I have had good runs and I have had some bad ones too...I guess you could say I'm currently on a bad one. My last three movies have been DUE DATE, SAW 3-D, and HEREAFTER and I will review all of them below.
I will run short the pleasantries and cut right to the chase...disappointment.
REVIEW: DUE DATE
I was looking forward to DUE DATE for many days. I saw this as a great chance for TODD PHILLIPS to deliver the coveted two-fer. If he is going to play hit and miss, I sure hope that HANGOVER 2 is a hit, because for me, Due Date was a miss.
We are the movie-going public victims of our own technological advances. I think that if I had not seen any of the previews/trailers/tv spots for Due Date, I probably would have loved it. Sadly, most of the jokes fell flat with me because I had seen them all. In fact when I saw the set-up on the screen for any of the trailer scenes, I think there was more of a crowd laugh in anticipation, than when the joke itself actually played.
All my disappointment aside, I didn't hate the movie. It is a funny movie. I am a huge fan of the Robert Downey Jr. camp and I think that Zach Galifianakis may be one of the funniest actors out there now and has far more range than folks expect he will (see also my review of It's Kind of a Funny Story). Sadly, his breakout performance will likely be the benchmark to which he is held for some time to come ~ and that's a pretty damn high bar!
Todd Phillips has a great eye for comedy (see also Old School and The Hangover), but The Hangover was a one of kind movie and a success like few movies reach...the question must be asked: "Can he do it again?"
3 of 5 Reel Rhino Horns for DUE DATE. It is worth seeing, but if I had a time machine, I would go back and tell myself not to watch any of the previews. Zero knowledge of this film would have made it a much better experience. Granted it didn't matter for The Hangover, but that film is truly in a different league of films.
I saw Hereafter last weekend and I know it has been a few weeks since it came out. I have been all over Clint Eastwood's work since Mystic River. Of course my enjoyment of Eastwood's work goes back much farther, but I view his Mystic River forward era as his mature filmmaker era (which is funny since he is 80 years old ~ he's a pretty mature guy). His three films prior to this era were a bit more lighthearted fare...Blood Work, Space Cowboys, and True Crime. These were much more pop-culture, mainstream films that didn't have the indie-type feel of the work that Eastwood is producing now.
The trailers for HEREAFTER painted it as a unique and mature film. I was upset to see that it was not that at all. This film, like some of his earlier works, was very much a movie with a pop feel. It is more fluff than substance and it features one too many divergent story lines for my liking. Perhaps the master is getting tired in his old age. I hope not and I look forward to many more films from him.
The story follows George Lonegan, a "retired" psychic who developed the power to speak to the dead after a debilitating bout with encephalitis (swelling of the brain) as a child. A once well-known medium, with a website and all, he has resolved to live a normal life, keeping a low profile as a factory worker.
I think that this movie is watchable, but it pushes too much at the viewer and ellicits confusion more than emotion. Again, I like it, but was let down as I really wanted to feel this movie. I thought it would touch me more than it did. Yes, there were at least three take your breath away moments, but they were just moments rather than components of a wholly moving film.
I will remain a devoted follower of Clint Eastwood. His recent films have been great and I think he has so much more to give. HOOVER is up next for him with Leonardo DiCaprio in the titular role. I hope he can give us something special, balancing the tone of The Changeling, the intent of Public Enemies (Sorry Michael Mann, it was a fun movie, but you missed the mark just a little bit), and finally with a bit of that Leo magic.
Hereafter gets a 3 of 5 horn rating from The Reel Rhino. This is completely home movie fodder. Except for the opening Thailand sequence, there is nothing of this film that you won't miss out by watching at home.
REVIEW: SAW 3-D
This is less of a review and more a brief word on the state of the SAW franchise. I think the saw poster you see here may be my fovorite of them all. Say what you will about the films, the graphic designers did a fine job throughout.
Firstly, let me say I am a fan of the horror genre. It could be argued that Saw balances a line between traditional horror and the sub-genre that has come to be known as torture-porn. Genre be damned, I sure do like the concept of the SAW films. I think that in the seven features they have made, that only the first film can truly be held high as a great work of art within the horror genre.
SCREAM pulled off a decent three-fer in their series, but as we know, that hallowed trilogy is perhaps on the verge of being ruined with SCREAM 4. I know they have the best of intentions and Lord knows Wes Craven needs a winner (any fans out there of My Soul to Take? I missed it, sadly as I thought it looked as though it had promise). Craven is clearly a very creative mind and filmmaker, but can he do it again? With Kevin Williamson back as the scribe, with all of the cast who survived the first trilogy are back, and with Craven himself directing, maybe it will be alright? At the very least, I am interested.
Well SAW didn't take the high road. They chose a different path. Much like the Nightmare series, SAW moved to a movie-a-year schedule, for better or for worse, and sadly, it was often for the worse.
The SAW franchise had a great first entry and none of the films would ever come close to replicating this magic. Darren Lynn Bousman's SAW 2 and SAW 3 are by far the most watchable, other than the original, and the final entry is a good one, but mostly due to the 3-D effects and the fact that it is seemingly is the end of the SAW era.
I think that there is a great trilogy *somewhere* in these seven films. SAW 5, as I recall, was one of the worst constructed films I have ever seen. So I say this...chop all seven movies into 3 that everyone will love! I'd even like to see what the fans could do ala The Phantom Edit from The Phantom Menace, which completely excised Jar Jar Binks from Episode I. I know there are some up and comers out there who could turn this chicken $hi* into Chicken Salad!
It seems that Paranormal Activity is primed to take the helm and be the next run in the horror genre. If they do it right, things will end at a trilogy. They tied together nicely the first two films and a third could give good and acceptable resolution. Instead of building a ridiculous franchise, why not finish it up proper and then task the creative team with building a new concept and a different set of films.
For the record, SAW 3-D gets a 3 horn rating, but I am being generous. If I find out that there is to be a Saw 8, I promise to drop this to a 2.5. And my 3 rating is for the 3-D version. See this in 2-D, and it gets dropped half a point for becoming much less visually stimulating.
Finally, the worst thing about the best parts of older horror movies is that it has apparently been long enough for the studios to "reboot" some of their winners from through the years. Most of these reboots, the majority of which have been pushed through by Platinum Dunes, overseen by Michael Bay....Bay! Stick to Transformers! I am a fanboy for your stuff, so keep it coming. But stay the hell out of horror...it isn't for you, trust me!
So there you have it. My somewhat convoluted take on the state horror films. My ratings for SAW 3-D, HEREAFTER, and DUE DATE aren't that great.
I plan on seeing BURIED, with Ryan Reynolds within the next day or so. Also, MEGAMIND is on my to see agenda. I have heard decent things about both. Next week will be UNSTOPPABLE, an extravagant, but enjoyable thriller, I am sure it will be.
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Thanks and take care!
The Reel Rhino