Mega Catch-up Movie Blitz (Part 8)

December 18, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

The Art of Getting By (2011)

The Art of Getting By

This is a really weird movie which I don’t really get. It’s the first feature from writer-director Gavin Wiesen and I believe it’s supposed to be a coming-of-age comedy drama, although the whole thing just felt kind of “meh” to me.

George (Freddie Highmore) is a high school student and gifted artist who is a rut because he finds life meaningless. He is put on academic probation and told to get his act together, and at around the same time he meets a pretty girl, Sally (Emma Roberts). They form a bond, become friends and maybe something more.

See, even writing that brief synopsis was boring to me. I’ve always been a fan of Highmore and I think Roberts is a cute actress, and both put in solid performances, but the film itself failed to sustain my interest (and it’s only 84 minutes!).

Perhaps I am getting too old, but for some reason the actions and dialogue of these kids seemed totally unrealistic to me. It’s not just they are so self-absorbed but watching them act and talk like adults made them lose whatever charm they had. I didn’t find them innocent or sweet at all.

There might have been a bigger message in the film somewhere but it jumped right over my head.

1.5 stars out of 5

Drive Angry (2011) (2D)

DriveAngryPoster

Another Nicolas Cage movie where he’s paid to be Nicholas Cage? Yes, that’s precisely what Drive Angry (which is supposed to be in 3D at the cinemas, though I caught it on the small screen) is all about.

Cage plays Milton, a felon who breaks out from Hell (yes, the opposite of Heaven) to prevent a satanic cult led by Billy Burke (the dad from Twilight) from sacrificing his granddaughter. Somewhere along the way he picks up a waitress played by Amber Heard. Lots of gun fights, car chases and explosions ensue.

Surprisingly, however, Drive Angry is not as bad as it sounds. Sure, it’s forgettable and blends into all of the other B-grade films Cage has made in recent years, but at least it is occasionally fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Classier moviegoers might be turned off by all the relentless, over-the-top violence, the loud sound effects and the ludicrous but unapologetic plot, but those looking for a silly albeit entertaining grindhouse flick might find it a guilty pleasure.

By the way, the score probably would have been lower had I watched it in cash-sucking 3D.

3 stars out of 5

The Rum Diary (2011)

rum diary

I am a fan of Hunter S Thompson’s writing and his Gonzo journalism, so I was kind of excited about a film based on his novel starring Johnny Depp. But The Rum Diary turned out to be slightly disappointing. It was occasionally entertaining and amusing but felt like there was no focus and the film drifted all over the place without a compelling storyline to follow.

Depp plans Paul Kemp, a down-on-his-luck writer who gets a job for a paper in Puerto Rico. There are shady deals, lots of drinking and crazy shenanigans, but nothing that really gripped me to the characters or the plot.

Depp is pretty good, as is the steady Aaron Eckhart. Amber Heard is very good as the seductress, so good, apparently, that she ended up breaking up Depp’s marriage. Oh well.

On the whole, The Rum Diary is not bad for some light amusement (although it felt too long with a 2-hour running time), but it’s ultimately quite forgettable.

2.5 stars out of 5

The Devil’s Double (2011)

The-Devils-Double-Movie-poster-freemovietag

The Devil’s Double is apparently a true story based on the life of Latif Yahia, who looked so much like Saddam Hussein’s son Uday that he was forced to be his body double.

The story has not stood up well after several debunking attempts, but I still found the concept utterly fascinating. Imagine being forced to be the doppelganger of the son of a ruthless tyrant and being sent to do all the crap he doesn’t want to do and the places he doesn’t want to go. It also means constantly being placed in danger and having no way out – well, apart from torturous deaths for you and your family.

Dominic Cooper players the duel role of Latif and Uday and he is dynamite. There was never any doubt in my mind that he was two completely separate people, and it’s not just because of the clever make-up and prosthetics that made their appearances slightly different, at least at the beginning before the forced plastic surgery. Can’t believe was only nominated for a single Saturn Award for this performance.

It’s a flawed film with an overdose of brutality and occasional lulls in the narrative, but Cooper’s performance and the premise alone were enough to keep me interested for the majority of the 108-minute running time.

3.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Scream 4 (2011)

April 21, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

The original Scream was a relevation for horror fans, and a pretty darn funny one at that.  The two sequels that followed were okay, in my memory a complete blur, most probably because they were basically variations of the first film.

Hard to believe, but Scream 4 comes 11 years after the third film, which to me suggests ‘reboot’ or a ‘homage’ as opposed to genuine sequel.  The core cast from the first three films are still alive and kicking — Neve Campbell returns as Sidney Prescott, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette return as Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley, respectively (now married, though in real life they are separated — must have been awkward).  The fresh blood comes from the up-and-coming Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, but there are also plenty of cameos, from Anna Paquin to Kristen Bell.

I must admit, given that this film was directed by the great Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson (who penned the screenplays of the first two in the series), I expected a lot more.  The premise could not have been less uninspiring — Sidney Prescott returns to Woodsbro years after her brutal encounters as a part of her book tour.  Of course, the ‘Ghostface’ killer returns and starts killing people all over the place, and there seems to be a pattern that matches the original killings.  Who could it be?  What horror film conventions will be adhered to or broken this time?

On the bright side, Scream 4 does contain some clever moments and witty remarks — the ‘film-in-a-film’ idea is not a novel one but I enjoyed the way it kick started the film, and the whole social networking/instant feed concept was intelligently mixed into the plot to give it a contemporary flavour.  But on the whole, Scream 4 felt like absolutely nothing new.  The people are older but that’s about it.  If you’ve seen any of the first three films you’ll probably get a good dose of deja vu, except this time the jokes are more stale and the frights are less scary.  The sharp edge of the original has dulled over time.

In fact, it would be a stretch to call Scream 4 a true horror film — it’s more comedy than anything else, except it’s not that funny; even as a parody it’s not particularly effective.  It was like an old dog desperately trying to perform old tricks — very good tricks, but unfortunately we’ve seen it all before.

2 stars out of 5

 
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