Saturday, November 21, 2009

Laughing Gor (Turning Point)

This Hong Kong crime drama reminds me a lot of The Departed. Here a crime boss recruits a kid "Brother Laughing" to be part of his gang and instructs him to be a police officer as an undercover agent for the gang. Laughing is then assigned by his police captain to infiltrate the gang as an undercover officer. Rather formulaic, but fun none-the-less.
3 stars (out of 5)

(500) days of Summer

A love story - told out of time. Summer is that magical girl that everyone falls in love with, but who does not believe in love. Tom is the wanna-be who does believe in love, but can't find it. This film is the story of the 500 days of their relationship. Maybe because the story doesn't have enough interest on its own, the writer tells it out of sequence, jumping forward and backward in time to provide foreshadowing and back story. Unfortunately, this doesn't help. The characters just aren't that interesting.
2-stars (out of 5)

Battle for Terra

I am not usually one to seek out animation, but this film got on my list somehow. And not just my Netflix list of 200 films that might be worth seeing someday, but my short list. This means that somewhere I read something, or someone recommended it as worthwhile. Battle for Terra is a story of the planet Terra and the events that unfold as the "Earth Force" spaceship approaches to take over the planet to replace the now destroyed Earth. Two things were worth noting. I immediately noticed the physics of Terra. Apparently a small planet (i.e. low gravity) with a dense atmosphere, Terrans can swim through the atmosphere, their homes are mushroom like trees that grow very high with thin stalks. Somehow the humans seem to experience this planet as having earth-like gravity. Noticing this made be watch carefully for when the attention to scientific accuracy was paid and when it was ignored. Secondly, this is apparently supposed to be a story that offers an alternative to violence. However, I found it largely unsatisfying on this front. It was mostly a classic war movie with a sacrificial move at the end. I would have liked to see (and am still looking in the world of film for) the characters to make a commitment to peace from the beginning. How would the story work out in that case? Or is there simply no story? Or is the story too long? But because it made me think of both my theology and of science, it was worth the viewing.
3 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Smart People

The 2008 version of The Squid and the Whale, only not as good. Smart People includes a bunch of people who think they are smart, but really aren't. And there isn't really enough tension in the script to allow the characters to battle. Ellen Page does a nice turn as a young member of the entitled generation who simply can't believe that what she wants is not what everyone in the world wants. She doesn't overplay this role (which is nice) and in a subtle way really captures the confusion of people who can't understand why others don't just give them what she wants. It truly is a genuine confusion. Thomas Hayden Church does very well at playing the irresponsible, yet somehow wise and stabilizing, uncle. But the bottom line is still the bottom line...the film was not engaging. I was bored instead of entertained and none of the characters made me care. So while it could be considered a diversion on a friday night, I can think of a few other diversions that would better fill your time.
2 stars (out of 5)