Idiotic action thriller pits an elite counter-terrorist team code-named G.I. Joe against the evil forces of the organization known as Cobra. This noisy special effects extravaganza bears little resemblance to the Hasbro toy of the 60s and is based rather on the Marvel comic book series, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which ran from 1982 to 1994. No one expects the script based on a toy franchise to be Shakespeare. Let’s face it, the cartoon series had better character development. What’s so shocking, however, is the inferior computer animation. There is a lot of CGI in this film and unfortunately most of it looks fake. Two positives: The hilariously affected style in which Cobra Commander delivers his lines throughout the film and the amusing way complicated problems are presented and solved within seconds. These peculiarities make the film tolerable…..but just barely.
Archive for November, 2009
Charming animated film based on a Roald Dahl book about a sly fox that tries to outwit three feeble-minded farmers who want him killed. Utilizes exquisite stop-motion puppets that recall the Rankin/Bass productions of the 60s. This intelligently written, well acted comedy is captivating. Its quiet charm sucks you in and holds you for the entire 87 minutes. Director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) has a surprising talent for this type of material. In fact, his quirky style invigorates the story and elevates the source material to something wholly unique: a family film enjoyed more by adults than children. You’ll be smiling throughout.
Rambling mishmash about a pair of cavemen who go on a journey after being banished from their primitive village. Disorganized mess is a lazily written buddy film that lacks cohesion. No plot, but more or less a series of tepid jokes united by biblical events. Frequently wallows in disgusting gross out humor. Makes director Mel Brooks’ similarly vulgar spoof History of the World, Part I seem like sophisticated satire by comparison. Only actor Oliver Platt as a high priest manages to illicit a few chuckles. Director Harold Ramis, who also co-wrote this dreck, hits rock bottom. Desperate.
Actor Nicolas Cage’s loopy performance highlights this interesting portrayal of a New Orleans police officer investigating the murder of a family of African immigrants. Neither a sequel nor remake to director Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film, but rather a variation on the same theme with different characters. Certainly director Werner Herzog’s most mainstream picture, it starts out as a rather scattered crime story, jumping from one vignette to another. As it progresses however, it develops into an enjoyable caricature of the genre, a portrait of a renegade cop without a moral compass. No one one plays crazy like Nicolas Cage, and when he does, it can either entertain or irritate. Luckily, this time, his offbeat behavior enlivens the action considerably.
Ambitiously titled sequel to Twilight (it’s a saga now?) follows the continuing adventures of Bella and Edward, with a third key character, Jacob, thrown in for good measure. Stale soap opera plot is just like every love triangle story you’ve ever seen. I kept thinking I was watching an episode of Days of Our Lives except with vampires and werewolves, of course. On a positive note, the cinematography is stunning as the whole film has the look of quality. However, as in the first story, there are several unintentionally funny parts. Apparently Jacob and his crew seem to be allergic to wearing clothing. Fans of the series will probably be interested in these characters, but all others will be bored.
Emotionally uncompromising portrait of an overweight, illiterate inner city teen who has just become pregnant with her second child. Unflinching study is so raw and harrowing, it’s difficult to watch in parts. Be warned, this is grim stuff. Director Lee Daniels wisely lightens the proceedings with sporadic fantasy sequences that provide some relief, even humor, to the cruel details of her life. Extraordinary newcomer Gabourey Sidibe as Precious heads up a cast that is uniformly excellent. Also of special note is standup comedian Mo’Nique in a courageously grotesque performance as her abusive mother. Impressive drama takes the viewer to places that will make you uncomfortable, but it presents her circumstances honestly and with humanity.
Ludicrous disaster film details how the people of earth react after an explosion on the surface of the sun starts events that bring about the end of the world. Hackneyed script full of inane dialogue is hilarious in the extreme. Audiences will have fun counting how many times a character assures everyone that things are fine, only to be struck with another disaster immediately following those words. There isn’t one genuine emotion in this entire overblown 158 minute film. These aren’t characters, but rather devices which exist solely to recite poorly written dialogue while everything around them blows up in a beautiful demonstration of CGI technology. However you have to admire director Roland Emmerich. Not only does he have the chutzpah to rip off other people’s films like Armageddon, but even his own The Day After Tomorrow. Film’s sole entertainment value is the stunning display of special effects which are indeed impressive.
Eerie haunted house story follows a paranormal investigator who gathers three people to a large estate to study the supernatural. Understated, low key and elegant, this horror film is based on the novel “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson. Film remarkably builds tension without being explicit, but rather suggesting spooky events of a psychological nature. One of the true great horror films of the 60s has over time become the quintessential haunted house movie.
Atmospheric horror film about an inexperienced governess who comes to a large estate to take care of two children that share a dark secret. Supernatural ghost story uses sumptuous cinematography and eerie lighting for maximum effect. This is a classy production, something few horror films can claim. Not scary, but rather a grim mood piece that maintains an air of apprehension throughout the course of the film. The plot actually develops into something rather sinister. That Deborah Kerr is brilliant is expected, but child actor Martin Stephens is a marvel as Miles.
A radiant Audrey Hepburn highlights this adaptation of the Truman Capote novella about a carefree woman who cannot commit to anyone or anything. She can’t even bring herself to name her cat. Indeed it is a tribute to Audrey Hepburn’s talent that she can make this shallow, chain smoking, shoplifting, gold digging free spirit, so utterly charming. There is real vulnerability here. Nevertheless, this light, frothy flight of fancy is extremely overrated and awfully dated (Mickey Rooney’s exaggerated performance is an embarrassment). However, the vividly eccentric characters and the luxurious style of it all, is captivating.