DanViews – Summer Movies

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Mission Impossible 3

Over the Hedge

The DaVinci Code

(and scroll down to a separate entry for X-MEN 3: I CAN’T STAND)


Well if the impossible mission was entertaining someone who hated the first two films, I guess they succeeded. Had a good, if forgettable time with this movie. Full of good, solid action. I also have to admit that Tom Cruise, much like Russell Crowe, has the ability to transcend his real-life bullshit and make you lose yourself in his performance. The guy brings the goods. The film has some great setpieces and a few innovative camera tricks. What kills me though is that I hate the whole rubber mask gimmick and it kills me that this franchise has made a staple out of it. Surprise! I can be your twin if I just put on this rubber face, but watch out – it will dissolve in 30 seconds! This worked for me once. It was called Darkman. Since then it’s just the dumbest, easiest and least plausible spy trick in movie history. Please take it for a fishing trip and then shoot it in the back of the head.

The most interesting thing about MI3 is the total lack of a “McGuffin,” (the object most adventure stories revolve around — the microfilm, the ark, the jade monkey). The movie goes out of it’s way to wink at the audience, basically admitting they have no idea what the object the bad guys want even is. In one funny scene, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead,) as the token computer geek, theorizes that this device might be some destructive “Anti-God,” – basically a speech of babble that makes the unknown item seem dangerous but admittedly is based on nothing factual. It’s a tongue-in-cheek approach, as if JJ Abrams is trying to say, “Hey, who cares – just eat your popcorn and turn off your brain.” Basically it’s the equivalent to the fat kid who makes jokes at his own expense so the bullies have no ammunition against him. It works, in the sense that we DON’T care what the object is, and since nothing will satisfy us anyway, why bother? But it also rings clear that this movie is nothing but a fat kid with floppy tits. So take that, you fatty fat-fatso. You’re fat.


Well, Dreamworks has come close to Pixar status in terms of the look of the movie, but the story department still has a little way to go. This is probably their most timeless film in terms of the themes (family, family, family) and the character actors give funny, top-knotch performances that will have you smiling throughout. Steve Carell is as usual a scene-stealer, but everyone involved has great fun with their roles. Probably the least interesting (it pains me to say) are Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, who turn in ripoff Fargo voices, but they too will give you the warm and fuzzies (which is unusual since they have sharp quills). Anyway, Hedge is pure fun – it’s only real lack is a thin plot (Bruce Willis must steal food to keep a bear from killing him — that’s right, kill — and trick some impressionable gatherers to help him do it.) The villians (an obnoxious home-owner and a over-zealous exterminator) are somewhat tacked into the story, and in the case of the female home-owner, she is only really a villain because she yells a lot and is shot from intimidating angles. In Toy Story, the villains are not black-and-white. They’re organic to the story – whether they’re a bratty kid who abuses his toys (someone we’ve seen or been in real life) or a geek collector who isn’t evil so much as his passion for imprisoning toys in their packaging ends up being an obstacle to our heroes. Here, the writers have wedged in an opposition which frankly, when you look at it objectively — are totally appropriate. I mean, of course any normal person is gonna try and exterminate rodents from infiltrating their homes. But anyway, Dreamworks is the big #2 studio when it comes to these movies. Hedge is fun, colorful and clever. It succeeds where Shark Tale and Madagascar (both with moments of inspiration but are largely forgettable) failed. Only other bad thing — songs by Ben Folds, which are uninspired and monotone to begin with, are tacked crudely into the film to score montages. They’re not organic to the story or required in any way, other than the movie feeling like it has to have some songs to sell a soundtrack.


Ugh. Basically this movie is based on the simply-written book that takes some very interesting concepts and makes them digestible for the masses so that everyone can feel smart reading it. Don’t get me wrong – there are some great “what if” concepts here – and for lovers of history and religion, it’s quite seductive brain candy. But unfortunately, it does not translate into a film, certainly not for those who have not already read the book. Ron Howard has dumbed things down to the point of over-explanation and the cheesiest flashbacks you’ve ever seen to spoon-feed you a lot of rhetoric into three hours. All the while he tries to keep it a thriller, putting killers on the heels of our heroes in a cat-and-mouse game that lacks any true suspense. The hype really killed this for me. I suppose if I’d known nothing about it, I’d be more intrigued by the concepts here and see this as a somewhat original thriller. But the film is so bogged down by the phenonema, it can’t be it’s own thing. Kind of like the first Harry Potter movie, it spends more time trying to appease readers than be it’s own movie for film-goers. There is zero chemistry between Tom Hanks and Amelie – and while neither is bad, they are just reading lines and going from plot point to plot point with all the excitiement of placing thumb tacks into a corkboard. The book must have had interesting moments of realization as puzzles are thought out and solved — but the movie has no time for that, and obstacles are overcome almost immediately, and usually by spontaneous thought. “Get a mirror! Let’s read the message backwards!” “Okay! Wow, that worked! What’s next?” That kind of thing. Worse, the Amelie girl’s character is so dull and stupid (she’s supposed to be an FBI agent) she basically just follows Tom Hanks around the entire film asking what’s going on. A really bad experience. As Chris pointed out, I was fidgeting like a madman throughout the entire film.