Sicario

The Movie Snob enjoys a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Sicario (B+).  Think back, dear reader, to the winter of 2010.  Remember how Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt teamed up for that lame remake of The Wolfman, and we all thought, “<Sigh>  I wish Benicio and Emily would team up for a good movie sometime.  Maybe something about drug cartels.”  Well, our long wait is over.  Blunt plays Kate Macer, an FBI agent working the drug war in Arizona.  After one particularly horrific mission, Kate is recruited for some mysterious cloak-and-dagger ops being run by a shady agent named Matt (Josh Brolin, Men in Black 3) and an even shadier Colombian(?) named Alejandro (Del Toro).  Eager to go after some kingpins instead of the low-level guys she’s used to dealing with, Kate signs up.  But is she in over her head?  And will she make it out alive?  This is a well-made drama, but it’s not for the squeamish or faint of heart.  I must say that Del Toro is particularly good.  It’s been a long time since his Oscar-winning turn as a Mexican cop in Traffic, and it seems like war-on-drugs movies bring out the best in him.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Guardians of the Galaxy  (B).  I did not have particularly high expectations for this sci-fi special-effects extravaganza, so that may have helped me enjoy it all the more.  I’m afraid a plot description will make it sound a little flat: a bad guy is searching for an ancient artifact of immense power that will help him rule the galaxy, and a band of misfits (the Guardians of the title) must try to stop his genocidal plans.  But it’s more clever than it sounds, and it’s generally a pretty light-hearted romp.  Likeable everyman Chris Pratt (The Five-Year Engagement) stars as Peter Quill, a Tomb Raideresque scoundrel who is really hoping his self-proclaimed nickname “Starlord” will catch on.  Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) is his enemy-turned-ally Gamora.  Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) has many of the best lines as a roguish raccoon named Rocket who has somehow acquired the power of speech and the ability to fly spaceships.  Other notable faces show up, such as Glenn Close (The Stepford Wives), John C. Reilly (Walk Hard), and Benicio Del Toro (21 Grams).  The film is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and violence and for some mild language.  I guess that’s about right, although I don’t really think mature 11 and 12-year-olds would have a problem with it.

Somewhere

New review from The Movie Snob

Somewhere (C). This new movie from director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) won a “Golden Lion” award at the Venice Film Festival, whatever that means. I thought it was a promising but ultimately disappointing little movie. Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff, World Trade Center) is a successful Hollywood actor, but he’s existentially stuck. The fast sportscar, the booze, and the beautiful women don’t fill the void any more. He’s fond of his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning, The Door in the Floor), but he just doesn’t see her that much. Coppola just kind of follows Marco around and observes like the proverbial fly on the wall. She shows the emptiness of his life pretty effectively, as he lives at a hotel that is apparently a known hangout for Hollywood types. (Benicio del Toro (The Wolfman) randomly appears at the hotel, sharing an elevator with Marco.) But then some scenes never really seem to go anywhere — a long scene of Cleo ice skating, for instance, or a short scene in which Marco’s car breaks down. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, either. It’s nice to see Ellie Kemper from TV’s The Office in a movie, though.

The Wolfman

A new review from The Movie Snob

The Wolfman (C). I’m not familiar with any of this film’s famous predecessors (not even Teen Wolf), so I approached it with a fresh eye. It boasts a strong cast (Benicio del Toro of Traffic, Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada, Anthony Hopkins of everything under the sun, even good old Geraldine Chaplin of Doctor Zhivago and BloodRayne) and buckets of gore, but that doesn’t make up for the lackluster plot and the lack of decently earned scares. Sure, you jump a couple of times when someones jumps into the frame from off screen, accompanied by a horrifically loud noise, but where’s the art in that? Anyway, some nasty critter is loose in the 1891 British countryside, killing Gypsies and Englishmen indiscriminately, and Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) takes it on himself to figure out what’s going on after his brother is killed by the monster. Lawrence gets bitten but survives. Bad Things ensue. The movie is adequate for a matinee, but I wouldn’t pay full price.