Sunday, January 25, 2009

DVD Reviews: "Igor" and "Saw V"

I was busy catching up this weekend. Besides Repo! I saw two other movies on DVD.
The first was Igor, the animated comedy from MGM. Ostensibly made for family audiences, Igor takes place in the mythical country of Malaria (get it? yawn...), once a thriving and sunny place, now a land covered by storm clouds and home to evil geniuses. In Malaria, one is either an evil scientist or an evil scientist's assistant (an Igor). The King makes money for the country by extorting it from the rest of world, threatening to unleash an evil invention each year at the evil science fair. The Igor of the title (voiced by Jon Cusack) is an inventor in his own right and he dreams of evil glory. His previous inventions include an immortal rabbit, Scamper (Steve Buscemi) and an idiot's brain in a robotic jar, Brain (Sean Hayes). He works for Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese) a perennial failure at the annual fair. When Dr. G dies, Igor decides to enter his own invention in the competition, a decidedly not evil monster named Eva (Molly Shannon). The reigning champ, Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) wants to steal Eva (as he has every invention) for himself and employs his girlfriend, Jaclyn (Jennifer Coolidge) to help him. Jay Leno voices King Malbert, who has apparently deceived all of Malaria about their condition. The result is a boring mess; too dark for young children, not funny for adults and featuring animated visuals ripped off from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a far superior film. Only Cleese was smart enough to have his character die early on, saving him from the wretchedly unfunny script by Chris McKenna (the equally unfunny Grumpier Old Men). Director Anthony Leondis previously made The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado as well as two Disney Direct-to-Video sequels, which leaves one to question his skills as a director of animated fair in the first place. The movie has one or two funny moments, but the excellent voice cast is wasted here on a lame script and inferior CG animation. * (One out of Four Stars)

Next I watched Saw V. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed Saw, an original and intense thriller which started the so-called "Torture Porn" movement in horror, and had an ending which surprised even me (not an easy feat - I figured out The Crying Game and The Sixth Sense, well before their reveals). It started the careers of writer/star Leigh Whannel and director James Wan, and caused a bidding war at Sundance. Saw II was nearly as good as the original, but the sequels have been increasingly bad and Saw V is no exception. Kostas Mandylor ("Picket Fences") and Scott Patterson ("The Gilmore Girls") reprise their roles from Saw IV and Tobin Bell returns as Jigsaw in flashback sequences. Wisely, few of the other actors in the series make appearances, other than in photos or occasional clips from the first film. The plot stretches credulity to the limit and the death-inducing puzzles are increasingly sillier and sillier. If blood and guts turn on you on (and if they do, I suspect you need help), then Saw V may be your cup of tea. But if genuine scares and good story-telling are your thing, then I suggest you skip this lame sequel. No stars.
More, anon.

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