Friday, July 11, 2008

WANTED Has Too Much That Isn’t

Written by Hombre Divertido

Wanted (2008) does have Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, cool special effects, a pounding soundtrack, and at points, a frenetic pace, yet still manages to be boring and predictable.

James McAvoy plays Wesley, a cubicle-dwelling loser, who is recruited by Fox (Jolie) to join The Fraternity, a group of assassins run by Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Wesley is told that his father, who abandoned him as a child, was a recently killed legendary member of the Fraternity. Wesley is to be trained to follow in his father’s footsteps and eventually enact revenge on his father’s killer. Said training takes up a ridiculous amount of the movie, as does the miraculous healing process that the injured go through by being glazed like a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Wesley eventually gets on board in a motivation switch that is as muddled as the rest of the script. Though most of this is bad, it fails in comparison to the absurdity that is the ending to the clunker.

Why Jolie and Freeman chose this project is a huge question, but their performances are satisfactory, as is that of McAvoy. It is the script (written by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan, based on the comic books by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones) that is the disappointment here, as even the romance between Wesley and Fox that is alluded to in the trailers never materializes.

Director Timur Bekmambetov does his best to make this script exciting, and the special effects are some of the best of the summer thus far (except for the sequence at the end with the rats), but the audience will see every turn coming long before it approaches.

Recommendation: Skip it. It may appeal to the fans of the comic books, but unfortunately it’s far too bloody for anyone that age, and too dumb for anyone older.

GET SMART Needs To Get Funnier

Written by Hombre Divertido

This is just a movie that does not know what it wants to be. It’s almost as if writers Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember wrote a movie about spies, and then tried to turn it into Get Smart by putting Steve Carell in the lead, adding some comedic gags, and references to the original series.

It’s also questionable to whom this movie will appeal. Fans of the original series will find themselves waiting eagerly for references to the original series such as the soundtrack and the key phrases that end up being poorly executed. Most fans will find more laughs in one episode of the 1965-1970 series. Fans of Steve Carell may enjoy his adequate performance in what is more of an action movie with a little comedy…and actually, only a little action.

Carell plays Maxwell Smart, an all-star analyst for CONTROL who longs to be an agent like the suave Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson). After KAOS attacks and eliminates many of the agents, Max is promoted and partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).

What is missing here is a comedic supporting cast for Carell. In the original series, the villains added a lot of comedy to the show. Not so here, as Terence Stamp takes over for Bernie Kopell (who makes a cameo) as the evil Siegfried. The rest of the cast fails to deliver any laughs with few exceptions, and Carell, who shows his physical comedic chops while using his Swiss Army crossbow in an airplane bathroom, is simply not given enough material to work with.

The film may be cute enough to carry some from gag to gag, a fun cameo by Bill Murray, and brief comedic moments by Carell, but the lack of an overall good story, tiring deadpan delivery by the usually reliable Alan Arkin as the chief, and the weak reference to the original series will not be enough to carry most through this 111-minute outing.

Original Get Smart creators and legendary comedy minds Mel Brooks and Buck Henry are listed as consultants, but their contributions are certainly not obvious.

The appearance of Patrick Warburton as Hymie near the end of the film certainly could be an indication of plans for a sequel. Hopefully the writers will get smart and make it more like the television series

Recommendation: With the huge comedic disappointments of Adam Sandler's Zohan, and Mike Myers' Love Guru, there is not much else out there for those in need of some laughs, and this does have some laughs, but it is a small drink in the midst of a severe drought. Catching this one on DVD, and hoping for some laughs from Will Farrell in a few weeks may better serve the parched.