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Bottle Rocket (1996)
debut full of charm from the experts in subtle comedy
While "Bottle Rocket" is certainly best categorised as comedy this might mislead those expecting the typical composition of one-liners, facetious mocking and exaggerated situational comic of mainstream Hollywood productions.
Instead the humour derives from the quirky, yet lovable characters, their perspective on life and approach in dealing with the challenges of society.
The quiet matter-of-fact absurdity present throughout the film will evoke a constant smile rather than burst-out-laughter. This is typical of all Wilson/Anderson collaborations (Rushmore, The Royal Tenebaums) where strong characterisation enables the viewer to develop understanding and affection for the protagonists as the story slowly unravels. In "Bottle Rocket" this is supported by strong performances, especially that of Owen Wilson, who proves his actor potential in an atypical role.
Though not flawless, (there is a lack of narrative urgency at times), this movie leaves the viewer ultimately entertained and charmed.
National Treasure (2004)
celluloid fast food with little nutrition value
Bruckheimer does what Bruckheimer does best: a B.L.A.M. , a bloody load American movie.
Without the slightest touch of subtlety this movie tries to combine the box office proved ingredients of the "Indiana Jones" movies with a "mission impossible" inspired action plot...and who mentioned conspiracy theories a la "da Vinci code"?
The plot is impatient, frustratingly predictable and simply boring that one will tiredly find oneself looking at the watch as the story fails to surprise or even interest its viewers.
Two hours that are better spend in an museum learning actual history!
a reference to bad film making
"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away"...
...succintly verbalizes where the mindset of George Lucas must have resided whilst producing this mess. How else could one possibly explain the atrocious scriptwriting and direction?
In fact, I predict that in the future this movie will be exploited in film academies as a reference to bad film making, such is the quantity and severity of its errors.
Most importantly, while the previous Star Wars installments managed to strike a balance in their plot to appeal to both adults and children "The phantom menace" falls flat on its face. Children will struggle to follow the irksome political threads of the story while adults will furthermore be put off by the employment of childish slapstick and humor.
Then there are the characters...or better the lack of such. The wooden acting, the robotic dialogs, all these contribute to the fact that the viewer ultimately cannot sympathize with the characters and hence never really feels engaged in the weak plot. And then there is that angle faced "Dennis the menace" Anakin. His entrance into the story marks the precise point at which the movie becomes a bit of a farce. Especially his supposed abilities in building complex machinery such as A.I. enabled robots is an absurd idea. His fatherless conception represents an overly bold and senseless reference to Christian religion which will make some people laugh out loud, others feel rather uncomfortable.
What remains are some spectacular CGI battle scenes (some of which are a little cartoonish) some nicely choreographed laser sword fighting and the soundtrack by the rarely disappointing John Williams.
However, all in all a real turkey, and not just because of all the hype!
Shrek 2 (2004)
mockingly referencing is not story telling
Essentially this movie tries to follow the success recipe of its pre-decessor by mocking the "disney-clean" world of fairy tales while winking at American culture where possible.
However, while in "Shrek" everything was kept together by a dominant storyline "Shrek 2" seems to just paddle along somehow with no sense of direction. Often one gains the sensation that the story is being improvised as the plot crawls on even finding itself in dead ends (the journey to "the land of far far away" summarizes the experience of focusing on the plot to some extend).
Worse even, this movie merely repeats the moral message of its predecessor ("love goes deeper than the layer of appearance") instead of finding any kind of moral spine of its own.
Intermittently entertaining, mostly boring, overall disappointing.