Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Christmas Repo Writer

Today I have two new reviews and one old one that I missed. These movies still fall a bit on the underwhelming side, but each has their own interesting aspect that bumped their reviews up a bit. I also have some tidbits for these movies that will work well in my first "After the Movie" post. I'm a bit miffed that I missed out on an easy chance at winning tickets again today (I thought they were just more tickets to see Due Date, and I'm good in that respect, but they were actually for any movie so I never called). So, no Harry Potter review upcoming just yet. Anyway, here are the reviews in order of my viewing:

Repo Men – (2 ½ Stars)
I'm a sucker for a well done, clever Science Fiction story. So, going into the movie, I thought there could be some potential for a surprise. To me that's one of the best movie going experiences, when a movie completely delivers something you don't expect. And while "Repo Men" has an interesting enough concept, it doesn't completely deliver in the end.
Repo Men
Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker play the title characters who, in the semi-near future, are tasked with tracking down and repossessing artificial organs that the owners have fallen behind in payments on. The idea is both well executed and sloppy at the same time. Some plot holes exist because of this (or I guess, more along the lines of logic or character motivation holes). 

The movie still moves at a pretty quick pace and provides some decent action. I actually gave the movie a higher rating because of the ending (which I will discuss more in my AtM post). While it may lack in some areas, "Repo Men" at least offers some action and some interesting ethical dilemmas. For example, to think of predatory lending extending to something that is actually in your body is a scary idea indeed.  
(119 minutes - Rated R for for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity - 2010(Netflix)

A Christmas Carol – (2 ½ Stars)
A Christmas CarolI will be very happy when this 3-D fad finally comes to an end and movies will be made for the sake of the story, and not to serve a gimmicky technology. Disney's latest version of Charles Dickens' classic is a perfect example. What starts off as a seemingly faithful adaptation quickly falls prey to ridiculous flying scenes and various objects coming at the camera just for the sake of a 3-D audience. I did not watch the movie in 3-D, so it just came across as awkward and, well, unnecessary.

Since Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is such a well known and beloved story, there's not much to say that people don't already know when it comes to the story. At times, this version follows the story closer than other adaptations. But, just when you think it might be on the right track, another gimmicky chase/action scene is thrown in. Jim Carrey does a pretty good job at channeling his inner miser (and the various spirits), but even that isn't enough to save this rendition. However, it still had some enjoyable moments. But this is mostly due to its source material. 

Note: Since it does try to keep closer to the story, there are some frightful moments. This is not recommended for younger kids. If you have younger kids, watch the much better Muppet Christmas Carol. If you don't have younger kids, watch Scrooge, or you might as well still watch the Muppet version anyway, too.
(98 minutes - Rated PG for scary sequences and images - 2009) (Netflix)

The Ghost Writer – (3 Stars)*
There was a lot of press build-up for Roman Polanski's latest film due to his possible extradition to the US and being placed under house arrest, and so on and so forth. To be honest, all of the press probably helped this movie get noticed, but it doesn't really help the movie as a whole. Especially when there are definite parallels to Polanski within the characters in the film.

The Ghost WriterEwan McGregor is the ghost hired to help pen the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) when the previous ghost writer is mysteriously found dead. The movie takes this premise and builds a suspenseful, complicated web of politics and deceit. The scenery in the movie is fantastically dreary and only adds to suspense. Perhaps the strongest aspect of the movie is Polanski's directing. However, the story is where things begin to unravel.

"The Ghost Writer" builds everything up incredibly well, but it all falls apart and becomes rather simplistic by the end. The movie, based on a book by Robert Harris (a former BBC reporter), also doesn't really try to hide its political opinions and message. So, instead of a good suspense movie to take you out of reality, you have a suspenseful movie that tries a little to hard to force an idea on you. Overall, there are many elements to this movie that are extremely well done, in the end it just fizzles.
(128 minutes - Rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference - 2010) (Netflix)

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