Minor SPOILERS below:
Was anyone else depressed by True Lies? I enjoyed the first two action
sequences -- it's pretty great when Arnold knocks out the dogs and the hotel
chase is even better -- but by the third reference to "bitch" and the first
lame scene with Bill Paxton talking up Jamie Lee, I was wondering what was
supposed to be entertaining. Cameron is certainly the military master of
action, but the film becomes very flat, like the early Bonds (see
"Goldfinger" again and you'll know what I mean) but with a much less
interesting villain and even more overall bloat.
It used to be that the huge budget movies were the ones that meant the most.
"Lawrence of Arabia", "Gone with the Wind", "Red River", "Ben-Hur" -- these
were movies that had a thematic heft that seemed to justify the expense.
Even "Birth of a Nation" had a point, albeit a vile one. At some level the
$100,000,000+ spent on this film just has to seem obscene. I guess it means
Fox will make more movies, and maybe take more chances...if the gross profit
participants aren't taking all the gold. (It was estimated that "Hook" would
not go into profits for the studio until it had broken $200,000,000, since
Spielberg, Hoffman and Williams were first in line.)
The last movie with a nightmarishly high budget (that also went over budget)
and was really about something seems to have been "Apocalypse Now", which for
all it's faults (best illuminated in the documentary, "Hearts of Darkness")
has survived as a sturdy piece of entertainment and art.
The best big movie I've seen this year was a re-release of "The Bridge on the
River Kwai" at the Cinerama Dome. It's not as deep and mysterious as
"Lawrence" (David lean's next picture) but what it had to say about honor --
the importance of sticking to it and then the importance of not letting it
twist one too far -- hit the audience I saw it with dead-on. You could hear
the response at times like when Alec Guiness is visited in the "box" and
won't give, and when he makes his last turn in the final few seconds. The
sense of having been entertained was complete, like a full course meal. In
comparison, "True Lies" is just a $100,000,000 dessert.