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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Tourist, Skyline, and Others on DVD This Week

Man, oh *beep* man. These are the weeks I dread - the weeks when everything popping out onto DVD shelves is crap. We have, unfortunately, received The Tourist, Skyline, Yogi Bear, and How Do You Know? as our choices for the next few days. At least until Sucker Punch comes out on Friday. Then everything is forgiven. But, for now, as always, let's take a look at each of these releases and see which will be worth the money you're forking over for them.

Personally, having seen them, I'll let you in on this early on - each of these is going to get a negative write-up. Forgive me if I go overboard, but... I swear, I really hated The Tourist. I'll post a review up of that soon. I have to edit it down from the four-letter word riffing session that I did for an IMDb message board. I want something a bit classier for this site, and others.


More after the cut--

Okay. I'm getting this out of the way now. The Tourist has two really solid elements, and they're both fairly important when it comes to judging the merits of a film. Those elements being the film's score and editing. The only remarkable things about it, and they're swept under the rug by the utter lack of chemistry between the two leads, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, and the horrendous screenplay that shows an inane disrespect to its audience. I could choose to gripe about the fact that somehow this got awards attention at the end of the year when it was one of the worst reviewed releases at the time, I could gripe out how often I felt cheated out of money even while seeing this film for free, I could even gripe about the fact that while I admittedly taken by surprise by the film's ending... in retrospect, and I mean "thirty seconds after the fact" when I say "retrospect", it makes no damn sense. I could gripe about all that, but I'm going to give that a rest. And try to focus on the positive. 

James Newton Howard's score is too beautiful for this film. When I write about a given film, I listen to its score to try and put myself back into the movie. Being that this isn't a movie I feel the need to revisit, I'm just listening to the score as the beautiful piece of instrumental heaven that it is. Howard's work is some of the best of last year, music wise. In terms of how it flows with the film? Not so much. On the other foot, I'm wearing my "editor's shoe" and trying to walk a mile in both Joe Rutshing's and Patricia Rommel's weary steps. They worked incredibly hard to make the incoherent screenplay into something watchable, but as noble as their efforts were - and they were quite noble; some sequences are exquisitely cut and spliced - the film feels more like a montage of what not to do. Ever. 

The special features on the DVD are as follows, from the film's Amazon page - 

"Director Commentary - Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
A Gala Affair
Bringing Glamour Back
Outtake Reel"

Also out on DVD this week, Skyline. Consider it Cloverfield meets Dawson's Creek meets Independence Day, but if the Creek had better special effects than the others. That doesn't make sense, right? Okay. Good. Neither does this film. Which is really disheartening, because alien invasion films usually wind up being pretty straight forward. I've always had a soft-spot for big summer action films, especially the alien ones. There's something distinctly "matinee" about them that I can't ignore, and that keeps me coming back in a major fashion. So, I get disappointed when I'm looked down upon by the film I'm seeing. Obviously, this is hardly ever the film's intention, to condescend to its audience. You'd have to seek out Vincent Gallo films to get that kind of disrespect to a viewer. But, in Skyline, it's as if the filmgoer is lumped into the common theater hopper's group and gets everything dumbed down for them. A brainless story, with wimpy aliens and special effects. And I payed money for that? 

Independence Day, while a big silly action film, is something that has lived on since 1996. The performances are ones that people can remember and quote, the story is simple on the surface, but has a lot going on underneath, and the drama is very real. It unfolds lyrically, to a beat - so to the point where a character is goofing off and singing... in key with the film's score. That's great production value. Skyline rips along at its own pace, admittedly a quick one, but doesn't leave time for the viewer to suspend their disbelief enough to go alone with it. And once that happens, everyone wants their money back.
The DVDs special features, according to the film's Amazon page - 

Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
Feature Commentaries
Pre-Visualization Featurettes

Also released on DVD this week - 

How Do You Know? - James L. Brooks, the brilliant mind behind Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets, has gifted us something special - the worst film of his career. And I'm totally not the only one that thinks this. It's a hodge-podge collage of romantic mishaps that try to tell a linear story, but the entire thing breaks down in the middle of its trip. Rightfully so, no one felt the need to pull over and help. The only word that I can think of as apt enough to describe the film is "lame". The performances, the screenplay, the direction, all of it - lame. 

Yogi Bear - I take what I said back, actually. I want to use "lame" for this film. Use "discouraging" for the one above. And for the others, too, if you like. Hell, for all four. Whatever. Yogi Bear is the live action/CG update of the classic cartoon. Dan Akroyd gets to voice the iconic bear, while Justin Timberlake gets to flex his muscles (er...) as trusty and lovable Boo Boo. Tom Cavanagh is Ranger Smith, and Anna Farris just needed money, I think. The basic plot - and I do mean basic - is that Jellystone National Park is being sold, so Yogi and Boo Boo have to make friends with their mortal enemy Ranger Smith to keep it from getting auctioned off to the highest bidder. It's cool if they sell it. Less chance of a sequel. 

For more information on the DVD's above, click the titles to go to their Amazon pages. 

Go out. Get a movie. Experience something new. Remember - if you don't watch the bad, how will you ever know what's good?