May 29, 2012

Hit or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 3!

Tableau Your Mind reviews movies fast so that you can get on with your day!

Dark Shadows
Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter
do the best they can with what they're given
The Story: Escaped from a coffin after a two-century long imprisonment, vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) seeks to reclaim his family's good name and take down the witch (Eva Green) who cursed him to haunt the night.
Pros: The ladies in this film totally kill it. Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer are amazing, but MVP goes to Eva Green, who is as fierce and charismatic a villain as has ever
graced the silver screen. And she's incredibly gorgeous to boot.
Cons: Unfortunately, the script is completely lacking in any interest or compelling moments. Tim Burton makes two big mistakes in his film, which he directs to the best of his abilities. One is that he cast Johnny Depp, who does not possess the sexual charisma needed for the role of Barnabas, and the second is the script. Written by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter scribe Seth Grahame-Smith, the film lacks drama, and adds unnecessary plots to make up for the fact that none of the characters are interesting on the page. It's starting to look like Burton, who is now collaborating with Grahame-Smith on a slew of new projects, doesn't know a good script from a hole in his head.
Consensus: Filled with beautiful imagery and a few truly haunting moments (which I won't spoil), the film is nonetheless bogged down in an interminably slow and pointless plot, and Burton is unable to take the love he has for the characters and translate that on screen.
Hit or Miss: Miss, unless you are a die-hard Burton fan who knows no disappointment.

The Dictator
The Story: Sacha Baron Cohen molds his brand of shock humor into a scripted comedy in which a dictator, Admiral General Aladeen, is left for dead and must fend for himself in New York City while trying to reclaim his throne and make sure that evil democracy never comes to his beautiful dictatorial nation. And he, you know, falls in love.
Pros: Cohen is hilarious, and his un-politically correct humor is very equal opportunity. No race or creed escapes his mockery. Also, Anna Faris and Jason Mantzoukas are great and hilarious in roles that let them be more toned down than normal.
Cons: The plot is often unnecessarily nonsensical, and it's difficult to care for a character who is a ruthless (though somewhat ineffective) dictator whose idols are the late Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
Consensus: The movie is very funny and a fairly effective indictment of democracy.
Hit or Miss: Hit It with a friend.

Men in Black III (AKA MIIIB or MIB3)
Not Surprisingly, the film is pretty Forgettable
 The Story: After an evil alien (Flight of the Conchords's Jemaine Clement) changes history and erases Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) from existence in order to bring on earth's extinction, Agent J (Will Smith) must travel back in time to save his partner's life and save the world. Again.
Pros: After a terrible second installment, Men in Black gets back to the fun roots of the original, infusing the franchise with some much needed energy and an always welcome Emma Thompson. Will Smith is in top form, as is Jemaine Clement and Josh Brolin as a young Agent K. There are also some nice callbacks to the earlier films, if you can remember that far back in time.
Cons: Unfortunately, all the good acting can't really save the material, which feels overwritten and overly expository. Time travel rarely makes sense, and talking about it for minutes on end doesn't change that fact. Screenwriter Etan Cohen has been given the unfortunate title of screenwriter in a script that had multiple rewrites and feels sweaty from all the effort. The franchise also just feels tired - Agent J keeps reminding people that he's been an agent for 14 years, which really just draws more attention to how long it's been since the first movie and how unnecessary this three-quel is. Furthermore, the few callbacks are too few, and it's sad when a film feels lacking because there isn't enough Tony Shalhoub.
Consensus: when the movie stops talking long enough to have the characters be funny and shoot aliens, it's a good movie. The special effects are delightfully cartoonish, and there are good spatial relationships in the fight sequences. However, even a brilliant Bill Hader can't bring enough funny freshness to right this tipped canoe.
Hit or Miss: Hit It at home, Miss It in theaters.
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