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Spambot's Journal: July 21, 2009

By The Pajiba Staff | DVD Releases | July 21, 2009 |

By The Pajiba Staff | DVD Releases | July 21, 2009 |

Coraline: According to Agent Bedhead, Coraline is one of the year’s best, so far: “Eyes are the windows to the soul, or so we’ve been told countless times. Sometimes, however, we cannot trust even our own eyes, for looks can often be deceiving. This disturbing duality forms the basis for Coraline, a spooky film with an ominous “be careful what you wish for” tagline that sets the tone for the cautionary tale within. Simultaneously anxiety-inducing and affecting, Coraline is an exquisitely attractive film that never achieves its visuals at the expense of the story itself. This seemingly impossible feat occurs through an astonishingly effective collaboration between Neil Gaiman, author of the 2002 horror novella, and director-screenwriter Henry Selick (A Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach). So much could have gone wrong on the way to the big screen in the hands of a lesser director, but Selick has achieved the fairly tenuous balance between his own craftsmanship and Gaiman’s work. This total integration took seven bloody years to achieve, and, quite frankly, I am amazed that Selick never went insane during the entire process.”

Echelon Conspiracy: We had a very special guest critic write our review of Echelon — our very own Spambot, who wrote: “We have discovered your weaknesses and will exploit them. Why else would we repackage Eagle Eye for the ABC Family Network and release it into a startling number of theatres as Echelon Conspiracy. We understand your disdain for certain actors. We have ruined careers to make this happen. We combined Hayden Christensen’s whiny pre-pubescent delivery, Kirk Cameron’s aw-shucks corn-fed khaki clad goodness and Neil Patrick Harris’s Doogie Howser castoffs and used this amalgam to sand down Shane West. No longer will you see his charming glint, his roguish smile, or his extra large penis thanks to Rigidol. Now, he’s playing computer geeks who wear Sears handmedowns.”

The Great Buck Howard: Prisco surmises that the biggest fault with The Great Buck Howard was Tom Hanks’ unwise decision to cast his son opposite John Malkovich: “Tom Hanks is probably a cool dad. But he doesn’t need to buy his kid a starring role. Colin Hanks is a decent enough actor, and given the opportunity to drift along the career riptide that took a Scott Caan or Casey Affleck to cinematic legitimacy he might have turned out alright. Instead, Pop made a rookie stage parent mistake, thrusting his underdeveloped gosling into the limelight to share the stage with people out of his league. I mean, fucking Malkovich, man! You don’t try to stand up to the likes of Malkovich when you’re only decent screen time was as straight man to Jack Black’s hairy manchild in Orange County. My dad taught me to swim by throwing me in the pool, too, but he had the common sense not to fill my bathing suit with nickels. MALKOVICH!”

Watchmen: Dan feels that Zack Snyder did a great job of being faithful to Alan Moore’s graphic novel, but less so in making a good movie, writing: “Adapting a comic book into a film — not just a character or group of them, like Batman or the X-Men, but a full-on book — is a confusing thing. Comics are already a visual medium, and though their beats and styles differ from movies, they are both still ways to tell a story that rely on what the reader/viewer sees. Saying a comic book would make a good movie is like saying a newspaper article would make a good magazine feature; yeah, okay, sure, but wouldn’t that be just a little redundant? How this all relates to Watchmen will only really be known with time. Director Zack Snyder, in only his third feature, has confirmed that he’s a filmmaker obsessed with detail at the expense of emotion, and while that worked pretty well for 300 — based on Frank Miller’s slick but flat graphic novel — it doesn’t always jibe with Watchmen. The comic book from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was remarkable for its depth and nuance of character, and any film version must out of necessity excise whole chunks of psychological development in order to come up with something that plays like a feature. Working from a script by David Hayter (X-Men, X2) and Alex Tse, Snyder is devoted to the source material, creating the most fastidious and loyal re-creation possible, but he’s also hampered by the fact that no amount of love for the book can make it a good movie, and in fact the closer it stays to the original, the less cinematic it becomes. As adaptations go, Snyder has created an often beautiful pop opera, a soaring and visually stunning series of images that are capable of striking a chord. But as for making a cohesive, flowing narrative that stands as its own film and not a live mimic of a comic, Snyder comes up short.”

I should also note that “Pushing Daisies,” Season Two is now out on DVD, as well as a “Prison Break” movie that will conclude the series.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.