Reviews: Safe, The Five-Year Engagement, The Raven

Safe
Safe

Safe

2 stars

Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke & Anson Mount

One thing I like about Statham is that he has a type of film. He’s found a genre he likes, and he sticks with it- loner action hero. He does it quite well, and I tend to like his films. That’s not to say they’re generally good… but I enjoy them. Safe has some solid action, but is ultimately hindered by a ridiculous plot and sloppy writing.

There was one line in particular that was uttered by two different characters in two different scenes. The characters had no contact during their respective scenes. So in addition to being a well-worn plot, the writers are recycling their own dialogue within their own movie. That was one of the more cringe worthy aspects of the film.

Otherwise, they made the film way more complicated than it really had to be, with plot points being introduced way too late in the game to make them viable to the arc. It’s similar to the problems with The Raid. They hit the third act when they realize they need to a way to tie it all together, and they end up doing so in the laziest way possible.

But credit where credit is due, Statham does a considerable amount of actual acting in this role, playing a broken, world beaten man who does what he has to do out of some sense of redemption. And of course the action is wildly entertaining, it’s what he does best. I just wish he’d pick better vehicles to showcase it. I can’t wait for his return in The Expendables 2. If you absolutely have to see it, I say wait for DVD/Netflix.

The Five-Year Engagement
Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement

3.5 Stars

Starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie

The comedy team of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller is one of the more productive and hilarious in recent years.  They kicked it off 4 years ago by working on Forgetting Sarah Marshall together, Stoller directed, Segel wrote and starred. They carried that success into getting the prestigious gig of writing  The Muppets last year (which Stoller also directed, and Segel also starred in). Fast forward to this year, and we get their latest offering, which despite a strong cast and solid premise, just isn’t as strong as their previous efforts.

I can’t not like Segel. He’s a very funny guy, and so disarming with it. He’s just a nice guy you’d love to hang out with. Everything he’s in, from How I Met Your Mother to the movies mentioned, he’s just so gosh darn likable. Add into the mix the beautiful and equally charming Emily Blunt, who is always a delight, with Parks & Recreation‘s Chris Pratt and Community‘s Alison Brie, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for comedy gold. But it just goes on too long.

I have no problem with long movies. Some of my favourite movies push the three-hour mark. This one was slightly over 2, and that’s not terrible for a comedy… if they can keep the audience’s interest. Unfortunately the film drags way too much and can’t overcome that fact.

It’s a standard romantic comedy, and you can guess the end of the film with the trailer, but it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, and they take the long way to get there. During the parts where it drags, there’s also a drought of laughs, which is where I would get lost. It’s right around the middle of the 2nd act, and the 3rd act is slow going. If they would just trim the fat, this would be perfect.

If you’re looking for a good date night movie, this is it, just be warned that it gets a little tedious in the middle.

The Raven
The Raven

The Raven

3 stars

Starring John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson

Much like last year’s Anonymous did with Shakespeare, The Raven looks to cast a new light on a famous writer, this time we head to the 19th century and take a look at Edgar Allan Poe. And much like last year’s Anonymous, it’s actually a really good film if you know absolutely nothing about the writer or the times. Having written term papers in college on both men, my enjoyment was a little marred.

This is a sort of departure for Cusack, as he’s not known for doing period piece. I kind of like him as Poe. He really played it straight, with some classic Cusack neuroses thrown in, which was a good choice. I was scared they were going to go over the top gruesome with him, and play him his as more of a caricature than as a man, and I appreciate the restraint.

As someone who didn’t particularly care for V For Vendetta (the message got lost/forgotten), I was quite impressed with director James McTeigue’s vision. Much like Cusack, he played it straight, and just made a really solid thriller. This is the kind of film that if Tim Burton got his hands on it, it would have been a schlocky macabre mess. But McTeigue kept the focus on the cat & mouse between Poe and his adversary (don’t want to spoil it for anyone) and plays out in an almost Holmesian way.

A really solid gothic thriller about the master of horror. It’s not worth full price, see a matinee or a 2nd run theatre.

2012 Oscar Predictions

Hooray! It’s Oscar week! I’m excited as always, and there’s big things on the horizon for Brodie Mann Films, so stay tuned for all that. But since we’re a week away, it’s time to make my picks. Last year I went 13 for 24, for a 54% success rate, and my personal best came in 2010 when I went 15 for 24, for a 63% success rate. Can I beat my best? Or even last year’s score? We’ll see, here are my picks.

84th Annual Academy Awards
The 84th Annual Academy Awards, Hosted by Billy Crystal

Best Picture

The Artist

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Jean Dujardin  for The Artist

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christopher Plummer for Beginners

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Octavia Spencer for The Help

Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash for The Descendants

Best Animated Feature

Rango

Best Foreign Language Film

Bullhead

Best Documentary Feature

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Best Original Score

Ludovic Bource for The Artist

Best Original Song

Bret McKenzie for “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

Best Cinematography-

Guillaume Schiffman for The Artist

Best Film Editing-

Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Art Direction-

Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo for Hugo

Best Costume Design-

Mark Bridges for The Artist

Best Make-Up –

Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnson & Matthew W. Mungle for Albert Nobbs

Best Sound Editing-

Lon Bender & Victor Ray Ennis for Drive

Best Sound Mixing

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce & Bo Persson for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Visual Effects-

Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White & Daniel Barrett for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Documentary: Short Subject-

Saving Face

Best Short Film: Animated-

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Best Short Film: Live Action-

Time Freak

Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2011 part 4 of 4

What movies am I looking forward to as we close out 2011, here they are, the flicks of October through December!

October

Real Steel – It’s robots boxing. While it may be an expanded episode of “Futurama,” a decent enough cast could make this an enjoyable popcorn flick.

Rum Diary – Johnny Depp made a promise to Hunter S. Thompson that he’d make sure Rum Diary made it to the silver screen, and come October, we may finally see that promise fulfilled. I’m excited to see Bruce Robinson’s return to directing following a nigh 20 year absence.

Rum Diary

November

11-11-11 – Sure it seems gimmicky to title your movie after it’s proposed release date, and construct an entire plot around it. And sure it could be another 2012, but I’m giving this horror thriller the benefit of the doubt till more details emerge and a trailer is released.

The Muppets – Jason Segel got the job of writing the screenplay and some music for this new muppets movie after his work in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I love the muppets, and I’m hoping this could lead to a full length Dracula musical.

The Muppets

December –

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – I’ve liked the original Swedish trilogy so far, I’ll be seeing …Hornet’s Nest at the end of the month, but I’m less cautious about this remake. Let Me In and True Grit proved that you can do well by readapting the source material. I think we’re in good hands with David Fincher directing. What’s going to be key is Rooney Mara’s take on Lisbeth Salander.

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