Thursday, September 1, 2011

Very Short Takes: Sci-fi and Rachel and Abs! (Oh My!)

Daniel Craig seems to be having the time of his life in Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens an awkwardly titled nod to B movies, trashy sci-fi and the sexiness of the rugged male hero. Craig plays the lead opposite the aging, but still fantastically charming Harrison Ford (who plays a villain!). The movie lingers too much on character details that eventually make no difference - nobody came to this movie for John Ford melancholy - and by the time we get to the showdown between the title characters, our interest might've drifted elsewhere. Mostly meant for fans of the Western, the film takes too long to figure out exactly what it wants to be and other than Daniel Craig's ass in leather chaps, it offers nothing new, or exciting under the sun.
Grade: **

Out of all the comic book movies that have come out in recent years, none have been less spectacular, thrilling or fun than Green Lantern. Martin Campbell's film is an ode to how wrong CGI can go when used for the wrong reasons (a respectable superhero message if that's what he was truly going for). Ryan Reynolds tries to hold the movie together as the title superhero, even if the effects that make up his suit often make us think his head will move in the opposite direction of his body and you have to respect him for not relying on his abs so much this time around. Blake Lively gives rocks a run for their money in the dull department (all of her lines elicit laughter) and poor Peter Sarsgaard is relegated to playing a giant bugger. Then again, what can you expect of a movie that features a character who looks like a devil, is named Siniestro (Mark Strong) and still thinks we'll be shocked upon realizing he's a villain...
Grade: *

Rachel Weisz means business in The Whistleblower a real life story where she plays an American police officer who becomes part of a peace keeping committee in war ravaged Bosnia. Once there she realizes there's a huge human trafficking ring that involves UN members, army officers and even diplomats. Weisz remains a beacon of serenity and morality throughout the film and infuses her character with some rich ambiguities, reminding us of her brilliant portrayal in The Constant Gardener. The film however doesn't know what to do when she's not in the scene and makes a waste out of perfectly good actors like Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn. For a movie that tries to paint a time appropriate tale of corruption, the villains and heroes are too clearly divided most of the time and for those inclined to a good old fashioned social heroine tale, the lead never feels under actual danger, the cause in the end feeling like something she does out of an ulterior motive, in the very same way the movie feels made to get its leading lady some awards.
Grade: **½

If Alfred Hitchcock and Chris Marker decided to have a baby, it would be something like Source Code, this sci-fi thriller feels like a hybrid of Strangers on a Train and la Jetée. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a time traveling soldier sent to prevent a mission not even he's aware of. Revealing too much about this movie's plot is to deny the audience of the rich writing in Duncan Jones' sophomore feature. After the breathtaking Moon it's perhaps safe to say that the genre is in good hands with David Bowie's son. With moving performances, an unexpected climax and one of the most sincere romances portrayed in recent cinema, Source Code sends you away with a feeling of utter exhilaration. Like one of its major plot twists all you want to do is revisit it the minute it's over.
Grade: ***½


Georgie Doodle said...

I have to say that the thought of watching the Jake Gyllenhall movie NEVER even crossed my mind until I saw this review for Source Code. I'll have ot try it on. As for Green Lantern, I never expect too much from a comic book generated movie, but I kinda dug this one. Sometimes you just have to suspend your belief and enjoy, right?!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

But still, that scene where Rachel lets loose in the brothel was just devastating.

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