What I've seen so far in January:
- Went to see it in IMAX 3-D, and it did not disappoint in that format. Visually, the film is astonishing, and the created world of Pandora is completely immersive. Yes, the story is somewhat clichéd and predictable, but Cameron tells it with skill. Very good, if not quite excellent.
- A fun movie, but kind of lightweight, and not terribly distinguished among other action films. Downey and Law do good work together, but Rachel McAdams, who I normally like, just seemed a little out of place here; her character just didn't seem to add as much as the filmmakers were clearly hoping she would. Still, I enjoyed RDJ's take on the famous detective, and the film as a whole is generally solid.
- An interesting riff on the concept of vampires; I liked the scientific perspective (although I find it a little odd that vampires still have no reflection in this movie, despite the notable absence of fantasy/magic elements... eh, whatever). It's too bad that, so soon after the release of New Moon
, audiences have probably had their fill of vampires for a while, leaving this film largely (and unfairly) ignored. No, it won't revolutionize the vampire genre, and it has it's flaws, but it's worth checking out, especially if you're looking for an antidote to the lameness of Twilight
That's pretty much it for new films, but I have seen a few others lately:
(2008) - I rented this a couple weeks ago on a whim, and I'm glad I did. It's a taut, well-crafted thriller. I enjoyed the slow build-up of suspense, the Russian winter setting, and the performances, particularly Emily Mortimer's. Ben Kingsley, of course, is always watchable as well, although Thomas Kretschmann was a tad wasted in his role. A small-scale film, but highly recommended.
The Thing From Another World
(1951) - I was kind of disappointed in this one. I think there were a few too many characters, for one thing, and the romantic sub-plot was half-assed and unnecessary. I also didn't really care for the negative portrayal of the scientist who wants to learn from the alien, to try diplomacy rather than violence. I could sympathize with his admirable intentions, but of course, the film turns him into an obsessed nut whose actions get two people killed. The movie had a few decent tense moments, but overall, I didn't find it very effective -- I much prefer John Carpenter's 1982 version.
Bridge to Terabithia
(2007) - Not being at all familiar with the book on which it was based, I went in expecting it to be a children's fantasy film, similar to The Chronicles of Narnia
or The Spiderwick Chronicles
. I wouldn't have minded that, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more of a coming-of-age story, with the fantasy aspects (which occur entirely in the imaginations of the two young protagonists) almost secondary. I enjoyed the sweet friendship that developed between Leslie and Jess, though I wasn't quite sure how captivated I was... until the final act. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but damn.
I was almost in tears, and it's rare that a movie does that to me. A very effective film, owing in no small way to the talents of the filmmakers and the young leads (Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb). I was a little sidetracked with some stuff during the first half of the movie, regrettably, so I missed a few things... I'll have to watch this again sometime, without any distractions.