Mixed martial arts champ Gina Carano plays a spy for hire whom somebody wants to eliminate. Bad idea. She decimates an all star cast kicking, chopping, shooting, doing what ever to move on to the next foe. Carano has little or no action experience but her athletic skills put her on par with a great cast including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, and Michael Douglas. And she does it with such style. Don’t go expecting great literature but do go for the violent fun of it. Please notice that “R” rating, too. Does it deliver what it promises? Kicks. Is it entertaining? You bet. Is it worth the price of admission? Great fun.
Young Thomas Horn plays an unusual youngster traumatized by the death of his father (Tom Hanks) in the twin towers on 9/11. He finds a key and begins a search for a clue he believes his dad left for him. Sandra Bullock plays his grieving mother and Max Von Sydow has a nice turn as an old man who has chosen not to speak—writing notes or raising one hand on which he has written “yes” or the other with “no.” “Extremely Loud” has a nice cast and a touching story but I wonder if the time for a 9/11 movie hasn’t arrived yet or if it has if this is the right one? Does it deliver what it promises? 9/11 story. Is it entertaining? A child’s journey. Is it worth the price of admission? Some of you will enjoy this, others not so much. Me? I liked it fine.
Gritty unflinching story of a black teen girl’s struggle to find herself and find the courage to come out of the closet to her family. “Pariah” faces family drama and pain without blinking. The lack of sugar coat gives “Pariah” an unusually strong realistic feel. In other words, don’t go expecting sunshine and happiness and everthing turning out all right. In life, everything usually doesn’t turn out ok. As the center of the movie, unknown actress Adepero Oduye gets firmly on the radar as someone to watch. The Sundance Film festival launched “Pariah,” a strong entry in the independent film world. Does it deliver what it promises? Gritty coming of age story of black teen girl. Is it entertaining? Strong stuff hard to ignore. Is it worth the price of admission? A strong independent.
Matt Damon stars as a husband grieving the death of his wife who buys a broken down animal park and moves his family to these unfamiliar surroundings. Cameron Crowe (best known for “Jerry mcGuire” and “Almost Famous” two of my favorites) directs this story and adds an extra dimension. Scarlett Johansson plays the chief gamekeeper worried about the animals and the park’s future. Of course you can guess the gang has a hard time at first but bonds and ultimately work together. The trailer makes this look like a cheesy Disney style story, but the movie rises above that. Scenes during the story and toward the end as Damon explains to his children his love for their deparated mother have a turthfulness that I found moving. Does it deliver what it promises? Family story better than expected. Is it entertaining? Surprisingly so. Is it worth the price of admission? Nice PG rated family fare.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Sherlock as action hero genius. Jude Law plays his sidekick Watson, rolling his eyes over his friend’s exploits. The two encounter Professor Moriarty as played by the excellent Jared Harris. The plot’s ok—basically Sherlock hopes to prevent Moriarity from starting World War One. The style’s so slam bang that sometimes it exhausts the viewer. But the ending goes back to the series roots, with Holmes and Moriarity tusseling over the Reichenbach falls. Fans of course remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ended his detective’s life at these falls, but the public demanded his return. So you can look for another Sherlock movie just as Doyle had to write more Sherlock stories. Does it deliver what it promises? Action adventure in Victorian times. Is it entertaining? Fun but sometimes goes overboard. Is it worth the price of admission? Has a great ending.
Martin Sheen stars in a thoughtful film directed by his son Emilio Estevez—the other Sheen son. Sheen travels to Spain to claim and cremate the body of his son who has died accidentally while taking the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago de Camposteta—a journey through Spain taken by thousands of pilgrims over the years. The father determines to finish the son’s journey and completes his personal grief and acceptance with the help of a his fellow pilgrims. “The Way” has found an appreciative audience, especially of the faithful, for the movie’s quiet simplicity. Does it deliver what it promises? Thoughtful story about death and grieving. Is it entertaining? Really holds your attention. Is it worth the price of admission? Films touching on religion that don’t feel like sermons don’t come along very often.
Martin Scorsese lends his talent to this story of an orphan boy living by his wits in the Paris train station in 1931. “Hugo’s” plot includes a partially working robot whom the boy scavenges parts to complete. The robot ultimately leads him to toy seller Ben Kingsley and unlocks a secret involving the early days of film. Asa Butterfield plays Hugo winningly. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the toy seller’s grandchild. Sasha Baron Cohen adds some comic relief as a station policeman. Kingsley brings gravitas and Christopher Lee shows up as a book seller. Hugo starts slow and feels very slow at times but comes alive in the final half hour, as Scorsese recreates the working world of Georges Melies—whose early films include the well known animated rocket into the eye of the man on the moon. Does it deliver what it promises? Lovely story lovingly done. Is it entertaining? A bit slow but a nice pay off. Is it worth the price of admission? For film fans.
Oh Lordy what a weird delight! The great Antonio Banderas plays a plastic surgeon who keeps a patient under lock and key, testing a new synthetic skin on her. Gradually we back up six years to understand what leads to this strange story involving a dead wife and daughter, grief, love, and stone cold revenge In Spanish with subtitles directed by the great Pedro Aldomovar. Whatever you call it—drama, science fiction, horror—the result fascinates. A wild ride for foreign film fans. In Spanish with subtitles. Does it deliver what it promises? Fascinating mix of horror, sci fi, love and revenge. Is it entertaining?
A mind bender. Is it worth the price of admission. This one will stay with you.
Antonio Banderas voices the cat from Shrek 2 in this hilarious family film. It explains the legend of Puss, a one time hero who loses his status in his village due to a misunderstanding. This adventure helps him win back his honor. It involves Jack and Jill and magic beans and the golden goose and a girlfriend named Kitty Soft Paws and a not quite very nice Humpty Dumpty. What more do you want? Does it deliver what it promises? Easy to like family fare. is it entertaining? Funny on an adult and kid level. Is it worth the price of admission? Great family fun.
I just love the plotline of “In Time.” Set in the future when everyone lives to twenty five and then stops aging. After that you must buy your time on earth. So figure it out. The rich live forever and the poor die young. Justin Timberlake plays a blue collar lad who saves a rich guy from sure death in a tough bar. The rich character suffers a bad case of boredom after living two or so centuries and wants to end it. So he gives a century’s worth of time to Timberlake (all the characters have time clocks imprinted in their arms—a neat idea) and ends it all. Now the newly wealthy Timberlake has the time to visit the richest zone of his land and see how the other half live. He meets financial guru Vincent Kartheiser (the smarmy guy from “Mad Men”) and falls for Vincent’s daughter Amanda Seyfried. But the system’s Timekeepers don’t like poor kids having a lot of time and they aim to repossess his time. Timberlake grabs the girl and off they go on a Patty Hearst stlye rich versus poor spree. “In Time” zips along thanks to a tight script and really likeable performances. Sure you can laugh later at the holes in the script, but this sure is entertaining to watch. Does it deliver what it promises? neat sci fi. Is it entertaining? neat. Is it worth the price of admission? Very fun.