Gorgeous Men Disappoint
July 8, 2006

Today’s film lesson: watching movies just because they star gorgeous guys is a bad idea. Not even pretty boys with accents can make up for movies that really want to be video games.

The Lawnmower Man
The Lawnmower Man
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The Lawnmower Man — Pierce Brosnan is the scientist investigating virtual reality, who uses it to turn the borderline moron neighborhood handyman into an evil super-genius. Think Charly, only really bad and with really cheesy fake computer animation. Much worse than I remembered. (I had hopes that all the online commentators insulting the effects were being typically harsh on anything that got computers the least little bit wrong, or anything that tried to make hacking more visual, but they were right.)

The only reason to watch it is that Brosnan’s character likes to dictate his “experiments” into his computer journal while shirtless, and that’s not enough to make up for the rest of this cliché-filled time-waster.

The Thomas Crown Affair
The Thomas Crown Affair
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The Thomas Crown Affair — A much better movie than the first one, but I made the mistake of watching it on TBS, which resulted in two problems: the movie, although recorded according to the published time slot schedule, cut off just as Rene Russo leaves the museum the final time, so I missed the ending, and all the sexy bits were cut out. The staircase scene, ouch!, and her dress being two of the most obvious omissions. Boo basic cable!

I hadn’t realized how angry and grim Brosnan looks during most of this movie, even when interacting with two amazing women, Russo and Faye Dunaway as his psychiatrist. Lovely scenery of all kinds, and I adored the Magritte imagery. I’ll have to get a DVD so I can see the “adult” material without ads and editing.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing
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Van Helsing — I’ve had this for ages simply because it stars Hugh Jackman, and it’s never seemed important enough to watch. It still isn’t. I threw it on while doing some other things, and I’d ignore the sequences clearly intended to be video game sections, looking up only when Hugh talked. I think I wound up paying attention to about 15 minutes total. Did they ever explain why his character remembered things that happened hundreds of years ago? Overall, dumb and no fun.

I read in the IMDB trivia section that the final fight scene was supposed to have Hugh nude, only the director felt it would be “too distracting”. I needed some distraction from the rest of this turgid mess! Boo stupid director!

By the way, has Kate Beckinsale ever done anything worthwhile? Credit scan… apparently not. Eye candy who can’t act.

16 Responses  
Eric Gimlin writes:  

From what I remember of it, the Lawnmower man had one very, very brief window when it was interesting right when it came out; just because the computer animation was so new and novel at that point.

Now that it no longer has the wonder of newness, I can’t imagine this holding any real interest for anybody. Any movie sufficently dire to make Stephen King take his name off the credits, given what has been done to most (not quite all) of his books once Hollywood has had its way with them, must be truly beyond the pale.

Johnny Bacardi writes:  

I thought Van Helsing was dumb and fun. More dumb than fun, but still. And you’re right- Beckinsale couldn’t act annoyed in a traffic jam. She’s awful.

Rose writes:  

I found Beckinsale witty and endearing in Cold Comfort Farm, although it’s been a good 10 years since that came out and she’s mostly made an impact as an action babe. I guess there’s not much call for prim yet pragmatic early 20th century roles like the one I liked.

Craig Welsh writes:  

The Thomas Crown Affair remains one of my favourite movies. I know it’s not a great work of art, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Anytime I see it coming up on tv, I remind myself not to bother because they will just cut all the fun parts (ie. Rene Russo in that dress) and just pop in my DVD instead.

There was talk of Brosnan working on a sequel. I wonder what’s happening with that?

Katherine F. writes:  

Today’s film lesson: watching movies just because they star gorgeous guys is a bad idea.

Any time I’m tempted to watch a movie because the cast is impressive, I mutter “Clash of the Titans, Clash of the Titans,” until the urge goes away. (Laurence Olivier! Maggie Smith! Ursula Andress! You’d think it’d be good, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong.)

On the other hand, I suspect there’s a threshold of not-sucking above which eye candy can distract you from plotholes. (See Halle Berry’s skintight leather in X3. She can’t act, but she can certainly sway.)

Kelson writes:  

Van Helsing is great fun if you assume it’s a parody. It’s not intended to be, but if you go in with that expectation, it works.

I realized a few weeks after I saw it that it’s the monster movie equivalent of “The Eye of Argon.” If you haven’t read that, it’s reputed to be the worst fantasy story ever written. It tries to hard to be Conan but ends up being more like Plan Nine From Outer Space with barbarians. (That link goes to a blog post of mine, which in turn links to a site that has the story.)

Actually, I was thinking about Van Helsing recently. At the time I saw it, I thought it was a perfect example of what happens when you put every cliché you can think of into one movie. Last night I found myself thinking the same thing at one point during Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest—except that the Pirates crew actually managed to make it work. I think the main difference (aside from a better script and better acting) is that Pirates acknowledges the absurdity and revels in the comedy, instead of trying, as Van Helsing did, to be serious.

James Schee writes:  

Beckingsale really ‘scared me’ in the movie Serendipity. I usually love movies with John Cusack, he is so cool, but that movie just ‘frightened me.’

Allison Hanningan is my I love her and try to watch everything she is in actress. Yet that may have finally been broken with Date Movie, which I have yet to bring myself to watch. After it was strained by an American Wedding.

Johanna writes:  

Rose, I vaguely remember watching Cold Comfort Farm a while back, but all I recall is not understanding the point and thinking it didn’t have much of an ending.

Craig, IMDB still lists it upcoming in 2007. That’s something to look forward to!

Katherine, Clash of the Titans at least is good bad. It’s very watchable, I think, just for the visuals (as Harryhausen’s last film). And I like Bubo.

Kelson, parody of what? Summer action films?

James, I’m wondering about Date Movie myself.

Allan writes:  

Kate Beckinsale has yet to be great in anything, but her dad was a giant of British TV sitcoms in the 70s: Porridge, Rising Damp, etc.

Aaron Scott the Great writes:  

I hate to sound like one of those boring old farts who says the orginal whatever is so much better, but I do love the OG Thomas Crown, with its extremely weird chess scene between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. But I’m not hating on the Brosnan version.

When confronted by those old farts, I always point out that the Bogie Maltese Falcon, considered definitive, was the third version of Hammet’s book. In fact, the OG version was on TCM last night.

Speaking of old movies, I know what Kelson means about watching a movie in a certain frame of mind and that changing your interpretation. There is a scene in Citizen Kane in which Orson Welles is trashing a room in a fit of rage. If you tell yourself while you’re watching it that Kane is actually having a vicious attack of the clumsies, it becomes by far the most hilarious slapstick scene ever recorded.

Craig writes:  

I was quite fond of Kate Beckinsale in the A&E production of Emma. In the days when A&E was more about the classics than the Gottis. And Dog the Bounty Hunter.

I cannot believe I’m posting in defense of Kate Beckinsale. Ha!

Kelson writes:  

Well, Van Helsing tries to be an homage to the classic monster movies, but ends up crossing the line into unintentional parody. So I look at it as a parody of every monster movie ever made—itself included.

Johanna writes:  

Oh. That makes a twisted kind of sense. :)

Rich Johnston writes:  

Johanna. Read Cold Comfort Farm. Go on. It’s dead good.

Dan Coyle writes:  

The best part about Kate Beckinsale’s acting, though, or lack thereof, is that it makes the supposedly bittersweet climax one of the best endings ever.

Chris Galdieri writes:  

I love many things about the Thomas Crown Affair remake. One of them is Denis Leary’s performance as the guy who slowly realizes that he’s NOT the star of the movie, leading up to his character’s really funny final exchange with Rene Russo…


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