Thursday, August 12, 2010

Penny Thoughts: August 6-12

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009) *½
Director: Rob Zombie
Writers: Rob Zombie, Tom Papa, Mike Bell, Joe Ekers, Tom Klein, Mr. Lawrence, Joe Orrantia, Carey Yost
Starring: Tom Papa, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brian Posehn, Tom Kenny, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti

Image courtesy of Starz Media
Hmm. “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” is an adult cartoon created and directed by horror metal musician and director Rob Zombie. I think he should stick with music and live action movies. Yeah, that’s about all that needs to be said here.

The Sandlot 2 (2005) *
Director: David Mickey Evans
Writers: David Mickey Evans, Robert Gunter (characters)
Starring: Max Lloyd-Jones, James Willson, Samantha Burton, Brett Kelly, Cole Evan Weiss, Neilen Benvegnu, Sean Berdy, Greg Germann, James Earl Jones

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox
I did not see 1993’s “The Sandlot”, which seemed to gain some target demographic popularity at the time of it’s release, but hardly comes near any sort of classic kid’s film status. After seeing “The Sandlot 2”, I now know I never have to see the original. Not only does the sequel recount the entire story of the first film, using archival footage to show all its highlights, but also it tells most of the story of the second film through narration before it shows it to you. Not only is this the most wasteful use of narration I’ve seen in any film, but also the story of the two movies appears to be exactly the same only the second is ten years later with different kids. What could possibly be the point of a movie like this? The fans of the original are now grown and couldn’t have any interest in a second rehashing of the movie from their childhood. For those who weren’t around to be fans of the original I think the original will do just fine. It doesn’t exactly leave questions hanging in the air.

A Prophet (2010) ****
Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard, Abdel Raouf Dafri (original), Nicolas Peufaillit (original)
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Hichem Yacoubi

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
“A Prophet” follows in the tradition of “Goodfellas” and “Gomorrah” in presenting a compelling and tempting criminal life. An outsider gets a glimpse of what the inside can offer him and he is enveloped in the lifestyle. “A Prophet” is also unique among these other great films by depicting this criminal grooming from behind prison bars. The movie moves at a perfect pace to establish its hero as first just a tool for the mob organization behind bars, then as a valuable asset, rising to the point where he’s controlling his own criminal activity, eventually orchestrating an amazing coup. This is fine filmmaking and wonderful storytelling. I also like that it isn’t a typical rise and fall of power story. It’s a unique manipulation of the hero’s situation to his advantage. His ascension isn’t perfect, but it’s smart in a smart film.

Legion (2010) *
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Writers: Scott Charles Stewart, Peter Schink
Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Adrianne Palicki, Tyrese Gibson, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Quaid, Jon Tenney

Image courtesy of Screen Gems
Is it me? Or is there something wrong with the notion that when heaven goes to war it’s with handguns? For that matter, would a warrior angel from heaven wield some sort of medieval club that was gadgetized like it came out of MI6’s Q Division? To give “Legion” credit, it has a lot of really cool looking pictures in it, but it really doesn’t make much logical sense at all. If God’s angel warriors had the ability to possess anyone they chose, as this movie poses, it should’ve taken all of five minutes for God to eliminate the mother of humanity’s final hope. And as the all-knowing divine being, shouldn’t he have realized that there was a hope left for humanity, rather than letting a rouge angel one up him in his own game? The more I think about this movie, the more I think two stars is being kind, so I’ll stop now. That way I won’t have to go back up there and delete one of those stars. Nope, couldn’t help myself.

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