What I’d Watch 4/27/12
April 27, 2012 Leave a comment
If I’m going to be completely faithful to the title of this little series, what I’d watch would be me somehow trying to get to one of the foreign countries that inexplicably got The Avengers before we did. The film has hit pretty much the entire United Nations over the last three days, and yet the U.S. gets to sit back and say, “Hey, let me know how it is,” while we wait another week for its domestic release. I’m not trying to be all America Über Alles here, but why not let us in on the fun along with everyone else? We don’t have to be first, but dammit, why are we last? Especially when we have such lackluster offerings this week.
Remember when the lives of historical figures were interesting enough on their own without having to turn them into secret super-heroes who did much more exciting things than just governing a country or writing enduring works of literature? Nowadays, Einstein was actually an alchemical wizard trying to find a formula to banish demons, Davy Crockett was a frontier monster hunter, and I should probably stop before someone steals these ideas before I can make a fortune with them. So along comes The Raven, which casts John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe as a detective tracking down a serial killer using his works as inspiration. Maybe not quite a super-hero, but definitely reminiscent of Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club, if Dante had been around helping to solve the murders. In fact, Pearl also wrote a book about Poe, The Poe Shadow, so maybe he should sit down and have a little talk with Cusack and company.
Jason Statham was born about twenty years too late. In the testosterone-fueled 80s, he’d have been the king of the world. Today, he’s stuck in lower-tier action films that seem to inevitably cast him as the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time around, he’s not cranking or transporting, he’s protecting a little Chinese girl from pretty much every criminal organization in New York City in Safe. At this point, it feels like you’d need that many bad guys to believably threaten Statham, but his biggest enemy here might be director Boaz Yakin, who’s coming off the decidedly un-Statham-esque Prince of Persia movie. Then again, Statham was in that awful Dungeon Siege movie, so maybe he got what he deserved this time around.
I guess it pays being friends with Judd Apatow, as Nicholas Stoller has a nice little career going thanks to his stint on Apatow’s criminally short-lived comedy Undeclared. With Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek under his belt, he’s back with The Five-Year Engagement, starring Stoller’s Muppet buddy Jason Segel and my frequent immoral though buddy Emily Blunt. Personally, if it meant ending up married to her, I’d easily put up with a five-year engagement, so I may not be all that sympathetic to this film’s plight. But it’s got a good pedigree and surprisingly good notices from my usual online sources who don’t suck, so this could be a pleasant surprise.
But this week, I’m indulging my Aardman mania. Although I never did get around to seeing Arthur Christmas and only sort of liked Flushed Away, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit are absolute classics. Now they want to give me pirates? Sign me up. Chicken Run director Peter Lord is back in charge for The Pirates! Band of Misfits, which seems like the perfect vehicle for Aardman’s unique brands of animation and humor. They’ve gone back to their traditional stop-motion technique after employing CGI on their last two films, and that stuttering charm is really a big part of Aardman’s success. Sure, CGI is a great tool, but there’s something about knowing you’re watching tiny little models that were painstaking manipulated by hand. We expect CGI to be able to do what it does, but it’s still a marvel what can be done by moving something one frame at a time. Throw in a voice cast to die for and this will nicely fill the void left until that globe-trotting Avengers film decided to finally settle down.