30 Days of Night
It’s hard to pretend I enjoy vampire movies when the fact of the matter is, I cannot stand them. However, every so often a vampire film comes along that I can actually sit all the way through for. In fact, I honestly had no interest in seeing this movie at all. I only went to humor the people who did want to see it. I had no idea that I would actually find myself interested in the film once it actually began. There could be several reasons for my curiosity. Maybe it was because it’s Halloween season or perhaps it was the fact that the entire film took place in a snow-saturated ice land that enticed the Eskimo in me. Whatever the reason was, I surprisingly did not hate this movie. Now before you go running off thinking I have given this movie a good review, you should probably read on.
30 Days of Night takes place in the “northern most town in the U.S.,” Barrow, Alaska. Once a year, the town is blanketed in darkness for an entire month. During this time, the already miniscule town gets even smaller when more than half the residents move to places that actually have sunlight during this time of gloom. As soon as the sun sets for the last time in a month, strange things begin happening. At first the townspeople think they have a town menace on their hands. Soon they discover that what they are dealing with is far worse than a meager troublemaker. The quiet Alaskan town quickly becomes a war zone when the vampire-like creatures begin killing off the town’s people, several at a time. There really is not really to explain the rest of the movie in detail except to say that it is filled with different attempts to kill the vampires. Basically, it’s the plot of most vampire movies. The only difference is that this one has the twist of being in a secluded town forced to live in a month of darkness.
There is one scene in the film that I thought, from a filmmaking perspective, was very well done. After the creatures execute a considerable massacre, the camera gives a bird’s-eye view of the town. Visually, the strong contrast of red blood splattered all over a snow-white ground was extremely effective in its effort to evoke a terrified response from the audience. One of the reasons why I did not hate this movie was because of the cast. Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) plays the small town’s sheriff, Eben Oleman. I’ve always liked Hartnett. There is just something about his acting style that appeals to me and, more often than not, makes me want to see whatever his newest film is. One of my favorite up-and-coming actors, Ben Foster, makes a brief appearance in the movie as a sort-of prophet for the coming vampires. Finally, Melissa George plays Hartnett’s soon-to-be ex-wife.
Really, 30 Days of Night had its strong points but from a film critic’s perspective, I cannot very well give this film a great rating. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad. I give 30 Days of Night a modest C+.
3:10 to Yuma
When it comes to bravery, valor, and good ol’ fashion western showdowns it really doesn’t get any better than this. 3:10 to Yuma is the first time a film from the western genre has made it to the big screen in over four years. Kevin Costner’s Open Range was the last one. Even so, to try to think of when the last good western was in theaters, you would probably have to go all the way back fifteen years ago to 1992’s Academy Award winning Unforgiven. Why it took Hollywood so long to make another decent western is beyond me. What I do know is that it was well worth the wait. Heck, they probably shouldn’t make another western for another fifteen years because it would be pretty darn hard to top 3:10 to Yuma.
3:10 to Yuma stars tough guys Christian Bale (Batman Begins) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator). The film takes place in Arizona in the late 1800s. Bale plays Rancher Dan Evans and Crowe is the notorious outlaw Ben Wade. Both are fighting for something different. Evans is doing anything he can to save his ranch from being bought up by the government. Wade is basically fighting for his freedom. When Ben Wade is captured after robbing a stagecoach, it is determined that he must be taken to the train station where he will take the 3:10 to Yuma when he awaits a prison sentence. When the local town of Bisbee, Arizona offers Evans $200 to help transport Wade to the train station, he quickly accepts. Along the way the group encounters many obstacles including ambushes from the Native Americans and other posses with scores to settle with Wade (one which including a cameo by Luke Wilson).
Besides the always popular Crowe and Bale, 3:10 to Yuma also boosts a superb supporting cast. The legendary Peter Fonda plays Byron McElroy, one of the men escorting Wade to the Train station. Ben Foster (Hostage) plays Charlie Prince, the menacing leader of Wade’s posse hell-bent on rescuing Wade once he is captured.
It would unjust for me to not even mention the last 30 minutes of the film. Everyone knows that in order for a western to be successful there has to be a big showdown at the end of the film (If you think I just gave away the ending of the film then you clearly have never seen a western and thus should not see this one). Anyway, 3:10 to Yuma has one of the most gut-wrenching last 30 minutes of a film that I have even seen. The beauty of a film like this is that it is nearly impossible to predict the ending by just knowing what the film is about. I was sitting in my seat while white-knuckling the armrests just dying to see how this one was going to end. Even at the very end, the heroic music stops and the booming of the train is all that can be heard. It’s as if my heart was pounding through my chest. Now that is a sign of genius filmmaking. I won’t way anything more because I want all of you to go see this movie and I don’t want to give anything away.
Taking into account the acting, music, story, and landscape of the Wild West, I give 3:10 to Yuma no less than a solid A.
(500) Days of Summer
You know what makes (500) Days of Summer such a great film? It’s the fact that it really is what it was advertised as: “Not a love story, but a story about love.” For the first half of the movie you can’t help but root for the two main characters, Tom and Summer, to stay together. However, then you start to realize that if they did live happily ever after, the movie would not have had the same lasting effect on the viewer. It definitely would have been just like every other flash in the pan, corny romance flick.
(500) Days of Summer is about Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a greeting card writer who has higher aspirations of being an architect. Soon he meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a woman in his office whom he can’t stop obsessing over. To make a long story short, they fall deeply in love only to eventually break up, leaving Tom broken-hearted. Wondering if there is a happy ending that leaves you warm and fuzzy? Well, I’m sorry to say you are out of luck. (500) Days of Summer is more realistic than any other romance movie I’ve seen over the last five years. It doesn’t cover the world with roses and tell you that your one true love is out there waiting for you. Its message is that love is not about fate or being “meant-to-be.” Life is all about coincidences and love is what you make of it.
In terms of the movie itself, it is done in such a way that it keeps the audience wondering what happens next. The movie jumps from the end of Tom and Summer’s relationship, to the beginning, to the middle, to the end again. It works perfectly this way.
One of the best things about this movie is the chemistry between the two main actors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel seem as though they could be dating in real life. This movie had perfect casting, a very appropriate soundtrack, and a wonderfully bittersweet story. I give (500) Days of Summer a solid A.
Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, returns to his favorite genre with 2012. This movie tops his other previous adventures in terms of scale and overall destruction. Obviously, this is because 2012 is literally about the extinction of all mankind. The real ancient Mayans predicted that the world would come to an end on December 21st, 2012. Many people have different theories about the forecast of humanity but Roland Emmerich decided to take the Mayan prediction literally and create a movie about, basically, people trying to survive the end of the world. The hero of the film is Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a man divorced from his wife but still on speaking terms. The apocalypse begins when Curtis is in the middle of a camping trip with his two young kids. With the help of his ex-wife, her new beau, and a crazy hippie (played hilariously by Woody Harrelson), the Curtis family begins a journey across the world to survive the end of days.
It goes without saying that the strongest parts of 2012 are the visual effects. This movie could have gone one of two ways. It could have tried to be a big budget action movie with terrible CGI (a la The Core) or it could have recognized that this movie would fail completely without the visual effects to back up a weak story and mediocre acting. Luckily, the result was the latter. The visual effects blew me away. Usually the destruction in disaster movies is limited to specific cities like Los Angeles in Independence Day or New York in Armageddon but in 2012, the audience is presented with images of complete countries sliding into the ocean or cities crumbling into the seemingly bottomless pits of the earth’s crust.
Really, do you need to know anything more about this movie? Everyone knows you don’t see these movies hoping for amazing acting or an intricate story. It is ridiculous to think that most movie critics don’t understand this. They criticize every minuscule detail as if the film was trying to win Oscars. The only point of these movies is to give the audience a way to escape for a few hours. They just want to see stuff blow up! That’s all! Trust me, this movie definitely delivers with a powerful punch. ‘Nuff said. I give 2012 an A-.
I could go into a lot of detail about 1408 but the truth is, it really does not deserve much attention. 1408 is based on the Stephen King short story by the same name.
The film stars John Cusack as a non-fiction author who writes books about various haunted places and houses across the country. One day he gets a postcard regarding a hotel that has a deep secret. Sounds scary enough right? Well, the first 30 minutes really pulls the audience in and makes them think that they are on a ride that is going to really freak them out. In fact, just the opposite happens and you spend the majority of your time trying to figure just what in the hell is going on.
Cusack arrives at the hotel and is skeptical of the suppose hauntings that the hotel claims to have. He convinces the manager of the hotel (Samuel L. Jackson in the smallest role of his life) to let him stay one night in room 1408. The legend claims that 56 people have died in room 1408. Again, it sounds pretty damn scary doesn’t it? Think again. The remainder of the film is filled with confusing plot holes and typical scary movie cliques such as a radio come on by itself and creaking doors. The director, Mikael Håfström, is going to try harder if he wants to creep out this avid moviegoer.
I will say this about the film: although John Cusack is really the only actor in this film, he does a terrific job portraying the emotions of a man who is stuck in a screwed up room with no way out. I’ve got to say, I have never seen Cusack portray such a genuinely scared man in a long time. It takes a confident actor to cry onscreen about a character that doesn’t really exist.
The graphics of this film were average. I know, you must be asking youself, “What graphics? The film takes place in a hotel room.” Well, I would tell you to find out for yourself by watching the movie but I am not cruel enough to make an innocent person’s mind go through such agonizing torture.
Even after reading this review you still have an overwhelming desire to watch 1408, be my guest. Just as long as you don’t come back to me crying about how you wasted $10 of your money and an hour and a half of your life. I give 1408 a D-.
First of all I have to say, “Shame on you, Roland Emmerich, for making me believe that this movie would be as good as Independence Day or The Patriot.” Now that I have gotten that out of the way and I can actually begin the bashing of this terrible film. 10,000 BC was so bad that I actually began looking at my watch 15 minutes into the film. Yeah, it really is that bad. I had heard terrible things about this film before I went to see it and it seemed as though the majority of the trash talking was directed toward how historically inaccurate the movie was. After forcing myself to sit through this 109 minute travesty I realized that I was disappointed with every other aspect of the film besides the inaccuracies. Honestly, this film was so extremely inaccurate that there is no possible way that Emmerich was trying to make it realistic.
Honestly, I don’t think I should even give the synopsis of the film at all because I spent the first half of the film trying to figure out just what the heck was going on. By the time the movie was halfway over, I had lost all hope of trying to understand because frankly, I didn’t care. For the remainder of the film I just tried to enjoy the mediocre special effects and boring cinematography. The only reason why I am not giving this movie a failing grade is because of the decent soundtrack (but even that was driven into the ground by constant repetition) and the average performance by Cliff Curtis (Collateral Damage).
Okay, fine, I will briefly give you the plot outline. 12,000 years ago a tribe realizes that an old lady’s prophesy about the demise of their tribe might come true. One particular mammoth hunter decides that he is going to do something about it by traveling to far off lands to rescue his woman and save his tribe. Mystical things seem to happen throughout the film and they seem to play some sort of role in the story of the film but, honestly, it really does not matter.
The acting is terrible but I blame that solely on the casting director. There were so many reasons why this movie failed and one of the most prominent reasons was the very poor casting choices. The worst of all was the casting of Camilla Belle (When a Stranger Calls) as the lead actor’s love interest. The cinematography was decent but certain parts had me wondering how the heck the main characters got from one place to another. The film starts out with the tribe’s camp blanketed in snow at the top of a mountain. The next thing you know, the main characters are in a rainforest and they haven’t even broken a sweat. Five minutes later they are trekking across a barren desert. At the end of the film, the narrator (Omar Sharif) tells of how the men traveled to the ends of the Earth. This had me believing they must have had airplanes 12,000 years ago in order of them to get to the other side of the world in two days and without even breaking a sweat.
The story made no sense, the acting was terrible (except for Cliff Curtis), the characters were one-dimensional, the special effects were mediocre at best, the soundtrack was repetitive…please, just don’t waste your time or money on this film. I give 10,000 BC a D-.