Judge Dredd tries to do a drug bust. The perpetrators resist. This is, at its core, the plot of the film Dredd, which is based on a comic book series and has previously been made into a film where the titular character was played by Sylvester Stallone. Set in post-apocalyptic North America, in a place called Mega City One, Dredd is the story of one man’s relentless pursuit of law and order. Dredd (Karl Urban), is a Judge, a member of an elite law keeping organization which acts as judge, jury, and executioner for the populace of Mega City One.
Dredd is saddled with a rookie named Cassandra Anderson who is getting her last chance to become a Judge over the course of a day-long test with Dredd. Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) is a psychic who would be a great asset to the Judges, but hasn't managed to squeak by the exam with a passing grade. The pair begin by investigating a triple homicide in the Peach Trees block (a 200 level mega apartment complex) and quickly come into conflict with Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), the crime boss and drug lord who rules the block.
Dredd is a film of unflinching violence. Bullets fly, blood sprays, bodies fall. Dredd is a man with compassion but no mercy. He knows crimes and their punishments and carries them out unflinchingly. Often shot from below or in some way obscured, the visuals and music which surround Dredd are those typically associated with monsters from horror movies. One particularly relevant example is a scene where Dredd moves slowly through a hallway in the block while observed by the terrified residents through the peep-holes of their doors.
Dredd is rated R and with the violence, gore and general harsh nature of the world in which it exists no other rating would do. Watching Dredd I was surprised by just how good a movie it actually was. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes either science fiction or crime stories and who can handle a certain amount of gruesome realism- just don't expect the film to mirror the comic book too closely.
It had been about a million years since I had seen The Song Of Bernadette, so when I saw it on the shelf I jumped at the chance to see it again. I'm really happy I did!
The film is about a teenage peasant girl in mid-1800s France who sees a vision of a beautiful woman, who assures Bernadette that if she carries the message to the townspeople, she will live a pain-free eternal life. Miracles begin happening around her after she spreads the messages from her vision. Everyone around her assumes she is speaking of the Virgin Mary, and that assumption sweeps everyone into the drama. Of course, there are plenty of skeptics, since Bernadette is the only one having visions. She is punished for blasphemous antics. She doesn't give in to the authority figures around her, for the lady told her she was answering a higher call. That faith leads many of her fellow townspeople to stick up for her, even as the non-believers paint her as a liar looking for attention.
Without ruining the ending, I will say this movie is a very inspirational story, based on true events. I highly recommend The Song Of Bernadette. Jennifer Jones gives an Oscar-worthy performance, and a young Vincent Price plays the lead prosecutor in the trial. 9 out of 10 stars from this critic.
In this film, as in reality, the gun is a spy’s last resort, used only when everything else has failed. You will not find explosions or flashy displays of martial arts here as in the James Bond or Jason Bourne films. Rather, you will see spies as they go about the actual business of spying, which is, talking and gathering information. This is not to say at all that the film is boring- it isn’t. The plot is extremely tight, the characters are fascinating and the acting is top notch.
The film focuses on a 1973 investigation of the British intelligence service by one of its former members in an attempt to find a mole. Gary Oldman plays this former agent, George Smiley. Oldman's precise diction and eloquent pauses define the character as an extremely careful man who misses nothing. The supporting cast is excellent as well; each intelligence member has their own quirks and their own story.
Opening with a botched intelligence operation, the film quickly moves through a change of leadership at the British intelligence service (called The Circus by its members) and the ousting of George and his direct supervisor Control (the man who ordered the botched operation). After this, George’s investigation begins and the plot thickens as he must clear each of the remaining leaders of the intelligence service to stop the mole from revealing British secrets to the Russians. The film also contains many flashback scenes which allow the viewer to follow George’s train of thought as he conducts his investigation.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is at all interested in the spy movie genre, as well as anyone who likes films which make them think. The ending of the film is both fascinating and morally complex, and anyone who likes those things in combination should do themselves a favor, and see this film.
Chronicle tells a story of three high school students who stumble upon some sort of extra-terrestrial anomaly in an underground cave in the woods. After barely escaping a cave-in, they find themselves with psychokinetic abilities. One of the three friends comes from a broken home, where his short-tempered father finds excuses to abuse him. He is pushed too far, and he uses his new found powers in a negative and greedy manner. The story follows the ups and downs of the three friends exploring their new powers and the problems that arise when the arrogance of youth is combined with supernatural gifts.
The movie at times makes you wish you were one of the friends in the movie with these powers- especially when they learn that they can fly! The special effects looked really good, and made you feel like you were part of the action.
Overall the movie was good. The final few minutes are the best, and it's definitely worth taking the time to watch Chronicle. If I had to give it a rating, I would give it a 7 out of a possible 10.
New Year's Eve has a giant cast of pretty cool actors. The lights of New York are awe-inspiring, and that is captured well in the film. Otherwise, I thought this movie felt uneven, and none of the actors were really given a chance to shine.
The film is pretty much the same as Valentine's Day, but less charming. It even has some of the same actors, although they aren't playing the same parts. A myriad of people, somewhat entwined, are preparing for New Year's Eve celebrations across the city of New York. Robert DeNiro is appropriately touching, and I would love to see Hilary Swank get to act with him in another movie. That would be powerful! Michelle Pfeiffer is awkwardly dumpy in this film, which is a letdown 'cause she's a MILF, but she was entertaining as this sort of pathetic middle-aged woman. Zac Efron...what happened? He has a face like a baby, but he's supposed to be best friends with Ashton Kutcher- who looks like the bear wearing Kutcher's face in this movie- and Sarah Jessica Parker's brother? He looks like an adult in the trailers for The Lucky One, but in this movie I kept getting grossed out every time he hit on a girl, because he looks like a 12 year old, and talks like one too. Abigail Breslin is still adorable, even though she's definitely not a baby anymore. Expect big things from that one. Halle Berry gets to look sad for a while, even wihle wearing a sexy dress. We see Common and Alyssa Milano for about 45 seconds each- the producers shouldn't have bothered hiring names for those roles, because they didn't get to do anything. The girl who plays Rachel on Glee is in this, and she sings, because what else is she going to do. Her duet with Jon Bon Jovi (they're in separate places) is awful, not in small part because Bon Jovi has to be the worst actor ever to set foot on this planet. Katherine Heigl slapping him is hilarious even though that scene was in the trailer. Her two assistants were really funny- I'd like to see a whole movie about those two! Pretty much everybody else faded into the background. By far the most funny part is during the credits, when Carla Gugino is playing midwife to Jessica Biel's preggo lady, and as Biel seems to be giving birth, a DVD and bluray copy of Valentine's Day come out. Ha!
Basically, if you've already seen Valentine's Day, just watch Love Actually, the movie they're all stealing from.
Let me start this review by getting something out of the way: this is not a “good” movie. The plot is full of holes and many characters seemingly lack motivation for their actions. But let’s face it, you’re not going to see a Conan movie for a tight plot and fully fleshed characters; you’re seeing a Conan movie for the violence, and on that front, this film delivers.
This film is jam packed with violence, barbarians, pirates, monks, armies and more as they spill each others' blood in varying locations. Throughout it all there is some semblance of a plot concerning Conan being swept up in the resurrection of an evil sorceress. But ultimately this plot is simply an excuse for more violence (and a small love story).
The fighting in this film is very well done, as might be expected from a film with so much of it. The fights look convincing and Conan does not escape all of them uninjured. Likewise the special effects are high quality and add to the viewer’s immersion into the world. The acting, on the other hand, is much more hit or miss. Jason Momoa acts well as Conan, sticking to simple emotions and primal fury, which fit the character well. Stephen Lang is likewise good as Khalar Zym, the principle villain. The acting in general falls off from there: although there are some other performances that are good, the majority are less so.
The film is highly deserving of its R rating, both for violence and for nudity.
Ultimately, the film is fun to watch and the bloodthirst is enthralling. If you were already thinking of seeing Conan I would recommend you do so. If it’s not a film that was on your radar, then it would probably be a good one to avoid.
Anna and Jacob meet in college in Los Angeles, and rather quickly move from mutual attraction to love to symbiosis to codependency. When Anna overstays her visa and then goes to a family function back in England, she finds she will not be permitted to re-enter the US, which puts the lovebirds in a pretty difficult position. Throughout the film, they must attempt to learn to be apart, all while dealing with all the other parts of adulthood. There is a heartbreak and a glorious memory for everyone who has ever loved in here.
Technically, I loved this film. It's slow paced but well edited, and the cinematography is beautiful and thought out to the smallest detail. The cast is great (River Song! Charlie Bartlett! Katniss!), and the two lead actors do a particularly good job at capturing and holding the viewer's attention.
Like Crazy is the purest snapshot of that first, horrible, gorgeous, all-encompassing love experience. Unfortunately, I found the ending unnecessarily jarring, because it was so very real. Most people watch a film to get away from their own life to a certain extent, and there was no stretch here- nothing to take the viewer away from themselves. Instead, I felt as though I'd been left hanging at the end of a friend's involved story. If I watch it again, I'll make sure and turn it off 4 minutes before the "end."
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, is about a little boy named Oskar who has lost his father in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. A year after that traumatic event, Oskar begins going through his father's things and finds a mysterious key. Overcome with curiousity and missing the reconnaissance missions his father used to send him on, Oskar sets out on an adventure, taking months and travelling all over New York City in search of whatever the key may unlock.
This story is beautifully heartbreaking. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are wonderful as Oskar's outgoing, amiable father and his mother, struggling but so strong. Zoe Caldwell, Max von Sydow, John Goodman, Viola Davis, and many more vibrant actors populate this world of family members and friends and strangers and pieces of the puzzle. But, most of all, Thomas Horn in the lead role is astounding. His portrayal of this grieving child, who is also almost certainly on the autism spectrum, is so exquisite, so detailed, so evolved, that I have trouble even after finishing the film thinking of him as anyone but Oskar Schell.
Fantastic work by Stephen Daldry (who also directed Billy Elliot and The Hours), the extensive cast, and what must be a great crew, who pulled off an entertaining film where you'll actually laugh and cry, and who never once make you feel like you're watching a Lifetime special. Bravo.
The Greatest is the story of a family attempting to overcome the loss of the eldest child, Bennet (Aaron Johnson). That awful situation is compounded when Rose (Carey Mulligan) shows up on their doorstep, pregnant with Bennett's baby. Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan play Allen and Grace, Bennett's parents, with Johnny Simmons as his younger brother Ryan.
This film is so realistic in its portrayal of the journey through grief that you'll hate it as you love it. At the start, we meet Bennett in the hours leading up to his death. I knew what was going to happen, and it was still shocking. What follows is a heartbreaking cycle, where Allen stares away the nighttime hours, Grace wakes up to the horrifying knowledge of her lost son each morning and bursts into tears, and Ryan chemically deadens himself to zombie-walk through his days. When Rose arrives, with her sad smiles and her future in disarray, Grace hates her, Ryan taunts her, and Allen invests his time in her, understanding that his son can, in some form, live on through Rose's child. They all struggle in their own ways: Allen is passive and stoic, refusing to discuss anything involving his children; Grace is desperate and searching constantly for answers; Ryan douses himself in drugs and attempts to find solace in a girl (Zoe Kravitz) from the support group he has joined, but doesn't participate in. The overall effect is a slap in the face, an ice-water-on-your-head reminder of the kind of sadness you hope you never experience, but almost inevitably will. Thankfully, there is hope in this harsh situation, and you'll leave the film feeling as though things must get better.
I went into Flypaper knowing absolutely nothing about it other than "McDreamy gets caught in a bank robbery." As soon as the credits began to roll, so did my eyes. They seemed poorly done and disconnected. However, when the film actually began, I was pleasantly surprised to see Ashley Judd. For starters, the film has quite the cast. I was surprised to see Octavia Jones (The Help), Mekhi Phifer (O), and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou). It seemed like it may be one of those star-studded movies where nobody has enough room to act, but there was just enough drama and more than enough comedy to give everyone a moment to shine.
The film takes place over a short period of time when not one but two groups decide to rob the same bank at the same time. It was nice to see Patrick Dempsey in a wacky, physical role versus his usual cerebral leading-man shtick on Grey's Anatomy. The story takes off right away when Darren and his professional team bust into a bank at the same time amateur thieves Peanut Butter and Jelly break in. A few deaths and many zany twists later, and the chaos has become a mystery as well.
Flypaper is a fast-paced dramedy that is Sherlock Holmes meets Monk meets The Bank Job meets Clue. I highly recommend if you ever want a funny whodunnit. The violence is fairly PG and there's not much in the way of adult language, so it's safe to watch with older kids as well.
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