December 14, 2002
Adaptation, Equilibrium, and Lord of the Rings
Behold as I post about Lord of the Rings without using the word "epic", Equilibrium without using the word "dystopian", and Adaptation without using the words "postmodern", "auto-deconstructionist" or "meta-fiction".
I am attempting to plow through every feature on all four discs of this Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings DVD set, before I catch the next installment on tuesday. This is one badass movie. The only major flaw I see is they overplayed the comic-relief angle with Gimli, the dwarf. And of course Frodo and Sam should have kissed at the end, just like Eminem should have kissed Mekhi Phifer.
Also I could do without the Enya.
I saw Equilibrium this week, which a lot of people seem to love, but I'm afraid I must align myself with the NY Times review: "If someone left "1984," "Fahrenheit 451," "Brave New World," "Gattaca" and the Sylvester Stallone potboilers "Judge Dredd" and "Demolition Man" out in the sun and threw the runny glop onto a movie screen, it would still be a better picture than "Equilibrium," a movie that could be stupider only if it were longer."
Of course, action movies are supposed to be stupid, and the fight scenes were cool, driven by a mixture of gunplay and martial arts called "Gunkata" (which wasn't quite as cool as "Gymkata", but close). Christian Bale was a solid action hero and unlike Taye Diggs he seemed to understand the premise of the film, that everyone had to take drugs that rendered them emotionless. Taye must not have read that page in the script cuz he was emoting his ass off.
It could be a solid rental if you like goofy action. But anyone who calls this movie intelligent needs their glasses checked.. I knew it was gonna be dumb when it started out with the narrator describing the great evils of the world, and this was illustrated by footage of Josef Stalin and then Saddam Hussein. How poor can your sense of history be, to put a small-time hustler like Saddam next to Stalin?? That was mad corny. I was hoping the next shot would be of Michael dangling his baby, or Terrell Owens signing a football.
The two movies I've been looking forward to the most this year are Adaptation and Gangs of New York. But I've also been worried, cuz they both star actors (Cage and Dicaprio) who used to seem cool but are hard to have faith in these days. Well I saw Adaptation, and I gotta say Nicholas Cage was excellent. He wasn't just less annoying than usual, he was actually really good. I was never conscious of seeing Nicholas Cage on screen as opposed to the character(s) he was playing. The rest of the ensemble is superb, especially Chris Cooper, he better get nominated for something.
The movie as a whole was top notch. Just like Being John Malkovich this was an incredibly fascinating premise that seemed incredibly difficult to execute, and they pulled it off incredibly well. I'm sure some people will find reasons not to like it. The third act of the film arguably betrays everything that came before. And it is the type of hip movie that makes hipsters feel good about themselves, clever writing that makes you feel clever for getting the jokes, so even I was almost hoping I could say it's too clever for its own good.
But I can't front, it not only succeeds as an exercise in demented narrative intricacy, but this Rube Goldberg contraption is also equipped with a heart that is deeply engaging and emotionally resonant. It wows you with its complexity but still works in every way you'd want a simple, straightforward movie to work. Probably the best I've seen this year.