Strangerland

New review from The Movie Snob.

Strangerland  (D+).  The beautiful and talented Nicole Kidman (The Others) returns to her roots Down Under for this unsuccessful tale of suspense and family dysfunction.  Katherine (Kidman) and Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare in Love) have moved their 15-year-old daughter Lily and their somewhat younger son Tom to a tiny god-forsaken town in the middle of nowhere Australia.  Tom is miserable, and Lolitaesque Lily is plainly way too fond of the skeezy older boys at the makeshift skatepark outside of town.  Then the two kids go missing just before a wicked duststorm shuts the place down.  The local lawman Rae (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix) is in way over his head as he tries to coordinate post-storm search efforts, figure out what the parents are hiding, ignore the fact that his girlfriend’s brother may have been involved in Lily’s disappearance, and control his attraction to the not-quite-all-there Katherine.  Kidman throws herself into her crazy role with abandon, kind of like she did in The Paperboy, but she unbalances the picture and blows Fiennes off the screen whenever they have a scene together.  The film is 112 minutes, but it feels WAY longer.  Skip it.

San Andreas

A new review from The Movie Snob.

San Andreas  (D).  I went to this disaster flick with low expectations, but plainly they were not low enough.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Hercules) stars as a hot shot member of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s rescue team.  Massive earthquakes hit the left coast, and it’s up to The Rock to rescue his almost-ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino, Race to Witch Mountain) and their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) from the calamity.  The movie is terrible.  Vast computer-generated cities are levelled, huge computer-generated skyscrapers topple into each other, and I could barely muster a yawn over it.  Talented actors like Ioan Gruffudd (Amazing Grace) and Paul Giamatti (Win Win) are wasted in small parts.  There’s a scene that should be horrifying (and might be horrifying and upsetting to some people, especially parents who have lost a child), but it is so ridiculously unbelievable that I just rolled my eyes.  The movie’s sole bright spot is that the lovely Daddario has a fair amount of screen (and scream) time.  But that’s not enough to save this turkey.

Rifftrax: Sharknado 2

From The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax: Sharknado 2  (C).  The guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 are at it again.  This past Thursday, they did a live riffing show on Sharknado 2: The Second One, and it will be repeated this coming Thursday.  This time, sharknados (that is, tornadoes stuffed with sharks) are bearing down on New York City, and once again it is up to Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering, Sharknado) to save the day.  And it is up to Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett to make fun of the movie the whole way.  As I recall, their commentary on the original Sharknado was very funny, but something just seemed a little off this time around.  There were moments of hilarity here and there–many of which involved co-star Tara Reid (The Big Lebowski) and her fondness for plastic surgery–but overall, it was a pretty mediocre outing for the Rifftrax trio.  I hate to say it, but I recommend skipping this one and waiting for the next installment of Rifftrax live in October — some sort of rock and roll and kung fu movie called Miami Connection.

The Overnight

The Movie Snob says: Watch at your own risk!

The Overnight  (C).  This sex comedy probably deserves an NC-17 rating, in my humble opinion.  But despite the rampant bad behavior on (lurid) display throughout, I was kept somewhat curious about how everything would end up.  A couple with a young boy has just moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, and the husband meets another guy in the park with his son.  They hit it off, so the transplants go over to the Angelenos’ house for dinner.  Things gradually get weirder and weirder as the night goes on, as the Angelenos continually try to get the newcomers to loosen up more . . . and more . . . and more.  Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is well cast as the edgy, perhaps slightly creepy, host of the party.  Taylor Schilling (TV’s Orange Is the New Black) is cute and credible as the Seattle wife who is slightly more clued in to what is going on than her husband (Adam Scott, Friends With Kids).   I can’t really recommend such a vulgar and even obscene movie, but it was kind of interesting.  And only 80 minutes long to boot!

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Movie Snob takes in a classic.

2001: A Space Odyssey  (A).  I had seen this 1968 Kubrick masterpiece only once, many years ago, so I jumped at the chance to see it again at the Magnolia this past Tuesday night.  It was just as long and as trippy as I remembered it.  Basically, it’s about man’s first contact(s) with extraterrestrials.  There’s a prologue in which a black monolith of alien origin appears to our ape-like ancestors and (apparently) gives them the idea to start using tools.  Then we jump to the near future of 2001, when an identical monolith is discovered on the moon.  Finally, the bulk of the film is devoted to an ambitious space mission to Jupiter, led by astronauts Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea, The Thin Red Line) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood, Kitten with a Whip) and aided by the superintelligent computer HAL9000.  The special effects stand up amazingly well for their age.  See it on the big screen if you ever get the chance.

Jurassic World

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Jurassic World  (B).  A one-sentence review would suffice: If you liked the other Jurassic Park movies (and don’t mind a certain lack of originality), you’ll like this one.  The corporate types have finally made a go of dino-cloning, so that mysterious Costa Rican island is now a successful dinosaur theme park.  But the public bores easily, so the park must constantly develop new and scarier species to keep the rubes coming back for more.  Naturally, corporate hubris gets a little come-uppance from Mother Nature.  Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) is an able hero and velociraptor wrangler, but the script doesn’t really showcase his genial charm like Guardians did.  I liked Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) in the role of the tightly wound corporate honcho who has to deal with the rampaging reptiles (and rescue her nephews, who happen to be visiting the park the same day things go wrong), but the movie has taken some feminist flak for not making her character more heroic.  Take the PG-13 rating seriously; there is some pretty bloody dino-carnage in this one.