War and peace

In the past couple of days, I’ve seen two movies.

Thursday night I saw “War, Inc.” It’s a satire, a thinly-disguised story of a man, played by John Cusack, who is hired by the former vice-president, now C.E.O. of Tamerlane Industries, to conduct a trade show in Turaqistan. Oh, and to help conduct the world’s first-ever war run entirely by private industry. And by “conduct”, I mean political assassination. And also a political marriage between a Turaqistanian pop star (played by Hillary Duff) and the son of the Emirate.

I tried to get into the movie, I really did. But it all hits a little close to home for me. I found myself thinking, “this isn’t really that far from real life” and it kept drawing me out of the story. Dan Ackroyd’s Dick Cheney impersonation didn’t help. Ben Kingsley’s faux Southern accent didn’t help. Seeing Joan Cusack ham it up didn’t help. Marissa Tomei as an investigative journalist didn’t help. Even Montel Williams as the soothing voice of GuideStar (an OnStar clone) didn’t help.

Today, I saw “Hancock”. Reviews were mixed – on the one hand, Dustin at Pajiba said the second half of the movie ruined the easy-going first half. But Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, said it was good (with minor science nitpicks, which can be expected of a superhero movie). I was unsure if it was worth seeing or not.

I liked it. I liked it because of Will Smith, and because of Jason Bateman, and because of Charlize Theron. And it was funny, and Hancock’s character grew over the course of the movie. I was surprised that it was only 92 minutes – I suspect some backstory was cut. Maybe the backstory didn’t work; internet gossip has it that there were some last-minute re-shoots just two weeks prior to opening weekend, never a good sign.

But I liked it. It’s no “Iron Man” but it was funny.