Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, just another yuppie scum two-income couple with way too much disposable income. I don't trust couples with that kind of investment in just a kitchen. And clean dishes are one thing, but perfect glassware all the time grates on the nerves.
As a couple, Brad and Angelina are okay to look at. Neither of us is a huge Brad Pitt fan -- he can act but we don't always like his choices. I think we both liked him way back in Seven, with a young Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife -- Brad was young enough not to be full of himself. And I liked him a lot as the over-the-top psycho in one of my favorite movies: Twelve Monkeys, with Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe. Here he is just on the more endearing side of being a boorish husband, and only because Angelina's wife persona is such a controlling person. As for her action side, Angelina as Jane Smith (Assassin) and Lana Croft (Adventuress) tend to look and act different only in the matter of the goals and the accent. Still, she's good and manages not to go too over the top, IMHO.
But, you say, hasn't this movie been done before? Yes, sortof. My wife, in particular, seems to feel that True Lies was more fun. Sure, but it really only involved ONE spy player. Here we have two. And these seem to be corporate assassins, working for "firms", rather than spies working for "The Firm", if you catch my drift. As a result, we get no clue as to whether the wet work either is doing is worth doing -- righteous or just kills in a tough age. Now, whether you can believe that they wouldn't know about the other over a stretch of "five or six years" -- or whether you'll file that under "willing suspension of disbelief" -- will determine whether you're willing to go on this ride. It's about 80% worth it. The sniping between marrieds can be fun, the compounding of lies -- and the revelations (under fire) of what really happened back when -- is pretty amusing.
The negatives, the other 20%, may or may not kill this film for you. First, the "trivial". I'm not completely up on modern firearms, but most automatic pistols which roughly follow the mold of the classic Colt M1911 .45 auto are technically semi-automatic pistols -- one pull equals one shot. I'm sure that Brad was firing pistols on full auto, or else I was being deceived by the multi-speaker surround sound and placing the full auto sound on the wrong gun. Certainly I am sure that we violated some of the "how many rounds are in a clip" rules as well as no signs of smoking or excessive heating due to so many rounds expended in such a short time, reloads included.
The director and the soundman seem way too into linking certain sounds with certain devices. In particular, I can pull many knives out of a scabbard or a knife block on the kitchen counter, without making a steel sliding against steel sound. And the ability to track down who purchased a particular laptop upgrade is totally without merit -- though it is probably stupid of me to even notice such a thing in a decidedly unrealistic movie such as this.
The big problem is the level of violence -- particularly in one scene when Mr. and Mrs. Smith are after each other in the house. It goes on too long, even though it is technically off camera, and is too vicious and should've done more damage. Fortunately, that is diminished to merely a bad taste in your mouth with the comedic car chase scene which follows. But it doesn't quite go away and so we went home somewhat fifty-fifty over whether the movie was ruined or not.
As summer fodder goes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is okay enough, I think, but flawed. Well, we weren't really expecting Oscars to come from summer blockbusters anyway (grin).
War of the Worlds, same as before, same lack of faith that Spielberg, Cruise and company will do it well. Dukes of Hazard -- sigh -- Yet Another Unnecessary Movie Remake of a TV Series. Now I never really watched the original, but the show had a certain campy charm, to say nothing of an utter disregard for the physics of ballistic trajectories. And exactly what is "America's" fascination with Jessica Simpson? She doesn't have an attractive face, her body shaping is... odd, not sexy. Oh, and I am supposed to know her because of her singing career? Or worthless so-called reality TV? As far as I'm concerned, the 15-minute parking fame meter has expired and is blinking VIOLATION over and over again. And if I were a real Southerner, rather than a Yankee import who just graduated from high school in North Carolina, I'd be offended by the fake backwoods accents. On the other hand, Marvel's Fantastic 4 still looks to be good.
A History of Violence stars Viggo Mortensen as a man who runs a small down diner, kicks into overdrive in an impossible situation, and then is pursued by a bunch of other rotten people starting with a disfigured Ed Harris as someone else. Poor Viggo. I'm assuming that for once the trailer doesn't include too much and we get some nuance and twists after all this. And I don't remember what it shall be called, but there's a movie with Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz and Shirley Maclaine -- good daughter, bad daughter and grandmother, respectively. Both of these films have such fine casts, that I don't really care who's doing what to whom, or whether they're just reading the phone book aloud, we'll consider seeing them.
More Star Wars
We've now been through the Special Edition DVD versions of "the first two" Star Wars movies -- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back -- since seeing the "end" of the "series". My wife wanted something fun, which didn't involve thinking, and this fit the bill nicely. Sure there are plot twists and all, but we've seen Empire and we know what's expected. And it still satisfies. In some ways, it holds up better with viewing in 2005 than the first Star Wars -- and the special additions of the Special Edition are much less intrusive. And by God there's decent repartee and dialogue and quips and smirks going on here. "Ooh, it's just like kissing your brother!" Ah, the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 commentary potential doesn't even detract from the fun. And we anticipate many of the great lines, because they bothered to write some memorable lines for release a quarter of a century ago. George, take a memo: digital filming does not solve all the sins of a movie.
It Irks Me
Much has been made of product placement in movies and television, but I have a bad feeling about something I saw Saturday evening. Before we put The Empire Strikes Back in the DVD player, we had part of the Brosnan/Russo remake of The Thomas Crown Affair rattling on in the background -- NBC or someone had it. Part of Rene Russo's character's schtick seems to be everytime she shows up at the police station, she's drinking something else. First it was some horrible green algae lumpy liquid (for recovering from jet lag), then coffee, then a "soda". I say a "soda", because there's this close-up shot, the can is centered, but it took several seconds of not really paying attention to consider that the silvery can wasn't blank, but that the Pepsi label had been washed out to near transparency.
I was thinking, what a copout, like seeing Nikon cameras with either the Nikon name blacked out or changed to something non-existent. But a few seconds later, in a more pulled-back shot, the perfectly normal strong red and blue colors of a Pepsi can were visible.
Okay, now I don't remember how it went on the big screen and I haven't seen this on DVD, so I cannot say whether the original film was like this or not. But I have a bad feeling this is all due to the excesses of product placement. (1) Pepsi didn't cough up the cash for the movie, so the studio watered down the label either as a prop or in post-production. (2) Pepsi did pay for product placement, (2a) but only for the movie. Either they didn't pay for the DVD or TV broadcast rights, or (3) the network showing it has an agreement with someone else.
Who cares? Well obviously businesses care. And Hollywood moguls care. But where I get bent out of the shape is continuity and accuracy. Not only is there a continuity error as to whether the label is visible or not, as seen on my TV Saturday night, but I am not aware of any nearly invisible Pepsi labels being sold in the US any time recently.
There are people who will complain if the wrong number of buttons shows up on a military uniform. Or the wrong model/sub-model of Pontiac GTO in some movie of a particular date. Or electric lights in an 1820 setting. And heaven help you if the number of shots fired from a particular firearm doesn't match its actual capacity. So why do we put with the crap of Fake Airlines, Fake Brands of beer/cereal/whatever, Masked Brand Logos or those corny "555" telephone numbers? Okay, I know the answer to the last one: BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS and ALWAYS WANT TO RUIN A GOOD THING AND MAKE NICE PEOPLE GO INSANE. (grin)
But do "they" think that we wouldn't notice the Case of the Disappearing Pepsi Can Label? No, it's about brands and money, so they don't care. Well, they should. Because it hurts any kind of a story, be it short story, book, movie, play, television show, etc., to be "thrown out of the story", because your brain is processing nonsense rather than the story.
Makes me peeved.
The strawberries are starting to come in. I can smell some of them being cut up right at this very moment. The West Michigan farms produce lots of nice things, including some really fine asparagus and sweet corn. But the two premiere items are the strawberries and the peaches. Specifically, the Red Haven peaches. When they come in later in the summer, I'll rhapsodize about them. For now, it's time to enjoy the strawbs... (grin)