Monday, April 30, 2012

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary...The Raven, Safe, and Revisiting COMIC-CON with Morgan Spurlock

This weekend brought four wide releases, the most we have seen in some time!  It is the LAST WEEKEND before official beginning of the SUMMER MOVIE SEASON.  Yes, the arrival of Earth's Mightiest Heroes will usher in the popcorn eatin', ray gun blastin', all-in-all good time at the movie season.  For this weekend, we have The Five-Year Engagement, The Pirates: Band of Misfits, Safe, and The Raven.

Safe, for those keeping track, is the latest Jason Statham flick.  You know, The Transporter 8: Safe

Yes, you read that right, I mean, come on, we have:

The Transporter 
The Transporter 2
The Transporter 3
The Transporter 4: Crank
The Transporter 5: Crank 2
The Transporter 6: The Mechanic
The Transporter 7: Killer Elite

And now, this.  I have to say, jokes aside, Jason Statham has found a niche that absolutely works for him.  Other than being let down a bit by Killer Elite, I think that I did in fact like all of those movies.  Statham has both charm and he can fight his ass off!

I wasn't feeling Safe today, and I also wanted to fulfill a request for a Raven review, which is what I did see.

The Raven
The Raven is a story bearing the title of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, named as such as the lead character in the film is Poe himself, played by John Cusack.  A killer is loose in mid-19th century Baltimore, MD, and his murders are modeled Poe's tales, with Poe being one of the earliest American horror writers.

The story is wholly enjoyable, but for everything it does right, there is still something missing that keeps this fantastic concept from elevating to a fantastic film.

Alice Eve is astonishingly beautiful, and she plays Poe's betrothed, Emily Hamilton, and Brendan Gleeson plays her father Captain Hamilton.  An adequate amount of time is put into building the foundation of their romance and her fathers disdain for it, to make their relationship more than just a plot point.

The lead police detective, Det. Fields, was played by Luke Evans.  He is exceptionally British in his filmography, and once I IMDB'ed him, I recognized him immediately.  But until last night, I actually thought he was Matthew Morrison, aka Mr. Schuester from Glee.  Yep, take a look at the trailer again and tell me you don't see it!

I don't know what this flick was missing, but there was something palpable lacking in the overall package!  I hate to say this, but the actual sound of this film was exceptionally weak.  Normally, during the Oscar Pool, I think that for sound editing and sound design, how do they pick and then judge a winner.  While I cannot tell you what is worthy of the big prize, I guess I can tell you for certain when something does not.

Overall, I liked the story, but didn't love this movie.  The flick has a little bit of gore in a few scenes, but for a rated R flick, I thought it pulled it's punches a bit.  Don't get me wrong, there were some scenes that would have been quite at home in the next installment of Saw, but overall, the bloodshed occurred mostly off camera.  

I give The Raven 3 of 5 Horns and leave the ball in your court as to whether you even see it at the theater, or wait to catch it at home.

So I made the Transporter joke up above and when I started writing, at which time I hadn't yet seen Safe.  But as the weekend wore on and I was kept from my computer, I decided not to split the post.  

I have a very soft spot in my movie going palate for Jason Statham.  I find him exceptionally likable and I will never forget the impact that the original Transport film had on me.  I mean before that, his pairings with Guy Ritchie left some memorable dramatic impressions, but his early action fare was less than great in John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars and the Jet Li headlining The One.  Now The One was bad, and we would later learn that Statham and Li on their own could be great, but when paired up ala The One, and later in War, their combined efforts were remarkable stinkers.

The short story is, I like Statham and the longer tale is that I liked this movie.  It has a decent supporting cast with only a few named players, including Chris Sarandon and James Hong.  

The story is that this mysterious man, Luke Wright, wins a UFC fight that everyone expected him to lose, putting him at the wrong end of the Buddy List of most of the New York City criminal underworld.  Some retribution is dished upon him, and after suffering a fair amount of personal tragedy and hardship, he decides to make a stand, and help a young Chinese girl named Mei (Catherine Chan), who he sees running away from some Russian mobsters in the subway.  He intervenes, and the two of them go on the run together.

I was rather vague in this description because there is a fair amount of exposition laying out this tale and I was pleasantly surprised the filmmaking used to tell this back story and also how much I enjoyed the actual meat and potatoes of this back story.

Bottom line is this, you have Statham and this girl on the run, which is what you likely took away from the trailer as the crux of the flick.  That part of the story doesn't kick in until about 30 minutes in, and then when it does, it is a pretty awesome and sometimes standard Statham ass-kicking ride.

I give this movie 4 of 5 Horns and for what is partly some of the same old same old, Jason Statham manages to continue to pick projects that are different enough to keep us coming back for more!

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this documentary.  At the end of the day, it was way more entertaining than informative.  In fact other than learning a little more about the 5 or 6 folks that were featured in Morgan Spurlock's Comic Con doc, there wasn't a great deal of substance to this flick.  

This film was made starring many legends of Comic Con and while I, a man in the know, found it exceptionally entertaining, I also thought that it was quite closed off to the "non-geek" crowd.  Comic Con is really something to see and whether as a fan or for pure people watching pleasure, there really is something for everyone there.  This film presents everything really assuming that the viewer will know and understand the backstory on the Con.  I mean there is some bare bones info, but there is a great deal going on that the non-initiated will be in the dark.

I was entertained and I think on the face of it, most anyone would be entertained, but Spurlock could have done a great deal more to both inform as well as entertain.  I would like to see more of a Discovery Channel style doc on Comic Con and perhaps the special features will come through.  I say 4 of 5 Horns, but again, that's as a man in the know.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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