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Old July 15 2010, 01:52 AM   #592
Harvey
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Re: Movies Seen in 2010

137. Broadcast News [B ]
138. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [B ]
139. Robocop 2 [C-]
140. The A-Team [C+]
141. Rushmore [A-]
142. In the Loop [B+]
143. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan [A-]
144. Not Quite Hollywood [B+]
145. Mallrats [C-]
146. North by Northwest [A]
147. Chasing Amy [A-]
148. Free Enterprise [A]
149. The History Boys [B ]
150. The Sandlot [A-]
151. Three Days of the Condor [C+]
152. The Day of the Jackal [A-]
153. Predators [B-]
154. The Karate Kid [C-]
155. Top Secret! [C-]
156. Ride with the Devil [A]
157. As Good As It Gets [B+]
158. Predator [C]
159. Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation [D+]

As Good As It Gets: This film has the drawback of having to make one of the most preposterous screen couples I've seen (Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt) work, but it does a pretty good job doing so. This is the second James L. Brooks film I've seen (excluding The Simpsons Movie) and it marks a significant improvement over Broadcast News (which I liked, but wasn't in love with), especially when it comes to pacing. It even reminded me of when I could take Cuba Gooding, Jr. somewhat seriously as an actor. At times it can be a bit sentimental, and the happy ending may be a little forced, but the dialogue and performances (including several surprising cameos) are spot-on, and better paced this time.

Predator: Since I saw the third installment in the series this weekend, I felt it appropriate to return to the original (and, time permitting, the sequel, too). In the end, I have mixed feelings about the whole affair. Basically, Predator is three movies in one: a special ops movie, a slasher film, and a primal, jungle fight film. The special ops portion dominates the first 45 minutes, and this is too bad--the text commentary mentions Platoon and Apocalypse Now as influences, but what we end up with is more like a macho version of The Delta Force. For what it is, it's well-directed, but you'd never get anything resembling a good performance out of a cast of muscle-men this preposterous (Shane Black being the odd man out in the line-up, but he's hardly even a professional actor). There's some silly nonsense about Arnold's character being honorable (he only does rescue missions) before he mounts a rescue mission that has more in common with an all-out invasion. So much for stealth.

Once the movie gets this out of the way (and it takes longer than it should), it shifts into a more interesting (but still, at times, clumsy) slasher picture as the Predator slowly hunts down Dutch's Special Ops team one by one. We still don't care very much about these characters, who are little more than a bunch of super-muscular macho ciphers, but at least it is entertaining. This portion of the film goes by surprisingly fast, actually. Besides Arnold, the rest of his team doesn't stand a chance.

Once that third of the movie gets over with, Predator moves onto its final act, which is probably one of the big reasons the movie is still remembered. In a sequence more or less dialogue-free, Arnold and the Predator engage in combat that is nothing short of mythic with its primal and ritualistic tone. Arnold is best as a physical actor, and the movie finally lets him be solely that. It's a terrific sequence and it raises my opinion of the film significantly.

I know I'm in the minority when it comes to this, so I'll leave it there for the moment. But outside of the Predator design, Predator isn't that great of a film, though it looks like a masterpiece when compared to...

Starship Troopers 2: In a film that has nothing to do with Heinlein's book and little to do with Verhoeven's superior movie, there isn't any reason to keep watching if you aren't interested in Richard Burgi's performance or an ending that allows for the only instance of satire and irony in this low-budget sequel. In the self-congraulatory making-of feature, the makers praise the digital photgraphy's filmic look (it looks like video), the performances (outside of Burgi, they're horrible), the effects (cheap and sparse...it's no surprise the trailer ["And this time, it's different!"] relies so heavily on stock footage from the original) and the stunts (they're nothing special).

I hope the third film is better.
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