The wind ripped through their hair as they sped down the road, their laughter getting lost in the slip stream behind their little convertible. The stars shown down on them and their eyes twinkled back. Susan smiled over at him and reached over to gently touch the side of his face. Tommy glanced over and his face split in a big smile as he leaned into her hand. She caressed his cheek softly and moved over closer to him and then whispered seductively into his ear, “ I‘m not reviewing anything here, so unless stated otherwise I’ve not seen any of the movies in this ‘Preview’. All I am doing is quite thoughtlessly passing judgment on films that are scheduled to open this week and that I haven’t researched at all (not in the least). All of the film information, including the plot summary, has been pulled from the Opening This Week page of IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/nowplaying/). In this week’s installment of the Republibot Weekend Movie Preview we are taking a look at: The Fourth Kind, A Christmas Carol, and The Men Who Stare At Goats – among others….”
Tommy shivered and kissed her lightly on the brow as they sped down the deserted old road. He smiled into her eyes and said, “Do you want to see something really scary…?”
A Christmas Carol
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Plot: An animated retelling of the Charles Dickens novel about Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey), a Victorian-era miser who is taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of several mysterious Christmas apparitions.
The Republibot Take: Man, when Robert Zemeckis commits to a technology that dude just doesn't back down does he? This is basically the fourth full length feature film he has spearheaded in the Motion Capture realm – the only one he didn't direct was Monster House. The others were that spooky Christmas one about the train and the very nearly awesome Beowulf. How cool would it have been for that creepy train kid to accidentally end up sitting across from Beowulf on the way to the North Pole? That is the movie I want to see.
Actually, I think Zemeckis is a pretty smart guy – he can poor a ton of cash into refining a technology by doing a holiday film with big names attached to it and even if it sucks it will make money. People have a huge blind spot when it comes to Christmas stuff. “Christmas? Cartoon? Pack up the kids and let’s go, Margie – it’s a family outing!!” Quality is secondary. He hit on that formula with the Christmas train movie and then forgot it with Beowulf, and then after the disastrous box office of that he got back on track. Next up though he is stepping a bit outside of his business plan, but still playing it smart. He is doing a mocap remake of Yellow Submarine. The only other things people will lay down good money for without worrying about quality is dead Michael Jackson songs or any type of Beatles incarnation.
It is supposed to be relatively faithful to the original Dickens story, so I will give it a solid 6 for the Sci-fi quotient, mainly since the Sci-fi quotient is more of genre quotient at this point… I’m sorry for letting you all down on that…
The Fourth Kind
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, Will Patton
Studio: Universal Pictures
The Plot: An investigator (Jovovich) is dispatched to Nome, Alaska to puzzle out a 40-year-long mystery involving an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances in the town. Her videotaped evidence looks to present the most convincing evidence of alien abduction ever documented.
The Republibot Take: I love Milla Jovovich. But only when she is in tight clothing killing zombies in Resident Evil movies. She has proven otherwise that she can’t really carry a movie. Especially one like this where she has to play someone thoughtful and smart, like an investigator. I heard this whole thing was supposed to be based on a true story and backed up by real, bonafide, honest to goodness documentation. I am not sure what that documentation is, but I would bet it mainly encompasses audio taped interviews with lonely people who “witnessed” the events from one person away.
I hate these kinds of movies. Firstly, they treat us – the viewers – as if we are idiots that will believe anything they tell us. Secondly, they are poorly done. And I am not sure which of the two offenses offends me more.
Sci-fi quotient is a zero based purely on principal. Universal Pictures can go to hell for foisting this crap on us. Though to be fair, again – Milla Jovovich is awesome in the Resident Evil movies, and of Elias Koteas was pretty cool as Casey Jones in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s movie.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire [limited]
Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
The Plot: In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen (Sidibe) who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
The Republibot Take: I hate plot summaries like this one – all it does is tell us that the producers have consciously decided to produce a manipulative movie that is designed specifically to make us feel like evil and terrible people if we don’t feel bad for the protagonist, because obviously it isn’t her fault that she is overweight, or illiterate, or pregnant with a second child. Luckily, there are enlightened people who care that help change her life by inviting her to an “Alternative” school.
I feel bad just for writing that paragraph and I don’t know why.
No Sci-fi quotient for you.
Director: Richard Kelly
Stars: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Plot: A young couple is gifted with a mysterious box that promises them a handsome windfall with deadly consequences.
The Republibot Take: If I remember correctly, this movie is based on a story by Richard Matheson. Matheson, of course, is the wunderkind writer who wrote some of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes ever, as well as the original I Am Legend which was recently remade into a bold but disappointing failure of a big budget movie. Richard Kelly, the director, is the man who made Donnie Darko which I have never seen, even though everyone always tells me how surprised they are that I have never seen it. They are even more surprised when I inform them that their insistence that I see it is exactly why I won’t see it. So, ha!! Take that you cultural imperialists!! I prefer not to be imposed upon, I would rather see Transformers II than a movie everyone says is sublimely dark and haunting. Man, I must be getting old...
I probably won’t see this at the theater, but I am interested in it. I am not a big fan of Cameron Diaz, but I am surprisedly a fan of James Marsden even though he ruined Cyclops for me in the X-men movies. Plus, Frank Langella is pretty perfect for a creepy guy who looks like he is missing part of his face in the trailers.
Sci-fi quotient is 7.5 because I respect Mr. Matheson.
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Director: Grant Heslov
Stars: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey
Studio: Overture Films
The Plot: In Iraq, reporter Bob Wilton (McGregor) meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), whose seemingly wild claim - that he's a member of the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions - causes Wilton to join Cassady's hunt for the battalion's founder, whose gone missing.
The Republibot Take: This will be interesting to see for me because I read the book by Jon Ronson that it was based on back when it first came out in like 2004 or so. What will be interesting to see is how they adapt it to a movie. The book was a series of essays, if I remember correctly, that basically chronicled his interviews and discussions with some, let’s say, off the beaten path military consultants. I could be wrong, I would have to dig the book out of my storage unit, but my memory is that the guys profiled in the book were not actually military, but retired military that had turned to contracting. Sure they were weird, and that was the fun of the book, but I never got the impression that the full military was totally sold on them, just helping out former colleagues – which I believe is pretty common practice.
I guess I am going down this path of thought because the ad campaign and the sense I get from the movie is that: "heheheh, boy the Military sure is dumb, they believe in paranormal powers and there was a secret branch specifically tasked with researching these abilities" – and my memory of what I took away was there were some wonky former military guys that believed in paranormal powers that got some of their buddies with budgets to hire them so they could keep pulling a big check. That isthe movie that should be made, really.
Anyway, take that as you will – Clooney as partisan looney as he can come across at tiumes can be pretty funny. And he is hit more than miss, though his contempt for the right bleeds through in everything he does.
As for the Sci-fi quotient, I will give it a mediocre 4.25 since I am a bit worked up right now, but still want to take the higher road.
So, there you go – not a bad week, eh? Could be better maybe? Could be worse possibly? But whaddya gonna do? It’s Hollywood baby, and the doldrums before the big holiday season. Next week though… Ooooooh boy!! Join us as we discuss 2012!! Yes!! And Pirate Radio and Fantastic Mr. Fox among others.