Saw the premiere film of DREAMWORKS SKG tonight. A studio created with the same showmanship that Chaplin, Fairbanks and Pickford had when United Artists came about. Now we have Geffen, Katzenberg and Spielberg have gone and done the same thing. A novel concept, make movies with film lovers at the top calling the shots. Well let's see how the three did, but first I'll bore ya with how the day led up to the PEACEMAKER.
Woke up and went about hooking up with my trusty sidekick Glen (Coaxial dude) to drive me to get my father and mine's pass from a local mega-cool person at the Chronicle, then we had to go to the local college paper, THE DAILY TEXAN to pick up copies of last friday's issue which had an AP story on me. Then we were headed for the mighty mountaintop retreat where the deer and the sparky will play, THE FORTRESS OF GLEN. A mighty construction designed in part by Satan and Glen's own mind. The pikes buried in angles with rotting corpses of door to door salesman and Clean Water Action types were spaced out every 7 and 3/4 feet. I don't know the importance of that. His mighty steeds galloping in the forested field and a wild woman with a gun loose in the compound. A very odd place indeed. This was our holdover spot till the line was to begin.
Once inside, Glen's gigantic eyed super-brained dwarf child (obviously a product of alien abduction) wanted to show me and my father a tape called, "There Goes A Train" aka in David-speak "Chooo Chooo". I shuddered in fear as the odd dwarfling put the tape in, moved the tv and sat beside me. This kid is good. He has his act down. Then I watched 40 Minutes of Trains. Leaving stations, hooking up to other trains, doing the train thing. Engineer Dave with this psychotic 3 o'clock stare in his eyes, twitching while talking about trains, about the controls, about their brakes, everything about trains. In fact did you know that a train moving 55 mph takes over a mile and a half to come to a complete stop? Pretty cool stuff. Amtrack has a new train called the Genesis. GET ME GENESIS!!! GENESIS IS PLANET FORBIDDEN!!! Ummmmm, anyway, back to the trains. You push the lever forward... to go... forward. Pull it back to go... back. Controls so easy a Child could use them. Dad began screaming about damn brakemen going on strike in Chicago and causing him to bake for 9 hours. Man, tough break eh? Then at the end of the piece this beancounter looking sleazy dude comes out and threatens the children watching the tape (including me) that if we so much as step on a rail, he and the feds will arrest us, lock us away and throw away the key. Little David, the wide eyed boy, chuckled. I get the idea this kid's gonna be trouble. I could see his plan for taking over the train, stealing the train, riding it, over and over and over. Making Glen serve drinks, forcing Harry to play the Twister game (I'll explain later) and he'd just pounce some poor guy named Sam.
Then we put on a tape that this fella I met here in Austin at a City Wide, he bought a Last Unicorn poster from me. It was called REPAIRS and the dude's name is Marshall McAuley. Now usually I'll get these tapes of short films and quite frankly most of it ain't too good, but this was pretty good. I was surprised. Involved a repairman in the future, who has forced himself into a friendship with a drone (floating robot that he programmed to love him) named Ariel (clever), because he couldn't relate to people in this world. That's all I'll spill for ya, but he had some pretty damn nifty effects done for the piece, which looked to be shot on film. The ending was a little shaky, but all in all, I liked it.
Then it was the waiting game. I flipped channels on the cable box, trying to find something to see, and wound up watching the first hour of the first 6,000,000 Dollar Man episode. This was very cool. I forgot that the dude from Psycho and Kolchak were in it. And I can say that in the first hour, Lee Majors had next to no lines. However, Dad and I had to leave before the end, Glen was delivering us to the CINEMARK theater here in Austin to get in line for PEACEMAKER.
While standing for two hours in the line, we engaged in the usual witty games. One high school student was asking Biology questions that none of us knew. Another had mental word games to play, which we were all too stupid to figure out. Then Ron, Glen and I got into a bout of chest hair pulling. (For the Record -- Ron started it) We laughed and joked and had a good time waiting for that two hours. We developed a sense of community and companionship. I watched as the "Press" people arrived 10 minutes before the line was to enter, and just walked us by. Sure I could do that, but then I'd of missed fun conversations about 187, a funny conversation about the state of Australian and New Zealand film where I argued with a "Bubba" mind set, and when I asked one person about Kiss The Girls, she began shaking all over with excitement, she loved the film apparently. This helps keep one's perspective, you lose that, and you lose your touch with film which is definately a medium of the time it's appearing.
Then just as the line began to move forward RoRo arrived. Fresh from skipping a college course like a good cinephile in training. Now this Cinemark is one of them there new- fangled theaters with that stadium seating and 9348539 speakers and rocking chairs and leg room, blah blah blah. I hate it. Damn movie screen should be above you, there are suppose to be people's heads in the way, and most importantly we are suppose to be uncomfortable. I mean what next? Cheap food and drinks?
Then people began passing out George Clooney, PEACEMAKER postcards, kinda scary looking if ya ask me. I was psyched, I couldn't wait to see the Dreamworks SKG logo on the big screen and hear the music that was played behind it. I get off on that kinda thing. Plus there was the vicious rumor of a PRINCE OF EGYPT trailer. Then we realized that the film was 9 minutes late. And that started our bunch of chimpanzees a talking about how there probably ain't a movie. The gimmick behind Dreamworks is to lull you to sleep with slight pulsing of lights and waves crashing into surf, your subconcious creates a film in your mind's eye, and then they raise the house lights 2 hours later and you had your Dream Work.
Then the lights went down, we braced for the pounding surf, but it never came. Instead was that damn animated cat singing songs about cellular phones, babies crying, go spend your life savings on snacks, and your seat can blast you through the roof, and oh yeah see movies at Cinemark. Duh, I'm already in the theater, don't need an ad to tell me to see movies here, already here, sitting in my seat, films starting, not gonna leave to get overpriced snacks, just start the trailers and the movie. Sorry, personal vendetta venting.
Then came the Dreamworks Logo. Pretty nice, love the image of the Huck Fin type on the crescent moon fishing, classic image, classy opening, cool subtle music, don't know how composed it though, Williams?
Then PEACEMAKER started. I really wanted to like this film. I didn't want to come on here and tell all of you that Dreamworks is stupid, that Peacemaker sucks, but you know what? I don't have to, because Dreamworks is still cool, and PEACEMAKER is pretty damn good.
First time Feature director Mimi Leder keeps this film moving at a brisk pace. Oh by the way, I began having "Chooooooo Chooooooo" video flashbacks during the opening, which really kind of got in the way of an otherwise cool opening. This film by the way is about "cool". In the train sequence those guys' red eyes and lasers are just coooooool, not very practical, but it looks real cool. And you know what? That's cooool. The film is lovely to look at, to watch and sit through. This was a good solid project to start Dreamworks off with. Entertaining film.
What I liked about it:
That TO DIE FOR babe from DEAD CALM was the anchor for us regular folks to associate with. She is the character that looks upon the violence and the mayhem as not the thing that life should be filled with. She has a conscience and she knows what is at stake, and she understands the need for compromise in the imperfect world she is in.
That psycho bank robber/vampire fighter/MD/Batman is so cool. I really must say that Clooney is a fave up and comer for me. I have this belief that with the right directors, scripts, projects and mental stability that Clooney could make that big crossover that Eastwood did from TV and become the "cool" actor for a generation or two. He has the presence as is evident by the charm, humor and style he exudes. Watch him beat the poo- poo (some people complained about my language use) out of Herr Schumacher (which you can not convince me wasn't intentional.) When Clooney says, "Shoulda taken the money Hans" you get that sense that this man is on a mission, not just hitting his marks.
The bad guy. He's cool too. He's confused, he hungry for revenge, but not for an individual but a system that allowed the single driving act to occur. He has regrets, sadness in his face, and a soul that was ravaged. He swallows the travesty he has endurred and sets out to make the world feel his loss. (I'm not condoning his acts, just sympathizing with him)
Nicole and Clooney as a pair work. They don't muddle things up with a goofy romance, nope. They don't press each other's SEX in each other's face throughout the film. They have a job to do, one neither likes, but one that they have to deal with in the here and now. As Shortround said once, "No time for love Dr.Jones" could also be exemplified here.
The ferocity of Clooney's character. As you will see in this film, he just will come down on your ass, and he doesn't do it with cute little, "Hasta La Vistas" or "Stick Arounds" which are perfect for Arnold, but trite when other stars try it. The film is set in an international world where there are penalties for crossing international borders without permission.
This film was cool. In all likelihood, I'll see Peacemaker about 3 more times before it's run is out. And if there is a PRINCE OF EGYPT trailer stuck on it somewhere, I'll see it more than that. Is this a GREAT action film? No. I like FACE/OFF more, but this one I'll watch on video at least once a year. Great Action films like ROAD WARRIOR and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK find their way onto my TV set at least 4 times a year.
This is a good start for DREAMWORKS, the audience applauded. A good sign. Out of my group to see the film, I liked it alot. RoRo thought it was a "good movie". Glen thought it was "lovely" and a "wonderful movie". And my Dad thought it was a "damn good action film". Oh hell, almost forgot to mention Zimmer's score, which propelled this film with a very interesting flavor. Next on DREAMWORKS' slate is MOUSETRAP, a comedy with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans, and AMISTAD which I presume is going to be a Oscar push film. Those 3 guys and the team they have built are definately on the right track. Their first film that I'm dying for is PRINCE OF EGYPT which better be DAMN fantastic to meet my expectations, I have no doubts for the moment.
Go see PEACEMAKER. It's pretty damn cool.