Thursday, June 30, 2011

PCP on DVD - Haven't I seen these before? 6 film adaptations reviewed.

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 60 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’m going to do reviews for 6 films that have either been made before as a TV show, movie, or video game:  Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, Sherlock Holmes, The Green Hornet, and Robin Hood.  Who says Hollywood lacks originality?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – 2010, Rated PG-13.  116 minutes.  Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, & Alfred Molina.  My rating: 6 out of 10. 

This flick was based on the popular video game of the same name, but the plot was not as similar to the game as it could have been.  It is an entertaining film, in the sense that the action is fun, but a coherent narrative and strong acting are something the film is definitely lacking.  It’s a decent way to kill 2 hours, but personally I’d rather go and play the videogame again.  My personal highlight of the film is the character played by Alfred Molina.  He hams it up and steals the scenes he is in, and Kingsley is also good as the uncle of the titular prince played by Jake Gyllenhaal.  Jake isn’t too bad, but he is about as Persian looking as I am, which is to say not much.  As an adaptation of a videogame, this film is probably one of the stronger ones (and it is the highest-grossing one of all time), but as a movie on its own, it is only average.  Had this not been based on a video-game, it probably would have had a much smaller budget or not been made at all.

Read the other 5 after the jump!

Clash of the Titans – 2010, Rated PG-13.  106 minutes.  Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, & Gemma Arterton.  My rating:  6 out of 10.

Visually, this remake of the 1981 flick Clash of the Titans is obviously far superior, thanks to the updates to technology of the past 30 years.  And thanks to the price of 3D tickets, this movie made enough money to get a sequel due out in 2012 that is currently filming.  Whether or not that sequel is warranted though is up for debate.  This version of the story is entertaining, with some pretty cool monsters – especially the huge scorpions, Medusa, and the Kraken.  There is a lot of stuff that is easy on the eyes.  Acting-wise however, the film is kinda stiff and wooden, no one’s performance particularly stands out.  Ralph Fiennes as Hades is somewhat channeling his performance as Voldemort from Harry Potter, with a similar raspy vocal inflection, so his performance isn’t anything we haven’t seen from him before.  I preferred the funnier take on Hades in the flick Percy Jackson & The Olympians last year instead.  That film was actually closer to the Greek mythology than this one was, with this one adding in a Kraken which was a Norse myth, and also Djinns, which come from Mid-Eastern mythology.  That doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of this movie, where there is plenty of that to go around, but for the most part this film is just another average swords and sandals flick.  Hopefully they’ll do better with the sequel.

The A-Team – 2010, Rated PG-13.  117 minutes (133 minutes if the extended cut, which is what I watched).  Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, & Patrick Wilson.  My rating:  8 out of 10. 

I’m probably not the most impartial reviewer when it comes to the A-Team.  I was a huge fan of the show as a kid.  I had high hopes for this film that the film didn’t quite live up to, but the film was still very enjoyable.  It was so insanely over the top and unbelievable, but that’s what made the film fun.  This isn’t a film that you can come even close to taking seriously, this is a popcorn movie through and through.  In that sense, it excels.  The action sequences are completely unbelievable (and defy the laws of physics and reality) but I don’t care, I’m not watching a movie like this for its realism.  Who cares if the helicopter they are flying in can’t actually do a barrel roll, or their method of slowing the decent of a tank that is falling from the sky and is missing a parachute wouldn’t work well either?  The movie is fun and over the top, and that’s what makes it enjoyable.  The characters were great, very true to the spirit of their originals, and I especially loved the performance of Sharlto Copley (District 9) as “Mad” Murdock.  He was absolutely a riot in this film, he steals every scene.  I also like how Liam Neeson has decided to become an action star late in his career.  He was badass in Taken, and he’s good here too.  Also nice were the little shout-outs to the TV series, including B.A.’s black and red van (that gets sadly crushed), cameos from the original Face and Murdock, and the use of music from the original show.  If you’re looking for a fun escape, this is a good way to do it.  If you like your movies realistic though, then skip this one, because realistic it’s not.

Sherlock Holmes – 2009, Rated PG-13.  128 minutes.  Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, & Mark Strong.  My rating:  9 out of 10. 

What’s the best way to revive a very old character and reboot him for modern audiences?  Put Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role.  Downey brings a great charisma to the role, filling Holmes with a cocky swagger similar to the swagger he brings to Iron Man.  Wisecracks fly off his tongue, and the banter between him and Jude Law is great.  There are a lot of references to the other Sherlock Holmes stories and cases, even though this story itself seems to be a new one and not part of the original canon of works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The new mystery is decent and fitting of the legacy of the character as well.  The film also leaves it open for a sequel, teasing the coming nemesis Moriarty that would plague Holmes in the books in the next film in the franchise due out on my birthday later this year, December 16th.  I know what I’ll be giving myself for my birthday:  tickets to the sequel.  This film was definitely a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to finding out where the series goes next.

The Green Hornet – 2011, Rated PG-13.  119 minutes.  Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, & Christoph Walz.  My rating:  5 out of 10. 

The Green Hornet was in development Hades for the past decade, as directors and screenwriters came and went.  It finally made it to the screen in the beginning of this year, and unfortunately as a bit of a dud.  Seth Rogen is funny as the titular hero, a spoiled brat that uses his wealth to become the Green Hornet, sort of like Batman but without all the angst and depression.  Unfortunately, he’s only mildly funny at times.  The funniest part of the film is actually the great cameo by James Franco early in the film.  The action sequences are okay, but they are kind of ruined by the lousy late added 3-D effects, which are cheesy.  Jay Chou is pretty bad-ass as Kato though, the guy has some good fighting skills.  For the most part though, this film is somewhat average.  I’d rather re-watch the Mythbusters episode that tackled things from this movie than sit through the movie itself again.

Robin Hood – 2010, Rated PG-13.  140 minutes.  Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, & Mark Strong.  My rating:  7 out of 10.

When I heard that director Ridley Scott was going to be re-teaming with his Gladiator star Russell Crowe to do a Robin Hood remake, I was very excited.  Ridley Scott usually does great with epic films of this scope, he’s one of my favorite directors.  Unfortunately, the film was not as good as it could have been, and it left me feeling disappointed.  Scott had to tone things down to get a PG-13 rating, instead of the usual R he goes for in films like this, which actually hurt the film.  There were still great performances from the actors, especially Crowe and Cate Blanchett as the leads Robin and Marion, but this film just felt like it was missing something.  It wasn’t a terrible movie, but it wasn’t a great one either.  I do think it’s better than the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, but if I’m going to watch a Robin Hood movie I’d probably watch Men in Tights for the 10th time than watch this a 2nd time.

Alright, that takes care of this post, now my backlog of films is down to 49.  Check back soon as I’ll be seeing Transformers 3 this weekend and doing a review immediately after seeing it.  Have a great and safe 4th of July weekend!

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