The Golden Compass (2007)

Do Over: EYG Sunday Morning Revisit Week 3

I just barely remember the first time I watched The Golden Compass. It was on DVD and my slight memory was that I was bored during it. So when I saw that this movie was leaving HBO Max at the end of the month of May, I decided this would be a good film to use for week three of the Do Over.

What I found amazing upon the second viewing was that a film with as many fantastical elements and magical creatures could be as dull as The Golden Compass was.

According to IMDB: “It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford’s motley streets on mad quests for adventure. But Lyra’s greatest adventure would begin closer to home, the day she heard hushed talk of an extraordinary particle. Microscopic in size, the magical dust–discovered in the vast Arctic expanse of the North–was rumored to possess profound properties that could unite whole universes. But there were those who feared the particle and would stop at nothing to destroy it. Catapulted into the heart of a terrible struggle, Lyra was forced to seek aid from clans, ‘gyptians, and formidable armored bears. And as she journeyed into unbelievable danger, she had not the faintest clue that she alone was destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

That synopsis from IMDB just scratches the surface of the convoluted story of The Golden Compass. What a mess the story of this film was. It seemed to change every ten minutes or so, much like the main antagonist (if that is who she was) Nicole Kidman. Kidman played Mrs. Coulter and her motives changed in every other scene. The movie also starred Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, although I could understand if you forgot that he was in the movie because the movie certainly forgot that. He appeared at the beginning and was not seen again until the very end, and that was not even in person.

The young protagonist Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) showed herself to be quite a strong little girl who was an accomplished liar or manipulator. She was thrown into several situations but I never once felt that she was in any jeopardy (except the one near the end in a lab, but it was resolved in such a unlikely manner that you could hardly count that one).

I did enjoy the inclusion of Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby, a character nearly identical to dozens of characters I have seen Sam Elliott play before, though he is such a likeable actor that you forgive the repetitive nature. The ever wonderful Ian McKellan voiced the polar bear Iorek Byrnison, who went from drunken servant to king in the space of about 30 minutes. He pledged his fealty to Lyra because she let him know where his armor was being held, despite it being a painfully apparent location.

The CGI and special effects were hit and miss. Sometimes the film looked good, but other times it looked as fake as you could imagine.

The the film just ended. It pulled a Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ending (which also had Ian McKellan in it) and the group had come together to head off on a quest. Let’s just say that this was nowhere near as satisfying as that movie was.

Prior to the abrupt ending the film pulled out about three Dues Ex Machinas in the final battle. This included the sudden appearance of Iorek Byrnison, who apparently can teleport (or else is a really sneaky gigantic armoured polar bear).

The Golden Compass was a disappointment and packed with ideas that are not executed or are so messy that you do not care by the time the film gets around to them.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Do Over: EYG Sunday Morning Revisit Week 2

The second week of the Do Over is here and this week we are revisiting the 1993 Nora Ephron film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle.

I remember watching this film for the first time on VHS and being truly bored by it. In fact, I remember being so bored that I fell asleep during part of the movie. Despite enjoying the work of Tom Hanks, I haven’t been interested in revisiting this.

However, with the Do Over series, I gave Sleepless in Seattle another chance and I found it to be much more enjoyable than the first time.

Recently widowed, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) moved with his son Jonah (Ross Malinger) away from Chicago where everything reminded him of his lost wife to Seattle for a new start. Jonah was seeing that his father was not moving on and he called into a radio show designed to help people with their love lives.

Jonah is able to get Sam on the phone to talk to the “doctor” and his story went out across the nation. Annie (Meg Ryan), engaged to a man (Bill Pullman) who was steady and kind, but who was not magical, became obsessed with Sam and Jonah, finding the pull of the pair to be irresistible.

Using the romantic movie An Affair to Remember as its backbone, Sleepless in Seattle is a romantic comedy that looks at the fantasy/magical side of love, how some loves are destined to come about despite distance or implausibility.

There is certainly a ton of implausibility inside this script. Just the idea that Jonah could get himself to the top of the Empire State Building from Seattle alone is implausible enough. There is the apparently live broadcast of “Dr. Marsha Fieldstone” on Network America that went live across the whole nation instead of being taped and recorded earlier. Not to mention that Jonah set this whole thing up because he read Annie’s letter that talked about Brooks Robinson. Oh, and there has never been a man like Bill Pullman’s character in the history of the world.

Sure, there are plenty of moments that are just not realistic, but that works in this movie. The movie depends on the unlikely to pull the viewers into the magic. We know that Annie is not a creeper and that there is some unspeakable connection between the two of them and you root for them to overcome these unlikely odds to find a way together. And the ending scene on the top of the Empire State Building is both amazingly romantic and downright weird at the same time.

Sleepless in Seattle is considered one of the greatest rom-coms of all time by many and I have a much more appreciative opinion of the film than I did before. It helps that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are exceptionally likeable actors and that Ross Malinger is as charming of a kid in the movies as you are going to find.

Blade 2 (2002)

Do Over: EYG Sunday Morning Revisit Week 1

With the DailyView concluded, I am beginning one of several new features at EYG. Every Sunday morning, I will be watching a film that I had seen before, but did not like. Many of these will be loved by others and I am going to do a Do Over to see if my thoughts on the film have changed since the first viewing. It has happened several times (Seven, Fargo being two major examples). Starting on May 1st, I have revisited Guillermo Del Toro’s sequel to the Daywalker himself, Blade 2.

I really enjoyed the first Blade and I had high expectations for the movie. I remember going to see it in the theater with a bunch of my friends down in Iowa City and coming out of it very disappointed. We had spent time before playing video games, particularly a fight video game, and I could not shake the feeling that Blade 2 was nothing more than just another video game. I thought the graphics were terrible and that it looked no better than the animation in the video games that we had played prior.

Unfortunately, I felt that way still after watching it this morning. There are just so many moments that are so rubbery in the fights that it takes me completely out of the movie.

Of course, Wesley Snipes is perfect casting. He personified the character of Blade beautifully, even in the moments of this movie that I did not like.

The return of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) was ridiculous. They just wanted him back after his impactful death in the original and I am not sure I bought how they brought him back.

Norman Reedus was there too as a Whistler-lite replacement. His story arc made no sense and was there just for the predictable swerve. Reedus does much better work in The Walking Dead and, hopefully, gets a chance to play Johnny Blaze in the MCU because that feels like perfect casting. Here…not so much.

The villains are dull and reminded me too much of the Ubervamps from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To be fair, this movie looks to have been released before (right around the same time) the Ubervamps made their appearance on Buffy, so this is most likely coincidental.

The story was lackluster and simplistic. I did like the idea of Blade being forced to team up with the vampires to face a greater threat, but, in the end, that plotline fell apart. There were plenty of moments that made no sense. It was just included in the film because the plot needed it to be there. There was very little in way of character development.

Leonor Varela was an interesting addition to the cast as Nyssa, but she was the only one of the entire vampire team that had any personality at all. The rest were all just characters there to look cool and to get picked off. Even Ron Perlman’s Reinhardt was the bad ass that you knew eventually would face off against Blade. And then that confrontation was anticlimactic.

Overall, I did not find much more enjoyable about Blade 2 than I did the first time. I am hoping that Marvel Studios will do better with their upcoming Blade film.