Anita and I watched a curious double feature last night, the much-maligned Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation "John Carter" (which really should be "John Carter of Mars" — in fact, you see that title in the closing credits) and the Liam-Neeson-vs.-wolves movie "The Grey."
I see a major parallel between Andrew Stanton's "John Carter" and Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen." Both are now famous in the industry for having enormous budgets and being huge box office flops. Both are actually very skillfully made, entertaining movies. Though "Carter" is not the equal of "Munchausen," it's plenty of fun and quite inventive. Despite all its spectacular visuals, it kind of effervesces from the mind when it's done, but it definitely serves as proof that box office failure does not equate to a bad movie (just as box office success doesn't equate to a good one.)
"The Grey," on the other hand, is basically a classically-structured horror film in which the Arctic environment steps into the role played by Jason or Freddy. It certainly serves well as a showcase of the numerous horrible ways one can die in frozen, wolf-inhabited wilderness. The acting by Neeson and his cohorts elevates the proceedings above what could otherwise be a lot of cookie-cutter B-movie trappings; for their brief time together, at least, these men stranded after a harrowing plane crash seem like real people, convincingly frightened and grief-stricken, puzzling in the quieter moments, as one well might, what the point of life is if this is how it ends. I suspect it takes a lot of liberties with both wolf behavior and what sort of things experienced men in a situation like this would actually do, but it's powerful nonetheless.
I enjoyed Carter, despite spending most of the film thinking the Martian Princess looked like she should be playing Wonder Woman -- it's that jawline, I think.
The sheer implausibility of the wolf behaviour in The Grey left me somewhat speechless. The best bit for me was when the big warning sign came up before the film came on -- I was watching it on a transatlantic flight -- to say that passengers of a nervous disposition might not want to see it. Not knowing anything about the opening sequence I couldn't imagine why this deserved a special warning. Then I saw it and chortled.
(Edited for typo)
Edited at 2012-10-07 10:12 am (UTC)