Category Archives: keanu reeves

Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory ~ It’s one thing to watch a movie you didn’t really have any interest in that has been recommended by someone whose opinions you trust and respect. You may not want to see it, but usually it’s an adventure, and an unexpected delight. What happens when the recommendation comes from someone whose opinions you do not trust or respect? Such is the case with Conspiracy Theory.

You might think the subject matter would be of interest to me because I’m such a Coast to Coast AM junkie, but the truth is, when they start talking conspiracies, I zone out. Give me Bigfoot and UFOs any day over that crap. Nothing against Julia Roberts, but I think she’s lazy. She has two modes – Oscar nom, and give me the check. Most of the time I think it’s the latter.

And then there’s Mel Gibson. Mel has fallen out of favor for very solid reasons, but for me he was always on the brink of parodying himself, always a Keanu Reeves ‘huh’ away from ever being a good actor. And then there’s all the other stuff he’s done and said. I can’t help seeing the Daffy Duck version of him from “South Park” now whenever I see him.

Already Conspiracy Theory has several strikes against and I’m still paused on the WB shield. Let’s hope it gets better. Now I realize that Gibson is playing someone is apparently mentally unhinged, but I’m sorry the credits haven’t finished running, but he is already firmly Daffy Duck-ing in my head.

Also what bugs me early on is that the conspiracies put forth are the generic Hollywood version of conspiracy theories, not real conspiracy theories. It also feels very dated, as if it was written at least a decade before its 1997 release date. The dated performances of 1980s big names Gibson and Roberts certainly don’t help.

Gibson’s Daffy Duck meets Curly Howard performance as a paranoid cab driver who’s been brainwashed by the government makes you think you’re getting a comedy and clashes horribly with the real tenor of the flick. It’s a dark dark film, although you’d never know it watching Gibson cavort.

He’s doing schtick, so when Patrick Stewart shows up doing his Marathon Man bad guy imitation and shoots Gibson up with LSD, you can’t help but wonder what the hell you’re watching. Oh, and Julia Roberts? She’s about as interesting as old wallpaper in this movie. Her dye job has more charisma than her performance.

This is a long movie, and it’s made even longer by the overacting and under-acting of the leads, the over-explanation of the plot, the overbearing score, and the horrific and ridiculous ending. I was pretty sure I would hate this movie, and I was right.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful ~ Let’s see, what the rules again? Wait an hour after eating before swimming. Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia. You can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor. Don’t pull on Superman’s cape. And never make sequels (or prequels) to beloved classic films.

I saw this movie weeks ago, weeks and weeks ago. I am still conflicted over whether I liked it or not. It was the second film I saw at the new Marlton 8 theater so the accommodations were fantastic, I couldn’t have been more comfortable had I been in my own home. But why did I have, still have such a problem with it?

Oz is a beautiful film. It takes full advantage of CGI and the 3D effects available to the cutting edge of that technology. Here, we have an Oz that both boggles the mind, but brings L. Frank Baum’s imagination to life. It is fantastic, and gorgeous. Props to director Sam Raimi for bringing the unimaginable to our eyes.

The casting, especially that of James Franco and Mila Kunis, while problematic, is fitting. Franco is smarmy, and perpetually playing (or maybe living) the part he played in “Freaks and Geeks.” He is a stoner, and even here, as the eventual wizard of Oz, if he took a second to take a toke, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye. This time, it works for the part, because his character is a slimy sort, not to say stoners are slimy, but Franco’s is. Bottom line, he’s believable.

Kunis, in my mind, has never grown from her role in “That ’70s Show.” Oh, she’s been good in stuff, and been quite believable, but like Keanu Reeves saying “Whoa,” she is always a second away from breaking character and waiting for the canned laughter after a sitcom punchline. I just can’t shake it. Here, she completely fits as pre- and post-Wicked Witch of the West, and is awesome in her passive-aggressive power hungry and clingy psycho ex-girlfriend role. Zach Braff, a traditionally sitcom actor on the other hand is equally awesome as the comedy relief flying monkey, a true highlight of the film.

Sounds like I liked the flick, doesn’t it? The problem comes with its prequel status. It tries so hard to emulate MGM’s classic The Wizard of Oz. All of the cues are there, except for the music of course. It begins in black and white and goes to color after the twister. There are numerous winks and nods to the original film. And every time it happens, I got a strong “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” vibe.

Remember the Rankin/Bass Christmas special “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? Fred Astaire plays a mailman telling a group of children the secret origins of ol’ Kris Kringle. Every time he hits a prime power point of his origin, one of the kids says, “That’s why he comes on Christmas Eve” or “That’s where the flying reindeer came from.” That what happens in Oz, and every time we see the hints to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the glowing head illusion, etc. it pulls us out of the story.

If it wasn’t for those little nudge-nudge-wink-wink moments, this would be a great flick, as great as the underrated sequel, Return to Oz of a few years back. And that’s why I’m so conflicted. I liked it, but then again, I didn’t. It’s still in theaters, so definitely give it a viewing for yourself, and see what you think.

The Day the Earth Stood Still… and then sat down…


The Day the Earth Stood Still ~ Just the concept of remaking this classic 1951 flick sticks in my crawl. Why would anyone remake a perfect film in the first place?

To my mind there are only a few reasons for a remake. The update – the film needs a retelling because the original is dated and makes less sense because of it. Technology – the special effects can now be done better because the technology has arrived to do so. And finally, a new twist – something so original, some new factor that spins the first version on its head, hopefully to a superior fashion. The Day the Earth Stood Still for 2008 does none of these.

The remake twists the original story in a new direction, a politically correct green one. The human race is killing the Earth, so aliens (well, only a couple, really) come down to set things straight and exterminate the pests (us). Really, not the best of plots, a bit of a cliché with some light global warming seasoning thrown in, but that’s what the producers have done to us this time.

The cast is a mixed bag with Kathy Bates revisiting the evil well for her role as a maniacal Presidential aide and Jennifer Connolly completely wasted except as eye candy. This must have been one hell of a paycheck for Ms. Connolly. One can only hope she learns to pick better roles in the future. Keanu Reeves for once is half-way decent as his emotionless monotone is perfect in this version of Klaatu. He’s likable, and there’s not many things he’s in of late that I can say that about.

The highlight of the original film, the robot Gort, is a badly animated CGI creation in this one. And while it’s the best thing about the remake it barely appears, and when it does it becomes a bad special effect that makes the film version of Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer look positively lovely. Boo. Hiss. And I mean that from my heart.

When a remake is this far off the mark, so different from the look and flavor of the original source material, I say why even retain the name? This is much like the American Godzilla or the more recent Wanted. To the producers – if the source material wasn’t what you had in mind, why pay all that money for the film rights? Give it your own title and keep all the money.

Suffice it to say, don’t see this if you’re a fan of the original. It will be barely watchable for you. Not a great movie, a horrible remake, but a decent watch for those who don’t care about classic film.