Jul 29 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) is a western outlaw wanted for robbery, mayhem, general violence, the list goes on. The catch is Jake doesn’t remember who he is, any of his ill deeds, and how or why we woke up in the middle of the western dessert with nothing but a photograph and a strange bracelet that won’t let go of his wrist. As events warrant Jake makes his way into town only to find more trouble. Before long Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) and his father Woodrow (Harrison Ford) become Jake’s newest pain. Then, in their darkest hour, out of the skies come metallic winged demons of death to round up people like cattle. Now, as fate would have things turn out, Jake is the only human who can stop these aliens/demons. And so it is, a posse is rallied, with Jake as the lead, joined by Doc. (Sam Rockwell) and the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde). Of course, the big questions still need to be answered, why are these aliens on our planet, can they be stopped, and what of all the town’s folk who’ve gone missing? Poised to be one of the summer’s big blockbusters, the dichotomous setup between the wild west and the future can perhaps be best described in one word– thin. What do I mean? Well simply put, everything was thin, from plot to acting efforts to the overall concept, the whole film seemed to fall far short of what could have been a ridiculous but highly entertaining piece of work. Maybe it’s the fact that the supporting actors seemed to have more western acting chops than the leads? Maybe it’s that Daniel Craig didn’t have a line longer than about four words? Maybe it’s tough to make a Brit sound like a cowboy? I don’t want this to be the case, but it certainly was a tough sell. Maybe if Sam Elliot would have been cast somewhere in the film there’d be some Western cred….maybe not. All told, we’re looking at a rental caliber flick. Cowboys & Aliens is rated PG-13.

Jul 29 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Cal (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) are a couple on the outs and headed towards a divorce, a tough life change for both to adjust to. Deeply depressed Cal heads out to the bar scene where he’s taken under the wing of Jacob (Ryan Gosling), tomcat, player, and all round womanizer. Learning from Jacob, Cal begins to find himself again, and uncover the mistakes he made in his married life. Meanwhile, baby sitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) has a bit of a crush on Cal, more kerosene on the fire, But Cal’s son is in love with her. Further complications make this Shakespearean love triangle even more bizarre until finally something has to give. Who’s in love with who, and which couples will actually survive the odd ways of love? Bitter and sardonic for anyone who’s loved and lost, tried to love again, to be met with success or failure. While not really realistic in any sense, there are plenty of moments that could easily apply to anyone who’s played the game of love, and there’s plenty to laugh at here. Carell’s comedic timing shines genuine and the chemistry between both Carell and Moore feels believable too. Moments between the rest of the characters often run the gamut between truly cringe worthy and adoring. Overall, the net effect is a positive, it’s only towards the end where the film mildly falls off the rails and becomes a bit too convenient, but even then, if you’ve bought the film up to this point why not just go with it? So, it’s a romantic comedy, it’s a bit expected, maybe a matinee for the non-alien/transforming/explosion crowd. Crazy, Stupid, Love is rated PG-13.

Jul 15 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry, Hermione, and Ron (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint) continue their search to destroy the last remaining Horcruxes, the vessels holding the evil Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul. Of course, with every passing moment Voldemort’s strength grows stronger, and now that he possesses the elder wand, the strongest magic wand known to exist, Harry and the rest of Hogwarts School of Magic will have a bigger and nastier battle on their hands. As allegiances are made all is revealed, but who will survive; and, what final lessons will Harry learn from his mentors Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Snape (Alan Rickman)? Ten years after the whole series began, I’m proud to say Potter finishes strong with a satisfying punch. Given where Part 1 left off it seems pretty evident that all that’s really left to play out is one giant battle, and that’s mostly true, but then there are also a fair amount of loose ends that need tying up to really satisfy the true Potterheads. Mission accomplished on both accounts; however, as to be expected with any adaptation for film there are some deviations from the book. Usually this is okay, although in this case there are a few key points that get almost glossed over and don’t allow the film to cash in on what could be strong emotional moments, unfortunate but not show stopping. Meanwhile just as we’ve come to expect, special effects and sound design are top notch, and the score scores points as well. Having now watched these budding actors grow into the well crafted adults has a satisfying sentiment as well. 3D effects for this installment are a miss, although the special Harry Potter round style 3D glasses are kind of fun. Worth your time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is rated PG-13.