognize as Dr. Bashir from Deep Space Nine. The story simply and elegantly chronicles a week Clarkson's character spends in Cairo awaiting the arrival of her husband. She has sensual but ultimately chaste flirtation with her husband's former colleague played by Siddig. The third character in this story is the  beautiful city of Cairo itself and that is what makes it fit nicely into my definition of  travel porn. Here is the rest of my original post in case you wonder what in the world I am talking about.

At a certain point in my movie life, due in great part to my partner in crime, I started labeling certain movies as "travel porn". These movies fall into two categories. First is where a person or persons travels somewhere, possibly foreign and completely out of their element. They interact with the people, places, food, architecture and find life transformed. They discover a new life or a new life discovers them if you want to be philosophical about it. Romance or sex can definitely be part of the recipe too. The second is movies that so completely capture ideas (true or not) about a place and time that the viewer may become whimsical and starry eyed about living in those places. Here is a list of our favorites for your consideration:

-"Under the Tuscan Sun" - recently divorced and bitter Diane Lane buys a home in the Tuscan region of Italy. In a testament to the breeziness of this movie, she does a whole 30 seconds of calculations on how much she can afford to pay after renovations (to be done in her words by "the descendants of Roman gods") and living expenses. If the typical American home buyer had this skill, we could have avoided the whole housing crisis probably.

-"A Good Year" - phone throwing manly-man Russell Crowe keeps this from being an all chick-flick list as a nasty, evil, greedy stock broker in London who leaves it all behind for a life of "eating, drinking, sleeping and shagging" in France.

-"The Holiday" - online vacation home swapping service leads to life fulfillment for English Kate Winslet and L.A. girl Cameron Diaz

-"Saving Grace" - small English village populated by quirky characters (as if there are any others in small English villages) helps a widow save her finances and home by growing and selling the best pot in the world. Notable performance by Craig Ferguson pre Late Late Show.

-"Tea with Mussolini" - based on the life of filmmaker Franco Zeffireli this is a coming of age story with fantastic performances by Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Cher. Yes, Cher and I say that with no sarcasm or irony. You'll just have to see it.

-"Ladies in Lavender" - Judi Dench and Maggie Smith again. Snapshot of life in seaside England prior to WWII with two sisters sheltering a young man who washes up on shore after a boating accident. I know this description may sound really boring but it's not.

-"Raman Girl" - willowy, wispy Brittany Murphy follows her boyfriend to Tokyo and it turns out he is not so hot on the idea. She sticks around though conquers the language barrier and the heart of a grumpy master Ramen chef. This is the last Murphy movie I saw and although it was typical of her roles, it sure makes me miss what she brought to the screen.

- Ok, I see that the choices are skewing, recent, European and not very daring(vanilla travel porn if you will). These are honorable mentions that may round out the list a bit:
-"Enchanted April"
-"Lost in Translation
-"Nowhere in Africa"
-"Out of Africa"
-"The English Patient" (you don't have to point out post WWII Italy is not exactly a vacation)
-"The Beach"
-"Sweet Home Alabama" ( nobody says it has to be foreign and as the movie points out,"you - should need a passport to travel down here").
-"Eurotrip" - complete mocking parody of every tired European stereotype but it does make me laugh a lot.
"The Darjeeling Limited"