War of the Worlds… wow, that was bad. Charlie Finlay has some spoilerific comments on minor tweaks that would have made it a lot better. I have one: when your ending is so inscrutable, even though it’s a genre cliche, that it has to be explained in a voiceover, your movie stinks. Even the delightful Dakota Fanning couldn’t save this one for me, since her role was limited to shrieking very, very piercingly. Having Tom Cruise play a character who’s almost as big a dick as the actor himself wasn’t the best idea Spielberg’s ever had, either.
The Fantastic Four was slightly more palatable crap. I won’t go into the number of things that were stupid, pointless, or inexplicable in this film because I’d just be recapping the entire thing. The big problem with it for me is that I adore Julian McMahon beyond all reason and Ioan Gruffudd leaves me cold, so the whole time I was really rooting for the villain to just wipe out all the whiny, airbrushed heroes and then go have a cigar. (Except Chiklis. He gets a cookie. It’s kind of sad when the stars of FX TV shows outshine the big-name movie people.) This film also wins this year’s award (swiped right from the grip of Batman Begins!) for most ham-handed tacking-on of a sequel teaser at the end of the film.
If I sound especially bitter, it’s probably because I’ve spent the last two weeks catching up on Veronica Mars and my expectations for good screen storytelling have (again) been revised upward. Way, way up. I adore this show with an irrationality previously reserved for Joss Whedon series… and there’s nothing supernatural about it. The heroine just has the worst problems you could dump on a teenage girl and still have her walk and talk: her perfect boyfriend dumped her without explanation two weeks before her best friend (his sister) was violently murdered. Her dad, the sheriff, went after the dead girl’s prominent, upstanding father for the crime, and in so doing lost his job, his house, and his wife. Veronica sided with her dad and in so doing lost all her friends. She went to a party to prove that they couldn’t get her down, and there she was drugged and raped.
And that’s just the backstory. The show follows the current tougher, much snarkier Veronica. Going to school with all the former friends who hate her would be hard enough, but on top of that she’s working for her dad (now a PI) and investigating her friend’s death, her mother’s disappearance, and her own rape. It’s very noir, but not depressing. And every single one of the mysteries is solved by the end of the season. How’s that for satisfying?
Veronica: You wrote “slut” on my car last year at Shelly’s party. Why?
Madison: Because “whore” had too many letters.
(Veronica has asked a reluctant Wallace to get a look at something hidden in someone’s gym bag)
Veronica: But if you do it…I promise to be your best friend forever. Come on, Wallace, don’t you want us to be BFFs?
(…Wallace does so and gets caught…)
Veronica: What’cha got?
Wallace: A reputation as a jock-sniffer. You can be your own FF! I’m retired.
Logan: You do not want to start with me today, Paco.
Weevil: Are you sure? It was in my day planner, under “goals.”
Trina: Pop Tart?
Logan: Hmmm, a Tart from a tart.
Trina: Ye of the cynical wit. Can I ask you something?
Logan: Would you look at that? (mimes pulling something from his mouth) There was a string attached to my Pop Tart!
(Veronica kneels beside her car, inspecting a tire.)
Veronica: Just as God made me.
Enough of that. It’s very twisty and funny and wrenching. Its continuity is amazing — film writers can’t seem to hold a plot together for two hours, but this crew pulled it off over an entire season without any major holes.
I love this show to pieces. Screw the summer blockbusters; is it September yet?