Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews IX

Alice (2009)(miniseries) - another attempt by Syfy (formerly SciFi... which was a much better moniker, I must add) to "modernize" a literary classic. They did a piss-poor job with The Wizard of Oz (the absolutely dreadful Tin Man) and they've done a much worse job with Alice in Wonderland. At least Tin Man made you watch it for a while before you decided that it was crap. Alice's opening scene let you know it's garbage. Bad acting, bad directing, bad script, bad interpretation... the list goes on. Verdict: SKIP it.

Gamer (2009) - as a film that attempts to be social commentary disguised as an action movie, it fails in that regard. It is, however, a fairly decent action movie with some superficial social commentary lacquered on its face. Fittingly, the cinematography is as slick as its superficiality. Featuring a surprising cast (Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Ludacris, Michael C. Hall, Milo Ventimiglia, John Leguizamo), the acting was enough to carry such an over-the-top story. Not bad, but nothing really good, either... save the "video game" look that was rather impressive. Verdict: SEE it... might as well, especially if you're into video games.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Some people in Hollywood think Quentin Tarantino is overrated. Hell, a lot of people think Quentin Tarantino is overrated. I am not one of them (although, I admit, I used to be). Inglourious Basterds, a film set in an alternate-reality's World War II, is fucking awesome. While there is an underlying plot, QT pretty much concentrates on making a film that makes no bones about what it's really concerned with: quirky caricatures in really fucked-up situations. Nowhere near as phenomenal as the Kill Bill series, but still excellent. Verdict: SEE it.

Jennifer's Body (2009) - Diablo Cody's much-anticipated follow-up to the excellent Juno is... a trashy horror film? I don't mean to sound sexist, but this film was clearly written for the XX chromosomes. That's not a bad thing, but this film certainly hurt itself which such intent... particularly with the presence of Y-chromosome attraction Megan Fox. Verdict: SKIP it and rent Juno instead. Or if you're in mood for an estrogen-ladened horror, rent The Descent (which is brilliant).

Law Abiding Citizen (2009) - starts out an excellent movie, a seeming commentary on the hilarity that sometimes is the American justice system. Then it becomes a pretty good Hollywood movie, despite being replete with cliché and a devolution into action/suspense. And then... ugh... it decides to jump some serious logic and gives us an ending that is less than satisfying and ridiculous, to boot. F. Gary Gray is a solid director, yes (he did The Negotiator), and the acting is well above average for this type of film (Jamie Foxx is adequate and Gerard Butler is very good). Still, given the ending, it's hard to recommend it. Verdict: SKIP it (unless you just really like Gerard Butler... even Jamie Foxx fans won't miss anything by skipping this one).

Pandorum (2009) - an intriguing science fiction/horror film that was ultimately, well, hugely disappointing. The setup is excellent (if a bit run-of-the-mill): Earth is dying, but an Earth-like planet is found among the stars and a colonizing mission is sent. Something, naturally, goes wrong, and the colony ship becomes infested with strange creatures that feed on the human passengers. Believe it or not, this film could have been a pillar of science fiction if it would have bothered to ask and answer the questions it almost presented. Instead we get a fairly lame action film that uses cheap plot gimmicks and tricks to move things along. Verdict: I don't really care.

Sunshine (2007) - Danny Boyle makes good movies. That Danny Boyle makes good zombie horror (28 Days Later) and good science fiction (this film) is what's a surprise. I saw this film for the first time in 2007 and given my recent viewing of Pandorum and the fact that a friend of mine hadn't seen it, I watched it again. This movie, despite its left turn in the third act, is entirely underrated as both a film and as an example of exemplary science fiction. Basically, our Sun is dying, and an international group of astronauts fly a really, really big bomb into it in order to jump start it. Sounds lame, I know, but this movie pulls it off with flying colors. Verdict: SEE it.

Turistas (2006) - one of the many torture-porn films, this one was surprisingly... not crap. To its credit, there is only one scene involving the dissection of a hapless character, while most of the other deaths are the results of more traditional survivalist fare. In fact, the film is less torture-porn and more, well, survivalist. As far as the characters, they don't act as stupidly as most characters of this genre do (no one went off alone, for instance). Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, and Olivia Wilde star. Verdict: SEE it (if you're a genre fan or otherwise inclined).

The Unborn (2009) - David S. Goyer, the director of this piece of movie (I refuse to use "cinema"), is a bit of a conundrum. In the comic book world, he is one of the better, more consistent writers. Hell, he's even decent as a screenwriter. But as a director? Oh, man... The Unborn, purportedly a "scary film" regarding a dead fraternal twin whose spirit has been possessed by a Jewish demon that was unleashed during the Holocaust goes on to... ah, forget it. This movie is crap. I couldn't even finish it. And yet, somehow, Gary Oldman agreed to star in it. What the Hell? No pun intended. Verdict: SKIP it.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) - the third installment in the great-concepts/bad-movies Underworld franchise. This one isn't entirely unenjoyable, and it's a boon for the film that resident "I belong on Felicity" actor Scott Speedman is absent for this sequel. All this movie does is flesh out the details of expository history from the first film... so, if you're a fan of the series, you'll be okay with it. It doesn't stand up well on its on, though. Rhona Mitra is always lovely, and Bill Nighy is always a delight. Other than that: a bit by-the-numbers with less than stellar dialogue. Verdict: SKIP it, unless you like the franchise or are just really into vampires and werewolves.


  1. I haven't seen any of those. At least, I don't think I have seen Touritas. I might have. Hmm...

    Out of that bunch, I would see Inglorious Basterds and Touristas. And probably Jennifer's Body.

  2. nice. will see inglorious besterds...sunshine was pretty cool...i think i saw turistas...

  3. Eminently useful, as always. Don't suppose I could persuade you to start doing the same kind of thing for TV programmes (you would have to move to England however) as it would save me a lot of wasted time sitting in front of rubbish.

  4. My men saw Inglorious and really like it. Not my particular cuppa, though.

  5. I want to see Jennifer's Body because of the review in the NYT but it may be a renter w/a martini night. I saw Inglourius and LOVED it but I'm a huge Tarantino fan. Pulp Fiction will always remain my favorite, others may have been better but it was my first, and you never forget your first.