- Early imprinting on Dungeons and Dragons, which means I'll pretty much watch anything with wizard battles in it, as long as it isn't an asinine adaptation of a beloved text (hence no Last Airbender or Dark is Rising for me);
- Extremely low expectations of the film giving rise to high expectations of frequent opportunities for righteous mockery;
- A certain curiosity as to the probable performance levels of Nic Cage's Hair.
Nic Cage's Hair in the event offered an uncharacteristically subdued performance in this film, suggesting that its scenery-chewing career is under revision, possibly in search of slightly more Oscar-baiting roles1. It also didn't help to have it partially extinguished under That Horrible Hat for large portions of the film, and the Hair is almost certainly speaking sternly to its agent on that front:
However, in categories (1) and (2) the movie certainly delivered: while the cheesy wizard battles were flashy and entertaining, as befitting any film bearing Jerry Bruckheimer's name, the movie was most fun in its cheerful participation in the inevitable mockery. The really quite horrible and clunky dialogue, along with the absolute predictability of the plot, was resurrected at any moment when it might become unbearably wince-worthy by deliberate undercutting, ironic tongue-in-cheekness, and happy geeky undermining of heroic stereotypes. (And what's with that? geeks are so the underdog cliché of the moment. Bring me Scott Pilgrim, stat, it's time it was done intelligently.)
The cast are serviceable rather than inspired, and while Nic Cage is really turning into a truly terrible actor incapable of giving any degree of realism to his lines, there were some small portions of scenery left mostly ungnawed. It's okay: Alfred Molina and the Hair got to most of them later. The best performance was from the special effects, and bonus points for dragons and mirrors and Tesla coils, oh my, as well as a rather creepy disembodied Morgan Le Fay. Also, this being a Bruckheimer, car chases, foot chases, paper chases, Chinese New Year dragon chases, fire, floods, giant flapping gargoyle thingies, rather sexy animated bull statues (not a spoiler, you completely see that coming the moment you see the statue), and the shorting out of the complete New York metropolitan area in the service of saving the world. Extra bonus points for wolf puppies, the Depeche Mode crack, and for tuning your Tesla coils to the girl's musical preferences as a dating strategy. Geeks rule.
We had a blast. I can't recommend that you go and see this movie, because the trick to enjoying it is to go in knowing full well it'll be absolutely terrible. This is not a recommendation. But it's an unpretentiously terrible film: you need to relax and let it do its schtick, something that's fast becoming a skill necessary to surviving Hollywood blockbuster dreck. It worked for Prince of Persia too. Next week we're watching The A-Team. News at 11.
1 The in-car conversation on the way to the movie entailed an increasingly wild set of speculations on the complex private life of Nic Cage's Hair: its dedicated personal assistant, its demands for star billing separately from Nic Cage, its tendency to leave hair on the furniture and piddle on the rug, its battles with the mullet typecasting, leading to an addiction to seedy night-life, the bottle and cheap women, with concomitant drunken ravings when Nic and its agent arrive yet again to drag it home from a booze dive at 3am. Get stv to do the drunken ravings for you sometime. Also, I shall never forgive Jo for her image of Nic Cage's Hair going down on a floozy. Must bleach brain now, repeatedly. So must you. And it won't be enough.