The Secret life of Walter Mitty: 2013

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I never liked the James Thurber story, nor the 1947 Danny Kaye film. The Kaye film failed because his waking adventure, parallels his over the top daydreams, so it came off as just another daydream. I was still a child when I first viewed it, and it seemed implausible even to my adolescent mind. It was my least favorite Danny Kaye movie ever. As a kid I went to the matinees religiously and enjoyed a lot of Mr. Kaye’s movies, so the problem wasn’t Danny Kaye.

When I heard that there was going to be another incarnation of the Thurber story I cringed. Probably like so many other boomers that had been introduced to the Story of Walter Mitty in high school, I viewed him as the quintessential spineless milksop. He was the kind of guy that would end up in the nut house, because life had beaten him down and caused him to retreat into a permanent fantasy. In other words he was more of a tragic figure than a comic one. For this reason I avoided seeing the 2013 version of The Secret life of Walter Mitty.

Now for something completely different! While Channel surfing I stumbled upon the last part of the Ben Stiller movie; to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ben Stiller for me is a hit or miss proposition, mostly miss, but this film is one of his best and most human portrayals. The movies starts out in predictable Walter Mitty style, with a bunch of ludicrous and childish fantasies. But then something amazing happens, Walter is required to ditch his fantasies and live in the real world.

On a search for a missing negative, Walter follows a series of cryptic clues that take him on a journey, that is as much spiritual as it is physical. With the help of his assistant/fantasy girl, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing enigmatic freelance photographer Sean O’Connell. He is forced to look within, for the inner strength that has always eluded him. Along the way he finds courage and confidence and enhances his E-Harmoney profile, no kidding, thats in the plot.

When he finally catches up with O’Connell, he discovers that what he was looking for was at home in the last place that he expected it to be, figuratively and literally. There is symbolism galore in this movie, but it’s symbolism that most of us can understand. I’ve watched this movie at least five times who’d a thunk it!

3D HEAD ACHE (PACIFIC RIM)

Because I hate seeing movies on the opening weekend, I went to see Pacific Rim on the monday after. Mondays can be one of two things; it can be an indicator of a movie’s popularity or an indicator of its ultimate box office demise, especially during the summer months. During the winter months Mondays are always slow movie going days, especially for the matinees because most people are at work and the kids are at school. However in the good old summertime Monday matinees can be a strong indicator of word of mouth advertising. I like Mondays because it can be like the poor mans version of a private screening, unless it is a very popular movie like the Hunger Games and then even Monday or midweek screenings are crowded. 

This particular Monday I sat in a mostly empty theater (maybe 10 people tops) and watched a movie that was like the theater mostly empty. As much as I love watching Idris Elba, his character was a cartoon cutout of the hardcore commander and the resident dead bro walking trope. The only other characters that I found even remotely interesting were Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) with a strong showing from a limited role by Max Martini (the Unit). Rinko Kikuchi who was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress in Babel (2006), gave a stilted performance as a stereotypical Japanese maiden with Kung fu grip. I blame all of the bad acting on the direction and the script, since most of the people are pretty accomplished actors. 

As far as the cinematography was concerned I thought it was a jumbled mess. I couldn’t tell what I was looking at half the time. The interior shots were laughable and the Monster physics were not believable. Monsters and machines of such immense size would be inundated or crushed by gravity.  Some post war heavy Tanks were deemed to heavy for American roads and city streets so imagine what kind  damage these gigantic Robots and monsters would do to any urban area’s underground infrastructure. 

This has always been my problem with Mechas. At least they didn’t transform into trucks or jet aircraft, But they did manage to bring out the old sword for this one. Hey when modern missiles and plasma cannons don’t work just pull out your primitive pointy thing. One good thing that I can say about this flick is that it wasn’t as annoyingly loud as anything that Michael Bay has produced.

All of that aside, here are my other beefs with this flick. Number one is that I hate 3D. Until they can create the technology of an actual 3 dimensional screen I think that they should leave it alone. I remember the 3D fad of the early 1960’s and it was fun and fascinating and you got those little white cardboard glasses with the red and blue lenses as a neat souvenir. You didn’t have to worry about wearing some one else’s germs, or heaven forbid inherit their recycled vermin.The new method is, at the end of the movie you dump your glasses in what looks to me like a waste disposal barrel for bio-hazardous material.

Supposedly some one sprays them with some kind of anti- bacterial cleaner before redistributing them to the next group of suckers. The pair I got still had some kind of goop on the lenses and I traded them for a hopefully clean pair.

The last Real D or 3D movie that I saw was Beowulf  and I had forgotten what a terrible headache that it gave me from eye strain. I wasn’t trying to watch the movie without the glasses, what gave me the headache was watching with the glasses. Once I had removed my glasses the headache went away. Because of the discomfort I have stayed away from any and all Movies in 3D.  This time around I did not have the option of watching the non 3D version (Thanks AMC), so I had to endure this faulty fake advancement in movie technology once again. Ten minutes into the movie I began to get a serious headache and I said to myself, “I hope this isn’t the future of movies because it hurts me to watch”. I promptly removed my flimsy glasses; (they’ve gotten a whole lot cheaper since 2007), and watched the rest of the movie in my prescription sunglasses which seemed to work just fine. I noticed very little blurring and no eyestrain. I am usually without glasses of any kind watching movies so the eyestrain can not be attributed to my going without them. This head ache is purely a side effect of the faulty tech of the so called modern 3D lenses.

Seriously I can do without the 3D effects; they are nothing more than a gimmicky annoyance anyway. They do nothing to enhance the action or the performance and the special effects look even cheesier to my jaded eyes than normal. I say give me the options of seeing regular movies which are immersive enough without this garbage and get rid of this fad until it is truly perfected.  My final verdict, wait for this one to come out on cable where you have the option to channel surf when you get bored.