92: Safe House (spoilers that you could never hope to guess even a little bit)

Safe House – February 10, 2012
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington
Written by: David Guggenheim
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa

The plot: “A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Hold on tight, guys, because you’ll never see the twist in this movie coming. Not in a million years. No other film can prepare you for what you’re in for if you watch Safe House, the most unique movie to come along in nearly three decades.

For the first time ever, Denzel plays an ex-government agent in trouble with the law. But is he really guilty of all those crimes the CIA is accusing him of?

FUCK NO. When is Denzel ever really a bad guy (okay, so Training Day but that’s basically just the opposite of this movie)?

And young Ryan Reynolds. Will he continue to ignorantly love his country despite all of the evidence stacking up in front of his eyes and Denzel being strangely honest and frank with him?

FUCK NO. Ryan Reynolds will begin to doubt anything and despite attempting to see the good in his government/higher-ups, a single, solitary statement by his mentor will change everything. Complete 180! Shock! Awe! Disbelief.

And what about that guy that seems shifty but come on, could it be that easy? Could he really be the one pulling the strings? Surely it’s just a red herring and it’s just too bad that he seems so shady. It can’t possibly be him!

FUCK YES IT CAN BE. The moment he comes on screen and seems a bit too kind and decent and yet oddly secretive, well, sorry David Guggenheim, everyone just figured out all your little plot twists and secrets.

Action? Good. Denzel? Cool as hell. Ryan Reynolds? All-American rippling abs and a heart of gold. Everyone else? Vanilla government agents. I don’t know what I expected. Oh well, at least “No Church in the Wild” played in the end. That song was sick in the trailer.

Stars: 1/5

P.S. This movie is like…an hour too long. The only thing that happens for an hour and fifteen minutes is Ryan Reynolds chases Denzel, catches him, and loses him. Lather, rinse, repeat as unnecessary.

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91: This Means War (oy vey)

This Means War – February 17, 2012
Starring: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler
Written by: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg
Directed by: McG

The plot: “Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.” – IMDB

My thoughts: For as much as I generally enjoy the three stars of this movie, God was it a bore. Predictable, slightly misogynistic, verging on being offensive and inappropriate. And I know, what fun am I? It’s just a movie! But why do movies get a free pass to be so…awful?

I get it, it’s all about a girl trying to figure out which guy she wants and which is better for her. Meanwhile, the two friends have to love the girl to grow and change. Tale as old as time. And I get it, they’re spies so of course there are going to be spy jokes which just end up being doorways to saying “Ooh, look at two hot guys stalk the girl they like. It’s fine because they’re spies!” but on some level, it’s weird. Sometimes, the level of absurdity doesn’t help out what’s actually happening.

I won’t analyze it in terms of gender roles, it’s not that kind of movie (but honestly, watch it and check out how masculinity vs femininity is played out. Come on Hollywood, why must you keep perpetuating these stereotypes?)

It was rarely funny, the action sequences were so-so, and I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters. I also feel extremely dissatisfied with the ending. Tuck didn’t really get what he wanted meanwhile FDR (which, let me state for the record that if I met a guy who went by the name FDR, I would either a.) tell him to fuck off or b.) demand he give me a real name. His real name is Franklin. What’s so terrible about that or Frank? What kind of douchebag goes by all three of his initials which just so happen to be the monniker of a famous U.S. President?) was like “check out how charming I am. Now that I’ve met this one single girl who doesn’t crumble on our first meeting (but the second meeting, yes) I guess I’m over my womanizing ways!”

Guh, I just felt so bored during this movie. The acting was fine – I think Reese is cute and Tom and Chris made for a cute spy/best friend team. Chelsea Handler was…Chelsea Handler. And that’s it. So lackluster. The plot was, for all intents and purposes, boring and overused.

*

P.S. What the hell was Angela Bassett doing in this movie? Girl, you were nominated for an Oscar.

87: Gone

Gone – February 24, 2012
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Sebastian Stan
Written by: Allison Burnett
Directed by: Heitor Dahlia

My thoughts: As an Amanda Seyfried fan, I felt obligated to see this movie even though I thought to myself, “Self, what is a Lifetime movie doing being released nationwide in theaters?” But in reality, it exceeded my expectations and did not completely suck. Maybe I’m just biased and lean toward liking whatever Amanda does, but I was pleasantly (well, maybe “pleasantly” isn’t the correct word in relation to what this movie is about) surprised by the film.

This poster is strangely similar to the poster for 'Tell No One' which I just posted about. Weird...

This is kind of a spoiler but not totally so stop reading if you’re super worried that I’m going to ruin this movie for you. I was worried that they were going to make this a “Surprise! It was all in her head and she’s crazy!” or “She’s been committing the crimes and has a disassociated personality disorder. Gotcha!” M. Night Shyamalan bullshit kind of movie. Which would have made me mad because to me, it would have given the message about how females always overreact and blame men and blah blah blah. And I would have been mad. But nope, homegirl isn’t crazy and proves the police wrong.

For a movie with a somewhat dark plot, comedy manages to sneak its way in mostly through Seyfried telling ridiculous stories to get people to tell her what she needs to know and by telling people off. She’s just so damn likable. And her hair! Every time I see her it makes me wish I hadn’t cut my hair off.

I don’t really want to spoil it but there is one character that they make seem a little bit shady who you might think “Oh shit, it’s him! He’s been messing with her this whole time!” when ultimately, this is a full-on revenge story. It’s straightforward, it doesn’t aim for a big twist at the end and I actually kind of liked that. The satisfaction comes from Seyfried’s character winning in the end.

Gone isn’t a blow-you-away amazing movie but it’s not a bad flick. I found it satisfying – I wanted to do a little fist pump at the end and say “Fuck yeah!” at the climax of the movie and I found parts of it to be perfectly tense. Amazing? No. Enjoyable? Yes. So there you go.

Stars: 3/5

78: Wanderlust

Wanderlust – February 24, 2012
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux
Written by: David Wain, Ken Marino
Directed by: David Wain

The plot: “Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Stop what you are doing and go see this movie. Don’t wait for a download online. Don’t wait for it to be on DVD/Blu-Ray. Go fork over the money and see this.

If you like anything involving the following, you need to see it:

– Stella
– David Wain
– Ken Marino
– Michael Ian Black
– Michael Showalter
– Paul Rudd
– things that are funny

I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie in…I feel like the correct frame of time is “ever” although it might have been equivalent with Death at a Funeral. I don’t know how, but this movie managed to surpass Wet Hot American Summer in terms of hilarity and awesome.

All I have to say is: the Paul Rudd talking to himself in the mirror scene. Absolutely lost it. And the reference to my favorite viral video at the end.

Seriously. Go see this movie. And if you don’t like it, I don’t want to know you.

Stars: 8 million/5

75: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black – February 3, 2012
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds
Written by: Jane Goldman
Directed by: James Watkins

The plot: “A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.” – IMDB

My thoughts: For whatever reason, I saw this at midnight on its opening day. I have considerably long days so I found myself a bit tired at the beginning of the movie. It takes a solid 20 minutes for things to really get freaky and initially, my thoughts were that it would be full of cheap scares and unfortunately turn out to be more like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Luckily, it was effectively creepy.

I give most of the creepy credit to the art department because the toys and dolls in that movie were HORRIFYING. At one point, a shot hovered over a doll with blonde hair and jagged, shark teeth and the entire theater nervously laughed. And there was a clown doll and one too many monkeys to sit comfortably with me. My friends and I all determined that the very early 1900s would not have been an idyllic time to grow up or live in. Everything seemed distinctly…evil.

The plot was a bit tired, but keep in mind, it’s based on a book from the 1980s so I would venture to guess that the whole “vengeful/unfinished ghost story” wasn’t quite as overused as it is now. I thought the film did a really good job with a plot that’s been seen countless times. And it was great that they made it so dark. Kids were seen being set on fire and spitting out blood. I think that’s at least a little disturbing.

Beyond plot and the creep-factor, there were some absolutely gorgeous landscape shots. The initial shot of the train, with rolling green fields, perfect skies, and a line of smoke coming of the train was incredible and I was awestruck at the shot of the road leading to the island. The film was really beautiful visually which is a nice change of pace for a horror/thriller movie which doesn’t always pay attention to that stuff.

And finally, the acting. Daniel Radcliffe has certainly come a long way since the first Harry Potter movies. Despite being pocket-sized, he has an intense presence on screen. Everyone was wonderful in the film and it was nice to see such a distinctly English film (Daniel Radcliffe is probably the only notable actor to mainstream American audiences) get a warm reception in America – or at least in the theater I was in. It was pretty full and people seemed to generally like it.

Stars: 4/5 (mostly due to the somewhat lackluster plot)

AND NOW, FOR A FEW SPOILERS:

For anyone who saw the film, God damn that ending! I really thought that DanRad was going to save his (totally adorable) son and the ghost would be done since someone finally saved a child! But I guess her whole “Never forgive! Never forgive!” wasn’t an exaggeration. Jennet (was that a common name in the 1800s?) meant business and she was going to kill every child she could find.

DanRad!

The Woman In Black – February 10, 2012 (in the UK)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer
Directed by: James Watkins
Written by: Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Stardust, X-Men: First Class)

“Young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) leaves his son in London to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow. He discovers a series of inexplicable accidents and suicides have forced the parents of her village to barricade their children indoors, as if protecting them from an unseen foe. When Arthur stays the night all alone at the Drablow’s foreboding house, he hears the screams of a drowning child and sees decaying children listlessly wandering the marshes. He will soon discover these haunting figures share the same date of death, and the same killer.

The ghost of a scorned woman, who was unable to save her beloved son Nathaniel from drowning, The Woman In Black takes on a horrifying form. Set on vengeance, her veil hides gaping sockets eaten away by scavengers and her curse hides an even darker secret … whenever she is seen, a child dies.

In the face of hostility from the local residents, Arthur dredges up Nathaniel’s skeleton and buries it with his mother, hoping the evil spectre will finally rest in peace. In a cruel twist of fate, the Woman In Black turns her claws towards Arthur’s young son. To avoid a fate worse than death, Arthur must now sacrifice everything he holds dear and save his child.” – Jane Goldman, writer

Right now, there’s only a teaser which reveals pretty much nothing, but I’m excited nonetheless. I love the writing in Stardust and Kick-Ass, so I’m anticipating this being excellent. Also, Dan Radcliffe is a promising actor who is so cute I just want to put him in my pocket. It will be nice to see him in something so not Harry Potter.