Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Movies #42 - #44: Max Payne, Dog Soldiers, and The Hitcher

As you can tell from this trifecta of movie misery, I've watched a lot of films of late which have been...less than special, shall we say. Quite simply, they don't deserve their own individual posts, so instead they'll have to share what few words I can spare on their behalf. Even this much is a painful exercise.

#42 - Max Payne (2008)

Based on a video game which I have played, Max Payne is a horrible mess of strange casting decisions (Mila Kunis as a Russian mafia gun moll?), bad acting (Beau Bridges, stop, just stop) and, most disappointing of all, an inexplicable dearth of quality action for the first 90% of the movie. For a movie based on a game whose main contribution was the creation of "bullet time," an in-game ability to slow time down such that you can perform ballet-esque gun play moves, "Max Payne the movie" seems to think it's an actual detective mystery. It's not. I've seen Encyclopedia Brown show greater detective skills. Hell, it's not even the monster movie that the trailer oddly intimates it to be. Dull, stupid, and starring Mark Wahlberg (nuff said right there), I don't know why I expected any better.

But wait, there's more! I went to school with the screenwriter! Aaargh! Yes, Beau Thorne was one of just a handful of other Screenwriting students at the University of Texas and The James Michener Center where I attended with a post-grad fellowship. He was a likeable fellow, but I can't say his writing left much of an impression on me. Nobody's did, quite frankly. Not even my own. Nevertheless, kudos to him for sticking with it and finding success. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but the sheer crappiness of the movie makes it somewhat easier to swallow. Or more difficult. I'm not really sure. Whatever. I'm not jealous. And I don't find Mila Kunis's voice oddly arousing either! I don't!

#43 - Dog Soldiers (2002)

Unlike Max Payne, I did have reasonable cause for expecting this to be decent...even if the story is about werewolves attacking Scottish soldiers. Actually, because the story is about werewolves attacking Scottish soldiers. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, who also did the excellent The Descent, as well as the less-than-excellent Doomsday (movie #7), the film starts off promising enough. Marshall has a talent for writing believable dialogue and the early scenes with the soldiers work well on this level. Things quickly degenerate, however, and not even Scottish accents are enough to elevate this so-called cult classic beyond a run-of-the-mill horror movie. The werewolves are stupid-looking, the soldiers are stupid-acting, and the ending is just plain stupid. Ladies, if you like that Kevin McKidd chap from Gray's Anatomy, he's the star of this flick. I know that will sway many of you.

#44 - The Hitcher (2007)

The Hitcher is a movie I watched specifically so I could intensely dislike it. This is also the basis for entering several of my friendships and romantic relationships. As a major fan of the original from 1986 (yes, I did own it on VHS), I knew the remake would suck and I simply wanted validation. I got it in spades. While Sean Bean is a charismatic enough actor to pull off the role of the mysterious sociopath John Ryder, there's just no replacing Rutger Hauer. And while C. Thomas Howell is not irreplaceable from the original, he is when your best option is Sophia Bush.

The most obvious example of why the original is SO much better than this sophomoric remake is in the execution of the famous scene at the truck stop. I won't give too much of a spoiler here, but let's just say that it's THE classic example of implied violence versus explicit violence, and why implicit violence, when done correctly, is far more terrifying than gratuitous gore. Watching the remake you can sense a fondness for the source material, but you sense an even greater need for the producers to put their own stamp on it. You can almost hear the producers saying, "get me Sophia Bush and make her sweaty. It's a reversal of expectations to make the hero a heroine. It'll be like that Starbuck thing on Battlestar Galactica! Also, more blood. We NEED MORE BLOOD." And that's a crap. I mean wrap. No, crap.

Max Payne 3/10
Dog Soldiers 3/10
The Hitcher 4/10.

A perfect 10 out of 10! It just took 3 movies is all.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home