FILM REVIEWS: MONSTERS V. ALIENS and WATCHMEN

Monsters v. Aliens:

 

Tell me why a giant cute girl with Reese Witherspoon's voice is a monster?

I didn’t like this movie. Let me tell you why.

When I spend hard cash – that is more and more difficult to come by these days – to buy a ticket so that I can sit in the dark with a bunch of strangers, in order for the investment to be worthwhile I need to be able to suspend my disbelief enough to forget for those few moments that I am sitting in a theater watching a movie.

That’s why I don’t see movies starring Sean Penn. Granted, he is a great actor, but he is so good that I spend the entire movie saying to myself “wow, that Sean Penn is such a terrific actor!” Penn is the kind of actor that never lets you forget you are watching a film. And I want to forget I am watching a film.

I go to see movies that I hope will have sufficient story with characters I can care about enough played by capable actors to allow me the opportunity to forget I’m sitting and watching a movie. If I cannot suspend my disbelief enough to do that, then I feel I’ve wasted my money.

Monsters v. Aliens was a fun movie, but the very structure of the film – its very conceit – has nothing to do with providing a story sufficient to allow the audience to forget where they are. The purpose of the film is to showcase 3-D animation technology. The whole thing is designed to provide opportunities for the filmmakers to throw things at the audience.

Granted, the technology works great. I actually ducked a few times as stuff came at me out of the screen. But I don’t go to the movies to have things thrown at me. If I want that, I can stay home and experience the same thing for a whole lot less money and trouble. All I have to do is tell my wife that her cooking stinks, and I assure you that in a nanosecond a plate will be in the air with a trajectory terminating at my head, followed by glassware and cutlery.

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So, to sum up, Monsters v. Aliens gets a thumbs down from Professor Boylan.

 

Watchmen:

 

The Comedian: the joke is that there is no joke.

The Comedian: the joke is that there is no joke.

 

I loved this movie. Let me tell you why.

First, I hated the comic book.  “Graphic novel” my ass.  It was a bunch of comic books bundled together and then sold as a novel.  The Watchmen graphic novel is the literary equivalent of what banks did with subprime mortgages when they bundled them up and sold them as securities.

The comic book is bloated and silly, with an end stolen from an old Outer Limits episode entitled “The Architects of Fear.”  The buzz behind the “graphic novel” is hype, and the fan boys are fools.

When I saw the previews on Youtube, I was optimistic, but the film’s reviews overwhelmingly claimed that the film’s fatal flaw was that it was too true to the original comic book.  My son’s mediocre review significantly diminished my expectations.  I waited for the hype to die down.

So I bought my ticket, sat with around twenty other people (most of them sitting alone), watched the previews (which enjoyed – I cannot wait to see the next Terminator movie) and expected to sit through a long and ponderous exercise in lost opportunities. I went in expecting to spend almost three hours cringing at clumsy cinemagraphic moments. Instead, I very quickly lost myself in the story and the characters.

Then I thought about it afterwards and conclude the film is brilliant.  I realized that I just witnessed something I’ve never seen before, expertly crafted to communicate the message that inspired the original comic book, but that got lost in the padding and nonsense that even graphic novels cannot resist.

The primary message of the Watchmen is that anyone who wants to put on a mask and fight crime is probably deeply disturbed.  And I mean deeply. The secondary but no less important message is that, if there really was a Superman, both he and Lois Lane would be tragic figures – and just the existence of a superman would be detrimental to the world as a whole.

Watchmen isn’t satire or parody – it is an anti-comic book. Comic books are all about adolescent fantasy, and the Watchmen comic book/graphic novel is no exception.  The film, however, is about brutal realities.

The visuals are faithful to the original – which is great: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  But the story is significantly different in ways that improves the original.  And the performances provided nuance and depth that only cinema can achieve.  The characters of Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian and Rorschach will haunt me for some time.

And that is the most anyone can really hope for from a film.

I highly recommend this marvelous film.

 

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6 Responses to “FILM REVIEWS: MONSTERS V. ALIENS and WATCHMEN”

  1. I wait for your reviews before I check ones I’m on the fence about seeing.

    I usually wait for the DVD versions of kids movies. I think except for the first Toy Story. There was something special about that and at the time a massive scoob helped enhance the experience. Needless to say, I FRICKEN LOVED IT, then got hungry.

    The Watchmen. Must see at the movies, or doable via DVD?.

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  2. paulboylan Says:

    I have a feeling it will be even better on DVD seen at home. The massive scoob certainly won’t hurt.

    Be careful about seeing it on any extended DVD. Word is out that there is a five hour version – which in my mind will ruin it. It is what they kept out that in many ways enhances the esteem in which I hold the creators.

    I agree with you about Toy Story. It was a piece of history and needed to be seen for that reason alone. The fact it was a great movie was an unexpected plus.

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  3. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

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  4. I submit to you that there has NEVER been a 3-D movie which had a goal of other than showing off the 3-D effects. My five year old, however, does not know this…even after I pointed it out to her…nor does she care. She gave me that “eat shit daddy” stare when I suggested that it was a waste of money. My eleven year old concurred.

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  5. “I don’t go to the movies to have things thrown at me. If I want that, I can stay home”

    but for those of us who DO go to the movies to get stuff thrown at them you’d say ‘Monsters vs Aliens’ is a must see?

    Great reviews by the way. I too am hanging out to see Christian Bale as JC kicking serious metal in Terminator:Salvation.

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  6. I want to see Watchmen, but it will likely be on DVD by the time I get around to it.

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