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Saw Van Helsing

David says I'm just not appreciating a summer action movie. No, I tell him. I can appreciate a light summer action movie; it's the disjointed script and crappy CGI that I'm not appreciating. Maybe Gollum has just ruined me in the suspension-of-disbelief department.

I did appreciate some of the actors trying to do the best with the dreck they had to work with, but there was no saving it, in my humble opinion. Oh, it wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen, not by far, it was just quite mediocre. Not even up to popcorn movie standards.

Other coming blockbusters:

Troy
Chronicles of Riddick
(mumpish, I'm assuming we can talk you and T. into getting together to see this one?)
Shrek 2
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Spider-Man 2
I, Robot
Hero
(can't wait for this one; friend who's already seen it says "Forget Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.")

Oh, streamweaver? They're making "A Sound of Thunder" into a movie, scheduled for release in October.

The good news? While we were out picking up Mother's Day cards, David bought me the two NWN expansions! Yippee! Of course, the little surprise Mystery Men DVD that I picked up for him arrived in the mail today, so we've just sort of been giving each other little no-occasion-but-that-I-love-you presents this week.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
mumpish
May. 8th, 2004 08:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, please. I told Theresa earlier tonight I was just waiting for some Buffy fan to dare say they didn't like Van Helsing. You can like both, or you can hate both, but how on earth can you have a split decision?

(spoilers follow)

For the record, I thought it was great fun. It was a genuinely enjoyable, amusing film, in the spirit of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but much better executed. I was floored to learn that Carl was David Wenham; he was so funny, so utterly unlike Faramir, that I never realized it was him until I looked it up on IMDB. I was also surprised by the unconventional and quite spiritual ending.

There are a couple of howlers: either full moons occur far more regularly in Transylvania than elsewhere (Terry Pratchett has, in fact, suggested exactly that) or they just punted entirely on continuity. It's similarly left unexplained how they ultimately left a castle that only winged vampires could escape from, or how they got so far away from that frozen wasteland without visible decay on Kate's (ah, lovely, lovely Kate) corpse.

CG is here to stay, and I think you're going to continue to see it 'overused' as it becomes increasingly easier to stage shots that way than actually do it on camera. On balance I think it works and I think it's becoming more seamless. It's getting to the point where the jolting thing about CG isn't the artifacts that spoil the illusion, but the flatly impossible things you see flawlessly rendered (when they go all Spiderman getting the syringe to Van Helsing.

If I were picking nits (and I'm not, I know how to appreciate my summer action movies - it will go on my DVD rack when the time comes) I'd point out that it suffers from major MTV editing, and they tried to cover way too much ground ... there's a ton of backstory only implied - I'm wondering if the companion animation will fill in any of the blanks ...

Oh, and Re: Riddick - I'm completely bought in. Theresa has her doubts. She's never seen Pitch Black, doesn't appreciate Fast and the Furious for its camp value, and doesn't much care about Vin Diesel.
pointedview
May. 9th, 2004 07:19 am (UTC)
It's easy enough to have a split decision, because there's Buffy With Joss Involved and Buffy When Joss Went to Play With Other Projects and Left Marti At the Helm. Two very different shows, and most fans I know strongly prefer the Joss Whedon vision of Buffy.

99% of Buffy's best times were the first 3 seasons, and those are the ones we own on DVD. I'll probably pick up season 4 just because there's an episode where Seth Green (Oz), Amber Benson (Tara), and Alyson Hannigan (Willow), tear me to bits with their performances, but the quality of that episode has much to do with what the actors gave to it -- it could have easily descended into second-rate bathos without them.

I could go on at length (there are an embarrassing number of posts about Buffy in my Memories section, many of them complaining about where the show went), but LJ only allows the Comments to be so long. ;)

Now, as I said, I did appreciate some of the actors doing what they could with the material that they had, and Wenham played it deliciously over the top. He took the camp element and ran with it, and when they were camping it up, it worked better. The problem is that they didn't stick with that: Van Helsing's script and direction didn't seem to know if it wanted to be camp, homage, statement on human nature, high adventure, or what, and the script wasn't good enough to blend them successfully. In the right hands, blending can work. These weren't the right hands, IMHO. Then again, I didn't like The Mummy, either.

Yeah, I noticed the full moon thing, too. :) Also the getting back bit, after they made it eminently clear with Carl not being able to get back through the doorway that there wasn't an easy way out. Speaking of Carl, I get points for recognizing Wenham immediately the first time I saw the trailer, as in: "David, holy cow, that's David Wenham!" :)

Don't get me wrong -- it was better than, say, Dungeons and Dragons (*shudder*), it just wasn't what I believe it could have been, given a few more rewrites.




streamweaver
May. 9th, 2004 09:07 am (UTC)
er.. wasn't I the one who told you about that? lol
pointedview
May. 9th, 2004 01:42 pm (UTC)
Gracious, maybe so! I honestly don't 'member, sugar. I remember you introducing me to the short story, but I can't recall now whether you mentioned the movie, and then I saw it just yesterday on IMDB. You might well have. :)
twr
May. 9th, 2004 02:40 pm (UTC)
On CGI . . .
Now I haven't seen Van Helsing, and I haven't read most of your post (I'm one of those people who compuslivly tries to avoid even the slightest spoiler when I think I *may* see a movie), but I have to chime in on the state of CGI in the movimaking industry.

CGI is a very powerful tool and can be used exceedingly well--you mentioned Gollum, but I'd also like to point out the quality of the CGI in 1993's Jurrassic Park. Large scale CGI, giant dinos as well as HERDS of smaller dinos running across the landscape, and it looked GOOD. Not just good for the time, either . . . looking back at it now, it looks better than most CGI looks 11 years later! Now I realize that advances in computing power have made CGI more accessable on a budget, and so any jackass low-budget movie can use CGI these days . . . but crimeny, get a half-decent freaking artist and use some damn motion capture or SOMETHING so it looks better than the rest of the crap that's out there. Even a lot of big-budget movies are guilty of having crappy CGI, and to me that's just absurd. Take the time to do it right and have it at least look half decent, OR cut back on the effects. A movie can be plenty good without lots of crappy extra special effects, and in fact may damn well be HURT by an overabundance of shitty F/X, rather than a lesser amount of good F/X.
pointedview
May. 10th, 2004 08:43 am (UTC)
Re: On CGI . . .
I think you'd be safe reading it -- the lj-cut was because there was a list of upcoming summer movies that I thought might be a little long. My post really doesn't contain anything regarding the plot or characters of Van Helsing, just a comment or two on technical merit and performances.

You cite an excellent example with Jurassic Park. Also 100% agreed that I'd rather have quality over quantity in a movie. A few good, well-placed special effects can offer a much better impression than a lot of jarringly-bad artifacts flying across the screen.

So, yeah, pretty much wholly agreed. :)
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