Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Bite-sized Reviews

TANGO & CASH
Tango & Cash is a bizarre buddy-cop film that looks like a product of some parallel universe version of the '80s. You could be fooled into thinking that this is a run-of-the-mill, Rush Hour predecessor-type action comedy, but things very quickly take a turn for the weird. The movie is loud, silly and often makes no real-life sense whatsoever. It's very fun to watch Stallone and Russell at work, playing gleefully off each other and both showcasing disarming comic timing. However, it's often impossible to ignore the sheer ludicrousity of the plot. Thankfully, the cast knows full well and are all in on the joke, which is actually the only redeeming factor. That, and the armoured police car thingamagig the pair get to drive at the end. 3/5 STARS



THE INTERPRETER
Taut, gripping and intelligent, The Interpreter works very well as intended - a political thriller. Looking at the premise and plot, the film could have been handled much clumsier than it actually was. Sean Penn puts his down-on-his-luck everyman charm to good use, but a great character seems a little wasted on Nicole Kidman. Her accent falters and she's all but very stiff, but it's nothing that cripples the film. The movie balances some far-out political conspiracies with a convincing look at the inner workings behind the security at the United Nations General Assembly, and it does help immensely that it was actually shot on-location at the UN. The film is very effective at both a macro and micro level; the international politics and personal emotional drama both carry to same amount of narrative weight. The late director Pollack is smart with his scenes and shots, and the film works best at pulling the audience along for the ride, and spinning a yarn so involving that the loopholes seem negligent.
4/5 STARS

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY
Visionary and ambitious in its scope, Terminator 2: Judgement Day is the pinnacle of the sci-fi action-thriller genre. With more tools at his disposal, director James Cameron was able to expand upon what he had begun in the lower-budgeted Terminator film. In addition to cutting-edge visual effects and mind-blowing action setpieces, Terminator 2 was contemplative and emotionally resonant; exploring the idea of what it means to be human without drowning in self-indulgent pretension. The story of the bond between a boy and his cyborg guardian will pull you in as much as the wham-bam action and large-scale visual spectacle.
4.5/5 STARS


CONSPIRACY THEORY
Conspiracy Theory begins with an interesting premise: what if the paranoid delusional nutcase actually is right about something? It also boasts credible star power, with Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts and a coldly menacing Patrick Stewart leading the cast. However, the film offers nothing for audiences to grab on to and nothing that is really engaging. Its meandering pace hurts the "thriller" aspect greatly - a good number of the scenes seem twice as long as they actually need to be. Mel Gibson appears to be enjoying himself, but his character is not much more than a rambling, incoherent and absurd mess. The whole mystery of what exactly happened to him doesn't matter much when it's not a character you really care about. Julia Roberts is fairly believable as a US Attorney worker, and her calm and rational character is supposed to work as a counterpoint for Gibson's, but a lot of their chemistry seems forced and overly awkward. Patrick Stewart actually doesn't do much at all - those glasses and the scar on his nose do all the work for him. In addition, the film is tonally very odd and inconsistent - the main character of Jerry Fletcher seems to have stepped straight out of a comedy, but the film really wants to be a tense thriller, and in the end it isn't really either one. This movie may have worked in theory, but in practise doesn't hold together.
2.5/5 STARS

ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE
Bristling with eye-catching character and environmental design, kinetic action sequences, likeable characters and a good helping of intelligence and humour, Atlantis achieves what Avatar set out to do - and did so far better than the James Cameron film. This animated film is a visual feast, and is enjoyable as a legitimate science-fiction/fantasy action adventure. It is thematically more mature and perhaps challenging for younger viewers compared to most of Disney's animated offerings, and boasts a startlingly clever script. The film is also remarkably well-researched, the fictional Atlantean language created by Dr Marc Okrand, famous for coming up with Klingon and Vulcan. The linguistics is one of many aspects that make the culture depicted rich and very interesting. Michael J Fox puts in a fantastic and engaging voice performance as Milo Thatch, and is backed up by a supporting cast that includes James Garner and Leonard Nimoy. Atlantis may not number among the Disney animated classics, but I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.  4/5 STARS

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