Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lucy – review

If you tossed Limitless with a dash of 2001: a Space Odyssey, and Akira with the character of Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen in a blender you would end up with something like Lucy. The movie is incredibly silly and you need to suspend a lot of disbelief to sit through it. The acting is by far the best part of the film. Scarlett Johansson at least attempts to bring in a decent show. I am just not sure if it is enough to save this movie.

Lucy, played by Scarlett Johansson, is living in Taiwan when the boy she is dating forces her to be a drug mule for some Korean gangsters.  The drugs are placed in her stomach to smuggle to another country. The contents leak into her stomach and rather than kill her they make her intelligence increase exponentially.  She must now come to terms with the fact that her brain is developing in new ways and is growing beyond humanity.

The biggest problem with this movie is that they expect you to swallow the premise that humans can only access 10% of their brains. This is so scientifically inaccurate that it is akin to having people go into space and being able to take off their masks to breathe normally.  I get that they need this idea for the premise of the movie but it asks a lot of the audience’s intelligence. 

Scarlett does a fine job performing for this part. Between Her and Under the Skin it has been really great to see what she brings to the table as of late. The problem is that she is given laughable dialogue. For example, there is a scene where she calls her mother and describes memories she has of being breastfed. It seemed like the intent was to draw emotions of sympathy for Lucy but all it got was loud chuckles from the audience. 

There are so many plot holes in this movie that you can just about park a car in them. Strange scenes are added just for the sake of being strange.  The beginning of the movie starts out with a hairy Neanderthal drinking water out of a lake. The same Neanderthal is shoehorned in later as Lucy, the first woman.  On the other hand, it is a Luc Besson movie and it does mean there is an element of cheese to be expected.

The bottom line is that Lucy is probably not worth seeing in the theaters. It is certainly worth a rental at the very least.  It is cheesy and should be enjoyed for that. It is science fiction and there are some fun aspects to it. It is a mediocre movie that was at least entertaining. Sometimes that is all we ask from a movie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil – review

In a world full of horror movies, Deliver Us From Evil is just another one. Instead of being a simple story of exorcism revolving around a cop, it takes elements from other stories and plays them all like an overzealous poker player.  The acting is not particularly notable save for Eric Bana.  The other casting is bizarre and makes this movie okay but otherwise forgettable.

Police Sargent Ralph Sarchie, played by Eric Bana, and his partner Butler, played by Joel McHale, are New York Police officers that come across a series of cases that seem to be demonically related. A Castilian priest joins him and together they take on the forces of evil. Soon the forces of evil attack him at this home. Can Officer Sarchie stop this invasive presence before it kills others?

Eric Bana does a fine job giving the movie a certain level of gravitas. The other cast members are not really into their parts.  Olivia Munn as Ralph’s wife has two emotions, teary and monotone. The Priest character is sadly really numb in his delivery. There is also the odd choice of casting Joel McHale in a thriller as a somewhat action role. His smartass quips change the tone of the scenes he is in. I do commend him on getting in shape for his role though.

The effects are not bad and the visuals themselves are chilling. As a whole, the movie is just not that scary. There are tons of predictable jump scares and the movie goes through several by-the-book exorcism clich├ęs.  The story has a few distracting plot holes- interesting elements that are addressed but never concluded. There is also an odd side story of Sargent Sarchie’s daughter being tormented by the demon that unfortunately goes nowhere.

The movie has all the elements of a possible good movie but the tones are all over the place.  If there were major rewrites it could have been great or at the very least entertaining. Instead the movie plays it safe and does not attempt to bring anything interesting to the table. It is not a terrible film but it is certainly a forgettable one.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The writing is top notch, showing compelling protagonists and complex antagonists.  The acting is great too. The story provided significant growth of the characters that returned from the first film.  It is a smart movie that can really stand-alone on it’s own merits.

Taking place ten years after the events of the first film, Caesar and the rest of the intelligent Apes have started a community in the woods. While they are living there they encounter a human group that is attempting to start up an old electrical dam in order to get electricity to their city.  There is distrust on both sides but both cultures must work together in order to avoid war. 

The writing is very solid. The characters we remember somewhat from the last film have grown considerably.  The human survivor characters are also really well developed. While some are not empathetic to the Apes, the movie does a really good job showing you that they have realistic motivations for their actions. How Andy Serkis has not yet gotten an Oscar nod is mind blowing.

Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman really make this a new and fascinating film. Turning a story of apes revolting in the last film into a very relevant story about understanding one another despite very complicated circumstances involving resources and possible war.  The CGI is well done and the action scenes are very fun to watch.  The apes look awesome and terrifying and at times it is easy to forget there is an actor doing motion capture.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the superior film in my opinion, however Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie can easily stand-alone and can still be considered a good movie. The characters are likable and the story is very entertaining.  It is very worth seeing and anyone who enjoyed the first movie will enjoy this movie. You’ll have more fun than a barrel of monkeys.