Here's the latest round of movies... two thumbs up and one stinker....
This was a fantasy adventure romance where Claire Danes plays a star which was knocked out of the sky. It was a very well executed on all fronts. Good writing, good acting, and stunning visuals. Shot almost entirely against a digitally created background, they created some awesome landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. This includes the large crater formed when the star impacts, the evil looking crevasse where the witches lair lies, and the steam punk sky ship captained by an ambiguous Robert DeNiro (I won't say any more about this character for fear of spoilage). They created a great fantasy world along with a fairly detailed but consistent adventure story. While it's not as swashbuckling or as epic as Willow, it sits firmly in the same category in tone and in execution. The humor actually leans towards the dark side... lots of grusome yet comical deaths, and seldome seen necromancy humor. Probably best for pre-teens and above. So if you're looking for a light hearted romance with witches, ghosts, pirates, and some awesome special effects, I highly recomdent this one.
Black Snake Moan
This is the one were Morgan Freeman keeps Cristina Ricci chained up in his living room in her underwear. Needless to say, this is not for the kiddies. I really liked this one. More than anything, this movie is a story about the blues. Not a history, just an example of the blues in it's raw form, as unfolded in a bizzare and extreme set of circumstances. What is that set of circumstances? Well, did I mention Christina Ricci is chained up in Morgan Freeman's living room in her underwear? It tugs at your moral underpinnings, sort of like "American Beauty" does... you really have to ask yourself, "would you?"
The Darjeerling Limited
Go back and read the review The Royal Tanenbaums, and just copy and past it here. Then add some more SUCK to it. This was the worst of the crop. What a stinker. Take Royal Tenenbaums, wrap Owen Wilson's head in bandages, put him on a train in India, and add two hours of boring, take away the cool soundtrack, and this is what you get. Yes, even though one of the characters has an iPod and keeps plugging it in to his speakers to play music, they fell completely short on the bizare hip music. The story goes nowhere, the characters are completely unlikeable, and even though it leads up to them performing a likeable deed, you still don't like them or care about them.
I will add one general comment to this whole line of films that didn't get mentioned in the previous post. They DO make an attempt to do some interesting camera work. In both this and "Life Aquatic", they apparently had to build a replica of the vessel (train or boat) in a studio as a cross section so they can pan the camera along it's length giving you a peak into the various compartments. In "Life Aquatic", they would follow somebody as they walk from the bilge, through various ladders and stairs, through hatches and doors, all the way up to the deck and then onto an elevated tower. In "Royal Tanenbaums" they followed poeple through the house, into closets, onto the roof, and even had views from an upper window looking down towards a lower window (and this was written into the story, as Gene Hackman saw Owen Wilson thinking he was unobserved as he slipped out the window below). In Darjeeling Limited, they were forever panning back and forth from compartment to compartment, and also sticking their heads out the window and looking from one to the other on the outside.
So I will give credit where credit is due for the attempt to use some interesting and innovative camera work. However if those techniques distract from, rather than add to the expirience, then they are just camera angles for the sake of camera angles. You can decide if they work or not.