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Description: A group of aquatic treasure hunters boat up into the Sahara desert for fun hijinks with explosives and a missing Confederate Ironclad.

There’s this quote a friend of mine always likes to recite from the comic Girl Genius, “This is not a good plan. This is the kind of plan where everyone ends up dead and we loose our hats. And what is a plan where you loose your hat?...A bad plan.?”

Al Giordino , the sidekick character played by Steve Zahn goes through about six hats in this movie, but they keep on planning.

I can’t imagine why more people weren’t burbling about this when it was in the theatres. Oh, it’s not meaningful way of life stuff, but it is good clean explosive fun.

Matthew McConaughey does a good job as the adventurer Dirk Pitt (isn't that a nice adverntury name) with a droll manner and dry delivery, as you know he's kicking bad guy prosterier. Plus, not hard on the eyes.

The main characters banter. The villains make with the mustache twirling. There’s more banter. Things explode. The heroes cling to the wreckage and make with more banter.

Fun stuff. A great cotton candy of a movie.

War of the Worlds

Description: With cold malevolent eyes, they watched us. Coveting our world. Then like, the Martians invaded. People died. Lots of people died.

As I would expect from a Spielberg movie, there are some stunning visuals. From the horrific burning of humans to the silently macabre grey dust dawn. Also, as I would expect, Spielberg ably tugs on the heart strings as our father and his hapless children scurry hither and thither about the destroyed landscape.

Tom Cruise does a good job as the feckless father, while Dakota Fanning, well, damn, that girl can scream.

I'll admit, I'd have prefered a slightly different ending, but the rest of the movie more than makes up for it in chilling images and suspense.

Batman Begins

Description: A dark new vision of an American myth: a young boy witnesses the death of his parents and transforms himself into a legend of justice.

This has to be one of the best live action version of the story. I say Live Action because the Dini/Tim series would take some doing to top and have the benefit of hundreds of hours of episodes, but I digress.

Given the age of the story, it would be difficult not to be familiar with the basic background of the story. From the 1930s serial to the 60s camp show to the more recent animated cartoon, Batman has been done and redone.

Batman Begins posits a grimmer and slightly (well the guy does dress as a bat) more realistic spin on the story. With fewer mystical hand gestures and more back to basics crime lords and plots.

And fear.

Because as the original comics mission statement posits, “Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot.” The movie, both through Batman/Bruce Wayne’s characterization and through the villains chosen (Raz Al Gul and the Scarecrow), play with the nature of fear. Letting it overwhelm. Letting it flow through.

Particularly enjoyable was the presentation of Batman himself as the main character. It's always seemed a shame of the 80s/90s movies that the villains are the main characters of the movies. Especially when Batman/Bruce is such an incredibly compelling / messed up person.

Particularly, intriguing was the portrayal of Bruce Wayne as Prince of the City. He has his country home and his tower where the power of his house is centered. His parents not buried with the common folk, but on their own land. For all that he is the most human of the heroes, he is not an everyman. There is a sense of entitlement to his actions. He steals from himself and fights to protect the city itself as much as its citizens.

Other characters also got a chance to shine. Jim Gordon, understated and slightly bitter. Quietly honorable. An island in the sea. Alfred as the always supportive, but acerbic, presence throughout Bruce’s life.

The love interest was a bit bland, but since it was more about things other than romance, it worked within the context of the story.

It’s also an example of what can happen when a truly good director does a comic story. Already based on childhood like imagery, Batman Begins is a visually primal movie. The swirling of the bats around Bruce Wayne. The repetition of earth, water, fire, and sky symbolism.

I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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