Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brief Movie Reviews: Enchanted and The Mist

So, the theaters are finally starting to play movies I want to see again, so I thought I'd write a pair of reviews of two movies I saw recently.

First off, Enchanted. Now, it's probably fair to wonder why I wanted to see this movie at all, let alone be motivated to see it in theaters shortly after it opened. Well, I can certainly tell you that it had nothing to do with that first trailer they released for it. My God, I remember seeing that trailer and just being embarrassed for Disney. It's the one that brings up all their classic fairy tales, basically so that it can make fun of them for the sake of advertising this movie. Ouch, huh?

That ad made me not interested at all, but then all these reviews came in that suggested something very different from the idea of poking fun at Disney's storied tradition of classic animated films, many of which involved princesses and happily ever afters. Thankfully, they were right. The movie is not meant to make fun of those things at all. It's celebrating them the only way people are still willing to pay to see anymore (besides in CGI, of course...except I can't think of any CGI movies involving princesses except for Shrek, which actually WAS meant to poke fun at Disney's storied tradition of classic animated films, so it doesn't count).

So, anyways, we get to enjoy a live action fairy tale, with a princess. And, well, it's a success. Totally. They managed to recapture some of their Disney magic or whatever. For the first time since Kingdom Hearts, as far as I'm concerned. This film provided Disney with a transition from the classic animated fairy tales to what will hopefully one day be their classic live action fairy tales. Except for the evil stepmother, all of the live action characters just shined on screen. Our dear heroine, her prince, even the bumbling henchman were just as fun and lively and exciting as anything the animators have ever created (except maybe Genie). These characters came into the real world, but the actors still managed to be animated caricatures and that was how it should be.

Even better, they had one of the best catchy musical numbers of any Disney movie. I didn't particularly enjoy the "Happy Working Song" or whatever, but "That's How You Know" (I think) was absolutely perfectly done. It was totally cool to watch that sequence unfold. The way everyone introduced in the park slowly becomes caught up in the song and finds themselves joining the refrain made it feel absolutely like a Disney song. And, more importantly, it didn't feel stupid at all (silly, yes, but not stupid). That can't be easy.

Completely unrelated, Amy Adams looked pretty decently hot for the ball. I was impressed, at least.

For me, though, the fun was really in trying to contemplate what the final message of the movie actually was. The girl is obsessed with the romantic ideal of falling in love (especially at first sight) and the expectation that this can only lead to Happily Ever After. To her, any thing else is a tragedy to be prevented at all costs. The Grey's Anatomy dude, on the other hand, doesn't believe in any of that stuff and thinks that love can only be maintained if it is well planned and thought out. He's not interested in romance and thinks that love at first sight can only end in tragedy. this conflict of ideals is a huge part of the movie.

(assuming you have never seen a Disney movie and couldn't have predicted 90% of the movie from a 3 sentence description)

The interesting thing is that, in the end, she falls in love with him, not at first sight as she had always dreamed, but only by spending time with him and getting to know him for who he actually is. He falls in love with her as well, but I'm not totally clear on the why, there. I'll be nice and assume that it's because she shows him the joyful possibilities of living a romantics life or something (and not because she's a pretty safe bet, since she's basically promising to stay loyal and in love forever).

In any case, I guess they both learn something from each other and so complete each other or whatever. But, here's what I like: their happily ever after (which the ending assures us they got) did not fall into their laps. They earned it. They shared and learned from each other. I like that. I think that's a fair compromise from the stories of old and I was impressed to see Disney present it as such. Or, maybe I just like messages that lower girls' standards, if just a little bit.

Onto, Stephen King's The Mist.

First off, this movie pretty much had me won over the moment I heard about it. If it hadn't, then about the first 10 seconds would have done it again. To see it open with a guy painting a beautiful poster of Roland and the Doorway and the Rose and the Dark Tower, was just, amazing. I would have been happy with 90 minutes of just watching him adding little details to that poster. It was such an amazing way to start. With this story's gunslinger illustrating Stephen King's beloved gunslinger. I might have shouted my approval just a little bit.

But, so yeah. The movie was great. Just as good as I hoped. They made some changes to the story (including the ending) and I appreciated all of them. The tension was awesome and the creatures were scary. I also loved just how big the creatures got. I know a lot of reviewers didn't like Ms. Carmody, but I thought she was awesome. All good horror movies have both a mixture of fear of the unknown and a fear of those around you. Ms. Carmody supplied that second fear perfectly. The movie also didn't use very many known actors, so everyone was fair game and you really never knew who was going to get it next (or how).

I'm a little disappointed that basically no one is seeing this movie. It's really too bad. But, well, I'm betting Cloverfield manages to capture a lot of this too, and hopefully that'll do some good business.

But, yeah, all I can say is that it was awesome. Easily the best Stephen King horror adaption I've seen (no, The Shawshank Redemption doesn't count as horror, yes that movie is better, but whatever). So, go see it before it disappears from theaters, which I'm gonna go out on a limb and say will probably happen a week from Friday (okay, you might get an extra week if you're lucky).

That is all.


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