JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3D CONCERT EXPERIENCE
(With apologies to my godchild Jordan, who is surely the most rabid Jonas Brothers fan I've yet met. Sorry, sweetie. Just remember that I'm a bitter, cranky old man.)
I'm not the right person to be reviewing Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, but in all sincerity, is there a right person? Anyone who might be "objective" enough to offer a critique probably isn't going to be bowled over by these 75 minutes spent with the wholesome pop sensations and their screaming, tearful, occasionally fainting admirers. And anyone who's already a mad JB devotee isn't likely to care that the film is awkwardly structured at best, that the brothers' (kinda sweet) youthful narcissism appears wildly disproportionate to their talents, and that, in this movie at least, Kevin, Joe, and Nick are far less interesting to watch than their shrieking, gloriously happy on-screen concert-goers.
Disney's Jonas Brothers spectacle isn't meant to be reviewed; it's meant to be worshipped, blindly and giddily, until an even more extravagant extravaganza comes around to take its place. And there's nothing at all wrong with that, unless you enter The 3D Concert Experience hoping for a few flashes of wit, or a smidgen of insight, or a song that you can comprehend more than just a few words of. (During the three-plus minutes of the "Hold on" number, the sound quality, and the brothers' articulation, was so muddy that the only lyric I was absolutely sure of was "Hold on, hold on.")
It's not that the movie is lazy, necessarily. Directed by Bruce Hendricks - he of the big-screen Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert experience - there's actually quite a bit crammed into the film's running length: actual and faux documentary footage, a couple of music videos, a comedic chase through the streets of Manhattan. But while our encounters with the teen and tween fans are frequently priceless (if a little terrifying), the brothers themselves come off as remarkably unforthcoming, even more so than in their recent, reticent interview with Barbara Walters. Their every interaction, especially when the boys are just kickin' back and "being themselves," feels overly rehearsed, and while there's enthusiasm to spare, there's almost no sense of spontaneity or joy - nothing to give us a sense of what it feels like to be one of these kids. (That's one of the reasons their comic gambits don't work here - the trio appears deathly afraid of even momentarily dropping their cool, even during their intentionally "uncool" comic bits.) For those who don't live and breathe the Jonas Brothers, they might begin to seem like musically proficient, remarkably lifelike automatons.
To be fair, the boys are exuberant acrobats who throw themselves around with vigor, and their vocals are fine so long as they're not singing too high. Or low. But as a fortysomething for whom it's too late to be recruited to the cause, I was bored by the bubblegum pop awfully early, and was grateful for whatever moments of reprieve I could find. So if you, too, wind up at Jonas Brothers: The 3D Experience without any good reason for being there, I recommend spending your time watching the throngs of delirious onlookers, who are endlessly entertaining. The 3D effects aren't employed with much novelty - although drum sticks and guitar picks are occasionally tossed into our laps - but the thousands of young ladies (and roughly-half-dozen young men) in the crowds are photographed with depth and clarity, and your heart frequently goes out to them in amusingly unexpected ways. When Joe commands the audience to clap along to "S.O.S.," what is a fan to do, what with a cell phone in one hand and a glow stick in the other?
STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI
Following a screening of the video game adaptation Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a quartet of teens exited the auditorium a few feet behind me, and one of them made the pronouncement, "That was the worst piece of shit I ever saw." I'd recommend that he see a few more movies, but yeah, it's pretty freakin' bad.
Given the vicious (albeit PG-13) violence and the bone-crunching sound effects and the almost total lack of anything even resembling a plot, director Andrzej Bartkowiak's smackdown was bound to be a senseless, brutal experience. (Unless I'm mistaken, one guy got the crap kicked out of him here merely for interrupting some thugs' belching contest.) And given the requisite martial-arts training sequences in which our heroine (the surprisingly appealing Kristin Kreuk) is told by her sensei to "feel without your senses" and "harness the energy around you" and whatnot, it was bound to be a tiresome, senseless, brutal experience. So I guess we should just be grateful for Street Fighter's many, many moments of unanticipated comedy - especially for the mind-numbingly poor Chris Klein (who looks like hell and acts like a tweaked-out Jason Patric) and the staggeringly terrible dialogue. "Your father has been the milk in my business," hisses bad guy Neal McDonough. "But the milk has an expiration date." Snap!