Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Weekend Movie Trilogy

Movie Reviews

Well I watched three movies this weekend, just thought I'd share my thoughts with you:

Friday: Aliens of the Deep (extended version). James Cameron is a water nut, the director of such high profile H2O heavy features as Titanic and The Abyss continues to explore his obsession with this documentary made for IMAX. Cameron has been concentrating on documentary features for several years now, and had previously made the sunken ship exposes Ghost of the Abyss and Expedition: Bismarck. In Aliens of the Deep the director goes in a slightly different direction with a look at the unusual life forms that dwell so deep in the ocean that they never encounter sunlight. Cameron is fascinated by these creatures and truth be told I find the little buggers a marvel myself. I mean these are animals that as humans we would never have been able to see where it not for relatively recent advances in technology. Some of these creatures look like they shouldn't even exist, such as the flowing doughnut of translucent fabric I call the "Jelly Cloth".

Filmed on a two ocean expedition with Cameron, his brothers, a Russian team, some scientist and a group of grade students who seems to function largely as figures for audience identification, Aliens of the Deep was no small undertaking. The unifying purpose of the expedition was to study how life manages to develop in extreme environments, with the hope that this information might give us some clue as to how alien life might have evolved in similar extreme conditions, like under Europas frozen seas. The sub-team ventures down into the cracks in the Earths crust to view the life the somehow flourishes near the hydro-thermal vents. It is important to note that scientists had not expected to find any life there when they first journyed to study these vents in the late 1970's, their encounter with a thriving ecosphere in the last place anyone would look for life was one of the great knowledge transformations of the 20th century. There are some pretty cool looking creatures in this documentary as well as some CG work of high end Discovery Channel quality. The extended version runs about an hour and forty minutes but the theatrical version is about half that if you don't think you could sit through the whole thing.

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fourth Harry Potter movie begins with what can best be called a 'terrorist attack' on the Quidich(sp) World Cup. This event marks the re-emergence of the forces of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Finnes) as an active presence in the magical realms. Infact Voldermorts 'specter' is felt more heavily throughout this film then in any of the others, and for good reason as the viewer will see. The lest bound to form of any of the 'Potter movies', Goblet of Fire focus most of its plot time on Harrys involuntary participation in the prestigious though dangerous 'Tri-Wizard Tournament'. The tournament is a compatetion pitting young wizards against various obstacles to prove their superior magical abilities. Harry is one of two participants representing Hogwarts (an unusual occurrence), with the others coming from a visiting French girls school and a boys school in Romania or Bulgaria or some such place.

Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are strong as always in their signature roles as Hogwarts most trouble prone students, but the real standout of this film is a new character. In what is now an established yearly tradition Hogwarts has a new 'defense against the dark arts' teacher, in this case its the gruff Alastor 'MadEye' Moody (Brendan Gleeson), who looks and acts like just like John Wayne in True Grit. Also Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) gets something of a love interest in the form of Madame Olympe Maxime (Frances de la Tour) the dean(et?) of the girls school, who looks like Allison Janney if she where a giant and slightly mutated. With the exception of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) who is becoming increasingly less mystical, all the usual players on the schools staff have been seemingly reduced to bit parts. Gary Oldman however does enjoy one of the most unusual cameo appearances ever brought to the screen as his Sirius Black character from the 3rd film. Goblet of Fire is probably the best Harry Potter film so far, thought I'd say that Mike Newells direction is not quite as strong as Alfonso Cuarons was on Prisoner of Azkaban. This film stuck with me longer then I thought it would and I find myself incressingly excited for number five.

Sunday: Dune (the extended version). The 'lost footage' from 1984's Dune has been much talked about and sought after by both Lynch and Herbert fans, now that previously cut material has been be re-edited into an extended edition of the cult classic. Unfortunately the extra 40 minutes adds nothing to the over all picture and infact makes this already confused film into more of a long winded mess. I expected as much as Lynch himself has refused to have his name on the credits of this version, billed instead under his occasional fake name of Alan Smithee (that is the correct spelling). However I wanted to see it anyway even if just to confirm that it should have been left on the cutting room floor. This extended version is for fanatics only.


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