And here it is, the "all new" One-Line Movie Reviews, henceforth known as "Irreview." I don't know why that title didn't come to me sooner, but it didn't (and was defeated to the punch by "Irrewind," no less) so there's no reason for me to harp on it. Then again, there's no reason for me to do much of anything, but I do stuff anyway, so...
Ah, forget it. Away we go!
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer(s): Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Ugh. I didn't think it possible, but Roland Emmerich makes another bad movie that is worse than his previous bad movie (10,000 BC), which was worse than his previous bad movie (The Day After Tomorrow), which was worse than his previous bad movie (The Patriot). Seriously, the man should've stopped with Stargate, and I think it's safe to assume that Emmerich has devolved himself into the category of film directors that includes Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson. The actors are clearly only around for the paycheck and the exposure. Bad script accentuated by implausible storyline accentuated by ridiculously inept science and an already debunked "prophecy" makes for a most irritating and unenjoyable movie.
Verdict: SKIP it.
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Writer(s): Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
"This is not a love story," the film's narrator warns. Oh, but it is, and a damned good one. The best funny movies are funny not because they try to be, but just because they are, and (500) Days of Summer just is. Similar to the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film is more grounded in reality and, while not as remarkable conceptually, it is arguably a better narrative. There are directing tricks which would seem cliché in other films, but Marc Webb utilizes them so naturally, one can only smile when watching.
Verdict: SEE it.
The Box (2009)
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer(s): Richard Kelly, Richard Matheson (short story)
Starring: Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, Frank Langella
There are films that try to be "too much." This is definitely one of them. Ostensibly a drama concerning a moral question (would you kill a complete stranger for $1 million?), it is actually a B-grade science fiction movie that tries way too hard to be a thought-provoking reflection on the dark side of the human condition. Now, if you properly interpret the previous sentence as bloated superficiality pretending to be something deeply analytical, you will understand the tone of this film. Painfully predictable (though with an ending that almost works well) and all too reliant on deus ex machina gimmickry, The Box reeks of a story whose source material succeeded where its film adaptation failed. And Cameron Diaz gives one of the worst performances of her career.
Verdict: SKIP it.
Director: Henry Selick
Writer(s): Henry Selick, Neil Gaiman (book)
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Keith David
An interesting adaption of Neil Gaiman's children's story, this one offers quite a bit of unusual visual interpretation, which is entirely appropriate for its tone. Story-wise, it borrows heavily from the classics and offers little new, but the concept provides enough to make it worth your while (though, in my opinion, it misses out on being "must see"). Interestingly enough, this film probably would have been better served as a live-action film (and probably would have been held in as high a regard as Pan's Labyrinth), yet remains enjoyable in its animated incarnation.
Verdict: SEE it. The character of the Cat is worth the viewing alone.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer(s): Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers, Maurice Sendak (book)
Starring: James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper
A long-awaited adaptation of the classic children's book. While maintaining the essence of its source material, the film takes great liberties with it (for obvious reasons). Purposefully vague, subtle, and more than a tad depressing, this is a brilliant, brilliant film. Spike Jonze, the quirky director who gave us Being John Malkovich and Adaptation., outdoes himself by utilizing a deliberate style and by letting a "grown-up child" sensibility take over the storytelling. Despite what you might have heard, this is not a movie that will frighten kids, but is certainly a movie that children will not be able to appreciate (save for the ugly-cuteness of the monsters); the nuance is too much limited to the realm of adult comprehension. Max Records gives an excellent performance as Max.
Verdict: SEE it. And make your young children see it when they get a bit older.