Saturday, March 7, 2009

DVD Round up: Eagle Eye Encounters

I'm getting better slowly, but still watching mostly DVDs at this point, so you'll have to wait a bit for new reviews, but they should appear in a week or so. For now, I'll just warn you about two movies I didn't like, but really thought I would: the Oscar nominated documentary Encounters at the End of the World and the action flick Eagle Eye.

This year Man on Wire and Encounters at the End of the World were the two nominated documentary features available on DVD before the Oscars so I made an effort to see them. Man on Wire was terrific and fully deserved its win. I can't actually understand why Encounters was nominated except that people saw that Werner Herzog was the director. He narrates his trip to Antarctica to explore who lives there, what they do, and what they study. Now I'm all for science documentaries (Planet Earth, Life of Birds, etc. I've seen them dozens of times) but this was not that at all. He mocks the scientists (who I admit are a motley crew, I've been one of them (in Kenya, not Antarctica) and they're a strange bunch), and tries to explain the usefulness of their science (rarely anything beyond exploration). Herzog also tries to understand what brought them to McMurdo Station and the South Pole. They're not very interesting stories. Herzog also mocks the Station itself rather than his own misconception of what it will look like. It's minimalist and resembles a airport, with metal structures and construction vehicles and, since it's spring, lots of mud. When describing the town that has arisen to support the Station, he laughs that the town has a bowling alley and a yoga studio. I won't bore you with the rest that annoyed me about this movie, but will sum up by saying I didn't care for his style of directing or narrating his own views about the topic as if they were everyone's. Most of the nature images he photographed were beautiful and worthy of being included in an actual documentary on Antartica's beauty. 2 Stars/Lambs

The other movie that I don't think is worth renting is Eagle Eye. Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, and Billy Bob Thornton all feature prominently and all did a terrific job with very little plot. From the commercials it's a fun movie with Shia being told what to do by a woman on a phone who can obviously see everything he does. It takes more than 80 minutes before there's any more plot than that. We see "Her" controlling LaBeouf and Monaghan by having them drive through cities while "she" changes the traffic lights and controls cranes. "She" sends them to other cities and has them rob armored cars. However, not until the last 20 minutes to we find out who "she" is and why this story is taking place. In case you do choose to see it, I won't reveal the mystery, as there's no other reason to watch this movie. Too much action with very little to have any of it make sense. Shia LaBeouf is a good action star but watch Transformers again rather than renting this. 2 Stars/Lambs

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