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124 out of 221 people found the following review useful:
Betrayal, 19 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For 110 minutes "Take Shelter" is a gripping, dread inducing portrait of an average Joe going off the rails. At first there is a certain amount of ambiguity as to whether the main character's nightmares are apocalyptic premonitions or manifestations of creeping anxiety. The plain-spoken naturalism of the script, direction and performances -- especially Michael Shannon's believably unraveling lead -- stack up on the side of a mental breakdown. The details of his crack-up are painfully accurate and he even has a family history of schizophrenia.

Then, in the last few minutes, the movie becomes a highfalutin "Twilight Zone" episode, with one of those "gotcha" endings of the "It's a cookbook!" ilk. This would not be so bad if the buildup had not been so tonally different. As it is it's an utter betrayal of everything that preceded it and an insult to audiences' emotional investment in the characters.

"Take Shelter" is the latest and most egregious example of a distressing trend among filmmakers to take manifestly silly premises and invest them with dour gravity. Nolan, Shymalan, and Singer are the avatars of this style. They try to turn comic book and supermarket tabloid subjects into Ibsen, sucking out the fun as they inflate their stature. Rod Serling is surely rolling in his grave.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dumb fun, 25 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As James Cameron did with Aliens, Brett Ratner takes the X-Men franchise in a crasser, splashier direction. While Brian Singer is (thankfully) no M. Night Shamaylan he did invest the first two X-Men films with a gravitas that, to those of us not enamored of the comic books, seemed out of scale to such silly subject matter. Ratner has re-tipped the balance of soap opera to action in favor of plain dumb fun. Because what is the allure of this premise but the opportunity to watch people with super powers wreak havoc? He even does us the favor of killing off the dreariest characters. The script is clunky and obvious, and one feels embarrassed for the actors having to mouth such dreck. It seems pitched at the level of an especially dim and truculent nine year old, but that's as it should be with a comic book franchise. It's one of those movies that has so little on its mind that it has to state the obvious just to give the actors something to say. As Wolverine and Storm wander in a literal fog he says "I can't see a thing" (we know this) and she responds, "I can fix that" (we knew that). The movie's impatience with thought is wonderfully illustrated in a scene where Dr. Xavier's lecture on the philosophical implications of super power is interrupted by an outburst of more special effects. Later Beast drops an attempt to articulate a point in order to beat up bad guys. To every First Act action there is a predictably equal and opposite Third Act reaction. The Gay metaphor is strained to the breaking point, embodied by a kid with wings whose only role seems to be to save (forgive) the father who wanted to cure him of his mutantness. This is all to say there's a lot of splashy action which is mostly fun. The race between the giant Juggernaut, smashing through walls behind the little Kitty, slipping through them like a ghost, is a highlight. The beef/cheesecake factor is higher than before: Rebecca Romijn struts around in blue body paint for a few good scenes before she's neutralized, and Hugh Jackman takes his shirt off. It's all unpretentious, disposable fun, and that's as it should be.