Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Local Film Critic: Week of 11/7/2009

Local film critics are a treasure trove of bad taste. Every weekend, we'll find some of the best reviews of the weekend's movies from newspapers around the country and reprint them here for your enjoyment/hatred.*

*Apologies to
Patton Oswalt for joke-stealing.

By Robert Guiscard
Hopkins Municipal Newspaper

A Christmas Carol

Audiences won't be saying "humbug" to this delightful holiday romp! Funnyman Jim Carrey (the Number 23), funnyman Jim Carrey (Yes Man), and funnyman Jim Carrey (Fun WIth Dick and Jane) portrays multiple roles as miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future! I mean, that's funny right there! Have you seen the Nutty Professor movies? Those are great! This one isn't quite as funny (but I guess that isn't the point, it's a very serious story, you see) but has the added benefit of being completely computer-generated! Now, I know what you're thinking: are the graphics as good as Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within? The answer is a resounding YES!

This one is directed by Robert Zemeckis who also made the holiday classic Polar Express (another tour-de-force performance in multiple parts, this time by Tom Hanks!) and the Lord of the Rings-inspired Beowulf. The mix of actual performance and computer animation is really amazing: the characters look real! I hope they start doing this with all movies! A lot is accomplished in this one that I don't think you'd be able to do with actual actors! Just look at all the different characters funnyman Jim Carrey portrays! There's no way you could make him look so convincing as an old man with makeup!

I was getting a little bored during this movie at first, the only thing that initially kept me going was all the funny (and authentic!) English accents (it should be called a "Christmas Car-owh!" Pip pip! Cheerio! Shine ya shoes, guv'na!) but that was before the amazing rocket ride sequence (which if I remember correctly, was in Dickens' original story, glad to see more faithful literary adaptations are popping up in Hollywood!) which really sold me on this movie. They should have more of these in movies! A rocket ride makes everything better! The movie also includes some great supporting performances by Gary Coleman and Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy!), though you wouldn't recognize them using their real English accents!

All in all, don't be like Tiny Tim and hobble and limp to this one, RUN! You and your whole family will be Caroling all the way home!


The Men Who Stare At Goats

George Clooney! When did you go so wrong? I was expecting another comedy caper like the Ocean's movies when I stepped into the theater for this one, but all the advertising is wrong! This movie isn't that funny. The ads say that these men who stare at goats have psychic powers but it turns out that they don't! What a bunch of baloney! I can normally depend on America's bachelor-in-chief to give me a good night at the movies but this one falls flat on all counts. There's a whole lot of talk about military mumbo-jumbo which I really didn't understand. They should have provided some sort of background on how the Army works. I don't know all these terms! Why are the "Special Forces" so "special" anyway? I can do everything they do by the look of it!

Also, for a movie that talks so much about "Jedi warriors" and has Ewan McGregor in it, I was disappointed by the utter lack of "using the force" that happens. Also, I was under the assumption that Ewan would be playing Obi Wan Kenobi again. I love, love, loved him in the Star Wars Trilogy. I was also disappointed by Kevin Spacey who displays none of the charm he exhibited as Lex Luther in Superman Returns.

All in all, this one was a let down. And I was expecting so much better from director Grant Heslov after his performance in Congo as Steve Gutenberg's assistant "Screech". Stay away from this one if you're easily confused.


The Fourth Kind

Hey Hollywood, Halloween was last week! Even though the Day of the Dead has come and gone, we're still getting scary movies! And if you thought Paranormal Activity was scary, wait'll you see this one!

Based on actual case studies, this half-documentary, half-story movie is about a real psychologist (played by Milla Jovovich, clearly not letting the cruddy Fifth Element get to her) who is studying people who claim to have been abducted by aliens (scary!). It turns out they really have been abducted! Whoa! The director puts real footage of the studies next to re-enactments done by actors which really adds to the effect and shows you how real this is! Just like Paranormal Activity, this one had me really scared. I couldn't fall asleep until 11:30 the night I saw this.

All in all, this is a far superior sequel to Steven Spielberg's Third Kind, which had far less action than War of the Worlds. Check this one out if you're ready to be scared silly! I can't wait until they come out with the sequel, the Fifth Kind!


The Box

This movie confused me. I should have known since it's by Richard Kelly, the guy who made the flop Donnie Darko. I was going to walk out but my editor wouldn't let me so I had to watch the whole thing. It's about a couple who recieve a box with a shiny, candy-like button in it. A creepy guy who's missing part of his face tells them that if they press it they get a million dollars. Uh, do it! At least Cameron Diaz was pretty! Also, this features the hunky James Marsden as Diaz's husband. He was great in Superman Returns, I'm glad to see him getting more work. Frank Langella was in Superman Returns, too! When's the next Brandon Routh movie going to come out?

That being said, they should call this one the Box of Bad Movies! Because that would warn you right off the bat that this is a bad movie.


Indie watch: An Education

If you feel so inclined to drive downtown to go and see an art film, don't see An Education. This is the story of a girl from London who wants to go to Cambridge University and needs to study hard but then she meets a handsome devil (played by Stellan Skarsgaard) who shows her that there's more to life than books, but not much more. Really? I really didn't like this one because it was really obvious. I get it: the "education" from the title was about love and life and stuff. Booooooring! This movie's probably not good for young girls to watch because they might stop going to school and run off to fall in love with good-looking criminals. I'm keeping my niece away from this bad "Education" (if that made you think of that awful gay Mexican movie, I'm sorry).