Monday, February 1, 2010

Movie Roundup: (1) Semi-Pro & (2) Avatar

One of the things I'd planned to do with this blog in 2010 was to resume tracking all the movies I watched, both in theaters and on DVD, and to give little mini-reviews of them. Needless to say, that's not yet happened. As luck would have it, however, I saw fewer movies in the month of January than perhaps in any other month of my life---save for the month of Jewish summer camp in which the ONE movie night consisted of the classic If You Could See What I Hear...starring the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer. Sadly, I couldn't even count that movie as I'd already seen it at least three times prior to that muggy night in Bruceville, Texas. The point is that, even though January has come and gone without a movie review, it's not too late to catch up...and the catching up begins right now.

Movie #1: Semi-Pro (2008---on DVD)

Being a Will Ferrell movie there are certainly a fair number of laughs to be had in Semi-Pro, but the final product is under-written and one that rather transparently expected to succeed on the basis of its principal star (which it almost does). The premise is solid, and setting it in the old ABA in the blue collar town of Flint, Michigan is one that could have yielded a few meaningful scenes, especially in light of how economically depressed Flint would become in later years---but this background is completely ignored. The team could have been playing in any small city in America. Flint is not a character, and that's a mistake. Outside of Ferrell doing his best with weak material, the rest of the cast is mostly unfunny. Semi-Pro isn't a "bad" movie, it's just a lazy that knows it can make you laugh simply by putting Ferrell in front of the camera with an afro-wig on. That pisses me off. But I still laughed. And that pisses me off more.

Rating: 6/10

Movie #2: Avatar (2009---in theatre)

The all-time top grossing film (if not adjusted for inflation) is one that, like Cameron's previous blockbuster, Titanic, has generated a wide range of opinions. I saw it with my friend Brian in 3-D IMAX and we emerged from the film with two very different takes. While I was not willing to bestow upon it the lofty accolades so many critics had readily done, I did find it an entertaining ride that was, at times, thrilling, moving and eye-popping. Brian, on the other hand, gave it a 1/2 star review and faulted practically every aspect of the movie. In the month since I've seen it, it has certainly diminished in my eyes somewhat. It's too long. The villain is too over-the-top. It's awkward in its racial allegory. And, despite the outrageous hype about the digital animation, these are still quite clearly fake creatures created on a computer. But strip away the hype, the controversies, and the ridiculous post-movie stories about people being depressed they're not living on the planet of Pandora, and what you're left with is an entertaining, albeit flawed flick. No need to over think it. It doesn't deserve all the money it's made, and it won't deserve all the Oscar attention it's likely to get tomorrow morning, but that's no reason to backlash against it. It is what it is.

Rating: 7/10


Blogger Bubbles von BonBon said...

I think he gave it a full *....he was just listing the date he saw the movie as 1/2. But I do believe he told me it was the worst thing he had ever sat through. So maybe a 1/2 * would have been more appropriate.

February 2, 2010 at 9:35 AM  

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