Station Eleven (book review)

The Movie Snob has been slacking off at the movies–so here’s a book review:

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (2014).  This “National Bestseller,” as the front cover proclaims, is well deserving of its fame.  There’s a global pandemic of deadly flu that kills over 99% of humanity, destroying civilization as we know it.  Nevertheless, twenty years later, the survivors persevere.  Some of them have formed a wandering troupe known as the Traveling Symphony, and they journey from settlement to settlement, performing Shakespeare and classical music.  The novel flips back and forth from the time of the pandemic and its immediate aftermath to events years later, but it’s not too hard to follow.  It’s exceptionally well written, and the characters come to vivid life.  In short, I thought this was a great read.  Even if you’re not a fan of science fiction or dystopian fiction, I think you ought to give it a try.

The Last Man on Earth (TV review)

A TV review from The Movie Snob — a guy who watches very little TV.

The Last Man on Earth: Season One  (B).  The premise of this sit-com intrigued me:  Take a standard last-man-on-earth scenario, but play it for laughs.  Will Forte (Nebraska) stars as Phil Miller, a very ordinary guy from Tucson who just happens to be the only survivor of a virus that seemingly wiped out everybody else on the planet.  Including all the animals.  The first season is only 13 episodes, but they are so packed with twists and surprises that I really can’t say anything else about the show without committing spoilers, so I’ll just say that I thought it was creative and occasionally pretty funny.  The extras on the DVD set are nothing to write home about—some deleted scenes that aren’t particularly funny, a couple of episode commentaries that don’t add much to the experience, a couple of other short items about the creation and making of the show.  Just watch the show itself and see if it’s your cup of tea.

Z for Zachariah

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Z for Zachariah  (C+).  Many years ago, a college buddy and I were desperate for a movie rental, and we settled on an obscure sci-fi movie out of New Zealand called The Quiet Earth.  It turned out to be a terrible movie about some sort of global catastrophe that caused the disappearance of almost every single human being.  But—in New Zealand at least—two men and one woman were left alive, and eventually they all found each other and had to deal with their odd situation.  The movie was, as previously mentioned, terrible.

Now along comes Z for Zachariah, a movie with a very similar premise but starring some bona fide movie stars—Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), and Chris Pine (Into the Woods).  When the movie begins, a young woman named Ann (Robbie) is living alone on a farm in a remote valley that has somehow been spared a nuclear catastrophe that seems to have ended all other human life.  But one day she encounters another survivor, John (Ejiofor), and at first they have to work at getting comfortable around each other.  And then their careful equilibrium is destroyed by one more arrival, a handsome scamp named Caleb (Pine).  That’s all I can say about the plot without committing any spoilers.  (As another reviewer has said, Pine’s picture is on the movie poster, so describing his character isn’t a spoiler.)  Anyway, I thought the movie was okay—certainly better than The Quiet Earth—but still nothing to get too excited about.

Snowpiercer

The Movie Snob checks out a new sci-fi flick.

Snowpiercer (B). Here’s a weird take on the whole dystopia/end-of-the-world thing. Mankind tries to correct global warming and accidentally freezes the entire planet solid. Seventeen years later, the remnant of humanity is surviving on—are you ready for this?—a souped-up train that never stops and circumnavigates the globe once a year. To make matters worse, the survivors are organized like the passengers on the Titanic: a few super-favored people live in luxury in the forward cars, while the huddled masses live in squalor in the tail end of the train. Led by Chris “Captain America” Evans, the proletariat rises up and tries to take its revolution all the way to the front of the train and to the mysterious engineer “Wilford,” who supposedly built the train and still tends its engine. It’s very violent and goofy as all get-out, but it’s never boring. Also starring Octavia Spencer (The Help) and John Hurt (Only Lovers Left Alive) as proletarians and Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a weird functionary from the front of the train.

The Last Man on Earth

DVD review from The Movie Snob.

The Last Man on Earth  (D+).  When I bought this DVD for a dollar, I did not realize I was buying the first film adaptation of the 1954 novel I Am Legend, which was later turned into the rather more famous films The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and I Am Legend starring Will Smith.  In this 1964 black-and-white film, Vincent Price (House of Wax) stars as the titular character–the only survivor of an apocalyptic plague that turned everyone else into creatures that he calls vampires but that act more like zombies.  Indeed, according to IMDB.com, this movie was an inspiration for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the godfather of all subsequent zombie movies.  Unfortunately, this film is not very good.  The acting is poor, and the long flashback to show how Price’s character got where he is now just isn’t very compelling.  There’s only one fairly creepy scene, and it is short.  Otherwise, pretty forgettable stuff.  At least it’s short (86 minutes).

The Walking Dead – Season One

A TV review from The Movie Snob – only a few years late.

The Walking Dead – Season One.  (B).  As usual, I’m a late-comer to this TV series, and I have made my way through only the first season at this point.  As my grade indicates, I thought it was good, but not really great.  The set-up is pretty cool.  A Georgia sheriff named Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, Love Actually) gets shot in the line of duty and falls into a coma.  Some time later, he wakes up in a deserted hospital to a world that has fallen to a zombie apocalypse.  It’s a pretty effective way to draw the viewer into Rick’s predicament, watching him try to understand and navigate the nightmare world he now inhabits.  Once he gets his feet under him, he sets out to try to find his wife and son.  The zombie special effects are quite well done, and it is an amazingly gory show, even by cable TV standards (I would think; I don’t have cable myself).  I’d give it a higher grade, but occasionally the show did seem a little hokey, a little “TV-ish.”  Explosively tense situations seemed to crop up all the time, only to be defused a little too quickly and easily.  Characters occasionally make choices that are not particularly believable.  And the whole season is only six episodes long—what’s up with that?  The extras on the DVDs are okay, but nothing to write home about.  Still and all, season one was pretty good, if you’re a fan of hungry zombies.

World War Z – a concurring opinion

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

World War Z  (B).  Zombie-apocalypse movies come and go, but not many can boast the star power of Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading).  For that matter, not many zombie movies also serve double-duty as big wet kisses to the U.N., but this one does.  Pitt plays a retired U.N troubleshooter who gets called back into active duty when a standard zombie plague threatens the survival of mankind.  He jets all over the world, searching for some way to defeat or at least defend against the ravenous undead.  Needless to say, he has lots of narrow escapes from creepy zombies along the way.  I thought it was an enjoyable movie, although it was almost spoiled by one scene in which the human defenders act so ridiculously stupidly that I would’ve thrown my popcorn at the screen if I had had any popcorn.  (For The Borg Queen’s review of this movie, click here.)

This Is the End – a second opinion

New from The Movie Snob

This Is the End  (D).  Mom Under Cover reviewed this movie a little while back (click here for her take), so I’ll add only a short note.  I think my grade is lower than hers because my expectations were higher.  The premise seemed so promising—a bunch of movie stars playing themselves are having a party at James Franco’s house when they are suddenly confronted with a real Book-of-Revelation-style apocalypse.  But as Mom Under Cover hints, the vulgarity and crassness are beyond description—probably something like Your Highness, reviewed by The Borg Queen on this site.  There are a few humorous moments, and I thought it was interesting to get Hollywood’s take on Christian eschatology, but overall I cannot say I enjoyed it.

The Age of Miracles (book review)

From The Movie Snob.

The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker (2012).  Has the end of the world always been such a popular topic?  Zombie apocalypses and doom-by-asteroid seem to be especially popular these days.  The menace in The Age of Miracles is much quieter than these: the earth’s rotation is inexplicably slowing down, causing the days and nights to get longer and longer and longer.  At first merely inconvenient, the phenomenon gets increasingly serious as ocean currents, weather patterns, and all sorts of animal and plant life are affected by “the slowing.”  But I’m giving you the wrong impression of this book, because this is really the story of Julia, an 11-year-old girl.  The slowing certainly affects her life, but it has to compete for her attention with the other trials of childhood–loneliness, a secret crush, family troubles, and the other usual difficulties of youth.  Walker, a first-time novelist, does a very nice job of making Julia a believable and likable character, and I really enjoyed the book.  At only 269 pages, it’s a pretty quick read, too.

Zone One (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob.

Zone One, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday 2011).  I’m not the biggest zombie fan in the world (that would be Nick at Nite), but I heard some good things about this novel, which is set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic America (primarily New York City).  The conventions of the genre are generally adhered to: a zombie plague springs out of nowhere; it turns people into mindless, bloodthirsty automatons; and if a zombie bites you, you turn into a zombie too.  Now, many months or maybe even years after the plague erupted, the surviving humans are hoping the corner has been turned.  A provisional government has been set up in Buffalo, and an effort is underway to reclaim New York City from the ravenous undead.  The protagonist is one of the New York City sweepers, a survivor who goes by the nickname Mark Spitz, and we learn the whole story of the zombie plague through his flashbacks and reminiscences.  Although I’m not sure Whitehead’s arty prose style would appeal to everyone, I enjoyed the rhythm of his writing.  If you have half a yen for zombies, you should definitely check this book out.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

A new review from the desk of The Movie Snob.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World  (B+).  I have wanted to see this movie ever since I first saw the previews for it a while back.  My keenly trained critic’s intuition told me that this was a movie that should really be titled Hoping Keira Knightley Will Date Me Because It’s the End of the World, and I rather like Keira Knightley.  Well, I saw the film today, and I can’t say my critic’s intuition was wrong.  As the movie opens, we learn from a handy TV news guy that the world is going to end in three weeks, smashed by a giant asteroid named Matilda that NASA has proved powerless to stop.  After that, we experience the last days of Earth as seen through the eyes of Dodge Peterson (Steve Carell, Little Miss Sunshine).  Dodge is a sad fellow, an insurance salesman whose wife Linda ran off pretty much as soon as the apocalypse countdown started.  Then Dodge meets his downstairs neighbor, the cute and free-spirited Penny (Knightley, Never Let Me Go).  Dodge accidentally acquires a dog, the city starts to get a little dangerous with all the rioting and looting, and next thing you know Dodge and Penny are on a joint road trip to accomplish their separate missions–he to find his long-lost high-school sweetheart, and she to find someone with a plane who can get her back to her family in England.  It’s a little sappy and sentimental (after a fairly dark opening act), but Carell and Knightley play appealing and likeable people, and the bottom line is that the movie worked for me.  Too bad it got mixed critical reviews and apparently sank like a stone at the box office; I say it deserved better.

Contagion

Nick at Nite reviews a fairly recent release.

Contagion

I have thing for doom and gloom.  It is a little unhealthy.  I am all for any movie that has as its main premise the end of the world, the breakdown of society, and tall buildings lying in ruin.  From critically acclaimed fare, The Road, Night of the Comet, and Blindness, to critically panned fare, Waterworld, The Postman, and 2012 – I have seen them all.  I thought Contagion would fall into this category.  It does not.  However, it is a very good movie.  It is suspenseful.  It is interesting.  It is well acted.  The movie follows the progression of a deadly virus that strains the ability of the doctors, scientists, and government agencies to confront it.  Moral dilemmas abound at every corner.  No famous member of the cast is safe from a harrowing death.  The movie is not too graphic (one autopsy, images of sick people, and images of dead bodies in body bags).  It is a little scary.  I say check it out.  I give it a solid “B.”

Walking Dead (Season One)

A new review from The Bleacher Bum

The Walking Dead, Season 1: One of my pet peeves is whenever someone says, “The movie isn’t near as good as the book.” Really? (please note the sarcasm that follows) You mean to tell me a 500-page novel that takes about a month and a half to understand and comprehend is better than a 130-minute running movie? I am shocked. I mention this because a television series is more like a novel than it is a movie.  With a television show, characters can be developed on an intra-personal and interpersonal level, background stories can be explained in detail, and situations can evolve into about seven different storylines and subplots. Movies are incapable of this. In my opinion, the recent television dramas of HBO, AMC, Showtime, and F/X have already killed the standard drama series of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.  The cable networks can get away with so much more than the over-the-air networks.  And if I was involved in the movie industry, I would be greatly concerned with popularity of dramas such as The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, Mad Men, Weeds, Californication, and……The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead is currently in its second season on AMC, and ironically, it was created, written, and directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile).  The show picks up right after the world’s apocalypse.  In the Atlanta area, everyone seems “dead,” except for about 100 survivors and about 250,000 zombies.  The survivors are led by sheriff deputy Rick Grimes and his partner Shane. The humans are just trying to survive by hiding out and living primitively, while trying to escape the hordes of zombies aka “walkers.”  The zombies only care about eating the flesh of the living.  The show is more about the human spirit, the desire of humans to exist and survive than it is about the zombies.  The first season is only six episodes, but there were about 600 instances where I was asking myself: “What the hell would I do in this situation?”  I recommend it, but it is not for children, persons with weak stomachs….or it is not to be watched while eating human flesh. Grade: B+.

 

Walking Dead (Season Two)

Comic Book Guy revisits the zombie apocalypse.

Walking Dead (Season 2) For those of you haven’t  been watching this (or anything else on AMC) you are missing out on some quality basic cable television. AMC has produced a string of series with solid production, interesting characters and story lines, and decent special effects. I’ve been watching Mad Men, The Killing, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead this year. All of them worthwhile, but I particularly like this series. Yes, it’s based on a comic book and yes, it has zombies (two great things that go great together) but don’t let that put you off.  The series follows a small band of survivors in a post zombie apocalypse (“ZA”) as they make their way across the south, in search of…  what? Well, that’s the question. This isn’t a neatly wrapped package where our intrepid adventurers set off in search for the cure, or the cause of the ZA. It’s not even really about the zombies. It’s about what has meaning when civilization collapses. It’s about what makes us human. It’s about what you believe in, when reality as you know it has changed so fundamentally that you have no choice but to question those beliefs. All of it adds up to quality TV. If you missed Season 1, go back and check it out on DVD before you dive into this season. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you like zombies. I give it a solid B+.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A new review from The Movie Snob

Rise of the Planet of the Apes  (A-).  I made it down to the discount cinema today to see this late-summer release, and I’m glad I did.  It’s a very, very good action movie.  I understand that star James Franco (Spider-Man) kind of dissed the movie as a fluff piece, but he did a fine job as a bio-scientist obsessed with finding a cure for Alzheimer’s for his poor, suffering dad (John Lithgow, 2010).  Because he’s in a bit of a time-crunch, he kind of rushes the chimpanzee drug-trials, and as a result finds himself raising a super-intelligent chimp named Caesar (motion-capture work by Andy Serkis, King Kong).  Given the title of the movie, I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that things eventually go very badly.  But even though you know how it’s going to go, director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) keeps things fresh and lively.  Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) co-stars but doesn’t have much to do except look radiant and opine that just maybe this whole experiment wasn’t such a great idea.  Check it out.

Contagion

Movie Man Mike sends us this review.

Contagion. (C-).  The great cast in this film is what attracted me to see it.  Lawrence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Gweneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Elliott Gould.  That should be enough to make a good movie, right?  Nope.  This film had very little plot.  It’s more of a mockumentary.  A what-if scenario.  The film looks at what might happen if a supervirus were to get loose.  That’s too simple of a concept to drive a feature-length film.  A plot is needed.  In about 5 minutes time, you can see how a supervirus can multiply and spread across the globe.  The rest is pretty much filler.  Gweneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet are dead early in the film, so we don’t get to see much of them.  Jude Law plays a blogger and his character is just strange.  As a viewer, you don’t know whether you want to like him or hate him.  Marion Cotillard’s talents are wasted on a role that seems nearly pointless to the overall action.  In short, don’t waste your money on this one–either in the theaters or as a rental.

Walking Dead (season one)

DVD review from Comic Book Guy

Walking Dead

Just finished Season One (6 episodes), which is available on DVD. This is based on the original comic book series by the same name (which won an Eisner Award last year). The series revolves around a small band of survivors following trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. What else do you need to know?  AMC picked it up and it doesn’t disappoint. I like AMC. Their other projects (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Killing) are well written and stylish with interesting characters and high production values.  This is another series that lives up to what the best of cable network can produce. And even if it didn’t have all that going for it, it has Zombies. Lots of Zombies. Zombies are like bacon; everything is better with them. Apocalypse: Good. Zombie Apocalypse: Better!  I give it an A. Check it out.

The Walking Dead (season one)

New review from zombiemaster Nick at Nite

The Walking Dead

The problem with a television show is that it is hard to sustain momentum. Unless each and every episode can stand alone – Law & Order, MacGyver, Jersey Shore – your show must convince the viewer to return week after week (or at least to hit the record season button on their DVR). The Walking Dead succeeds where The Event, Flashforward, and Silver Spoons have failed. I confess. I love Zombie movies. Like teenagers to Twilight, I dart from one Zombie movie to the next with bated breath. The Walking Dead gets it right. Compelling stories, scary Zombies, creepy scenery, and a more than passable cast. This is a longer, chewier 28 Days Later. In fact, when I watched the premiere I had the impression that it was just a rip off of 28 Days Later. Seriously, a guy wakes up in a hospital and the world is overrun by Zombies? I was mistaken. It is an original story and any similarities are only minor. The Walking Dead is based on a comic book series that was developed independently from 28 Days Later. My only disappointment is that the season is already over. Here is the good news. The complete season is already available for sale at Amazon. If you did not see it, go buy it. I give the series an A+.

Zombieland

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Zombieland (B-). I’m no horror-movie buff, but I’m kind of developing a taste for zombie movies — or at least ones that have a sense of humor about them, like Shaun of the Dead and this current release. As our movie begins, the zombies have already conquered America, leaving only a very few human survivors. There’s Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland), a neurotic fellow of about 25 who has developed roughly 31 rules for staying alive in Zombieland. There’s Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, Management), a buff crazy dude who loves to kill zombies. And there are sisters Wichita (Emma Stone, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, No Reservations). Despite some friction, the four team up and head out west, where they have heard there might not be any zombies. Apparently the zombies hordes have been depopulating themselves somehow, because there really aren’t all that many zombies around, and the movie is largely a road-trip movie with some decently clever dialogue and a truly bizarre but entertaining sequence involving an extended cameo by a major Hollywood star. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some gross zombie stuff too, but not as much as you might expect. Cute little Abigail Breslin is starting to grow up, so we’ll see how she segues into older roles. And Emma Stone was much more attractive than I had any reason to expect from her past roles.

If you go see this movie, be advised that there is apparently a final scene after the closing credits, or so I have read. I didn’t know that, so I didn’t stay for it. Dad gum!

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Dawn of the Dead (B). This is the 2004 version, not the famous 1978 original (which I have never seen). I am not a fan of horror films, so I’m not sure why I picked it up out of the bargain bin at Walmart and bought the thing. Today the ice storm shut Dallas down, so I made wise use of my time by watching this movie. It adheres to what I understand to be the conventions of zombie movies: zombies roam the streets in search of living flesh to eat, and whoever gets bitten by a zombie sooner or later turns into a zombie. In this movie, the wave of zombification seems to swamp the world in a hurry. A nurse (Sarah Polley, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), a cop (Ving Rhames, Entrapment), and several others elude the zombies long enough to barricade themselves into a mall. There they await rescue, make contact with another survivor who’s holed up in a gun shop across the way, and endure various setbacks and zombie incursions. I can’t compare it to the original, but I thought this movie was pretty good for what it was–lots of gruesomeness and gore, and some decent characters to root for as they try fend off the undead horde. By the way, you have to watch past the ending credits if you want to know the whole story…  Directed by Zack Snyder, who would go on to direct 300 and Man of Steel.

The Happening

New review from Nick at Nite

The Happening

Went to the dollar movie last night. Went without knowing I would get the Tuesday night special where they reduce the price of the movie to fifty cents. Given that it only cost me fifty cents, I’d say I got my money’s worth. This is easily my least favorite of M. Night’s films. The writing is hokey. The acting is less than good. And the climax – the twist – comes too soon. The Happening, which is M. Night’s first rated “R” film, follows a small group of people as they try to escape an unknown menace that is causing people to lose their minds and kill themselves. Marky Mark – without the funky bunch – plays a school science teacher that is trying to figure out what is going on using the scientific method. Zooey – the cute girl from Elf – plays Marky Mark’s wife. A few other characters matter, but not enough to get mentioned. This is not a bad movie. It would be better as a short. There is just not much to the story. I will give M. Night a pass on this one because I like his other stuff so much. I expect more from him. I give this movie a “C.”

Sunshine (two views)

Nick at Nite and The Movie Snob sound off on Sunshine.

Nick at Nite: If you are not a science fiction fan or a particularly ardent supporter of Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), you may want to stay away from this one. However, if you can get past the repeated blinding shots of the sun – the shots that make you feel like you are inside a microwave oven looking out the glass into the kitchen – and set aside your “that doesn’t pass the smell test” attitude, you are likely to enjoy this movie. Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, brings us this science fiction disaster flick that is part 2001: A Space Odyssey (art house) and part Deep Impact/Armageddon (popcorn movie). The movie is set fifty years in the future, when our sun is dying and the planet is freezing. A spaceship is sent to the sun to deliver a payload intended to recharge it (I think it is a big bomb). Things run amok for the crew of the spaceship when it receives a distress signal from another spaceship that was assumed lost after failing to complete an identical mission seven years earlier. There are a series of interesting plot twists and some really cool special effects. This is the critical point – DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE IF – when you leave a movie like Superman, Star Wars, or The Princess Diaries and say to yourself “there is no way that could ever happen” and as a result you don’t like it. It is a SCIENCE FICTION film. If you want to see SCIENCE REALITY, go see March of the Penguins or one of Al Gore’s power point presentations. I give this an “A-.”

Movie Snob: I could not suspend disbelief at the end of the movie, so I did not like Sunshine nearly as well as Nick did. That said, the first two-thirds of the movie are an effective blend of 2001 and Armageddon, with hints of Alien and Solaris thrown in for good measure. The special effects are pretty darned good, with lots of impressive shots of this massive heat shield being pushed straight into the sun by a long spindly spaceship that looks sort of like the one from 2001. The acting isn’t bad, with a crew of astronauts getting pushed to its limits by the strain of a long, desperate voyage that is likely a suicide mission to boot. And it’s always nice to see Rose Byrne (I Capture the Castle, Troy) working, even if she is not at all dolled up for the part. I give it a C.

Children of Men

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Children of Men. I have an affinity in my heart for end-of-the-world-type movies. Omega Man, Meteoroid, Armageddon, Night of the Living Dead, Heidi, etc. . . . Children of Men moves very close to the top of the list. Set in the year 2029, the film shows us a future where man is infertile and a child has not been born since the year 2009. The world is falling apart. Paris is in flames. New York destroyed. There is a siege in Seattle. Things are bad everywhere. The movie starts with a blast. There is a terrorist attack in a coffee shop in London just as the world learns that baby Diego, at 21 years old the youngest person in the world, has been killed by a stalker. The terrorists are trying to start a revolt against the government’s handling of the refugee crisis. We are shown a bleak Great Britain – the last fully functioning government on earth – where refugees and immigrants are being rounded up and sent to “Homeland Security Refugee Camps.” In Great Britain one has to remember that it is illegal to skip fertility tests. Our protagonist, Theo, played by Clive Owen (The International), is thrown into the mix and must help a young, shockingly pregnant woman get out of the county. My description has not done justice to the film. It is very good. You should check it out. I give it an “A.”

Children of Men

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Children of Men (B). A bleak action movie set in England in the year 2027. Some 18 years earlier, every single woman on the planet was mysteriously rendered infertile, and no children have been born since. Despair is widespread. Suicide kits are advertised on television. England itself has become a police state engaged in a massive campaign to deport illegal immigrants and torn apart by terrorist movements. Clive Owen (King Arthur) plays Theo, a depressed guy who works in some government bureaucracy. His joyless existence is shaken up when his ex-wife (played by Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right), now a member of a terrorist group, contacts him and seeks his help in smuggling a young black woman out of the country. The young woman’s amazing secret—she’s pregnant. The politics and some of the character’s motivations are a tad murky, but the depiction of a dystopian, childless future is convincing, and the action sequences are compelling. Owen confirms his talent as an actor once again, turning in a fine performance as an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary events. Grim, but worth a look.

An Inconvenient Truth

New review from The Movie Snob

An Inconvenient Truth (B-). As a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, I was not terribly enthusiastic about watching Al Gore preach for an hour and a half or so. He did grate on me, but the subject-matter of the movie is undeniably interesting. His argument is simple: the temperature of the earth changes in direct correlation to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Thanks to human activity, principally the burning of fossil fuels, the level of CO2 is now at an unprecedented high, and it is continuing to rise. This will lead to large-scale climate change and probably turn central Florida into beachfront property. The science and the graphics were interesting, but where was the balance? Is the scientific literature on warming really as unanimous as Al makes it out to be? And what are we supposed to use to replace fossil fuels? I think the elephant in the corner there is nuclear power, but Al won’t say that for fear of alienating his green allies. And I was annoyed at the digressions into Al’s personal life–his son’s life-threatening accident as a six-year-old, his working on the family tobacco farm. Judging from this film, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Gore in ’08….