Sunday, July 03, 2005

Alien Scum

Two movies about, or heavily involving, aliens. One’s a thriller, one’s a comedy. Both based on works of fiction that I haven’t read. Both short of fantastic.

Elbert had said that the big-screen adaptation of the cult fave The Hitchiker’s Guide to The Galaxy looks like a made-for-TV special, and I have to agree. Still, this treatment worked for me. Visually, it’s very British, though don’t ask me what “visually British” means as I don’t have a clue. I just know it when I see it. I have to question, though, the use of American actors, as their grasp of the intended brand of comedy falls short of effective, like having Filipinos do Hongkong martial arts, the latter being more humorous unfortunately.

I enjoyed the film. There were some good laugh-out-loud moments for me, and a number in which I guffawed alone in the semi-filled theater, causing some embarrassment for me. The animatronics used on the bad aliens is a definite step up, a dying art that is much more effective than any computer-generated doll I’ve seen so far. To say, however, that Hitchiker’s is comparable to Monty Python and Fill In The Blank is an example of a lapse of judgment, which should proceed to a Senate hearing and some mass uprising in Makati City.

The other alien movie, War of the Worlds, shows Tom Cruise taking on a more mature role by being the father of a teenage lad, though they could easily have looked like brothers. I should stress that the teenage lad is NOT Dakota Fanning, who proves it by screaming quite irritatingly like the little girl that she is.

Seeing this film, one could easily tell where the $135M budget went. The outdoor special effects were amazing, a number of them truly edge-of-the-seat. This film is a shoo-in for a visual effects Oscar, though it fails to impress in the emotional connection department. Cruise is supposed to be the guy who’s trying to keep it together, family and composure besides, while everything blows up all around him in computer-generated goodness. But then maybe his abilities aren’t made for family-oriented movies.

Dakota Fanning, despite her thespic genius, has it more passive this time. While Miranda Otto does barely anything--she should have been given a sword.

My problem with Spielberg films is that there’s always the part where you can almost see an audience cue light go on. “Feel Extreme Sympathy.” “Feel Rousing Joy.” “Cry Now.” It’s happened with Schindler’s List (girl in the red dress), Amistad (when the slaves were declared free men), and so on. And you get not a few of them in War of the Worlds, images taking you back to 9/11. Some worked for me, others made me squirm.

Like I said, I haven’t read the H.G. Wells story, and perhaps the producers didn’t want to alter the original denouement. So for those who plan to watch this high-budget flick, do so for the ride and not the ending, because you might just start making jokes about multivitamins as you leave the theater.

3 comments:

Jam said...

Agree. I was bored to death in HHG. Seriously. British Humor! That's it! LOL. The other was weird but I loved the action packed scenes but annoyed with Dakota's screaming. BRAT!

Elbert said...

The aliens died of amoebiasis!

camille said...

see! see! it is not only me who squirmed whenever dakota was screaming..:)

and yes, it is so so interesting how the aliens died of amoebiasis...all that crows... :)

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