27 October 2008

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye is Bull's Eye for Entertainment

Well, Eagle Eye was not what I was expecting at all. I did not realize that there was actually a terrorist subplot. I have not seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I am told that many elements of this film came from Kibrick’s classic. That makes sense though. D.J Caruso’s last film, Disturbia, took many, if not all, elements from Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

Eagle Eye opens with a cameo I never would have guessed. Michael Chiklis shows up on screen as Defense Secretary George Callister. As an avid watcher of the FX show The Shield, I was happy to see Chiklis taking roles in films due the this beng the last season of the show. A suspected terrorist is allegedly spotted in the Middle East and a decision is made against Callister’s advisement. After that, we see "Turtle" from HBO’s Entourage losing a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em to Shia’s Jerry Shaw. We are then introduced the fact that he is poor. After the funeral of his twin brother who was in the Air Force, he gets loads of cash, weapons, and bomb making materials in his apartment anonymously. This puts Agent Thomas Morgan, played by Billy Bob Thorton, on his case along with Air Force Agent Zoe Perez, played by Rosario Dawson. In the meantime, Rachel Holloman, played by Michelle Monoghan, is seen sending her son off on a train from Chicago to D.C. for a children’s band concert. She is then informed that he can be intercepted if she does not comply with a mysterious voice on the phone. The same voice contacts Jerry and helps him to escape his Agency captors.

The rest of the film involves awesome car chases, foot chases, and a chase scene through an airport luggage room. The story slowly starts to unfold and pieces start falling into place. Along the way, I noticed that my sister, friend, and I were laughing at the movie at times that we deemed were appropriate. Billy Bob and Shia share some great dialogue, and have great liners apart, too. We thought it was funny, but we seemed to be the only ones laughing. Maybe we weren’t meant to laugh. I don’t know.

In the end, I found Eagle Eye to be extremely entertaining and refreshing. It was a great action/adventure film. It did remind me a lot of the star and director’s first team-up Disturbia. Verdict: If you are looking for a good thrilling ride, this is it. I have not seen a movie this fun in a while. Even the little Sci-Fi ending they get into didn’t bother me as I had suspended belief by the time I got there. Let your mind go and be entertained, it was worth it. As a side note, it is now $5 instead of $4! I was not happy about that change, but it will not shake me.

20 October 2008

Body of Lies

Body of Boredom

Body of Lies is the younger, not so smart step-brother to Traitor. I was semi-impressed, semi- bored with Traitor, but I was not extremely unimpressed and bored with Ridley Scott’s latest film. After seeing the previews a long time back, I decided that I would read the book. I only got 1/3 of the way into it, not because it was bad, but I have a tendency to get into a book and forget to finish them. But apparently, that is what they did, too. What little bit I did read was nothing like what was going on in front of me. They only kept the names the same. Russell Crowe could have passed for Ed Hoffman as described by David Ignatius. Leonardo DiCaprio was so far from Ignatius’s description of Roger Ferris.

As the movie opens, we see an Islamic extremist group blow themselves up so they are not captured. This was assumed to have been the work of the terrorist Al-Saleem, which is not even the same name as the terrorist in the book. From there, we see Ferris and his crony trying to gather information on this Al-Saleem when Ferris is severely injured and his crony killed. He is then given a desk job and assigned to help an agency friend Hani in the Middle East to gather information and set a trap for Al-Saleem.

There was so much right with Body of Lies that it was a frustrating movie to watch. Ridley Scott turned in his usual great direction. Crowe and DiCaprio were both brought their A games. The problem was the story. Not the script, but the story. The story was bland, boring, and seemed half thought out. You cannot fix a bad story. Righteous Kill had a bad script that could have been fixed. But this, this had a bad story. I did not care about the characters or the storylines. Verdict: I think that if you avoid this movie altogether, you will be better off. This was a huge disappointment, not only to me, but the distributors really had some hope that this would be an
Oscar contender. They could not have been more wrong.

12 October 2008

Appaloosa

Appaloosa Filled My Need of a Western

Appaloosa is the only western to grace the screen this year in wide release. So, as usual, I got excited and went to see it. As most westerns of late, this was an outlaw story. Apparently, after the 70’s, western can no longer show Indians, or so it seems. This western was a story of friendship. It revolved around History of Violence co-stars Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. They play Law Enforcing duo Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole respectfully. Hitch plays second fiddle to Cole in the towns. They travel from one town to another as required to make towns safe from whatever the problem may be.

The town of Appaloosa had a problem when their last sheriff turned up dead. Randall Bragg kills him in the opening scene and tells his crew that no one saw this. Jeremy Irons puts in great acting as the villainous rancher. The town council tires of Bragg’s men running amok in the town, so, they hire Cole and Hitch to make it safe once again.

Through out the film, we are shown how Hitch and Cole are friends and have been for a while, but keep to themselves. When Allison French shows up in town and takes a liking to Cole, she adds a new layer to the plot. Renee Zellweger is by far the weakest link in the casting of this film.

One of Bragg’s men finally comes forward to Cole and Hitch about the killing of the sheriff. Bragg is convicted and sent to another town for his hanging. On the train ride to the other town, they are stopped by two of Cole’s old acquaintances and blackmailed into giving up Bragg because they have Ms. French. This sends Cole and Hitch on a journey to recover Ms. French and Bragg. Upon catching up to them, we see the real Ms. French. They make it to the next town and a shoot out for Bragg leaves some dead and some injured, but Bragg on the loose.

The end of the film has Bragg return to Appaloosa with a Presidential pardon and loads of money. This causes Ms. French to do her thing again. I am not going to mention it here, but it is an interesting flaw in her character. So, Hitch makes a decision to end this once and for all, for Cole and Ms. French.

The film was great, down to the directing. Ed Harris and Robert Knott adapted Robert B. Parker’s novel. They did a decent job. Most of the story is exactly the same. Ed Harris’ directing was a bit off. Some scenes just went long for no reason. Well, a lot of scenes went on too long. There was just not a lot of directional adventure. It was all fairly bland. Other than that, the film was most enjoyable. Verdict: I would recommend seeing this if you are a fan of the genre. There are not a lot of these films being made anymore, so you have to see them when you can. 3:10 to Yuma was a better film, but this was not bad. I hope that there is another western next year. I am a fan of this forgotten genre.