From The Producers of Underworld – The Covenant; From The Man Behind Ghostbusters – My Super Ex-Girlfriend

The Covenant Box ArtNeither The Covenant not My Super Ex-Girlfriend were well received by critics – and neither did boffo box office. And yet… neither is nearly as bad as some would have you believe…

The Covenant Box Art

The Covenant

The Covenant is really a superhero movie. The main characters in the film – good, evil, or indifferent – are descendants of five families of witches who made a pact in old Salem. Their inherited powers are incredible and will grow even more so upon reaching their eighteenth birthdays. The weakness inherent in the power is that it is addictive – and overuse of it takes time off the wielder's life.

Sure, the powers wielded by Caleb [Stephen Strait of Sky High], Pogue [Pogue Parry of NBC's Friday Night Lights], Tyler [Chace Crawford], Reid [Toby Hemingway] and Chase [Sebastien Stan] might be generated by magic, but the five use them without incantations, or any other overt magical devices. The powers are a part of them.

The plot is pretty simple: Chase wants to acquire the powers of each of the other four. The movie follows his efforts and the efforts of the others to resist him. It's not exactly brain surgery, but there are some clever plot twists [including one that is a bit too much over the top – even for an over-the-top flick like this one]; the cast does a workmanlike job, and Renny Harlin manages to keep things moving rather well.

The film's flaws are that the plot is as simple as it is; the aforementioned over-the-top twist, and the fact that Harlin succumbs to one of the biggest errors in judgment prevailing in current horror/action movies – the tone is pretty much the same throughout [grey and depressing, without any brightness to create a real contrast]. Fortunately, this is not a film that's trying to be anything more than a bit of fun – and it succeeds to some degree on that level.

It's not brilliant – most of the time, it's not even good – but it is a bit of silly fun if you're in the mood for that. While I wouldn't have paid twelve dollars to see it in a theater, it is worth the price of a rental.

Features include a very detailed commentary from Harlin, and one featurette – Breaking The Silence: Exposing The Covenant.

The Covenant – Grade: C

Features – Grade: B-

Final Grade: C+

My Super Ex-Girlfriend Box Art

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Matt Saunders [Luke Wilson] is an architect. It's been six months since his last girlfriend dumped him and he's, understandably, a bit gun shy. So when his best friend, Vaughn [Rainn Wilson], spots a quiet-librarian-on-the-outside/volcano-on-the-inside type, he persuades Matt to approach her. She shuts him down, but when her purse is snatched and he gets it back, she looks at him in a slightly different light.

At first, her eccentric manner seems goofily charming, but after the two become involved it becomes clear that Jenny Johnson/G-Girl [Uma Thurman] may be the first superheroine who should be living in Arkham Asylum! She's needy, jealous and manipulative – the trifecta. Finally, Matt has to break up with her to save his sanity – but that just puts him in mortal danger when Jenny suspects he's sleeping with his lovely colleague, Hannah [Anna Faris]

I'm still not sure that it was an inspired idea to combine a romantic comedy with superheroics, but the result is a lot of fun to watch, in the moment. There are plenty of intriguing flourishes – for one, the meteor that gave Jenny her powers didn't do anything for her clothing, so bullets may bounce off but not before they shred her outfit. Then there's the cool [and very eighties] ripple effect that follows G-Girl when she flies, and the preponderance of classic double-initial names [Jenny Johnson, Barry Bedlam, G-Girl] – a very superhero comics thing.

Then there's the matter of pacing – while My Super Ex moves like the romantic comedy it is, the super stuff tends to throw things off just a touch. Still, Ivan Reitman does manage to hold everything together well enough to allow the performances of the leads to pull it off. Again, it's not brilliant, but it is worth a look – and if, like me, you're a bit of a comics geek, you might even find it worth owning.

Unfortunately, for us film geeks, the only features are four deleted scenes and a music video [Molly McQueen's No Sleep 2nite] – an extended version of the infamous "shark scene" was not included on my screener. What a letdown!

My Super Ex-Girlfriend – Grade: B-

Features: D

Final Grade: C+

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