Saturday, July 5, 2008

Capsule Review Cavalcade: Movies Volume I

I’ve seen more movies than my index will ever show, but sometimes I just can’t muster up enough creativity to hammer out a full review. Or I worry that what I’ll say isn’t interesting and/or different enough insight to justify a whole treatment. But I always manage to scribble down a score somewhere on my PC. So here’s a way for me to get scores in my index for a group of four movies I’ve seen over the past year without having the worries. It’s Capsule Movie Reviews! I’ll give a brief synopsis, followed by whatever I can remember being my rationale for the score. All scores are out of five stars, per usual.

I AM LEGEND (2007) – Rated PG-13, 101 minutes
It is 2012, and a terrible plague has taken out most of the world. Robert Neville is a scientist, played by Will Smith, who is among the last to survive. He resides in a desolate New York City partially populated by mutant people with the plague. By day, when it’s safe, he sends out radio messages to whoever may be out there, and tries desperately to find a cure. I saw this on an IMAX screen, and it was phenomenal from that standpoint. The first time an animal attacked him, I nearly flew out of my seat. My only gripes with this one had to deal with some logic holes in the story and/or character decisions. The way it goes from being all Will and his dog, to a movie with a single mother and Will and his dog felt a little hokey. Very good movie, though, and a good one-man show from Will Smith for awhile. ****

THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS (2007) – Rated PG-13, 79 minutes
Billy Mitchell is something of a force in the world of competitive video gaming. Since the early 80s heyday of the arcades, Billy has laid claim to some impressive high scores on titles like “Pac-Man,” “BurgerTime,” and the focal point of this movie – “Donkey Kong.” Steve Wiebe is a man from Washington who seemingly should be the new Kong champion, but whose score-on-videotape was perhaps disqualified on purely political grounds to protect Billy’s reputation. Steve goes on a cross-country journey to beat the score in-person, and quiet the critics. Even after reading online about some dramatic license taken by the filmmakers, this documentary still inspires and entertains, and focuses on a subject that I could watch and read media about for hours. ****

MICKEY BLUE EYES (1999) – Rated PG-13, 102 minutes
In this comedy, Hugh Grant plays Michael Felgate, an art auctioneer who’s trying to propose marriage to Gina Vitale (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn). She says no, fearing Michael would get himself wrapped up with her family, who are in the mafia. He eventually gets the girl, but also gets his hands dirty with a money laundering scam that results in a dead body or few. Wacky cover-up abounds. With hindsight, this is quite the cast, featuring a lot of the actors who would go on to “The Sopranos.” “Mickey Blue Eyes” is the sort of movie you’d catch yourself watching after flipping channels on a lazy weekend. You come out having felt like the past hour and change wasn’t a waste, but you don’t rush out to buy it either. ***

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008) – Rated R, 112 minutes
Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) is the star of a popular TV crime drama, and her boyfriend Peter (writer/star Jason Segel) composes the music. We join Peter in the midst of his utopia, just eating an endless bowl of cereal, and farting around with different projects. For Sarah, the honeymoon is over, and she dumps Peter (while naked). The movie then moves into its namesake, as Peter goes all the way to Hawaii to forget his old girl. And then she’s there on vacation with her NEW boyfriend! Ouch. A worthy addition to the Apatow Universe, this one’s very funny; both crude and heartwarming, sometimes in the same breath. A lot of good performances/characters here, and a lot of jokes you’ll remember. ****

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