Friday, March 31, 2006

For your weekend movie viewing pleasure

Here's a pair of USATODAY reviews for two of the films we've been following for a while on this blog. Jordan, I promise it's the last Basic Instinct news I'll post!


In Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone reprises the role of Catherine Tramell, a character that brought her stardom in 1992.
Sony Pictures

Well, maybe. But few people are into bad sequels that were made more than a decade too late.

No doubt Stone was banking on the double whammy her sultry blond murderess offers. But some things are so much a product of their time, they simply can't be resuscitated.

The 1992 phenomenon was creepy, tense and sexually charged in a bold yet tawdry way. This sequel lacks even a shred of those elements.

The plot has no credibility. The goings-on are not suspenseful, despite a series of gory slayings. A host of smart people (psychiatrists, journalists, detectives, eminent legal minds) falls under the spell of Stone's Catherine Tramell. Clearly middle-aged, she assumes an aggressively sexy stance that seems a tad ridiculous.

Despite her notorious reputation, these fine folks befriend her. We're supposed to believe it's because of her prodigious intellect and charms.

Yet that beautiful mind of hers just wrings chuckles from viewers. Stone's line readings are so brassily over-the-top and have such a forced seductive quality that they sound hilarious.

Her voice-over narration, read from one of her character's pulpy novels, is one example: "She dressed carefully. She liked to be well dressed when she killed." Another killer Stone line: "Don't take it so hard. Even Oedipus didn't see his mother coming."

Stone and the moody, atmospheric music are back from the first movie, but the score does a more effective job of conveying coiled, alluring menace than Stone does. Clearly, this was a vanity project for the actress, who is still in top shape — though she shows less than she did in her first go-round.

The setting this time around is London, but Stone's privileged American character seemed more at home in San Francisco, where the first movie was set. A top criminal psychiatrist (David Morrissey) is asked by a Scotland Yard detective (David Thewlis) to evaluate Tramell after a soccer star is found dead. Ignoring the advice of his mentor (Charlotte Rampling), the good doctor is drawn into Tramell's intricate web of lies, as well as into her expensively appointed boudoir.

The movie's most natural performance belongs to Thewlis. Most of the supporting characters, especially Morrissey and Rampling, seem stilted, as if embarrassed to be reciting the painfully bad dialogue by Leora Barish and Henry Bean. Director Paul Verhoeven directed the first film with more of a sense of erotic tension than Michael Caton-Jones musters here.

A Scotland Yard detective who tries to warn away the obsessed psychiatrist sums up this movie best: "She's not worth it."


Slither is old-school gooey, slimy, silly B-movie fun.

It doesn't aspire to be anything complex, high-tech or terribly clever, but it succeeds at gleefully grossing us out with its vision of hundreds of invading pulsating slugs and an ever-swelling giant mutant mollusk that begins to resemble Jabba the Hutt the more he grows. It celebrates the goofy creepiness of cheesy horror films while offering audiences plenty of tension-reducing laughs in the process.

A meteorite crashes to Earth, unseen by the police inside a squad car stationed nearby. It's a slow crime day in the small town of Wheelsy, where the big event of the year is the jamboree for the start of deer-hunting season. (There's a funny recurring gag about Lyme disease, in light of the woodsy environs and the infestation of extraterrestrial creepy crawlers.)

The meteorite houses a peculiarly disgusting alien life form, and not long after the rock hits the ground, the tentacled creature infests the blustery person of Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), the town's classless rich guy who married the town beauty, Starla (Elizabeth Banks). There is a hilarious bit featuring the couple's song — and one of the most annoying tunes ever recorded — Air Supply's Every Woman in the World.

Before tying the knot with Grant, Starla wanted to run away to Hollywood with her buddy, police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion). Fillion's well-timed quips and deadpan asides are a highlight.

Once the slithery creature from outer space burrows into Grant's body, it's only a matter of time before most of the town is infected, turning into ravenous undead. That happens around the same time the undulating slugs worm their way into every conceivable nook and cranny.

The police try to combat the heinous creatures, to little effect. A team of bumbling officers faces off against the plague of slugs and the voracious flesh-eating zombies. Guess who wins?

The contest is more fun than you might expect. For those who enjoy entertaining gross-out horror flicks, Slither satisfies. The squeamish should probably keep their distance.


Octopunk said...

The BI2 review reflects something that always bugged me about the first one, namely the supposed genius of Stone's character. I remember Jeane Triplehorn yelling "she's brilliant!" as a warning to Michael Douglas's retreating back, and I thought "ohhhh, she is not."

Octopunk said...

Man, Air Supply sucks.