Tuesday, November 27, 2012
This film's fire never really got started; in fact, it pretty much smoldered and then flamed out by picture's end. David Barrett brings us his idea of what an action flick should look like; slow moving, poorly acted, overtly profane and violent, and assuredly predictable. Josh Duhamel, of Transformers fame, attempts his first real leading man role in a motion picture. Try as he might; it appears that without large battling machines, his true acting prowess is revealed; stiff, unimaginative, just plain mediocre. Other wasted talent in this lackluster thriller is; Rosario Dawson, most unmemorable in Zookeeper and MIB2, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Bruce Willis who delivers the least amount of effort but probably received the biggest paycheck. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is D'Onofrio, who prior to this, was one of the finest character actors of the last ten years. Unfortunately, he plays the bad guy as clichéd and unremarkable as possible with a southern accent that a first year acting student from the Bronx could have pulled off with more authenticity. The story has been done to death, which is a running theme of late with Hollywood's current offerings and any attempt at realism falls flat do to the stilted and hollow performances. Any film with this many F bombs are making up for something, a lack of script writing talent for starters. 0 out of 5 Kernels; the only thing that was combustible in this flick was its profit margin after Willis' salary.
Well, I definitely wasn't the lucky one having to sit through this goopy, predictable, downright boring chick flick. Lacking any true chemistry or acting range, Zac Efron has all the stage presence of Al Gore at a Global Warming symposium. He trades any effort in his dialogue for incessant deep, brooding expressions, an attempt, I assume, to appear smoldering, but resulting in lukewarm camera mugging at best. His costar and alleged love interest, Schilling, is as cold as ice and her performance is so juvenile and ordinary that it wouldn't even pass for a high school play. The story could have been very interesting with a more engaging cast and better direction. Instead, it takes passé shortcuts and relies upon over done romantic devices in an ineffectual attempt to swoon its audience. Even the relationship between Efron's character and Schilling's on screen son falls short and stale. This is a dollar store version of a love story and that is giving it more credit than it deserves. 0 out of 5 Kernels; there aren't enough four leaf clovers in the world to save this unfortunate flick.
Friday, November 23, 2012
I viewed this cinematic disasterpiece on Thanksgiving night as an act of devotion to my wonderful wife of twenty years. Of the entire series, this has to be the most lackluster, hackneyed installment and one huge disappointment as closure to the five, what I loosely refer to as, films. I will not, however, deliver any spoilers as requested by my beloved betrothed. Instead I will analyze the good, bad, and ugly of this picture with heavy emphasis on the latter two. The overall acting is stale and unmoving. The story has officially been done to death, no pun intended. The editing is choppy and the ending is one of the most ridiculous since Bobby Ewing woke up in the shower, subtle hint there. The pluses, though limited, are the special effects and Stewart's performance which seems to finally come to life after being transformed into the undead, which is enough irony to make Alanis Morrisette smirk. Still, she is unable to breathe any energy or enthusiasm into the over told story assisted by the remaining cast who deliver the most uninteresting performances of the quintilogy. I have been told the final product was altered to please everyone. Well then epic fail there, as the end result is yet another example of Hollywood's innate ability to beat dead horses to death, no offense PETA. Van Helsing would be proud; no weapon he could have mustered could have neutered the vampire legend better than Stephenie Meyers. The Drac must be rolling over in his frick’n grave like a piece of rotisserie gold. 1 out of 5 Kernels; this outing sucks far more than any creature of the night ever could.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Director Sarah Smith attempts to craft a new Christmas classic using somewhat over used tools that would have performed better in more experienced hands. Although the animation is stunning this film tries too hard with too much material. Although, I enjoyed the Sci Fi, Hi Tech portrayal of St. Nick, the story loses steam fast and the novelty wears off quickly thanks to a bloated script. Arthur, voiced by James McAvoy (Prof. X from X-Men: First Class) is endearing enough, at first, but the overreaching performance turns him from reluctant hero to outright goofball. The remaining cast; Laurie, Nighy, Longoria, Cusack, and Serkis perform well together but the unnecessary length of the film waters down their chemistry. The story could have been half as long and elicited twice the impact. When trying to pull at heartstrings one doesn't have to use a G.I. Joe Kung Fu grip. The tale of Santa has been done ad nauseam, and there are far better holiday flicks than this one, from stop motion classics to Edmund Gwenn and Tim Allen's signature portrayals. The kiddies got bored quick and that is the best barometer of them all. 2 out of 5 Kernels: This movie ended up just being Ho Ho Hum.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Director Jonathan English delivers his version of the medieval magnificent seven with all the historical accuracy of Brave heart with twice the violence and gore. Despite its many factual flaws, what this film does authentically portray is the brutality of combat in the dark ages, and that it does ad nauseum. The acting is subdued but engaging, the effects are over reaching, and the cinematography provides this flick with a gritty and genuine scope and sweep. Paul Giamatti is absolutely miscast as the cowardly and oppressive king. His performance comes off whiny and irritating rather than convincing and sinister. James Purefoy plays the brooding and reluctant hero, obsessively, and Brian Cox convincingly portrays the rebellious baron probably the best performance of his career. Finally, Kate Mara delivers a less than stellar performance as the tormented heroine locked into a loveless marriage and a soulless yearning for Purefoy's knightly warrior. The remaining cast pulls of a B minus attempt to capture the camaraderie and chemistry of the magnificent seven, dirty dozen ensemble concept. In the end, it was a good idea that never reached beyond that. 2 out of 5 Kernels: this movie lived and died by its own sword.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
The Hi-Tech, totally retro answer to the Toy Story franchise, Wreck It Ralph is one of the most spectacularly animated and wonderfully exciting of its genre. Director Rich Moore has had a lackluster career to this point and still somehow garnered a shot by the Godfather of Mice to give it a go with a full length CGI feature. It was a risk well taken and Moore creates a stunning, unique, and magical arcade universe that pays homage to some of the most popular titles of the 80's videodrome boom. While waxing nostalgic at times, the film also brings a contemporary, quick, and sharp wit to it and an ultra cool story line about what defines who we are. John C. Reilly, who is one of the worst comedic actors of our time bringing bathroom and pre-teen hunor to new lows on a regular basis, apparently finds religion and his talent in this flick and delivers a brilliant performance as Ralph, the bad guy who desperately wants to be good. Apparently, Moore was creating an environment to regenerate hapless talent and careers as he delivers Sarah Silverman as Riley's costar who in turn delivers one of the cutest and most sarcastic characters to ever enter the animated legacy. She pulls off a combination of biting kiddie humor and adorability that I can't believe anyone could do better. Jane Lynch, rounds out the cast as the all or nothing, gung ho, HALOette (just made that up) and she plays the parts with all the energy of a supernova. There is enough tongue in cheek repertoire to make your mouth bleed. Disney did not become the multi quadrillion dollar company on accident and films like this prove they have the moxie and imagination to top themselves time and time again. A delightful family story with a terrific morale, solid and authentic acting, and some downright slick and cool effects. 4 out of 5 Kernels: Wreck It Ralph surely wins a high score for the year and will capture enough coin to make Mario cry.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
One of the better "Christian" movies that I have viewed in the areas of plot, realism, and acting. With that said, it unfortunately still suffers from the same ailment that most theologically based films of the past few decades. It tries too hard to be hip to disguise the fact that it is a Christian movie in the effort to draw in a larger audience. I, in my many years, have never figured out why this stigma exists and can't be resolved. I believe it mostly exists because many of these production companies practice their own brand of, biblically based, political correctness, reducing realism to a cartoonish view of world problems and a stale way in which their players react to it. The redeeming quality of this outing is unlike it's predecessors, this film only sputters for the first half and then recovers and drives full emotional throttle through the latter half. In the beginning, the movie plays like a poor facsimile of indie film, with too many inane quick shots and artsy camera work. Add to that, an annoying soundtrack that spurts out every time a scene changes or someone exhibits an ounces of emotion as if you were suffering through some extended episode of the Hills. The purpose is appaulingly apparent; to give the audience a stylish and upbeat look into the lives of these young people ala MTV lite. The acting is the only saving grace during these gruelling minutes as the chemistry and interaction of the main characters is engaging and mostly authentic. Then we are exposed to the central plot which has all the impact of a feather falling on a bed of snow. This is where I though the film would move into an absolute epic fail. Although it is becoming increasing more difficult to surprise me, this flick does just that. Just as, the parents, one portrayed by Schnieder, seem utterly underwhelming by this massive revelation, actress Rachel Hendrix rises to the occasion and shifts the momentum of the picture pulling it back from the edge of disappointment. Even the love story subplot begins to move from insomnia cure to endearing, another pleasant surprise. Hendrix powers the film as if she is reborn, connecting deeply with the audience. Her presence brings us into a deeply moving and tragic story, and as it progresses, is further energized by Guy and Rigby who deliver painfully moving performances. Then Schneider wakes from his slumber, moving from bunting through to hitting away. He breathes healthy life back into his character in the 7th inning and hits the game winning run by the 9th. The film crests with an amazing conclusion that ties everyting together with an undeniable message of grace, divine comfort, and redemption. Add in a heart wrenching testimony by Rigby during the end credits and the film reaches a credibility and spirit that few that have come before have ever accomplished. 3 out of 5 Kernels: any story that speaks so powerfully to the value of life in this cynical world deserves serious kudos in my book.