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November 14, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-14

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 14, 2005



Courtesy or olumoia Pictures
Now all they need is an elephant charging through the wall.
'Zathura' takes a new
spin on family action.

By Sarah Schwartz
For the Daily

If the audience is having a sense
of deja vu, it's expected. Directed

Courtesy of The Weinstein Comnpany
"For $10,000, I can have Brad McBad taken care of."


by Jon Favreau
("Elf"), "Zathu-
ra" is based on the
book written by
Chris Van Alls-
burg, who also
wrote "Jumanji,"
which in 1995 was

At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Columbia Pictures
made into a film.

By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer

After the shared experience of two very public
splits (sadly, only one of them
involving a salacious hook-up Derailed
with Angelina Jolie), the Wein-
steins and Jennifer Aniston have At Showcase
chosen to unite in the interest of and Quality 16
career validation in the clumsy The Weinstein
thriller "Derailed." Appropri- Company
ately enough, the film is heavy
on relationship babble and severed ties. But, like
the spasm of goodwill Aniston garnered following
her busted marriage to Brad Pitt, any effect this
messy spectacle produces is both insubstantial
and profoundly fleeting.
The film opens in prison with a man narrating
the story of Charles Schine (Clive Owen, "Clos-
er"), who forgets his train ticket one day on his
way to work. A beautiful stranger by the name of
Lucinda Harris (Aniston, TV's "Friends") pays for
his ride before striking up a flirtatious confronta-

tion. When their romance takes an adulterous turn
at a seedy hotel, a French thug (Vincent Cassel,
"Ocean's Twelve") interrupts, attacking Charles
and raping Lucinda. Soon after, the menacing
criminal begins blackmailing Charles until his
life spirals out of control.
The first major film for the newly formed Wein-
stein Company, as well as the first major dramatic
vehicle for Aniston "Derailed" is shockingly
meek. One would expect a significant - or at
least competent, film for this kind of launch - but
"Derailed" is more about spinning wheels than
reconstructing them. It doesn't go anywhere you
wouldn't expect. Worse, when it finally reaches
the obvious twist, it slams to a screeching halt and
starts trying to explain itself.
Predictability might be expected in light of
today's movie-savvy audiences - they've seen
every permutation of the same story at least twice
in the theater and once on DVD. But director
Mikael Hafstrom plods through the hackneyed
script (really, one of the year's worst) so dispas-
sionately, so completely set against anything
approaching originality, that the film can't even
make anything of its talented cast.

While Aniston gets the coverage in the market-
ing push, the film is centered around Owen's well-
meaning everyman. The British actor, executing a
relatively spot-free American accent, adds another
nuanced performance to his impressive resumd,
mingling arrogance and carelessness with real
pathos. Aniston's role is disappointing - more of
a glorified cameo than a supporting performance
- but she projects the mystery, radiance, and
glowing presence of a newly minted movie star.
However, apart from the lead performances
and a slyly creepy turn from perennial bad guy
Cassel, there isn't much to like about "Derailed."
Fair production values can't compensate for a
nonsensical story any more than all-American
sweetheart Aniston can hide the fact that her role
has been put to film a dozen other times in the
past year.
In fact, the complete lack of innovation is what
defines "Derailed." Every scene feels pedestrian.
The entire last quarter only serves as an awkward
loose-end collector. Banality buries this film. It's
the only thing audiences will remember, and that's
the fundamental reason why the film is so com-
pletely forgettable.

But "Zathura" is Jumanji in space,
and it's a more complete and less
chaotic film. Though similar in plot,
"Zathura" goes further in teaching
morals, and even throws an ode to
Carl Sagan, who once said, "We are
star stuff."
The story begins and hangs on
the relationship between two broth-
ers, Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and
Danny (Jonah Bobo). Walter, the
older brother, is the jock; Danny is
the dreamer. All Danny wants to do
is play with his brother, but a base-
ball to Walter's face leads to a chase
around the house and Danny being
lowered, by a hard-hearted Walter,
down to the basement in a dumbwait-
er. A dark basement is something
most kids fear, where the furnace
could come alive and creepy imagin-
ings are around every corner. Yet the
perilous journey ends with the dis-
covery of Zathura, a game that looks
as if it could have been ripped right
out of the Sputnik era. A push of a
button leads to outer space, aliens,
astronauts and self-discovery.
Bickering, and fighting, however,
become the main plot point once the

game begins. Danny and Walter can-
not seem to agree on the best course of
action, which becomes tedious for the
viewer. The point where the brothers
decide to work together to get home
is lost in the fighting and action. The
emotional heart of the film is skipped
over. But it's not as though the action
isn't fun to watch. The movie goes on
the idea of what would happen if the
game were real. What would happen
if aliens visit? What if a person was
given the chance tobe an only child?
"Zathura" takes these questions and
twists them. The aliens are man-eat-
ing lizards and anger can lead to a
life-changing decision.
"Zathura" is fun-filled, with
moments of scariness thrown in.
The special effects don't overwhelm
the movie, and they also capture a
retro feel. The human annihilat-
ing machine is more "Robots" than
"Terminator," and the alli iships
look like caricatures from the 1950s.
The special effects don't overwhelm
the look of the movie, like those in
"Jumanji," because the movie tries
to stay based on the brothers' rela-
The supporting characters all play
their parts well, with Tim Robbins
("Mystic River") as a stressed father,
Kristen Stewart ("Panic Room") as the
harassed sister and, in one of the most
ingenious casting moves, Dax Shepa-
rd (TV's "Punk'd") as an astronaut.
Shepard has some great lines, elo-
quently telling Danny, who believes it
is nice for the aliens to eat meat, "Dude,
you are meat." But it all finally comes
down to the brothers, who are able to
come together to finish what they have
started. Since the movie, stays true to
their characters, it succeeds.

A2's Tally Hall debut

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer


Music REIE~iiW N
Tally Hall is like an impressionable
young kid who's just watched "The
Mask," "Ace Ven- _______________
tura: Pet Detec- TallHall
tive" and "Dumb y
and Dumber" and Marvin's
can't stop quot- Marvelous
ing them - kind Mechanical
of kitschy and Museum
very irreverent, Quack!
with no sense of
true direction, always trying to sound
like their childhood heroes - in Tally

Hall's case, those idols are The Beatles
and The Beach Boys. It's only fitting
then that Tally Hall's new album is
titled Marvin's Marvelous Mechani-
cal Museum - it presents a vision of a
children's wonderland of video games
and sugar.
This mimicry and playful attitude
might not be all bad. Unless your
band's lead singer got beaten up by
Jack White, you're a noise-rock group
that got signed to Sub Pop or you're
playing at Sigma Phi every other week-
end, people on campus don't know who
you are. Tally Hall, whose members
are all University alumni, is one of the
few local pop bands nowadays. They
construct joyous soundscapes with up-
tempo pianos, soft, intertwining melo-
dies and crisp guitar lines.
The album opens with the masterful
"Good Day." The explosive intro and
schizophrenic song structure keep the
listener guessing. The track is followed
by the equally impressive "Greener."
The track's sentimental lyrics ("You
fit just right / Right next to me / But
there's always a reason it can't be")
nearly destroy it, but the sincerity of
Tally Hall's voices is mesmerizing.
Unfortunately, they aren't able to
continue this excitement throughout
Marvin's. "Welcome to Tally Hall" and
"The Bidding" feature members rap-
ping between their signature hooks.
Here, their happy-go-lucky attitude gets
the best of them, and the track founders.
"Banana Man" is similarly outlandish.
The Caribbean sound they aim for is
overpowered by their clean pop sensi-
bilities but still drives the song. The lyr-
ics are once again silly: "Do you want a
banana? / This banana for you."
They do fit in a few other pop won-
ders in between these excursions. "Be
Born" is a minimal Americana jam and
"Just Apathy" rides a gentle piano line
and a mass of hums and croons. "Two
Wuv" is possibly the most aggressive





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