Aug 19 2011

Conan the Barbarian

In the time of kings, Barbarians, battles, and dark magic a barbarian woman is slain on the battlefield. In her last moments, her son Conan (Jason Momoa) is delivered to this world. Born of the blade, and taught the ways of the warrior Conan is raised by his father, Corin (Ron Perlman). But, when the evil Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) and his daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), a dark sorceress, kill Corin and destroy his tribe, a fire is stoked inside Conan. Now on a lifelong mission to avenge his father’s death Conan is challenged to reach his full potential, but, before he can rest he will also need to protect Tamara (Rachel Nichols), the last of the necromancer’s true blood line. Now, let’s be clear about this from the start. This is a barbarian film, it’s about blood, guts, testosterone filled battles, womanizing, you know, the typical barbarian lot. To expect anything less or anything really “serious” seems a bit lofty. That being said, for what it is, it’s not half bad. Yes, there’s plenty of CGI. Yes, the dialogue is thin and even laughable at times. Yes, that really is Rose McGowan overacting in possibly her worst role to date. Yes, Ron Perlman looks like Will Ferrell with a beard. No, Jason Momoa isn’t anywhere as physically large as Arnold on roids was. And No, no camels were punched in the making of this film, but a horse does get bonked. Honestly, this is a barbarian film! Can we really expect Lord of the Rings caliber? Simply, no…nor should we, you can’t get sunshine all the time right? But you can get something entertaining, distracting, and maybe worthy of a matinee. By the way, the 3-D on this doesn’t do a damn thing, if you can avoid it, do so. Conan the Barbarian is rated R.

Aug 19 2011

Fright Night

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) a late bloomer in high school with a ridiculously cute girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), begins to suspect something is amiss with his next door neighbor Jerry (Collin Farrell). Jerry is a night construction worker on the Las Vegas strip and has a way with the ladies that seems downright amazing. Meanwhile, as neighbors start to disappear suspicions start to rise. When Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Charley’s old friend, theorizes that Jerry is actually a vampire everything seems to make sense. Now it’s up to Charley, Amy, and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to put a stop to things before they all wind up undead. Despite the mental images the title might conjur, it’s important to remember this is as much a comedy as it is a horror/thriller type fick– a helpful distinction to keep you from getting too serious about something that’s actually a lighter fare. Sassy in its writing, and well timed in comedic delivery, the ensemble here really does a nice job selling the dramedy. And, since this is a re-make of the 1985 classic the nods to the original don’t go unnoticed, including a bit part for Chris Sarandon. Plenty of gore for the fans of blood and guts and a moderate use of 3D adds an extra amount of kitch. Fun, and maybe worth a matinee or an ounce more. Fright Night is rated R.

Aug 12 2011

The Help

Jackson Mississippi in the 1960’s, hotbed for Jim Crow laws, segregation, and racist sentiment; but also the origin of an odd partnership and friendship between a young aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone), and several women working as hired help, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer). When Skeeter gets the idea to write about the experiences of hired help she’s met with strong resistance. Her goal is to write their stories, through their own eyes, sharing the good and the bad and just how wicked some employers can be while others are simply wonderful. Finally, after much persistence, a book begins to take form, only when it’s finally published do the real fireworks begin. Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), ringleader of the white women in town and subject of several of the unbecoming stories launches on a tear, but will it do any good, what of these new friendships, and what of Skeeter’s career? An actors’ film from start to finish, the cast featured here makes up for deficiencies the screenplay gives us with stereotypes and broad generalizations. In fact, I smell award nominations for several of the players here based on their genuine delivery and ability to connect with each other on screen. Comedic timing, dashed with looks that could kill, turned with moments that can break your heart, the end result is sure to leave audiences satisfied. Albeit, the film does run long at 137 minutes and it’s hard to say what could be cut, but, I wish the film could have been capped at an even two hours. Still, fun and worthy for fans of the book and the occasional daring boyfriend. The Help is rated PG-13.