Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Arrival (1996)

A film that I had seen bits and pieces of the second half on Cinemax for a lot of my childhood, I had never sat down to watch all of David Twohy's The Arrival (and I've always avoided the infamous sequel, The Second Arrival). It felt right to start off my science fiction weekend with something that wasn't intensely cerebral but still interesting. Add to that a mid-90's Charlie Sheen (when I still had fun with his pre-Two and a Half Men antics) and a comfortable slow burning plot and you have a recipe for a fun hour and half plus.

The film starts off in a poppy field not too far from the North Pole, defying all logic. Climatologist Illana Green (Lindsay Crouse, a nice far cry from her turn as Maggie in Season Four of Buffy) is investigating, spewing technical terms about the enivronment and CO2 and it all sounds very nice and lets us know the film is at least going to try to ground itself somewhat. Elsewhere in the world, Zane Zaminski (Sheen, playing warm, yet paranoid and full of crazy eyes), a radio astronomer for SETI and his co-worker Calvin (a criminally underused Richard Schiff) discover a unique signal of extraterrestrial origin. As each scientist takes their finds to their superiors, they are repeatedly and ignored and called out, until Illana and Zane (in their own ways) decide to do it homegrown. Relying on their skills, they discover clues leading them to Mexico, where the movie throws bathtubs and scorpions at them and begins to get a little serious, while Zane gets crazier and crazier.
Like most of Twohy's later films (Pitch Black, Below), The Arrival thinks it's smarter than it actually is, but it's so much damn fun, I'll forgive him for it. He has some fun camera techniques and is willing to let his actors breathe (especially Sheen, who is alternate parts tense and unintentionally hilarious) which gets some good results. His films (sans the atrocious looking A Perfect Getaway which I still have not watched) are always great B movie guilty pleasures and this one is no exception. The effects are pretty decent for the time and the score is appropriately ham-fisted and blaring. And you gotta love assassins who use bathtubs and scorpions to kill people.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Upcoming Reviews...

Now that the Blogathon has got me back online and given me that shot in the arm I needed, I'm prepared to go on a glut of reviewing over the weekend. As it is, I had hoped to review Inception today, but that's likely to be my birthday present so expect that review sometime in early August. So, in lieu of Inception, I've decided to revisit my favorite genre (science fiction) and review some old favorites as well as some genre classics (cult and otherwise) that I've meant to check out for a long time.
Some new reviews to come:
Solaris (1972)
The Pier (1962)
Metropolis (1927) (sadly, it won't be the restored version scheduled for release later this month)
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Stalker (1979)
eXistenZ (1999)
Alphaville (1965)
Timecrimes (2007)
2046 (2004)

They may not all get posted this weekend, but expect them soon. As soon as I finish catching up on The Venture Bros., prepping for new episodes in August (a nice belated birthday present... thanks, Adult Swim!)...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

BLOGATHON: Dahmer (2002)

Now that the Blogathon is in full swing, I've finally culled together my thoughts on the film chosen for me, 2002's biopic, Dahmer.

I'll say this right off the bat. Dahmer isn't quite what you expect, in ways both good and bad. For one, I expected it to be a gorefest, but it's very tastefully done, with most of the gore happening off screen and only a few really grisly scenes for impact. That's not to say it's an easy film to watch, as Jeremy Renner's creepy, yet subtle performance of the infamous serial killer is fantastic. It's a shame the movie around him isn't up to snuff.

The plot focuses on Dahmer's past (leading up to his first murder) and present (stalking homosexuals at clubs and bringing them home to create uninhibited "sex slaves", something that the movie won't explain to you itself) and it's in the past that I find the movie at its best. Unfortunately, the sticking point is that if you don't research the story of Dahmer, you won't really get some of the things happening in the film. Renner gets some real meat to chew on when he's interacting with his family and his soon to be first victim. Sadly as the film goes on, I began to notice something very distracting: every other actor in this film is terrible. Whether it's Artel Great's caricature of a street wise homosexual African American or Bruce Davison's "Where am I?" portrayal of Dahmer's father, the acting is just laughably phoned in. I can't count the number of times a scene would really gain some momentum and then one of the other actors would open his mouth and ruin it.
Almost as middling as the acting is David Jacobson's directing which basically includes sitting the camera at the exact expected angle and deciding which color a scene should be. His choice to abruptly end the movie as Dahmer walks off into the mysterious forest with no purpose is so frustrating that it almost ruins any good intentions the film has. I have yet to see Down in the Valley, but I hope his directing isn't as middle of the road there. On a lighter note, at least I enjoyed the film's moody score which really evoked a great mood. It really is a shame that Renner and the score aren't in a better movie.

Other Blogathon posts:
More coming soon...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Joblo Blogathon

So, as you can tell I've been a bit lax lately. However, to help kick start my ass back into gear, I'm participating in the Joblo Blogathon along with five other of my fellow schmoes from the Joblo community. My portion should be up soon, barring unforseeable delays.

Credit for the excellent gif goes to ever talented God of War (of Movie Gif Net).