Like so many summer 2010 films, Nimrod Antal’s Predators isn’t exactly horrible but isn’t great either. It isn’t boring but it isn’t all that entertaining. It isn’t that well made or cast but it’s also never overly insulting to the intelligence. Almost a quarter-century after the B-movie that launched an improbable franchise, we get a reboot that simply spins it wheels, content to deliver exactly what most will expect from it and absolutely nothing more. It’s far from a waste of time but also simply not worth much discussion. In other words, it fits in with most non-Pixar and non-Nolan product this summer.
Predators opens with promise and potential. A man named Royce (Adrien Brody) plummets toward the ground with seemingly no control over the fact that he’s about to pop like a balloon when he lands. At the last minute, a timed parachute opens and slightly softens his landing. As he gets his bearings, another person crashes to his right and yet another to his left. People are being dropped into what looks vaguely like the Amazon Rainforest for reasons unclear. After a bit of alpha male posturing, it becomes clear that the group of air-dropped personnel is full of killing machines. The almost hysterically international (it helps with box office around the world) group includes a tough-but-genuine Guatemalan named Isabelle (Alice Braga), a Southern convict named Stans (Walton Goggins), a Russian soldier named Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), a Mexican killer named Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), an RUF member named Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), and a Yakuza who goes by Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien). Oh, and there’s the seemingly harmless doctor Edwin (Topher Grace). Here’s some advice: If you ever find yourself in a situation that feels like a movie, ALWAYS keep an eye on the guy who doesn’t belong.
It’s not long before the cold-and-unfeeling Royce...Read More
It’s possible that yet another summer with a masterpiece from Pixar has jaded me against other animation but Despicable Me is a near-miss, a relatively enjoyable comedy with a few intriguing visuals that is nonetheless surprisingly boring and routine. It seems a film impossible to hate but also one as tough to openly love as its villainous lead character Gru (Steve...Read More
Most screenwriting is about conscious, expressed objectives. The action hero must save the damsel in distress and he often tells us why he must save her and how he’s going to do it. The romantic hero must win the heart of the girl he admires and it’s obvious to him and everyone in the audience. Of course, life doesn’t usually work like the...Read More
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza made waves across the pond with the incredibly effective and powerfully scary [REC], a film that made the rounds in certain horror-loving circles before being remade into the accomplished Quarantine. They’ve followed up their inventive shockumentary with a by-the-numbers, incredibly disappointing sequel, [REC] 2, opening in some theaters this weekend and also available On...Read More
Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – are the hottest thing at airport book stores this summer, selling like a long-lost Harry Potter novel. They’ve taken the world by storm and have already produced three films in Sweden while being currently cast...Read More
La Mission is a well-intentioned film that nonetheless falls head first into the kind of surface-level clichés and stereotypes that are usually reserved for basic cable TV movies. A few decent performances save it from unbearable melodrama and the film has an easygoing pace and rhythm not unlike the low-riding cruises its characters take on Friday nights but it very rarely rings...Read More
Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right has been steadily building to a deafening buzz since it premiered at Sundance 2010. The film stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as Jules and Nic, parents to Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), two children conceived through artificial insemination from the same sperm donor. With Joni turning eighteen,...Read More
After the release of Signs, Time Magazine notoriously called M. Night Shyamalan “the next Steven Spielberg.” Believe it or not young readers, it made some sense at the time. Like Spielberg, Shyamalan had directed films from typically derided genres and turned them into cross-demographic successes both commercially and critically. The number of directors who could take a ghost story (...Read More
Let It Rain is a very French light comedy about character much more than wacky situations. The very talented co-writer/director/star Agnes Jaoui collaborates again with co-writer/star/husband Jean-Pierre Bacri in a piece that will feel a bit too slight and inconsequential for some audiences (even Francophiles) but that features enough quality performances in pursuit of true character development that it merits...Read More
M. Night Shyamalan has a lot to answer for. He really hasn’t given audiences anything worthwhile since Unbreakable and even that film met with mixed reactions after the phenomenal success of The Sixth Sense. Once called the “Next Spielberg,” Shyamalan has apparently lost whatever filmmaking common sense he once had. Given the excruciating awfulness of The Happening and the...Read More