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The apes rise above all expectations
I get a sparkle in my eye when there's a reboot to a series that regenerates the pleasure and enjoyment that audiences had with the original series like Batman, Sherlock Holmes, and the Incredible Hulk. Christopher Nolan changed the fate of the Batman franchise with Batman Begins and the Dark Knight as he brought the darkness of the Batman comics from the 1980s to life and changed how we think about the great detective and his ways. For many, Sherlock Holmes was forgotten and lost in the countless of television series and mostly forgotten movie adaptations, but Guy Ritchie took a chance and showed everyone the real Sherlock Holmes whose great detective skills, vast knowledge of martial arts, and all around craftiness makes his foes to think twice. Due to the box office failure of the 2003 reboot Hulk; fans were wondering if there could be a fun and true Hulk movie. In 2008, French director Louis Leterrier delivered an action-packed and suspenseful reboot that gave respect and honor to the popular comic book. Summer of 2011 is even more awesome because this year's reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise Rise of the Planet of the Apes by newcomer director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist). This film gives an emotional character study of intelligent ape Caesar performed by Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings and King Kong) as he rises to power and conquers the humans with his ape counterparts.
The movie begins with Caesar's mother Bright Eyes being captured by trappers somewhere in Africa and shipped to the states where she becomes a test ape for a company developing the cure to Alzheimer. After an unsuccessful cure pitch to the company board resulting in Bright Eyes' death, lead scientist Will Rodman played by James Franco (127 Hours) discovers her baby in her cage and decides to take the baby chimp home with him. Over the next 30 minutes, we, the audience, get to see Caesar grow up and his relationship with Will grow as well. Caesar's knowledge of humans being caring and respectful towards all Earth's creatures is disrupted when during a walk in a park he encounters a couple's dog that aggressively barks at him. The frazzled chimp has thoughts, since he as well is wearing a collar and a leash, if he to is just thought of a pet. This incident will makes matters worse as more and more occurrences happen that completely convinces Caesar that his kind and he should rise to stop this prejudice and segregation once and for all.
This film is very much Conquest of the Planet of the Apes the fourth installment in the original franchise. What makes this interpretation better than the original is the stronger emotional side to Caesar that sticks with the audience and ends up having them root for him during the rise. The real power behind this film is Andy Serkis and his motion capture skills of wonder. Serkis wears a diving-esque suit with little reflecting balls all over and neon dots placed every inch of his face that help bring Serkis' performance to simian life. His facial expressions and body movement really help suck you into the mind of this unique chimp.
Some people have been saying, "oh these apes are completely fake and that the C.G. is so bluntly obvious." All I can say is that the c.g. for these apes is the best example in recent years. Weta Digital, the people who created the c.g. for Gollum, King Kong, and the natives of Pandora in Avatar, created a masterful job in creating realistic apes of varieties like chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. The up-close shots are what convince you. Every little wrinkle, scar, strand of hair, and inch of skin texture totally fleshes out the apes.
I had a few minor complaints but they didn't take away from the film for me. This didn't really bother me, but this might for other big Planet of the Apes fans is the constant throw-in lines and references from the original series. They're such as a shot of a Charlton Heston, the star of the original, on a television screen, Heston's famous line "get your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape", and so on. For me, these touches were quick and didn't get in the way. Tom Felton (Harry Potter franchise) and David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland) play the film's main villains. Oyelowo is pretty much your money-grabbing company ass and Felton plays the punk son of Brian Cox (Braveheart) curator of the ape "sanctuary" where Caesar is sent to later in the movie. These characters aren't new in the world of antagonists, but they do a hell of a job in being the motivation to the apes' cause.
This movie delivers in everything you'd want from a well crafted sci-fi that has a great dramatic story for the humans and apes, awesome action during the third act, the c.g. is top-notch and flawless, and the acting from Franco and the rest of the cast was surprisingly quite good. I'm still rattled by And Serkis' performance that I really want the Academy of Motion Picture and Science to consider his performance for Best Actor for this year or even create a new category for voice and motion capture performances. The apes will conquer a four out of four popcorn bags rating. This is so far the best movie of 2011!
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Cowboys and Aliens loose the fight to over-hyped publicity
When it comes to blending two different film genres for a movie, it takes a lot of hard work and careful balance in order to satisfy the audience with each thrilling side. There are definitely examples out there that show two genres not dominating over each other such as Aliens, Rango, Zombieland, Blazing Saddles, and The Incredibles. Aliens succeeded in inserting a horror element with a cool Sci-Fi story that practically has you on the edge of your seat with terror. The Incredibles, well, what can I say more than a great animated movie with a great blend of superhero mayhem that you wished was a comic book. This year's cross-genre movie, Cowboys and Aliens, unfortunately, doesn't make this list for it just stuck to a very conventional and clichéd western formula and the back-story to Olivia Wilde's character that didn't get any development once it surfaced.
The movie centers around wanted criminal Jake Lonergan played by Daniel Craig (Casino Royale), during the 1870's in the wild west, who wakes up in the middle of the desert one day and has no recollection of who he is and why he has this strange, alien bracelet strapped to his wrist. After confronting three cowboys that results in Lonergan introducing them to their maker, he rides into a nearby town and is very quickly recognized by the town sheriff and two henchmen that work for cattle boss Woodrow Dolarhyde played by Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones Quadrilogy). Dolarhyde, who apparently has some beef with Lonergan, rides into town to stop the sheriff from taking Lonergan to the hangman's noose. That night during the confrontation, these peculiar and strange lights appear a few yards from the town that, once completely over the town, start attacking the town's folk, blowing up the buildings, and then start to snatch people left and right including Dolarhyde's son. Lonergan shoots an approaching ship, with his alien bracelet, that crashes and releases a wounded alien into the dark, desert plain. Discovering its tracks, Dolarhyde, Lonergan, and few others begin their chase to catch up to the creature and find out why these beings are here and what they want. In the group, a mysterious woman named Ella played by Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy), who may have the key to Lonergan's past and identity.
After the experience of watching Iron Man and Iron Man 2, John Favreau, as a director, can really deliver in spectacle and action. I was going in thinking that Favreau's going to create a bad-ass and maybe some what of a ballsy western. I was deeply disappointed and unimpressed by Favreau's conventional and clichéd western. It had nothing to offer than what we've already seen for countless of other westerns. Craig's character is the stranger with no name and has a mysterious and dangerous past. Harrison plays the gruff and tough bully that nobody messes with because without him the town would be left in the dust. The film even brought the old' theme of what it takes to be a man between Dolarhyde and the sheriff's grandson, now I wouldn't mind that if they didn't go about the most boring way and in the end it was just pointless.
I was constantly back 'n forth with the purpose of Olivia Wilde and the instant stop of her character's development. In the beginning of the film, she's set up as the key to Lonergan's unknown past for a couple a scenes and then in the middle the audience finds out that she has a connection with the aliens. I have to give credit to Favreau for giving Wilde some back-story at first, no matter how silly and sudden it was. I was being forgiving, but then all of sudden, the movie stopped with her story and made her Mrs. Exposition for the motives of the aliens throughout the rest of the movie.
Now matter how much I'm ragging on this movie, I did have a fun time and there are some redeeming qualities. The chemistry between Craig and Harrison was great and they had a lot of funny moments together. I was freaking in love with the design with the aliens and the C.G.I. for them and the alien space crafts looked more convincing than they did in the trailers. Favreau's camera-work with the landscape and the action sequences made it really stylish, in a way.
Is Cowboys and Aliens John Favreau's best work? No, Iron Man is. I do believe that he made a really fun cross-genre movie that has it's moments that are really bad-ass and really funny. This is perfect for a rental during date night, but if you see this at a matinée it definitely won't kill ya. I give Cowboys and Aliens a high rental or two out of four popcorn bags.
Super 8 (2011)
Sci-fi flick shows an entertaining homage to Spielberg
With every movie buff, there is one movie director and his or her films that each movie geek grew up with over the decades. Whether it's Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Penny Marshall, George Lucas, Frank Capra, or Clint Eastwood. This year's nostalgic film is Super 8 directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek & Mission Impossible II) and produced by Steven Spielberg (Shindler's List & Jaws). Super 8's characters, story, and atmosphere give a justified and memorable two and a half hours of rekindling of the films by Steven Spielberg that made us go "ooh" and "aw" for four decades and decades to come.
The movie centers around 13 year old Joe Lamb played by newcomer Joel Courtney. The opening scene is of the funeral reception of the death of Joe's mother after a tragic accident at the machine factory where she worked. Six months later, Joe's relationship with father, Sheriff Lamb played by Kyle Chandler (The Kingdom) hasn't improved since his mom died. In order to get away from it all and mourn, he hangs out with his friends while they try to finish Charlie's, his best friend, amateur zombie flick with his Super 8 camera. During a night shoot at the town's local train station, the gang find themselves, while filming, right in the middle of a horrific train wreck caused by their school teacher who purposely derails it with his pick- up truck. During all of the on-going destruction, Joe and the Super 8 camera witness some mysterious unseen being or creature escape from one of the storage cars. After, all of the mayhem stops; military troops immediately arrive at the scene of the accident and begins to investigate. Joe and the others quickly flee and promise each other not to speak a word of this to anybody.
A few days later, more military forces begin to arrive at the town and starts to surround the entire crash site and sanction it off from the town citizens. To make things even creepier; dogs, appliances, car engines and eventually people begin disappearing and calls come in from people who say they saw something big that they can't fully explain. Joe dotes it upon himself and the crew that they should snoop around find out what really escaped from the train wreck. Of course with every group of kids who get too nosey, they reveal something that none of them are prepared for.
Director J.J. Abrams does a subtle, but recognizable job at blending in all of the memorable aspects of Spielberg films like the funny relationships between the kids, as they are this century's Goonies, even though there is only one Goonies. Increasing the curious tension of the appearance of the creature like the ingenious method in Jaws. The combination of visuals and musical score to create an E.T.-esque feel to the popcorn eating wonderment that is the film itself.
There is a lot of pressure on new coming actors especially child actors in impressing critics and audiences across the world because it's that first impression that decides whether or not that actor or actress is worth looking into. The newcomer up to bat is Joel Courtney who plays Joe, definitely brought the emotion, combined with Abrams' direction, of a small boy losing his mother and never being able to let go of her and move on. I'm sure Courtney was relaxed, while being surrounded by experienced child actors like Elle Fanning (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Gabriel Basso (The Big C). Courtney and rest of the kids do a fine job in adding little traits here and there that make the gang and each of them even more entertaining.
The flaws are, first of all, forgivable. There are a few questionable historical references of products like The Walkman and The Rubik's Cube, which is debatable whether these two pop culture icons actually were released to America in 1979. The Rubik's Cube for sure wasn't released to the states until 1980. The Walkman's release, on the other hand, is questionable. Another quick complaint was the noticeable, blue camera glare that kept popping up very often from time to time. Now, Abrams did this in Star Trek and I believe that he does this to add some realism to the fact that there would be glares from the camera metallic objects or something. All in all, certain audience members and I found it very distracting and it acted like a tick that wouldn't go away.
Super 8 is a great film that contributes to the hopefully satisfying ending of June. If you're a huge Spielberg buff and you appreciate his work then this is a film that will have you remember all of the classic moments of his films that astounded viewers for decades and decades to come. Super 8 will receive three and a half out of four popcorn bags.
Priest soars to new heights of mediocrity
Every year, it seems that there is that one movie out of the bunch that is distributed from Hollywood that sets the bar high on mediocrity in filmmaking. It can't help to disappoint audiences across the globe with weak storytelling, underdeveloped characters, poor acting, bad lighting techniques, and clichéd lines. I know it's a little early to jump to conclusions, but I believe that vampire revenge movie starring Paul Beattany, so far is the biggest cinema disappointment of 2011.
I'll have to try my best to elaborate this lazy to the bones story. In the beginning of the film, an animated prologue begins to explain the ongoing war between man and vampires (this time portrayed as ravenous bloodthirsty animals). Just when humanity is lost forever, the clergy calls upon the Priests, who are these super beings that are skilled in every kind of weapon and combat except guns for some strange reason, too vanquish this evil forever. As the humans gain back control of the vampires, they lock the remaining of the savage beasts in huge reservations instead of killing them off entirely which would be the most logical choice, to be honest. The clergy, worried of the increasing power of the Priests, force them to live a common life and give up their daily routines of being vigilantes. One of the Priests played by Paul Beattany (A Knight's Tale) that this movie revolves around, who is just apply named Priest talk about not clever character naming, has just received word of a vamp attack on his brother's family and he. They took the Priest's niece after killing her family. After being denied permission from the church to seek revenge, he defies their ruling and goes on a hell-bent, revenge chase after his niece and her captors. Along the way, a couple of subplots are plugged in that the movie's director Scott Charles Stewart (Legion) doesn't even bother to try to develop nor even try to fully explain! The most unbearable aspect of Priest was the awful acting in the film's arsenal. Everyone, mainly the men, act very gruff and surly as they often times look very constipated which made it even harder to take these actors and actresses seriously. The weakest performances were of Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Cam Cigandet (Easy A). Urban's acting was leaning towards the quality of the acting abilities of an actor in a cheap Sci-Fi Channel with no self-respect for itself. The actor seems to stay in the level of forcing a low and scary voice instead of acting dark through his own pace and time, then making it actually suspenseful to hear his voice. Cigandet really does take the cake as having the most monotone and uninteresting character in the whole movie. Three things that this guy has going for him is that he is the boyfriend of the Priest's niece, the sheriff of a rinky dink town, and that he's a good shot. Stewart doesn't give any time for Cigandet to development suitable back-story for his portrayal. Hopefully, all of the actors and actresses here will choose wisely next time a director who is fully committed to a project.
The only parts I liked about Priest were the C.G.I. (Computer Generated Images) effect shots of the vampire creatures. The animation artist did an imaginary job on making the speedy little s.o.b's completely gruesome with little trinkets like non-stop drooling, realistic slimy and wet rubbery skin, four razor-sharp fangs jutting out of its mouth and unique howls to finish off the dimensions of the undead hounds of hell! If you like movies that disappoint on every level of entertainment for you, then Priest is that rotten apple. Priest, unfortunately, is another example of a movie that utterly and epically fails due to the lack of cooperation and imagination from its creators. One and a half out of four popcorn bags is my rating for Priest.
Thor starts the summer of 2011 off with a bang!
This year is turning out to be a powerhouse of Marvel comic movies. Starting with the Green Hornet in January, then most recently Thor, Priest; X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern in June and then Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens in July. My first review from this summer popcorn movie bunch is "Thor" adapted from the Marvel comic and based off of the old Norse hammer wielding god of Thunder. This movie doesn't fail to deliver to the fans a rough and tumble action packed and visually outstanding movie that can be placed right up there with "Iron Man". It also gives a surprisingly good lesson about the Norse gods and goddesses of myth and legend.
The movie is set around Thor god of thunder, played by Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) and as you get to know him you find out that he's really full of himself and thinks that he doesn't have to listen to his father, Odin, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) king of Asgard, Thor's home in the heavens. When Thor disobeys his father's wishes and travels to the realm of Joturheim, home of the Frost Giants, where he destroys the giant's home land into a pile of rubble. Due to his disobedience, Odin takes away Thor's power and banishes him to Earth in order to learn how to be rational and selfless before he can return to his home. While on Earth he encounters and a young and beautiful scientist named, Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman (Black Swan).
Back on Asgard, Oden, due to stress of an inevitable war against the frost giants, no thanks to Thor of course, falls under "Oden's Sleep" (or a coma in layman's terms). His youngest son, Loki, god of mischief, played by Tom Hiddleston (Archipeligo) is crowned as king and then as the film progresses the audience discovers that he is planning a devilish and sly plan that would end up destroying Asgard forever. After discovering this Thor must discover what it means to be a true hero in order to regain his power and stop Loki from destroying the very home that he was banished from.
I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how the film's director, Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) distinguishes the three realms; Earth, Asgard and Joturherm with dialogue, lighting, mood and visuals. Branagh is well experienced in the feel of Shakespearian atmosphere like his movies, Henry V and Hamlet. It was great to watch and listen to the formal and complementary dialogue this is delivered by Odin and the other gods of Asgard. I felt those scenes could work on stage. With the other two worlds: Jotunherm is very cold, isolated, dark and eerie and Earth is as contemporary, new and modern. All of these descriptions are created by the visuals, lines and their delivery.
The only problem I really had with the movie was that Natalie Portman's character was really underused and only seemed to serve the purpose of the hot and lonely love interest. Also, once Thor is on earth, it's basically a "fish out of water" story for those scenes that demonstrate awkward fitting in moments and unfamiliar sayings. I also believe that the film could do without the slow-mo shots of Hemsworth walking into shots. I know that it's supposed to emphasize that he's this gorgeous man with rippling muscles and chiseled body. The audience and I already got those hints without the slow-mo shots. It just simply wasn't necessary, but I'm sure that horny teenage girls would strongly disagree with me on that notion.
This movie starts the year off with a BANG! It kicks the popcorn movie craze into high gear for 2011 as it will hopefully lead to even more successful comic book hero movies. If you are looking to have a great weekend, then go check out Thor. You won't be disappointed! I give this movie three and a half out of four popcorn bags.
Arthur remake shows audiences a silly and heart-warming character
The movie that I wasn't expecting much from this year was the remake of the classic 1981 comedy Arthur. I could just see from the film's trailers that this remake would deliver cheesy and flat gags and just barely cover the main aspects of the movie like the relationship between Arthur and his nanny Hobson and his obsessive need for alcohol. I hate to admit though, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though, it doesn't compare to the original; Arthur starring Russell Brand turns out to be humorous and heart-warming comedy that can be enjoyed during an agreeable matinée.
The movie revolves around the world of happy-go-lucky millionaire playboy Arthur Bach played by Russell Brand (Get Him to the Greek). Arthur to sum him up. He's basically a man-child. All he wants to do his party, party, party and drink, drink, drink and have some fun when he has nothing better to do. After, a couple of inebriated shenanigans in the Big Apple, his mother tells that she can't take his bulls#*t anymore and threatens to cut him off from his supplied fortune. In order to not lose everything, Arthur unwillingly agrees to marry a successful business woman named Susan Johnson played by Jennifer Gardner (Alias) who, if married into his family, will regain the Bach's economic respect from their investors because of you know whose high jinxes. While Arthur is grieving about his horrific decision, he runs into this cute aspiring children's book author named Naomi played by Greta Gerwig (No Strings Attached). Arthur becomes completely enamored with her and respects her free-spiritedness and rebelliousness. Now, it seems that Arthur is in a bit of a pickle and must decide whether or not to marry a woman who he has nothing in common, but he gets to keep his vast fortune or, spend the rest of his life penniless with a woman who really understands him.
People know Russell Brand for his Adam Sandlerish performances in his films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. But like Sandler in The Wedding Singer, Brand is very toned downed quite a bit here and it's not exactly a bad thing; it's actually a great thing because us the audience are able to connect to him on a emotional level and at the end we care about him and where he'll end up. The big thing that the film's director Jason Winer (Modern Family) fleshes out is Arthur being a heavy drinker like the original. Arthur realizes throughout the course of the film that his drinking is pushing the ones he loves away from him. He begins to battle his rebellious side as he tries to make amends with his addiction as he goes through failed attempts to contribute in AA meetings and treats all it like a big joke.
I was really looking forward to the rendition of Arthur and Hobson played by Helen Mirren (The Queen) and their contrasting relationship of Hobson taking care of Arthur and Arthur doing his thing and acting like a drunken idiot! The best scenes in the movie are with Arthur and Hobson and just the great chemistry that Brand and Mirren create from the silly dialogue. Some might say that Hobson is a bit cold toward Arthur, but honestly, she pretty much has to in order to make some kind of dent in his brain that will make him act responsible for once. When all of this tension fades in certain moments, Hobson really does express her true motherly compassion for him and that she would do anything for him.
Since Arthur is a millionaire, he has to buy all kinds of movie memorabilia like the Batmobile, the time-traveling Delorian from Back to the Future, and the mystery van from Scooby Doo. His penthouse suite is great to look at as he has a magnetic bed that hovers above the bed, a huge home theater that shows Looney Tunes 24/7! It was also funny to just hear all of the lavish things he bought and a couple weeks later he gets bored with like a pet Giraffe that he fed up with because it wouldn't wear the clothes Arthur wanted him to wear, go figure. The movie's set designer did an incredible job in making Arthur's room just too cool! Even though, I'm praising this film for being cute and touching; there are a decent amount of flaws that contribute to the film being annoying sometimes. Brand's acting did get on my nerves quite a few times and his squeaky accent did sound like he was sucking on helium off stage. Brand also couldn't help to rush through his dialogue like at the speed of sound, so it tore away from the story's progression. The performance that I thought wasn't really necessary was Nick Nolte (Hotel Rwanda) and his portrayal of Susan's dangerous and crazy father. I really thought his dialogue was terrible and with his gruff voice I could barely make out what he was saying half the time.
This film isn't perfect, but it does give audience something they wouldn't expect
a funny and likable character who reinvents himself to save him and the ones he cares for from an inevitable car wreck of compulsion. This film delivers the themes of the original Arthur, that the fans will want to see maybe even done better, like his alcohol addiction and the funny back and forth between Arthur and Hobson. I wasn't exactly blown away in hilarity with Arthur, but I was pleasantly surprised with it and admittedly I would recommend this film to friend of mine. I'd just ask them not to pay full price to see it, that's all. Three out of four popcorn bags for Arthur.
Due Date (2010)
The movie gets its act together in the third act
A comedy road trip movie only needs four things: funny gags and lines, an interesting story, enjoyable characters and committed comedic actors. Mix all of these together and you'll get films like; National Lampoon's Vacation, Dumb and Dumber and the Blues Brothers. The director of the "Due Date" is Todd Phillips, who directed "The Hangover", what he did right with that film is the consistency funny jokes that were coherent with the story. Despite the great performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis as well as direction of the jokes they still turn out flat and pointless during the first and second half of the movie. The move was redeemed when the third act had killer antics firing back and forth. The synopsis of "Due Date", is Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), playing architect Peter Highman, who is in Alabama for business. The film starts the day he is leaving to see his pregnant wife, played by Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye). When he arrives at the airport he bumps into Ethan Trembley, played by Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover), who is basically a man-child with aspirations to be an actor. After their encounter, which was less than great, they meet again on the same plane and after a conversation involving the words "bomb" and "terrorist", they both get kicked off the plan and there forth Peter finds out that he is now on the "no fly list". Instead of paying for a rental car or having his wife wire him money, he hitches a ride with Ethan, because consequently Peter lost his wallet and ID on the plane. This starts the crazy and shenanigan filled road trip to reach his wife in time to see his baby born. Two of the best things that "Due Date" delivers are the performances of the head roles and the cameos that were fun to watch. Anyone who is a fan of Robert Downey Jr., like me, knows that he always brings his "A" game. He did a great job in "Iron Man", " The Soloist" and "Tropic Thunder", which earned him an Oscar nomination. As I was watching Downey Jr. loose his complete mind riding with this moron I was totally convinced some of the things that Ethan does like falling asleep and driving off a bridge and miraculously surviving, shooting Peter in the leg with a pistol and bugging him with annoying questions helps draw the audience into the charade. I'm really starting to get into Zach Galifianakis. After seeing "The Hangover" I thought he was hysterical and here he plays a character that says dumb and illogical things while not realizing it. That is where Zach flushes out his gags because he says them with such confidence that you want to slap him across the face, true evidence of a convincing character. I always enjoyed seeing my favorite celebrities as cameos in movies. I get a sudden jolt of giddiness for some reason for a couple minutes. This movie had a whole mixture of celebrities; Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder), RZA the rapper, Keegan Michael Key (Mad TV) and Charlie Sheen. The two main problems that I saw in "Due Date" was the jokes in the first two acts and how a number of fell flat for me. I also didn't like how the director, Todd Phillips, made Robert out to be to much of an ahole. The jokes in the first half of the movie left me staring quietly and only a few chuckles. The editing showed that a joke was a dud with the quick cuts that happened constantly. The third act was the gem of the film with every line and sight gag was hysterical. Realistically if a guy were to be stuck with Galifiankis's character for about two or three days, I'm sure he would start to become a jerk. Phillips took this direction to far and at the end of the second half I wasn't really liking Peter and if I should root for him to reach his wife. Near the end, that character trait lightened up and I was able to enjoy Peter's character more. This movie isn't the perfect road trip comedy, but I did have a really fun time and in the end enjoyed it. The jokes and the performances will make you like the film. I give "Due Date" a total of three out of four popcorn bags.
The Tourist (2010)
Poor directing is the movie's flunk
A lot of movie goers like great match-ups in movies, like Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw in "Jaws", Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades" and Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in "Twister". All o f these match-ups were put together because both actors are known to be in films that are action adventure, romance, dramatic or comedic. People want to see how work together while they throw their best acting cards on the table. The other reason they are put in the film is that each actor brings a different atmosphere to the film and the film maker hopes and believes that old saying, "opposites attract" and will lead to a great movie. The new release, "The Tourist" has a pairing that fans have been psyched about, since word of this movie leaked from Hollywood, the much anticipated combination of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Even though this is a great match-up, the ball was dropped by German director, Florian Henkel Van Donnersmark, with his flat and uninteresting dialogue that forced these actors to try and work what little tools they were given. The plot is about a beautiful mysterious woman named, Elise Clifton-Ward, who randomly sits next to an American math teacher named, Frank Tupelo (Depp). They are on a train heading to Venice, Italy and after a pretty mystic and sensual meeting, Elise convinces Frank to come to her Venice suite. After a sexual tease and intense night, Frank finds out that Elise picked him to distract Scotland Yard inspector, John Acheson (Paul Bettany), and a furious mobster from catching her lover. Alexander Pierce, who embezzled over two million American dollars from an English mob boss, Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff). As pages unfold, Frank realizes that everyone is after him because he is mistaken for Pierce, which then leads to a cat and mouse game through Venice. To start the film's flaws, the direction in every aspect "The Tourist" has to offer its action, mystery, thrills and visuals. Surprisingly there is hardly any action in the film, we probably have the trailer (which was misleading) to thank for that. Along with this criticism, the action wasn't that great and didn't really wow me all that much. An example of this apathetic action is the boat chase and fight that is performed by Elise, Frank and one of the Shaw's Russian goons. The boats are going down the Venice water ways at what looks like only 10 mph. The funny thing about it is while the chase is going on the remaining Russian's are scouring through the allies as quick as they can. I'm thinking to myself, you guys can speed walk and would probably be ahead of the boats. The mystery of Alexander Pierce that circulates through the movie isn't really developed that well. Whenever the character mentions something about Pierce it's always about his connection with Elise and how he stole two million dollars. To keep the audience intrigued with Pierce, Donnersmark should have given more back-story to him. The thrill of a chase in a film should have you on the edge of your seat and surprise you with some close calls. Here, on the other hand, it's a different story. I say the action isn't very good because he stunts that are done in the movie have been done in other movies and done better. There is a roof chase where Frank is running away from Russian agents on the roof tops of hotels. Much like the boat chase it seemed to be happening at a very slow pace. At the end of the scene Frank comes to the edge of the hotel roof and is stuck between the agents and then drops down to a market scene full of pedestrians. I have seen this ending before, he character must choose between being captured or a deadly drop, the drop is usually the choice. In this chase it takes Frank five minutes to jump off the edge of the roof even though you know he will survive. Lastly, the direction that Donnersmark took with the visuals of Venice was a generic and familiar path. I was hoping before the movie started that the director would shoot new shots of Venice that haven't typically been seen before. Once again, I was deeply disappointed with the shots was just of city water ways and Venice citizens eating at outside café's. Putting all of these criticisms together has the making for a pretty bad movie. The terrible direction is the films main loss of points and the dialog Bethany that makes each character uninteresting which leads to your basic "yes" or "no" answers. The only upside is that fanatic Johnny Depp fans will scream their heads off by just seeing his face and the guys (myself included) will be happy to see the sexiest current day actress, Angelina Jolie. "The Tourist" gets a two out of four popcorn bags.