Just to get this out of the way up front, Simon West’s (yes, the guy responsible for “Con Air”, which I love dearly, but will never claim is a good movie) “The Mechanic”, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, is a remake of Michael Winner’s 1972 film, starring Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent. I love the original (I have a dog named Bronson for Christ’s sake), and have been wildly skeptical of the new jack revamp of a film that I hold near and dear. The trailers and images that were released made “The Mechanic 2011” look suspiciously like a run-of-the-mill action film, and the fact that CBS Films tucked the release in at the tail end of the January dead zone did not bode well. Needless to say, my worry increased steadily as the release date approached.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Here is the biggest problem with “The Rite”. It’s about exorcisms, and every exorcism movie from now until the end of time is going to be measured against “The Exorcist”, an unfair comparison because as you all know, “The Exorcist” is the scariest movie of all time (at least in this hack’s humble opinion, and I am right and you are wrong, unless you agree with me, then you’re right, too). That said, Mikael Håfström’s new horror film handles itself pretty well, for most of the movie at least.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
With a cast that includes names like Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and Milla Jovovich, it would be natural for you to expect a certain level of quality from a film (okay, maybe Milla Jovovich doesn’t automatically equal lofty expectations). But “Stone”, in which these three actors form the core, underperforms at every turn. It’s a little bit like watching the Seattle Mariners this past season. On paper they looked poised to make cause a ruckus and challenge for their division crown, but during the year every player on the roster had career lows, seeming statistical anomalies. “Stone” has pretentions towards being a film of great import, but watching it, you understand why it was never in more than 125 theaters at a single time. It simply isn’t very good.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Going into the new adaptation of the 1960s TV show “The Green Hornet”, you’re likely to wonder, was it really necessary to make this movie in 3D? The answer is, no, not really. Director Michel Gondry has some fun with it, mostly during Kato’s (Jay Chou) fight scenes. Aside from that, however, the 3D presentation adds little to movie beyond the awkwardness of trying to make a cumbersome pair of 3D glasses sit comfortably on your face. Gondry’s inventive visual style is on display throughout the film—most notably in a great shot that splits and follows two characters, then splits again, and again and again, until a single shot has branched out exponentially—but never in a way that justifies the post-production 3D conversion. “The Green Hornet” is not a movie that is enhanced by 3D.
Dedicated bachelor Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) has a problem. After finally deciding to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Beth (a woefully underused Jennifer Connelly) he is looking for the perfect place to propose to her, only instead of finding this magical romantic wonderland, he sees Geneva (Winona Ryder), the wife of his best friend and business partner, Nick Brannen (Kevin James), making out with some random dude. How can Ronny tell Nick that his wife is running around on him? Nick is super high strung to begin with, so much so that he has a long and troubled history with stomach ulcers, and to make maters worse, the pair have a make or break business deal to contend with (they’ve been handed the task of making an electric car that sounds like a muscle car so people can drive an environmentally responsible vehicle without feeling like a pussy. Yup.). That’s the story of the mess that is Ron Howard’s new film, “The Dilemma”. It’s a thin premise to begin with, one that becomes even more flimsy as the movie goes on.
Friday, January 7, 2011
“Season of the Witch” has been a long time coming. The film has been in some stage of production in one form or another since 2000 when Bragi F. Schut first wrote the script. Originally scheduled for a March 2010 release, then again in October 2010, “Season of the Witch” finally hits theaters at the tail end of the first week of 2011. And goddamn if it wasn’t worth the wait. In reality “Season of the Witch” isn’t all that good, but it’s not all that good in the most entertaining way possible. Completely mis-marketed as an epic, 14th century adventure, this is one of the funniest, most ridiculous movies to come out in a long time. There are times when “Season” borders on slapstick, and even more moments when you fully expect the entire cast of “Monty Python” poke their heads around a corner.