Brooklyn's Finest (2010)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer(s): Michael C. Martin
Starring: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke
Fans have been waiting a long time for Antoine Fuqua to do a follow-up to Training Day. Though he's directed a bunch of "just okay" films since (including King Arthur and Shooter), the lack of anything truly awesome has had people clamoring for a return to the cop drama. Well, that clamoring has been answered, and the result is... just okay. Brookyln's Finest follows three separate stories, connected only by their physical proximity and a loose gathering of characters in the film's climax. Granted, each of the characters' individual stories are interesting, but the extra-slow pacing of the film (a side-effect of telling three separate stories, no doubt) only increases the anticipation of an all-out action-packed finale... which we're not given. Not a bad movie, but my standards are high enough to refuse to settle for "just okay."
Verdict: Fans of cop drama, SEE it. Everyone else (including those expecting a "normal" Antoine Fuqua film), SKIP it.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): James Gunn, George A. Romero (1978 screenplay)
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer
Though I originally saw this film in theaters, given that I reviewed another Romero remake (The Crazies) in the previous issue of Irreviews, I figured I'd hit this one up, as well.
Thanks to the subtly brilliant 28 Days Later, zombies in pop culture are now really, really fast. Like, sprinters. And in this remake of master-of-the-slow-and-plodding-zombie George Romero's 1978 Dawn of the Dead, director Zack Snyder sticks with the new establishment and gives us... sprinters. I hate sprinter zombies. They're far more terrifying than slow-and-plodding zombies. While ditching most of the social commentary found in Romero's original film, the protagonists are once-again trapped in a mall (a leftover from that commentary). Replacing thoughtfulness with clever disturbances (zombie baby, anyone?), the result is an entirely different Dawn of the Dead that is still a wonderful tribute to the original.
Verdict: SEE it.
Director: Guy Hamilton
Writer(s): Richard Maibaum, Paul Dehn, Ian Fleming (novel)
Starring: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Fröbe
A decent entry in the Bond franchise, I'm willing to bet its phenomenal theme song is more responsible for its popularity than the film itself is. Still, we do get a great villain (the titular Goldfinger) and one of the most quotable dialog exchanges ever ("Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."). There's also the small matter of the first appearance of Bond's Aston Martin - a DB5 in this film - and arguably the most outrageous name for a Bond girl (Pussy Galore), but outside of those memorable details, Goldfinger is really just a run-of-the-mill Bond movie.
Verdict: SEE it. I should probably just start writing "BOND it" for these.
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writer(s): Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
A CIA agent is fingered as a Russian plant. That CIA agent goes on the run... but for what? To prove her innocence? Or to play into the Russian plot to destroy the United States? Even she doesn't seem to know. That pretty much sums up the conundrum that is the plot of Salt. Sounds a bit silly, sure, but... the film rocks. In the end, this is a spy thriller that truly is more about its character than it is about its story. There are moments that you almost want to stand up and cheer (a scene in which she goes nuts on a terrorist-occupied ship is particularly awesome). Love her or hate her, Angelina Jolie has a hit film franchise on her hands if she wants one.
Verdict: SEE it.
Director: Terence Young
Writer(s): Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins, Jack Whittingham (original screenplay), Kevin McClory (story), Ian Fleming (story)
Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi
While From Russia With Love established the lion's share of the Bond formula, it is Thunderball that first took that formula to its spectacular heights. Everything is, quite simply, bigger and better here. Domino (Claudine Auger) remains one of the best Bond girls to date, and the underwater sequences are beyond awesome (establishing a precedent for many movies, including Jaws, to follow). The second great Bond film, it even fostered a remake in the 80s (Never Say Never Again).
Verdict: BOND it.
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