Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: The Rise of The Planet of the Apes (2011)

In a world of reboots, remakes, and adaptations, this film is the definitive king of the jungle. It may be one of the best remakes of its time. It is certainley one of the best overall films of its time. A carefully crafted, seamless storyline that holds true to the groundbreaking original while still possessing the ability to add a new and unique twist to the tale.  This time replacing the fear of nuclear holocaust with a more prevalent threat predicted to cause human elimination. The story’s tapestry is woven effortlessly together adding landmark features of the original to a creative retelling of the mythology of the Apes franchise. John Lithgow's performance as Franco's father battling debilitating and terminal Alzheimer's is deep and emotional. The one and only downside to this movie is James Franco's dull and mechanical performance as the lead character (originally portrayed by Ricardo Montalban in the 3rd and 4th installments of the original franchise). He lacks the energy and wherewithal to pull off any of his dramatic encounters and seems to float through his scenes rather than leave an impact on them or the audience. Even worse is his romantic relationship, which has all the passion and emotion of cold bologna. In fact, you experience more connection and attachment with the CGI created apes than we do Franco. Andy Serkis (of Gollum fame) is the actor who portrays Caesar, and this is by far his best character role. Caesar demonstrates a depth and dimension that rivals flesh and blood actors on screen. The chemistry between Lithgow and Caesar and Caesar and the plethora of his CGI counterparts is moving, exciting, and engaging. This is remarkably reminiscent of what Cameron achieved with his groundbreaking film, Avatar. With that being said, the effects are the best yet, setting the standard for all those who will come after. They are fluid, natural, believable and are an engine to the story rather than just superficial paint and primping. This is a true compliment to the original and a tribute to what science fiction films were, story, substance, and morale tellers of modern times rather than blockbuster gimmicks and multimillion dollar vehicles for overrated action heroes. I don't know how they can continue without creating an update or retelling of the original. And if so will they fall into the same muck pit that Burton did with his awful remake. But if the same story talent that created this modern classic is at the helm as they may be able to surprise us all. 4 out of 5 Kernels; Heston, McDowall, and Dr. Ziaus would all be proud.

One Minute Movie Review: The Beaver

Few films offer the potential to disturb, confuse, depress, relieve, and entertain through a well told story, excellent directing, and masterful acting. This one does. Jodi Foster creates a powerful and engaging tale of the deepening journey and visceral wounds of chronic, tormenting depression as a father who desperately attempts to escape his nearly debilitating psychological disorder. Mel Gibson plays that father with extraordinary fervor and sadness that is palatable and sometimes too much to watch. Foster orchestrates an ensemble casts that demonstrate the kind of chemistry and evolution that most films miss. The relationships are naturally painful and make an unequivocal connection with the audience. The story flows like water with an ending that is both unpredictable and jarring. This is what film making is all about, true film making. This may become Gibson's swan song and comeback film. This movie is not for the faint of heart, so go in expecting to be affected. 4 out of 5 Kernels, silly name, unique concept, one tremendous achievement.

One Minute Movie Review: Rio

In the plethora of 3D animation movies, this has to be one of the sappiest, goofy, and predictable. The animation is rich and brilliant, but that is the only positive aspect of this feature. The acting is bland, the chemistry between characters is underwhelming, the romance boring, the musical score is cliché, and the comedic attempts try too hard and fall flat every time. The most compelling example of my criticism of this flick was the fact that my 6 year old, who begged me to rent it, was utterly bored all the way through. There are far better animation choices so don’t waste your time on this flop. 1 out of 5 Kernels, this is the cinematic equivalent of the bird flu.

One Minute Movie Review: Life as We Know It

I am, by no means, a supporter of the infamous genre known as the, "chick-flick." However, being a husband of 19 years now, I must suffer through this kind of estrogen driven joyride for the purposes of continuing a happy marriage &, more importantly, marital relations. In the rare occurrence, one of these drippy, romantic, “Oh my God when will it end”, cinematic endeavors, there is a diamond in the rough. This film is that kind of find. Achieving what seems an impossible dream in cinematic features today, this movie is a truly, harmonious balance of humor and drama that most of their equivalent fail. In fact, this movie does such an excellent job I have given it, it’s own categorization, which I am so dubbing a Dramedy. Feel free to steal the term. The stars, Katherine Heigl & Josh Duhamel, are unquestionably marvelous together & demonstrate realistic, natural, & truly engaging chemistry. These two could quickly become the Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan of the next generation. The acting from the entire cast is masterful, funny, & effortless. The humor hits all the right marks. The dramatic sequences are touching & connect with the audience on all points. The tone & tempo of the film are well orchestrated & never miss a step. It is a well written story that is neither sappy nor overtly predictable, although, I felt the ending was a little anti-climatic. But as my wife reminded me, & she is always right, it matched the mood & the pace of the story. 4 out of 5 Kernels, yes I said 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Henry's Crime

There are many obscure films out there awaiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Some are regular demonstrations of the art of film making. This is not one of them. Instead, this movie defines why some obscure films, are just that, obscure. Starring; Keanu Reeves, who either phoned his performance in, long distance, or his character is supposed to be that dull and melancholy, James Caan, the one redeeming aspect of the film, and Vera Farmiga, who is unrecognizable because I had no idea who the hell she is. The chemistry between Reeves and Farmiga is about as exciting as Reeves' overall performance, apparently if he is not dodging bullets from Agent Smith he positively lacks no cinemantic presence at all. However, Caan attempts to carry the film, but the weight of this dud is just too much to bear. This film tries and fails to create a story within a story. Interlaced within the plot of a man falsely accused of robbing a bank and then decides to do just that, is the lead characters, Reeves and Farmiga, participation in a play adapted from Chekov's final story the Cherry Orchard. I believe, the director actually attempts to reflect the play's storyline of a man who captures the love of a woman only to break her heart and steal everything she owns with the relationship between the two. The humor is non existent, and you can only take Reeve's mugging of the camera and Farmiga's profanity so long before you feel queasy. It just became tedious, in fact, it felt as if the run time kept expanding. However, if you are in need of a decent sleep aid, better than Sominex, this is the ticket, as I observed with my wife who only awoke to have me stop the film briefly, and give our children their nightly baths. This is to be missed. 0 and out of 5 Kernels, the only thing these bank robbers stole was about an hour and 48 minutes of my life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Something Borrowed

This film attempts a new take on an old formula, the best friend of an
obnoxious free spirit falls in love with her lifelong compadre's fiancée. Don't
forget to add an infeminate male friend of said best friend as comedic relief and the recipe is complete.  So, with that said, you would think, this would be predictable, boring,
romantic slop, and, normally, you would be right. However, this flick is able
to accomplish somewhat of a unique spin on this sophomoric idea and create an interesting
and mildly engaging fare. Ginnifer Goodwin is cute as the best friend but her
acting is a little too "Dariaesque" for my blood. At points Al Gore
has demonstrated a bit more personality. Kate Hudson plays the obnoxious free
spirit (huge surprise and stretch) who plays the part so well she moves the
needle from annoying to just barely below overkill. Colin Egglesfield, who I
have never heard of before but is sure to be the next Tom Cruise, plays the fiancée
and starts of strong but ends on a dull note. His range doesn't reach dramatic,
it stalls at barely concerned. The romantic chemistry between Goodwin and
Egglesfield has its hit and miss moments but never really attains a real
genuineness. The relationship between Goodwin and Hudson is good, but Hudson
plays her character so over the top, it eclipses the emotional value of their
interactions. And to complete the ensemble, John Krasinski is inserted as the
comic relief, and I have to say, does a fairly decent job utilizing his dry and
quick wit. Don't expect any laugh out loud moments though. Overall the story moves
rather fluidly and naturally. The comedic timing is sound but the dramatic and
romantic moments quickly move from sincere and touching to goopy and
lackluster. So it's a chick flick but not one of the best, if there is such a
thing. 2 out of 5 Kernels, it could have been more than it was.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Morning Glory

Stop the world I want to get off. This is the second, "chick flick" I have watched in a week and if that wasn't spooky enough, it is the second film of its caliber to impress my normally testosterone driven preferences. The all star, A list cast including; Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, and Jeff Goldblum work superbly together and make real connections with each other and the audience. Ford's performance, once again, stands out as the delightfully curmudgeon veteran news reporter forced into the ridiculous world of so called daytime news shows. Keaton is at her finest and McAdams finds a way, as unbelievable as it sounds, to balance between cute and sincere. The romance storyline is lame, uninspired, and uninteresting, which my wife reminded me is not a key element of the film. However, the chemistry between McAdams and the remaining cast is natural and engaging. The humor is fluid, quick, and on point. The plot is basic, but well told, and the ending was poignant and satisfying. Overall, it is a really solid film. 4 out of 5 Kernels, taking a break from the more feminine focused features but if they continue making them like this, I could become more of a fan. I had to say that, my wife is in the room.

One Minute Movie Review: Paul

I am consistently impressed that just when I think you have seen the most moronic, predictable, senseless film another one arrives in your local theater or mailbox and raises the bar of being a ridiculous waste of time. Setting aside the blatantly agnostic message that portrays Christians as dirty, stupid, gun toting, trailer trash you are left with a failed attempt to pay tribute to some of history’s favorite science fiction flicks and the geekdom that adores them.  Laden with borrowed one liners from a plethora of sci-fi greats that seem overused rather than appropriately and effectively placed and utilized. This movie boils down to a satirical send up of ET portraying the alien as a pot smoking, foul mouthed, atheist, who enlists two British nerds and a goofy, and even more so foul mouthed, "true believer" converted to agnosticism to assist him in escaping the unfunny and juvenile agents who try to capture and kill the cosmic comic. The humor is great if you are fourteen and bored. he effects are good and Paul’s physical appearance on screen is realistic and somewhat cool but as far as creature creation is predicable and somewhat unimaginative. This is the only redeeming factor of the entire experience. Seth Rogan could have done so much more with this character but rather than create a truly funny and creative persona that would have been a cinematic touchdown he punts and goes for cheap and adolescent bathroom humor that seems to be the new norm in these so called edgy and contemporary comedies. This is a complete fail when it could have been a terrific satire. The acting is stale and sub par. Especially given the fact that this outing recruited some A List talent like Bateman and Weaver, what a waste of skill and presence. But at least LA is consistent in producing this type of dribble. 0 out of 5 Kernels, I wish this ET would have stayed home.