Monday, March 01, 2010

some movie reviews

hey everyone

well, over the weekend we got to see two (relatively) new films, so to celebrate i figured i'd post some musings on both. be warned, though, for there is, as ever, *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD ***

first up is a film from late last year, Law Abiding Citizen. we have had numerous recommendations for it, and Michele wished to see it ever since we saw a trailer for it somewhere or other.

in short, the plot focuses on a man (Gerard Butler) who loses his family in a rather brutal attack and is left bewildered at the way in which the case against the culprits is handled by a lawyer more concerned with his conviction rate than seeking actual justice (Jamie Foxx). flash forward ten years and Gerard Butler starts obtaining, for want of a better term, revenge - not only against the criminals, but the lawyers and everyone else part of the "system" which apparently failed him.

i am still unsure if i actually liked, or rather appreciated this film. on the one side it's rather easy to dismiss this film as an attempt to turn Gerard Butler into some sort of "thinking man's Jason Statham", if we take 'thinking' in the broadest sense. on the other, the film appears to aspire to some lofty values and statement making in regards of the American criminal justice system; values it rarely shows and a statement that remains somewhat unclear.

the film does not adopt a linear 'assault - no justice - revenge' approach of a film like Death Wish, nor does it ever reach the heights of the moral ambiguities of the "victims" as so brilliantly portrayed in Se7en. it does on a number of occasions delve into the really trashy, repulsive and horrid exploitation realm of "revenge" films like the infamous I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House On The Left, something as odd as it is disappointing considering the impressive array of talent assembled.

the biggest problem with the film is that for the first 90 minutes the audience is subjected to some rather brutal, disturbing imagery with genuine moments of suspense. the nerves invested in this are betrayed by the final 30 minutes or so, in which you get one of the flattest, weakest endings ever made in the history of cinema.

Gerard Butler is very much moving into the Clive Owen category of "any film with him in has to be at least watchable", if he is somewhat lacking in Mr Owen's skill at picking more good films than bad. Jamie Foxx, however, does his bland looking serious gaze in this film and very little else. for an actor who has so much promise, exemplified in his thoroughly deserved Oscar for Ray, best he start doing what he can do rather than what he can get away with sooner rather than later, otherwise he may wish to look at the Cuba Gooding jnr career path to see his future.

so, should you bother seeing Law Abiding Citizen? difficult to say, really. there's a very good chance that all who wish to see it have done so already. it's not a date movie, it isn't a film to tell you anything that hasn't already been said of the strange ways of the American legal system and, unless you are deranged, it isn't really what you would call entertainment. see it (if you haven't) if you are a fan of either of the lead actors, but otherwise i would imagine practically anything else on the shelf is a good deal more pleasant to watch.

jumping to the other side of the spectrum with the next film is certainly the case with an animated feature from the much loved film studio Handmade Films, Planet 51. we thought James might quite like it, so we gave it a try. all of us loved it, i think at one point even William was looking at it and giggling!

plot? it's your basic case of an alien landing on a planet and trying to work out the civilization they have landed within. the "twist" is that this time around it's a human from Earth that has landed on a different planet, rather than the usual alien comes to Earth thing. nice twist, surprised no one has done it before...

oh, there are many, many flaws in the film if you want to nitpick. somehow this alien planet has developed exactly like 1950s America, for a start. the planet, presumably named 51, also appears to have the same atmosphere and gravitational system as Earth, which is kind of odd considering how differently the inhabitants have 'evolved', as it were.

and would we - yes, even the Americans - really send an astronaut 20 billion light years away when they are clearly of an intellectually challenged nature? i mean, how else do you explain an astronaut "not noticing" that they are in the middle of suburban bliss when they whack a great big flag into the surface of the new planet?

there are far, far, far too many funny moments in the film to complain, though. whereas it was somewhat disappointing to hear Gary Oldman being so restrained in his voice performance as General Grawl (the name a reference to the fact that he was almost the voice of General Grievous in Star Wars Episode III?), John Cleese is staggeringly brilliant as the baffling yet apparently brilliant Professor Kipple.

the numerous references to other, more adult orientated science fiction films are sheer genius and far more subtle for a children-filled audience than the likes of Madagascar and Shrek, and i will forgive any faults and flaws in the film that you care to name just because it features the brilliant, wonderful "alien dog".

Planet 51 is a must-see for any and all lovers of science fiction films. a skimpy yet coherent plot helps move along what feels like a longer than usual animated film, and you can't help but be entertained and laugh out loud at it.

hope these reviews are of some use to someone somewhere!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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