Thursday, January 31, 2013
If weird and creepy were a kingdom, Tim Burton would be the undisputed ruler. In the beginning, Burton’s work was groundbreaking, reaching new levels of creativity and uniqueness. However, as time has marched on, Burton’s outings have become more and more bizarre and less and less enjoyable, having a fresh flock of cinematic albatrosses to confirm that fact. With that said, this is the pinnacle example of a film that Burton may have made just to amuse himself, like a private joke gone horribly wrong. Although the cinematography and animation are positively stunning, the story is choppy and downright goofy. Combine that with the overwhelming and ominous focus on death and that pretty much eliminates any warm and fuzzies for the kiddies. Did anyone bother to inform Tim that children’s films need to, hmm, let’s say, be appropriate for the young’ens and not depress the Skechers off of them? The humor is nonexistent, and Burton’s attempted tribute to the classic movie monsters of old gets lost in translation as the story makes remarkably little sense and is even less entertaining. This movie feels more like a 1st year film school student’s animated short than an experienced director’s swansong. 0 out of 5 kernels: the only thing scary about this movie is that it was allowed to be made in the first place, and the only laughs it received were Burton’s, all the way to the bank.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
This is perhaps one of the most painful reviews I have ever had the displeasure of writing as I am a humongous, with a capital U, fan of Clint Eastwood who has moved from entertainment icon to true Hollywood legend. Eastwood has a litany of films that are genuinely powerful, engaging, and amazingly crafted, this is not one of them. Instead, first time director, Robert Lorenz brings us a sappy and predictable feel-good story that lacks any passion or authenticity. Eastwood and Adams performances are tired at first, forced by mid picture, and cartoonish by the end. Add in Justin Timberlake, who has no business in any form of theater whether it by stage or silver screen, and you have one deeply disappointing film. The story takes too long to get to its point and by the time it does you have lost all interest. If not, you are absolutely unimpressed by its conclusion. I like happy endings in films, especially in this overtly cynical world, however, I expect films with that ambition to be well written, directed, and acted and constructed in such a way where that ending makes sense and is not unduly gooey. Eastwood is a master of his trade so I cannot figure out for the life of me what possessed him to make this movie. Even in his 80s he is a far better actor than anyone in Hollywood of any age and one of the most gifted directors of our time. Which again makes this review difficult to document and this movie hard to digest. To sum up, using a baseball analogy, if this movie was a pitcher the least of his troubles would have been the curve. 1 out of 5 kernels: you’ll have to forgive me, but I can't bare to give one of my lifelong heroes a goose egg.
Monday, January 21, 2013
To begin with, there was nothing premium about this movie. As far as, any rush is concerned, I honestly have to say, it was more a cure for insomnia than anything else. David Koepp delivers us a commercial for Motorola GPS more than a movie. Utilizing choppy editing to tell the story, out of sequence, Koepp attempts to create a “ 24” like production in a 2 hour timeframe. He fails, and instead creates a lazily constructed plot with goofy and stale acting and a severe overuse of bicycle chases that get old faster than anyone can petal. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is apparently Hollywood's new golden boy if that is the case, it is Fools’ Gold. As an alleged action star he's lackluster at best and, overall, as an actor, he proves with each movie he may want to rethink profession. He has no chemistry with any of his castmates as his performance is as dry as Arizona asphalt. I won't even bother mentioning the names of the other players because I'm confident that, in retrospect, they would like their roles in this mess to be quickly forgotten. The dialogue is corny, the action sequences are repetitive, the chase sequences are too long, and if I wanted to see the absolute glut of bike tricks I would watch the X games on ESPN. The story is overly simplistic and predictable, about as engaging as watching grass grow or paint dry, you choose. Apparently Levitt is being scoped out as a potential Batman substitute for the Justice League movie. If so, I would liken that move to placing a large hunk of Kryptonite in Superman’s toilet. If you must see a cheesy bike messenger story I recommend the 1986 flick, Quicksilver, starring the amazing Bacon. At least you know what you're getting into. 0 out of 5 Kernels: the only feeling of rush I had was to rush to the credits so it would be over with.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Very few remakes, or reboots as they are referred to now, are able to match or improve upon their originals. There is that rare instance when it does occur and Len Wiseman, director of the only two Underworlds that matter is one of the few directors that are able to accomplish that feat. The 1990 Schwarzenegger vehicle was groundbreaking in its story, action, and special effects taking great liberty with a short story by Philip K. Dick. That version focused on a quest to free Mars while the current manifestation focuses on a more terrestrial storyline. Again, I refuse to divulge any spoilers but will instead focus on key elements of the film beginning with the acting. Farrell, Beckinsale, and Biel all deliver top notch performances and their characters are believable and compelling. Farrell's take on the amnesiac Quaid, I have to say, is a far more honest and engaging character than Arnold's. But it is Beckinsale's villainess that unequivocally steals the show. The action is fast-paced and exciting, and the special-effects are outstanding, far more sophisticated than 90s technology could have produced. The most impressive element is Wiseman’s ability to take a predictable plot, thanks to the original, and provide a unique and creative spin making it less quirky and more authentic. Being a tremendous fan of the Terminator, it pains me to say that this 2012 vision overall is just a far better production. 3 out of 5 Kernels: I believe one of the finest authors of science fiction would have been pleased to see this adaptation of his work on the silver screen.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
The relatively unknown Peter Hedges creates a film that doesn't just attempt to pull at the heartstrings but goes for the emotional jugular. With that said, it is quite difficult to critique this movie without invoking any spoilers, so, I will tread carefully. First let me say, Jennifer Gardner provides one of the best performances of her career emanating an authenticity in her role that is both engaging and heartfelt. CJ Adams is a perfect cast for his part and brings Timothy Green to abundant life. Although the film has a few plot loopholes and is a bit sappy and fantastical, overall it is a well written remarkably unique story that instantly connects with the audience and continues to hold it until the very end. The humor is subtle, honest, and effective, and the drama hits its mark every time. In some instances, it is very predictable; however, the story so well-crafted that fact is forgivable. Again, in order not to disclose anything that would ruin the experience I have to conclude with stating just this; that the moral is exceedingly clear. One, that our children are an absolute gift, and although they may try every bit of our patience or make us painfully realize how ill-equipped we are as parents they are undeniable proof that miracles still occur moment by moment. Secondly, that one doesn't need to focus on what mistakes his or her parents made by trying overtly to avoid or correct them but instead to successfully parent is to love unconditionally and to be the best parent we can be solely based on whom we are. Very few films have drawn tears, this one is the rare case. 4 out of 5 of five kernels: the rare instance, where the consistently commercial mouse spins out a truly endearing tale.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
This is a difficult film to dissect. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep provide such authentic performances as a troubled couple trying to make sense of 31 years of marriage that the film moves from entertainment to a sense of voyeurism. Every scene, whether involving their own interaction or counseling sessions, are so true to form that you almost feel guilty peering into the private lives of two people desperately trying to rescue their relationship. With that said, the film moves at the pace of a documentary, more than fantasy, in order to effectively weave its tale. The scenes are so realistic that the audience makes an immediate connection with both story and players which are both thoroughly engaging and, at times, definitively uncomfortable. Corel’s performance as the marriage counselor is one of his best, moving him from his relentlessly overbearing reluctant comedic hero stature to a more subdued and sophisticated portrayal that is both believable and sympathetic. For the younger set, the film has a strong moral about keeping a marriage fresh, however, the older crowd might find the topics a little too edgy especially if they fall under the prudish category. Not a movie that you would watch over and over again but certainly worth the time spent. 3 to 5 kernels: the real lesson; Hope springs, not from any artificial means, or by accident, but by the deliberate choices of the heart.