Mega Catch-up Movie Blitz (Part 1)

April 22, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

With around 25 movies waiting to be reviewed in my draft folder, I have decided that it’s no longer possible for me to just “catch up” to present day with detailed reviews for each film, especially not when I have plans to eventually put out a long overdue “Best of 2011”film ranking.

And so I have decided to go on a bit of a mega review blitz and get most the majority of the films out of the way with condensed reviews. I have reserved more detailed reviews for the newer and more high profile films I have something to say about, which I will hopefully chuck in there somewhere.

Anyway, here is the first batch:

The Way Back (2010)

My only 2010 film in this entire review blitz. I had been dying to see The Way Back for quite some time but never managed to get around to it until a couple of months ago.

It’s supposed to be inspired by real life events (also have to take that with a grain of salt), about a bunch of gulag prisoners who literally walk fromSiberiato Nepal/India. It features an all-star cast including Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan and Colin Farrell, and I believe the film was nominated for a 2011 Oscar for its make-up.

This is one of those visually stunning, well-acted, inspirational “true” stories that highlight the strength of the human spirit. Most of the film is about the kind of amazing feats (and crap) these people went through to survive, so from that perspective it was compelling to watch, but on the whole it didn’t quite have that “memorable epic” feel to it. At the end of the day, I enjoyed both the story and the technical achievements of the film but also came away slightly disappointed that it didn’t blow me away like I wanted it to. I’m glad I caught it on DVD.

3.5 stars out of 5!

The Three Musketeers (2D) (2011)

My knowledge of the Three Musketeers, sadly, comes almost exclusively from that 1998 Leo DiCaprio movie The Man with the Iron Mask, where the Musketeers are played by powerhouses Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu, with Gabriel Byrne as D’Artagnan.

This new version of Musketeers, on the other hand, is played by relative unknowns – Luke Stevenson, Ray Stevenson and Matthew Macfayden (Mr I love, I love, I love you from the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice), with Percy Jackson himself (Logan Lerman) as a young D’Artagnan. The bigger stars, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz and Milla Jovovich, on the other hand, are relegated to smaller roles.

I’m afraid this one was not at all very memorable for me. The lack of star power amongst the key roles might have had something to do with it, but for some reason despite all the swordplay, flying around and blowing things up I never felt…well, anything. It wasn’t awful and admittedly it was fun at times, but I found myself watching for the sake of it and not really caring what happened next.

Apparently a sequel was planned but I’m not sure I’d want to see it.

2.5 stars out of 5 

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Having called the original overrated and the sequel one of the worst films of last year, I returned for more punishment with Paranormal Activity 3, which is actually a prequel about a young Katie and Kristi, the sisters who led the first two films in the franchise.

I suppose the makers deserve some kudos for coming up with the prequel idea so they can milk a little more money out of audiences – but still, the movie sucked dog scrotums. Perhaps it was scarier than the other two from a “boo” factor perspective and slightly less tedious in its build-up, but those are the only positive things I have to say about the film, which has really scraped the bottom of the barrel this time.

For one thing, I thought being set in 1988 meant that the “film everything” philosophy would have to be slightly reconsidered, but instead this family had some of the most advanced video camera technology ever used. I mean, seriously, what kind of family from the 80s would install cameras in just about every corner of the house, and what kind of futuristic cameras were they using to capture both crystal clear audio and high definition quality video for every second of the freaking day? This would have had to have been on tapes, by the way.

But I guess people who watch these films already know what to expect — a lot of time fillers, a few chills and several boo moments here and there, and a crazy ending where all hell breaks lose. Strictly speaking this might have been the most enjoyable movie of the three, but because the predictable formula has been reused so many times I can only give it…

1.5 stars out of 5

The Double (2011)

Richard Gere. Topher Grace. Straight to DVD (I think). That just about sums up The Double, a film about a Soviet operative called Cassius who is some super deadly killer seeking revenge against those who harmed his family. Gere and Grace are two CIA agents trying to track him down, but is there more to the story than meets the eye? And why is it called The Double?

Actually, this was not too bad for a straight-to-DVD flick (if that’s indeed what it is). But as a feature with two somewhat marketable stars – plus the likes of Martin Sheen, Odette Yustman, Stana Katic (from Castle) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) – The Double fails to generate any real suspense or genuinely exciting action. It reminded me a little of those Carlos the Jackal films that were popular for a while, except those films were considered cool back then but not now.

The so-called “twists” were fairly obvious and didn’t add a whole lot to the drama. The execution wasn’t all bad but I think the script itself needed work. Not an atrocious effort overall but still a completely forgettable film. As you can see I am struggling to remember the details.

2.25 stars out of 5