Shaun of the Dead – The kind of movie that would be entertaining as a student project or a really elongated Youtube post, is just a mess as an actual film meant for cinemas. It might have worked as a comedy about ordinary guys facing a zombie invasion along with the semi-clever commentaries on how the media would react to the real thing, but when it tries to get touchy feely and brings on the waterworks and downright soapy material; it becomes a waste of life. Unevenly veering from comedy to drama and stocked with one dimensional characters, the deus ex machina ending only nails in the coffin.
Sin City – A flipbook of a movie it wastes tens of millions of dollars to recreate semi-animated scenes from Miller’s original work. Burdened with three intersecting stories, which is one story too many, it wastes its potential trying so hard to recreate what was on the comic page that it completely neglects to remember that what makes a movie work isn’t the same thing as a comic. Jettisoning Clive Owens’ story which is by far the weakest and least connected of the three and developing the background of Sin City more along with the Rourke’s would have made for a memorable movie. Instead it’s just pop art.
Thank You for Smoking – Thank you for sucking. Seriously once you get past the politically incorrect premise, the movie stops having very much to offer. Given a reunion between Aaron Eckhart and Neil LaBute, the results would have been horrifying but at least interesting. Instead the movie takes the soft touch route at once keeping the main character as a yuppie Mephistopheles while being all too willing to treat him as an innocent babe in the woods when it comes to the machinations of Hollywood talent agents and Washington reporters. The only thing worse than evil is whiny evil and that’s all the movie has to offer us in the end.
Mission Impossible III – There was a reason audiences stayed away and it’s not just because Tom Cruise is a brainwashed psycho. JJ Abrams didn’t make a movie, he made a big screen version of Alias without any of the characters or backstory or development. What you end up with is 60 seconds or so of interesting stunt footage and 90 minutes of Tom Cruise worriedly furrowing his brow. Mission Impossible the TV show was exciting because you saw the characters tested and having to find clever ways of dealing with their situations. Mission Impossible the movies is still about Tom Cruise doing stunts and the long half hour intervals in between aren’t good for anything. Neither is the movie.
Brick – On paper high school done in hard-boiled detective style sounded like a male version of Veronica Mars, on the screen it was a lot more like Donnie Darko solves a mystery but without the emo whining that made Donnie Darko unwatchable without laughing. Despite all that though Brick still comes off as taking place in a completely unreal universe, no matter that in theory the individual events in the movie could very well happen in real life. It’s not saying much but Brick is probably the best film noir movie of the year, but that has more to do with Levitt holding it together against all odds. He is the movie and it works best when he’s weary and on the ragged edge which is most of the time, but there’s still times when Brick can’t help looking more like the amateur production of twenty something kids playing dress up that it is.