A movie review from The Movie Snob.
Morgan (D). Okay, you are probably asking yourself, “Why did The Movie Snob waste his time with this poorly reviewed sci-fi thriller?” Basically, I saw it because it features Anya Taylor-Joy, who was quite good in the recent spookfest The Witch: A New-England Folktale, and I wanted to see more of her acting chops. Unfortunately, this movie was not a good showcase for anybody. Kate Mara (The Martian) stars as Lee Weathers, a corporate honcho sent to investigate an “accident” at a secret research facility under a spooky old backwoods house. Turns out that genetic experiments have resulted in the creation of Morgan (Taylor-Joy), a freaky smart and strong teenaged girl who is actually only 5 years old. And we all know how playing God with genetic experiments goes. There’s very little fun to be had, but it is sort of fun watching notable actors you didn’t know were in the movie pop up unexpectedly. Hey, there’s Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Spectacular Now)! And Paul Giamatti (Rock of Ages)! And that guy who played Agamemnon in Troy! But the movie is basically a stale retread of other movies, some better (Ex Machina, Hanna) and some not (Species). The ending is a real howler. Skip it.
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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.
From the desk of The Movie Snob.
Rock of Ages (D). I had heard that this musical based on the music of the 1980s was not very good, but I just had to see it for myself. After all, not only does it boast a soundtrack from the greatest decade pop music has ever seen, but it also features a truly star-studded cast, including Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated), Paul Giamatti (Win Win), and Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) as the Axl-Rose-like rocker Stacee Jaxx. But, what do you know, it really isn’t very good. The main plot, I guess, is about two young lovers who both dream of being rock stars. Julianne Hough (Footloose) is okay as the female lead, mainly because she’s so gorgeous, but Diego Boneta makes zero impression as her boyfriend. Catherine the Great is wasted in a silly subplot in which she plays an uptight moralizer who’s trying to shut down Baldwin’s legendary club The Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip. Although she proved her singing and dancing chops in Chicago, her big number here (to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”) is pretty ridiculous. Only Cruise has a relatively decent part as the decadent Jaxx. Skip it.
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The Ides of March (B-). This political drama stars the ubiquitous Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love) as Stephen Meyer, a talented and idealistic member of a presidential campaign team who gets a crash course in hardball politics in the run-up to the Ohio Democratic primary. His candidate and apparent hero is Michael Morris (George Clooney, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) who is the governor of Pennsylvania and sounds like Barack Obama would sound if he didn’t have to worry about polls and elections. Rounding out the cast are luminaries like Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages) as Morris’s top campaign adviser, Paul Giamatti (Win Win) as Hoffman’s counterpart in the opposing camp, Marisa Tomei (Crazy, Stupid, Love) as a reporter for the Times, and Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler) as a luscious young intern on the Morris campaign team. The movie kept my interest pretty well, but the whole thing got a little lurid and overheated for my taste. It’s got a lot in common with the classic Robert Penn Warren novel All the King’s Men, so if you like The Ides of March, do yourself a favor and check a copy of All the King’s Men out of the library.
DVD review from The Movie Snob
Win Win (B). I picked this movie up at a Redbox last night and quite enjoyed it. Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version), who is almost always good, stars as the movie’s protagonist, Mike Flaherty. Mike is a decent enough guy–he has a wife (Amy Ryan, Dan in Real Life) and two very young daughters at home, he’s a lawyer who apparently specializes in representing elderly folks, and he coaches the local high school’s wrestling team. But Mike’s business and his finances are suffering, and he is getting desperate enough to consider scuffing some rather clear ethical lines. Around the same time, a 16-year-old boy named Kyle blows into town unannounced. He’s the grandson of one of Mike’s clients who has just gone to a nursing home, and, having just fled a drug-addicted mother and her abusive boyfriend in another state, he needs a place to stay. So the Flahertys put him up in their house, and it turns out he is not a bad kid, and is a stellar wrestler to boot. Nothing flashy, just a nice little movie.
A new review from The Movie Snob
Barney’s Version (B). I sort of wanted to see this movie anyway because it features the lovely Rosamund Pike (An Education), and then Paul Giamatti (Sideways) won a Goldon Globe for his performance as Barney Panofsky, so I decided to go ahead and see it. It’s a pretty decent movie about a not-particularly-likeable guy. At the movie’s start, we learn that Barney is a sad older guy who’s apparently given to calling his remarried ex-wife Miriam in the middle of the night and saying rude things to her new husband. Most of the rest of the movie is a flashback, showing us how Barney reached this sad pass. Back in the 70s he was hanging out in Rome with some free-spirited artistic types, but somehow he wound up with a career producing a horrible Canadian soap opera. He smokes cigars, and he drinks too much. And a brief encounter with a detective early in the film tells us, intriguingly, that he is a suspect in a long-unsolved murder. But I have to say, although Giamatti gives his customary fine performance, Barney still came off as a bit of a cipher to me. Why would an elegant beauty like Miriam (played by Pike) fall for a schlubby, hockey-obsessed quasi-alcoholic like Barney? I’m not sure I get it.
A new review from Movie Man Mike
Cold Souls. (B-). I wonder if my expectations for this film were too high. I like Paul Giamatti. The trailers for this film made it out to be a comedy. After seeing it, I agree that it is a comedy, but it’s more of a dry comedy and it’s also a drama. Ultimately, it was one of those movies where I wanted to laugh, but I seldom did or could. Paul Giamatti plays himself in the film. He’s acting in a Broadway play and he’s having trouble getting his character right because he’s all stressed out by his life. What does he do? He has his soul removed. Sounds like a good premise, but once he had his soul removed, he wasn’t really all that funny. It was only after he was implanted with the soul of another person that he became more animated and more funny, but then it got serious too—because this is a person’s soul we’re talking about after all. Then his original soul gets sold on the black market and he has to go in search of it to get it back. And in getting his soul back, he discovers that things really weren’t so bad to begin with. If you just have to see this, I say wait until it comes out on DVD.