Moving on, this is what I thought of what I was able to watch.
I AM NUMBER FOUR. 2 Stars. I wasn't expecting the super-powered people to be aliens. Kind of disappointing, really. I was confused why the bad aliens had gills, baldness, and head-tattoos whereas the good aliens looked completely human. I was also extremely dubious that a guy as handsome and ripped as Alex Pettyfer would apparently have no athletic ability and was somehow expected to blend into the crowd. His shock at discovering his alien prowess felt rather silly. It was like, "Hmm, so that's what these bulging pecs are for." *facepalm* What's worse, his alien powers were kind of ridiculous. He had flashlights in his hands. In fact, I suspect that during filming he actually did have flashlights stuck to his hands. He got slightly cooler later.
It was nice to see Dianna Agron in something outside of Glee. I liked her character, and I liked Alex Pettyfer's character, and I liked them together, but I wasn't particularly drawn to any of the characters. I shouldn't say that. I really liked the alien dog masquerading as a really adorable beagle.
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. 1 Star. Apparently it's a comedy. I personally got bored within minutes and fast-forwarded a few times. I saw enough to get the gist and skipped to craziness at the end. Thank my lucky stars I didn't waste my time watching it all the way through. Not my kind of film. I'm not particularly surprised since I didn't like His Girl Friday either.
THE LEGEND OF ZORRO. 1 Star. Yes, I watched the sequel. I don't know why I do this to myself. I always find myself drawn to sequels even when I know they're going to be horrible. The original The Mask of Zorro was dark and light and fun and full of charm, suspense, romance, and hope. The sequel was a snapshot of the original film, fleshed out with every campy stereotype they could think of. I can't think of a single serious moment. There was nothing that had me in suspense or rooting for the heroes. It was in essence a parody of the first film.
MAID IN MANHATTAN. 2 Stars. The first film I've seen where Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes weren't that bad. Lopez because she's not generally a great actress, and Fiennes because I've loathed every character he's played, beginning as a brutal Nazi soldier in Schindler's List and ending as a disgusting English aristocrat in The Duchess.
The story's not terrible, but I was slightly perplexed why Jennifer's uptight, responsible character would allow herself to play dress-up in a rich guest's clothes without permission. I liked that Fiennes' character met the son first and was interested in meeting Lopez because of that. But the story was a bit too down-to-earth with frank sociopolitical discussions to work well with the fairytale Cinderella-romance vibe they were trying to pull off. I think it would have made a better chick flick if they'd left the fairytale aspect behind and sold it as two people from different worlds meeting and finding each other fascinating and attractive and working through that. The dress-up dreams-come-true fluff just didn't mesh well.
LETTERS TO JULIET. 3 Stars. I skipped over the scenes I didn't like this time through, namely the scenes with Sophie's self-centered fiancé. I still find Christopher Egan's version of a proper British accent rather annoying, although I'm not sure how much of that is the dialogue's fault. I still got wrapped up in Charlie and Sophie's connection later in the film, and Claire was as elegant and enchanting as ever. I still hate the silly balcony ending, but the rest of the film is just good enough to make up for it.
KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI. 3 Stars. A former co-worker recommended this film to me a number of years ago and the name has stuck with me. Imagine my surprise when I found it, rummaging through the library shelves! Sadly, the DVD was one of those damaged ones I mentioned, but when it stopped playing at a crucial moment halfway through, I discovered the film on YouTube.
This is only my second Bollywood musical and I'm not quite used to the genre yet, but I liked it. At first I thought it was a bit long - it even had an intermission - but the second half was better than the first and then I didn't notice the length. There were a couple of mini-songs that didn't have English subtitles and when a verse or chorus was repeated, the subtitles disappeared, so I had to try to remember what the lines were. I was able to figure out that the sound "Ha" means "Yes", "Or" means "And", "Hi!" is "Oh my!", and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" either means "Something happens" or "Something happens in my heart". Whatever the case, that song definitely has the prettiest and most memorable melody and I'm still singing that line in my head.
I preferred the women's performances over the male lead's, but the overall story was good. Being a musical, much of the acting is quite over the top - it was particularly strange to see Anupam Kher (Bend It Like Beckham) playing the over-exuberant principal and father - but the family dynamics and love story were very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to checking out more Bollywood films soon!
JULIE & JULIA. 2 1/2 Stars. It was an interesting film and entertaining enough. Julia Child's voice and mannerisms got on my nerves a little by the end of the film, but her character was still believable. I got annoyed at Julie Powell on her narcissistic blogging quest when she neglected her very understanding husband. Diddo for Julia Child and her husband, but Julia seemed to have a bit more give and take with him at least. It was strange to see Stanley Tucci romance Meryl Streep after seeing their performances in The Devil Wears Prada, but I was mostly able to ignore it by the end of the film since they were rather convincing in their roles. I laughed a couple of times, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the story. An enjoyable film, but I won't be watching it again.
FANTASTIC FOUR. 1 Star. I saw it once a long time ago and thought it was awful. I watched it again mostly because I've seen the main actors in other stuff since then (Dark Angel, Amazing Grace, Captain America) and wondered if I would still think it was that bad. It's really not horrible, it's just hollow. The camerawork, hair and makeup are cartoonish, some of the dialogue is really cheesy, and the character relationships are rather flat and stereotypical. What fascinated me the most was how different Chris Evans' Human Torch was from his Captain America role. From cocky, attention-seeking playboy to humble as dirt, self-sacrificing hero. The difference was so striking that there were a few moments when I thought to myself, "They are both Chris Evans, right?" It made me love Captain America that much more.
DATE NIGHT. 2 Stars. I'm not usually one for straight-up comedy. I only laughed at a couple of scenes, and maybe a line here or there, but by the end, I was charmed by the husband/wife relationship. I had a silly grin on my face as Carrel and Fey cuddled up together in the diner.
MISTER ROBERTS. 1 1/2 Stars. I had no idea what to expect going in. I think it was supposed to be half-comedy, half-drama, but I only felt the drama part. It successfully got across the stir crazy depression that could set in on a navy cargo ship in a war, and the dangers of having an incompetent and tyrannical captain, but that made for a rather depressing film. I respected Mister Roberts and the doctor (who I recognized and loved in How To Marry a Millionaire), and I liked Jack Lemmon's character despite his laziness. The ending was bittersweet and the rest of it was too sad for me to enjoy it.
EAGLE EYE. 3 Stars. I thought that the film might be boring on a second viewing because a lot of the suspense the first time around was based on the mystery of who was setting up and controlling the main characters. Instead, I was engaged throughout the film and enjoyed the relationships that developed along the way. The story isn't very character-development heavy, but it's entertaining. I think it helped that it's been such a long time since I've seen it (i.e. not since it came out). It's not a once-a-year type of film.
THE ISLAND. 3 Stars. I was spoiled years ago that the main characters are clones, so there wasn't a mystery factor for me to work through, but I liked the film all the same. When Michael Bay's name came up in the opening credits as the director I thought, "Oh, no. Not a straight-up action film." I was then extremely surprised how little action there was in the first 30-60 minutes. It was set up very well, and it was fun to see the child-like characters grow more aware and independent as the film progressed. Sean Bean is always an excellent adversary, and Djimon Hounsou turned out to be fantastic as well, though I dismissed him at first as a stereotypical hitman. I think a few more layers of dialogue could have fleshed out the film's world a bit, but it was sufficiently intriguing on a first viewing.