Thursday, September 23, 2010

Movie: The Road (3/5 stars) (2009)

"The Road" stars Viggo Mortgenson as "man" and Kodi Smit-McPhee as "boy". There are no names at all in the movie. There was a "woman", played by Charlize Theron and lots of other parts like "bearded man", "thief" and "old man" etc...

The movie is a post apocalyptic science fiction movie. I can only assume that it is set in the future, but it may have been set in the past - it's hard to tell. There is only devastation and barren waste everywhere in the movie.

The story is simple. A man and a boy are wandering the wasteland headed south for no reason except that they are looking for the ocean and hopefully something better than what they left behind. They meet some people and see some screwed up crap and you quickly get the idea that the world is not what we are used to. This isn't "The Book of Eli", where there is a quite thick veil of bullshit over the entire movie. This feels REAL.

Despite its simplicity, each scene is thick with detail and has real impact. The psychology of the situation is evident constantly and the concepts of "hunger", "loneliness", "happiness" and "friendly" are violently twisted into new meanings.

The movie does nothing to explain the apocalypse itself, i.e. what happened or why. It isn't part of the focus. We don't know if there was nuclear holocaust, a disease or aliens, we just know that we're here and it's dire.

In many ways brilliant, but at the same time, depressing and and unsatisfying. You go away impressed at the quality of the acting, directing and cinematography, but don't really know the point of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movie: Salt (2/5 stars) (2010)

Get ready for Jasina Bourne, except not as good as Jason.

This is a run-of-the-mill action/spy movie staring Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent with a mysterious past. It was gimmicky action, with attempts at doing what no other movie had done, something that's become cliche in its attempt to avoid cliches. The worst was Salt using a taser to make someone press the gas pedal on a police car - it was just too ridiculous to keep a viewer watching without rolling their eyes.

I really have nothing more to say about this one. It's just not worth your time. I am glad that I saw it on cheap night, otherwise, I would have felt ripped off completely.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Movie: Inception (3.5/5 stars) (2010)

On the way back from my recent holiday in Canada, schedules didn't work and I ended up with 2 days in Los Angeles. I watched Inception in Santa Monica at a crappy little theater called the Santa Monica 7. Pretty much any Wellington theater is better. The seats had almost no incline and we were hoping (against hope apparently) that no tall people would end up sitting in front of us.

Enough about the theater itself, on to the movie.

There is lots that is great about the movie. The concept, people stealing ideas in shared dreams, is immediately interesting to a science fiction fan. I liked the action scenes, the special effects (especially the weightless scene - very cool), and almost all the characters. My favorite scene has to be the kick, kick, kick sequence which I will say no more about.

Leonardo DiCaprio is consistently good. I know he gets labeled as a bad actor, since he is a teen heart throb and ends up in Hollywood blockbusters regularly, but he has starred in a string of good movies that are all worth watching (Shutter Island, Revolutionary Road, Body of Lies, Blood Diamond, The Departed and The Aviator to go back only 6 years). His body of work is solid and I will watch anything he stars in.

Ellen Page , on the other hand, has a reputation of being a great up-and-comer. I love that she's from Halifax, where I lived more than 10 years, but I don't get the big fuss over her. She's good, but I find that she is a little off in most of her movies (there are LOTS) and I can't quite put my finger on it. Still - she's today's superstar and ended up in this movie.

All the other main actors do their job well. The directing is good - it tells the story clearly and simply (despite the many twists and turns and the levels of dreams).

The problem for me was the writing. I've written a lot of first drafts. I know what a first draft feels like and there is lots in this movie that feels like a first draft. It seems that Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb is the only person who knows everything about dreams and when something surprising happens, Leo throws out another gotcha that no one else knew about. These are just rough edges that could have been smoother, and it feels like the dream "physics" was just made up on the spot and never revised or made consistent. It's a slap in the face since it happens so often in the middle of the action and is no where near as clean as everything else in the movie.

It could have been The Matrix all over again. It tries to be, but fails. Too bad - I would have loved another Matrix.