Monday, June 9, 2008

Russian Dolls (2005)

This disappointing and lengthy sequel to L'Auberge Espagnole has none of the original's peppy bounce. The Barcelona roommates are all grown up now, mostly into rather sullen adults. In particular Xavier (Romain Duris), who divides his time between various freelance writing projects and wallowing in self pity over the fact that he's almost 30 and doesn't have a steady girlfriend. However his ennui doesn't prevent him from making whoopee with much of the heterosexual female population of Paris. After many digressions and uninteresting events, Xavier eventually realizes that he has been carrying a torch for the winsome Wendy all these years and ultimately all the roommates are reunited in Russia for a wedding. There they make toasts celebrating how people can change and Germany can change and Europe can change and all the usual unified Europe platitudes. I'm for peace and harmony as much as the next guy but I prefer the old post-war Europe, when all the countries got along but secretly detested each other. It was more fun.

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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

The filmmakers here have achieved a feat previously thought impossible: this sequel is even worse than the exceedingly crapulous original. The Silver Surfer/Galactus saga borders on epic poetry to fans of the FF comics, but the way it is handled in this putrid production is more Homer Simpson than Homer. Actually, Homer Simpson would have written a more intelligent script. I'm glad that Stan Lee is finally making the mega-bucks he has deserved for so long, but how can he let them make a mockery of his material like this? Speaking of Lee, his 10 second cameo as a wedding crasher is the best bit of acting in the entire film. If there are any more films to be made in this franchise (and, in a way, I hope not), the director clearly needs to be replaced. He has amply demonstrated over the course of two films that he has absolutely no feel for this material.

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