What would happen if aliens invaded a tough London neighborhood populated by rough and tumble street kids who are used to scrapping and fighting for everything they have? The answer, at least in Joe Cornish’s badass feature film debut “Attack the Block”, is that these trespassers would be in for one hell of brawl. In my mind “Attack the Block” is in the running for my favorite movie this year. It works as a straight-up genre film, and those of you looking for your monster fix will get all that you can handle. But it is also tightly executed in almost every capacity. The pacing is spot on, it is tense as hell, you can feel the energy on screen, and though it isn’t an overtly political story, there is an underlying social commentary that you find in the best science fiction.
Friday, July 29, 2011
“The Smurfs” is so smurfing sweet that you’ll want to smurfing puke all over the smurfing place. I’m not going to make excuses, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I made the conscious decision to go see “The Smurfs”. Somehow I deluded myself into thinking that it might be fun, and even kind of subversive if handled right. After all, I loved the Smurfs as a child. I watched the cartoon, I had this sing-a-long record that I absolutely adored called “The Smurfs All-Star Show”, and I’m pretty sure that I had a Smurfs pillowcase.
Cowboys & Aliens isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t particularly good. You knew going in that it was going to be ridiculous, and possibly a little bit silly—it is called Cowboys & Aliens after all—but it commits the one cardinal sin that a movie like this absolutely cannot commit; it’s boring. This should be a wild, raucous, hootin’ an’ hollerin’ good time, but it comes across as tepid and uninspired.
If nothing else, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is about being kicked in the nuts by love, and all of the fucked up things people do in the pursuit—how they go after it, how they try to keep it, and how they cope when it crumbles into shit at their feet. It’s not quite a comedy, not quite a drama, not quite a romance, and the story can be convoluted and is full of unearned coincidences and pseudo-shocking reveals at moments of heightened dramatic tension. What carries it through, however, keeping it from falling into tedious mediocrity, is the intelligence of the script, the strong, distinctive characters, and the cast. This is an earnest look at a man doing his level best to pick up the shards of his ruined life. Even when the characters are doing horrible, horrible things to each other, the actors have a charisma and an onscreen chemistry that makes it watchable.
Friday, July 15, 2011
It’s over. After seven books, eight movies, and more than a decade, the saga of teenage wizard Harry Potter has finally concluded. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is the long-awaited finale to the much beloved franchise, and delivers on the promise of the previous seven movies. While a fitting end, “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is not perfect. There are some issues, but there were issues with the final book as well, so a few bumps are to be expected. And in the end, the problems are relatively minor and easily ignored. Overall the film is appropriately gloomy, as dark and creepy as you want it to be, and action-packed for the vast majority of its two-hour-plus run time, and fans of the series should be more than satisfied. What I’m trying to say is that it is pretty damn great.
Monday, July 11, 2011
“Things” makes it feel like you’ve been magically transported back to your youth. It’s a crisp Friday night in fall, and you’re sleeping over at your buddy’s place. Your buddy who just so happens to have cable. The plan is to drink a two-liter of cherry soda, each, and stay up all night watching scary movies. There’ll be plenty of time to sleep all day Saturday, especially since your parents won’t let you play football like you wanted to. So you down your soda, much on some red vines, and hunker down on the couch, promising your pal’s mom that you, “won’t stay up too late.” Somewhere around two or three in the morning, later than your adolescent self has ever stayed awake before, “Things”, or a movie like it, would come on an obscure channel, and it was like Christmas morning for your sugar-addled, sleep-deprived little mind. Like it or not, that film was seared into your consciousness forever.