Monday, August 22, 2011

New Releases: Quadruple Feature

In the span of five days I've seen a total of four vastly different new releases, and significantly drained my wallet in the process. I figured I'd go ahead and write up some brief thoughts on each of those. This will probably be a somewhat regular feature going forward, depending on how motivated I am to write about each new release I watch. But I do see a lot of movies in theaters, because that really is the best way to watch them.

30 Minutes or Less (dir. Ruben Fleischer) -With a running time of a mere 83 minutes, it's amazing how many laughs 30 Minutes or Less manages to pack into it's brief running time. The film seriously had me laughing pretty much non-stop and never really seemed to drag it's feet. Jesse Eisenberg doesn't coast on the fact that this is a comedy, and actually gives a surprisingly fresh and humanistic performance while Aziz Ansari (who has never quite hit the right note for me on Parks and Recreation) just goes balls to the wall crazy any chance he gets. His schtick works well for this movie, and every line worth remembering comes out of his mouth. Yes, the plot is kind of ridiculous (made even worse by the fact that it's kind of a true story), and sometimes the story stretches its limitations, but this is yet another great comedy in a year filled with some good ones. B+

Final Destination 5 (dir. Steven Quale) - I have a secret. Even though I sit here and write about Oscar-nominated performances and 'serious' films, I have a real big soft spot for schlocky slasher films that involve teenagers escaping some masked murder, or in the case of the Final Destination series, Death itself. I revel in their extreme overflow of cheesy one liners and stereotypes, and the Final Destination series is one of my favorites. Up to this point, the series was steadily improving with each installment, mostly because the first two films took the concept a bit too seriously, and starting with the third attempts at a deeper meaning were left at the door. This fifth film in the series is something of a drop off from that because none of the deaths are anything particularly impressive, and the characters for the most part were pretty boring (i.e. normal). But the opening bridge scene is pretty great, and Nicholas D'Agosto has a certain boyish adorability that works well. This isn't the best film in the series, but not a completely bad time at the movies. Plus, even when a horror movie is bad, doesn't it almost make it better? (I didn't see it in 3D, so no comment on that) B-

The Help (dir. Tate Taylor) - This is the first movie of the year that really feels like an Oscar contender, and it's really because of the across the board powerful performances by it's great cast. Tate Taylor has done a good job at adapting a somewhat tricky to film novel that could easily fall into stereotype, but the spotlight in this movie is firmly on the collection of amazing actresses this films has gathered. The least impressive is the always hilarious Emma Stone, whose Skeeter seems to be only a means to an end for many parts of the story, though Emma contributes her usual natural charm and phenomenal comedic timing. Viola Davis is the emotional center of the story, and she is just so deeply moving and bares all on screen it's almost numbing. I'm worried about her being pushed in the Best Actress category (even though that's where she belongs), because I have a bad feeling she'll get overlooked. Octavia Spencer is also hilarious and seemingly a shoo-in for a Supporting Actress nod, even though to me the best supporting performance comes courtesy of Jessica Chastain, who adds a much needed quirky charisma to the film. Bryce Dallas Howard gives a well balanced performance with equal parts venom and bounce, and Sissy Spacek is absolutely riotous as her cooky mother. Sure, the film has some clunky moments (mostly anything to do with Skeeter's personal life or family), but it gets done what it needs too and the actressing elevates the material. A-

Conan the Barbarian (dir. Marcus Nispel) - I don't really have a whole lot to say about this movie, mostly because it was just so...inconsequential. I went into the theater with incredibly low expectations hoping to get a campy action film with tons of gore, and that's basically what I got was a boring action film with tons of gore. None of the performances were anything to speak about, though Momoa definitely has the roguish charm down pat. The action scenes were often difficult to follow, numerous times my head was hurting from the pure chaos of every fight. Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang were bizarre yet fun villains, but the ultimate power they were seeking just didn't seem all that powerful. You won't miss much with this one. C

1 comment:

dinasztie said...

Probably Patty for me. Or Eileen. I don't know. :D