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Friday, December 27, 2013

Jack Frost:1998

Release date: December 11, 1998 (USA)
Director: Troy Miller
MPAA rating: PG
Music composed by: Trevor Rabin
Budget: 85 million USD

   Oh, Michael Keaton! I can't really put my finger on you. What with your strange mixture of "laid back/don't give a crap" type attitude mixed with your sudden spurts of insanity. I just...well, I just don't know. I also don't know how his acting is going to fare against the whole, "suburban hailing, musically talented but too caught up in his work to spend time with his son, snowman embodying, death defying character he was cast to play, in the film, "Jack Frost" playing a character named, "Jack Frost" and a terribly frightening, terribly unoriginal, Frosty The Snowman...sweet Jesus...This is "Jack Frost".

   And may I address this title misconception? When you name a movie, "Jack Frost" there really should be JACK FROST SOMEWHERE between the opening and closing credits! Y'know...Old Man Winter? That's who he is, right? Like, I'm not going crazy...there is a difference between Jack Flipping Frost, and Frosty the Flipping Snowman!  "But Albert! The movie is called "Jack Frost" because Michael Keaton plays a man named "Jack Frost". Yeah, I know that...why's his name gotta be so stupid?! Uuuugggg...It's a kids movie, Albert...just calm down...


   "Jack Frost" is about father figure and musician Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) and his efforts, or lack there of, to get closer to his son, Charlie (Joseph Cross). Long story short Jack dies and he's reincarnated into a snowman that Charlie had made in his image so that he could make up being such a crappy father figure to his son. That last part is where this film gets a little shaky. Keaton's character doesn't really become a better...anything. Although I guess you could say that just him spending time with his son is enough, but he never cleans up his act, or becomes a different person. Throughout his appearances as a snowman (and we'll get to that) he talks to charlie and teaches him things about hockey, but I always thought that him turning into a snowman was supposed to be symbolic, like it would come to be a visualization of his character arch and transformation into a better human being. Otherwise what was the point of him turning into a snowman? The budget for the film was something like eighty-five million! What was supposed to happen? Nothing happens! Michael Keaton talks to himself and makes jokes about balls! I don't get it! Maybe I'm looking too deeply into this film...but that's what happens man...

  The actors in "Jack Frost" are fine. There's nothing terribly wrong with any of them...accept for Michael Keaton. I love the guy, I really do. But he just doesn't fit in. 
I mean, his style (which I've already mentioned) worked well in "Batman" and it worked well in "Beetle Juice" but if you were to venture too far away from Tim Burton and still give a somewhat similar performance, it's not going to match up.

   Now lets talk about the snowman. Dear lord. Alright, so the majority of the film revolves around the snowman and how many snow related puns Keaton can conjure up. A major scene is when Charlie and Snowman Jack get into a huge snowball fight with a rival gang that had picked on Charlie in the past. The fight transitions to a chase scene between the gang and them as they attempt to escape via sled and ski's. This scene drags on for quite some time and even though it was meant for the audience to see that Charlie and his father are getting closer, we are forced to look away from this idea and more towards the crazy cg antics happening on screen. Although there are other bonding moments, as scarce as they are scattered throughout the film. And that's what perplexes me the most. There are too little of these moments to make up for the amount of neglect Jack had shown Charlie in the past.

   For example, the first half of the film is dedicated to not one but TWO "make the date complexes". You know the kind! The type of plot in every single kid friendly sports film. The father promises to come to his son or daughter's game, but when the time comes he gets tied up at the last moment either with a problem or a solution to his problem. It happens every time and every time it happens I can't stand it! And just when you think the movie's through with classic but tired movie cliche's THEY GO AND DO IT AGAIN! Goodbye, "make the date complex" hello "hide the stranger"! Oh, don't act like you don't know what I mean! It started with "E.T" and ever since KABBLLAMM! Close to every kid movie with an alien thrown in is guilty of falling prey to the "hide the stranger" trope. Where the kid finds the (insert object here) but mom and dad can't find out so he/she has to hide it. they're old, they're gimmicky, and they're just a downright disgrace to the film industry. Just...please be original with your thoughts, writers. On behalf of all cinephiles, I beg of you. No more cliche's.

This movie could have been good. Heck, It may have been pretty funny if they took out every shortcut, every punchline, everything stupid! But no. They managed to make a movie about a talking, moving, hockey-playing snowman...dull. How do you do that? You get the wrong actor to play your lead, you write some bad puns, you cut some corners, you focus more on the comedy what could have otherwise been a pretty decent drama, and you name your movie..."JACK FROST"! ...Sigh...So many things weighed this movie down. So many things! And I really want to be able to look beyond that, and say, "Well, the CG was pretty okay, and they don't over complicate the magic wish that went into creating a talking snowman, and I guess by the end of the film it's pretty heartwarming to think that this once jerk of a father has made amends with his son." But that would give me something to think about, and I hate thinking. After all, I am a film critic. 

   ...wait...what'd this movie have to do about Christmas? I still have to do a Christmas movie review? I don't think I do. I mean, it's "Jack Frost"! There's snow, and it kind of ends on Christmas. At least I think it does...Oh, well. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, and happy holidays! Until next time. 


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Review: Her 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Predator: 1987

Release date: June 12, 1987 (USA)
Director: John McTiernan
Sequel: Predator 2
MPAA rating: R
Screenplay: Jim Thomas, John Thomas

   There are a couple Schwarzenegger movies that I would put above all else. Running Man, The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Commando, Total Recall...Heck, I could keep going forever! It really is difficult when trying to choose a favorite among so many grade-A action titles.  Not many of his films have much in common with one another, besides the fact that most revolve around him, his imperviousness to bullets, and ability to throw one liners faster than you can get to the chopper. John McTiernan's "Predator" is no exception in this case. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, an ex-commando dropped into the wild and forced to pit himself against an extra-terrestrial, heat visioned, tactical assassin! This is gonna be awesome.
   "Predator"! The classic tale of a muscle bound solider and his friends fighting for their lives against a cloaked...well...predator. To get an idea of how the film plays out, just picture any Friday the 13th film, add a jungle and much better direction, and preheat the oven to fully bake what would otherwise become known as a half baked movie trope. It really does follow this pattern of masked killer/body-count/assassin flick though. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, I find those movies quite entertaining. However, with the system being recycled so many times one tends to find the same premise rather boring IF all other elements surrounding the system are ALSO stale. This fortunately is not the case. "Predator" stays entertaining until the very end because it attempted to a very interesting combination of two genres of film: action and horror.
   It's great fun when you have two genres that work together so well! James Cameron attempted this in "Aliens", venturing far away from its predecessor and adding a whole new level of craft that continues to amaze me to this day. But I could talk for hours about the "Alien" franchise and I intend to do so...but that will be for another time. Bottom line, "Predator" is able to work on multiple levels, entertaining not only the horror fans with the predator's scary looking face and freaky sounding alien noises, but also the action fans with the great utilization of characters adding suspense, guns, bullets, and most important of all, explosions. 
  But the reason that I like "Predator" the most is because it's an entertaining film. It's really fun to watch, and if you've seen any Shwarzenegger film you should know what to expect. I understand that I have neglected to address any negative aspects about the film, but I have to explain something before I do. You either will like it or you won't. What I mean is, with a movie like "Predator" you have to judge it differently than you might judge "Chinatown" or "Terminator 2". "Predator" is something that shouldn't be taken too seriously, like most Shwarzenegger films. And I am in no way trying to suggest that movies like this are a novelty or expendable or anything like that. It's very good, and besides the dated special effects, I'd say it's pretty @#!*% good! In fact, that may be my only gripe with this film. I suppose the way the predator looks, the cloaking device, the cheesy acting and dialogue are getting in the way of me being able to rate it higher than I want it to. But I don't want that to be the case. Wanna know why? Because That's Why I Like It! 


Watch The Trailer Here
Next Review: Jack Frost 1998