Stop Giving Roland Emmerich Money...

...or he'll keep making crap like this. After the dubious accomplishments of directing Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 BC, his streak of dreck continues with the abysmal 2012. What's shocking is not that it's a complete and total failure; what's shocking is that legitimate talent like John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt and Danny Glover all signed up to go down with this ship. Woody Harrelson's in it, too, but remember, I called it a list of "legitimate talent."

While not as aggressively and angrily incompetent as Transformers 2, this nonetheless deserves to give that piece of trash a run for its money at the Razzies, awards given out for the worst movie of the year. 2012 is so earth-shatteringly moronic that for much of its brutally overlong runtime (2 hrs and 40 mins) I sat, slack-jawed and stunned, as untold millions of CGI wizardry went to portray John Cusack driving or flying away from a series of escalating earthquakes and doomsday fireballs, only to save humanity by unwinding a rope caught in some oversized gears.

This is about where I'm normally subjected to a variant of the "hey, it's a big summer movie, it's not supposed to be smart" argument. No. Because in a world that's recently delivered blockbusters like Star Trek and Dark Knight, it's no longer acceptable to ignore idiocy as long as it "blowed up real good." So be smarter than I was, resist the money shots in the trailers of cities being destroyed on an unimaginable scale, and avoid at all costs. Waste of time, waste of money.



9 is Not a 10

It's prolly more like a 7. Maybe an 8 if you're feeling charitable. Oh, and it's not to be confused with District 9 – don't take the kiddies to that one; this one's scary enough. No, this is the Little-Big-Planet-Meets-Pinocchio-Meets-Those-Robot-Bad-Guys-From-The-Matrix "9." The titular character is a stitched-up burlap animatron given the spark of life, the last creation of a benevolent scientist amidst a post-apocalyptic world ruled by machines.

I gotta say, I'm a little tired of post-apocalyptic worlds ruled by machines. You'd think by now that everyone's seen enough movies to know that the second you make an artificially intelligent machine, the government will swoop in to use it as a weapon, then the machine will make more machines, which will in turn rise up and destroy us all. As, apparently, their thanks for creating them. And why is the machines' next task to immediately make the world as dank and unattractive as humanly (or machinely, I guess) possible? Did we not program them to like nice things?

Anyway, as post-apocalyptic worlds ruled by machines movies go, this one's not bad by any means. But for a movie dealing with questions of soul, it's kind of lacking one itself. It's hard to get too terribly invested in the numerical heroes – they're well animated and sort of awkwardly appealing, but basically cyphers instead of characters (ha!) There's the brave one, the shy ones, the dumb one, the mean one, etc. Actually, I guess it's the brave 9, the dumb 5, the mean 1, but you know what I mean.

And their struggle is somewhat ill-defined. There're a couple big metal beasties to get away from, a hazily explained quest to understand their identity, and something about pressing buttons on an archaic-looking version of Simon. They trek from one place to another and back to the same place and all of a sudden, 88 minutes are up and you're kinda scratching your head.

If you're a tech demo head or a Tim Burton guy, you'll likely love it. The world is pretty beautifully realized (even if it in itself is ugly) and the CGI is well-executed (with the possible exception of the fact that the little burlap people don't exactly move like they're made of burlap, more like you clicked on the burlap texture in Photoshop). The action scenes, battling the remnants of the machines, are spectacular, altho they're representative of the gap – and trap – this flick falls into. It's prolly too scary for kids, but it's definitely too light for adults. And teens aren't gonna think the characters are cool, so who's this movie made for?

Blu-Ray, perhaps, where the stuff'll be less scary and tech geeks can pore over what I can only assume will be countless hours of special features dissecting the 3D modeling and every step it took to evolve 9 from an Oscar-nominated short to a feature film. For the rest of the world? It's ok. If 9 is a 7, it'd equate to a C. An 8, a B. I'll give it a 7.5... C+. Worth a watch... ish.


Rinse. Repeat.

Unfortunately, the most memorable moment of Jay Leno's new(ish) show wasn't the much-ballyhooed "comedy at 9," unless you count confronting a somewhat catatonic Kanye West with what his dead mother would've thought of his behavior a barrel of laughs.

There was nothing really wrong with The Jay Leno Show, but nothing particularly breakthru, either. Perhaps it suffered from several months of non-stop promotion or too many "revolution in television" stories, but regardless – the show came off as basically the same stuff that used to air an hour and a half later, just without a desk for most of it.

And that's not bad, if Jay's your thing. Monologue's the same, segments like Headlines are standard crowd-pleasers, etc... If he's not, the "format experiments" aren't likely to be enough to draw you in. Plus, they seemed mostly lifted from other, edgier shows. The Dan Band segment was funnyish albeit overlong and the faux interview with President Obama had a couple moments, but you've seen both correspondent comedy and interviews assembled via Avid done better on The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Aside from the intentional awkwardness injected into the Kanye conversation, the sit-down segments seemed pretty standard Tonight Show – Jay's fairly good with his friends, altho seemed to miss the desk, as there was some "which leg do we cross now" fumbling. A staged bit around the idea that Jay couldn't book Oprah for his show but Jerry Seinfeld could get her for his segment fell flat.

Overall (and admittedly based on one airing), it's ok. Regular Jaywatchers will be pleased, die-hard Letterman fans won't be interested, and people without a late-night affiliation will prolly enjoy a comedy bit here and there. The best hope for the future comes from the correspondents – even tho it's not a new idea, they may have the ability to connect with a younger audience the way Jay mostly won't. One almost feels bad not being a big fan; Jay is genuine and sincere, but so far not the innovator the world sold him as.


Review Roundup

Been extra-busy lately, which unfortunately means being less bloggy. "Less" as in I missed much of July and all of August. Sigh. Will try to pick up the pace for the fall TV season, but in the interim here's a quick catchup on the rest of summer cinema...

First up, Harry Potter and the Half-Assed Script - a poor adaptation of one of the least successful novels. The book was largely a 600-plus page setup for the Deathly Hallows finale, but at least opened and closed with some spectacular magic scenes that would've played great on screen. Unfortunately, the filmmakers opted to cull most of that excitement in order to include a series of minor moments designed to show the kid cast's emerging acting skills. True, they've rarely performed better, but the lack of action means that the series has rarely moved slower. Plus, the entire movie looks as if it was digitally graded by turning the "drab" setting up to 11. Worth a watch from a completist's perspective, but a wasted opportunity even tho it made a ton of money.

Wha'dya know? GI Joe, coming from a questionable pedigree and plagued with rumors of horrendous testing, turned out to be pretty good and fairly fun. It's eminently disposable, but executed with such upbeat style that after it zips by, you find you've had a smile on your face the whole time. Saying it's Stephen Sommers' best movie (he of The Mummy and Van Helsing "fame" isn't exactly high praise, but it represents a step up from the slapdash trash he's assembled before. Surprisingly worth a watch.

Meryl Streep's always, well, Meryl Streep – so it's no surprise that the biographical portions that show how Julia Child the somewhat adrift wife became Julia Child the household brand are terrific. She could've come off as a caricature, but instead is a fully-realized and wonderful character. What's a little less compelling is the modern-day portion of the movie, watching Amy Adams as Julie cook and blog her way thru Julia Child's cookbook as a way of dealing with mounting depression. Given that not a lot's at stake (by now we know that both Julie and Julia turn out ok) it goes on a bit long, but overall it's frothy and fun. Worth a watch.

Definitely the strangest movie of the summer and one of the oddest I've ever seen. Labeled alternately as audaciously bold alternate history and revenge porn that plays to the basest of instincts, Inglourious Basterds turns out to be, well, both. Anyone expecting a WWII-era Kill Bill-ish romp will be sorely disappointed – while there's gore to spare, it's queasy and unsettling, and while Tarantino sprays around oodles of his trademark conversational banter, to say the humor is black isn't painting with a wet enough brush. It's a brazen bit of filmmaking, and definitely watchable (depending on your constitution), but it's one of those flicks where you don't exactly feel good about the fact that you think it's pretty good.

Part political satire, part science fiction action, pretty much all awesome... District 9 is an absolute eye-opener of a movie. It's an unsettling examination of South Africa's apartheid policies set against the backdrop of an alien ship of refugees on the brink of resettlement that grabs you from the first documentary-style shot and keeps upping the tension, barely giving you a chance to breathe until the credits roll. You'll squirm plenty, tho, as the aliens themselves are an odd combination of off-putting and endearing and the overall vibe simply gets under your skin. Shot on a shoestring under the producing arm of Peter Jackson, Neill Blomkamp has created a breathtaking and breakthru piece of intelligent entertainment. Worth a watch... and prolly more than one.

Look, I liked it. There are many moments in the movie that are crazy funny. A ton of 'em, in fact. But I prolly waited a little too long to see The Hangover, so by the time I did, I didn't love it. Comedies can be very "of the moment," in that so much depends being surprised that when you hear rave upon rave about something being "the funniest movie you've ever seen" it can't help but underwhelm a bit. If, by any chance, you're waiting for Netflix on this one, rest assured – the tale of this trio waking up in Vegas is plenty funny. It's worth a watch – just don't expect it to, you know, cure all society's ills and you'll be fine.

And everything else, from Angels & Demons to Year One, slipped thru to DVD. Ah well, moving on... Melrose Place premieres tomorrow. Not expecting much.


Full Frontal Funny

Say what you will about his style of ambush comedy, but you can't deny that Sacha Baron Cohen's got balls. Because you get to see them. Frequently. Along with everything else.

Much like Borat, Bruno is a thinly plotted series of sketches where Cohen admirably keeps in character through largely unscripted interactions with celebs and regular people meant to expose prejudices and biases we'd rather not confront. And also like Borat, it's shockingly, blisteringly and bravely funny.

Instead of ethnocentrism, this time the target is homophobia, altho Bruno does take a bit of a shotgun blast approach, scattering some laughs toward celeb and pop culture as well. The movie doesn't vary too wildly within its 86 minutes, sticking with the basic setup of Bruno sticking his... ah... nose into unprepared situations and pushing the joke far past any arguably point of good taste.

So while some of the jokes hit harder than others (the scripted setups that advance the story are less illuminating and amusing), pound for pound it's consistently and painfully funny. I wasn't around for classic comedians like Lenny Bruce, but I have to imagine that Cohen represents that spirit for this generation. Debased, dangerous and definitely worth a watch.


Transformers Blew

Ok, let's get it out of the way – yes, Megan Fox is hot. There's another plastic slut in the movie that's pretty hot, too. But nobody, no matter how many things they straddle, is hot enough to save this embarrassing piece of miserable garbage.

The first Transformers was a barely coherent mess that wasted a lot of good talent on a lot of bad jokes, topped by a bit of gee-whizzery in initially seeing cars transform. The sequel takes everything awful about the first one and ramps it up to 111, resulting in a two-hour-and-forty-minute excretion of robot porn with staggeringly huge doses of racism, homophobia and misogyny mixed in for good measure.

The "plot" is an incomprehensible mishmash of other movies – The Matrix, Aliens, Terminator, Robocop, Species, Voltron and so on – creating a hideously mangled abomination that's like being pummeled in the eyes for nearly three hours by a hyperkinetic child made out of DVDs and car parts. And look, no one's expecting a Best Screenplay contender here, but Transformers 2 is so aggressively stupid it fails even the loosest summer movie standards. The "comedy" is mostly drawn in broad strokes that say women are harpies or whores (unless they can fix cars) and black people are shambling Amos & Andy stereotypes, even when they're robots. A mother character that comes off like a retarded shrew, a parade of so-called college girls that would dignify porn stars, and two new Transformers named Skids and Mudflap that make Jar Jar Binks look like MLK.

After starting as a poster boy for the "MTV-style" of quick-cut editing that made his early movies at least visually compelling, Michael Bay has devolved into a jingoistic manchild with an increasingly warped viewpoint of what constitutes entertainment. Terminator Salvation was no great shakes, but at least McG, a director in the same team photo, was shooting for some sense of legitimacy. Bay simplifies everything into a jokey slo-mo masturbatory military fantasy that actually makes you feel stupider walking out of the theater than when you went in. His world must be an interesting one to live in, but it sure as hell isn't interesting to watch. Avoid at all costs.


Land of the Lost 101 Minutes

Will Ferrell's recent Man vs. Wild special was an engaging and entertaining romp through a desolate landscape. His recent Land of the Lost movie is not. Instead, it's a joyless CGI cheesefest that runs nearly twice as long and has far less than half the laughs.
Maybe it's the co-stars – Wild's Bear Grylls proves a far more appealing foil than Danny McBride, whose redneck smartass routine got old before it began, or winsome (and somewhat random) Anna Friel who looks lost... as in "my agent just lost her job for putting me in this." Or maybe it's the fact that watching Ferrell find ways to be really funny while in real danger is much more entertaining than seeing him mug it up in a desperate grab for guffaws.

I'll admit I have no love for the original show – no distaste, but aside from knowing the song and stumbling across the odd episode in syndication, it's no more than a campy TV footnote for me. So it's not that the movie suffered under a load of fanboy baggage, it's that it's nothing more than a series of sketches lazily strung together by the poorest excuse for a plot in years. "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if the monkeyish sidekick Chaka kept grabbing peoples' genitals? Hey, wouldn't it be funny if the time warping invention constantly played 'gay showtunes?' Hey, wouldn't it be funny if Will Farrell poured dinosaur piss on his face? Twice?"

No. No, it's not. Pass.


Terminator Frustration

There's a really good flick lurking around in what turns out to be only an ok one. After much fanboy handwringing over what horrors McG would wreak on the once-beloved franchise, Terminator Salvation ends up being a somewhat unsatisfying mix of unfulfilled plot points set against well-directed if a bit familiar action scenes.

The movie (aside from a quick prologue set in 2003) takes place in 2018, after a self-aware computer system named Skynet became self-aware, decided humanity was a threat, and launched a nuclear war to wipe us out. Previous Terminator films have centered around time-travel where Skynet, unable to stamp out the last gasps of human resistance led by John Connor, have sent cybernetic killing machines back to the past to terminate Connor's mother, Connor himself, even Connor's future generals. The resistance of the future manages to send back one of their fighters to as protection, Kyle Reese, who ends up being Connor's father in one of those time paradoxes it's better not to think too much about. This one, however, is mired squarely in one set of battles concerning a mystery figure named Marcus and the future father, Kyle.

And that's one of the failings – the film feels somehow small. The action's not, with spectacular set pieces of lil' water terminators, big Harvester terminators, flying hunter-killers, Voltron-esque motorcycle...inators, etc. McG shows a far steadier hand putting these scenes together with more skill and seriousness than one would've guessed from the director of Charlie's Angels and Full Throttle. But every other installment has been an ultimate battle to preserve the future, and after the bombs fall and there's not much left to save, the conflicts in this one seem a bit flat. The main mystery of the movie is of new character Marcus Wright's identity, and once revealed, proves to be more of a head-scratcher than a fist-pumper. I'll save you from spoilers, but overall I think his contribution to the continuity is questionable at best.

The strong cast helps: Christian Bale brings suitable gravitas and growliness to John Connor, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek's Chekov, having a pretty big summer) is effective as a fresh-faced resistance fighter, Sam Worthington succeeds to whatever point possible as Marcus, altho Bryce Dallas Howard barely registers as Connor's wife Kate. But they're put through pretty familiar paces – while some of the callbacks to the first films are fun, even the initially intriguing desert setting eventually culminates in yet another fight in a factory.

A friend of mine reviewed the film as "too much action," and while I don't quite agree with that, I will say there's definitely "not enough of anything else." Apparently 40ish minutes of character development got left on the cutting room floor, so while I have hope for a more coherent director's cut DVD, the final theatrical film is a a string of set pieces and a jumble of unexplained ideas. Characters fall in and out of love with little explanation, alliances are made and broken without much reason, and what should be a major character's transformative moment raises more questions than it answers.

That said, the scale of the science-fiction action does carry the day... but barely. It does an adequate job setting up this next trilogy (it's not a Phantom Menace-level disaster by any means) but it's not truly a "salvation" of a somewhat fading franchise. But as they say in these movies – the future's not set; there is no fate but what we make. So here's hoping they make a more emotionally powerful Terminator 5, because despite this one's faults... I'll be back.


Origin Glory

Lemme start by making one thing clear: I've never been a Trekkie. Or Trekker, whatever. The original show always felt like a messy mix of less-than-special effects and awkward allegory to me, and the followups while varying in quality, generally followed suit. And it's not like I'm not a genre geek – in the "Kirk vs. Picard" arguments, I'd prolly answer "Ackbar." Anyway, lemme also make one more thing clear: this Star Trek rocks.

Director JJ Abrams has, amazingly, created a reboot that's sincerely respectful to the long-term fans of the franchise but also reinvents the Federation for this generation, making the crew of the Enterprise exciting and actually, you know, cool. Rather than the craggy and portly original cast or the distant thespians who populated the sequel shows, the new crew consists of young fresh faces boldy going on their first mission. Chris Pine takes over the Captain's chair – his Kirk is sort of like the offspring of Jason Bourne and Christian Slater. Zachary Quinto steps out of the morass that is Heroes to imbue Spock with a new sense of spirit and wry humor. Rounding out the eventual love triangle is Zoe Saldana, who gives Uhura an actual personality and more to do than press buttons and fill out the jumpsuit. Also terrific are John Cho (Harold without Kumar) as Sulu and Simon Pegg as an at-least-slightly unhinged Scotty.

And bridging the gap between this movie and previous ones is Leonard Nimoy as Spock, who anchors the time-traveling plot that's fairly twisty, but generally coherent. The villain's a bit of a throwaway – Eric Bana does fine with what he's got to work with, but Nero's not gonna go down in Trek history with Khan, the Borg or even the Tribbles. But what holds it all together is a smart, snappy script that's a refreshing change from today's brooding antihero deconstructions. It's an affectionate nod to the original show's optimism, again retooled to connect with a more urbane audience. And long gone are the legendarily cruddy special effects – the movie's consistently elegant and spectacular.

So strap on your regulation Federation jumpsuit (updated to resemble actual wearable apparel ;), leave any lingering Klingon language baggage behind and get ready for a big slam-bag science fiction actioner that might just be the most fun flick of the summer.


My first Tweetup, I guess

Don't wanna get too Harry Knowles on you, but should prolly share the circumstances that led to this review. After watching an amazing basketball game and a thrilling but disappointing hockey game, I figured it was time to settle into some DVR before falling asleep. Until I checked Twitter and saw that RealHughJackman was en route to my local theater for a midnight screening of Wolverine. Figuring what the hell, I grabbed a cab and arrived in time to snap this shot:
Shook the man's hand and wished him a great weekend, particularly with the piracy issue and all. He was gracious and fun with the fans - even the ones wearing gloves with foam claws protruding from them. So I'll confess to some potential bias, as the normally pretty manic midnight show crowd was buoyed to frantic hights by having Hugh Jackman in attendance, watching us watching him as...
I didn't have terribly high hopes for this one. Not that Jackman doesn't do a great job with the role, but the franchise's high point was X2, seeming to turn the corner into nonsenseland with the threequel. And frankly, I'm a little burnt out on prequels at this point given that, at some level, you know where it's eventually gonna end up. So how does it hold up?

Pretty good, actually – it's not without issues, but I was pleasantly surprised. The crowd's enthusiasm may have helped smooth out the rough spots, but overall it's a solid actioner with a surprisingly appealing supporting cast. While Wolverine's origin obviously takes center stage (um, hence the title ;) we're treated to snippets of of stories from the wider mutant universe – lots more Sabretooth, a bit of The Blob, some Gambit and more. Some work better than others, but they all help to flesh out a tale we've already seen a decent handful of in the first three films.

The movie spans a couple centuries, starting with James Logan as a child, where we see his mutant powers (and simmering rage) emerge, and traces his evolution into the cigar-chomping antihero we met in the first X-Men film. Along the way, we meet his brother, his maker, his lover and fellow fighters. Some are more successful than others – Liev Schreiber does Sabretooth much better than in the previous movies, and the young General Stryker hits the right notes to line up with how he acts later in life. Many of the other mutants are good, if underutilized – Gambit and Deadpool being prime examples.

Taylor Kitsch (Riggins from Friday Night Lights) is a great Gambit, but we don't get to him until pretty late in the film. And Ryan Reynolds shows incredible potential as Deadpool, but his role, while pivotal, is pretty minimal. This is one problem with the movie overall – it feels like a launching pad for several other franchises, but how they're used here doesn't really lend itself to doing that successfully. I'll avoid too many spoilers, but future movies would either have to take place in a different decade or get retconned to a point where they're sort of unrecognizable. There are also a ton of cameos, only a couple of which really strain credibility.

On a technical level, the movie starts slow but ends in pretty spectacular fashion. Despite rumors of directorial trouble, it doesn't bear the marks of something that spent too long into the ending room or switched direction mid-stream. There's a bit of today's typical over-edited action scenes, but in general it's a pleasure to watch. So overall I'd say strike a blow against digital piracy and head out to watch Wolverine this weekend – it's a good big-budget kick-start to the summer that'll play much better on the big screen than in a blurry Quicktime window.

And hey, I met Hugh Jackman! ;)


Iron Man, Iron Man... does whatever a spider can?

The question is why? Not why there's a new animated series – last year's blockbuster made that inevitable. Not even why Nicktoons chose do go with a cel-shaded CGI style that's reminiscent of the failed MTV Spider-Man series from a few years back. No, the question is why they decided to ignore the chronology of the hugely successful movie and rewrite Iron Man as Spider-Man Lite.

This show doesn't follow the established billionaire industrialist path for the character, instead reimaging Tony Stark as a Doogie Howser-esque wunderkind that takes up the teenage mantle of Iron Man when his father dies. I get that it's a kids show, but still... you've already got that kids show. It's called Spider-Man.

Also questionable is the animation style. It's inconsistent in that the money was clearly spent on the action moments as opposed to character designs or dialogue scenes, and it's inappropriate in that the overall softness of the look doesn't really fit a suit that's supposed to be made of, well, iron. And the theme song is a slice of pure unadulterated cheese.

Overall, Iron Man: Armored Adventures isn't completely without appeal – kids will likely respond to the action animation – but it just feels sorta inessential. Unlike The Clone Wars, which stylishly tells canonical stories of the Star Wars saga, this feels like an effort to sell more action figures. Pass.


Would you want to watch a show about this guy?

Yeah, me neither. HBO's new show Eastbound & Down is an abject disaster about an utter failure. Or maybe it's the other way around, I dunno. Regardless, I couldn't make it through more than 10 minutes, and I'd suggest you give it even less. Purports to be a comedy, but is just a hacky excuse to wallow in off-network profanity. Pass.


Heroes Volume IV: A New Hope?

Heroes kicked off a new story arc this week, and I'm cautiously optimistic. Kinda sorta. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but if you find my lack of faith disturbing, remember – the show has squandered so much of its first season promise it's hard not to be wary. Much has been made of Bryan Fuller's return to the show after the (unfortunately well-deserved) cancellation of Pushing Daisies. Is he our only hope?

Maybe. Based on Monday's episode, there's at least a splash of Luke Skywalker for every dash of Death Star. While it's still a bit inbred (could the Heroes possibly fight someone else aside from their collective brother/father/mother?) this setup at least appears to be clear: they're being hunted down, hence the "fugitives" title. Got it. Like it. And while a few loose ends fray at my nerves (Ando's random supercharger power, Ali Larter as Nikki/Jessica/Gina/Barbara/Tracy still doesn't seem to have much to do, Parkman... well... Parkman, and Sylar's I-am-your-father-wait-no-I'm-not-now-he's-your-father-how-can-you-possibly-still-care-about-this quest) I appreciate that it might take a few eps to tie them up.

But overall, there's a feeling of bringing focus back to the show, which is long overdue. If this arc can reform the Heroes into an "X-men without tights" approach, settling on core characters we care about and having them take on some new issues, I'm back on the bandwagon. Or at least I'm trailing alongside the bandwagon, desperately hoping that all these promos and stories about the return of the show amount to one line... "it's a trap!"


The Curious Pace of Benjamin Button

Much has been made of the film's running time (2 hours and 40 minutes), the special effects (ranging from unnoticeably excellent to disturbingly weird) and the Oscar nominations (a staggering 13) but I think the most curious thing about Benjamin Button is that it's so detached and dragged out it's hard to care about the main character, whether he's a grumpy old baby or not.

In case you're unaware of the story, the short version is that Benjamin Button lives backward – born an old man and destined to die a child, scattering a star-crossed romance across the better part of a century. Some have compared to "like Forrest Gump, without the cheesy history parts." I guess that fits, but in place of the cheesy history, we're left with lingering glances and soulful shadows that make the movie feel exceedingly well-intentioned, but comparably dull as well.

As a wrinkly babyman, the "young" Benjamin Button looks sort of like Gollum and talks sort of like Sling Blade. To be fair, it's a testament to the effects work that you do, by and large, buy him as a living human. And the work taking Cate Blanchett thru several eras is remarkably well done. That said, as characters like Button's father age, they end up looking like a leftover from an abandoned Dick Tracy sequel.

So while not perfect, it's not the special effects that tank it. Longish running time? Not really. My favorite movie is over 12 hours long. A billion people didn't have a problem with watching a boat sink for 3 hours. But this movie's pacing is so... reserved, so... drawn... out... that it's like watching a glacier melt. Or refreeze, I guess. I dunno.

What I do know is that for a love story that's supposed to span the space-time continuum and defy destiny, I've gotten more passion out of the average Gossip Girl episode, and that's a problem. It's as if so much effort went into assembling the production that they forgot to include emotion. And for this the Academy passed on the Dark Knight? Talk about a hero Gotham doesn't deserve. Pass.