24 hours of pain.
Gah this movie was a painful experience. It felt less like watching a movie and more like sitting on an airplane next to a creepy, smelly homeless man while a little kid spends the whole flight kicking the back of your seat. (Airplane image courtesy of the movie t shirt category) I can’t say it didn’t elicit emotions from me, but those emotions were frustration, annoyance, massive depression, and anger.
I suppose I could look at this as a sign of my new found dedication to my movie reviewing past time. I could have not seen something. I could have seen Point Blank, a French action movie that looked kind of interesting. Why this flick? Well, in part because my bad reviews tend to be funnier and more entertaining. The main reason, however, was that the other night I had a blow struck to my confidence and needed to prove to myself that I could accurately assess whether a movie sucks from the trailer. You see I went into Our Idiot Brother expecting it to blow and it was actually kind of fun. So I went to this dog and was gratified (on some levels) to discover that my trailer based assessment was dead on the money.
Speaking of money, to greater enhance my sense of violation I paid full price for this dog. In most cases if I am going to pay someone to punch me in the stomach I’ll at least haggle a bit.
The movie (SPOILER ALERT-I don’t expect anyone with any kind of taste to see this dog, so I am going to totally spoil the crap out of it. If you read the book no problem, but if you are a glutton for punishment and want to see it skip to the last paragraph). It’s called One Day because it takes place on July 15th on each year from 1988 to 2011. While I appreciate an alternative to traditional story telling, trust me when I say this tends to really screw the story up. This movie was based on a well received book, and I can see how this format would work with each day being a different chapter, but as a movie it is painfully disjarring. The biggest issue for me was the fact that one of the years you would see a happy, fun time by both characters and the next you would be subject to some horribly depressing crap that would make you want to throw yourself down the theater stairs. Anne Hathaway stars as Emma, a British girl (with an accent that seems to waver in and out like a fast moving tide) and Jim Sturgess plays Dexter, a rich British ne’er do well. They meet upon graduation in 1988 and almost but not quite sleep together. Emma is the nerdy but cute girl and Dexter is the hot young stud (of England). Anyway, they enter into a 20 year contest to prove which of them is the most annoying human being on the planet. Dexter becomes a successful TV personality and a jerk with a drug and alcohol problem while Emma wastes her life serving tables in a Mexican food Chucky Cheeses. Then Dexter’s life tanks while Emma becomes a successful writer of some kind. During all this time they are frustrating each other (and the audience) by almost but never sleeping together, often in cruel ways. You end up hating Dexter for being a sleazy layabout and hating Emma for being a mousy, low confidence nobody. Finally they both grow up and and get married. At that moment I started to get some satisfaction from the film, as they both were treating each other decently and it looked like a good romance and fulfilling relationship was developing. At that exact moment (BIG SPOILER ALTER RIGHT HERE–>) Emma gets hit by a truck and killed. No joke. She was also by that point the loser in the most hated human on the planet contest and was the character I liked the best, so after an hour and a half of failing to get me to connect with the characters the movie finally did so, only to kill her off. I was seriously depressed, and not in the good “have a chick cry and feel better about yourself” way but more in the “go home and cut your arm up with an Xacto knife” way. By the way, the truck accident was shockingly graphic. Like Meet Joe Black graphic.
Then, as if life wasn’t sucking enough already, the movie had to go on for another 20 pointless, painful, awkward minutes while Dexter came to grips with crap. The movie flashes back to the day in 1988 when they first met and I suppose was intended to be heartwarming, but knowing her eventual fate made watching them as a young couple even more painful. It ended with Dexter and his daughter (from a different marriage) more or less talking about Emma and enjoying a tender moment, but at that point I was torn between wanting to kill myself or the projectionist.
I woke up this morning still pissed off and depressed from this movie, by the way. I really just want to end this review now and skip the whole stars/black holes thing, but I feel I have an obligation to carry it through.
The stars. I really am crazy for Anne Hathaway, and her with her nerdy glasses really did something for me. One star. Acting was decent all around. One star. Shot in England, so the scenery was pretty. One star. Watching Dexter’s TV career tank was oddly amusing. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes. Depressing. Two black holes. Frustrating. One black hole. Infuriating. One black hole. Killing my favorite character. One black hole. The whole sudden shift of tone from day to day thing. One black hole. Forcing us to watch 90 minutes of foreplay with no consummation. One black hole. Anne Hathaway’s accent kept shifting gears. One black hole (sorry Anne. I still love you). The film blatently manipulated my emotions. One black hole. Dragging the film out for another 20 minutes after it more or less died. One black hole. There was not a single truly satisfying moment in the entire movie. One black hole. One more black hole for making me want to punch holes in my wall this morning. Total: twelve black holes.
So a total of eight black hole. Look, I’m not saying all movies have to end happy and upbeat. I actually like a dark twist. I just don’t want to be sold on the idea of a love story only to have it turn into Sophies Choice. Just look at the poster for it on IMDB. It shows young Dexter and Emma romantically kissing in a passionate embrace. There is nothing that says by the end of the movie you will be looking for a bridge to jump off of.
I don’t know. Maybe this thing hit home a little hard because I am single and bitter about it. If I had had someone’s hand to hold while watching it I might have been better able to deal with what was going on. Odds are this movie would have made me cherish a girlfriend a lot more. Hell, I might have even been secure enough to cry a little and feel better afterwards (don’t bet on it. I’m all man, baby). As it is, I am really wishing I had gone to see the new Spy Kids movie instead.
Anyway, after this bitchy, depressing blog it would not surprise me if you never came back here again, but if you did be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Also, if you are a single woman 27-38 who even slightly resembles Anne Hathaway let’s just say this movie has made me particularly receptive for the next week or so, so drop me a Tweet. Thanks. Everyone have a great day.
Not as idiotic as I thought it would be
I’m not saying this movie is great. It is not a milestone in road of cinema history. It is not even a cobblestone. On the other hand, it’s not a washed out bridge either. I think the best way to describe this film is with “in-” words. Inoffensive. Pleasantly innocuous. This movie is like watching two dogs play in a park. Fun to watch, but except for a warm, pleasant feeling you won’t gain a lot from it. It sets out to make you feel good, and accomplishes that goal.
I’ll say this has been a lesson for me in the “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” vein, although in this case it’s you can’t judge a movie by it’s poster. I never saw a trailer but when I saw the poster said to myself “There is no way this cannot suck”. I really thought this was another load of excrement dumped into the sewer of bad rated R comedies I have been drowning in all summer. Wrong. It was really not bad. I left the theater feeling OK about the universe.
Not that the movie doesn’t have it’s faults, which I will get into shortly in excruciating detail. I also have a couple of personal issues with the premise, the first being that I have moments of absolute contempt for the whole hippy movement. I grew up in the 80′s, and there was very little that annoyed me more than aging hippies telling me how great the free love was back in the 60′s and 70′s. Sorry, but I couldn’t even talk to a girl without tripping on my tongue back then and the whole free love thing had been replaced by leg warmers and big hair. Listening to some long haired smelly old pot head drone on about it is the equivalent of a rich man going to a Greyhound station and telling everyone how great it is to live in a mansion. Screw you, hippy! (South Park image courtesy of the funny t shirt category).
The other thing about this movie is I have two sisters, and have been called the idiot brother myself. That being said, I don’t think my interaction was ever this weird with my sisters.
Anyway, the movie. Ned (Paul Rudd, who until now has mostly had supporting roles in movies like Knocked Up, the 40 Year Old Virgin, and Dinner for Schmucks) is a Jesus looking smelly (I assume. None that I have known were renowned for their hygiene) hippy who gets busted for selling pot to a uniformed cop. This sounds like the dumbest move ever, and actually threw up a warning flag for me early on, but as you get to know Ned you kind of get where he was coming from. Anyway, he spends eight months in jail and comes out to find that his girlfriend is kicking him out and keeping his dog, Willie Nelson. I mention this because the dog is pretty much the only motivation Ned has to do anything during the entirety of the film. Anyway, he heads into New York city to couch surf with his three dysfunctional sisters: a bitchy, bossy high strung magazine writer (Elizabeth Banks-the 40 Year Old Virgin, Spiderman), a bisexual girl with no apparent job who can’t control her libido (Zooey (Zoo-ey? How do you pronounce that?) Deschanel-Almost Famous, Your Highness, a bunch of other stuff I never heard of), and a downtrodden housewife married to a complete lame, pretentious intelligentsia filmmaker who is working on making some dumb documentary and raising the wimpiest kid in human history (Emily Mortimer-Shutter Island, Lars and the Real Girl, 30 Rock, and a bunch of other movies I never heard of. Her husband is Steve Coogan, from Tropic Thunder and the horrible Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) who also can’t control his libido (relationship betrayal is something of a theme for this movie). Anyway, Ned is a loose cannon in all of their lives, seemingly wrecking them all, but the truth is he is more exposing the hypocrisy they all had riding under the surface. He didn’t cause any of the people with relationships to get into cheating situation. Just exposed it all. Throughout the film he bumbles along with a faith in people and an innocent belief that if you trust each other you won’t get burned. It is kind of annoying at first but by the end I was kind of buying into the vibe (time to go download some Grateful Dead songs, I guess).
Anyway, sibling hijinks ensues. All three sisters have their lives turned upside down and then somehow set back upright again. Ned gets his dog back.
The stars. I felt kind of good watching this movie. I can’t put my finger on why, but I left with a warm feeling in my cold, dark heart. Two stars. All the acting was really good. One star. The dialog felt like brothers and sisters arguing. One star. All the sisters were pretty easy on the eyes, especially Elizabeth Banks, and they had a bunch of other hot sophisticated New York women, particularly my future wife Janet Montgomery (the casting person obviously shared my preferences, as there was not a blond to be seen). One star. There was a supporting hippy character that was actually really funny, and his sisters lesbian girlfriend was pretty cool too (Rashida Jones, whom I fell in love with in the Office). Also his parole officer was cool and added to the film. One star. The dog was really a cool looking dog (a beautiful Golden Retriever). One star. They didn’t try to shove a love story into the film for Ned. One star. Ned’s nephew was in training by is overprotective parents to be a victim for life but kind of turned out cool. One star. Overall a pleasant movie going experience. Two stars. Total: eleven stars.
The black holes. Hippies. One black hole. The love interest for the bitchy magazine sister kind of bugged me. One black hole. The three sisters, in spite of having completely different lives, were kind of interchangeable to the point that I had to struggle to keep track of which one was which. The only one that stood out was the housewife, and that was only because she was the only non-brunette. One black hole. While Ned’s innocence and trust was refreshing, I found myself wanting to reach into the movie and shake him for being such a dope. One black hole. The filmmaker character kind of bugged me too. He was sleazy from the get go and gave the film a greasy feeling every time he was on screen, to it’s detriment (greasy film? Me so funny!). One black hole. Total: five black holes.
Total of six stars, a great score for a Rated R comedy. I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience, and this film is a candidate for best feel good film of the year when I get around to doing my end of the year awards (probably some time in June, given how I keep up on these things). Definitely worth watching, definitely a good date film. It won’t stick in your brain and you won’t be quoting it, however. Nothing in this requires a big screen, so if you want to wait for NetFlix that is cool. Thanks again, and don’t forget to sign up for the RSS feed and follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Talk to you soon.
Kind of a surprising week. I thought I was going to love Colombiana and was really disappointed. I kind of thought this was going to be yet another dumb ass horror movie and loved it.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark is, in my less than humble opinion, the best horror movie this year. It is super creepy, the terror builds up over time, and you honestly care about the characters and are worried about what is going to happen to them. Best of all, it does not at all rely on slasher gore or body count. There is actually very little death, and yet somehow it comes across as more horrible than some maniac running across town with a chainsaw.
This actually got me thinking quite a bit about horror and why movies like this work so well when every teenage slasher film leaves me bored (Texas Chainsaw Massacre image courtesy of the horror movie t shirt category). Some good examples of movies low body count thinking horror would be the Shining and the Ring. I think it is several levels. First of all, when we are introduced to 10 different teenyboppers who are all destined to die on the edge of a machete we can never really develop any kind of connection with them. The movie starts off with us knowing that most of them are going to die in ridiculous ways and the only thing we do is try to figure out which of them is going to survive (typically the hottish, nerd girl. See, ladies? There are serious advantages to being a girl nerd. Join us on the nerd side). In a movie where we are only given a couple of characters and have to interact with them throughout the film, especially when one of them is an innocent and troubled child or equally sympathetic character, we the audience really start to care and worry about them. I was on the edge of my seat hoping the little girl in this film made it out OK.
The other thing that makes films like this work my personal theory of concept horror verses hind brain horror. A maniac running around killing people with a glove full of knives is more of a hind brain, adrenalin rush film that is designed to trigger your fight-or-flight response. The problem is you get desensitized to it pretty quick. The spiky adrenalin rush you feel from Freddy’s first kill fades to almost boredom by the tenth, and then if you see the next sequel in turn (or even another slasher film) you are more or less over the whole idea and at that point you are more into seeing what kind of creative ways the director can come up with for the next kill. In most cases it devolves into almost comedy. In a concept horror film, the director lets your own imagination terrify you. We are always better at scaring ourselves when given the chance. As a child I was absolutely convinced there was a crocodile living on the floor of my room at night and he would bite off any part of my body I dared stick beyond the edge of my bed (my parents had him relocated to a zoo as my eleventh birthday present. Thanks, mom and dad). That is real horror. In films like this the story presents you with a creepy situation and then lets your imagination run with it. What are those monsters? What do they really want? What are they going to do with that girl? Your brain keeps feeding you worse and worse scenarios.
Not that this movie doesn’t have it’s problems. For one thing, the main bulk of the story we have all seen before. A lonely and troubled child in a huge, creepy mansion is beset by supernatural terrors while her parents remain blithely and almost willfully ignorant. Another thing is the creatures, who start off terrifying and mysterious, get more and more exposed as the film progresses and take on a comedic aspect. Fortunately by that time your connection with the young girl and the two adults is strong enough to carry through. Not even sure they could have avoided that, as they had to show them sometime. Finally, while I was extremely sympathetic and liked the little girl a lot, she was dumber than a sack of hammers. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I can’t think there was ever an age where I was dumb enough to stick my head into a dark culvert in a super creepy basement just because some evil sounding voice told me to. Of course my childhood is no barometer for average children’s behavior, but still.
Anyway, the move. A very young Sally (played brilliantly by Bailee Madison. Where do these great child actors keep coming from? I predict impressive things from this young lady coming up) is being sent off by her more or less negligent party mother to live with her father Alex (Guy Pearce, the Hurt Locker, L.A. Confidential, Momento) and his girlfriend Kim (played by Scientology weirdo Katie Holmes. You know, I always thought she would have a more impressive film biography, but except for Batman Begins and Dawsons Creek she has been in nothing but crap. Oh, wait. Thank you for Smoking was pretty good too) in their super creepy fixer-upper mansion. Sorry, but if some real estate agent shows you a house and the front door is carved to look like a giant Japanese Manga squid monster attacking, punch him in the face and then try to run him over in your car as you leave. This place made the House on Haunting Hill look like Peewee’s Playhouse (also kind of creepy, but for other reasons). Anyway, Alex is some kind of architect who is down on his luck and has invested every dime in restoring this old house in an attempt to get it on the cover of Architectural Digest. We are never told why his career tanked or how this magazine cover will save it and, to be honest, it kind of bugged me. Kim is his interior decorator/live in girlfriend who is trying to form an attachment with Sally, who really wants nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, you hear creepy voices and see the green glowing eyes of dozens of rat sized creatures in a metal grate in the even creepier basement. They convince Sally to open the grate. They are afraid of bright light, so we are treated to all kinds of cool lighting for effect shots. They want to kidnap and probably kill Sally. The entire rest of the film is them stalking Sally while her dad and Kim believe she is having some kind of mental breakdown. Honestly, there isn’t much more I want to tell you about the story, as it would be quite the spoiler and I think you should all see this.
The stars. Super, duper, awesomely terrifying and creepy. Three stars. Amazing camera and lighting effects. Two stars. Bailee Madison was freaking awesome. Two stars. The creatures, once you saw them, were really cool and creepy with good CGI. One star. A horror movie that relies on story and great camera work rather than body count to make the horror happen. One star. The set was really well done also. One star. Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes were both pretty good. One star. A rated R movie that didn’t need gore and/or nudity (although I was hopeful). One star. Great ending with a cool twist. One star. Two more stars for a great movie experience. Total: fifteen stars.
The black holes. Sally’s bad decision making process kind of bummed me out. One black hole. The fact that we never find out why Alex is in such desperate straits with regards to his career when it is such a critical plot point that they remain in Creepy Mansion was annoying. One black hole. We also never find out what was up with party mom, which was also a key plot point. One black hole. Alex’s inability to listen to the serious needs of his child (even if she were imagining the creatures and they weren’t really alive, this is some serious crap any responsible parent would have to at least pay attention to her) really made me lose most of my sympathy for him. One black hole. There was a definite moment where any rational person would have bugged the hell out and set fire to the place as they left, but they didn’t. One black hole. Too much exposure to the creatures made them lose a lot of their menace towards the end. One black hole. Total: six black hole.
In the irksome category I will say this film is extremely derivative of a bunch of other films, particularly the Shining. This doesn’t get a black hole because it is an extremely good derivative and, honestly, there are so many movies out these days that it is nigh impossible to come out with something that doesn’t smack of something else.
A grand total of nine stars, a great score and at least 4-5 higher than I would have thought it would get when I was waiting on line to get my popcorn. I highly recommend you all see it if you are looking for a thrill. This, by the way, is a great date film in that it is not a slasher, has a very sympathetic little girl, and if your date isn’t clutching your arm and/or climbing into your lap by the end of it I would check her afterward to make sure her robot batteries are fully charged.
By the way, follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Fun!
Luc Besson sequels the Professional by making Kill Bill.
OK, I was sold on this movie by the trailer. I guess I am a sucker for slick media campaigns (by the way, have you seen the new Slim Jim commercials? I have been eating those things by the bushel). As I gain experience in the movie review world I am learning to watch out for certain things, and movies that are released in late August generally seem to be the wimpy kids that are picked last for softball in grade school (something I know a good amount about). Was this movie bad? Not especially. Was it good? Not especially. It had some good elements, but overall seemed a little confused and disjointed. I think “meh” best describes it.
After seeing the movie last night I was kind of perplexed as to the origin and did a little research. Apparently this was supposed to be the sequel to the Professional and Luc wrote it with adult Natalie Portman in mind. After she passed he rewrote it with a South American back story stapled to the front end and ran with it. It did star another unrequited love of my life, Zoe Saldana, which was a big plus (I fell in love with her as a big blue alien in Avatar. Yes, I am one of those guys).
What is the real problem with this film? Well, it has several, including the fact that Luc Besson was “inspired” by about 2o different movies, but the real issue with this film can be summed up in one rating: PG-13. This movie really should have gone hard core for an R rating, and not just so I could see some gratuitous nudity on the screen. The combat seemed tame and disconnected, which aggravated the incredulity the audience has to constantly fight when watching a 90 pound girl beat the hell out of dozens of fully grown and extremely well armed men (sorry, ladies. I am sure there are any number of martial arts trained women out there who could beat the hell out of me. I just have a hard time believing Zoe Saldana has the upper body strength to pull herself out of a wrestling hold with a dude. Hate me if you have to). I’m not saying I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to make it work. I’m just saying in order for me to believe it I actually need to see the violence and gore in a realistic, R rated manner. Also, a little gratuitous nudity would not have hurt.
By the way, I thought at first Colombiana was the female form of Colombian in Spanish, but a little research shows that it is actually a term for black people living in Colombia. Not the most racially sensitive term I have heard used for a movie title, and I am reasonably sure a little research might show it is kind of derogatory. Not that Luc Besson is known for being PC.
Anyway, the movie. A young Colombian girl (Amandla Stenberg) has her parents killed in some kind of drug deal gone bad. She has some kind of data chip (this is 1992. Were they making mini disks the size of dimes back then?) her father gave her that has details of the bad guy’s never defined business. We see yet ANOTHER parkour chase scene through a South American hillside city slum (it really, really, really looks like Rio de Janeiro, in spite of the fact that is is supposed to be in Colombia) where an eight year old girl managed to give about 20 armed men the slip and also has the strength to lift a manhole cover from the inside (I know this is petty, but I am going to give them a black hole for this. I happen to know from personal experience that manhole covers start at 300 pounds and go up from there, and are really hard for a grown man to lift from the inside (please don’t ask me how I know this). This little girl lifts one like it was made of Styrofoam (it probably was). Can movie makers not respect their audience on any level, please?). Anyway, she uses the disk to get a ticket to American from the CIA, where she gives her handler the slip and travels to Chicago to hook up with her uncle, who in a blatant example of bad parenting decisions agrees to train her as an assassin. Skip forward 15 years and she is now a professional killer who uses her sex appeal, appearance, and lithe form to get into places others can’t. She is on a personal revenge kick after the Don who killed her parents, but does contract jobs for her uncle (he is also some kind of ill defined crime lord. How do these people make money, besides from murder for hire?). Somehow he is cool with her killing for money from all of his clients but freaks out when he finds out she is killing the people who killed her family (see what I mean about disjointed).
Anyway, a bunch of minor characters and sub plots, including an FBI investigation and some kind of CIA cover up, are introduced and go nowhere. Soft core explosive hijinks ensues. Henchmen die in droves. The part time love interest manages to completely screw up the girl’s life and more or less is forgiven in spite of directly causing the deaths of pretty much all of her friends and relatives. Other movies are blatantly plagiarized. More stuff blows up. The end.
The stars. Zoe Saldana, and while it was a PG-13 the director (Olivier Megaton??? No joke, he took this name because he was born on the 20th anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima. What an a-hole. I wonder if he knows Megatron. Rising Sun image courtesy of the political t shirts category) took every single opportunity to show as much kid safe skin as possible. A scene doesn’t go by without Zoe running around in panties and bra, or skin tight body suit. Let’s just say wherever they were shooting this flick must have been cold. One star. One thing Luc Besson can do is write action scenes, even if they are really derivative of a bunch of other movies and a little hard to believe. One star. Revenge movie. One star. Somewhat exciting. One star. Lots of guns and explosives. One star. The opening hit, where she has to sneak into the Bakersfield police station (I’ve been to Bakersfield many times, and the police there are far less incompetent than this film makes them out to be. They also have a reputation in the Central Valley as being quick on the trigger, so take it from me, don’t mess with them) is actually really cool in a sneaky crime sort of way. One star. Filming was reasonably competent, and the running chase scene from early on (as lame is it was from a logical point of view) was well executed. One star. Total: seven stars.
Now the black holes. PG-13 when it should have been R. One black hole. Acting start to finish was flat and uninspired. One black hole. Little girl lifting manhole cover. One black hole. Subplots and minor characters that add nothing and go nowhere. One black hole. A really dumb scene where the little girl’s uncle pulls a gun out and shoots up a passing random car on a busy street in order to make a point to the girl, then sits there for about half an hour lecturing her before walking away with no consequences whatsoever (pretty much a rip off of the scene of Natalie Portman shooting out the window in the Professional, although I can’t call it plagiarism as Luc Besson wrote that too. I guess he really likes his own writing). One black hole. Every time they added a scene where they tried to inject some kind of emotion it was awkward and too brief and simplistic. Basically brought whatever momentum the movie had a that point to a crashing halt. One black hole. For someone who has worked for 15 years to kill a specific man, the girl kind of left his final death in the hands of fate. No real backup plan for any of her hijinks, but I guess that is typical Luc Besson. One black hole. While the gun fight scenes were pretty well shot and reasonably coherent, the one really big melee fight scene devolved into a million 1-1.5 second edits. I hate that fight scene style. Gives me a headache and no idea of who is doing what to whom. It pretty much says either the fight coordinator sucked (or didn’t exist) or the actors involved lacked the basic martial arts skills to reasonably execute more than one punch or kick in a row. One black hole. Story was overly complicated in a dumb way. A complicated story is good if the complications enhance the story and add depth. This was just complicated for complications sake, and really dragged down the story. One black hole. Total: eight black holes.
In the irksome category, I have some issues with the father. If you are going to confront your crime boss and you think there is a reasonable chance he will want to kill you and your whole family, would you not take the precaution of maybe having your wife and daughter somewhere other than where the bad guy knows they are? I’m just saying. If you are planning on leaving the country anyway (this was implied) and are about to have it out with the big man, maybe have your daughter and wife on a flight that leaves an hour before your meeting. Also, if time is a factor maybe tell your daughter how much you love her and give her the family medallion in the car while you are bugging the hell out of town, not while the bad guys are incoming. You know, just thinking out loud here. Also, they painted every American law enforcement person as kind of cowardly when confronted with a hot chick who threatens their family and life. It must be a French thing (Megat(r)on is French too) to try to constantly show Americans as incompetent, corrupt, and cowardly. Seems I can remember a certain European country surrendering pretty damn quick during a big war a few decades ago. Also, didn’t you get your butts kicked by Mexico on the 5th of May? I’m just saying.
I really didn’t want to see this movie end up in the black hole region, but try as I might I couldn’t find another star to give them. Even a couple of the ones I gave them smacked of pity stars. I like Zoe Saldana a lot and want to see her succeed, and feel gratitude for Luc Besson for the Professional (Taken wasn’t bad, either) and would like to see him do well, but I can’t really find another good thing about this movie. It’s not really bad, and you can get some excitement from it. Some of the action sequences are pretty good, although the best scenes are of Zoe sneaking around Splinter Cell style. It just doesn’t coalesce into a really good film. See it if you are really into Zoe and/or Luc Besson, but maybe wait until NetFlix.
Invasion of the midnight black bugbears (why doesn’t spell check call me on that word?)
This movie is one that my friend Dave has been asking me to see and review. I kind of regret not doing it sooner. It wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than most of the movies I have reviewed recently (cough cough Conan the Barbarian cough cough) and I enjoyed watching it. Generally a good experience.
There is one issue I have with this movie, and it is one that has plagued me ever since I started watching Guy Ritchie films: I have a very hard time taking gangsters and gang members with British accents, especially Cockney, seriously or at all threatening. A Cockney accent makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy, and having some guy spout out hard core gangster dialog just makes me giggle. The disparity is like learning that your sweet grandmother is a five star general and listen to her order men to their deaths. It’s just funny.
I guess the disparity stems in part from having lived around some actual bad ass guys (did I mention I have lived in Oakland for 10 years now?) and seeing them all the time in American movies. Also, the relative rarity of guns in the UK makes crime over there seem somehow less threatening and more amusing. I know for sure that this is just a messed up perception on my part, and if I were on the wrong street in South London I would probably get my ass handed to me pretty quick by guys who sound a lot like Benny Hill. Nevertheless, there it is.
By the way, I do take Irish accents to be pretty serious, but that might be from some of my older family.
Anyway, Attack the Block. Since it is almost out of theaters and wasn’t in a lot of them in the first place I am going to assume most of you will not see it and feel a little free with spoiler, so you might want to skip this next paragraph if you plan to seek it out. Anyway, a gang of youthful hooligans mugs a young girl. During the course of their crime a meteor crashes into a nearby parked car. It contains a very small (pretty much Gremlin sized) alien who attacks the leader of the hooligans. They chase it, kill it, and walk around London carrying it like a trophy. Turns out the little one they killed was a precursor for a swarm of others, all the size of a black bear with midnight black fur (cough cough easy CGI cough cough) and glowing green teeth. They are after anyone who has had contact with the first alien (there is a reason for this, but I won’t spoil that much). Alien-esque hijinks ensue. Guys get killed. Aliens get killed with a number of improvised weapons. The mugging victim ends up teamed up with the kids. Some annoying pre-teens show up and do annoying stuff. (Alien image courtesy of the science fiction t shirt category)
The stars. Independent film. One star. Nick Frost. One star. Reasonably believable story. One star. The main group of young teenage hooligans rang really true and acted pretty well for young actors, especially the main one, John Boyega. One star. Story conclusion was well done and hardly smacked of deus ex machina at all. The characters worked hard for it. One star. The girl was really cute, but they didn’t try to crowbar in any kind of dumb romance to gum up the story (this is why I love independent films). One star. The dialog, once you got around understanding all the Cockney, was well done and had some really funny lines. One star. Impressive production values for an independent. One star. The one comic relief character was actually comic relief without being freaking annoying or changing the tone of the film. One star. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. Alien invaders without any kind of technology. Basically it was like being invaded by a bunch of bears. One black hole. Two little kids kept surfacing and harshing my buzz by being annoying. One black hole. After a while the fact that the kids managed to kill aliens over and over again with basically kitchen knives and the like gets less and less believable. One black hole. That’s it. Three black holes.
I have a couple things in the irksome category. For one, the CGI wasn’t the best I have seen lately. However, I am not going to ding them on it as it is an independent and I have seen really polished Hollywood CGI delivering total crap to us lately. Also, throughout most of the movie I couldn’t help but think these invaders could only pull this off in England, as if they landed in the USA our glorious nine guns per ten citizens ratio would have put paid to melee dependent aliens toot sweet.
So a total of six stars. Nice film, and it’s always good to see a film come out of something other than the Hollywood orifice. If you can still catch it in a theater I recommend you do so. If not put in on your NetFlix.