Managed to get to the cinema a few times recently.
The most recent flick I saw was Mr and Mrs Smith and I've got to say that I enjoyed it immensely. Of the two stars, Pitt is the more charismatic and convincing in the role of a covert assassin and bored husband. Right from the start when he gets wrong how long the couple have been together, he seems at home in the part. The film contains a fair bit of action and a well done car chase sequence- this is directed by Doug Liman of course- and a nice amount of humour. It all gels well together and its well paced. Much more fun than I was expecting it to be. Just one thing- if you can, see this in a cinema with a good sound system. There's one point where Jolie begins firing a pump action shotgun and the seats in my local cinema vibratred with the noise. This is a good film that I think has been badly affect by all the hype about the stars' relationship. Go see it and enjoy yourself.
Next up is Frank Miller's Sin City. Wow. If you're a fan of the graphic novels you'll be stunned by how close this is to the source material- scene for scene- and that's the reason why it works. It captures Miller's bleak, amoral world perfectly. Sin City is aptly named, filled with corrupt politcians, crooked cops and every type of low-life scum-bag imaginable. It's in this morass that three very different heroes emerge in the three separate stories that make up the movie. First we have Marv, a none-too-bright heavy dosed up on medication because he gets "confused". Marv sets out on a mission of vengence, of justice his way, that is staggering to watch. No one and nothing gets in his way and he thinks nothing of murder and torture to succeed. The thing is though that Marv is eminently likeable. He, like the other two leads (Bruce Willis and Clive Owen), is an honourable man. He has his own code and everyone we see him hurt in the film- and he does a considerable amount of hurting- is a bad guy. He's played to perfection by Mickey Rourke in surely the best performance of his career. For many fans Marv is Sin City and the fact that he's been done so well is testament to how well the source material has been handled.
The other tales are The Big Fat Kill with Clive Owen and That Yellow Bastard with Bruce Willis. The latter is excellent as Hartigan, the honest, honourable cop that gives everything to save a young girl. Personally, I also liked his story better than Owen's, but there's really not much between them. All three tales work together and give a pretty good look at Miller's very dark noir world. There's more to come- Rodriguez has stated that he intends to film all of the Sin City graphic novels- so go and see this one now. Preferably on a big screen to get the full effect.
Finally, there was Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. I'm a big geek but even my faith in the Star Wars franchise was shaken by The Phantom Menace- it's not that it was a bad movie, its just that too much of it was juvenile. The pod-race aliens were, by and large, merely cartoon characters and I don't need to say anything more than Jar-Jar Binks. You know what I mean. But Darth Maul saved the movie for me- Ray Park was astounding as the Sith apprentice and I was only sorry that they killed him off so soon. Attack of the Clones restored my belief that Lucas actually knew what he was doing- Hayden Christensen was wooden and the dialogue was stiff and unatural but, hey, it's a George Lucas movie- that's what he does.
ROTS proved that all along Lucas had a vision- though it sometimes felt like he was making it up as he went along. Episode Three validates his skill as a storyteller and, for me anyway, it lifts up the first two films. Christensen shines as the burgeoning Vader- his descent into the Dark Side is fantastically done- and the effects are a cut above. I watched TPM after seeing this and the scenes on Coruscant just don't compare- just take a look at the sky in ROTS- it's perfectly done. Coruscant looks like a real place and Blade Runner is no longer the ultimate futuristic city. McGregor is also better in this film as Obi-Wan, he finally seems comfortable in the role. Natalie Portman is relegated to supporting actor, but in her big emotional scene towards the end of the film with Vader she's completely convincing.
I had intended to review this film when I first saw it but I was stunned by it. It's a superb piece of film-making. Cinema exists for films like this- there's just something magical about Star Wars. That this might signal the end of Star Wars gives it more impact as it's the end of a mythos that mattered so much to me and my friends when we were kids playing with action figures and toy space-ships. When Order 66 is issued and Anakin returns to the Jedi Temple it's heartbreaking. Finally, when Obi-Wan and Anakin do battle, well, it works. The last scene is a superb touch- and it'll make you want to go and watch the original trilogy once more. Revenge of the Sith is the film that Star Wars fans have always wanted to see and it ties together the old and the new better than I could have hoped. Just awesome.