Tag Archives: Jerry O’Connell

Veronica Mars (2014, Rob Thomas)

Rob Thomas loves the "Veronica Mars" television show fans. He must. He pretty much wastes the first act of the feature film (also titled Veronica Mars) thanking them for funding the film's production through Kickstarter. It's worse for star Kristen Bell than the film–both recover, but the film first–as the script's moving her around like a marionette. She doesn't get to do anything for way too long. Instead, she's an entirely passive, narrating protagonist.

Luckily, a lot of Thomas's fan service is amusing. So it allows Mars to coast–something Thomas's direction unfortunately can't do (he's mediocre until the second half)–and the acting is mostly strong. Even when the characters are just there to take up running time.

But coasting isn't enough; Thomas seems to know it because he brings erstwhile leading man (and don in distress) Jason Dohring. The script gives Dohring all the drama and all the layers it doesn't give Bell. Dohring excels. It's in his scenes where Bell starts getting better.

And then, all of a sudden, Mars sheds the dead leaves and starts growing organically. The film still calls back to elements from the show, but Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggiero give Bell a role to act. They finally let her engage with the story instead of just visiting old friends. Problem solved.

Fine supporting turns from Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hanson and Gaby Hoffmann. Tina Majorino looks completely lost.

Mars succeeds–almost everything with Bell opposite Dohring or Colantoni is spectacular stuff. It's just rough going at the start.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Rob Thomas; screenplay by Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, based on a story by Thomas; director of photography, Ben Kutchins; edited by Daniel Gabbe; music by Josh Kramon; production designer, Jeff Schoen; produced by Thomas, Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), Krysten Ritter (Gia Goodman), Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), Francis Capra (Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro), Percy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel), Gaby Hoffmann (Ruby Jetson), Chris Lowell (Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski), Tina Majorino (Cindy ‘Mac’ Mackenzie), Jerry O’Connell (Sheriff Dan Lamb), Martin Starr (Lou ‘Cobb’ Cobbler), Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe), Max Greenfield (Leo D’Amato), Eddie Jemison (JC Borden), Jamie Lee Curtis (Gayle Buckley) and Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars).


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Mission to Mars (2000, Brian De Palma)

If it had been made earlier–even with the same flawed script–Mission to Mars would probably have been more successful. Many of its failings relate to the CG special effects. Stephen H. Burum is incompetent at lighting them, but they also bring an artificiality to the film’s tensest sequences. So, while Ennio Morricone might have a fantastic piece of music for a suspense sequence and De Palma might be directing it fine, it doesn’t work out right because of the CG and Burum’s ineptness.

Mars has a lot more problems–Connie Nielsen being one of the bigger ones, the plot, De Palma’s inability to create a transcendent scene (it’s more literal than a grade school documentary about helium balloons), some other terrible supporting performances–but there are a lot of strengths. At the center of the picture are Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle as three NASA buddies. All of them are fantastic. Even with Sinise inexplicably wearing eyeliner. His hairpiece, while awful looking, is more understandable.

And the film does have a certain amount of earnestness and general wonderment. It takes De Palma about a half hour before he lets the film have that wonderment, which is a poor choice since he’s already taken it to Mars once without any grandeur. It’s a gee whiz adventure picture from someone who doesn’t know how to feel gee whiz.

Jerry O’Connell is good; otherwise, the supporting cast is lousy.

Mars fails, but does so very unfortunately and very interestingly.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Brian De Palma; screenplay by Jim Thomas, John Thomas and Graham Yost, based on a story by Lowell Cannon, Jim Thomas and John Thomas; director of photography, Stephen H. Burum; edited by Paul Hirsch; music by Ennio Morricone; production designer, Ed Verreaux; produced by Tom Jacobson; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Gary Sinise (Jim McConnell), Tim Robbins (Woody Blake), Don Cheadle (Luke Graham), Connie Nielsen (Terri Fisher), Jerry O’Connell (Phil Ohlmyer), Peter Outerbridge (Sergei Kirov), Kavan Smith (Nicholas Willis), Jill Teed (Reneé Coté), Elise Neal (Debra Graham), Kim Delaney (Maggie McConnell) and Armin Mueller-Stahl (Ramier Beck).


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Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010, Joaquim Dos Santos)

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam is not particularly good. It has a lot of problems, which I’ll enumerate, but it also has a lot of undeniable strengths.

I’ll start with those….

I mean, it’s got James Garner voicing an old wizard. That casting alone makes it worth some kind of look.

And Dos Santos conceives some good action sequences (they’re all based on Superman and Superman II), but set to the delicate electronic score, they work.

Unfortunately, the writing’s weak. Michael Jelenic is fine on dialogue, but the plotting is dumb (why is a thirteen year-old living alone—who pays rent, buys groceries?).

Additionally, there’s some terrible CG and acting. Arnold Vosloo does a Bela Lugosi impression and George Newbern’s a weak Superman.

Plus, the end is—from Superman II again—a superhero beating up a regular person for kicks.

Still, it only runs twenty-five minutes….

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos; screenplay by Michael Jelenic, based on DC Comics characters created by Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, C.C. Beck and Bill Parker; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Benjamin Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman; produced by Bobbie Page and Dos Santos; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring George Newbern (Superman / Clark Kent), Jerry O’Connell (Captain Marvel), Arnold Vosloo (Black Adam), Zach Callison (Billy Batson), Josh Keaton (Punk), Kevin Michael Richardson (Mister Tawky Tawny), Danica McKellar (Sally) and James Garner (Shazam).


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Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009, Sam Liu)

I’m sure there are some hardcore gay comics less homoerotic than Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman, so the prospect of seeing it as a cartoon was irresistible. While Warner Premiere ostensibly intends their latest line of animated DC Comics adaptations for “adults” (i.e. men in their twenties and thirties with the discretionary income to waste it on a Blu-Ray of a poorly illustrated cartoon), these films are timed for eventual Cartoon Network airing–seventy minutes or less.

And Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is just as gloriously homoerotic as an animated movie as it was as a comic book. It’s a shame there’s no make-out scene.

The comic book also directly equated George W. Bush to a homicidal, drug-addicted maniac. Maybe the movie doesn’t go as far–Clancy Brown sounds way too smart–but it comes close. It’s something to see something geared, essentially, towards kids portray the President of the United States as a power mad psychopath, out to ruin the world for his own profit. It’s a little problematic (there’s no Dick Cheney analog in the movie), but it’s something.

Between the politics and the super-gay superheroes, the countless defects are almost forgotten. But not really.

Based on Ed McGuinness’s art, Public Enemies looks cheaper than an advertisement for Hostess fruit pies on afternoon television. It’s got some awful CG, but the composition is generally all right.

Brown is good, Tim Daly is good–Kevin Conroy is lost.

It’s a decent conversation piece, not a movie.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Sam Liu; screenplay by Stan Berkowitz, based on a comic book by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness and characters created by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, C.C. Beck and Bob Kane; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Christopher Drake; produced by Bobbie Page; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor), Kevin Conroy (Batman), Tim Daly (Superman), Allison Mack (Power Girl), John C. McGinley (Metallo), Xander Berkeley (Captain Atom), LeVar Burton (Black Lightning), Ricardo Chavira (Major Force), Jerry O’Connell (Captain Marvel), Robert Patrick (Hawkman) and CCH Pounder (Amanda Waller).


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