Friday, June 7, 2013

Sahara (2005)

Number Rolled: 12
Movie Name/Year: Sahara (2005)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Length: 124 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Clive Cussler, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards, James V. Hart
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, William H. Macy, Rainn Wilson, Delroy Lindo, Lambert Wilson, Lennie James, Robert Cavanah, Clint Dyer, Daniel Lobe, Glynn Turman

Dirk is obsessed with the whereabouts of a lost, Civil War era, battleship. After finishing a treasure find with his crew, he obtains permission to head to the Sahara in order to locate the ship. Dragging along two of his friends, and a doctor he saved from thugs on the beach, he heads off to locate clues. Unfortunately for them, what’s supposed to be a calm treasure hunt turns into much more when his case and the case of a spreading plague intertwine.

I’m not a fan of McConaughey (to put it lightly), so when I rolled one of his movies I groaned, sat back on the couch and prepared myself to watch him slur through another run of the mill script. However, I found he actually did pretty well with this movie. In fact, there were times that I was able to forget who was playing Dirk. Aside from his glaring lack of chemistry with Penelope Cruz, he actually felt just right next to Steve Zahn. Since they were the two main characters in the movie, it’s almost acceptable that scenes between McConaughey and Cruz seem to be forced.

This movie requires a great amount of your time be spent in suspending disbelief. If you can manage to meet the staggering requirement for that request, it’s a fun movie. Physics, science, history and geography are all completely ignored… but if we can accept cars that transform into sentient beings, we can accept what they’ve thrown at us here.

I was able to move past the technical issues enough that I actually enjoyed the movie. Although it’s long, the story is fast-paced and doesn’t leave you longingly staring at the clock. It’s not one of my favorite movies, but it wasn’t bad.

Overall Opinion – 3.1/5

P.S. This movie was based off a book of the same name by Clive Cussler.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blow Dry (2001)

Number Rolled: 43
Movie Name/Year: Blow Dry (2001)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Paddy Breathnach
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Actors: Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Rachael Leigh Cook, Josh Hartnett, Bill Nighy, Warren Clarke, Rosemary Harris, Hugh Bonneville, Heidi Klum, Peter McDonald, Michael McElhatton, David Bradley, Ben Crompton

A woman, once married to an award winning hairdresser, finds out that her cancer has not gone into remission. At the same time, a hair styling championship contest is held in her town. Seeing this as an opening to get her estranged family together for one last hurrah, she goes about collecting the errant members and entering.

There’s not much to say about the film. It is about as cookie-cutter a film as any I’ve ever seen. The dance competition/sports/underdog films of the past were torn open, replaced with hairdressing, imbued with British accents and otherwise stayed exactly the same. From the first moment the Mayor announces the small town will be hosting the contest, the viewer knows exactly what’s going to happen and where the film is going.

I can usually tolerate recipe films and, sometimes, I even get to give them credit for an interesting ingredient or two they added to get to the end result. I wish I could say that here. The actors credited in this film are well know and very good at what they do and I like the basic recipe of underdog movies. However, the best I can say is that it didn’t completely suck.

Alan Rickman and Rachael Leigh Cook were spectacular in their parts, and most of the other actors were equally brilliant – even given the very mediocre parts they were playing. Also, nobody does a love scene (even small ones) quite like Josh Hartnett. That being said, he should stay far, far, away from British accents. Sometimes he sounded Scottish and other times he dropped the accent completely. It was almost embarrassing to watch.

My last thought on the film is that I don’t agree with the rating. I’m not sure why it was rated R. There was no harsh language, only implied nudity, no extreme violence… I admit I’m confused. If anyone has insight as to the reason, please let me know.

Overall Opinion – 2.5/5

Monday, June 3, 2013

Struck by Lightning (2012)

Number Rolled: 96
Movie Name/Year: Struck by Lightning (2012)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Brian Dannelly
Writer: Chris Colfer
Actors: Rebel Wilson, Chris Colfer, Allison Janney, Polly Bergen, Dermot Mulroney, Roberto Aguire, Kyle Burch, Melissa Schwolow, Angela Kinsey, Ashley Rickards, Matt Prokop, Sarah Hyland, Allie Grant, Graham Rogers, Robbie Amell, Carter Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, Brad William Henke, Charlie Finn,

Carson Phillips was an outcast. He spent his life hiding behind the written word; using it as an escape from his horrible home and school lives. As he grew up, he became even more of an outcast due to the sharp wit and sarcastic personality he developed to deal with life. His dreams of getting out Clover, writing for the New Yorker and going to college are destroyed when he is struck by lightning. We are graced, by Carson, with the memory of those last weeks before his death.

I can’t even begin to describe every level of appreciation I have for this movie. The characters were in depth and relatable. The story line was dark and funny and horrible and uplifting and depressing, all at once. Chris Colfer pulled off a character that I had no doubt in my mind he was going to flop with. Maybe he played it so well because it was his character. As writers, we tend to know our characters better than we know ourselves. Even with that possibility in mind, he absolutely killed it (in the best way).

There was so much hype surrounding this movie when it came out. Of course there was. Chris Colfer is a new, young, growing in popularity, actor. He’s known for his steady work on Glee, starting in 2009. And, if you want to look him up on IMDB, you’ll find he hasn’t been in much else. So when he started putting out books, they got a lot of attention. Struck by Lightning is based on one of those books.

That being said, the think I find most remarkable about this movie is that it lived up to the hype from fans. Critics may have trashed it, but I saw some stupid reasons for that, none of which I agree with. For instance, Stephen Holden of The New York Times, wrote: “…..(Struck by Lightning) gives its characters no dimension …(Carson) is portrayed as a cuddlesome sweetie. In reality, Carson is a snide, vindictive, sanctimonious brat.” I would like to start off by saying that the movie, in no way, even mildly, attempts to make Carson look like a lovable, cuddly anything. I don’t know if Mr. Holden thinks all protagonists need to be perfect cheerleader leader types, but that seems to be what he’s saying.

Carson was portrayed as a snide, vindictive, sanctimonious brat – because that’s what he was. He had a life filled with bullies and a bad home situation and the only escape he had was the realization that someday he’d get to leave. He hated his surroundings and had to believe he was “holier-than-thou” or he would have given up. Maybe I just get it because that was me in high school. Carrying around a notebook to jot down silly little poems and stories in, just so I could constantly remind myself that someday I would be able to get away and become who I wanted to be. When you have people constantly reminding you that your dreams are “wrong” or “too much” or something you could never obtain, do you know what you become? You become a snide, vindictive, sanctimonious brat and you stay that way until you learn to tell people (even your family) to fuck off. Who knows, maybe Holden didn’t have anyone holding him back, and so it became impossible for him to see the true depth behind this character.

I have yet to be able to come up with a flaw this movie portrayed. I thought it was one of the single most amazing movies I’ve seen.

Overall Opinion – 5/5