It's still spring break, the family is still away on a trip, and I've still got the place to myself ..... what a great opportunity to enjoy a little action ... er, action movies, that is ... the kind that are a little too violent for My Favorite Landman, and not-at-all age-appropriate for the kiddo (and barely age-appropriate for me).
My second batch of DVD rentals were, like the first, long on action ..... but they were also long on story, and long on star-power, which set them apart from the first batch.
The first was American Gangster, Ridley Scott's cinematic portrayal of Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington), a real-life kingpin from Harlem who smuggled heroin into the US on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War, and the efforts of detective Richie Roberts (played by Russell Crowe) to bring down Lucas' drug empire. Those stars and the director all brought with them award-winning talent, and it showed. American Gangster went on to become the first crime saga to gross over $30-million its opening weekend, and the best opening weekend for both Washington and Crowe. It went on to earn a spot on dozens of critics 'Top 10 Films of the Year' lists. Of the films I've rented so far this week, I'm tempted to buy my own copy of American Gangster to watch again, sometime.
My other rental, this time around, was Beowulf, a motion capture film based on an Old English epic poem, and directed by Robert Zemeckis, using the same technique he employed with his 2004 film, The Polar Express. Like American Gangster, it was long on action, long on story and long on star power, offering the voices and MC images of Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Angelina Jolie (the topic of this earlier post by me), among others. The Beowulf saga is one of the most famous in the history of western literature, and it is filled with plenty of colorful and lusty characters ... especially blood-lusty characters. I thought it was a shame that the scriptwriters - who reportedly found the poem's narrative unreliable on some points - decided that their modern sensibilities could improve upon a work that has endured for centuries, concocting a storyline that left me shaking my head at times ..... for example, they introduce Christianity into the saga, then they blame that faith for erasing true heroes from the world - even as they, the writers, erased any character's heroic characteristics from the script. That being said, the film is a visual, often visceral treat ..... GREAT eye candy, but no longer a great story.