Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Smattering of Films --- When it Rains, It Pours

I have been watching movies, I promise!  I actually survived a medical scare last week and spent a few days laid up in bed.  I used my time in bed and my recovery soon after to catch up on much of what I haven't seen from recent months.  

I will say that Time Warner On-Demand has a great selection of "see-it while its in theaters" kind of flicks and for that, I am grateful!

At this very moment, I am taking in some mid-week movie goodness, in GOON, with The Kid in the Helmet and Papa Schmer...good times.  Again, a

For your money today, I offer smattering of mini-reviews, some longer than others...my time at the keyboard has been less than I would like, as of late, but a boy's gotta eat, and the "real" job pays the bills!

I have been writing this post for the better part of 2 weeks.  The really really short reviews are the product of me being too tired to care, generating the desire to just post this darn thing!  So for you, in a post Oscars 2012 world, I offer you this film buffet:

ACT OF VALOR: 4.5 of 5 Horns
THE ARTIST: 5 of 5 Horns
THE WOMAN IN BLACK: 3.5 of 5 Horns
THIS MEANS WAR: 3 of 5 Horns
SAFE HOUSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE INNKEEPERS: 4 of 5 Horns
PERFECT SENSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE IRON LADY: 3.5 of 5 Horns

Act of Valor
This film was culled from footage of real-life Navy Seals in action.  It took the weekend overwhelming viewers, while underwhelming critics.  This is a movie that truly is critic-proof though, as you don't go for the acting...seeing this movie is something of an act of patriotism.  It was moving, had mind-blowing action, and while it was light in the acting talent, it just didn't matter.

There were moments when the big-guns kicked in at just the right moment, in what seemed like last minute heroics, but was actually perfectly orchestrated battle plans.  I loved this movie and it made me relish the respect I have for my Brother, a Marine, whose courage has and always will inspire me to do the best I can in my life.  I revere those who risk everything so we can have anything, and this film, while not a traditional Hollywood blockbuster, does proper tribute to all those who serve, but especially those who fight battles that we really have a hard time comprehending.

4.5 of 5 Horns

The Artist
Simply amazing.  5 of 5 horns any day and it is everything they say it is.  This is a film to behold and one to applaud for the sake of pure creative genius!

The Woman in Black
Mundane horror fare.  3.5 of 5 Horns for an acceptable, but otherwise run of the mill horror film.  Harry Potter, we expect better from you.  OBLIVIATE!  There...that's better....but...now...who am I again?

This Means War
Better than I expected, but still not as good as it could of been.  It was missing something special that certainly could have elevated it from what it is to what it could have been!  The film is carried by the affability of Pine and Hardy, it was as The Kid in the Helmet said, impossible to watch and not see Hardy as Bane in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.  3 of 5 Horns  -- Here's looking forward to TDKR and Star Trek 2!

Safe House
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.  'Nuf Said.  4 of 5 Horns for this exciting, fun action ride that features an old hand doing what he does best and really the new kid in action-adventure fare, testing the waters.  Really, Reynolds has only supported the action films in which he has starred (Smokin' Aces and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and I think that Green Hornet is not representative of his potential in the genre.  Reynolds  has only scratched the action surface and he will likely shift from Rom-Com fare to more gritty stuff, or at least we can hope (or at least I do!).  As a side note, I would have loved to have seen this flick directed by Tony Scott...that guy can direct!

The Innkeepers
This is the second semi-mainstream offering from Ti West (not counting Cabin Fever 2).  His first semi-wide theater release was House of the Devil, which was stunning and so beautifully vintage in tone and artistic design.  He has an eye for shots that captivate and he clearly films on a serious budget.  This is the story of two clerks working the final weekend at a very old Inn, hell bent on uncovering the mystery surrounding the supposed hauntings at the place.  It is so crisp in its presentation, it looks like it was shot on a prosumer HD camcorder, but it adds to the look and feel of the film in such an effective way.  If Devil was dark (and it was), Innkeepers was light (in the sense that the lights were almost always on).  That lightness made the trips into the basement so much more effective.  Check this out for another effort for a talented up and comer in the horror genre!  A solid 4 of 5 Horns for The Innkeepers.

Perfect Sense
The wold is headed for chaos as an apocalyptic-inducing disease is slowly robbing people of their senses.  Ewan McGregor and Eva Green are splendid...yes, I said splendid, in this part-love story, part-end-of-the-world genre blend the likes of which is both unique and well-played.  KIMBALIANO saw this last year at Sundance, and here's what she had to say then...

My other love of the fest so far has been PERFECT SENSE. Not because I have an obsessive crush on Ewan McGregor (which I do) or that he's a little bit naked in the film (which, ladies, he is) but because this is an amazing, emotional movie. It's the story of a couple (played by Ewan and Eva Green) who fall in love while a strange pandemic breaks out around the world. It starts with an overwhelming moment of loss and grief, then an unexplainable loss of smell. Eventually the entire world is effected. As this strange illness unfolds the human reaction, both on a global level and in the intimate details of the couple's relationship, are presented. The not-knowing in this movie will make you uncomfortable, but the story is too compelling not to watch. It hasn't been picked up yet, but I really hope it does. As with most Sundance movies, these two don't exactly wrap themselves up in a pretty bow at the end, but that's what I find most enjoyable about them.
Yes, it was picked up and I had the chance to see this on Time Warner On-Demand...for my taste, a solid 4 of 5 Horn movie with curiosity fueling the viewing more than enjoyment.  But there's nothing wrong with that, is there? 

The Double
I watched this on Netflix Watch Instantly and remarkably, I didn't hate it.  At best, I found that it kept a quarter of my attention, with the other three-quarters fulled with lament as after clicking a link, my Facebook account "upgraded" to timeline...lament, oh lament.

The film has a pair of stars in (Chris)Topher Grace and Richard Gere.  I added the Chris because you and I know that it's actually there.  Richard Gere's performance was reminiscent of his part in the 1997 remake of The Jackal (originally Day of the Jackal).

This film held this part of my attention, but for a thriller, it wasn't really that thrilling.  There is a huge reveal about 20 minutes in that I full expected to be a twist or a red herring, but I was sadly disappointed.

The film basically revolves around a manhunt for a Russian gun for hire turned serial murderer, of sorts.  Grace has his moments, but also some doozy bits of acting at times.

Whereas the plot unravels early, some of the dialogue is exposition heavy...including Topher talking to himself, speaking outloud his theories on the case, because that's what normal people do all the time.

All in all, I gave this a 3 of 5 Horn rating.  See it if you're bored, but otherwise pick a classic you've never seen, lean back, relax and enjoy a better film.  

The Iron Lady
This as a film did not wow me; Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher did wow me.  She is one of the finest actors of our generation and this film is worth watching for her performance alone.  I gave this film a 3.5 as a watchable all-around story of a still-living, breathing legend of politics.  It is a pretty standard biopic running three ages of Margaret Thatcher at the same time, with Streep handling the active-politics years as well as the retired, confused old woman who when she goes to the store for some milk, isn't even recognized.

Let me also say that the make-up in this phenomenal and it is one of the three films nominated for the make-up award from The Academy.  It'll be a touch and go race, but it may be Glenn Close's Albert Nobbs that takes the award. 

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence 3-D
This ain't your mother's Ghost Rider.  Unfortunately, it ain't exact;y the great flick I thought it would be, either.  It is, by far, around 100% better than the original.  Neveldine/Taylor are an extremely talented pair of directors and cinematographers.  This film was bumped up a whole point in my book for the stark deviation in tone and production methods from the first one.  The original was a green screen nightmare and this offering is more visceral, something resembling the reality that could be in a world with the Rider.

Nicolas Cage, you either love him or hate him...there is little middle ground.  Fortunately for me, I am on the love him side, so in addition to the great direction, Cage's hammy delivery suits this film perfectly.

The son of the devil was born to a mortal woman and his coming of age is upon the world.  The boy is on the run with his mother and pursued first by the devil's minions, second by a mysterious boozy priest, played enjoyably by Idris Elba.  Elba enlists the help of The Rider, convincing him with the promise that if he is successful, his order of priests can lift the curse that has him roaming the night harvesting souls for the devil.

All in all, I give this a 3.5 of 5 horn rating....This is not a $14 movie, and that's what I paid...it was also playing in ETX 3-D, which I believe would have been $16....

Things are getting crazy expensive at AMC and while I love AMC with specific affection for my Barrywoods crew, I can't go without saying pointing it out.   Cinemark in Merriam is $4 bucks for all shows before 6pm, $6 for all shows after.  Their 3-D mark-up is $2.75....meaning that worst case scenario for any 3-D show is a matinee viewing for a 3-D flick is $8.75.  

I did the IMAX viewing of Journey 2 (see below) and it was a CRAZY $16.00 for the film.  At least they had the decency to play a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes short before the film.  $16.00 for 94 minutes...that's $1 per $6 minutes of film, give or take.  Yikes.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - The 3-D IMAX Experience
I hate those who judge films like this before giving it any chance at all.  This a fun, family film that makes it mark as a fine (albeit cheesy at times) adventure.  Like the first film, it was built for 3-D and enhanced by its release in IMAX.  I think watching this at home would greatly reduce one's enjoyment, but with the likes of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sir Michael Caine, and Luis Guzman, there was no shortage of talent in the acting department.  Yeah, you heard me say it, I think The Rock can act.  See also: The Rundown for one of my favorite action films of recent years.  I enjoyed him in Fast 5 and really think he can accentuate the action element of any movie.  It is, what it is, though.  Either you will like it, or you will endure it.  Luckily for me, I liked it...but I am easy to please!  4 of 5 Horns

Yes, I'll be headed back to the theater soon...sorry for the sporadic postings, but times have been crazy around here, and I hope it slows down soon so I can get back to writing!!!

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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