Friday, May 31, 2013

Early Summer Movie Blast

Warning: minor spoilers follow.
None of these are new movies,  but they are films that I either had never heard of, or had not bothered to watch, and a couple were surprisingly good.

Sniper: Reloaded, 2011
The "reloaded" trope is the taking of a popular older movie and remaking it with new actors, sometimes a rewritten script, and modern special effects.  Sniper: Reloaded is not actually one of these movies, as it happens years after the events in Sniper, a movie with notable strong points mixed with Hollyweird drama- reloaded is just a semi-clever play on the reloaded trend. 

I have never seen another movie that gets so many things right and wrong as Reloaded.  Towards the beginning of the movie, correct information is given about the AK-74, with year of adoption and correct bullet weights.  At the same time, we are treated to the scene of training service members firing .50 rifles with no hearing protection.  This type of thing continues throughout the movie.  I can think of two possible explanations.  The script writers might have received expert advice, and refused to follow some of it.  The other explanation is that the writers might have searched for information, and included it without realizing all the things they were missing and getting wrong. 

I'll give this four stars for getting so many things right, and good acting, and take back two of them for getting so many things wrong. 
2 of 5 stars.

The Dictator, 2012

I read a review some years ago that said Sacha Baron Cohen specialized in characters with silly accents, and this is true.  Even when he is not starring in a movie, every role seems to have a ridiculous accent.  Cohen also makes movies that are meant to both shock and amuse.  The Dictator is no exception, with jokes about rape, torture, murder, and terrorism, to name just a few.  At the same time, these jokes are presented in a way that makes the viewer aware that such horrors do exist, but we do not believe for an instant that the character we are watching actually committed them. 

Towards the beginning of the movie, Cohen's character "Admiral General Aladeen" competes in a sprint in his own national sports games.  He cheats by beginning to run before he fires the starting shot himself, and then, as the other runners begin to catch up, he shoots the closest in the legs.  Seeing their leader tiring quickly, the officials holding the tape across the finish line run towards him, so he can win.  In another scene,  Aladeen gives torture tips and encouragement to John C. Reilly before Reilly's character begins to torture him.  These tiny little sketches of comedy gold are the only redeeming feature of Cohen's work,  not the ridiculous excuse for a plot, or the campy acting of his female lead.  (Well, okay, this particular movie also features some old romantic US classics sung in real or pseudo Arabic, which is just hilarious.)  Whether you will find these worth tolerating the often juvenile humor, gross-out visual gags, and just plain offensive nature of much of Cohen's brand of humor will be a personal choice.
2 of 5 stars.

End of Watch, 2012

Like several of these movies, I had never heard of End of Watch before noticing it on Netflix. It stars Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Peña as young partner cops.   There is a plot, which isn't bad, but the movie is about the special bond between those in occupations that depend on their partners for their lives.  Unlike Sniper: Reloaded, I only noticed one factual error, and that was identification of some random knife as a Spyderco.  The characters act like people, not two-dimensional representations, and the acting is on point.  I'll take away half a star for the unlikelihood of a single pair of cops themselves stumbling into all of their discoveries, but this movie is perhaps the best buddy or cop movie I've ever seen.
4.5 of 5 stars

London Boulevard, 2010
Colin Farrell plays a parolee who is trying to go straight.  I am not a big fan of Colin Farrell, but he seems to be at his best playing quick-tempered Irishmen, like his role in In Bruges.  The acting is superb, and the story is interesting.  I'll take away half a point because I'm not a big fan of gangster movies.
3 of 5 stars

The Veteran, 2011

"Dead paras never die, they just re-org in hell."  The Veteran is another movie I had never heard of before seeing it on Netflix.  I don't think it even has music, but it has a real plot, impeccable acting, and Toby Kebell moves like a real operator.  If you don't know what that looks like, watch this movie- my sole complaint is once when he moves down the center of the street.  Not big budget, but definitely worth a watch.
4 of 5 stars

The Factory
Cusack does what Cusack does in movies.  Good acting, but lackluster storyline and very little surprising.  Not bad if you have nothing else to do, and time to kill.
2.5 of 5 stars

Meeting Evil

Some reviewers have suggested this is worth watching, just to see how bad Samuel L. can be.  Everyone except for co-star Luke Wilson plays their role perfectly, and some things are really well done, such as director Chris Fisher's leaving most of the violence off camera, where the viewer's mind must fill it in.  Unfortunately, the plot is just really damn unlikely.
2.5 of 5 stars


Home on the Range said...

I haven't done a full length movie in a while. Thanks for the excellent suggestions. I have Monday off, a quiet day with no plans, no guests, it will be a perfect time.

J.R.Shirley said...

Brigid, glad it was useful to you. Let me know what you think.

Old NFO said...

Thanks, and I'll put at least a couple on the list :-)

J.R.Shirley said...

NFO, glad it was useful. I almost didn't give a couple of these a chance. The Veteran and End of Watch are the ones I almost didn't watch!