Now Playing: Some more shorties for ya
BATMAN BEGINS (2005, Christopher Nolan)- A perfectly entertaining superhero origin story, though rarely more than that. Nolan wisely downplays Burton’s gothic style (and Schumacher’s day-glo mess) in favor of character study, and Bale is up to the task as Batman and especially as Bruce Wayne. Supporting cast a mixed bag- Wilkinson overplays and Holmes sleepwalks, but Murphy steals all his scenes and everyone else does respectable work. A step in the right direction, though final scene’s a too-blatant sequel grab. Rating: **1/2.
MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005, Doug Liman)- Diverting but rarely fun, Liman’s heavily-armed action comedy feels like a missed opportunity. Pitt’s loose and fun- his scenes with Vince Vaughn made me yearn to see them work together again- but Jolie’s a buzzkill, a self-absorbed glamourpuss packing heat but little of her much-hyped “edge.” Liman forgets he’s making a comedy in the last half-hour, concentrating instead on blowing stuff up, save an elevator gag that was done better in THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE. Rating: **.
THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL IN 3D (2005, Robert Rodriguez)- Oh, my eyes! What might’ve been a lame but forgettable kids’ movie becomes a chore due to horrible 3D that caused me to remove the glasses after twenty minutes. Watching the balance in 2D, I don’t think I missed much- lousy acting (by both kids and adults), Rodriguez’s cheeseball DIY effects, and occasional objects being hurled (in either sense of the word) at the camera. Co-written by Rodriguez’s 7-year-old kid, and man does it show. Rating: 0 stars.
THE PERFECT MAN (2005, Mark Rosman)- This movie smells like television, from the telegenic cast (Duff, Locklear, Chris Noth, Mike O’Malley, Carson from QUEER EYE- nothing against TV, but we’re hardly talking Ian McShane here) to the heartwarming and inoffensive messages (scheming is bad, you don’t need a man to be happy, single moms have it tough). Wouldn’t complain about something so bland except that there’s nothing to it besides the tasteless mush. Ah well, at least Hilary Duff doesn’t sing. Rating: *.
WALK ON WATER (2005, Eytan Fox)- An effective, mostly underplayed film about the delicate situation in modern Israel. Lior Ashkenazi is particularly good here as cold Mossad assassin Eyal, coming to grips with his own life through his German “friends.” Fox uses everyday realities such as suicide bombers as fodder for wry humor- cellphones go down, sad music on the radio- while more dramatic moments sneak up on us. Final act in Germany disappoints a bit, but still a strong film. Rating: **1/2.