Movie Review: Looper (2012)

December 6, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

I love time travel films, and one of my favourites of all-time also had Bruce Willis in it (Twelve Monkeys, of course). Given that I have also recently developed a man-crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper appeared to be a tailor-made film for me.

The movie is set in the year 2044 and the future of that future is 2074, a time when time travel has finally been invented (I still have a chance to live to that day, so fingers crossed that this is based on a true story). Unfortunately, time travel is outlawed then but is still being used by criminal organizations, which need a “looper” to help them in the past when they transport things back over from the future. Gordon-Levitt is a young looper. Bruce Willis is him in 30 years. I can’t say why, but they don’t like each other.

It may sound complicated but I actually found Looper to be a really straightforward time-travel movie. The mechanics and laws of time travel in the film’s universe are sufficiently described in the beginning and there’s not much to be confused about, which is why I was really confused by all these reviewers saying that the film was confusing. Some even compared it to Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which I found strange because they are nothing alike apart from the fact that both star Gordon-Levitt.

Looper is an unusual and unusually clever time-travel film in the sense that it’s more of a character movie about how people deal with the effects of time travel rather than the time travel itself. From that perspective it means less trying to figure out what’s going on/pointing out gaps in logic and more just enjoying the movie for its action and freaky futuristic stuff.

It’s always hard to review a movie like this without slipping in unnecessary spoilers, so all I will say is that it also stars Emily Blunt and is in part related to genetic mutations which occur naturally in the human body at some point in the future (I am begging for this to be based on a true story).

Some people have criticized the decision to use prosthetics and make-up on Gordon-Levitt to make him look like a young Bruce Willis. I thought it was awesome. I have to admit, the thin-framed Gordon Levitt is one of the last actors I would have pictured playing John “Yippee-ki-yay” McClane, but the prosthetics made me believe he could have eventually grown to look like him. He still looks like Gordon-Levitt but it also reminds you a little of Bruce Willis – I don’t get what the big deal is.

Despite my praises, I think there is something missing from Looper that prevents it from being a time-travel classic like Twelve Monkeys, Back to the Future, Terminator 2, and so forth. The film has a great premise, interesting characters, solid action and enough twists and turns to make it a highly enjoyable experience, but perhaps it lacked the grand vision and scale that would have pushed it to that next level.

4 stars out of 5!

Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

April 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews

When I first heard there’s a new movie called Hot Tub Time Machine, I almost rolled my eyes.  Sounded like one of those horrible, straight-to-video, B/C-grade films from the 80s.

However, that was before I glanced past some seemingly favourable reviews and read that John Cusack stars in it.  John Cusack!  There’s no way he could be in something trashy.

And so, against all preconceptions, I went to watch Hot Tub Time Machine, and actually expecting something good.

The name of the film is pretty self-explanatory, so there’s no need to go too much into the plot.  Three 40-something men (Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry) and a nephew of one of these men (Clark Duke) somehow find themselves in the titular device and are transported back to 1986.

As with most time travel movies, much of Hot Tub Time Machine focuses on the “what could have been”, and asking the question “if I could live my life again, what would I do differently?”  That is the current underlying the film and there’s a bit of poignancy to be found in there, but on the surface it’s all craziness and gross-out laughs, and of course, making fun of the 80s.

A lot of the jokes are very 80s, if that qualifies as a description.  Kind of zany and outrageous, sexually charged but extremely homophobic.  When the humour hits the spot it can be pretty fun, and it’s quite astounding when you realise how much fashion, technology and attitudes have changed over the last 20 years or so.  But there are also plenty of jokes that fell horribly flat, especially when you can tell they were going for some big laughs but just couldn’t channel the right punch line.

John Cusack’s talents are somewhat wasted as Adam, the least comical of the foursome, and Clark Duke (Kick-Ass and Sex Drive) is not fully utilised as his geeky, socially reclusive nephew Jacob.  The standouts end up being Rob Corddry (The Heartbreak Kid, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay), who plays Lou, a depressed alcoholic and really the central character of the story, as well as Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), who plays Nick, a pussy-whipped former singer.  Chevy Chase’s minor role failed badly in my opinion, but Crispin Glover as the hotel bellhop was pretty awesome.

Hot Tub Time Machine is funnier than the title suggests, but it’s very very hit and miss.  And there’s just too many misses to make it a consistently enjoyable film.

2.5 stars out of 5!

 
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