Sunday, October 20, 2013

Carrie (2013)-review

Anyone who saw the 1976 film version of Carrie had better prepare themselves for a massive dose of déjà vu.  The latest film version of the 1974 Stephen King novel makes some interesting choices in terms of casting. Some are really decent like Julianne Moore and Judy Greer, but the biggest mistake is casting Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie.  The movie doesn’t have any big surprises and plays it pretty safe for the most part.

Carrie White, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is the weird kid in school.  While in the shower at the High School she gets her first period and the other girls throw tampons at her and mock her terribly.  Her mother is a religious zealot that is abusive towards her which makes her life a living hell. While she is going through this rough patch she finds out that she can harness incredible psychic powers.

The casting of this movie is okay for the most part.  Julianne Moore as Margaret White is pretty chilling.  You can really believe that she is out of her mind and that she believes what she is doing is the right thing. Judy Greer as the gym teacher, Rita Desjardin, does a fine job creating a sympathetic character that we want to survive.

The odd choice of casting Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie is baffling.  Moretz is too pretty a girl to pull off being the character of Carrie believably.  She really was not able to act like a girl who was victimized her entire life.  There is a difference between a person broken by years of torment and a pretty person pretending to be timid. 

Carrie is not a bad film.  I think that the heart is certainly in the right place and their intentions of keeping it close to the Stephen King story was noticeable.  It just plays it safe and does not do anything vastly different to distinguish them from the 1976 film.  It is certainly worth seeing as a matinee or a rental.  It is at least an interesting and entertaining film that is worth the time for Julianne Moore’s performance alone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Machete Kills- review

Check your brain at the door- Robert Rodriguez has another film staring Danny Trejo as Machete.  While not a great film, Machete was a decent nod to the 70’s exploitation film and grindhouse cinema.  It was also bogged down in masses of pointless cameos and loads of bad dialogue and acting.  Whether intentional or not it was distracting sometimes but at other times. This movie does much of the same as the previous film, but plays with a new cast of people who spend a great deal of time winking at the camera instead of playing it straight.

Machete, played Danny Trejo, is hired by the President of the United States to hunt down a mad man in Mexico with a nuclear weapon aimed at Washington D.C.  Machete must deal with hordes of enemies, cartels, as well as a shape-shifting assassin known as El Camaleon.  The mad man has attached the bomb to his heart and Machete must keep him alive for as long as possible. Soon he finds that weapons dealing is part of a conspiracy involving a space faring businessman.

Most of the action is pretty solid and fun to watch, however it doesn’t really make a lot of sense for the character of Machete to be doing super spy stuff in the vein of a Moonraker rip-off.   It would be like seeing Dirty Harry shooting at Gremlins; the tone is a bit off.  Some of the people seemed shoe horned into the movie even though they are funny at times.  Mel Gibson, Sophia Vergara, Charlie Sheen and Vanessa Hudgens have a few funny lines but don’t seem to be taking anything serious which was the charm of the Grindhouse movies. 

The character of El Camaleon was fascinating.  Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga, and Antonio Banderas play this fascinating character and frankly the more I see the more I want to see. I enjoyed it they development of that character a lot with each new face it showed.  Danny Trejo still brings a decent performance and Michelle Rodriguez falls into tough girl persona as easily as putting on slippers.   The film is entertaining but in a very silly and stupid way.  So if you are able to let go of your grip on reality, it is a fun little ride.

If you enjoyed the first movie I would still recommend waiting to see this one on video.  It is not the greatest movie and not really worth seeing in the theater.  If you were into the fake grindhouse movies beyond the films in Grindhouse I’d recommend Hobo with a Shotgun over this movie.  This one is ridiculous but in some cases that might be your cup of tea.  In which case, drink up.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gravity - review

Gravity is a space-based drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron who is noted for directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men.  The movie does a very good job of capturing the desolate silence of space.  The effects are incredible though the plot is a stretch at times.  The acting is fairly decent and the suspense is gripping even with a story that is only skin deep.

While working on the Hubble Space telescope astronauts Dr. Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, and Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney, are hit by space debris.  The shuttle is broken beyond repair; the rest of the crew is dead and with no communications available from Houston, Dr. Stone and Matt Kowalski must attempt to find a way back to Earth after free floating in space for hours.  They must try to get to the International Space Station in order to survive.  If they don’t make it in time they will undoubtedly die in space.

The thing that sets Gravity apart from other films is that it looks as if it is filmed in space.  The effects and photography are really amazing looking. The physics and movement of the astronauts and objects seem very realistic and for the most part add a real sense of tension to the film.  The lack of sound is also a nice touch in the environment since it creates a sense that you are in the vacuum and that you are a part of the desolation.

Where Gravity loses some points is in the fairly simple narrative.  At its core the movie is a story of getting from one place to another after a struggle.  They attempt to get into the character and their motivations, but it seems so brief in doing so that it is difficult to really develop a connection with the character.  The Matt Kowalski character is really charming but even that isn’t enough to carry the movie.

For the most part, Gravity is an okay film.  The visuals are very stunning but the story is really nothing grand.  A different ending or maybe even creating scenes in the shuttle prior to the accident so we grow to like the characters would have helped greatly.  If you are itching to see Gravity I recommend waiting to rent or seeing it as a matinee. It certainly is not the best film even though it is pretty.