Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A Fantastic Quest (But Maybe Not an Epic Journey)

For the last little while I have been craving doses of whimsy and epic fantasy.

They're a lot of overlap, but they aren't always the same thing.
I saw Eragon, and while not the greatest movie in the world--much of it was truly derivative, and in a bad way--it did itch that particular scratch. For whimsy, I'm thinking things like Big Fish and Spirited Away and Pan's Labyrinth and Stardust; for epic fantasy, I'm thinking things like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass and Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean (which are not all of them truly epic, but you get the picture). Reading the Bone series has only fueled this particular fire. I want adventure, imagination, combat, surprise, magic, dispicable villians, and pretty girls with weapons. I want glamour and the exotic. I want fun.

This is the fantastic quest, then: to find something that suffices that I haven't already seen. That last part is the difficult part. The other day I tried The Golden Compass and Prince Caspian to no avail at all, and considered all of Spirited Away, Lord of the Rings, Pan's Labyrinth, and Pirates of the Caribbean, but none really appealed.

So I've rented some movies. Labyrinth was out, so I got Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Coppola's Dracula.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium I have not seen, but Jon says it's good and it certainly seems to supply the whimsy. It also has Dustin Hoffman in it. I could probably get through The Silmarilian if it was narrated by Dustin Hoffman. I could listen to his voice all day. And he's also an amazing actor, to boot. It also has Natalie Portman in it, who's one of my top five attractive actresses. Now, she'd have slipped a bit if there were many people to have replaced her, but there really aren't. But the cover is a bit bright, shall we say, and apparently it has toys coming to life? I dunno. I might not watch it tonight, at any rate.

The Spiderwick Chronicles I have seen. It is mediocre, but enjoyable. It is about kids and for kids, and so has certain limitations to it. It is also about fairies, and so obviously has limitations there, as well. However, it's also apparently in the genre 'elf punk,' which means that it has an edge to it. I recall this being somewhat true. Certainly it has no less edge than advertised, which is more than can be said for Peter Pan. This is a candidate for tonight. Basically, it comes to this. It has sword-fighting, but it has no pretty of-age actresses (unless you've got something for mother-type characters, which I really don't). EDIT [1:36 the following morning]: I had forgotten that the plot, while certainly not "good" by a modern art standard, is developed enough to impress me. As with most good kids' movies, it leans enough on character and inter-personal conflict to be engaging. Which is to say that, while plot-driven, the characters are real enough and react individually enough to the plot in question that I can be happy with it.

Coppola's Dracula, which I refuse to call Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is what the cover apparently calls it, is the other possibility for tonight. I have heard that it is one of the closest to the original text, so I'm intrigued. It also has Anthony Hopkins in it. Unfortunately, it also has Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves in it. My understanding is that this was made before either began acting. So we'll see.

But if I'm actually going to watch these, I'd better get on it. Even as is, it'll take me past midnight...

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