A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

June 13, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

The Happening

Your Office Plant Hates You

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis
: A paranoid thriller about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity.

: A lot of people like to hate on M. Night Shayamalan. So much so, that it's become a competitive sport of sorts. In fact, I have it on good word that it will be added to the 2012 Olympics. He has been called, among other things, a megalomaniac, hack, shyster, fraud, vegetarian, virgin, crybaby, charlatan, destroyer of childhood innocence, impostor, peddler of filth, and most recently, Catholic. I'm not necessarily one of those haters. I quite enjoyed The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. The Village had it's moments, but ultimately disappointed. Like most sensible adults, I avoided Lady in the Water.

Now comes what is being touted as his "first R rated movie". Ooooohhhh. The premise is promising enough. People start killing themselves in Central Park for no apparent reason, forcing an evacuation of New York City. One of these evacuees is high school science teacher Marky Mark, who along with his his funky bunch, which includes the wide-eyed Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and a strangely mute little girl, pack up their Calvin Kleins and hop aboard a train to get the hell out of dodge.

The first 10 minutes of the movie are pretty creepy and led me to believe that perhaps a return to form was at hand for reviled Mr. Shayamalan. Alas, like a unscrupulous used car salesman, he took my money with the promise of 'ice cold A/C and mostly highway miles' and sold me a lemon with faulty breaks and a dead body in the trunk.

It's hard to go any further without giving away *spoilers, but suffice it to say, the reason for all these events is pretty ludicrous, although it would probably bring a smile to Al Gore's wooden face. It's revealed within the first 20 minutes of the movie what the culprit is, and if you have trouble buying into the fact that your shrubs want you dead, you might have trouble with buying into the rest of the movie. Even then, if you just go with the whole 'nature vs. man' premise, there are enough unforgivable sins here to rank this among the worst movies ever put to celluloid.

The acting is wooden and stiff. Marky Mark, you're on notice. Stick to playing detectives and Boston tough guys. Cliches are abundant, the foreshadowing is painfully obvious, and the dialogue is some of the most unintentionally funny stuff you'll ever hear. (We learn that 'hotdogs get a bad rap and have a cool shape.') Characters are eccentric and weird for no apparent reason and the film constantly contradicts itself. All that, and it doesn't even succeed in conjuring up some cheap scares. Logic and science be damned, this movie just doesn't make any sense.

Really, this movie must be seen to be believed, and might be able to enjoyed on some perverse level, knowing that you're seeing what will surely go down as an unparalleled cinematic disaster. It's like watching grass grow, and I don't mean that as an analogy. In this movie, grass really does play a key role. Uh huh. Consider this a companion piece to those straight-to-video Christan movies about the Apocalypse starring Kirk Cameron.

It's like that site Garfield Without Garfield, where they take Garfield out of the comic strip, making Jon into a neurotic nut job. In that same vein, imagine War of Worlds if you took out all the aliens, things blowing up and any action whatsoever. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Happening.

Thunder Matt Rating: 1 Haley Joel Osment Out of 5

Crap, there goes my career.

The Incredible Hulk

Gives 'Going Green' a Whole Different Meaning

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: Fugitive Dr. Bruce Banner must utilize the genetic accident that transforms him into a giant, rampaging hulk to stop a former soldier that purposely becomes an even more dangerous version.

Review: Here's a peek into the life of a young Chaim Witz. As a young lad, I was a big fan of The Incredible Hulk television show. That said, every time Bruce Banner would turn into The Hulk (aka Lou Ferigno) I would cower behind our couch in sheer terror. Pants were peed, reputations ruined. Later on in life, Fergino played himself on a reoccurring role on the show King of Queens. Again, every time he came on screen, I would hide behind the couch, curling up nude in the fetal position, praying for death to come quickly.

Thus, it was with much relief that I learned that Edward Norton would be starring in the latest big screen version and that The Hulk would be played by none other than that vaunted thespian, CGI. At least I wouldn't have to wear an adult diaper to the theatre. Having never seen the first, tepidly-received Hulk movie (I make it a point to only see Ang Lee movies that have gay cowboys), I have no real basis of comparison, but I hear that one was heavy on the psychology and light on the action. That formula has been scrapped here, with more action and less talky-talky. Hulk angry! Hulk smash!

Edward Norton is solid as always (like a juicy ribeye), and Liv Tyler is passable as the obligatory love interest/damsel in distress. There's a cool, Bourne-like chase scene across Brazilian rooftops, and the CGI in this one, although still clearly a bit fakey, looks much better than what I saw of the last incarnation, which almost looked like animation mixed with live action.

This is meat and potatoes, popcorn movie filmmaking, and it's done well. The pacing is fast and there a plenty of homages to the comic book and series, including purple pants, a clever sighting of the late Bill Bixby and even the classic 'sad guy walking' music from the series. And lest I forget, there is a Lou Ferigno cameo. I wish I would have known that going in, as I soiled a perfectly good pair of knickers.

Consider this Iron Man Lite.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3.5 Anger Management Classes Out of 5

Outback just told Tommy Buzanis they are out of steak sauce.

Lightning Round

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Dull, I Mean 'Skull': I watched a couple of the old ones to get ready for this latest incarnation, or should I say abomination? Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is not. This is more on par with the weak link, Temple of Doom. You can almost see the green screen during the action scenes. Uninspired and underwhelming, it lacks the sense of fun and adventure that made the other ones classic. It's like watching your favorite band get together well past their prime. The stage show is there, but they forgot how to play their instruments. Even my parents didn't like this one and they're easily amused enough to have enjoyed Wild Hogs. 2.5 Stars

Sex and the City: The Movie: Well this confirms my sexuality doesn't it? At nearly 2.5 hours, this is the Lord of the Rings of chick flicks. And that's regarding length, not quality. Both materialism and cougars run rampant. If you've seen the TV show, you know what to expect. Lots of talk about shoes, fashion, sex and finding love. If that last sentence made you nauseous, you should probably sneak out and watch Iron Man instead, while your wife giggles at the penises on screen. 2.5 Stars