February 2012 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
29Feb/120

Justice League: Doom (2012)

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Another year, another opportunity to remark at how absolutely safe DC Animation is handling their Justice League properties. This time we get an adaptation of the short arc "The Tower of Babel" mixed with an odd tinge of nostalgia for the Superfriends of old. Thankfully it's not the Wondermutt and Wendy iteration, but the spirit of the Wonder Twins era. Both were best forgotten (even if the Wonder Twins made an effective return in Justice League: Unlimited), but mixing the ridiculousness of those times with the blood and bone violence still lingering from Frank Miller is a dodgy proposition at best.

I wish Justice League: Doom went with the tackier approach. DC Animation has yet to do anything of note with their superheroes in the animated realm, at least not for a long time. There's nothing here that will top the maniacally brilliant entertainment of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker or the best animated distillation in Mask of the Phantasm. Instead we get a few episodes of the comic mushed together in animated frames with nary a whiff of the characters spirit and past.

25Feb/122

Gone (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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It's scary being alone. Literally or figuratively, of course.

Jill (Amanda Seyfried) is in both states of the word: her last remaining relative, her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham), has vanished from their locked house in the middle of the night. No one believes the terrified Jill that she's certain that Molly's been kidnapped, leaving only her to unravel the clues by sundown. The police force, convinced Jill is a danger to herself and others, unceasingly attempt to track her down.

If the story and scale of Gone feels like something that's eked out of lousy television drama ("Cold Case Files"! "Missing Persons"! "CSI"! Possibly "How I Met Your Mother"! (I've never seen that show)), it's only because this type of story has become rote in the last decade of serialized drama. Notice that I said 'type' of story; television dramas churn out the same uninspired formula week in and week out, with our stoic lead male detective, sexy but serious female lead and a cadre of wacky but smart side characters churning about with a mess of uninspired puns between commercial breaks.

And goddamn is that formula boring. Thank god Gone and director Heitor Dhalia  have taken the lyrics and switched up the music, taking a run of the mill "I've got to find the kidnappers before it's too late!" plot and layering it with female anxieties out the proverbial wazoo.

25Feb/120

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Ah, can you smell that in the air? It's the wheezy stench of 1992 breezing through theaters last week in the form of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. It might be filled with balls-to-the-wall special effects involving flaming heads and CGI chains, but there isn't a whole lot beyond that that doesn't seem routinely familiar to anyone who's had a brief encounter with the likes of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man or Terminator 2.

Let me back up a second, since I hate leading someone in a direction and then immediately reversing it without at least a half a sentence of warning: that's not to say reliving the glory days of '92 is a bad thing. However, if you've been anywhere near that era's films, this movie will taste like a bagel bought at Starbucks a half an hour before close.

24Feb/122

A Couple on Kubrick: Lolita (1962)

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So we carries on towards the ever controversial and sensational movie, Lolita. Actually, those are not the right words to describe this movie because, well, this movie is quite dull.

For a movie that is supposed to be about the taboo subject of ephebophilia, there was not much in the way of controversial or sensual images and actions in the movie (aside from a slightly odd beauty shot of Lolita’s feet, which probably launched many a foot fetish. Gross). Then again, I suppose I should be happy that there is a lack of uncomfortable implications, but did Kubrick have to make the rest of the movie so lifeless and sterile? So little happens in this movie with such lackluster momentum, if any at all, that the whole movie seems to be more a study in meditation and patience than of vested interest.

Stanley Kubrick was avoiding the idea of a grown man engaging in a sexual relationship with a 14- year-old so the movie would be allowed to not only be made but distributed to the masses. I understand that. But couldn’t Kubrick show how the sexual relationship is affecting Lolita outside of screaming and being bored?

23Feb/123

Tower Heist (2011)

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Freshly minted like a bland savior returning from the world's least inspiring war, Tower Heist has arrived on DVD to save an untold number of families from awkward small talk with their extended families.  For most of us, there won't be a single twist in the film that isn't telegraphed miles in advance.  But for your aunt or uncle, the one who pushes perhaps a bit too hard for you to get married or have kids, you may be treating them to the most entertaining afternoon in at least the last week or so.

This is a film custom tailored to damn with faint praise.  In addition to serving as a block against discussions about reproduction, it serves as yet another reminder that a number of actors and actresses sometimes do passingly entertaining things to get paid.  The cast is a rogue's gallery of people who should be finding better work by now, but to no surprise have not.  Ben Stiller is no stranger to the bland but still creeps in with something like Tropic Thunder every few years to prove he's got some daggers in him, but this is just another payday for him and his cohorts off to rob the vault.

That mild level of disappointment aside, I can't hate the film.  Brett Ratner has proven himself beyond my hate.  He's the cinematic equivalent of smooth contemporary adult jazz on the long car ride home.  The only thing missing from his films to truly push them into comatose relaxation is the presence of a Casey Kasem DJ to guide his films into the closing credits.  What I'm trying to say is this, we will have found the ultimate tool for insomniacs if Ratner ever decides to do a noir tinged narrated by Kasem.  Such a product will produce deafening levels of pleasant snores.