Showing posts from March, 2011

Snyder Swings Big and Misses with Sucker Punch

Director Zack Snyder has proven himself to be two things 1) an incredible visual stylist with an exceptional talent for shooting action and 2) one of geek culture’s leading filmmakers. Snyder first broke out in 2004 with the Dawn of the Dead remake, a film that turned skeptical horror fans into raving devotees hungry for more. He went on to adapt graphic novels (the gorgeous and gory 300 and the underappreciated Watchmen) and children stories (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole). Sucker Punch is Snyder’s first crack at an original idea, one of his own devising.

The film opens with a theater stage, the curtains pulled back to reveal Babydoll (Emily Browning), a porcelain-skinned 20 year-old blonde in pigtails. Her mother recently died, leaving her and her unnamed sister under the care of a monstrous stepfather who’s after the deceased’s fortune. Babydoll accidentally kills her sister while trying to protect her from their stepfather’s malicious intentions and is promptly s…

Elizabeth Taylor: 1932 - 2011

Very few actresses were as well-respected or achieved a fame equal to most actors during Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1940s and ‘50s. There was Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Katherine Hepburn, and a handful of others. But none of them were like Elizabeth Taylor. She was one of show business’ first childhood talents to grow up, mature, grow old, and die before our eyes. Few others have managed to get so far as adulthood without passing prematurely, such as Judy Garland. Now, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, Ernest Borgnine, and Kirk Douglas are the last living legends of that era, as time has moved on to begin catching up with their successors, those of the New Hollywood age (the 1960s and ‘70s).

I think the first movie I ever saw Elizabeth Taylor star in was 1956’s Giant. Of course, I was really taken with James Dean in that film, but I was just as impressed by Taylor. All the other performances by actresses from that era lacked a certain excitement or distinctive quality, an edge. …

Film Faves: 1997

It's time for another edition of Film Faves!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Film Faves is a feature on The Gibson Review wherein I count down my favorites of a specific topic of film.  It is not intended as an objective Best Of list, merely a subjective celebration of film and a peek at what I love most.  Film Faves counts down twelve favorites, skipping the traditional Honorable Mentions, because ten is often too few but anything more than a dozen can get a bit out of hand.  Currently, Film Faves is going back in time, year by year.  This month, I will be looking at the year 1997.

Let's get right to it.

This year was actually a pretty good year for movies.  It was a year that featured a good share of comedies that were huge hits and became a part of pop culture for a time, such as The Full Monty and Men in Black.  There were also a lot of decent action films that did pretty well at the box office like Pierce Brosnan's second time stepping into 007's "shaken…

B:LA = ID4 Redux

Alien invasions. We’ve seen them countless times before. Thankfully, not in real life… yet. But dozens of movies and TV shows have been made about this subject. To do so now requires something different. Take 2009’s District 9, for example. That twisted the subject into an allegory for apartheid with the aliens for once being the persecuted victims. It was also presented in a stunningly realistic manner.

This year we have Battle: Los Angeles. What’s its creative angle? Independence Day as a combat movie. That’s about as unique as it gets.

The film stars Aaron Eckhart (great as always) as Staff Sergeant Nantz, who is on his way to the civilian life when the beaches of Santa Monica are suddenly attacked by dozens of unknown enemies that appeared from meteors that fell into the Pacific from space. Nantz’s retirement is immediately postponed and he is assigned to a unit of Marines whose mission is to search and rescue any surviving civilians who might be in an LAPD station before a hasty …

This Movie Needs a Slight Adjustment

Have you ever had a chance encounter with someone that you never saw again, but thought about for years afterward? Or found yourself having to choose between a relationship and a career? What if the fact that you never saw that person again or had to make that difficult choice was all part of a plan? In fact, aside from such inconsequential things as the meals you crave or the toothpaste you use, everything you do that affects the course of your life was already mapped out and only required an occasional bump (spilled coffee, a dropped book, a distracting noise) to stay on the right path.

These are the ideas that The Adjustment Bureau, a new film starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and directed by The Bourne Ultimatum scripter George Nolfi, tries to address. It’s an intriguing premise with the potential to wrap a thought-provoking deliberation on fate in a thrilling package. Is that The Adjustment Bureau’s outcome?

Matt Damon plays David Norris, a rock star political candidate whose …

Drive Angry Is What the Poster Says

The action genre is a bit of a wild card. Sometimes action films are terribly derivative. Sometimes they are quite original. Sometimes they’re smart (or smart enough to get by). Sometimes they’re completely idiotic. Some action films gleefully revel in the genre’s over-the-top, brainless violence and nudity.

You can often tell what you’re going to get with an action film’s trailer, however that last one can be tricky to gauge. The trailer can make it look like one of those movies that are bad, but don’t know how bad it is. The Grindhouse films by Tarantino and Rodriguez (Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete) succeeded at selling exactly what they were: gratuitous, mindless thrills for those who love movies smart enough to revel in that stuff while winking at the audience the whole time. Crank and Crank: High Voltage, while not grindhouse fare, are not too dissimilar from them.

It may not be clear in the trailers, but Drive Angry is the latest of these action romps, with a revenge plo…

Oscar 2011: Final Thoughts

The Academy Awards aired Sunday night honoring the best films of the last year. By now, you’ve probably read or heard all the snarky reactions of many journalists. Well, now I’m going to have the last word for the twelve of you reading this.

The ceremony wasn’t that bad. Hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco delivered a solid first hour, including an opening montage that recalled the days when Billy Crystal served as host (maybe they should’ve taken Ricky Gervais up on those jokes he offered to help with the other couple hours). Billy, himself, even made an appearance and received a standing ovation. Kirk Douglas also made a surprise (and hilarious) appearance to present the Best Supporting Actress award. The night wasn’t spectacular, but far from the complete waste that many Hollywood rags and bloggers are making it sound.

But on to the awards. Last month, I posted my picks for ten of the awards. They didn’t fare too well (only three were correct). It didn’t help that I missed what p…