Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Crazies - **

About forty minutes into The Crazies, the source of all the craziness is revealed to be a military cover-up gone wrong involving a secret chemical virus that was being transported to a secret government facility for destruction when the plane carrying the substance lost control and crashed into a small-town river. The river is the town's water supply and so folks that drink the water get infected and, well, they go crazy. It's a shitty explanation that was completely unnecessary, and I knew it at the time, but I was totally willing to go along with it... for a while. Why? Because the first forty minutes of the film are kind of great, especially for a genre film like this. There are two or three sequences that were really intense, making creepy use of small-town fixtures, like farm tools and little league baseball. But when the top-secret military guys come in with high-tech equipment, the craziness turns to banality, and the film rolls out the cliches. That's when characters start to do extraordinary things, like breaking into the heavily-guarded hazmat containment area just in time to save the sheriff's wife, who is tied to a bed waiting to die by the hand of the guy who is dragging the pitchfork across the floor, or when the sheriff's wife, who is pregnant, is able to beat up a guy twice her size, or when the gunshot killing the sacrificial trusty sidekick is able to be heard by the main characters a mile away for maximum dramatic effect.

Why does every film with a premise like this have to have an explanation? And sorry, but "Because it was in the original" is not an acceptable answer. Is anybody going to see The Crazies for a plot? It's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it for you: Nope. And if there really has to be an explanation for some reason, why always the half-assed government cover-up? It's boring, and it drags a film like this down, way down.

Overall it's actually a competently made genre film, but maybe that's why I don't like it. Because, for a while, it's a great genre film, but at a certain point suspension of disbelief stopped being rewarding, and I just started questioning every little thing and picking it apart, which isn't good for any film, least of all an apocalyptic horror film.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Clash of the Titans - *1/2

Nothing is as it should be in the new Clash of the Titans remake. It could have been campy and fun, but instead it has an inflated sense of self-importance, not a good quality for a film with lousy effects and no plot. The cast that has been assembled for the task of acting out this hokey trash is full of actors that are either too good for these roles, or just not fit to play them. A few, like Liam Neeson and Casino Royale villain Mads Mikkelsen manage to save some face, pulling off a few acceptable scenes, but others, like Nicolas Hoult, the chubby loser from About a Boy, is just way off, playing an army grunt who has absolutely no effect whatsoever because all I see is the gay kid in the glowing sweater and the too-white teeth from last year's A Single Man. Seriously, Narcissus could see his reflection in those teeth. It's distracting.

There are a few good things in the film; Olympus looks great, and I really dug Zeus' shiny armor and, well, I guess that's about it for the good stuff. These scenes with the gods aren't too bad, but there aren't enough of them, and Ralph Fiennes shows up in most of them as Hades, who creepily floats around, ruining what's left of them. But creepy is good, right? Umm, not really. It's not the kind of creepy that is a nuance of the performance, but the creepiness of bad make-up and poor shot-selection, like when you catch the pan-and-scan version of Mission Impossible III on TNT and there are shots where Phil Hoffman's face takes up literally the entire screen, so it just looks like an amorphous blob that can speak. Clash has a few shots with Fiennes that rival Amorphous Hoffman.

While Clash never really reaches the point where it is painful to watch, it just never wows you in any way. Like 300, the action is poorly directed, and it features a boring political sub-plot that takes place back home. The score is never epic enough to arouse any excitement whatsoever, and is pretty much a cross between generic adventure music and shit-metal. And like so many other action films that feature a giant creature, it incorporates the obligatory close-up of that creature roaring loudly into the camera. Why is this in every movie? It will never come anywhere near to being as incredible as it was in Jurassic Park, so it needs to be put-down, especially when it takes up roughly ten percent of the creature's screen-time in the film. That's right, the Kraken of "Release the Kraken!" trailer fame has about three minutes of screen-time in the actual film, most of it spent as a mess of flailing tentacles rising from the ocean. The sequence is over before it starts, and might go down as the least-impressive set-piece since the bandits' raid on the house in Home Alone 3. But I suppose an impressive ending would have upset the balance of mediocrity the film worked so hard to attain in the first 100 minutes, so maybe it works after all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

North Face - ***1/2

When it comes to films that are based on true stories, people often have a hard time distinguishing between a great story and a great film. This is why bullshit movies like The Blind Side become big hits. The 2008 German film North Face, which was just recently released in America, certainly tells an amazing story, but it took me a while to realize that it was also an incredible film. Many things are done right; director Philipp Stozl knows when to drag out tension, like when a near-frozen man is dangling from a rope twenty feet above a team of rescuers and is trying to summon the strength to untie it while his girlfriend, who has climbed up the side of the mountain so she is parallel to him, and is reaching out to him, desperately begs for him to lift his arms. The scene lasts forever and he dies at the end of it... it's awful. It's about two steps away from being a horror film, and walking out of it I felt that it unfairly manipulated viewers' expectations of what kind of film they were in for, but now I'm not so sure that it does.

The film tells the horrific story of two competing teams of mountain climbers who hope to be the first to ascend the north face of the Eiger Mountain. Louise, a newspaper reporter hoping to get her first by-line, convinces her lover Toni and his partner Andi to make an attempt. About a day's climb from the top, one of their competitors breaks a leg and they decide to help him back down, instead of leaving him to die. In the process all of the men die, while Louise looks on from below, hoping to see Toni again.

Not knowing the story going in, I wrestled with how I felt about this radical turn of events. I think that people, myself included, get caught up in rooting for characters in films and are easily swept up in heroism and incredible acts of strength and will power. In North Face, this caused me to lose sight of who the film is really about, which is Louise, who anxiously awaits Toni's return from a four-star hotel, while listening to her reporting partner expound on how a rescue wouldn't make for a good story, but men dying in the attempt would be front-page news. I should have known earlier that this wasn't going to end well, because with any other outcome cutting between brutal mountain blizzards and cozy hotel fires wouldn't work, but here it's effective. As you lose more and more hope for the cause, Louise's patience only heightens the suspense of the descent in a way that even the amazing score, which beautifully blends in what sounds like a hammer hitting rock, cannot. The film has some faults, sure, but the sheer unrelentingly brutal experience of watching it is enough to overwhelm just about anything.

Creation - 1/2*

I'm not sure if it is intentional or not, but Creation succeeds in doing what most biopics, or film adaptations in general, cannot: it makes you forget the source material and focus on what is actually on the screen. In this case, you forget that this is a movie about Charles Darwin and focus on the fucking idiot portrayed on-screen. I guess it's probably unintentional.

The makers of the film seem to think that viewers need a background on who Charles Darwin is, so the opening text reads something like, "The arguments put forth in Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species are among the most important ideas in the history of thought." I believe that anyone who wasn't aware of Charles Darwin before the film would think that statement is a lie, because Darwin the character never says or does anything intelligent in the film, or anything very interesting either.

The opening text continues with, "This is the story of how he wrote it," which is misleading, to say the least. One would think that that statement means that the film will be about how Darwin the man came up with his ideas-- what he observed or what experiments he used to test his theories. But what you get is Darwin the character brooding over his dead daughter and his cold, distant wife. When it opens he has already formulated his theories, but refuses to write them down, because he doesn't want to offend his wife by publishing ideas that oppose the church's teachings. The whole time I was watching it, the only thing I could think was, "Why is this a film about Charles Darwin?

The opening text should read, "This is the story of how he decided to publish it." That story involves a series of dreams or delusions or fantasies, hallucinations, whatever, who cares involving the dead daughter mixed with a series of scenes in which Darwin the character has a spiritual crisis, thinking that he would be a bad person for publishing his theories. I hope that this was a fabrication created with the hope that it would imbue a boring, nonsensical, confusing film with some drama, because why would a brilliant scientist worry that he would go to Hell for exposing belief in a lie? I don't know, and I don't think the film has the answer. The tagline for the film is "Faith evolves," but I'm not really sure what that means. I don't have any idea what the film's stance on faith is at all, but if Darwin the man is as foolish and illogical as Darwin the character, then maybe we should reconsider the theory of evolution.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Remember Me - **

Remember Me is a strange movie.

In it, we have a great coming-of-age story about a tormented college-age guy with no direction, filled with interesting characters, excellent camerawork, and, unlike last year's (500) Days of Summer, a romantic fling that doesn't feel so contrived and pedestrian. The worst part about it is that I can't really say anything more without ruining the experience for you because there is an event that takes place, a real-life event, that is so jarring when it happens because it just doesn't fit. You'd know exactly what I'm talking about if you saw it, and I don't want you to go into the movie expecting it. To solve this problem, I will simply skate around it and finish this review without ever having mentioned the actual event that I am making reference to. However, I will make several hints at it.

The film opens on a subway platform. In the background, we can see the twin towers of the World Trade Center. In the end, the main character is in an office on the 86th floor of a building in the middle of Manhattan. This all takes place on a Tuesday in the middle of September of 2001. This is where the event that I mentioned earlier occurs.

The sad fact remains that there are thousands of true stories that could have been made, some of which we've already seen (twice in 2006!), and they're probably all better than this one. We've also seen this device before, and it always leaves an awful taste in a viewer's mouth. Who wants to be tricked into seeing a movie about this? And why? Why did it have to be this event? It could have been anything else and would still have been just as "memorable", at least in his family's case.

Remember Me isn't a terrible movie, though. The first 90 minutes are engaging and showcase a very talented young actor in Pattinson. I didn't ever think I'd say that, after everything I'd heard about the Twilight series. At the very least, this movie makes me not dread seeing Eclipse so much. So, thanks for that.

But that fucking ending.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oddsac - Zero Stars

Oddsac is perhaps the only film that I have liked even less after witnessing a Q&A with the filmmakers, which is a Hell of a statement considering how awful an experience the film is on its own. What is Oddsac? It's the "visual album" by Danny Perez and experimental indie band, Animal Collective. I travelled five hours to New York City to see it, and it was, um, a bit of a let-down.

Watching Oddsac is like being trapped in a stoner's dorm room listening to him recount a dream that only means anything to him, except it goes on for about fifty minutes. Listening to a Q&A with Danny Perez about Oddsac is like listening to a first-year film student expound on the meaning of his "art." At one point he describes a scene in which a family is camping in the woods throwing roasted marshmallows around as representing "the breakdown of the 'nucular' family"... fuck off.

What music there actually is in the "visual album," which is maybe about three songs, is pretty amazing, which makes the remaining forty-two minutes that much worse, because you could be at least hearing something beautiful, but instead it is just a mess of ambient noise and static. And yeah, literally static. What a shame for a "visual album" that starts out so well, with the first sequence featuring one of the songs, and some really interesting images, including the one pictured above. But it only devolves from there, with a few intermittently interesting images. Most of all, it is non-sense, maybe unfair criticism for an extended music video, but how could I say otherwise of a visual experience that includes a seven-minute sequence of television static? And yeah, literally television static. Okay, maybe the whole seven minutes weren't television static; to be fair, about four of those minutes looked more like what you see when you listen to music with Windows Media Player, and there is no video component... you know, those color swirls and such. Not very interesting. Perez points out that there is a computer program that creates images like these, but he didn't use it; he created each one individually by hand, and it took months. Months... he's a real artist. Well, I hate to sound like my father, but Danny, maybe you should get a real job.

Green Zone - ***

There's something about Green Zone that just doesn't feel right. It follows fake characters who influence a real war, with an outcome that clearly didn't happen, which would normally be fine. But because the outcome is Matt Damon discovering the corrupt and fallacious beginning of the war and exposing it to the world, an ending with so much hope it seems that it is signaling an end to a war that clearly did not end three months after it started, it feels wrong. What you get is essentially a fantasy film told in the hyper-real Paul Greengrass "shaky-cam" style that worked so well for United 93 and the Bourne series. In Green Zone, Greengrass proves to anyone that didn't already believe that he has mastered the technique of shooting an entire film handheld; there are some outstanding chase sequences through darkened streets that rival the Bourne films. Matt Damon and a supporting cast that includes Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear are great, but the film suffers from the clash between style and substance. Had it been a straight-forward action film, or had it been released six years ago, Green Zone probably would have been great, but today it just feels... off.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - *

I'm not a fan of Tim Burton. I think he tries way too hard anymore to be "weird". I think that his "weirdness" isn't that "weird" and his films often bore me to tears. That said, he also directed one of my favorite films of all-time, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. In that last decade or so, though, his work has become stale. The same old tricks just don't work anymore. And it seems that ever since his 1999 film Sleepy Hollow he's been obsessed with using computers to achieve the look of his films. How ironic is it that this is when the quality of his films began to deteriorate?

For some reason, this isn't really the true Alice in Wonderland story. It's a sequel to nothing, essentially, as Alice has been "down the rabbithole" already. I don't really get why that was necessary, but, then again, I don't really get why the movie itself was necessary, either. After so many retellings of this story, don't we get it by now? Was the point of this movie really to improve upon the story or was it just an excuse to put Johnny Depp in the ugliest makeup I've ever seen? Did he really need to look like that? If you've seen a poster for this film, you only get an idea of how ugly he really looks, because the people in marketing scaled back the computer-generated bulging of his eyes and creepy smile that he dons throughout most of the movie. It's hideous, as is most of the movie.

I should note that the scenes which take place in the "real world" are well-shot and, for the most part, gorgeous. I can honestly say that it's some of the best cinematography in a Tim Burton film in ages and, I'll go out on a limb on this one, some of the best-looking period piece material I've seen in a few years. It is once Alice makes her descent that the film starts to look like neon diarrhea and never looks back.

Like I said, Tim Burton just tries too hard to be weird. And for what? This is a story that is already weird, and in an insurmountably greater way. His revisioning just wasn't necessary in this case, the same way it wasn't necessary when he "revisioned" Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Planet of the Apes.

By the way, the Red Queen, with the giant forehead and putrid makeup? That's Helena Bonham Carter, who just so happens to be Tim Burton's wife. Who on Earth would do that to their loved one? Then again, I think Johnny Depp is his best friend or something, so, who knows? Maybe Tim Burton's way of saying "I love you" is to make you the ugliest thing imaginable.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - *

When did children's films stop having any element of reality in them at all? When did they altogether give up on trying to challenge kids or teach them something about life and give in to this hokey, hyper-polished Hollywood universe? I'm not sure when it was, but curse that day.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid features every awkward moment that never happened to anybody, but for some reason end up in every single movie or television show about junior high. Where did the idea for a circle of kids chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!" come from? How about the one where the kid goes to a new school where there is a rigid social hierarchy that is so hard to break into that he has to sit on the floor at lunch next to the trash cans so asshole kids can miss the can and their uneaten food can land comically on New Kid's head? And who designed the cafeteria that doesn't have enough chairs for all of the students? What a dickhead. The most surprising thing about this film is that New Kid never shows up to school with no pants on, though that may be because there are already one-too-many shots of kids sitting on toilets with their pants down. It's weird, though it is the only thing in the film that actually happens in junior high.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

She's Out of My League - ***

I thought about writing a one-line review for this movie. I think it would have looked something like this: "Surprisingly not terrible". And let's face it, folks. That's exactly what this movie is. It has everything going against it, but in the end, it somehow works.

In a world filled with unfunny movies, this one made me laugh. I can't say anything else about it. The story is crap, it isn't particularly well-shot, it is filled with those perfunctory scenes of bros just hanging around and talking about stuff, the women exist for the sole purpose of being lust after by unattractive men, it is based on a premise that is so full of shit that only some of the characters have to abide by it (this being the points system for relationships), at least two-thirds of the punchlines are dick-related, there is more than one scene involving hockey, and there is a Pepsi can in every shot.

It shouldn't work, but it does. Bravo.

Cop Out - **1/2

The first scene of Kevin Smith's Cop Out is fantastic. It's cliche, sure, but it's done so very well and involves a frantic Tracy Morgan yelling and screaming bits of dialogue from every shoot-em-up action movie of the last two or so decades, while a somber Bruce Willis looks on and notes the films these lines came from. There's even a somewhat "meta" moment when Morgan hollers a line from Willis' Die Hard, to which Willis claims he "hasn't seen that one". Like I said, it's nowhere near original, but it's cute and it works and really, how could it fail? You've got action star Willis, funnyman Morgan, and director Smith who is known as a pop culture junkie who often pays homage to these sorts of films in his own work.

How could it fail? Just see the rest of the movie. Oh, sure, it's funny, from time to time, but that isn't enough to support a whole movie. The plot is filled with the moments that made Lethal Weapon and Running Scared exciting and hilarious, while in this movie they just seem retread and tired. It doesn't help, either, that the score was done by Harold Faltermeyer, of Beverly Hills Cop fame, who does an excellent job in recreating that 1980's buddy cop sound in his themes, but to no avail in a film that is so glaringly from this century. I think that might be the film's biggest flaw - that it suffers from a strange identity crisis in wanting to be something fun and a bit retro for a target audience who just doesn't want to see this type of movie and is thus seen by young people who probably don't get (or care about) most of the references being made, and so it's stars and soundtrack just make it feel "old".

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest - Zero Stars

Brooklyn's Finest is a film that allows for the emotional detachment necessary to experience just how bad movies can be. The only thing I took away from it was the assurance that most of the movies that I hate are probably not as bad as I thought they were. It fails on some of the most fundamental levels; there were very few moments when I had any idea of what was going on, why it was going on, what it meant, or what it was intended to mean, who the characters were, what they were trying to do, what the consequences would be if they didn't do it, who I was supposed to care about, or if I was even supposed to care about someone at all, because I didn't care about any of them.

It takes place in a world where actions have no consequences, alcoholics don't drink, where there's a police raid every day, and every character speaks like he's rehearsing lines for an audition for a TNT original. Has a real cop ever said "The media's shoveling shit on our badges?" I hope not. It's an action film with no action, and it's two hours and eighteen minutes long. Bad movies are not allowed to be self-indulgent.

The film follows three characters who are cops, or scumbags, or scumbag cops. It opens with some pseudo-philosophical bullshit about "the righter and the wronger." Then some other stuff happens, guys pull guns on each other, act tough, wear doo-rags, and put their guns away. The film is devoid of any entertainment whatsoever, and there is no real drama in any of the three stories, which never converge at any point to make any sort of statement or observation about what it is to be a cop, a criminal, a resident of Brooklyn, an eater of pizza, anything. Nothing. There's nothing there. At all. Seriously.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Quick Note About Shutter Island's Reception.

I was going to include this in my review for Shutter Island, but I ended up going a little too far with it for it to make sense being in a review, so here it is separately:

Shutter Island has been dismissed by many as just a glorified B-movie with no ambition to be anything more than that, saying that Scorsese just phoned it in (Yes, that phrase was actually used), ironic criticism coming from people who probably loved last year's triumph in self-indulgent boredom, Inglourious Basterds, or every other Quentin Tarantino film (Tarantino himself has even written Scorsese off!). To these people I would say two things: first, What's wrong with glorified pulp, especially when it is done this well? As much as I disagree with the consensus about the annoyingly-misspelled Inglourious Basterds (I don't care that it's a reference to a movie you've never seen!), and Death Proof, for that matter, I would agree that Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece, but I don't understand why Scorsese gets criticized for doing in Shutter Island what Tarantino has made a career of: piggy-backing on old movies. The irony is that Scorsese does this, ahem, a lot more maturely than Tarantino; Scorsese uses his influences as inspiration to tell his story more effectively, as support for his narrative, rather than using them entirely to construct it (though maybe that's what QT meant when he called Scorsese "geriatric").

And the second thing I would say to these people is Watch the fucking movie again.

Shutter Island - ****

"Most bombs explode from the outside, but the hydrogen bomb? It implodes. It falls in on itself and goes through a series of internal breakdowns, and creates an explosion a thousand times greater," says a mental patient to U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. It is a particularly resonant line, the poignance of which is revealed in the final moments of the film. Shutter Island works on two levels, one being a straightforward, pulpy detective story, and the other being a psychological thriller which examines the nature of paranoia, insanity, and perception, all of which is kept honest by DiCaprio's performance as a grieving husband haunted by the death of his wife.

The film takes place in 1954, at the height of Cold War paranoia, but that is really just used as a back-drop, for the film needs no outside help in creating tension. Teddy is on Shutter Island investigating the disappearance of one of its patients, but Teddy's motive runs deeper, hoping to uncover a conspiracy on the island and find the man responsible for killing his wife and children. I'll say no more about the plot, because I wouldn't dream of giving any of the details away.

Shutter Island employs a mess of B-movie cliches, right down to the twist ending, and completely works as glorified pulp. But the twist is a brilliant one, which turns all of the cliches upside-down, and transforms the entire film completely, forcing you to reconsider everything you've just seen, from the brilliant performances by a stellar supporting cast (Ben Kingsley is particularly good) to the manner in which it is presented. Scorsese uses a series of images that can be viewed several different ways, depending on your knowledge and understanding of what is going on at a particular moment, which makes Shutter Island a completely different experience a second time around.

With Shutter Island Martin Scorsese breathes some hope into this project. At this point, roughly twenty films into the year, twenty films ranging from bad to awful (with the lone exception being The Spy Next Door), something merely good would have done just fine. But instead Scorsese delivers an absolute masterpiece that is easily the best thing he has done in the last decade, which is no small feat.

The Ghost Writer - ****

There is a scene toward the end of The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski’s latest film, in which a note is passed through a group of partygoers, hand to hand, for what seems like minutes. Calendar pages fall as we see it pass by half-full glasses of champagne, through ringed fingers and finally to the hands of the person it was meant for. The audience knows what the note reads, and the suspense which has built over the previous 60 seconds of screen time has nothing to do with finding out what it says, but how this person will react. It is a shining moment in what is one of the first great films of 2010.

The film opens with a meeting at a publishing house. Ewan McGregor plays a “ghost writer” – one who writes a book but receives no credit; someone who comes in handy when a noted politician is trying to write his autobiography but has no more talent than the person writing this review. In this case, we have Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan, a former Prime Minister who is involved with several scandals involving an ongoing war. In the midst of writing his book, Lang is accused of several crimes and his first ghost writer ends up missing. It is at this point where McGregor enters, and the puzzle begins. What is so enticing about the mystery is that it isn’t just whether or not he is guilty, but who it is that might benefit from Lang taking the fall, and the ways in which the supporting cast, including Tom Wilkinson, Kim Cattrall and the always fantastic Olivia Williams try to push “the Ghost” in different directions.

I think what is most impressive about the film is the pacing. In addition to the passing of the note, there is a chase scene later in the film involving slowly-moving cars which end up on a ferry boat. Once aboard, the passengers take foot, quickly scurrying about both tiers of the vessel until one of them escapes. It travels at a snail’s pace, but is one of the most exciting sequences in the movie.

In the end, The Ghost Writer is more than just a captivating thriller. It serves as a statement on politics today and the idea of power and where it comes from in this age. I will also say that I hated writing this review because of how fond I am of the film, and look forward to tearing apart all of the muck and grime that was movies in March 2010.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - *

Uh-oh. Somebody stole Zeus' lightning bolt, the most powerful weapon in the universe, and he thinks it's Poseidon's son, Percy Jackson. Thus we have all of the elements that comprise the clumsy, franchise-fishing title, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and I hope that franchise never bites.

It seems like a joke that Chris Columbus directed this film, because it feels like a cheap rip-off of the Harry Potter films, whose first two installments were directed by Columbus. But then again, maybe it is a joke. Columbus has proven to be a capable director in the past, with films like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, and this latest "effort" uses the same structure: a wacky situation is established in the first fifteen minutes, gags follow. Only with this film, he neglects any kind of character development or dramatic depth, and the action is so far from interesting or entertaining that it making fun of it almost becomes boring after a while. Almost.

There are too many stupid, ridiculous details and plot points to mention, like when the kids go to a casino to get a magic pearl that will let them of the Underworld and get high on Lotus Flowers in a weird rap-video-like montage in which Percy's sidekick, who is half goat, has his hooves painted by beautiful women. A large portion of the rest of the film involves big-name actors taking turns embarrassing themselves in cameo roles as gods along the journey, with bizarre make-up, costumes and accents, like Pierce Brosnan, who begins the film as a teacher in a wheelchair, but later he reveals his lower-half to be that of a horse. But Uma Thurman wins first prize as Medusa, sporting CGI snake-hair and sun-glasses on a decapitated head the kids carry around for most of the film. She even beats Anthony Hopkins' bald, flaming, evil-eyed Wolfman head for worst decapitated head of the February 12th weekend (I wish there had been some competition from Valentine's Day, a film that really needed to decapitate some of its characters). Despite being about gods and quests, the film's only genuine hero is Rosario Dawson's cleavage, because for three and a half minutes it is actually worth it to look at the screen.