Monday, August 01, 2005

King Arthur needs Four Fantastic Interpreters

All you need to know about last year's King Arthur movie:

"Despite the claims made at the beginning of the film, factual and historical inaccuracies abound."

DeeAnn and I watched the DVD on Saturday night. Well, DeeAnn watched it; I fell asleep somewhere in act two and woke up during the final battle. Actually, I think DeeAnn also wandered off at one point to check her email or something. That's how exciting it was, folks. And knowing as much as we did about Roman and medieval history, quite a few of the liberties taken by the filmmakers were pretty exasperating.

On Sunday afternoon, we saw a slightly better movie starring Ioan Gruffudd: Fantastic Four, a big, dumb, action flick rather loosely based on the comic book. The characters are all there, but this is one of those "tell not show" movies-- we're told that Sue Storm is "head of genetic research" at a billion-dollar corporation, but never actually see her do any such research or interact with the staff she presumably commands at said corporation. And her brother Johnny gets tons of hammy goofball gags to play, but aside from the missile-chase scene-- which is thrilling but nonsensical-- displays no qualities or skills that would recommend him as a pilot, NASA or otherwise.

It was entertaining enough, but only as a shallow live-action cartoon; which is ironic, considering that The Incredibles mined the same territory so much more successfully-- and that actually was animated. No one seems to understand that when Pixar succeeds, it's not because of their technology, it's because of their stories.

Finally, we met some friends on Sunday night and saw The Interpreter, which was better than the previous two movies, but still not great. One of our friends complained that the internecine African politics were too confusing. Fair enough, but what else would one expect from a film about the United Nations? I, for one, was glad that the movie didn't sugar-coat or oversimplify those issues. Nicole Kidman's character has a dark past, as hinted in the trailer, though I would have been happier if she'd been a bit less skittish-- I mean, geez, you grew up in a war-torn African state, you now live in Brooklyn, and a guy in a mask makes you scream like a little girl? That's not any New Yorker I've ever met.

And is it just me, or did the third act seem very similar to the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which, in turn, seemed very similar to The Package)?

I also didn't buy the final confrontation in the "safe room", but I can let it go because Zuwanie's quotation, which is the denouement of the scene, is so perfect. But they could really have used another rewrite or two to make the rest of the movie work better. As Joss Whedon said in a recent interview:

[A]s a script doctor I’ve been called in more than a few times, and the issue is always the same: “We want you to make the third act more exciting and cheaper.” And my response inevitably is, “The problem with the third act is the first two acts.” This response is never listened to.

-- "Serenity Now!", In Focus magazine

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