Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cowboys & Aliens

I was looking forward to this movie, then I waited too long and lost interest and heard how dumb it was, and now am quite pleased having actually seen it. Of course aliens visit earth in other eras besides the present and the future. In this case, I would have liked to see these aliens up against the dinosaurs and some sort of "ran out of gas" situation in their space ship. But I digress. This is a clever story and it unfolds nicely. I would have edited 15-20 minutes out and I could even name scenes that were unnecessary (which is unusual for me). But in the end, that doesn't break the film. I like that the cowboys, the outlaws and the Indians team up to fight the aliens. I like that the aliens like gold and that is their sole purpose for being here. I think it is too bad that the cowboys needed their own good alien to help defeat the bad alien. Actually, they only needed the good alien to explain everything. I think they could have won on their own. But that is a creative choice I suppose. This was a good summer film and if you didn't see it last summer, make sure to see it this one.
4 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Killer Elite

I really do think Jason Statham is the baddest action guy around right now. He can carry a film with his bad-ness. Here he is a retired assassin who gets pulled back into the business to rescue his mentor. Over time, we realize that we don't know who is good and who is bad and who is setting up whom... all of which makes a great action film. Statham plays the assassin with ethics who is trying to get out of the game all while trying to protect his girl. This is not extravagant, or even particularly clever, but it is well made and holds attention throughout. A pretty good action film with good supporting roles in Clive Owen and Robert deNiro.
3 stars (out of 5)


Ryan Gosling spends his entire movie in one of two states: with a goofy grin on his face or violently and graphically killing people. He plays a get-away car driver for hire because he likes to drive. When he gets in on a bad job, he has to clean it up, by killing everyone. Los Angeles streets are supposed to be a major character in the film, but they just don't act very well. This is not like Collatoral or 10 Items or Less which both used LA well. Gosling is just a silent, morose, messed up dude. Maybe it was just to "arty" for me. I didn't get it.
2 stars (out of 5)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Men in Black III

The reunion of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and crazy alien hi-jinks. I suppose for the uninitiated, this is novel and fun. It does not compare to the novelty of the first release that seemed so original back in the day. But for what it was, still clever and enjoyable. A decent time travel story line that hit all the right points. A very clever multidimensional being that lived in all possible futures. And what made this movie was Josh Brolin as the young Tommy Lee Jones character. Brolin hit this spot on over the entire course of his half of the film. As great of a long format impression as I have seen. If you have no other interest in this film, go see it for Brolin. Well done.
3 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, an East Texas funeral director who is the nicest guy ever to live on this earth. The entire town loves Bernie and he is the only one who can crack the rocky exterior of the wealthy local widow Marjorie Nugent. Black befriends Nugent, becomes her confidant, gets written into her will, becomes basically enslaved by her and then she disappears. This story is based on a real life tale and is filmed in a semi-documentary style with lots of "interviews" with the local townsfolk. Walking out of the theater, I heard "That is a definite Oscar film". I don't necessarily agree that it was that good. I found Black's character to be a bit flat and his sweetness was more saccharine that genuine. I did enjoy the fact that Black put his vocal chops on display, singing several old standards as he performed at funerals. In fact, the singing and the local interviews made this worth while.
3 stars (out of 5)

The Town

Ben Affleck is quite the leading man. He is serious and good looking. A bit too much Ed Norton-depend on my husky voice-dramatic, but great none-the-less. I would like to see him in a true action film (a la Daniel Craig or Matt Damon). Jeremy Renner is a close second here, and plays the nearly psycho friend quite well. These two are Boston "Townies" from the Charlestown neighborhood where every third guy is a bank robber. Their crew robs a bank, takes the manager as a hostage and then releases her. Affleck befriends and then falls in love with this same manager while trying to surveil her to insure she doesn't know their identities. Of course, there are life choice to be made when "the next job" comes up, and they get made. Not quite unique enough to be a great film, but solidly good.
3 stars (out of 5)

Another Earth

What a promising premise. Somehow a planet identical to earth has been discovered in our own solar system. This planet also happens to have duplicate people that have evolved in exactly the same way. So I could go meet myself. Of course the science of this is irrelevant, even though they try to throw in some explanation about how it orbits exactly opposite the sun from us so we couldn't see it. But the science is important. What changed so that its orbit is not directly opposite the sun now? Why does it get bigger and bigger throughout the film? Why were we not able to detect the gravitational effects of this planet? If you are going to do Sci-Fi, either completely abandon science or do it right. Don't try, but fail to make sense of something. As for the remainder of the film, it was more of a psychological drama that I expected. The girl who kills a family while DUI meets up with the surviving father, befriends him and then crushes him. Of course, the crushing was not part of the plan, but it is inevitable. It is a tragic story that raises the "What would you do" questions. So while it was not very entertaining or particularly exciting, it made me think. If that is what you want in a film, you might like this.
3 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Avengers

Finally, all the Avengers come together for a common cause. Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, the Black Widow and Hawkeye are all needed to save the world. In this case, since there are 6 of them, it takes about an hour to get them all into the film and running full steam with the plot. But it seemed like an appropriate amount of time. Not just all dumped in, assuming you know everything, and not spread out into a 2 hour intro. So well done. For the plot, Thor's brother Loki comes back to Earth to prepare a portal and bring in a conquering army. He is a egomaniac who's only goal is to be king of something. And he has some big power behind him. It takes all of the Avengers strengths together to put the universe back on track. I appreciated the level of humor (comic book cheesy, but not groaners) and found myself alternating between laughing out loud and saying "Oh, cool...". Well done writer/director Josh Whedon.
4 stars (out of 5)