Michael Clayton – Review

You know those small, indie movies George Clooney makes? I’m convinced I’m too stupid for them. The last one I saw was Syriana. It was very well made, but I thought there were about ten too many plotlines. By the end I had no clue what was going on.

I thought the very same thing with Michael Clayton. There are only a few plotlines, so that’s good. But by the end, I had no idea what the heck was going on and why people were acting the way they were. Why was George Clooney looking at horses? Why was Tilda Swinton sweating so much? Why were the credits rolling?

From the interviews, Clooney sounds like a pretty smart guy, so I take the blame for not getting his movies. From now on, it’s only Ocean’s 14 for me.

One sad bit of trivia about this movie is that it’s one of Sydney Pollack’s last movies. Yeah, I had no idea who he was until I saw his picture this week. But I bet you didn’t either, right?

I have no idea how to review this one. It’s well acted and the plot seems like it’s good, but I just couldn’t follow along with it. If you see it and like it, can you please let me know what it was all about? Thanks.

Grade: D

Narnia: Prince Caspian – Review

Alright! I caught my first big summer movie with Prince Caspian. Even though I read the book three years ago, I remember very little about the story. That might actually be a good thing since my knowledge of The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe detracted from my movie experience. I thought they handled the first one well, but the few changes they made annoyed me. With Prince Caspian, I went in with a fresh(er) set of eyes.

So how is it? Great. Like the Harry Potter films, the sequel is deeper, more “grown up” and thus, a better film. It also helps that the kids are a bit older and less annoying than before. I’m not sure if I should thank C.S. Lewis or the director, but the dwarf character saved many of the annoying scenes with his deadpan delivery.

Another great casting choice is Reepicheep. Eddie Izzard voices the mouse and he couldn’t be more perfect. Granted, I did want him to ask a soldier if he had a flag. Reep has a larger role in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my favorite of the Narnia series), so I can’t wait to see it in 2010.

By now everyone knows that Lewis wrote the Narnia series as Christian allegory. It was blatantly obvious in LWW, but here, I thought it was toned down a bit. Other than the overall theme of waiting on God, the only direct allegory I caught was Lucy’s woodland meeting with Aslan. I remember getting a lot more out of that scene in the book.

Even though it’s PG, the parents in our entourage felt it was too violent for kids. I’m a horrible gauge for that, so take it for what you will.

If you like the Narnia series, you’ll love this one. It’s a better, deeper story and well worth your time.

Grade: A

Solarbabies – Review

Pop quiz, Hotshot. It’s late on a Friday night. You’re hanging with your friends and one suggests you watch a cheesy 80s movie. What do you do? What do you do?

The obvious answer is to get new friends. This isn’t always doable due to blackmail issues, but it should be your lofty goal.

So it was last Friday that my friends (who must remain that way due to the reason above) watched Solarbabies. Yeah, we’d never heard of it either, but with a name like that how could we resist?

Like all 80s cheesefests, the title has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. Yeah, there’s not really a plot either, but what there is has nothing to do with infants born from the sun’s rays. Instead you get a post-apocalyptic story about orphans who find a glowing orb. This orb then gives them visions of skinny-dipping in the ocean. Why are they orphans? What happened to all the water? Bah, stop worrying about stupid details like that. This is the 80s, man.

And to prove to you just how 80s this is, let me describe the opening scene. A small child (Lukas Haas) scurries under some secret tunnel and finds a glowing orb. He stashes it away and proceeds to flip a large switch that illuminates a huge, concrete arena. Two teams of roller hockey players (complete with flashlights on their skates) emerge from the tunnels and start a game. Far above, a mysterious figure (Nathan Patrelli from Heroes) with his pet owl and sideways pony tail watch the game..mysteriously. Who is this man? Why does everyone have roller skates with flashlights? Why does everyone like roller hockey? It’s the 80s, man.

This movie is so obscure, I’m proud of myself for even finding a poster of it. Thank you, internets. You’re the best.

Surprisingly, this has some famous faces in it. Other than Lukas Haas and Nathan Patrelli, Jami Gertz and Jason Patric (before he graduated to Speed 2) are also Solarbabies.

…and so my Speed references come full circle.

Grade: F

If you want a great, cheesy 80s flick: A

Walk Hard – Review

Usually, spoof flicks have some movie prerequisites you need to see before you get the jokes. Otherwise, you’ll just laugh at the movie because you think you’re supposed to.

Fortunately, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story only spoofs two movies: Walk the Line and Ray. Both of those are excellent, so if you haven’t caught ’em, do so. But not back-to-back.

Let me explain.

Musical biopics follow a predictable pattern. The movie starts in childhood with some horrible tragedy. The star rises to fame. Drugs and divorce bring the star to the edge. The star finally recognizes his weaknesses and rises yet again with a final, musical equivalent of “Happily Ever After.”

When I saw the trailers for Walk Hard, I thought, “Oh, maybe they’ll make this pattern funny. Wait, Ricky Bobby’s friend is starring? Really? Oh this is gonna suck hard.”

And I was right. You’ll notice from the poster that this is a Judd Apatow movie. That means you’re in for two hours of Cox jokes. Lots and lots of Cox jokes. There was a single funny moment with The Beatles (They show up in the Drug section of the story). I won’t spoil it (as a gift to you who have to suffer through this), but it’s the one highlight.

Skip this one and if you have already seen it, I’m sorry.

Grade: D

We Own the Night – Review

Remember when The Departed came out and won all those Oscars? And you know how Hollywood likes to copy anything that’s successful? Well Einstein, you should have known We Own the Night was coming before Scorsese finished his acceptance speech.

In The Departed, the two main stars are on opposite sides of the law. Both happen to be cops with one undercover. In We Own the Night, the two main stars are on opposite side of the law, but they are brothers. See? It’s different.

The Departed has ultra-realistic gunplay and violence. We Own the Night has super-ultra-realistic gunplay and even more violence. Oh, and it adds a car chase.

Mark Wahlberg stars as a hard, no nonsense cop in The Departed. In We Own the Night, Mark Wahlberg stars as a hard, no nonsense cop…with a brother.

So you can see, We Own the Night is a totally different movie. No seriously, it is different. It’s worse.

I’ve heard that it’s not fair to compare one movie against another. Each movie must stand on its own, right? Wrong. If Hollywood goes out of its way to blatantly rip off another movie, isn’t it only fair to compare that effort to the original? I think so.

If you’ve never seen The Departed, you need to watch it first. If you saw it and thought, “Man, I wish Mark Wahlberg’s character was in another movie!” go watch We Own the Night.

Grade: C