Friday, July 30, 2004

Spiderman 2

Broog’s postbag this morning included a missive from a human director protesting his professional distaste for the mention of screenwriters, and suggesting that the appropriate place for an alien on Earth was the dissecting table of a secret lab - to which ill-advised effrontery Broog responds: Have a go, Sonny, if you think your endoskeleton possesses the necessary tensile strength.

Speaking of secret labs, pugilism, and screenwriters, Broog commends to your attention the second instalment of the Spiderman franchise, penned by the revered Alvin Sargent. Sargent, for those of you who have yet to pupate or are even now shedding the skin of adolescence in favour of the horny tegument of adulthood, is the scribe of Paper Moon, a tale so redoubtably excellent that it is difficult to understand how Sargent’s more recent efforts have been so ordinary. Spiderman 2, however, is a flawless execution of the simple yet trixy superhero genre, demonstrating once again that it’s all about the villain. Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octavius/Octopus is given enough humanity to be truly affecting, and his robotic arms kick Earth-human booty all over New York. Molina himself comfortably outshines everyone else in the picture, with the possible exception of a gleeful Daniel Gillies as Jameson. There may be a little too much whining and the flick may be a touch overlong, but this is a leotard movie with bottle. Broog now desperately hopes not to see the return of the Green Goblin in S3.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Princess Bride

Owing to some gifted flimflam by the individual Truffaut, human cinema is a medium mostly attributed to directors. Critics speak often of tiny hands helming a narrative, apparently unaware that others have drawn the maps and built the boat. Some directors - most often those who are also experienced in other areas of cinematic effort - do indeed author their films, and these are deserving of the title ‘auteur’. Others, however, owe artistic debts to the neglected and often shy little mammals known as ‘screenwriters’, of whom only a few are worth more effort than it takes to disembowel them. Those few, however, are the silent heroes of the sprawling and ill-conceived epic which is the aesthetic journey in film, and of these, one of the greatest is William Goldman. This, then, is a splendid example of Goldman’s wit and craft; a spoofy swashbuckler which contrives to be more exciting and more moving than many a ‘serious’ picture, resplendent with swordplay, love, and iconic banter. Goldman’s novel of the same story is darker, and thus to some more true, but for Broog, this is the almost perfect iteration of a familiar fairytale, rendered self-aware and enriched by that knowledge. Wise, gleeful, and occasionally troubling, The Princess Bride claims a piece of the primary emotional/sanguinary organs which other tales of derring do leave utterly untouched.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Shreck 2

The further adventures of the admirably curmudgeonly eponymous hero are rife with reference, rich in rip-roaring, and rabid in rapidity. A toploaded haultruck of japes and caricatures groaning under the weight of invention and whimsy, Shreck 2 bludgeons your world-weary doubts aside and calls on the multiple comic talents of the vocal performers to enliven the pixelpainted protagonists and generate an animation which absolutely, positively will not quit. Once again drawing on the post-Charles Addams value-inversion gag, the drama deals with Shreck’s first encounter with his bride Fiona’s extended family. If there are flaws - and no doubt there are - it is unlikely you will notice them, or care, amid what is enjoyable and exciting. You want to know whether to bother, the answer is "yes".

Broog has spoken. Now go play in the traffic.