Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Edge Of Darkness Is Gritty. But Dialogue Is Childish

Movies that deal with a gritty loner, who must battle the bad guys who just happen to have major power behind them, often make for a good movie. Hollywood has been making these types of movies for decades. Usually the plot has a top notch script, but "Edge Of Darkness" the first film to star Mel Gibson in almost seven years has the tired feel of repetition. The movie has every cliche in it, and this along with the simple dialogue overshadows the plot. Mel Gibson makes his return to the silver screen in what should be the seemingly perfect role for him, his character is one he has portrayed several times before, its like Lethal Weapon meets Mad Max in Boston.

Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) is forced to trace the past few days of his activist daughter, Emma's life (Bojana Novakovic) when she is shot and killed on his front porch. At first he is sure he was the intended target, but the more he looks into the recent activity of his daughter he becomes more and more convinced that she was the one the gun man had targeted. One night Craven is visited by the mysterious Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) he decides that not only will he find his daughters killers but bring them to his form of justice. His search leads Craven from the under belly of Boston to it's highest level of politcos. Craven deals out his own brand of justice along the way, he leaves behind him a pile of body, as his search for the truth brings him closer to finding out something he may wish he never knew.

The movie does build suspense, but once the plot is revealed it very quickly spirals downward, the ease in which Craven is able to get near the people responsible is a little to pat. This isn't the worst thing about the movie, the worst is the cheesy dialogue, it's as if it was written as a high school project. Governmental conspiracies have been the center of several dozen Hollywood movies for years, but here we get the addition of corporation compliance, and the secret building of nuclear weapons. Emma had discovered this fact and tried to deal with this legally, this is the reason that Emma was targeted. The movie has several one liners that seem cheap and forced, there are no sex scenes but the violence is upfront and in your face, so this may be one movie that parent may want to ensure that there teen children do not see.

Edge of darkness is an intense movie about family and a man with nothing left to lose. The love between Thomas and his daughter Emma is made abundantly clear, it takes up a huge portion of the beginning of the movie and are also the subject of several flashbacks that seem more a gimmick than a plot point. His will to find the truth keeps the movie entertaining, and fast paced, it gives the viewer what they want to see, a bad ass Mel Gibson again. Gibson's Craven is as good a performance I have seen in a while, he is at once angry and distraught, and at times he shows his human side.

I give Edge Of Darkness a 2 and on my avoidance scale a 1, this movie will find it's audience and that may be action movie fans, the movie has tons of action from shoot outs to car crashes to Mel beating up the bad guys, This movie packs a punch and has what many of American movie goers want, a plot that's easy to follow and an ending with the good guy handing out his own brand of justice. I wish that Mel Gibson had taken a little more time to reread this script before he thought that this was the perfect movie for him. there are worse movies out right now so if you choose to see this one you shouldn't be disappointed.

Edge Of Darkness is rated R for Strong Bloody Violence and Language
Running time is 1 hr. 56 mins.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Are Fantastic Mr. Fox

Animation has come along way from the drab mostly hand drawn days of Walt Disney. In no way am I saying that the classic Disney cartoons were drab, but there is something about the animation process today that I myself can't help but think that what we have today is such a change from my youth. Kids today will not grow up and appreciate just how good animation has become. Pixar has had free reign on most of today's animated projects, until recently when Disney released "The Princess And The Frog" but many of today's stop motion animation isn't very well done, most seem jerky at best, that is until the "Fantastic Mr. Fox" a captivating story with a message of right and wrong, the moral is that no matter what you may want, its the "how" you try to achieve it that matters.

Wes Anderson has a flair for telling a story with a captivating style. His amazingly designed backgrounds and scenery have an incredible attention to detail, the film is full of this care and attention. Each character feels full of personality unlike many of the 3D characters we are forced to sit and watch. The fluid way that the scenery moves along with the animals makes this movie well worth watching.

Mr Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity Fox (Meryl Streep) are caught in a trap as the movie opens we learn that Felicity is pregnant and then we jump several years later, many many years later in fox years. Living underground with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) who is at best the oddest character in movies all year. Mr Fox has gone from stealing chickens to writing a piece for the area newspaper. He has left behind the danger of his youth but the desire is still in his heart. So when he decides to move his family out of the ground into a nearby tree his attorney Mr. Badger (Bill Murray) tries to advise him against it, stating the tree is to close to the property of the three meanest farmers in the valley. Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.

Going on night time raids with his friend Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), Mr. Fox soon angers the farmers. Even though he has his tail shot off Mr. Fox decides he has still beat the farmers, his family is put in danger, along with the other families in the area when the farmers decide to dig out the Fox family and his friends. Once the story picks up though, this movie could very well be the best animated story of the year, the story has a quick pace and the motion of the scenery behind the animals seems flawless and right on the mark.

The movie is a revolutionary step toward a better animation technique that may bring about a much needed change in film making today. The little things that happen on screen are as amazing to watch as the film is itself, the scene where the animals are washed down the sewer system and we see their arms flailing is a step some other film makers wouldn't have bothered with. This little scene just adds to the wonderful experience that is watching Fantastic Mr. Fox.
I give Fantastic Mr. Fox a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 0. The movie is garnered ore to the young adult and adult, it contains nothing that younger children wouldn't understand or enjoy, so take the whole family and move into the valley of Mr. Fox.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is rated PG for Action, Smoking and Slang Humor
Running time is 1 hr. 28 mins.
Distributed by Fox Searchlight

Friday, January 1, 2010

From Ho Ho To Ho Hum As Hollywood Gets Set For January And February

This is usually the time of year where Hollywood releases the rest of it's films that didn't or couldn't muster an earlier release date. January usually is a month of blah weather and an assortment of blah movies. While February lacks the blistering coldness of January the films released in February also seem to lack something. Usually a good plot. This year doesn't look any better than previous years at this time. Sit back and try to catch up on some of the better movies of 09 that you might have missed out on.

January brings Vampires and the messiah, A spy next door and the tooth fairy, A trip to Rome and to Ireland. What ever your fancy, you may find something for you in January. But if you do see something that interests you on this list, my suggestion is don't wait to see it, the movie may be gone in a blink of the eye. And for some that won't be quick enough.

January 01st
The White Ribbon (Wide)
January 08th
Bitch Slap (Limited)
Crazy On The Outside (Limited)
Leap Year
Youth In Revolt
January 15th
The Book Of Eli
Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil
The Last Station (Limited)
The Spy Next Door
January 22nd
Creation (Limited)
Extraordinary Measures
To Save A Life (Limited)
The Tooth Fairy
January 29th
Edge Of Darkness
When In Rome

February brings Crazies and A prophet, Lovers and takers, A wolfman and an Olympian. Some of these movies will appeal to an older audience, this is after all the month of love. Hollywood won't disappoint you this month, there are several movies slated to be released with the Love Story Theme. God Help all us guys.

February 05th
Dear John
From Paris With Love
I Love You, Philip Morris
February 12th
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Saint John Of Las Vegas
Valentine's Day
The Wolfman
February 19th
Shutter Island
February 26th
Cop Out ( A Couple Of Dicks)
The Crazies
The Takers

This is, again only a partial list that has been published as of this posting. Dates are subject to change on the whim of the Hollywood machine. Movies are still a great form of family entertainment. Why now, when families need to have something interesting to sit and watch, are the smaller Independent Film Companies being closed down? Why does Hollywood think we are not ready to witness another Slumdog Millionaire but that we will sit through a movie based on board games and comic books? Because it is true, movie goers will flock in the hundreds to see a Transformer or Iron Man movie but only in the dozens to see a well made independent movie. I challenge you to search out a smaller independent movie and tell me that it wasn't a better crafted more intelligent movie.

The Cynic