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‘War of the Worlds’ (2005)

Poster for War of the Worlds’ (2005) It’s almost a ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ for the thinking set, while simultaneously being ‘entertainment’ for the mall-rats.

The attack sequences are a re-enactment of the US assaults on Baghdad, Mosul and Fallujah – from the Iraqi P.O.V. That much is clever, but

The thing is a too linear. Sure, it’s the anti-’Close Encounters’ and writer David Koepp has done a masterful job of rendering the inter-familial relationships, including little side-jabs at ‘Independence Day’ and the novelty of doing an invasion film from a singular, non-omniscient P.O.V., as opposed to Emmerichian and Speilbergian control-room cutaways. The Government isn’t gonna save us this time, folks. [Read more →]

‘Batman Begins’? (2005)

‘Batman Begins’ (2005) **possible spoilers**

Too fucking long.

The good? The first hour – the mythic stuff of murdered billionaire parents and quests for self in the Far East. Liam Neeson and Christian Bale did a great job there. At their serviceable best were Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman in the now-split role of Alfred. Where the Butler once did double-duty as Manservant and Armorer, Alfred is now split across Caine’s Alfred and Freeman’s Lucius Fox.

The bad? The gratuitous car chase and the plurality of its villains. There’s the guy that murdered young Bruce’s parents – who may have not been a person, but only a symptom of city-wide corruption and the inevitable crime-boss; then there’s Ra’s Al Ghul – real and fake – and his lackey, the sometimes psychiatrist, sometime supervillain Scarecrow.

The movie was bloated. Writers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan may both be fanboys, but the movie really didn’t need to be 2 hours and 20 minutes long. The movie didn’t have to have all of the Wangerian overtures that it did, and everything DIDN’T have to amount to a massive conspiracy cooked-up by the principal villain. Really, it didn’t have to be that way.

Somewhere into the 2nd half-hour, I found myself wishing for a grittier film about Batman’s training and the Kung fu -like trials that he no doubt had to face. But this was NOT that movie. Instead, the Archvillian’s Far Eastern mountain hide-out (China? Tibet? Khandahar?) was suddenly in the exurbs of Gotham City, and within shouting distance of Bruce’s faithful LearJet. Segue into the 3rd Act of a 4 Act play.

This gives way to the inevitable board-room dramas and the IPO that corporate custodian Rutger Hauer wants to pursue, given the 20 year absence of a Wayne family member to run the company. The corpo-drama was like the car chase, and could have been cut from the final draft, just like the ‘End of Days’ Strum und Drang that brings Gotham to its knees, the survival of which the writers never fully explain.

The promising bits of this film were the Memento -like Nolan signature bits, where he breaks up the timeline, and flashes back and forth between Bruce Wayne’s past and present, between his childhood, young adulthood and the present. A better film could have emeged from further play on that ambiguity – there’s a key moment, somewhere during the 2nd Act that could have taken place anywhere along Bruce Wayne’s timeline, though it’s supposed to take place before Bruce’s Eastern training sessions. If Nolan had been given greater control over the story, I suspect the film might have pursued that arty uncertainty at greater length, but alas, not.

What we got was 70 minutes of promise and 10 minutes of Gary Oldman playing against type.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

‘Global Frequency’ (2005)

Official cast photo for ‘Global Frequency’ (2005) So, I’ve just finished watching the best new show of 2005, one which will likely never be broadcast or see film beyond the pilot episode. That show is ‘Global Frequency’, based upon the comic book by Warren Ellis and a broad swath of illustrators.

‘Global Frequency’ is the name of an underground group that exists to save lives – from terrorist threats, leftover Cold War engines-of-destruction, biohazards and acts of God.

The Global Frequency is an ad hoc collection of 1,001 specialists – soldiers, linguists, scientists, engineers and doctors – the best at what they do, who make themselves available in times of crisis.

Since I’m just the kind of comic book geek that’ll pick up almost any new title written by people with the surname Ennis, Bendis, Vaughn and Straczynski, I checked this series out sometime last year. There were only 12 issues in the book’s entire run, and the sum of them has already been collected in two trade paperbacks . [Read more →]