Review-fer Two-fer

Or:  Leo DeCaprio & The Olympians: The Sanity Thief

The snow and such has been messing with my movie-screening schedule, which means that I’ve gone to the theater twice in less than a week…completely unheard of!

On Thursday, we and Agent Asian caught Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (whew!  to be called ‘PercyJ’ for the rest of this review.)  It was…ok.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I’d hoped for better.

I suppose the main point I want to make is:  if you are a big fan of the book series, and you are the sort who gets really upset over changes to the source material, do NOT see this flick.  BIG-time changes, on both the nitpicky and macro levels.  The kids are 17, not 12 as per the books, which is a big improvement.  Olympus and Hades seemed properly epic, another improvement.  They tweaked the storyline by creating a rather stupid plot device to get the characters from Point A – Point B, which is still better than the books which had them just blundering into one adventure after another.  The only truly BAD change was that they completely removed the Big Evil Baddie pulling strings in the background who was the raison d’etre of the entire book series!  Without that, I’m really not sure what the point is.

But as a movie, it was ok mindless entertainment.  Logan Lerman is cute, the CGI didn’t suck, and SeanBaby was hot as Zeus, tho only appeared in two scenes.  Most of PercyJ’s other weaknesses (such lack of any character development) were present in the books as well.  I’d say wait for rental, but if you have a kid chomping at the bit to go, find a cheap matinee.  You won’t begrudge your $5.00 that much.

Then last night, BW and I went to Shutter Island.  Coincidentally, another movie adaptation of a book that I hated.  :D

The novel (by Dennis Lehane) was meant to be a mess-with-your-head creepy psychological thriller but it was SO utterly simplistic that even I figured out the “twist” a quarter of the way through!  Me!  I never figure things out…I never see the twist coming…I never know whodunit.  Shutter Island the novel was that lame.  But it had a promising setting:  broken-down mental institution on a remote island during the 1950′s…Red scare/Manchurian Candidate undertones…psychos running amok, etc.  I figured, “Marty Scorsese can work with this.”

And, he did.  Having read the book, it was hard for me to judge the movie.  I knew what the “twist” was going to be.  But BW said it was handled well.  Bear in mind this in NOT an M. Night Shyamalan flick where the “gotcha” is the ONLY thing the movie has going for it.  Shutter Island is a Scorsese movie, and you will guess at the twist…you will probably even figure it out…but it will not ruin your enjoyment because the rest of the movie is very well made and a treat to watch.

The visuals are great.  The performances are superb.  Time for me to suck it up and admit:  Leo DeCaprio is an actor now.  The supporting cast features two favorites of mine: the always-good Mark Ruffalo and the infallible Max Von Sydow.   Certain things, some clunky dialog, the over-the-top creepiness of the mental institution which just builds and builds unrelentingly, may seem a little heavy-handed at first but they will be justified in the context of the end of the movie.  As long as you are paying attention.  I don’t know how popular Shutter Island will be because I don’t think that audiences have the ability to pay attention anymore, to be active viewers.  But if you put down the m#f^ck!ng iPhone for 2 hours and shut off the g*dd@mned Twitter, you will be rewarded.

At times, you will fear that the narrative thread has completely unraveled along with Leo’s mind, and you will have no idea what is going on.  But just trust Marty; he’ll guide you through his carefully-constructed madhouse just fine, and you will enjoy the tour.

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