Pineapple Express

In the midst of all the blockbuster insanity, Pineapple Express is a nutty comic desert on the tail end of an incredible summer of movies.

There's not much to say, tho if you enjoy the Apatow brand of humor filtered through Seth Rogan's, um, "Seth Roganness," you'll likely enjoy this flick. There's also action on par with your star-fueled buddy cop movie. So much so that I can't tell if Pineapple Express is a comedy wrapped in an action movie or an action movie wrapped in a comedy. That may not make a lot of sense, but the movie really doesn't either. That's why it's fun, you're just along for the ride. And by the end you'll probably want a joint or a bong hit, that is if you weren't already lit on the way in.

I really have to commend the film's mindbogglingly strong pro-marijuana agenda, it's mildly surprising such a film could be made and offered in such wide release. Add on a strong box office showing and its a wonder how any anti-pot crusaders could still be taken seriously. Obviously Pineapple Express is a caricature, but outside of itself it goes a bit towards highlighting what a ridiculous waste of resources are focused on busting up such a harmless pastime. I doubt it has any political leanings as such, at the end of the day Pineapple Express is a harmless (and very funny) pastime of its own.*

*See also: Weeds, which continues to be one of the best shows on television.



Ug. Wanted is one of those movies that makes you want your money back in return for the time you had to spend sitting through it.

Thing is, I put off seeing it, then I kept hearing how cool it was so I thought I'd check it out. I heard it compared to Fight Club and The Matrix. Hell, no. It is not remotely close to the clever, de-saturated nihilism of Fight Club and leagues behind what made The Matrix the stylized, FX revolution of its time. As a film it can't even be casually grouped into the visually "cool" as far as I'm concerned, I don't think there was one memorable sequence that stands out as unique or inspired. By the end of the movie things devolve into the absurd and any hope of buying into its fantasy universe is long gone. Perhaps viewers who hail Wanted as something enjoyable just haven't seen enough good movies.

Originally all I knew of Wanted was its comic book origins, but as far as I can tell the only thing the movie has in connection to the comics are a few of the names of the main characters. I had thought even the base premise of the comic would bee good fodder for a summer movie, but sorry, no. It's like the produces actually went out of their way to take out the most interesting concepts of the comic and throw together their idea of a "high octane action film," thinking one or two visual gimmicks could see them through. And I hate to break it to you, but mid-air bullet-on-bullet action played it self out in the early 90's via Hong Kong gangster cinema. I'm trying to recall the first time I saw opposing trajectory bullets collide... Was it Gun and Rose? Well it was cool then, and it could no doubt be cool again but Wanted was not able to join the ranks of cinematic gun fu.

Brought into the ring of all that's been offered this summer, Wanted does not play.


Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

I DID catch Hellboy 2 when it opened and enjoyed it alot. It went in some different directions than the comic mega movies that surrounded it, but that's what made it refreshing. The Hellboy movies in my opinion are only loosely based on the comics, pulling the core concepts and characters into the theatrical realm. But how that's done is something we rarely get to see.

Guillermo Del Toro is a cinematic visionary-- but I don't say that in the way of some overused adulation. I mean it literally, where here is a man who has a specific vision for what he wants to put on film and executes it beautifully. By doing so he begins to create his own version of the Hellboy mythos, not that what Mignola has done in book form could ever really be replicated in another medium. There are so many great things to watch on screen, and it comes in a steady stream of the bizarre and fantastic. And what's so great about it all is that it filled me with the thoughts of all the great fantasy movies they don't seem to make anymore. Labyrinth, Legend, Dark Crystal, Hawk the Slayer, Willow, Neverending Story, Baron Munchausen, Time Bandits (all from the 80's coincidentally, I bet there's some sort of scocio-economic connection there). Hellboy 2 is packed solid, with virtually no wasted space. The shots are wide and long when they should be, then close and personal to bring it home. Everything from the costumes to the creatures to the sets is pure eye candy.

Prior to this Del Toro brought us Pan's Labyrinth, which is also an amazing looking film, but it's matched there by dread and bleakness. Hellboy 2 is fun and lively wrapped around moments of thought and pathos, and at times sheer wackiness. Yea... I probably could have done without the Barry Manilow, but in the end that is just part of the oddity of it all. The story behind resurrecting the Golden Army is solid and awesome to watch come to fruition. The action sequences are balls-out, something I wasn't expecting at all. The last fight scene between Prince Nuada and Hellboy is amazing to watch, I hadn't felt that sense of unexpected, wide-eyed awe of a duel probably since Darth Maul's showdown in Phantom Menace.

The cast brings the characters alive, clearly much more at ease in their roles since the first film. As Hellboy, Pearlman keeps his wit and aplomb balanced keenly with an outsider's self consciousness and need to be accepted. I was also happy to see much more of Abe Sapien, well 'cause he's just awesome. Doug Jones even wins his own voice back this time around. Selma Blair is always someone I like to see show up, tho her character Liz definitely seemed to be short changed, waffling between shrill crow and all-around second banana. The biggest treat for me was Luke Goss' Prince Nuada, who's character I just wanted more and more of. Tho the title says otherwise, I say he was the real star of the movie.

Hellboy 2 is way better than the first in all these respects, both in story and how we see it told. I hope its success is an opening for more great fantasy movies to come.