Wednesday, April 25, 2012

100th review: My Ultimate GUILTY PLEASURE

I looked up images for "Guilty Pleasure" and got some pretty messed up stuff, so I just went with this...  Don't look it up! Creep.

Okay, so the other day, I realized that I was on the brink of writing 100 reviews. And being as such, I saw myself with a few options: I could either A) wait until The Avengers comes out next week and just do a whole special on that (Which I probably will do, it just won't be the 100th special), or I could B) review a really bad movie. At first I thought about reviewing something like Battlefield Earth or The Room, something so horrendously bad that it is on the cusp of being good in a messed up way. But then I decided to do neither, I just thought that I would talk about my ultimate guilty pleasure. Now you may remember back in November when I did a list of my top 5 guilty pleasure movies. And for the most part, I was being honest about those. However I will admit that putting Anaconda on there was a bit of a cop out. I couldn't think of anything to fill the spot and just thought that Anaconda would do. But then I was thinking about this other movie the other day, and ultimately decided that I wouldn't do either A or B, I would just talk about this movie. Considering that the 100 mark is not that big a deal, I'll talk about Battlefield Earth or The Room another day. Also, I will admit that some of these posts were kind of foned in, so I shouldn't make a big deal out of this one. Some of them, I am rather proud of. I have no regrets about the Hero of the Day bit, or my Sean Bean rant, I had fun writing the Batman Forever review, and I really enjoyed talking about the best Christmas movies. Others (pop culture deaths for example), I would just like to say Yes, I did fone that in, mostly because I was bored and just threw that together in about 5 minutes.

Today, we're going to talk about a motion picture that is chock full of HAM. The movie is Man in the Iron Mask.

Didn't see that coming did you? But it's true, this movie is just chock full of respectable actors hamming the shit out of themselves. And when you look at the cast, that is actually kind of surprising. Except for Jon Malkovich, of course. If you don't think Malkovich can ham it up, I'd tell you that you haven't seen enough of his movies, or any of them for that matter. Just watch Con-Air (or this) and get back to me. The rest of the cast, including Jeremy Irons, Gabriel Byrne and Gerard Depardieu shockingly does a bit of hamming as well. Which is especially surprising coming from a guy like Jeremy Irons who gives us less ham than the rest of the cast, but for Irons's standards, we might as well call it hamming.

And before you assholes comment on this or text me telling me I left out Leonardo DiCaprio, I have one thing to say: KISS IT. I already knew Leo was in this, you already knew Leo was in this. The whole world knew Leo was in this. I'm the only guy in the world that remembers that Jeremy Irons was in this and even he probably forgets from time to time! Leo is all anybody remembers about this, and the fact that there were 2 Leo's in the same room just made it even better. Teenage girls everywhere got weird fantasies when that scene happened. And don't even try telling me that you didn't! If you haven't I would like to invoke rule 34 and say that "You do now". You are locked in a room with two young Leonardo DiCaprio look alikes. And this was Leo from after Titanic, so he still has that semi-boyish look about him. One of them is a well groomed king that smells like spring while the other is a prisoner in shanty, torn, DIRTY clothes that you just want to get him out of... I would complete the fantasy, but let's face it, you already have (assuming that you are reading this and you are a girl). You're welcome ladies.

Wait a minute... What the hell was I just talking about?

So anyway, this was a movie that took itself seriously and at the same time, didn't take itself seriously at all. Let me explain, when you look at the setting and the costumes and the props, you can really tell that they went all out with this. They really went balls to the wall in trying to recreate France in the 1600's. They even got a well made cast of classical actors (and Leo DiCaprio) to tell this story. So when you look at the trailers for this movie, you would think that it would be pretty awesome. Also, take into account that this is one of the only Alexandre Dumas adaptations that actually hits it on the head as to what Dumas novels were all about. While I can't say that I blame Hollywood for wanting to make certain novels into actions flicks, it really irks me the way they have taken Three Musketeers and turned it into a kid's flick. Particularly this last one with Chirstoph Waltz (I cry every time I mention his name with that movie). Contrary to popular belief, Dumas' novels didn't really come across as being action flicks. They were really more along the lines of political thrillers, something Tom Clancy would write. So the idea of taking something like Three Musketeers and turning it into action shclock with Cardinal Richelieu (if that is how you spell his name) as this cartoony badguy really pisses me off. The real life Cardinal Richelieu wasn't a bad guy perse, he was just shady, he was a guy that played everybody and schemed into getting his way. Not to mention there were a ton of rumors started about him and what he may or may not have done. Kind of like Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander VI). He was really a guy who thought the ends justified the means and was a controversial figure at the time. So naturally, being a character surrounded in such mystery, Dumas cast him as the villain in his novel, and it really worked out, he made for a cool antagonist. In the films, they always try to make him like a weaker Bond villain or a batman villain that you would see in one of Joel Schumacher's films, and the less I talk about those, the better.

The most recent film is just one example of how Hollywood has raped this classic. Another Dumas novel that was very different from the subject material was The Count of Monte Cristo, with Jim Caveizel and Guy Pearce. This one, I like as a movie, but the fact that it went off from the source material was a bother to me. The movie itself wasn't bad, it was compelling, it had enjoyable characters, a good story and some cool sword fights. But... have you read the novel? There isn't a single sword fight in it (I don't think). If they had just changed the names, called it something other than Count of Monte Cristo, I would like it a lot more.

So yeah, I love Alexander Dumas novels, though they are hard to read at times, and I really don't like the fact that they have been treated as kids' stuff when they could be done a lot better. This is the only movie that actually did treat it like the political conspiracy that was in the original book, and it is based off of a rumor that was floating around France at the time, and still puzzles people even to this day.

Now let's move on to what is silly about this movie, and why this movie contains enough ham to feed a homeless shelter on Christmas. While I said that the sets and costumes were well put together, it was everything else that missed the mark. The script, the music, the camerawork, the direction, everything. It's one of those situations where I think the actors that played the musketeers (Irons, Malkovich, Byrne and Depardieu) got really hyped when they signed on, and then they read the script, arrived on set, met the pipsqueak that they would be working with, and just said "Screw it! Nobody's winning an oscar for this one" cut their losses and hammed their way through this movie. And after listening to some of the dialogue, I really have to say... Can you blame them? These are four of the most well respected actors in the business, and this is what they were given to work with? Some of the lines are cool, like when they are kidnapping the king, and Jeremy Irons looks at him and says "It's Judgement Day". Yeah, that was pretty cool, but overall, there is just so much corniness and a tongue-in-cheek atitude that didn't need to be there. Quite frankly, it shouldn't have been there because if you had just given the script more thought, you could have had a real oscar contender on your hands. Everything else is pretty generic and cliche, from the music to the ending fight scene, and it's just horrendous.

So, okay, I've bashed the film enough, why then, do I like it so much? Like I said, you can tell that the actors knew this movie was basically dead on arrival, and they decided to write this one off and do whatever they wanted... And to be honest, I love it when that happens. I love when an actor realizes that they are in a shitty movie and treat it as such. It adds a certain level of dignity to the movie that wouldn't be there if they had just tried to worm their way out of it. You see this happen with Nicolas Cage all the time. Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that the guy really knows how to act (or not act) his way through a shitty movie.

And those are my thoughts on Man in the Iron Mask. Stupid? YES! Enjoyable to watch? Yes, but not in the way they wanted me to enjoy it. Either way, they got my money, so what do they care?

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