Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer Blockbusters

Enjoying my first weekend off since April 14th and 15th, I spent the time holed up in my house shivering, unsure of what to do with a Saturday and a Sunday off. Once the fear and anxiety subsided, I made my way out into the sunshine. Stumbling from the brightness, I felt the need to go mainstream and see what it is that people do when not working - something a large segment of the population apparently does not do - on the weekend. I went to the movie theater.

Dressed as Shrek (see above...ok, not really, I'm about 1/100th that man's size).

This week, I went to see the newest, hottest, hippest thing out there in Shrek the Third ($122 million in one week). The week before last I went to see the previously newest, hottest, and hippest thing out there in Spiderman 3 ($281.9 million in three weeks). In fact, it's now a requirement that I see movies that are the third in a series from now on. Fortunately, with Hollywood not interested in drumming up new ideas, I should have no problem keeping busy this summer. But how do the first two summer blockbusters line up?


Spiderman 3 picked up where Spiderman 2 left off, which was right in the middle of what is the larger feud between Peter Parker and Harry Osborne and their alter egos. A couple of new villains - the not so evil Sandman and the incredibly evil Venom - keep Spiderman busy when he's not getting bogged down in real world, Peter Parker stresses. Throw in the love interest in the form of always in trouble Mary Jane Watson, and you've got your movie.

Shrek the Third continued the development of the ogre's personal life having gone from outcast loner to happily wedded to unlikely heir to the kingdom of Far Far Away. This particular installment from the franchise introduced a slew of new characters, several of whom were from the Arthurian stories. Now, having just completed the four book Mary Stewart Arthurian/Merlin saga, I have to deduct points from Shrek. Mary Stewart's Merlin character may be my favorite literary character ever, and Shrek the Third portrayed him as a bumbling, hapless lunatic.

Winner: Spiderman 3

Computer Effects:

Both films boasted top of the line computer technology with Spiderman 3 being hailed as the most expensive movie ever made. In said movie, The Sandman's image and character are phenomenal as some of the coolest computer effect out there. The whole movie, though, did not adhere to such high standards. Topher Grace (best actor in the film by far) morphs in and out of the Venom character, which I thought was a little sloppy. The action sequences were done super fast with many of the falling down skyscraper action being blurred to simulate Spiderman's actual view. However, I want to be able to see what's happening and don't equate incomprehensible smears on the screen as top of the line computer graphics.

Dream Works continued it's excellent animating standard in Shrek. The characters were well done, and the backgrounds were impeccable. Slowly but surely we are marching to a film where we won't be able to tell what is animated and what is live action. While we aren't going to mistake a giant green oaf as being real life, it's the computer graphics from Dream Works that are the superior standard.

Winner: Shrek 3

Theater experience:

I viewed Spiderman 3 in an IMAX setting indulging my senses to a barrage of noise and lights unlike any other viewing experience. However, this primordial stimulation also had its drawbacks. Long rows of seats and a packed house made it impossible to move from my perfectly centered seats, leading to a personal crisis when I had to pee 25 minutes into the 2 and a half hour film. By the time the film concluded, I just wanted everyone to die quickly and without talking/weeping so that I could relieve myself.

I consumed Shrek the Third in a traditional movie theater. The place was not nearly as crowded as Spidey, which was surprising to me since it was Shrek's opening weekend, and Spiderman was in his second weekend of release when I saw it. I enjoyed being able to find a seat after a near panic attack that was caused by traffic and the three other women with whom I was attending in need of concessions even though we arrived nearly 10 minutes after the show's start time. A small baby in the seat directly in front of Becky coughed the first 45 minutes of the film, and we exchanged looks wondering if the child was going to suffocate while the mother sat engrossed in the film and uncaring of the child's well being.

Winner: Push

Picture from About: Family Crafts

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