Holiday Film Marathon at My Multiplex: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Desperaux, and The Spirit

Posted by Guest Author on Jan 2, 2009 in Animation, Cinema, Comic Books |

Joe Strike - Holiday Film Marathon at My Multiplex: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Desperaux, and The Spirit

Editor’s Note: This week we’re lucky to have film critic Joe Strike offers us his insights and first impressions of the films The Day the Earth Stood Still, Desperaux, and The Spirit.

I tell you, the synchronicity around here can really get to you sometimes. The other morning I went to see The Day the Earth Stood Still, or as us folks in a hurry like to call it, TDTESS (which is stupid since they’re all one-syllable words anyway). Weekend morning shows are $6.00 at my just-up-the-street cinema, I thank you from the bottom of my recession, AMC.

The Day the Earth Stood Still — 2008 Film

So I am sitting there the only person in the theater (sorry 20thC-Fox, sorry Keanu), about to watch a film promising the destruction of the human race (about time, we’ve had it coming for a while) when a trailer comes up that begins with monks in a mountaintop monastery getting wiped out by a tsunami sooo big it towers over Mt. Everest! At the end we’re invited to ‘Google 2012’ (I guess going to an actual website is considered old-school these days) so we can discover it’s a), the date the Mayan calendar runs out of gas which presumably means that’s it, folks, game over, and b) also the name of Roland Emmerich’s latest ‘end-of-the-world, ma!’ flick.

Next trailer takes us to the year 2018 – and we’re doomed again, I tells ya – this time by those nasty Terminator robots who are gonna deliver the coup de grace to John Connor for sure for real, trust me. Three films and a TV series, and they still can’t kill this freakin’ kid? Since he’s grown up into Christian Bale and even the Joker couldn’t do him in, I don’t think he has much to worry about.

The Day the Earth Stood Still — 2008 Film

So I survive 2012, 2018 and Keanu Reeves as Klaatu who [SPOILER ALERT in case you care about such things] has a last-second change of heart about wiping the Earth clean of those thoughtless carbon units who still aren’t recycling their empties. Interesting too, he seems to have his change of heart in the same damn Central Park tunnel those yuppies got wiped out in in Cloverfield. (The verdict on TDTESS: cool eye candy but several plot holes as big as the giant sphere that lands in Central Park.)

Since $6 still seems like too much money to pay for a single movie (I hate to tell you, but I still remember 35-cent children’s matinees), I slink into the next theater over to check out Dumboraux, excuse me, I meant Desperaux. (With the big ears they both have it’s easy to confuse the two.) I arrive just in time to catch the trailer to DreamWorks’ next CGI effort, Monsters vs. Aliens. (By the way, if you really liked Kung Fu Panda because DreamWorks finally got away from their pop-culture-gag-every-10-seconds habit… sorry, but it’s baaaack big-time in M vs. A.) What’s the first sound bite I hear? A four-eyed alien telling the Earthicans “we want your planet – nothing personal.” I hope he has better luck than the Mayan calendar, Skynet and Klaatu.


For the record, the theater was fairly crowded – I mean, Desperaux‘s a cartoon about mice (and rats and royalty and dungeons and a magical vegetable man), and the day after Xmas is always a good time to take the kids to the movies, but all the same I still felt sorry for Keanu/Klaatu – out-box office’d by a mouse! Desperaux was better than I was expecting (but that big pink, pore-filled damp nose of his still squicks me out). Lots of – no, make that too many plot machinations, with three different story threads that sort of interconnect but mostly go parallel to one another. Very nicely rendered fairytale world, though; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cartoon where the humans find it droll (as opposed to either shocking or no big deal) to converse with a charming, well-spoken mouse.

I shoulda quit while I was ahead, but I was determined to get maximum bang for my moviegoing buck. I made the mistake of checking out a few minutes of The Spirit; hoo boy…

The Spirit — Film 2008

I had a bad feeling about this movie when I heard Frank Miller talk about how much he respected and revered Will Eisner (the Spirit’s creator) – but he was gonna fix all the mistakes Will ever made. I had a worse feeling when the trailer made it look like Sin City Redux, and an even worser feeling when I found out the film’s subtitle was My City Screams (Will never came up with titles like that)… but I never imagined this film was going to be the ultra-mega-major-hyper-turd-flop of the year – two minutes of it were 100 minutes too much. Hands down this is the worst, intentional botching of delightful source material since Mike Myers went furry as The Cat in the Hat. For the sake of humanity, watch something else, please! If you do wind up sitting through it, I pity you. The only antidote I can think of: dig up a bootleg video of the 1987 made-for-TV Spirit movie. If my 20-year old memories are reliable, that thing actually had some charm and more than a little bit of the original comic’s tongue-in-cheek humor: (Unforgettable dialog exchange: Commissioner Dolan, thinking his inaction is responsible for the Spirit’s death: “I didn’t do it alone – I had help from laissez-faire and ennui.” Dumb cop: “French guys, huh? Don’t worry, we’ll catch ’em.”)

Joe is an occasional animation scripter and freelance NYC writer covering animation and sci-fi/fantasy entertainment. His work has appeared in the NY Daily News, Newsday, the New York Press and, as they used to say on Rocky and Bullwinkle, ‘a host of others.’ He is a regular contributor to the animation industry website, but it’s much easier to visit to see what he’s been up to lately.

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