‘Faster’ may outrace its audience
“What just happened?” was the first thing mumbled from the back of the theater after watching the movie “Faster.”
I couldn’t agree more.
What did just happen? “Faster,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is so fast-paced, that it almost leaves you wanting to see it again — but not exactly in a good way.
The plot changes so quickly that it’s hard to even comprehend where you are in the story. In fact, it’s one of those movies that when it ends, it doesn’t actually feel like it should be over.
Johnson plays a character named Driver who was recently released from prison. Immediately upon release, Driver gets a few big guns, a sweet ride and a hit list. Motivated by the loss of his brother, Driver goes on a killing spree to kill everyone on his list.
Billy Bob Thornton plays Cop who chases after Driver and attempts to slow his killing spree.
Seriously, how can you like a movie where three of the main characters are named Killer, Driver and Cop?
Would it have been so hard to just pick normal and realistic names for the characters?
Regardless of the names of the characters, Johnson performs his macho-man role pretty well, but that should be expected from a former professional wrestler. He pulls off the loveable bad guy role very well and leaves you hoping that he never gets caught.
“Faster” takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but I suppose that’s not such a bad thing. If you can get over the random plot twists and shake-ups, then this movie definitely has potential.
Runtime: 98 minutes
‘Tangled’ up in fun
It isn’t very often a film is released that allows its viewers to simply enjoy the innocence so rarely found left in this world. Disney’s newest production “Tangled,” is one of those films.
“Tangled” is a heartwarming mixture of hokey, romanticized fairytale moments, magical scenes of light and color and simple lyrics sure to catch the ear of every little girl — or little girl at heart. But most of all, it is just plain fun.
The story of Rapunzel, originally written by The Brothers Grimm, is one of a beautiful young girl trapped in a tower by an evil witch. She is rescued by a handsome young prince and whisked away from the imprisonment of the tower for a life of eternal bliss and true love.
Disney offers a slight variation to the tale.
In the film, Repunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, is a princess stolen by the witch as an infant for the magical powers of her hair. Because whenever Repunzel sings, whoever touches her hair will experience restored youth and health. But once a strand of hair is cut, it turns brown and no longer holds healing power.
Every year on her birthday Repunzel watches thousands of glowing lights fill the sky, feeling a connection to them, and a longing to find out why. On her 18th birthday she asks her mother, the witch, for permission to go, but is refused.
In rebellion, the determined princess plans to sneak out of the tower while the witch is away to go to the castle and learn about the beautiful lights.
Oh, and she also has a hilarious pet chameleon.
Another twist is the addition of Flynn Rider, voiced by Zachary Levi, a scheming bandit on the run from the law. Rider stumbles upon Rapunzel’s tower amidst his escape from a very ambitious royal horse, driven to bring the thief to justice, as the object Rider has stolen is one of great importance to the entire kingdom.
Unfortunately for the horse, Rapunzel gets her hands on it first, hiding it from Rider in order to blackmail him into taking her to see the lights.
The voyage that follows is the tale told by this film. And it is a story more than worth experiencing.
Runtime: 100 minutes
A must see
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Clint Eastwood’s newest film “Hereafter” is absolutely inspiring. Through the stories of three people separated geographically but tied by one of the human race’s most universal experiences, viewers are given an opportunity to see the beauty of both life and death from a remarkable set of perspectives.
Cecile De France shines in her role as Marie Lelay, a French journalist who is brought back to life after nearly drowning in the tsunami that struck Koh Phi Phi, Thailand in 2004. Almost immediately after her experience, she begins to see images from the “hereafter,” and searches out explanations for her visions.
The inseparable bond between brothers is shown through the story of Marcus and Jason, played by Frankie and George McLaren, twin boys coping with a mother addicted to heroine and social workers’ constant attempts to remove them from the only home they have ever known.
In San Francisco, George Lonegan, played by Matt Damon, struggles with being a psychic. After making a success of himself through connecting the living to their loved ones who have passed, he leaves the profession in search of a life that isn’t surrounded by death. But he quickly, and almost daily, finds it impossible to escape.
Although most viewers will never experience the specific circumstances each of these characters does, it is effortless to empathize and ultimately see a piece of oneself in the eyes of each person.
As a part of the world in which we live, it is impossible to go through life without experiencing death in some form. Whether it be the loss of a family member, friend or simply hearing about the death toll a natural disaster takes on a country thousands of miles away, death — and the “hereafter”— are part of every language across the globe.
What is refreshing about this film, though, is its ability to express the kind of tranquility possible through idealism in everyday life. Showing viewers that despite pain and loss, there is always a reason to smile and an opportunity for hope to triumph.
Runtime: 129 minutes
Juicy enough to enjoy
KRISTIN A. LYMAN
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“And just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, fate lets you know there’s bigger trouble out there.”
It is through lines like this that Woody Allen’s voice shines in “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.”
In its basic framework, the film is a study of two factors that determine the course of much of our lives, motivation and desire. What do we want and why do we want it? What does the world look like when we get it?
Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) explores these questions through a late-life crisis, ditching his wife, Helena (Gemma Jones), of 40 years. He whitens his teeth and darkens his skin, sets up a swinging bachelor pad, pops some Viagra and pals around with Charmaine (Lucy Punch), a prostitute.
Meanwhile, Helena is frequently visiting with a psychic, Cristal (Pauline Collins), sipping on a “wee drinkie” and having her future cast for her amongst the most agreeable of scenarios. The extent to which Cristal’s readings guide Helena’s outlook and decision-making are the crux of Allen’s message: Believe it is so and your perceptions will make it so.
But the most intriguing storyline falls with Roy (Josh Brolin), a med-school graduate who chooses to make a career as a writer. Experiencing a mild amount of success with his first novel, the audience meets Roy in the trough of that success, psyched out about being a “one-hit wonder.” Unexpectedly, Roy seems to find the key to his future as a breakthrough novelist in the wake of a car accident involving his poker-playing buddies.
In the midst of Roy’s stalling career and refusal to have children, his wife Sally (Naomi Watts) develops feelings for her boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), an Audi-driving art gallery owner. He too is grappling with marital strife, and at times seems to return Sally’s stifled urges, inviting her to accompany him to jewelry stores and opera performances.
The costume design and London setting are noteworthy, from an occult bookstore to an ultra modern, all-white flat. The scenes are filled with frustration and are not a glowing advertisement for the longevity of relationships. Nevertheless, Allen is a mastermind at sculpting desperation, jealousy and dissatisfaction into an overall work of entertainment.
If you are a Woody Allen fan, you will not be disappointed with “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.”
Runtime: 98 minutes
Overwhelmingly bad and gory
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The “Saw” films rank as some of the most successful horror movies in history, so I think it’s fine to expect an incredible film that scares and dares you to keep watching in “Saw 3D.” However, when it comes to actually viewing this film, you’ll instead be wondering why the seventh installment in the series was even created.
The movie goes with the same general plot of putting people in deathtraps and forcing them to make tough decisions in short periods of time. Do you save yourself, your wife or your coworkers?
Seriously though, who can actually make a decision like that within a 60-second time frame? Not me, and that’s one of the main problems I had with the movie: It lacks realism.
Perhaps I looked too far into the plot of this movie, but character Bobby Dagen, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, actually writes a book about surviving the Jigsaw traps in order to gain quick success and fame. Am I the only one who sees the problem with this? If I were a survivor of a mass serial killer, I certainly wouldn’t give him reason to come after me again.
The only real positive aspect of “Saw 3D” was the three-dimensional effects. The film uses the extra dimension to perfection. I couldn’t help but duck when various body parts came flying my way, or turn away when the gore looked all too real. In that respect, “Saw 3D” did an excellent job.
If you’re more interested in being frightened and disgusted, then “Saw 3D” is definitely a winner. However, this is a movie review and frankly, the movie was terrible.
Runtime: 91 minutes
‘Jackass 3D’ shows signs of aging; still immature
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Johnny Knoxville returns for more pain in ‘Jackass 3D.’
To say I was excited for “Jackass 3D” was an understatement. I circled this date in my head, and knew I was going to see the film on its opening night. But after seeing the crew of misfit stuntmen’s latest installment, my excitement turned quickly to disappointment.
The premise is simple; film a group of guys pulling various pranks and stunts. Usually inflicting injury on themselves, Johnny Knoxville and his pals are known for their wild antics, while occasionally harassing the general public.
This new film uses 3D to try and enhance its shock value. However, the film falls flat on its face, and doesn’t elicit the desired laughs. Patrons are left watching numerous skits involving feces and vomit flying toward the audience.
Where the previous films had clever bits and stunts, this version lacks the ingenuity that made the first two films enjoyable. The boys are clearly running out of good ideas, as more than a couple bits were pure repeats of previously performed stunts.
Some of the returning skits include “Bad Grandpa” and Bam Margera, of course, pulling pranks on his mom and dad, not to mention the grand finale, which has become a traditional finish to the films. This rendition looks beautiful in 3D.
If you can sit through the myriad attempts to get a laugh from bodily functions, there are a few scenes that show flashes of brilliance. While I wouldn’t say avoid this film, do not go in expecting the creative, fun-loving pranks that helped build this franchise into a hit.
‘Red’: Rarely Entertaining Depiction
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Helen Mirren weilds a machine gun in ‘Red.’
Heavy Hollywood hitters Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker star in the movie “Red,” a film about retired CIA agents who plot to assassinate the vice president of the United States — but not without a series of unfortunate events.
And that’s about where the excitement ends.
“Red” fails to capitalize on an interesting plot idea, and doesn’t exactly capture the attention of most audiences. I found myself bored and more intrigued with eating my Goldfish crackers.
Poor directing and terrible pacing really ruin this movie. At times, the plot felt like it was going one direction, and then took a left turn and completely and threw the viewer into a whole different world.
With Bruce Willis, it’s acceptable to expect a good amount of action scenes, and some well-choreographed fights, but it felt like the other stars really slowed down the action scenes in the movie.
Most of the stars really showed their age.
The only positive aspect of the movie was Helen Mirren’s character, Victoria. Seriously, it was incredible to see a 65-year-old woman slinging around machine guns and throwing grenades.
Not to mention Mirren played the part perfectly. She had a good mixture of the tough guy, or, well, tough woman and elegance. Every time she was on-screen, I knew something amazing and interesting was soon to occur.
All in all, “Red” isn’t a movie worth paying primetime money for, but it’s definitely one to rent in a few months.
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Josh Duhamel as Eric Messer and Katherine Heigl as Holly Berenson in ‘Life As We Know It.’
“Life As We Know It,” actually lives up to its name.
It’s pretty boring, as in, life as we know it. Like a reality show, except for the part of being left your best friend’s kid to raise. Worth seeing if you dig reality. But isn’t the purpose of going to the movies to escape reality?
Katherine Heigl, the “Grey’s Anatomy” star, plays an attractive single who is friends with a couple that is also friends with Josh Duhamel, former “All My Children” soap actor and lead for the TV show “Las Vegas.” In this movie, he plays — what else? — a sexy, muscle-ripped, dashing ladies’ man.
Their mutual best friends set them up on a date that goes horribly wrong. Holly (Heigl) and Messer (Duhamel), despise the sight of each other even though they must endure each other’s company throughout their mutual best friends’ wedding, marriage and birth of their daughter, Sophie.
When Sophie’s parents are in a fatal accident, Holly and Messer are both cited as the chosen guardians of the orphaned infant.
Naturally, Holly and Messer try to work through child-raising and schedules with one another, all the while hating every minute of their adventure.
And of course, they start to fall for each other without admitting it. But there are challenges along the way, including child protective services, a love interest of Holly’s and Josh’s never-ending parade of bimbos.
The sexual tension between Heigl and Duhamel as they go through stages of complete hate to mutual admiration and then, eventually, falling in love with each other, is the most entertaining part of the whole movie.
The downside? After the fatal car accident involving their mutual friends, most of the movie moved along like molasses. It was very sweet, but oh-so-slow to get the real story going.
All the classic blunders that go with raising a child were tiresome. The movie was as cheesy as the Cheese Whiz on the movie seat my companion sat in when we first arrived at the theater.
It should have been a sign of what was to come.
Connecting with all ages: ‘The Social Network’
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If a movie review ever warranted just two words, “The Social Network” deserves just that.
The film is nearly flawless in every aspect. The acting was great, the story was better and, believe it or not, it was extremely comical.
“The Social Network” tells the story of Facebook.com creator Mark Zuckerberg and his story behind creating the website during his days as a college student at Harvard University.
Zuckerberg faced multiple twists and turns, and eventually got sued by four people, one of whom is the co-founder of Facebook.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg perfects the role of Zuckerberg. The humor is delivered exactly how it should be, and the on-screen chemistry of Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake (who plays Sean Parker) is incredible.
Speaking of Timberlake, he plays the part of the creator of Napster about as well as Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg. Timberlake does his job by seeming educated, but also extremely cool and laidback.
To go along with the phenomenal acting, the story is told from a very unique vantage point. The college days of Zuckerberg are being retold during a meeting with the prosecuting and defense attorneys of a court case. As expected, the reoccurring scene results in several humorous moments throughout the film.
I don’t expect to see a better movie the rest of the year, and “The Social Network” definitely goes down as a top-10 movie of all time for me.
Seriously, go see this film. You’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Best movie of 2010.
Not another vampire movie ‘Let Me In’
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For days, I have been toying with how to write this review. Because in order to provide an accurate response to the film “Let Me In,” I’m worried I would have to give away the surprise that really makes this movie so fascinating.
And that’s what it is — fascinating.
Despite Hollywood’s attempt at making this seem like just another vampire movie through the previews, it’s really nothing like “Dracula” or “Underworld” or “Interview With A Vampire.”
Directed by Matt Reeves, the film tells the story of Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, a 12-year-old boy plagued by his parents’ impending divorce and a trio of bullies at school.
But his life is forever changed after meeting Abby, played by Chloe Moretz, another 12-year-old who recently moved into the apartment next to his.
Through a series of scarily believable events, Owen discovers that his new friend is a vampire.
The events that take place after this bond has been struck still make my head spin a little.
I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies, and “Let Me In” has honestly left me befuddled.
There is no gang of man-thirsty vampires out killing for fun. There is no individual vampire portrayed as the super villain. In fact, it is easier to empathize with Abby than with many of the humans she is forced to feed on. And even more confusing, is the purity found in her inhumanity.
The survival of a vampire is shown to be a painful, war-like state of being. And it is nothing short of impossible than to perceive Abby as the victim.
The film definitely receives two thumbs up. My only advice is to go in with no expectations, and don’t be surprised when you walk out shedding a tear for vampires.