Tag Archives: 2012

‘Argo’: Saved by the Beard of Ben Affleck!

What makes us proud to be Americans? I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, and to be quite honest, I really don’t know how excited I should be to belong to the US of A. The economic woes of the past 4 years has really led us to be pretty ho-hum on patriotism and national pride. There seems to be this prevailing idea that our glory days are behind us, that the empire is now on the downward slide, and many of us have even resigned ourselves to the evidence that soon China is going to be the big kid on the block. This terrifies some of us, reigniting feelings of fear that we haven’t felt since the Commie-hunting days of McCarthyism.

Then there was the election (thank goodness it’s over!), in which both sides of the aisle did their part to even further the apparent gaps that exist in the politics of America. There was a time where democracy was meant to unite the people, and be a joy to participate in, because we were the one’s deciding our future; we were given a voice. But it has become a nasty affair that does not promote unity, but causes people of differing views and opinions to go at each other’s throats. When did Facebook become the megaphone for dissent? Who came up with the idea to flood the internet with hate and ignorance?

Okay… Getting off my soap box now…

What I’m saying is this; sometimes when the chips are down, and people have trouble finding a common identity, we need a hero to rally around to give us something that we all can root for. We need a story that we can all be proud of, something that makes us want to stand up in our seats and cheer loudly for freedom, like Uncle Sam taught us to! (drumroll……)

Enter stage left, Ben Affleck and his gnarly beard.

In November of 1979, the United States Embassy in Tehran was invaded by militant Iranian revolutionaries, where they quickly took control of the facility and captured 56 American citizens as hostages. Angered by the decision of President Carter to grant asylum to the former Shah of Iran, who was thrown from power by means of revolution, the revolutionaries made the promise that until the Shah was given back to the Iranians to face trial and execution, the Americans would remain prisoners of the Iranian people. The whole world was watching, and tensions built on both sides as attempts of diplomacy failed over and over agin.

But, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, six American citizens escaped from the embassy during the raid, and found refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. This handful of people were now stranded in Tehran, a city that was becoming a powder keg of violence, living in constant fear that if they were to be found out, they would be killed in the streets.

‘Argo’ is the true life story of CIA officer Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), and how by impersonating a film crew for a B-rate Sci-Fi film, he led a mission to extract these six Americans safely out of Tehran. Written by Chris Terrio and brilliantly directed Ben Affleck, ‘Argo’ is not only intriguing and engrossing, but it is also the best two hours of entertainment that you will be able to find in a movie theater. Edge of your seat suspense, coupled with moments that will make you grin from ear to ear, make this one a Hollywood gem; an instant classic.

In my mind, ‘Argo’ really does something amazing. Right from the word ‘go’ it captures us with the raid on the embassy in Tehran, which I am willing to say in November, is the most compelling scene of film that was released this year. It keeps the audience engaged in the excitement, gripping at the conclusion of the film, and it does this without the bullets and bombs that are usually necessary to keep people interested. The climax is done the old fashioned way, by setting the stage of danger in Iran, creating characters that we share common ground with, and forces them to accomplish a feat that is, to both the viewer and the characters, seemingly impossible. Who would have thought that real espionage could be this wonderful?

The strengths of this movie are everywhere, but it starts with a great script by Terrio, who is able to take this big event from our history, and give an adaptation that makes us feel as though we are right back in the middle of the crisis itself. The dialogue is snappy and fresh, filled with purpose, and is all about the storyline, getting us from point A to point B with style and ferocity. But it’s not only the story that makes the writing marvelous, but it is also Terrio’s attention to creating great characters, how through moments of revealing dialogue, the audience begins to like these people more and more with every passing frame.

But we can’t give Terrio all the credit for creating great characters; you have to throw praise in the direction of the actors, and ‘Argo’ showcases performances in both lead and supporting roles, making this is very strong ensemble cast. I’ve seen bits and pieces of criticism of Affleck’s performance in ‘Argo’, and after seeing it twice, it’s obvious to me that they were not watching the same movie that I was. Affleck is a spot on lead, giving us a hero we believe in, an underdog of a spie. What’s not to like? And positive reviews have been falling from the sky for these two actors, but not enough can be said about John Goodman and Alan Arkin, who play Hollywood big-wigs John Chambers and Lester Siegal. Goodman is witty with pitch perfect delivery, understanding the importance of adding levity to a very intense film, and Arkin just steals the show through his attitude, showing that age doesn’t slow down a great actor. Arkin is a shoe-in for another Oscar nomination, and rightfully so, although the Supporting Actor field is going to be jam-packed this year.

But it’s not just Affleck, Arkin, and Goodman that give memorable roles in ‘Argo’; the whole movie hinges on the actors and actresses playing the American refugees, who are given a very tricky task. By giving to much visible emotion, the characters would seem cowardly and exaggerated, and by not giving enough, the film would ring false, but these six actors and actresses strike the chord between fearful and courageous. Specifically, Scoot McNairy gives a dynamite performance as the cynical Joe Stafford. Although the audience is at first resistant to Stafford, there are some very powerful moments where we realize that this is a man that wants to protect his wife, as well as someone who feels an intense amount of guilt for putting her in this situation. This can all be attributed to the subtleties of McNairy (who I’m excited to see in ‘Killing Them Softly’ next week).

However, the one prevailing thought that I had after seeing ‘Argo’ was ‘Wow, that Ben Affleck guy sure can make a good movie.’ After seeing ‘Gone Baby Gone’, ‘The Town’, and ‘Argo’, it is pretty obvious to me that the guy has an immense amount of talent, and I’m so happy that he has finally found his place behind the camera, where I think he is best suited. For a while, the joke of the day was always how Matt Damon was probably the real mastermind behind ‘Good Will Hunting’, and Affleck really just put his name on the thing, alluding that Damon was obviously the better actor. But, in the end, Damon might be the better actor, but Affleck is the better movie maker. Now that we’ve seen his expert understanding of character, story, theme, and entertainment, are we so sure that Damon wasn’t the one mooching all along?

What I really love about ‘Argo’ is that it showed us something that we did right; how we were able to save lives without violence, and how we were able to use our creativity to solve the problems that the world throws our way. I love how no matter what you believe about today’s America, we can agree that what was accomplished by Tony Mendez in Tehran was nothing short of miraculous, and it’s something that should make us proud to be Americans… and Canadians.

My Note: ‘Argo’ is simply a Hollywood gem; an instant classic!

My Grade: A+

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Stuck In The ‘Looper’ With You

In 1985, Robert Zemeckis became the “talk of the town” when he, along with Universal Studios, released a mainstream summer flick that was simply titled ‘Back to the Future.’ It had teen heart-throb Michael J. Fox, a catchy song by Huey Lewis and The News, and special-effects that were totally ahead of its time. What people expected to be a fun, “popcorn” movie, ended up becoming a fully fledged pop-culture phenomena. And sure, I am a little biased; ‘Back to the Future’ is one of my favorite movies of all time (check out our ‘Top 10 Lists’ link at the top of your page), but I really do think that when it comes to science fiction, humor, excitement, entertainment, and making the perfect ‘time-travel’ movie, ‘Back to the Future’ nails it.

I only write the above paragraph of geeky fan-boy praise to bring this up; in my mind, ever since the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise was wrapped up, the ‘time travel’ movie has really been done to death, often producing less than stellar results. I always hope that I’ll walk out with the same magic that Zemeckis gave me, but I usually end up burying my head in my hands, asking ‘Hello? McFly?’

Every once in awhile, you’ll get a ‘Groundhog Day’ or ’12 Monkeys’, which give you hope that a good time jumper movie is still possible; but for every good one, there is about 10 bad ones out there; ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, ‘Terminator’ 3 and 4, ‘The Time Machine (2002)’, ‘The Butterfly Effect’, ‘Clockstoppers’ (I must abandon my nostalgia and be objective on this one), ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ (don’t try to prove to me that this is a good movie. It’s garbage. Watch it again, I promise it doesn’t hold up over time), and I could go on… for a while. I get it, I understand that there is the difference between a time travel movie that is serious and one that is a comedy, but goodness, why does your time travel movie have to be eulogy or completely idiotic? ‘Donnie Darko’ makes you want to jump off your own roof, and ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ makes you want to flee from the theater.

It’s the list of sub-par movies above that make you want to look up to the heavens and thank somebody when a movie like ‘Looper’ comes around. Not only is it a great work of sci-fi, taking a totally different angle on an overdone concept, but ‘Looper’ is also one of the most wildly entertaining, thought provoking, unique, and thrilling movies you can spend your money on. And when I say thrilling, I mean the ‘adrenaline shot to your aortic valve’ kind of thrilling.

The film is titled ‘Looper,’ but it is also the profession of our central character. The year is 2044, and Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper; and what does that mean? Well, here’s where it starts to get complicated. You see, in 2044, time travel has yet to be invented, but in thirty years time travel does exist, and although it is illegal, the mob uses this technology to send their enemies back in time. When their targets arrive, a looper is already waiting for them with a loaded gun, and kills the hooded victims on sight.

This is how the racket works if you’re a looper; you kill the victims that are sent from future, receiving payment in bars of silver for every kill, until one day your future-self appears in front of you. Doing what you’re trained to do, you kill the target on sight, effectively killing your future-self. “This is called ‘closing your loop’.” This is how these future mobsters end your contract, making it as though you never existed in the first place. When you ‘close your loop’, you’re given a lottery-sized pay day and an early retirement. You also get 30 more years to live until, of course, you are sent back in time to be killed, by yourself.

Our story really gets rolling when our “hero,” Joe, lets his target get away. Normally, this would just be a minor problem, except the man that escaped is Joe, from the future (played wonderfully by Bruce Willis). Now, present Joe is trying to hunt and kill his future self, future Joe is trying to change the future, and Joe’s employers are trying to wipe the both of them, present and future, off the map.

Watch future Joe escape! Click here!

Sadly, this is really all that I want to summarize about the plot of ‘Looper’. So much of this movie really depends on the element of surprise and experiencing all of the mind-bending twists and turns, and as always, I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone.

Now, don’t let the schematics of ‘Looper’ scare you off. Although it takes a few moments to get into it, the action quickly gets rolling and the logic of it all begins to make sense, and the pay-off for this one is huge. It is clear that storytelling is the primary objective for up-and-coming director Rian Johnson, and this objective was reached and then some. I haven’t read the screenplay first hand, but I’m sure that ‘Looper’ is nothing short of a writing gem (Johnson also being the writer of the script.)

Another decision that I think really set this movie apart was the choice to have two separate actors play the same character, the present and future Joe. Although criticized by some, I one-hundred percent support Johnson’s decision to rely on the acting abilities of Gordon-Levitt and Willis to bring this character to life.

Using a very clever make-up job, JGL takes on an entirely different face, and an entirely different persona for that matter. In ‘Looper’, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really pushed to go beyond his usual character and create a frustratingly neutral, and often unlikable young man. The more I think about it, the character of young Joe really establishes the reality of ‘Looper’; the reality that there are no good guys, and there are no bad guys. Every person in this story has their own motives, their own desires that they are desperate to defend. Maybe that’s what makes this film so flippin’ exciting.

On the flip-side, Willis’ take on Joe is nothing short of marvelous. He takes the groundwork that his younger co-star has given him, and builds a character that is both determined and sorrowful. In one particular scene, where the two Joeys sit down to chat for the first time, Willis brings the movie to a total halt by being the energy behind a commanding bit of dialogue. In all seriousness, this scene, which take place in a vacant country diner, may be the best thing you watch on a screen this year. Don’t miss it.

The best advice I can give you; Go to your local RedBox, Blockbuster, Netflix, or On-Demand provider and check out ‘Looper’ on December 31, when its released on DVD and Blu-Ray. If you hate it, I’ll refund your money myself. Just call my secretary, and they’ll iron out the details.

My Note: Looper is as unique as it is entertaining. You’ll want to go back in time just to see it again.

My Grade: A

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‘The Master’ Of The House

Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a young World War II Navy man, returns from sea to a changing America, a world that is very different than the place he had called home. Like most men who returned from “over there,” Freddie tries to “fit in” the post-war society by finding a job. He becomes a photographer in a department store, and although he enjoys the company of one particular sales girl, he gets fired for drunkenly assaulting a customer. After his disappointing change in employment, Freddie finds work on a cabbage farm, until his own alcoholic concoction of paint thinner and jet fuel poisons an elderly co-worker. Freddie is then ran out of town.

Quite simply, Freddie Quell is a mess. Violent, sexually obsessed, and an alcoholic in the most extreme sense (the guy drinks straight Drain-O for goodness sakes,) for the prologue scenes of Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’, Freddie is as aimless as a ship without a sail, an automobile without a steering wheel.

However, one night during his drunken wandering, this walking disaster finds his way onto the ship of Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd is a writer, doctor, theoretical philosopher, nuclear physicist, and a ‘hopelessly inquisitive man.’ But more importantly, Dodd is a leader of an American spiritual movement known as ‘The Cause,’ which seeks to abandon the trauma and pain of past lives in order to find happiness, meaning, fulfillment, love, etc. In short, you take one part L. Ron Hubbard, one part Philip Seymour Hoffman, you end up getting Lancaster Dodd, and also a pretty convincing 20th century cult. Instead of drinking the Kool-Aid of Jonestown, the followers of The Cause drink in the words of their Master, who is as eccentric as he is charismatic. Hoffman exudes the righteous confidence that not only brings this character to life, but makes Dodd seem as realistic as any religious figure that there ever has been.

‘The Master’ centers around the relationship between Freddie and Dodd. The man who seemingly has all the answers, and another that seems to be the human incarnation of a giant question mark. Dodd becomes fascinated with Freddie, convinced that he knows him from some sort of past existence, that somehow Freddie had known the Master long before he had stowed away on his ship. The Master puts Freddie through a period of intense psychological analysis, what Dodd calls ‘Processing’, in which he asks Freddie questions of his life’s previous experiences. Through this interrogation, we find out that Freddie is even more troubled than we had originally thought; a dead father, an institutionalized mother, a shameful sexual encounter with his aunt, and a love that he abandoned when he left for the war. We discover this past trauma, and lost love, and the root of most of Freddie’s dysfunction.

Dodd decides that Freddie must join The Cause in their travels, even though Dodd’s wife (Amy Adams) and other disciples remain skeptical of this unstable outsider. Freddie continues a pattern of boozing and violence, assaulting a man who debates with the Master at a dinner party, as well as getting arrested while trying to defend Dodd against a group of policeman. It becomes apparent to the following and to the audience that, despite the ‘treatment’ and attention he is receiving from this pseudo-spiritual guru, Freddie is not getting better. He remains an incredibly flawed, broken person.

As the story continues, it is also revealed to us that Dodd, this so-called Master, is also plagued with ethical shortcomings and a great many moral contradictions. His own son claims that he is a fraud, simply improvising his spiritual revelations, and when his latest book is published, Dodd is criticized by both his close friends and his followers. As the audience, Anderson clearly reveals to us that the Master is a slave to his own moral piety; seemingly a prisoner to his own philosophies.

But make no mistake; through all the complexity and thematic symbolism, ‘The Master’ truly is about the relationship between Mentor and Disciple; The Master and the Student. But it really is more than this. There is authentic friendship, and even deep love between Freddie and Dodd. Not only was Freddie lost before meeting Dodd, we come to believe that Dodd himself wasn’t fulfilled until encountering Freddie as well. It’s as if Freddie represents everything that the Master is seeking to do away with, but he simply cannot leave it behind. He is still attached to his vices, and the relationship with Freddie, although fulfilling, seems to be destroying him.

Anderson is truly a craftsman when it comes to filmmaking; an in-depth artist and director in equal parts. The way the film is shot, acted, and written truly is mesmerizing. As a viewer, I was enthralled by ‘The Master,’ and as much as I explained above about the actual plot and my own interpretation of the meaning, it is obvious to me that I have merely scratched the surface when it comes to fully understanding it entirely. It really is a movie that is so dense and complex, you truly could write a novel discussing everything that puts it together. Like Anderson’s 2008 film ‘There Will Be Blood,’ ‘The Master’ not only demands a second viewing; your brain is already shouting to see it again as you walk out of the theater.

That being said, with all the praise that I give this film, and as amazing as much of it is, ‘The Master’ is not without its own moral ambiguity on top muddled sexual imagery. I feel that there are a few scenes where the audience is truly lost, wondering of the purpose behind certain storytelling decisions. While Freddie is obviously a sexually driven person, Anderson plunges us head-first into his depravity, leaving us covered in his perverse ugliness. Also, the ending of the film leaves us asking, “What was it all about?” Perhaps this was Anderson’s intent. We, like Freddie Quell, find that the more we are immersed in this cult culture, the less that we truly understand, and we, also like Freddie, end up coming out of the experience more confused than changed. However, this ambiguity is really my own qualm with what is otherwise an incredible movie.

One last note on ‘The Master’: I truly believe that in this movie, Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman have given performances that may be the best of their career, and also will end up being the best two performances you will see this year. They own the screen with such ferocity, at times leaving us awestruck. Too bad for both of them though, because Phoenix openly hates AMPAS and everything connected to the Oscars, so I feel that neither of them will truly get the recognition that they deserve.

“It’s total, utter bulls***, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other … It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world.” -Joaquin Phoenix on the Oscars

Sometimes, bro, you just gotta keep your mouth shut.

My Note: Despite it’s moral ambiguity and complexity, ‘The Master’ is nothing short of brilliant.

My Grade: A- (This grade will most likely change over time. I need a second viewing, and I feel as I grow in understanding, this movie will just get better to me. Putting a grade on this thing is like grading a Picasso painting; it wasn’t meant to be done.”

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

Can this really be the best and most exotic?

“I have a dream to create a home for the elderly so wonderful that they will simply refuse to die”

What if we lived in a world where every man had a British accent? How absolutely wonderful would that be…..if only it were true. I mean come on. The female population would be more inclined to settle down with a dreamy man who could woo them with that bloody brilliant speech. Besides being incredibly attractive speakers, the World of Brits seems more at large as of late. Maybe it’s due to the Olympics taking place in London. Not only are they hits with their cunning speech and location, but they’ve also found a place in the spotlight on television screens. It seems like the Brits are coming out on top in captivating series. Specifically on the BBC channel we encounter hit shows like Sherlock (4 nominations beating out AMC’s The Walking Dead) and Downton Abbey (16 Emmy nominations). Since I have yet to watch Sherlock, I can only speak for Downton Abbey. It is a remarkable series built with a solid cast which, in my opinion, is the reason for its popularity. I ask again, what’s not to love about these British characters? With this in mind, a movie has come along that contains some of the brilliant actors found in these series. It probably won’t stand the test of time like most, but it deserves praise none the less. If you classify yourself as having a passing fancy for some enchanting British television, I encourage you to read on.

The movie is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and the location is India. The plot concerns the lives of seven elderly chaps and dames coming together to a place that is supposedly built for them from the ploy to “Come and spend your olden years in an Indian palace.” To some folks from different walks of life whilst in the same age group, this slogan seems overly enticing. The elderly are viewed as a bunch of old farts about to croak. Retirement is the life, children see them as a burden, their agility has significantly lessened, and luxury is a dream that doesn’t fit into their present conditions. They don’t see a purpose in life anymore. Or perhaps they’ve lost something or someone so significant in life that moving forward or starting over seems utterly impossible. What if they can find a new purpose, a new perspective? What if they can change and affect others in ways they never dreamed possible, especially at this point in their lives. The possibility of fulfilling dreams by a refusal to accept the norm for people their age is what drives them to uproot and move to place foreign and completely opposite of what they’ve always known.

What do they have to lose? Not much, according to society’s standards. Hence, all of them end up at said hotel. The “what if” is more than tantalizing in place of a dull existence. “It’s a luxury development where all the residents are in their golden years” says one of our adventurous friends. And an adventure it certainly becomes. Things are definitely not what they seem upon arrival. The culture is nothing less than an absolute shock, and the state of the luxurious motel is the complete opposite of “luxury.” Luckily, at the end of it all, they discover that “The light, colors, smiles, it teaches [them] something.” Let’s take a look at our lead characters and the qualities that make them unforgettable.

First, we have our leading lady, Evelyn Greenslade played by the talented Judi Dench (M in the latest Bond films, and also seen in Ladies in Lavender and the BBC series Cranford). Evelyn is the one who has lost her partner in life. The death of her husband has left her with a complete void in her little life that seems ever looming and encompassing. In addition to the void, he’s left her in a similar fashion with debt, causing Evelyn to sell her house. For her, a new start is all she can hope for. Naturally, she jumps on board to take off to start afresh. Despite the twist on what she expected, she indeed finds purpose in a job with a voice she can project for the first time in her life. All around her are glimpses of a simplistic life she never dreamed possible, and more importantly, people that can fill her life with depth and meaning. She finds that “India, like life itself I suppose, is about what you bring to it.”

Our next fellow is the leading man, Graham Dashwood, played by brilliant actor Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone in the new Batman trio, also seen as Arthur Edens in Michael Clayton). This is a man whose success has been grounded in the high courts as a prestigious judge. He is finally done after a split second decision, and the move to India is all he cares about. We come to learn that this is not his first time to see the sights of India, for he lived there for a time as a boy. Every day he sets out to find someone whom he loved as a youth, but parted with disgrace and in prejudiced times. This man is the only love Graham has ever known, and to simply know he is alive and well is what drives him each and every day. Discovering that the guilt he carried his entire life was of his own creation frees him to accept redemption and complete happiness. To laugh and learn about the man before him with a family of his own connects Graham to the life he wished he would have been allowed to have, and the perspective makes his glass no longer half empty, but finally half full.

The couple in this film is Douglas (Bill Nighy also known as Davy Jones in the Pirates movies) and Jean Ainslie (Penelope Wilton as seen as Isobel Crawley from Downton). Doug and Jean seek a new life after losing most of the money they’d acquired for retirement after investing in their daughter’s frugal business. Jean is evidently repulsed by the opposite of what they expected, so she refuses to conform or accept the fact that she can start afresh. Doug has suffered years of abundant negativity and lack of respect from Jean, and he luckily discovers contentment and peace alongside a newly discovered connection with Evelyn. We find out whether or not this couple can put aside built up grudges and start a new chapter in their lives in this foreign place.

Feisty Muriel played by the wondrous Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley in Downton and Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter) finds herself in need of a hip replacement in a place where she’s promised a quick and inexpensive procedure. She holds her own with racist tendencies after a life of devotion to an adopted family who replace her with someone younger. Along the way, she fights to apply the idea that “If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat [or have anything to do with] it.” Muriel unknowingly bestows acceptance on a young girl accustomed to having no status or recognition in life. She finds new ways to implement her acquired skills including a head for figures in a new life which she thought was unattainable with her background. Ironically, it is Maggie who changes the course of the hotel.

Our final duo are the well endowed Madge (Celia Imrie) who is hunting for her next husband alongside Norman (Ronald Pickup), a man who is trying to remain youthful and vigorous by pursuing reckless short term encounters with younger women as a matured Lothario. Both go to great lengths of fitting in with the high society by pretending to be a sort of royalty from England. The acceptance of how old they really are is difficult to accept while desiring to feel needed and loved by someone truly worthy. Their efforts are highly entertaining and happily resolved.

The glue that holds all these characters together is the fisher who lured them in, Sonny Kapoor played by the up and coming Dev Patel (Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire and Prince Zuko in The Last Airbender). Sonny is the dreamer and part owner of the hotel, and his optimism despite the somewhat false advertising is evident in the idea that “In India we have a saying. Everything will be alright in the end. So if it’s not alright, it is not yet the end.” He deals with an overbearing mother trying to douse his dreams by orchestrating an arranged marriage, and keeping the woman he loves (Sunaina played by Tena Desae) despite his mother’s evident objection. Sonny sees things as they can be, and he refuses to conform to the standards of his family. He too receives perspective from the occupants who inspire him to fight for all he envisions.

India is a world of poverty, but simplicity. To have the ability to adjust to a foreign world at such a ripened age is understandable far out. But our friends thrive in a new place that is surprisingly fitting for what they need. Seeing past the face value of an alien land is what marks them as trail blazers. One of them admits that “Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected” to which Muriel replies “Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.” Innovative beginnings and friendships are the key to overcoming age, and they all have the chance to embrace or reject this once in a lifetime opportunity. For The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel offers “a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it. And not just cope, but thrive.”

My Note: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is brimming with revolutionary cures, vices, and opportunities for the overlooked elderly.

My Grade: B

 

 

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Poll Question: Which is your favorite of Nolan’s ‘Batman’ films?

Read our review of ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘Ted’

There are some things in life that are only there to make you laugh. Nothing more than a chuckle to make you feel better for a moment. These things aren’t bad, but they don’t last very long, and eventually lose their charm.

When was the last time that you watched or listened to Dane Cook’s stand up comedy? The answer, for most of us, would be the 8th grade, some time before you discovered ‘The Office’ and Demetri Martin. But when you were thirteen, Dane Cook was the funniest man on the planet. I remember listening to those bits with my friends, laughing so hard that we were crying on the floor. We would listen ‘Harmful if Swallowed’ again and again, quoting it so much that our parents considered donating us to an animal shelter.

But then Mr. Cook’s next album came out, and it was more of the same. Then he starred in a few terrible movies that someone convinced us to see. Then another album of the same old stuff. Eventually, Dane wasn’t that funny anymore.

Seth MacFarlane; you are slowly becoming the new Dane Cook. You are funny, yes, very funny indeed. But until you try something new instead of the same old schtick’s over and over again, you will laugh yourself right out of relevancy.

Partially, I believe that this isn’t all MacFarlane’s fault. He didn’t demand three animated shows every week; Fox gave it to him based on the success of ‘Family Guy’. I’m sure there have been times where he’s wanted to step out of the box, but stepping out of the box doesn’t move the needle on Fox’s ratings. You know what moves the ratings? Another Stewie and Brian traveling musical, the creepy old man that loves the paper boy, and thirty minutes of “Surfin’ Bird.” How many people have sat this guy in the room and demand “Give the people what they want, Seth!”

Well, someone, must have told him to stick to what you know, because ‘Ted’ is just more of the same. It’s not a bad thing in the short term, but at the end of the day, it makes for an unfulfilling movie-going experience.

In the story of ‘Ted’ is simple, and by simple I mean there’s not much of a story… at all. When John Bennett (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a lonely little boy, he makes a wish for his Teddy Bear to come to life. Sure enough, the next day Ted is a walking, talking stuffed animal with a personality all his own. John and Ted soon become best friends and “Thunder Buddies”. But as time goes on, and John begins to grow up, so does Ted, and Ted grows up to be an immature, disgusting, freeloading roommate that is holding John back.

John’s girlfriend, Lori (played by Mila Kunis), does a very “Meg Griffin” thing and gives John an ultimatum: Ted needs to move out of the apartment or else John and Lori are through. Ted agrees, and what follows are the just growing pains of John and Ted learning to live apart from each other. That’s the movie. There are no real plot changes, nor is there real character development, but there is a bunch of funny stuff that happens along the way.

Ted gets a job at a grocery store, where he meets a cashier that soon becomes his girlfriend. He can’t get fired at the grocery store not matter what he does, leading to some pretty hilarious dialogue between Ted and his boss.

John and Ted spend a night partying with their childhood hero, Flash Gordon, in a drunken montage that is nothing but hysterical.

Joel McHale creeps on Mila Kunis at work. Joel McHale is funny, right?

John sings a song for Lori in front of thousands of people at a Norah Jones concert. Too bad he can’t sing. It’s funny though.

Ted is eventually kidnapped by obsessive fans; obsessive and psychotic fans! Giovanni Ribisi plays a great role as a disturbingly bad father. This is probably the funniest part of the movie.

There are also a bunch of offensive one-liners that are funny based on shock value alone. There is one joke about Parkinson’s disease that I would say is over the line, and caused uncomfortable laughter in the theater.

These are the really funny moments that I can remember right now. Everything above is what I recall about going to ‘Ted’. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? That’s because it isn’t. Listen, I don’t mean to seem rude, and I don’t want to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s the funniest movie I’ve seen all year, and it honestly seemed to please the crowd that I saw it with. There were a few parts that I had laughed so much my abs were sore. But then it ended, and I realized that the ending of the movie was very reminiscent of the beginning. Everything was back to the way it was, and no real conflict was really solved. It was just a funny hour and a half.

The biggest problem that I have with the story of ‘Ted’ is the main character, John. Not for one moment do I believe that he loves his girlfriend enough to grow up and change, because he never does. He just screws up a lot, apologizes later, and everything is honky-dory. What happens the next day? Do John and Ted do something stupid again and Lori angry? The conflict is still there. It’s like an episode of ‘Family Guy’; you know that every week Peter is going to do something stupid that makes Lois angry, he apologizes, next episode. In real life, I would question whether or not Peter loves Lois at all. He doesn’t show it to me through growth and change.

If you think about it, the best loves stories are about sacrifice, compromise, and risk. Something has got to give inside these two people or else it’s just not worth it. ‘Casablanca’- Rick makes Ilsa get on the plane. ‘Up’- Ellie leaves Carl a message to stop mourning and live his own adventure. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’- George Bailey gives up his dreams to travel and see the world, because he loves Mary more than his ambitions.

Those make the best love stories.

In comparison, anything else seems trite and inauthentic. It’s a good laugh, but no real heart. A funny quote, but makes no real affect on the way you think. Movies like this are incomplete by design, so I’ll simply wait for the sequel and see if these idiots really learned their lesson. Until then, I’ll watch some ‘Family Guy’ for a few laughs.

My Note: This raunchy comedy about your childhood Teddy Bear is really, really funny, but it isn’t anything better than that.

My Grade: D+

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’

‘Somebody, Somebody, Can anybody find me somebody to love?’ -Queen

The “End of the World” movie has become such an overplayed scenario over the last decade. Maybe it’s the fact that the Mayan calendar predicted that the apocalypse will greet us in just a few short months, or perhaps it’s just the scare of global warming slowly melting the Arctic circle. It could be that LeBron James finally won a NBA Championship, so a global catastrophe really doesn’t seem out of the question.

For whatever the reason, between ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ‘2012,’ ‘The Core,’ ’28 Days Later,’ ‘Sunshine,’ not to mention ‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Armageddon’ (which are, by the way, the same exact movie), I’ve just grown tired of all the doom and gloom that we’re seeing on the silver-screen these days. Can you blame me?

Does anyone remember the Los Angeles Super Tornadoes in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’? What was that all about?

Despite my jet lag from watching our planet become ruin time and time again, I decided to take a chance and go see ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.’ I love Steve Carrell. I love Keira Knightley. I love dark comedy, and I was hoping that this movie would be a different perspective on Earth’s swan song.

Not all romantic comedies begin by telling you that a giant asteroid is going to destroy the world in just a few short weeks. Then again, ‘Seeking a Friend…’ is unlike any romance that you have ever seen before. Half-sarcastic comedy, half-touching love story, this movie is one-hundred percent original, and thank the Lord for that.

The film, like most love stories, centers around our two lead characters. Our hero, played wonderfully by Steve Carrell, is Dodge. Dodge’s wife abandons him in the very first scene of the movie. After hearing the news that the planet is a ticking time-bomb, she simply gets out of the car and runs away. Unlike his closest friends and family, who are determined to ring in the apocalypse with partying and anarchy, Dodge wants something more out of his last living days. He ends up going through old photo albums and letters, reminiscing about his old high school sweetheart; his first love. Dodge decides to forgo the fireworks and self-deprecating festivities in order to find his long lost love and declare his undying devotion to her, and of course, do this before the clock strikes midnight.

Dodge’s next-door neighbor is a young woman named Penny (played by Knightley). Penny is a quirky, neurotic, pot-smoking head case who became even more unglued once she heard about the giant meteor… asteroid… whatever. She loves old records, hates her failing relationship, and can sleep through anything. Filled with regret about the time she has spent away from her family in the UK, Penny is heart-broken that she couldn’t get home before all of the airports were shut down.

One night, a riot breaks out near Dodge and Penny’s apartment building. Dodge rushes to make sure that Penny gets out of the building, and while on the run, they strike an agreement. If Penny will help Dodge find his first love, then Dodge will make sure that Penny can get on a plane to see her family one last time. They set on the road, and the audience watches as their adventure unfolds.

I love it when I walk into a theater expecting an average movie, and end up walking out with something twenty-times better than what I expected. ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ is a film that I wanted to see again right when the credits rolled (and also couldn’t wait to write about), because the film itself did something similar to a magic trick. It opens in dark, nihilistic fashion, leaving the audience to believe that it’s all down hill from the start. But on the contrary, from the first five minutes until the last shot, ‘Seeking a Friend…’ gradually uplifts the audience to an emotional conclusion, while also wrestling with themes of contentment and true happiness.

This next part may seem like a stretch, but just stick with me on this one.

In my mind, the movie itself is really a microcosm of how humanity deals with mortality and death, and the remaining life that Dodge and Penny have is simply an allegory of life as we know it. The story is pointing out that in reality, our time on this planet is short, and it is what we choose to do with that short amount of time that really defines us. By making a movie about what happens when we realize that our world is collapsing, writer/director Lorene Scafaria was able to show us what is most important. Love, friendship, and at the end of the day, having someone by your side.

Like in life, at the beginning our characters have goals that they want to achieve. They spend their time fighting and searching for the right path to get them where they want to be. But, there comes a point where Dodge and Penny realize that what they were searching for was right in front of them all along (cue romantic music).

I don’t want to ruin the ride for anyone, so I will simply close with a quick observation about how ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ was received by the critical masses.

Film critics will choose any number of reasons to give a movie a bad review. It could be that it didn’t end the way they felt would be appropriate, or it could be the way it was shot or written. It can honestly be something as simple as the characters not being ‘likable’. And this is why you can’t hold out too much on what the critics think: in the end, it’s really just a collaboration of slightly-snarky and cynical opinions. I honestly believe that this movie received mixed reviews because it made critics feel something they didn’t want to feel, and made more importantly, showed man as something that they didn’t believe to be true.

It painted man as having the potential for goodness in a world that was all going down the tubes. It showed two people that could fall in love in just a few short days. It boldly stated that love conquers even death, and that is something incredibly counter cultural. And what can I say; I’m a lover, not a hater. So, when it comes to feel-good movies, it’s my practice to not listen to the critics. They’re all sad and lonely anyway.

Just kidding, Roger Ebert. I’m still interested in writing that book with you. Your move, Ebert.

My Note: The most surprising movie of the summer. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll enjoy.

My Grade: A-

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’

Our hero is Peter Parker, a young teenager that lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May in Queens, just outside of New York City. Peter is just like any other high school kid; he loves science, has a crush on a girl in his class, and is occasionally picked on by the local bully. But Peter’s normal life is turned upside-down when he is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, and he begins to transform into a super-powered, masked-vigilante: Spider-Man.

Wait. This all sounds familiar. Haven’t we seen this one before?

We have. It was about ten years ago that the original ‘Spider-Man’ was released. It starred Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, was directed by Sam Raimi, and, at the time, had the largest opening weekend box-office gross in movie history (slightly over $114 million). Everyone thought it to be a pretty good movie; no doubt a cookie-cutter summer blockbuster, but entertaining in every way.

So, why re-boot the saga? Why should we again tell a story that has already been told? Well, it’s pretty simple.

1) The last film wasn’t well received by critics and audiences alike.

2) This movie tells a different side of Peter Parker’s story, an origin story that the filmmakers must have felt was vital to the character of Spider-Man.

3) This is the most important reason, the real reason: Spider-Man is not only a human web-slinger, he is also a costumed cash-cow that made ridiculous amounts of money for everyone who was smart enough to get in on it. Sony was looking to get every ounce of money out of this character that they could. In the end, though, it’s a win/win situation. Sony gets our money; we get another Spider-Man movie. It’s that simple.

So enough of me whining about how it’s too soon to start making new Spider-Man movies (and it was way, way too soon). Let’s talk about this movie, trying our best to block out the ones that came before it.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ tells us the story of Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) from another perspective. The film opens with Peter as a young boy, revealing to the audience the mysterious disappearance of Peter’s parents. It is this event that is the driving force behind our protagonist’s actions in the first half of the film. He wants to know what happened to his family, and more importantly, wants to find answers to who he really is.

It is while on this search that Peter has his encounter with a tiny, mutated spider that bites him in a laboratory. We know what happens after this; Peter gets fantastic spider powers; strength, agility, incredible reflexes, and hyper-sensitive awareness (“spider-sense”). Oh, and he can also climb walls and do other amazing spider-things, like dunk a basketball and catch flies with his bare hands.

Nerd-Out Time: But this movie does bring one new change to the powers of Spider-Man; his web-slinging ability is not a part of his biological makeup, but is developed with technology from Parker’s mind of science-fair tricks. The wrist mounted web-shooters, to me, is a good change. The webbing coming out of Parker’s skin in the previous films never made a whole lot of sense (how did he release the webbing from his body? Does anyone know how that even worked?). Plus, it makes him more human, more vulnerable, and therefore more relatable to the audience.

Peter, while discovering his new found abilities, forms a relationship with Dr. Curt Connors, a former colleague of Peter’s father. Connors is working on a project involving cross-species genetics, which is the study of other species for the purpose of using their genetic markings to cure human weakness. Connors, being an amputee, also hopes to cure his own ailment. When Peter meets Connors, he gives the doctor the missing piece of the equation, and allows him to finish his work. But, like in all Spider-Man stories, the science goes horribly wrong, and Connors is transformed into a fearsome, killer monster. A worthy adversary for the Amazing Spider-Man and possibly the best villain in the Spider-Man story to date (though I did like Dafoe’s Green Goblin.)

Another thing that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ has going for it is the ever so lovely Emma Stone in the role of Gwen Stacy. Stone gives another solid performance as the girl next door who falls in love with the quirky Peter Parker. She is also my current Hollywood crush, so for me, the girl can do no wrong.

In general, the cast of this film is solid, and in general, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is better cast than its predecessors (especially Spider-Man 3… Topher Grace as Venom? Yikes.) I believe that I’m not alone in thinking that Andrew Garfield is a much more believable and likable Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire’s take on the character. Garfield’s Parker isn’t a wimp; he never was a wimp. He was just somewhat of an outcast that didn’t have the muscles to back his passion. But, more than anything, he’s a good kid trying to be a better man. Within Garfield, you see much more internal struggle and growth, whereas with Maguire the character remains relatively stagnent throughout three whole movies. I mean with Maguire, you like Peter, but there’s still part of you that’s thinking “Goodness, you wuss, would you just kiss her already!”

Now that I’ve told you the basics of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, we are now at the point of my internal dilemma involving what to really think of this film. The real problem is this: I will concede and admit that this is actually the best Spider-Man movie to date. It is better than the original, and really that was the only one it really had to compete with. The performances are better, the story is better, the action is better, as well as the direction by Marc Webb (who also directed ‘(500) Days of Summer’). It’s a much cleaner, much smarter movie.

BUT, I can’t simply abandon the first movies. When I was 11 years old, the first ‘Spider-Man’ came out, and when you are 11 years old, ‘Spider-Man’ was the best movie on the planet. I must have watched it 30 times, and that still wasn’t enough. So, I still shout at the top of my lungs “Too soon!” Regardless, here is the verdict.

My Note: The best Spider-Man movie to date, but it was still about 5 years too soon for a re-boot of the saga.

My Grade: B+

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

Remember when you were young and in love? I know it’s tough, but think really hard.

I’m talking about when you were just a kid and you fell in love for the very first time. It was three parts romance, two parts awkward, all mixed together to make a magical cocktail that made you feel like you were flying. As simple as life is for a child, first love was the thing that made it seem whimsical, like the stories that you read in a book.

“We’re in love. We just want to be together.”

Did anyone else get married for the first time when they were about 8 years old? We had the ceremony in the backyard of her house. My sister acted as the ordained minister and the aisle we walked down was a Slip-‘N’-Slide. After we said ‘I do’ we ran and slid down the hill into a pool of muddy water. We figured out the service would be much more exciting if we included the things we both loved about water parks.

What brought back this flood of memories, you ask? It was this line spoken by Cousin Ben in ‘Moonrise Kingdom.’

“I can’t offer you a legally binding union. It won’t hold in the state, the county or frankly any courtroom in the world due to your age, lack of license, and failure to get parental consent. But the ritual does carry a very important moral weight within yourselves.”

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is the story of two children that fall in love in the summer of ’65. 11 year old Sam Shakusky and 11 year old Suzy Bishop meet backstage at a church play. Sam is in town for scout camp, and Suzy is one of the many girls in the local production. Sam asks ‘What kind of bird are you?’ ‘I’m a raven.’ Immediately, Sam is smitten. As he leaves, Suzy’s friend whispers ‘He likes you.’

Suzy and Sam spend the entire year writing to one another, and over time they realize that the only thing that they have in the entire world is each other. When Sam returns to Suzy’s hometown for another summer of scout camp, he decides to be daring, and flees his campsite to run away with the girl of his dreams.

The film centers around the relationship between Sam and Suzy and their desire to be with one another, but it would be incomplete without the adults that surround these two characters. There is  Scout Master Ward (played by Edward Norton), who is doing is best to find his lost scout while also maintaining control over his remaining troop, Captain Sharp (played by Bruce Willis), who begins to admire the spirit of the escapees, and Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) who do nothing but worry about their “troubled” daughter. None of the “grown-ups” can understand why these two young people are acting so insane. That’s because they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a 12 year old and to be head-over-heels crazy about that someone.

Really, that is what Writer and Director Wes Anderson is trying to do through ‘Moonrise Kingdom’: remind us what it was like when we were young and foolishly devoted to one another, and that is really what makes it such a brilliant film. We are again placed into a world where the childhood fantasy seems alive within us.

In a world where we would normally be standing beside the authoritarian guardians, we find ourselves rooting for these two crazy kids to end up with one another. Why is that? Could it be that there is still something inside us that admires a child’s innocence and passion? I think Mr. Anderson is on to something here.

In reality, it’s one of the reasons we still go to the movies. We look to be amazed, to reminisce, to feel something we haven’t in a long time. We want to be a kid again, and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ let’s us do that.

There are some people that have to be given credit for making ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ such a great film. The first of these is Wes Anderson. In my mind, this director who has been known for a strong cult following from Indie-film fans, has truly made a masterpiece, and his best film to date. Anderson’s vision for every aspect of a film, the writer, the art direction, the cinematography, and the performances, unite harmoniously in a creative movie with one common purpose. We see aspects of his previous films (such as “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Rushmore”, and even “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”) throughout the film, but he has taken all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses, putting all the nuggets of Indie magic into a delightful hour-and-a-half.

What I’m trying to say is, I hope Anderson gets some serious recognition this time around. I’m looking at you, Academy.

The next group of people that deserves to take a bow are all of the seasoned veteran actors that play the supporting characters within ‘Moonrise Kingdom.’ Norton, Willis, Murray, McDormand, Swinton, Schwartzman, and Keitel are all pitch perfect in this movie, walking the tight-rope between absurdity and authentic emotion. I have no problem in saying that this is the best ensemble performance of 2012 so far. I mean what’s going to compete with it? Magic Mike? Please.

Finally, and this cannot go without saying (and many have written reviews on this film without saying it) but the young actors in this movie are fantastic. Suzy, Sam, and the members of the Khaki Scouts of North America take this movie from good to great, and they are the catalyst that makes the film both authentic and special. I don’t know where they found Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, but I’m sure glad that they did, because these two actors are truly gifted (especially Hayward. Gosh, she was good.) But the scouts of Troop 55 are so funny and so sweet that you can’t help but love them.

“Can we loan them the nickels? I’m concerned about their future.”

My Note: This is the best movie from the first half of the year. Go and see it before they pull it out of  your local theater, because it is truly a hidden gem.

My Grade: A+ (the second film on The Sorkin Notes to receive this honor.)

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Summer Movie Slam: ‘Prometheus’

“In space, no one can hear your utter disappointment.”

Me, like many other movie goers, head into the summer with a heart full optimism and excitement. Summer, although it is not typically where movies find Oscar Gold, it’s where movie magic happens. It is when the studios release their money-making machines and watch with anticipation as the box-office numbers come rolling in. It’s the movies that we line up for; we watch the trailers on repeat, waiting for when we can go see them at midnight; we mark our calenders, counting down until we actually go to the movies.

‘Prometheus’, for me, was one of those movies I couldn’t wait for. It was right behind ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ for my most anticipated movies of the summer. It appeared to have everything I love; solid cast, a proven director, and enough Sci-Fi action on an epic scale to make any ‘Firefly’ fan take notice. The night I went to see it, me and my buddy Michael went and grabbed some dinner, and we were pumped. We kept saying, “So excited to see this movie, it’s gonna be great.” Are you getting the picture here? I was hopeful. Excited. Looking forward to a killer experience.

Wow. What a heaping pile of lame-sauce let-down.

The general premise of the movie is this: A crew ventures out into space to search for alien life that some believe will answer questions regarding the origins of mankind. The crew hibernates during travel, and when they arrive to their destination, they enter the atmosphere of the secluded moon to begin their expedition. Almost immediately, without much effort at all, they find the home base of what’s left of an alien race, and what’s left are corpses and seemingly abandoned ruins.

While searching for the answers to what this means for humanity, the crew discovers that they are not alone in the abandoned catacombs, and the entire mission begins to fall apart when crew members begin to, unexpectedly, die horrible deaths. A couple are mauled by these tentacle things that are never explained, another one is infected with some disease that is also never explained, then one of the tentacle-victims comes back briefly reek havoc. Throw in a few lame twists, a couple CGI explosions, a perceived turning point that ends up being totally useless, and there you have it. That’s ‘Prometheus.’

Before I go on to the real reason why ‘Prometheus’ has issues, let me first say what the film does well.

Visually, ‘Prometheus’ stunning. Ridley Scott’s ability to create an other-worldly setting is a gift that he has not lost, taking the audience to a world that is both grandiose and eerie. The look of ‘Prometheus’ is really what initially makes it engrossing; we are placed right in the middle of this amazing spectacle of science fiction magic. Alas, if only the writing was as beautiful as the scenery, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Again, Michael Fassbender gives a good performance as David, the polite android that ends up having an agenda of his own. The only thing that keeps him from being exceptional is the script, but the guy can’t help that so he still remains on a win streak in my book. Although the film wasn’t great, it was a nice career move to do it. It keeps him relevant and allows him to explore new territory. After all, who would turn down playing the robot in the new Ridley Scott Sci-Fi epic? Look what it did for Daryl Hannah’s career… Yikes.

Now, let the ripping begin.

The most glaring problem with ‘Prometheus’ is the story, which is completing void of life or brilliance. When the movie begins, we are introduced with a handful of questions, and from this point on, it goes nowhere. Sure, a lot of events take place, but the audience is no more fulfilled at the end of the movie than they are at the beginning. This goes against the grain of true story-telling, that the characters go through conflict to arrive at a certain place, goal, or realization at the end. We walk out of the theater still pondering the obvious holes in the plot that were never truly answered, hoping there is something after the credits that could explain what the script had left out. At the end of it all, I felt as lost and abandoned as the crew floating through space. And imagine my surprise when I found out that ‘Prometheus’ was co-written by Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of ‘Lost’. Did this guy get a PhD. in making us feel confused and unsatisfied?

The other point that pushed me away from liking this movie was the manner in which it was trying to entertaining the audience. Instead of striving for authentic thrills and action, the director decided to make the tragic mistake of making the most exciting moments in the film be nothing more than gross-out shots of alien brains, space slugs, and loss of limb. ‘Prometheus’ isn’t trying to entertain it’s audience as much is it is trying to nauseate them, and it made me sick to me stomach in more ways than one. More than anything, I found myself annoyed that the writers reduced themselves to using old horror film gimmicks to garner a response. Specifically, there is a sequence in which our heroine, played by Noomi Rapace, becomes *SPOILER* inpregnated with an alien fetus and must use a surgical machine to pluck it out of her body. I felt like we saw this in ‘Alien’ over 30 years ago. Perhaps the writers forgot, but I know I didn’t.

Noomi Rapace is so flat in this movie, I feel like someone should check for a pulse. So far, I have not been impressed by the Swedish phenom. Granted, I’ve only seen her in this and ‘Sherlock Holmes’, but she was so forgettable in both movies. And to think of the outrage that some had in response to Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), that it paled in comparison to Rapace’s rendition. Give me Rooney any day of the week, twice on Sunday, because Noomi is simply a fad that will eventually fade away.

And my final beef with ‘Prometheus’ is this; to begin a film with asking questions about the origins of man, then it ends by saying our creators are nothing but vicious alien giants, is weak. It’s like meeting a girl at the party that doesn’t have anything nice to say about their parents; it just makes you really unattractive.

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let me take a step back and close with this thought.

Ridley Scott has, yet again, come up short with ‘Prometheus.’ Has anyone looked at this guy’s filmography in the past 10 years? He has really been struggling to make a great movie since ‘Gladiator’ with only a few bright spots here and there. Really, I think I expected too much out of ‘Prometheus,’ and in a way I think we all did.

It was never going to be ‘Alien’ and it was never going to be ‘Blade Runner.’ It tough to strike gold twice in the same place. Three times? It’s nearly impossible.

My Note: So far, Prometheus is the biggest let-down of the year. On the bright side, it’s only June.

My Grade: D

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