Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pacific Rim

While I was only partially interested in this story, I was definitely interested in the visualization provided by del Toro. And afterward, I was correct. The story is OK. Good enough, but not great. The action battles between the robots and aliens were too big and too fast to notice details. But the visualization came through in the slow pans across the hangers and the big wall. Just watching the wall construction scenes was enough to give a visceral understanding of the fear and scale of the problem of giant aliens bubbling out of the ocean. But overall, there were just too many holes to make this a good film. For example, why do we need a wall from Alaska to Mexico, but nothing in Hong Kong? Why do massive battles between 1000 ton objects in water not create any waves on shore? Why to the "scientists" have to be such a caricature that I felt like I was watching Ghostbusters? Everything else was played straight, why not the scientists? Am I overly sensitive here? Unfortunately, this film is of a quality that recommends seeing it at home, but really needs to be seen on the big screen. What to do?
2 stars (out of 5)

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Numbers Station

Again with a girl that deals with numbers that no-one else can? (see Safe). Set in a World War 2 bunker somewhere in England, a numbers girl goes to work everyday, apparently with an entire unbreakable cipher in her head. She encrypts messages to be sent to black ops assassins so they can be sure their targets are authorized by the government. John Cusack, formerly one of these assassins, is her protector. When the bunker is attacked Cusack and his cipher girl have some difficult choices to make. There are too many holes in this storyline, which is itself to plain, to allow this to be enjoyable. Find something else to watch.
2 stars (out of 5)


Jason Statham plays his role. Out of favor, independent contract killer. Again (see The Mechanic or Killer Elite or and of The Transporter films), he finds someone who needs rescuing, and he does. In this case, a young girl who is a genius with numbers has been taken by the Chinese mob. They use her as their "accountant" since she can remember all numbers without leaving a paper trail. When they try to use her to courier a combination to a safe, and Statham gets involved because of a double cross, the girl and killer team up to try to save each other. Statham has to care, and she gets to live with a new benefactor. The story here holds together and there is enough turning of plot around who double crosses whom to keep us going. You know exactly what you are going to get with a Statham headlined film and he continues to deliver.
3 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

The story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden covers most of the decade before his assassination. As a story, the film was engaging and cohesive. My concern with most historical fiction is that I accept it as historical and forget the fiction. What I think that I can take away from this film is the brutality of war, both on a grand scale, and on an individual scale. The torture methodology and results that are shown have been the source of much controversy. I think that what is not controversial is that the torture is torture (brutal and inhumane). What I saw was how the brutality affected both victim and assailant, such that both were victims. The difference being that the assailant generally tries to mask the fact that the brutality has any effect on them. And that mask is seen clearly here. I also was struck by how much of a "video-game" mentality was demonstrated by the soldiers. Perhaps a coping mechanism, but very disturbing as war capability moves more toward remote/robotic destruction. The personal atrocity of face-to-face death seems to be a natural limiting factor toward boundless war. Without it, war and death is simply a mathematical exponential curve, not a personal reality. Too easy to detach.
4 stars (out of 5)

Monday, July 22, 2013


Nine Items or Less meets Wendy and Lucy. Jane is a young woman struggling to make ends meet when she buys a thermos at a yard sale that just happens to have a ton of money stuffed in it. When she tries to return it to the old lady who sold it to her, she doesn't get the response she was expecting. But she does get the beginning of a strange relationship. This is a little bit of Jane pursues Sadie, and ends up being a commentary on relationship, friendship, getting old, holding on to dreams and building dreams. Well paced and balanced.
4 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, July 20, 2013


If you want to see a law enforcement agency that is charged with finding, exposing and apprehending aliens (or ghosts) living among us, go see Men in Black. This was such a derivative film that I am surprised that there were not intentional nods to its parent. Unfortunately, it was also not good. There was no good humor, to surprising plot, so interest. I kept waiting for something to happen. It didn't. I know that 1-star is only supposed to go to films that I can't even watch the entire film, but I am offering an exception. I watched the whole thing and it is still
1 star (out of 5)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Despicable Me 2

Not enough Minions! Too much plot.
2 stars (out of 5)