The Brave One – Review

Ugh. Another stupid revenge flick.

Remember those Death Wish movies with Charles Bronson? Something bad would happen to Bronson’s family and he’d go all medieval on the bad guys and by the end, sunbeams and rainbows would fill the sky. The Brave One is Death Wish with Jodie Foster as Charles Bronson. No, not instead of Bronson, as Bronson. Seriously.

The family member in question is Sayid from LOST. So as to seem more helpless than Jodie Foster, Sayid is stripped of all his badassery. That’s disappointing and completely unbelievable. True, it’s not fair to typecast an actor, but if you see this (ha), let me know if you don’t think the same thing.

But the real palm-to-forehead moment comes at the end. Revenge flicks live or die solely on their ending. They naturally build up a tension that must be resolved intelligently at the end. If that doesn’t happen, you yell at the screen. Or at least I do. Here, when the final scene appeared, a giant FAIL stamp should have hit the screen. The Brave One makes the tragic flaw of making the characters do something completely unnatural just to wrap things up. It’s sad.

What makes the ending so frustrating is that the rest of the movie is brilliantly acted. We all know Jodie can act and we get Terrance Howard playing the detective. The scenes they have together are great. But trust me, this ain’t worth sitting through to see ’em.

There are plenty of other flaws. The way she gets her gun comes straight from the Convenient Conflict Resolution Handbook (2nd Ed.). Jodie also plays a NPR-like talk show host. Talk Radio is boring on its own. In a crappy revenge flick, it’s torture.

Spare yourself the pain and skip this one.

Grade: D

Ratatouille – Review

Here’s another movie I’m just now catching up on. Last summer, Ratatouille scored a crazy 97% freshness on It’s at 95% now, but back then it was the highest rated movie of the summer. Needless to say, I was expecting big things.

I like Pixar movies but I’ve noticed a shift in their styles. The earlier movies (Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, etc) were funny – hilarious, even. Cars and Ratatouille seem more serious. That doesn’t make ’em bad, but I do long for the funnier days.

I watched Ratatouille on Blu-Ray and holy crap! The 3D animation is unbelievable. The rodents’ fur actually looked like fur instead of a flat fur texture. Also, animators are finally getting water (specifically, wet surfaces) to look right. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting close.

Overall, I think my expectations for this one were too high. I enjoyed it, and it’s certainly a good movie, but it’s not 97% good. In my ranking of Pixar movies, I’d place this one just above Cars, my least favorite.

Hmmm, I’ve run out of things to say. Since I’m sure all of you have seen this, what did you think of it?

Grade: B-

Sunshine – Review

Independent movies rarely do Sci-Fi. Indie directors have a choice between special effects and, say, a cameraman…or food. But all that’s changing (hopefully). Computers are cheap and anyone can torrent a copy of Maya. Even the Star Trek/Star Wars fan movies are looking pretty good. What? I only saw one.

Sunshine comes to us from the UK. I think that’s a little joke since we all know the sun never shines in London. Like I said earlier, it’s an Independent movie so no one famous is in it. There are, however, a few actors who make you shout, “Hey! It’s that guy!” I think this is one of the movie’s strengths since you have no idea who will get killed off.

OK, so the acting is a strength, let’s talk about a weakness — the premise. The idea is that years from now, the sun starts to die. This makes the Earth like Hoth. Humanity grows tired of snow and decides the only way to save itself is to send a nuclear warhead into the sun and hope to “restart” it.


Being a somewhat technical person, that’s laughably bad. This had to come from a Windows crash on the writer’s laptop. Going outside in anger, he saw the sun and put two and two together.

But here’s the kicker, the movie’s pretty good. If you can force yourself into the concept, Sunshine makes a boring trip through space fairly suspenseful. Not knowing who’s going to make it helps, but the writing is good on its own. Also, the director did a lot with the Special Effects, especially considering how little he had to work with. The shot of Mercury passing was definitely a “whoa” moment.

So yeah, things aren’t perfect but I’d bet a few of you will like this one.

Grade: B

Martian Child – Review

Like I mentioned last review, I was in Tokyo last week. For my trip over the Pacific (a trip God never intended anyone to make), Martian Child was my in-flight entertainment. Well, that and the food. When you get a chance, be sure to fly any of the Asian airlines. They’re an adventure. And by adventure, I mean awesome.

Martian Child is a John Cusack movie. Half of you just skipped to the next review. Sure, he exceeds his Man Quota of romantic comedies every year, but I mostly like his stuff.

In this one, he plays a Sci-Fi (excuse me, Speculative Fiction) writer wanting to adopt a son. The movie really glazes over all those details, but eventually he forms a bond with a boy who says he’s from Mars. And yes, there is a “Men are from Mars” joke. Think of it as the romantic comedy equivalent of a fart joke. “Well, you know men are from Mars. Pull my finger.”

After all those tiny complications are conveniently swept under the rug, the movie digs in and starts taking jabs at your tear ducts. As Cusack explains, “Well, I’m sort of an expert in fantasy and I find that it allows us to explore things that are too tough for us to handle.” If you can imagine what kind of past this kid has experienced to lead him thinking he’s from another planet, you have a pretty good idea of where this movie takes you.

I tend to believe people should see these kinds of movies at least once a year. For me, it helps soften my cold, bitter heart and look at life (and the people in it) with a bit more warmth.

Grade: B+

Lost in Translation – Review

I was in Tokyo last week and to prepare for the trip, a friend said I should watch Lost in Translation. He is no longer my friend.

OK, the movie ain’t that bad. In fact, didn’t it win some awards? (Googles…) Yes, it won the Oscar for best writing & screenplay and was nominated for best picture. Why? I mean, I got what Sofia Coppola was trying to do with it. I just wasn’t all that thrilled with how she got there. There were scenes of greatness, just too few to matter. In fact, other than those scenes, I’ve already forgotten everything else.

I liked Bill Murray, though. He pulled a Robin Williams and got all serious and pulled it off. There were some scenes I’m positive were ad-libbed. They proved he’s still a genius even when not chasing ghosts or gophers.

Scarlett Johansson is ok but I’m still looking for a movie that makes me fall in love with her. Lost in Translation opens with a long shot of her ass so right away, you know her role here. They couldn’t have been more blunt if they put “Bill Murray” and “Hot Piece of Ass” on the poster. Eye candy is fine, but I’m still waiting for something where she can stand out.

Most of you probably saw this years ago and I’m just now catching up. Those of you who haven’t seen it have probably done so based on the opinions of the rest of your friends who told you to skip it. I’m not gonna change anyone’s minds here, so let’s just move on.

Grade: C-