Sunday, August 26, 2012

2 Brief Movie Reviews from 2012: The Bourne Legacy and The Campaign

The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Director - Tony Gilroy
PG-13; 135 Min
Jeremy Renner - Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz - Marta

Tony Gilroy has directed 3 feature films, including the marvelous Michael Clayton (2007), the acceptably fun corporate espionage half chick flick Duplicity (2009) and now this.... thing... which we will call The Bourne Legacy (not so much)... While the film starts out quite promising with the premise that the Matt Damon of Jason Bourne fame is not the only type of secret government program super warrior out there, it quickly falls into an absolute pile of crap cliches that leads me to believe that script writers are paid 90% of their fees up front to produce the first 30 minutes of a movie and then given a 10% bonus upon completion of the remaining acts. That this film sits on a 71% RT rating as of this review is nothing short of an affirmation that the general consensus for all films is through the point of view of boys aged 9-15.

Jeremey Renner was outstanding in his stoic portrayal of a bomb specialist in the 2008 sleeper hit The Hurt Locker, and for the first 30 minutes of this film I saw a little of that nuanced approach.  Similar to Bourne, but in a different program, Renner is Aaron Cross, and he is trying to stay alive before his own people kill him and all the agents associated with certain programs which could cause a big headache for the usual suspects in suits.  The time lines of this film overlap with the previous Bourne movies so you do get a nice feeling and understanding of the plot and circumstances, but what begins as a movie with a purpose quickly deteriorates into a lot of noise and pointless chase scenes, some lasting so long I actually had to check the time more than once... Some union must have seriously pressured Gilroy into shooting over 100 minutes of stuntman footage because I can't think of a single reason for the excessive use of monotonous chase scenes on foot and by motorcycle.  I actually threw my hands up near the end of the seemingly endless motorcycle chase scene when the possibly mute assailant targeted with killing Cross turns into a Terminator-esque character who cannot possibly killed by any means.

In the end this is a film that had a lot of potential to carry the torch for a franchise that was very popular.  Renner was a good choice to take over for the Damon-less lead male, but he had very little to work with.  Rachel Weisz is a fine actress and I have nothing bad to say about her in this film, except for her lame story line.  I much prefer the way Marie and Jason Bourne were united and then written together, but I'm not trying to compare, just saying this one adds up to little more than a way too long typical action flick.

** out of 5

The Campaign (2012)
Director - Jay Roach
R - 85 Min
Will Ferrell - Cam Brady
Zach Galifianakis - Marty Huggins
Jason Sudeikis - Mitch
Dylan McDermott - Tim Wattely

I laughed at quite a bit of this political farce with the hit-or-miss Will Ferrell playing incumbent Cam Brady, challenged by the unlikely opponent Marty Huggins, played by the love him or don't love him style of Zach Galifianakis, the problem is that I don't quite know much I was laughing with the movie and how much I was laughing at the movie, if you know what I mean? In terms of entertainment and chuckles, I'd say this one passes the test.  Where it fails is when it deviates from the farce it is trying to create and allows itself to lower the standards of funny to Adam Sandler levels of recent years.  It just felt like the filmmakers weren't sure if this was a slightly sophisticated laugh out loud comedy or a toilet bowl humor at all costs production, and that is unfortunate because for such a short film to have such a personality disorder didn't make much sense. 

Not much I need to go into about the plot - nothing, actually - just see it if you like these two actors in general and don't see it if you don't.

*** out of 5

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Brief Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Director - Christopher Nolan
PG-13; 164 Min
Christian Bale - Bruce Wayne
Gary Oldman - Commissioner Gordon
Tom Hardy - Bane
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Blake
Anne Hathaway - Selina
Marion Cotillard - Miranda
Morgan Freeman - Fox
Michael Cane - Alfred

And so it all comes to an end... Christopher Nolan did an excellent job at rebooting a troubled franchise and bringing to the screen an enlightened trilogy of Batman lore, using Christian Bale and a cast of memorable supporting characters to delve into moral quandaries and darker situations, the franchise set records in many categories.  As for me, well, I generally detest the comic book genre but am willing to make exceptions when they are warranted.  With the Nolan Batman trilogy, I think the bar is set as high as possible, and I'm glad to see it come to an end with an acceptable finale.

I'm a few weeks late to the party with this write up and I doubt anyone will see it or not see based on this, so I'll be brief... I also just don't feel like doing any real analysis or expounding on anything at all, actually...

I enjoyed it, even at 2.5 hours, and even with some plot holes... It was a perfect tone for what was happening, if you've seen the other two films, and the ending was decent enough, though Nolan allows for too much exposition for my taste... I don't need to be told in a 2 minute soliloquy exactly what just happened or what it all means, but I guess a few million pubescent boys do.

It's worth the money.