Archive for September, 2009

Review: “Bart Got A Room”

Quirky indie comedies seem to be a dime-a-dozen these days, and with many dealing with teen pregnancy, disintegration of  relationships, and other ‘adult’ themes, it’s a bit refreshing when one goes back to the tried-and-true plot of “Who am I taking to the prom?”  Bart Got A Room attempts to make its mark in the indie comedy scene with this tactic.

The movie’s simple plot, however, is the weakest point.  It’s a little too simple.  In fact, there’s no mystery to it at all; you’ll be able to guess who Danny (Steven Kaplan) will take to the prom within the first few minutes.  What the movie does have going for it is a very likable, and my case, relatable protagonist.  Throughout the movie, Danny weighs his options of dates to the most important night in his high school career.  However, each one turns out to be wrong for him for different reasons (one doesn’t want to go with him, another has too many rules, yet another “doesn’t do prom”, etc.), and he ends up realizing who this perfect date is in the end.

There’s also this subplot of his parents going through a divorce, and each of them experience relationship problems of their own.  But this sidestory just seems to inflate a movie that was missing a lot of ‘meat’.  Bart Got A Room runs at around 80 minutes, and that’s about 40 minutes too long.  Writer/director Brian Hecker could’ve cut the parents’ storylines and streamlined the movie, which would’ve made for a pretty funny short film, but instead he tries to make a feature that doesn’t reach far enough.

And the ending, aside from being predictable, also seemed kind of lazy, complete with a voice-over narration by Danny where he tells the audience exactly what he’s learned from this experience.  It’s like something from Full House, where Danny Tanner sits down with his girls and lays out exactly what they did wrong and the positive things they can take away from this experience.

Still, Bart Got A Room does have its charm.  The cast is solid throughout, except for some minor characters that play Danny’s friends, in where I don’t think they’re given enough to do.  Danny’s dad, Ernie (William H. Macy) sports a curly hairdo that’s both hilarious and embarrassing at the same time.  I couldn’t help but think this was probably a good stay-at-home date movie: good for one viewing, but it won’t shake up the indie scene unlike something like Juno or this summer’s (500) Days of Summer.

6.5/10

(images from Yahoo!)

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September 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm Leave a comment

Review: “9”

The first feature length film from Shane Acker, and based on his award-winning short film of the same name, 9 tells the story of a small band of heroes who must stop an out-of-control machine in a post apocalyptic world.  While the animation is great, and the theme darker in tone that most Hollywood-produced CG animated films, the reach of the story itself falls a little short to consider this one a classic.

Elijah Wood plays 9, the last in a series of tiny machines created during the final days of humanity.  He meets others like himself: 5 (John C. Reilly), 1 (Christopher Plummer), 7 (Jennifer Connelly), 6 (Crispin Glover), and a few more.  1 takes it upon himself to be the group’s leader, with the objective to simply survive in this harsh world.  9, however, feels that they were built for a purpose, and sets out to fulfill his destiny when they fall under attack by vicious machines.

The tone of the movie is considerably darker than films from, say, Pixar, which might turn some parents away from letting their children see this film.  Keep in mind, if you have children younger than 10, this might be a little much for them.  The Earth is decimated: cities are in ruins, the sky is polluted, and a malevolent machine rules over all.  9 is not a ‘happy’ story by any means.

Nor is it a complete downer, either.  At its heart, it’s an action/adventure movie with some very well-choreographed action scenes.  There’s a sequence involving a flying pterodactyl-like machine that’s attacking the group, and the way they bring it down was more exciting than any scene in all of this summer’s Wolverine flick.  Boys especially may get a kick out of this; it’s fun, exciting, and moves at a good pace.  There’s never really a ‘dull’ moment in all of 9.

Unfortunately, the story itself falls short with some plot holes that Shane Acker seems to make us accept without question.  Without spoiling too much, there’s a device that awakens the evil machine, and it’s inadvertently done by 9 himself.  But, that makes me think: ‘What if 9 never did that?  If the machine is never given this device, it never awakes, and doesn’t continue to wreak all this havoc, right?  So, what would’ve happened if 9 never did any of that?  No movie, meaning the heroes’ existence if kind of pointless.’


And there are other questions like “how did the evil machine get deactivated in the first place?”, “how did are heroes ‘awaken’?, “where did all the machines go?” and others that I can’t put here without giving too much of the plot away.  It feels like a story that would’ve been better served as a mini-series, or at least give it a sequel.

Still, 9 is great fun.  I honestly didn’t feel any emotional connection to this like I did with Pixar’s Up, but I still had a good time watching it.  Fans of animated movies should also check this out, since the animation looks brilliant throughout (except for one or two spots where the close-up textures looked kinda flat).  The whole experience was like watching a Saturday morning action cartoon, similar to Batman: The Animated Series from the early 90’s.  If you’re in the mood of a nice adventure flick, 9 isn’t a bad choice.

8/10

(images from Yahoo!)

September 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

Rambo VS Predator?

That’s what the most recent synopsis of the new Rambo flick sounds like.  According to the article

Stallone is Turning Hunter Into Rambo V – ComingSoon.net.

there’s been some different versions flying around the net, so who knows which one is legit (other than Stallone)?

The original idea, about Rambo going after human traffickers in Mexico, actually sounded kinda badass.  From what I remember from the Rambo DVD bonus stuff, the human trafficking angle was originally intended for Rambo, but Stallone felt it odd that suddenly John Rambo is back in the U.S. after being in Vietnam, and then Afghanistan in the previous 2.  He needed a story that brought Rambo home, which became last year’s Rambo.

What I like about the human trafficking story is that it has potential to be different without being ridiculous (Rambo movies in general are ridiculous, but Rambo vs a monster is ridiculous).  Think about it: First Blood – Part 2 had Rambo going back to ‘Nam fighting the North Vietnamese.  Rambo III had him in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets.  Rambo put, um… Rambo in Burma fighting the Burmese military.

Sometimes Photoshop can be used for bad, bad things.

What made this last movie work, at least in my own opinion, was that it put John Rambo in his element, and I mean really in his element.  It was so violent, it almost became funny (he shoots a man in half.  Shoots him in half! That’s a pretty funny image, right?).  But, it gave the character a scene, albeit a very brief one, to contemplate his actions and accept who he is, a killing machine.

What Rambo V could be, if they use the Mexico storyline, is a more introspective John Rambo.  Here, he’s not going up against a structured military.  He’s going up against cold-blooded kidnappers, thieves, rapists, etc.  While the people he dispatched in parts 2, 3, and 4 could very well be fighting for something themselves, here you know the people he’s killing are bad to the bone; awful people who have no ideology to fight for, except to continue the evil of slavery in its modern form and profit from it.  Sometimes you’d need a monster to kill a monster, and John Rambo is the perfect killing machine, who just happens to have a bit of a conscience.

This could also bring the series back to the original (and arguably, best entry).  In First Blood, Rambo is going through serious post-traumatic stress, and having an a-hole of a sheriff on your case isn’t helping.  But that’s what the film was centered on: Rambo dealing with his demons from ‘Nam; it’s something personal.  In V, if his goal is to save a girl, a single person with which to focus all his intent, it becomes personal again.  It’s a smaller-scale story, but could yield the highest emotional investment from the character, and potentially the audience.  If Stallone goes the opposite route, and plays it safe with another action plot stuck in the 80’s (like if Rambo were to go back to Afghanistan to search for bin Laden), then it might ring hollow with viewers.

Anyway, that’s my take on this newest Rambo V news.  I’ll still watch whatever the movie turns out to be; I’m a fan enough of Stallone as a director to trust he’ll do the right thing with this character and franchise.

September 9, 2009 at 12:44 am Leave a comment


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