Archive for February, 2010

Review Catch-Up: “Edge of Darkness”

No, this isn’t some sequel or spinoff of Pierre Morel’s Taken.  It is unfortunate that Edge of Darkness is being marketed as such (just check out the poster for this and for Taken), since this is quite a different movie from the Liam Neeson action flick from last year.   Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as entertaining as that one.

Edge of Darkness follows Det. Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) as he searches for whomever murdered his daughter, gunned down by an assassin Craven assumed was aiming for him.  Things get crazy when he realizes his daughter really was the target, then goes into full detective mode trying to uncover the truth.

Gimme back my son! Wait, wrong movie...

This is not an action movie.  Yes, there are some moments of action, but they are few and far between.  In the movie’s nearly 2-hour runtime, maybe 10 minutes of it features any kind of shooting or extravagant violence.  What the story decides to focus on are the plot twists (which you can see coming from a mile away) and the political maneuverings of the movie’s corporate badguys.  This can lead to many people getting bored, or confused, as there are some characters that pop in without some proper explanation.  And just who the hell was Darius Jedburgh (Ray Winstone)?  He had some awesome scenes with Gibson, but his character just raised more questions than he answered.

The movie is based on a BBC mini-series from the 1980’s, created by the film’s director, Martin Campbell (of GoldenEye and Casino Royale fame).  The story definitely feels this way, as many side characters are not properly fleshed out, and plot twists come and go in a very condensed way.  The movie did, however, pique my interest in the mini-series, so maybe I should try to Netflix it sometime.

Edge of Darkness is for an audience with a slightly more focused attention span.  This is not a slight against the film, nor a slight against the movie-going public.  But, it was clear from the overall audience reaction when I saw it, that many were disappointed in the slow pace of the story and the general lack of ass-kicking.

6/10

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February 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

Review Catch-Up: “Nine”

Not to be confused with 9 the animated flick, Rob Marshall’s Nine is a musical based on a musical from the 1980’s, which in turn was based on Federico Fellini’s art-house favorite 8 1/2.  The film follows famous Italian director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he attempts to begin production on his latest work, Italia, which films in only a few weeks.  Trouble is, he doesn’t even have a script, and the many women in his life aren’t making things any easier.

My main issue with Nine is that it doesn’t really have a focus.  OK, sure, you could say that the women and his relationship to them are the focus, but I felt no connection whatsoever with Guido and his personal problems.  What happened between him and each of the women usually had no bearing with his attempt to get his movie off the ground.  Sometimes they did, as is the case with Claudia Jensen (Nicole Kidman), a famous German actress who had a fling with Contini during the filming of their earlier films together.

Other times, as with Saraghina (Fergie), a prostitute from Guido’s childhood, I had no idea what it had to do with the present, with Guido and his current problems.  What I did enjoy watching Louisa Contini (Marrion Cotillard), Guido’s wife who was an actress herself.  Her struggles with his infidelity made for some real conflict, and her performance was fantastic (as was her solo number).  Also fun to watch was Penelope Cruz as Guido’s current mistress, Carla.  She’s funny, sexy, and looked like she was having a great time in her role.

The musical numbers were lavish, but again, they were mostly about people I had no interest in (Kate Hudson’s number was a great example of that: fun musical sequence, but had no place in the story).  I wanted the movie to focus more on Contini’s problems with writer’s block, or how he was able to get pre-production going for so long on a movie he doesn’t even have a script for yet.

Also, the tagline for this movie is “Be Italian”, but I found very little in this movie relating to Italy or the ‘Italian state-of-mind’; it’s set in Italy and features Italian characters, but it doesn’t seem to say anything about being Italian.  Unless, of course, ‘being Italian’ means to procrastinate on your work and sleep around with a bunch of women, which I don’t think is the message of the movie.

Nine is a musical that appears to sacrifice story for style.  There’s lots to look at, and the cinematography is great, but I didn’t find anything to back all that up with.  Like a pretty egg, the outside is nice, but the inside seems empty.

5/10

February 12, 2010 at 12:16 am Leave a comment


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