Finishing up the airplane films – The Green Hornet, The Tourist, and some Chinese film with Sam Neill

Why would anyone want to make The Tourist?  Why specifically did Johnny Depp sign on?  Or Paul Bettany for that matter?  They’re both good actors (though the former hasn’t really made an interesting acting choice in a really long time).  It boggles the mind that someone read the script for The Tourist and immediately thought: blockbuster, best picture, sleeper hit, or anything akin.

The plot is obvious, rambling and predictable.  Depp is a tourist in Italy.  He meets Angelina Jolie, who is an attractive agent on the run.  Paul Bettany is frequently overwrought.  Depp and Jolie make sweet sweet romance and batty eyes at one-another.  Depp sleeps on her couch.  He has witty one-liners that are particularly un-witty.  And the plot just clunks along.

So…a lot of (dis)credit belongs to the screenwriter, whose name I am too lazy too look up, but the actors mail this one in, and the direction is so boring.  Handheld camera to whip a boring scene into action?  Check.  Lots of unnecessary reaction shots?  Check.

This is a great example of a film that was made in the editing room…but for the worse.  I think they just shot a ton of coverage, hit a range of emotion on each shot just in case, and then cut.  And cut.  And cut.  And failed.

The Green Hornet was surprisingly fun.  Sure it’s full of the requisite bit of stupidity, and Seth Rogen’s range – or lack thereof – is exposed early on when he’s required to express emotion (his face gets really squinty).  But nonetheless, the jokes land (a great one where Rogen walks into his father’s mansion and shouts to the empty room “who makes my coffee?”).

As far as a superhero film it’s less Batman and less Kick Ass than it is a buddy comedy.  Rogan and Jay Chou – playing the sidekick Kato – play well off of one-another, especially when trying to win the charms of a not-annoying Cameron Diaz.

The film falls into traps.  Gondry, usually pretty visually reliable, shoots the fight sequences in annoying hyper-vision with plenty of Zack Snyder stops and starts.  The bad guys aren’t interesting and the love story falls kind of flat, but…despite all of this, the film has a heart to it, the characters are likable, and there’s at least one great climactic action scene that blows up a whole lot of a building.  Not breaking any new ground, but at least I got annoyed when Mr. Bighead in front of me shifted to block my view: meaning I was engaged.

Some Chinese film with Sam Neill.  Wow.  What an atrocity.  I mean really.  Here’s the plot: Neill is an architect, I think.  His son is really, really, really, really annoying, even with the sound off.  Neill is also divorced.  His son is unhappy.  So his son comes across a girl – I think they’re in China – about his age (maybe 12) and they discover a secret entrance to the architectural site where a dragon from years ago is trapped and they must save.

Is this a children’s movie?  I guess I haven’t seen a straight-up children’s film – I mean one that is only for children – in some time.  At one point I explored the option of removing my left iris with my plastic airline fork.  Here’s my own problem: even if I don’t have the headphones on I cannot start a movie and not finish it.  This is a curse sometimes.  So, irises intact, mashed potatoes gelling in front of me, I watched the whole thing, largely without sound.  I don’t even know where to begin.  Does anyone really like this?  Do kids actually watch this?

The characters are poorly written.  The acting is terrible.  The characters aren’t likable.  The plot is derivative.  The action sequences are boring.  The cinematography is stale.  The plotting is predictable.  The ending is anti-climactic.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but why can’t Sam Neill go back to doing things like the first half of Event Horizon?


About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
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