22 February 2011

Unknown

Not Taken by Unknown



Let’s get this out of the way from the beginning. Unknown is not Taken. It is not a sequel to it. It is not on the same plane as it. Taken was a phenomenal film. Unknown just rides on the coattails. Liam Neeson has found a niche market for himself, action hero. He is almost 60 years old, but he is now an action hero.

Unknown struggles mainly with its pacing. It does not have a good flow. It opens with martin Harris (Neeson) and his wife Liz (January Jones) on an airplane, then landing in Berlin. He is then involved in a car accident, hits his head, goes into a coma, and wakes up four days later to find that his wife has forgotten who he is and has replaced him with a convincing Martin Harris 2 (Aidan Quinn). Neeson is convinced that he is the real Martin Harris not Quinn, and goes about proving it.

He starts by finding Gina (Diane Kruger), the taxi driver when he was in the accident. She has a weird backstory that was supposed to make her more rounded. It felt a little forced. Then, poor Harris hires an ex-Nazi hunter to validate his story. After a hand-to-hand fight and a car chase through the streets of Berlin, I gave up on this movie. Why would a botanist know how to fight? Why would be able to drive like that?

Finally, Frank Langella shows up as a co-worker to Martin Harris to explain what is going on. But it was too late. I had already written this movie off as dumb. The writer should have watched The Long Kiss Goodnight. They knew how to tell a similar story, but tell it correctly. The movie really had no sense of tension or urgency. The plot was convoluted, but not in a good way.

In the end, Unknown could have and should have been better. It should have been a thriller. It could have been a decent action flick. Sadly, it failed on both accounts. I am glad I watched it though. Verdict: A Red Box rental? Absolutely! Netflix? Indeed. The $10 ticket? Nope.

15 February 2011

Gnome & Juliet

Gnomes and Shakespeare Together at Last



Okay. Two truths: I love Shakespeare. I love garden gnomes. Finally, someone took two of my loves and made the ultimate movie! I took the wife with me, and went to watch the latest incarnation of Shakespeare’s classic star-crossed lovers’ tale, Romeo and Juliet with gnomes. This was the latest in the year that is has taken the wife and me to see a movie together since being married. The last three years, we have gone on New Year’s Day. But, we made it to Gnomeo & Juliet.

As is typical with most of the animated pictures these days, the voice cast is stacked. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are the lead characters’ voices. Behind them, you have Jason Statham, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant, Ozzy Osborne, Julie Walkters, Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan and Patrick Stewart as Shakespeare in a scene of brilliance.

Gnome & Juliet takes the classic tale and sets it in the backyards of the Capulet and Montague houses. You have the red Capulets that hate the blue Montagues. Each have their manicured lawns, pretty flowers, fountains, wells, and everything gnome. Gnomeo and Juliet fall in love when they meet by chance in a neutral greenhouse. The usual how can we be together, you are a red, and I am a blue trouble ensues.

The way in which the story unfolds both the classic way, and the updated gnome way, was great. The climactic scene was great. The build-up to it was great. Gnomeo has a conversation with a statue of Shakespeare who tells how the story ends. This whole scene was excellent.

I loved this movie. They made a big deal of Elton John doing the music, but he did not write any new music for it. That was disappointing. That was the only disappointing aspect of this entire film. I highly recommend this movie. If you love gnomes, see this movie. If you love Shakespeare, see this movie. If you like animated movies, see this movie. Verdict: See Gnome & Juliet. It is a great way to spend 84 minutes.