Feb 22 2013


John Matthews (“The Rock” Dwayne Johnson) is the owner of a successful construction company and the proud father and husband to a wife and daughter. He also happens to have a mildly troubled teenage son from a previous relationship, Jason (Rafi Gavron). Jason is setup by a “friend” to help smuggle some drugs into the country, as a result the DEA pins him with possession and the intent to distribute illegal substances, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Acting in desperation John makes a deal with the District Attorney (Susan Sarandon) to work undercover for the DEA in order to lessen his son’s sentence. But how far into the belly of the beast will John have to go in order to free his son and at what cost?Snitch-Poster Loosely based on actual events, the writers of the film have definitely taken liberties to create an action film, yet somehow actually managed to keep its feet mostly planted in reality. However, that’s not to say there aren’t a few eye rolling moments where the melodrama of the whole situation comes across a little too thick, or that the believability of the whole thing is spot on. And, slightly confused, the political message that’s woven in and out of the script seems to miss it’s mark by not creating a fully formed argument; the thesis “Mandatory minimum sentences are bad” is only partially supported by this one anecdotal example. That aside, the ensemble seem to embody their roles decent enough, there aren’t any Oscars here; and, it’s hard to see Johnson as a hulking underdog of sorts, but we can safely stamp “pass” across this one. The rest of the film is safely formulaic, you could do a lot worse with your entertainment dollar. Snitch is rated PG-13.

Feb 22 2013

Bless Me, Ultima

Set in New Mexico during and after World War II, young Antonio (Luke Ganalon) establishes a strong bond with his grandmother, Ultima (Miriam Colon), a powerful medicine woman who’s insight on life makes a notable impression on those around her. In their village a silent battle between good and evil appears to be taking place on multiple levels, spiritual, emotional, and physical. Meanwhile, Antonio, witness to this battle, is taught what it means to know god, through the eyes of Catholicism and through the spiritual eyes of Ultima.Bless-Me-Ultima-2013-movie-poster Based on Rudolfo Anaya’s novel, the screenplay works as a pre-coming of age spiritual quest, some of which is quite touching and some of which seems steeped in schmaltz leaving a “made for TV” taste in the mouth. Furthermore, voiceover narrations throughout could have been easily avoided; instead, the principle of “show me don’t tell me” is tossed out and the strength of the dramatic performances is diminished. To this end, perhaps involving a more seasoned screenwriter would have helped. Still, as an examination of American history in the Southwest the film does achieve a clear snapshot of our past. Maybe a matinee, more of a rental. Bless Me, Ultima is rated PG-13.

Feb 14 2013

Safe Haven

Running from an abusive home life, the delicate damsel Katie (Julianne Hough), finds herself in the tiny bus stop known as South Port North Carolina. In South Port Katie finds a new home, a new job, and, a new love—Alex (Josh Duhamel). Yet, adjusting to Southern charm and hospitality seems to be a bit of challenge. With the help of Alex and her new friend, Jo (Cobie Smulders), Katie seems to find a way to see through the darkness, until her Ex (David Lyons) turns up with a vendetta. Facing her dark past could mean losing everything, how to persist and prevail?safe-haven-exclusive-poster Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel one might expect a sappy romance cut and dry, and you do get that; but, there’s more going on here than one might give credit at the onset. Admittedly, the unpeeling of the onion suspense is contrived, and the basic instinct/fatal attraction nutty ex concept is a little played out, but chemistry between Duhamel and Hough feels right. And, to the credit of director Lasse Hallstrom, heartstrings are indeed tugged “just right” as evidenced by the piles of tissues being swept up by ushers in the theatre as this critic was leaving. Bottom line, taking your significant other to see this for Valentine’s day might just be a good move…translation, guys, suck it up and see this with your significant other, thank me later. Safe Harbor is rated PG-13.