Saturday, August 30, 2008

Babylon A.D.

is a train wreck of a movie that suffers from a failure to commit to its basic identity.

It starts interestingly enough, with Vin Diesel mumbling his way across an Eastern European-looking, burned-out landscape full of guns and bad men; he's the baddest of all, of course. He speaks in English, they speak in Czech (I think it's Czech), and though that's cheap it's also kind of cool.

Then Gerard Depardieu, who looks like he's one drink from an alcholol-induced death, shows up and recruits Big Vin. Depardieu, once hailed as one of France's best actors, must be incredibly hard up for a paycheck.

Charlotte Rampling sort of shows up as well, and she, too, looks terrible, as if someone had unearthed her dead body, covered it in white make-up, and animated it. That's not entirely a bad thing, mind you; they just should have gone for it more, maybe made her a zombie.

Anyway, off we go on the mission, which includes quasi cage fighting, quasi parkour, quasi logic, quasi--you get the picture. The mission does at least follow a reasonable arc of increasing tension--until it doesn't. At that point, the movie falls apart, and the train wreck mutates from being interesting in that I-can't-believe-I'm-watching-this kind of way to being simply another disaster.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the movie experience came during the credits. We were in a lovely theater with a capacity for 287 people. A whopping 36 diehard fans started the movie. Only 34 finished it. Most people fled as soon as the credits rolled, but we and a pair of guys stayed to see the bitter end. The usher entered. He asked what they thought of the movie. They said it was stupid. The usher said no movie was stupid. We then were witness to an argument about film quality and film theory among three young men who had sniffed way, way, way too much glue in their teen years while watching those formative Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Wow.

In vaguely related news, I'm becoming a big fan of io9's Meredith Woerner, because any woman who can write a movie preview with this line

"Crank 2 is one of those ratshit insane movies that makes me proud to be alive."

is someone I want to know. Check out that preview. If you're like me, you'll need to be at the theater for Crank 2 on opening night.

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