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Men in Black 3/Prometheus/Dark Shadows Reviews

Triple Threat Movie Marathon Day!!!

It takes a hardcore team to go extreme. "Extreme" in this case being an hour’s drive to the multiplex, three movie back to back to back and the drive home. The team is a well chosen band of geeks, united by blood and the deep and abiding love of spending public holidays hiding out in a cinema. Hence, Steve, Tiffany and myself headed out for the annual triple threat marathon on June 3.

Regular readers may recall we started this madness last year, and it seemed to be an ideal easy get out clause, avoiding the royal jubilee overkill, just as we avoided the royal wedding overkill last time. I will keep these reviews as spoiler free as possible while giving you a flavour of the film’s content.

First film of the day was the 10:45 showing of the long and eagerly awaited ...

Men in Black 3

I was surprised when Steve pointed out that it’s been ten years since the we last saw the MiB in action. A decade? THAT long? Incredible.

The concept hasn’t aged in those ten years, and this latest film in the line-up finds its place nicely in the franchise. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith return in their roles as the intrepid alien chasing agents. The years have been kind to Smith, who hasn’t missed a beat with his easy going charm, but Jones has aged considerably, considering he was the craggy looking older agent ten years ago.

An alien named Boris the Animal arrested in 1969 by Agent K (Jones) has escaped from the lunar penitentiary where he’s being held. He plans to use a device to go back in time and stop his arrest ever happening, and also killing K in the process. Agent J (Smith) uses the same device to transport himself back to the day before the event to avoid any of this happening, but of course it’s vitally important that he avoid all contact with the young Agent K.

He fails at the first hurdle - but that’s all you get plot-wise, and it’s really no more than you’d have got from the trailer that was released on the net early in the year.

Josh Brolin has come a long, long way since his role in The Goonies in 1985. His uncanny resemblance to a young Tommy Lee Jones, and the eerily dead-on accurate mimicking of the way Jones delivers his lines is amazing. Emma Thompson is the new "boss" as her character "Agent O" replaces Rip Torn’s "Z" character.

It’s good to see Will Smith save the world again during the summer blockbuster season - it’s been three and a half years since his last movie Seven Pounds and I was beginning to wonder what had happened to him.

Interesting thing I noticed is the sudden surge to cinematic prominence of New York’s Chrysler building. It used to be that every single shot you’d see of NYC in a film had the Empire Stare Building shown prominently, but it’s one of the steel gargoyles from the Chrysler that plays a prominent role in this film, and again - when I saw Avengers for the second time on Friday - it’s the Chrysler building which is seen prominently in the NYC scenes. Makes a change, I suppose - but my heart’s still in the Empire State, up there on the 98th floor, where I left it a couple of years ago.

Back to the point - Men in Black 3, worth seeing. If you liked the first two, you’re going to like this one it’s more of the same. Jones may be a little threadbare, but the concept surely isn’t, Now if only they’d get their asses in gear and finally make that long promised Ghostbusters 3.

So then, we saw the second movie of the day and our 3D feature.

Prometheus

But first, we were treated to the extended six minute trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man, in all its awesome, vertigo inducing heart stopping 3D glory, no less. As soon as I saw Spider-Man swinging around, doing some incredible filps and somersaults over the landmark buildings of New York in all three dimensions, I was taken right back to the happy times of riding the 3D Spider-Man attraction on Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s theme park in Florida. The trailer has worked its mojo, something that I was pretty ambivalent about is now something I want to see and experience in all three dimensions. Even if the content veers away from the holy scriptures of Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, I want to see the spectacle in all three glorious dimensions.

Here’s a startling announcement. Way back in 1979, when I saw Alien for the first time - I was underwhelmed. Alien is a movie that grew on me on subsequent viewings. I still think that the chest bursting sequence could’ve been done better, but similarly, if it was re-done in CGI, I’d be the first to protest - go figure. I loved Aliens from the outset and the release of Cameron’s director's cut only improved the experience. Alien 3 - what the hell? What do directors think that a mainly British cast MUST swear all the time? Does the UK really come across as having a nation-wide case of Tourettes? Alien Resurrection proved to be quite the reverse and killed the franchise off, apart from a couple of encounters with Predators.

So here we go again, with a high profile film that was first said to be a prequel, then director Ridley Scott said it wasn’t, so.... Is it or isn’t it?

Well, it is and it isn’t.

Confused? Allow me to explain.

Prometheus is set before Alien, and gives the background to the large semi circular ship Dallas and the crew of the Nostromo discover. The Space Jockey is also expanded upon, though I found that part a little bit confusing... One minute he’s sitting as he’s found in Alien, the next he’s walking around and leaves the ship and after that.... Hmmmmm.

Actually, I thought at one point that the film was raising more questions than it was answering, until the very final scene by which time the last question in my spinning head was cleared.

I remember the intention in the first movie was to bring the Alien back to use as a weapon, what I didn’t know was that it was conceived by an alien race as a weapon of mass destruction and evolved from there. So, all in all you don’t need to have seen the Alien movies to enjoy the hell out of this one - it’s a standalone, that explains some of what we’ve already seen, but again, you don’t have to see Alien after this if you haven’t already. You’ll leave with a well told story that will keep you thinking for some time afterward.

3D was pretty good on this - I’ve found that it can be hit or miss at best, but here it enhanced the scenes it needed to but kind of faded into the background when it wasn’t needed. I found that outer space scenes in particular worked very well - as well as a scene involving a DIY bit of surgery in an enclosed space.

If you’re a fan, you don’t need the likes of me to tell you you’ll love it, if you’re not, then you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy.

And after all that we could eat of the good Colonel’s finest fried chicken, it was time for...

Dark Shadows  

I was interested in this one for a variety of reasons. Tim Burton & Johnny Depp are an incredible combination of skewed talent that I find irresistible. Depp is one of the most talented and versatile actors out there today, varying his performances with a chameleon-like quality. Take as an example his role in the upcoming Lone Ranger movie - everybody assumed that we was after the role of the Lone Ranger, not the native American sidekick Tonto. And we all know he’ll pull of yet another engaging and powerful performance. It’s what he does.

I’ve been aware of Dark Shadows for years, but of course the horror themed daytime soap was never shown here in the UK. As a tie-in I bought a DVD set of one of the story arcs from the series dating back to 1966, which I reviewed for Starburst’s website, and you can read that right here.

So, compared to the cheap yet compulsive series, how does Burton’s version compare?

Well, it’s a lot less dark in tone, more of a horror comedy and probably the same amount of money was spent on this movie as was spent on the original series’ entire run. Depp as an out of time vampire works well, as does the film’s setting of 1972.

Good to see Michelle Pfeiffer back on the big screen, but if anybody’s close to staling the mighty Depp’s thunder in years to come, it’s young Chloe Grace Moretz, proving that her stunning and memorable performance as Hitgirl in Kick Ass was no fluke.

There’s a sequence in the film that elevated it beyond enjoyable, and that involved Alice Cooper. (Okay, if you’ve been reading the site for a while, you know that the Coop is held in high regard hereabouts, right?) Alice has an appearance, singing in the Collinswood ball, and his Ballad of Dwight Frye is used as an effective backdrop to a flashback sequence of one of the main characters’ abuse in a mental institution.

Depp’s


Barnabas Collins is a lot more likeable than the original. Here he’s more the protector of a dysfunctional family, whereas in the series - he was a predator, like a modern day, urban Dracula in the classical style of vampire, rather than the present day angsty, horny teen version. 

But still, it’s a good movie, packs a punch when it needs to and makes the audience laugh on cue. Certainly if it’s available on disc around Halloween it'll  be one of the evening’s choice of films for 31st.

Copyright © 2010 - 2012 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.


 

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