Encore Entertainment’s Essential Performances of the 90s Showdowns – Game # 13

My friend Andrew, the ever so eloquent blogger of Encore’s World of Film & TV has kindly invited me to take part of his gargantuan tournament of 90s performances on film. The goal is to determine the single performance, chosen by you fine lovers of cinema, that is worthy to be the BEST of the decade. Andrew asked me to do a write up to a couple of the showdowns [you can see the entire bracket here], and this is the first of my two showdowns.

Please take part in this well, essential blog event by casting your VOTE and make your voice heard!

Without further ado, here’s my writeup for Game 13:

Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects (1995) as Roger “Verbal” Kint

Spacey won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role and his Keyser Söze role has deservedly become a cult favorite. In fact, it’s become something of a representation for deception “[so and so] pulled a goddamn Keyser Soze on me!” A villainous role is often a juicy one, but even more so is a dual role, and Spacey did his best scene-stealing turn as Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint that put his star on the map in Hollywood. His mannerism, nervous tick, limp walk, shifty eyes are so darn convincing that we have no choice but believe that he’s who he says he is, a down-on-his-luck petty crook who gets entangled with the more talented felons. Even in a fantastic ensemble cast that includes Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Chazz Palminteri, Spacey dominates the screen up until the very last scene when he pulls the rug right from under you with aplomb.

VS.


Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient (1996) as Katherine Clifton

Kristin Scott Thomas’ work as the unfaithful wife caught in a torrid affair is a heartbreaking one full subtle nuances. I have always liked her as an actress. She has this melancholic look about her and also something deeply enigmatic and impenetrable that I find intriguing. The second Katherine Clifton danced with the handsome Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes, looking as gorgeous as ever), she was done for. She was bashful at the way intense way he looked at her, but she too was embarrassed at her own attraction towards him. It’s the kind of unbridled desire that neither of them could avoid.

Yet there is certain sadness in her eyes, that guilt she cannot shake for betraying her husband. The chemistry between these two British actors is so palpable that I can’t help but gasp as they consummate their passion, mere yards away from her husband chatting away with fellow party-goers. I’d think passion is hard to fake even for actors, but the way she looked at Fiennes’ character felt so real. Even her subtle protest ‘don’t’ when he calls her ‘Mrs. Clifton’ … there is nothing artificial about her performance. The same could be said about her other work I suppose, but her role in Anthony Minghella’s masterpiece is no doubt her shining hour.

So…

Which of these is the finer performance of the 90s?


Please cast your VOTE on Andrew’s blog and/or let me know your pick and why in the comments.

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews from FC readers (6th Edition)

This edition’s of Everyone’s a Critic‘s series happen to be movies that exceeds the reviewers’ expectation. In fact, Mike was practically baffled why Remember Me had gotten such terrible reviews – which at 28% is exactly the same Tomatometer as Twilight Saga: New Moon. He thought that this indie drama definitely has much more depth than that vapid vampire flick and shows that R-Patz actually has acting chops. I have not seen any of these movies, but I do plan on seeing them once they arrive on dvd. Special thanks to Corinne, Mike and Alan for their kind contribution!

Alice in Wonderland
– by Corinne Olson

A few friends and I were all geek-ed about seeing Shutter Island. So we all met for lunch and thought we had plenty of time to get to the theater for the 2:00 show. But when we got there at 1:55, we found that Shutter Island had already started at 1:30. So after 5 minutes of arguing about what we should do, we all decided to go to the 3D version of Alice in Wonderland which was starting at 2:00.

I love Tim Burton movies and of course I love Johnny, but for some reason I had low expectations for this movie since I heard it had a cool reception in England. We’re already a little late going into the theater so we were stuck sitting in the front and off to the side. I hadn’t sat that close to a movie screen for 20 years.

Doesn't Johnny look a bit like Elijah Wood as Hatter?

Then the trailers started and we put on our 3D glasses. Then the movie started and after a funny beginning where Alice (Mia Wasikowska) seems more interested in chasing a rabbit down a hole than accept a proposal of marriage, the movie turns into this strange but beautiful alien world of strange creatures, plants, and disproportionately figured people. Alice is thrown into a world where  all these creatures in “Underland” are terrified of the dreaded “Red Queen” (Helena Bonham Carter), who Screems “OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!!!” to anyone that disagrees with her. She is my favorite (human) character in the movie.

Yes, Johnny Depp is really good as the Mad Hatter but Helena is a scream with her over-sized head and her super-diva Kate Gosselin-like attitude. She really pules that off. Then there’s my favorite digital character, the “Cheshire the cat”. This creature pops in and out throughout the movie with all the creepiness you’ve come to expect in a Burton movie. The 3D effect works especially well with the cat as it looks like you going to be nabbed out of your seat and eaten alive. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually loved this movie for the 3D effects more than Avatar. I’m not sure if it’s from sitting closer or what, but I felt like things were coming out at me more than with the Avatar 3D effects. In fact, I would recommend sitting closer then you normally would in a 3D movie. It seemed to enhance my experience anyway.

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Remember Me
– by Mike Beery

I was dragged to this one my my significant other. Now I’m a dude, so Robert Pattinson doesn’t exactly do it for me, however, my lady was interested so what was I to do? We both knew the reviews were pretty bad so perhaps that put us in a general mind-set not to expect much. It was from there that I grew more and more engaged as the movie dug deeper into the storyline.

Pattinson plays Tyler, a rebellious young man in New York City, who has a strained relationship with his father played quite believably by Pierce Brosnan. Tyler doesn”t think anyone can possibly understand what he is going through until the day he meets Ally played by Emilie de Ravin. Love was the last thing on his mind, but as her spirit unexpectedly heals and inspires him, he begins to fall for her. This is about as happy as it gets.

A series of rather sad circumstance unfold one after another. All is well with regards to the writing and acting, however, it’s not happy stuff. Perhaps it’s here where most of the reviewers were lost with this film. I’m not one to shy away from slightly depressing story lines, as that’s often how life is, as long as the portrayal is well done. This film does explore Tyler’s life in a respectful manner, as sad as it is. Remember Me isn’t the typical “tear jerker” love story at all. It’s a love story, it’s sad, but the two aren’t related. It’s that disconnect that adds to the movies “unlikeability”. Because it’s really about a young man that just can’t get past several tragedies in his life, and then, in the end, it’s too late for him to have a chance to do so. Adding to the ultimate sadness of this film.

Personally I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it. It’s engaging and memorable – lingering with you after you leave the theater.

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The Invention of Lying
– by Alan Markham

I have to admit going into this movie I was more than skeptical (given the weak title), but Gervais’s sharp wit and humor quickly turned me around. Co-written and co-directed by Ricky Gervais and Mathew Robinson, this romantic comedy does a good job of making the viewer think while also making them laugh.

In this movie, Gervais plays the character of a failing screenwriter who exists in a world where no one tells a lie. Early on in the movie though, Gervais soon discovers [the idea of] lying, and this begins to dramatically change/improve the world in which he lives. Part of this world involves Jennifer Garner, whom Gervais meets on a blind date, and Rob Lowe, a competitive coworker that Gervais has a hard time measuring up to.

I believe what makes this movie so entertaining is the fact that it makes you think about lying and how much lying really takes place on a daily basis… and how that really isn’t such a bad thing. During the movie I found myself wincing several times as characters delivered brutally honest lines to one another. The saying “The truth hurts” was never quite so apparent.

Entertaining movie for the most part… go see it!

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews from FlixChatter Readers

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic series. Today we’ve got an Oscar nominated flick and two sports movies from a golf and soccer enthusiast. Special thanks to Becky, Scot and Alan for taking the time to contribute to FlixChatter!

Crazy Heart (2009)
by Becky Kurk

My sister from California was visiting a few weeks ago, and we both wanted to see the The Blind Side, but it vanished from the theater one day before we planned to see it. Crazy Heart was her second choice, and since she was from the “away” team, I let her win the coin toss.

Turns out Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake) performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. He plays drunk and down-and-out so well it hurts to keep watching him. In fact, I think his role was over-written. I mean how many times do you need to see him vomit or pass out before you get the hint that he’s got a problem? Not as much as we have to watch. So that leaves little left for the rest of the characters. I have no idea why his love interest (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the least bit interested in him, and there’s nothing in the story that even hints at it. I really think Maggie is a good actor, but her performance here is not Oscar-worthy. That’s not her fault, it’s because of the weakly-written character she has to play. And I don’t know why one minute Colin Farrell (Tommy Sweet) is his musical rival, and then suddenly Bad is his opening act. Sweet then strongly encourages him to write original songs for his band to finally start making some money again. Strangely, Bad turns him down, and again, we have no way of knowing why. Colin, however, gave a subtle but surprisingly good performance.

There’s very little in this film to get you to care about any of the other characters. On the plus side, however, even though I’m not a country music fan, I was surprised I didn’t totally hate the music. And the beautiful panoramas of the Southwest are worth seeing. The story line has been compared to Tender Mercies, The Wrestler and Walk the Line – I haven’t seen the first two, but Walk the Line hits it out of the park compared to Crazy Heart, which barely gets to second base.

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The Damned United (2009)
by Scot Mattison

Michael Sheen takes on the role of one of England’s all-time great and controversial football managers, Brian Clough. The movie looks at Clough’s 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United and the events that lead up to the doomed Leeds side.

Colm Meaney plays Don Revie, Clough’s nemesis and predecessor at Leeds. Clough’s sets out to change the playing style of the existing Leeds team, players loyal to Don Revie, and a team Clough has openly criticized for playing dirty. Clough attempts to endear the team to him by telling them “You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly”… surprisingly, this doesn’t produce the desired endearing effect.

An ok script filled with very rich characters. I can’t say the movie captured the whole that was Brian Clough though. Lacking is a charming, working-class, boozer quality…  which leads to a “campy” feel to some of the scenes. The movie does do a good job of creating many uneasy moments, and Sheen does a great job of portraying the over-confident and egocentric manager, delivering his lines with a “nasally-condescending-Cloughie” quality. A good watch for football lovers and anyone that enjoys seeing off-center historical characters.

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The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)
by Alan Markham

The Greatest Game Ever Played
is not the “greatest movie ever made,” but it is pretty decent as far as golf flicks go. The movie is based on a book written by Mark Frost (well known golf writer), and even if you’re not a huge golf fan, I think those who like sports movies would appreciate this story.

The basic premise of the movie is the story of Francis Ouimet’s (played by Shia LaBeouf) rise to golfing fame in the early 1900’s. The movie begins with Ouimet’s life as a caddy, and as a relative unknown in the golfing world, and follows along with his growth and ultimate success when he wins the 1913 U.S. Open at age 20. The key moment is when Ouimet takes on Harry Vardon (Tiger Woods of the day) in a head to head match. The outcome seems predictable, but the fact that it actually did happen makes it more entertaining. No fire hydrants or smashed Escalades here, just good clean fun.

As I mentioned, the storyline is expected, but I feel it still has enough interest to hold your attention throughout the entire movie. The acting is decent, cinematography is great (from a golfers’ perspective), and the story is entertaining. If the movie were a golf score, I’d give it a par.

Edit: This movie was Bill Paxton’s directing debut. As a teen, Bill caddied for golf great Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, which might’ve explained his enthusiasm for the sport.

Musings of Movies Past – Series Kickoff

I came across The MovieNess’ Mini Netflix Reviews post last week, and I thought, what a great idea. I’ve watched a bunch of movies prior to my blog that I won’t ever have time to write full reviews of. So to start off this series, I’m going to pick three random movies from different genres: Multiplicity, Equillibrium, and One Night with the King. I know, it’s not lost to me that these are definitely bizarre combination. But no, I didn’t see these five back-to-back, in case you’re wondering 🙂 Anyway, depending on how long my ‘musings’ for each flix ends up to be, I might have more or less movies in this series and I may include a clip/trailer as I see fit.
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Multiplicity (1996)
The Plot: Doug Kinney never has enough time for the things he wants to do is offered the opportunity to have himself duplicated.
I’m definitely in the camp that thinks Michael Keaton is an underrated actor. I mean he’s followed up his fine turn as Batman with a Shakespeare comedy (Much Ado about Nothing), a Tarantino crime flix (Jackie Brown), an action thriller (Desperate Measures), and of course, this lighthearted comedy. Now, by no means I condone this type of procedure from a moral standpoint, but I actually enjoy this movie, largely due to Keaton’s goofball & earnest performance. Unlike Eddie Murphy’s outrageous clones the Klumps in the Nutty Professor, Keaton’s Doug Kinney is hilarious in its real-ness of the good-intentions-gone-bad kind of predicament. He injects each of his ‘Doug’ clones with their own eccentricities: the first clone is butch, the second slightly effeminate, and the third, well, something that’s been ‘photocopied’ three times usually doesn’t come out real sharp. Andie McDowell turned up a pretty decent performance as Doug’s constantly baffled wife who must endure her husband’s multiple change of personalities, including fulfilling the wishes of his ‘insatiable’ husband(s) one frisky night.

Equillibrium (2002)
The Plot: In a Fascist future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system.
I must say this is a flix the whole isn’t exactly greater than the sum of its parts, as for me, the flix in its entirety is not ‘great.’ But there are parts that definitely make me love this movie, especially the scenes of Christian Bale and Emily Watson together. Their encounters are breathtaking, as well as the scenes where Preston frantically tears down the filmy layer of his bedroom window as he emotionally marvels at the beauty of the sunrise. Bale’s compelling transformation throughout the movie is a testament to his amazing talent. It’s not without humor, either, the scenes with the dog is pretty funny. I could do without Taye Diggs here and wish they’d beefed up Sean Bean’s role. Obviously this flix has a cult following for the rather violent action and fighting sequences, but the heartfelt scenes are what leave an impression to me, such as this interrogation scene below where Mary challenges super soldier Preston’s reason for living:

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One Night with the King (2006)

I found an old review from 4 years ago that I posted on a social networking site. I thought this might be a good pick for those looking for a decent family film. I’ve added some tidbits that weren’t available at the time I wrote this.

Now most of you probably have never heard of this movie. Me neither until about a week ago when my friend Vony told me about it. There was practically NO marketing for this film, except perhaps through some Christian venues. The story is from the book of Esther in the Old Testament, but the script is loosely based from a book called Hadassah: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney, so there are elements that aren’t in the Bible. For example, the character ‘Jesse’ wasn’t in the Bible but was given quite a few screen time as Esther’s friend. But the essence of the story of Esther is preserved. We see that God’s hand was present in Esther’s life and she was obedient to fulfill her ‘destiny,’ even when it meant losing her own life.

I was impressed with the lush production of the film. It didn’t feel ‘cheap’ even though it’s an indie production, and the scenery was beautifully shot on location in India. I enjoyed the cinematography and the aerial shots of the palaces, etc., and the costumes were absolutely gorgeous!

Esther & Xerxes

My gripes about this movie is given the epic historical background, it could’ve been a much better piece. Alas, the wooden acting (especially Luke Goss as Xerxes. 80s music fans might remember him as one half of the pop duo Bros) and the dismal dialog no doubt contribute to the poor reviews. Novice actress Tiffany Dupont is beautiful as Esther, but her performance is awkward at times. She does share a pretty good chemistry with King Xerxes though (yep, that’s the same Persian King in 300, obviously before he shaved off his head and developed affinity for gold jewelry). There is a scene where their hands brushed lightly as he is showing his sculptures, and his attraction to her is palpable. Of course as King of Persia, Luke Goss looks far too ‘Caucasian-looking’ with piercing blue eyes and British accent, but that’s Hollywood for you. A few notable actors are involved, such as Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif (together again since Lawrence of Arabia), and the remarkable John Rhys-Davies who’s excellent as Mordechai, Esther’s uncle. Oh, I almost forgot there’s James Callis, all sulking and smoldering as the evil Haman. I haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica back when I saw this, but as a fan of the series now, I just might re-watch this movie again to see him channel bad boy Gaius Balthar with his genocide scheme.

It’s far from a perfect movie, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s always nice to see a Godly story on film without all the cussing, violence and sex like the rest being offered out there.

Everyone’s a Critic Part 2: Reviews from FlixChatter Readers

It’s Complicated
by Becky (Prairiegirl)
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This is definitely the best baby boomer generation movie I’ve ever seen. I could relate to so many of the scenes it was scary! The audience was packed with them (including me), but quite a few older and many younger too. It keeps you in stitches throughout, especially the laptop scene (not at all what you first expect!), and the party scene where Streep and Martin indulge in a some recreational “inhalations” before hand. It’s very real and genuine – Baldwin is really convincing in expressing his renewed feelings for his ex, and Streep’s reluctant acceptance (and vacillation) of giving in to his desire is quite believable. Not just a chick flick, I think guys could really enjoy this as well. There’s a reason it rated R, but there really aren’t ANY uncomfortable, offensive scenes (for adults, that is). The laugh-out-loud moments slow towards the finale, but it ends up right where the audience hopes it will.

I’ll let an excerpt from an eight out of 10 stars review on IMDb sum it up:
“The cast here is one of the best ensemble works of the year. Meryl Streep is naturalistic and in top form showing her sexier side at 60. Streep shows that she can still create a character from scratch and make the woman as real as anyone walking down the streets of New York City. It’s one of her funnier turns in years.
Alec Baldwin, in one of his best performances to date, shows immaturity and careless can get you far in a film. Showing top comedic work, Baldwin seems in the hunt for Oscar recognition. His charm and magnetism is quite surprising as we haven’t seen him give a performance this funny ever, not even in his hit sitcom 30 Rock. Steve Martin, who I have found overdoes his comedy in some of his later years in film is in control and utterly enjoyable. Martin shows a sensitive side reminiscent of his works in Roxanne and Parenthood, and finds an audience cheer with empathetic tendencies can get you right back to what you do best. It’s a return to form for Martin.
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The Road
by Vince (Rockerdad)

Being a Cormac McCarthy fan, I was immediately intrigued by the trailer of this film – it looked intense, bleak and depressing – and it delivered in all those fronts. The Road is a simple story of a desperate father (Viggo Mortenson) traveling cross-country with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to find civilization while the rest of the remaining human race has succumbed to suicide, lawlessness and murder. It doesn’t resort to the fake grandiosity of 2012’s disaster sequences or the self-indulgent fantasy of I Am Legend. The Road turns us inward into our most abominable and greatest fear – how do we survive the end of the world in the midst of illness and rampant cannibalism when all you have is a parent’s love for a child? Probably one of the most depressing films you’ll ever see this year. However, you won’t need to see it twice – the scenes are vivid enough to be ingrained in our collective memory.
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(500) Days of Summer
by ze blogger RTM
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I finally got around to seeing this one… ironically amidst the coldest days of Minnesota Winter. But the Summer in the title doesn’t refer to a season, as the opening tells you straight out, but to a girl named Summer. What the intro also tells you, is that this isn’t a love story, which means this is pretty much an anti rom-com (Hurrah!).
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I’ve always thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fantastic actor and this movie secures his reputation even more. He plays Tom, a (reluctant) greeting card writer in L.A. who’s one of the best in the company, yet his college education and main ambition is to be an architect. Tom is the tortured soul of the young generation who believes that true love is not only possible, but within reach. At the workplace is when he first encountered and fall in love with Summer (quirky heroine du jour Zooey Dechanel) against his better judgment. You see, unlike Tom, Summer doesn’t believe in love. It’s not a gimmick like some girls would say to appear ‘original’ but secretly longs for the guy she tells that to. No, Summer really doesn’t believe that people fall in love nor does she feel the need to have a man in her life to feel validated. Strangely enough though, I never quite warmed up to Summer (pardon the pun), I’m not saying Dechanel is a bad actress because she plays the role really well. But like the movie suggested that you can’t force love, they can’t force me to like Summer either, no matter how affable and congenial the movie blatantly makes her out to be.At times I was practically screaming to my TV screen, “Leave her Tom, move on! She’s a cold, heartless vixen!” But of course, later we realize there’s more than Summer that meets the eye, and Tom has to learn the hard way – the only way it seems – to let go. Gordon-Levitt truly delivered an award-worthy performance here, so I’m glad to see his name among Golden Globe Best Actor nominees. Another performance worth noting is that of 12-year-old Chloe Moretz as Tom’s wise-beyond-her-years younger sister, his voice of reason. I was blown away by her understated performance, no surprise I suppose as she’s been in 20+ movies in her young career. She’ll be seen next in the highly anticipated comic-adaptation Kick-Ass.
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What’s interesting about this movie is the unconventional story-telling style, the 500 days isn’t told chronologically but jumps forward and backward within that time frame. Kudos to first-time director Marc Webb for making this unconventional sequence free of confusion. The movie is also peppered with memorably quirky, even surreal scenes. Like the one where Tom is standing with his back against us and the L.A. landscape around him morphs into a black & white rough sketch, and when he transform the blackboard wallpaper of his room into a city skyline. Even the somewhat cliched dance sequence – reminiscent of a scene from Enchanted believe it or not — after Tom’s first night with Summer feels fresh and utterly whimsical. Hope Webb will have a lasting career in Hollywood as we need more of this kind of talent and less Brett Ratner/Michael Bay types.
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This movie definitely lives up the hype and praises from critics and moviegoers alike. It’s nice to see a movie about love that doesn’t resort to a ‘happy ever after’ hackneyed premise, and one that almost feel like real life.

What are your thoughts on these films?

FlixChatter’s Movie Weekend Roundup

I don’t have time to write a lengthy review for each of these two flix I watched over the weekend, so I thought I’d give you a couple of mini reviews in one post. Whilst one beats my expectation, the other is the opposite.

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Terminator Salvation

I saw this Friday nite despite the dismal reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. And you know what, both my hubby and I actually liked it.

I quite like the classic Terminator movies and the whole story of humanity’s war against man-made machines. The story of this one takes place after the the computer network Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, as a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.

I enjoyed the full-throttle action from start to finish, something I expect from a Terminator movie. The CGI and cinematography is pretty cool, with impeccable shots and camera angles, especially the truck chase sequences. The visuals of the wrecked and torn world looks believable, as do the fighting sequences, although I wonder if it had been an R-rated film they’d taken it a bit further to make it feel more ‘real.’ Perhaps the lower, more ‘family-friendly’ rating explains why this movie lacked the ‘bite’ or ‘grit’ of the original two. The dialog wasn’t exceptional but it’s not a deal-breaker either. In fact, there’s quite a few references to the original, such as the line: “Come with me if you want to live” spoken by Kyle Reese to Marcus Wright; and Marcus “What day is it? What year?” to Kyle.

John and Marcus bonded
John Connor and Marcus Wright bonded

I’m not surprised however, by how much I was drawn to Sam Worthington’s character Marcus far more that Christian Bale’s titular hero John Connor. I’ve pondered how Bale is often the second banana in films lately and Worthington’s Marcus definitely steals his thunder here. He’s not as terrible as the reviewers made him out to be though, he does more than just screaming & yelling in this movie (the same erroneous argument critics labeled Gerard Butler in his role as Leonidas in 300). Interestingly, according to IMDb, Christian Bale was first offered the role of Marcus but took more interest in the character of John Connor so rewrites took place to give him more of a substantial role throughout the film. Hmmm, bad move there Bale, it should’ve been more obvious that Marcus is the ‘meatier’ role and the conflicted unlikely hero story is always more compelling than the traditional protagonist. I’ve been touting Worthington for a while based on what I’ve read about him and I’m glad to say that in the first movie I’ve seen him in, he definitely doesn’t disappoint. He’s got an undeniable screen presence and that delicate combination of ‘tough guy with a heart’ a la Russell Crowe. I can’t take my eyes off him every time he’s on screen!

Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese is pretty good, too. He’s a bit more wide-eyed and less sinister than Michael Biehn in T2, but he’s able to be both vulnerable and unflinchingly bold at the same time. His scenes with Marcus are my favorite parts of the movie, save for the John/Marcus face-off when Marcus is captured that’s easily one of the movie’s highlights.

Overall, I don’t think McG ‘ruined’ the franchise as some critics/fans have suggested. Sure it may not live up the two James Cameron originals, but it’s still a decent action-adventure that gives the franchise justice.

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The Informant!

Now, as opposed to TS, I actually had a high expectation going into this movie because the critics seem to leap up anything Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon put out there.

I was intrigued by the trailer but despite some funny parts, the movie just doesn’t deliver for me. It’s almost like the trailer IS the movie as the best parts are already revealed there. It’s a true-story about Mark Whitacre (Damon), an Ivy League Ph.D. who was a rising star at an agricultural company ADM, who ended up becoming a whistleblower over their price fixing tactic. [Spoiler ahead] Basically it’s a satire about a compulsive liar who’s suffering from a severe bipolar disorder.

I think the story has a lot of potential for an enjoyable movie, but it comes across really boring to me. Not sure if the 10pm showtime had something to do with it, but rarely did I doze off in a movie theater that my husband actually had to nudge me a few times. Even one of our guy friends ended up going to the bathroom to ‘freshen up’ but we found him asleep right behind us nonetheless.

I realize it’s a dark comedy so I’m not complaining that it lacked some overt funny scenes, I just wish the subtleties pay off more than it did. It seems to be the case of style over substance, which is fine in most cases, but when it comes to corporate crime stories, there’s only so much amusing tricks they can do to keep us engaged. The use of the whimsical music works at first but after a while it just gets old, and the gag actually makes me cringe, it’s like I’m no longer in on the joke but instead I get irritated by them.

I probably wouldn’t enjoy this as much if I hadn’t seen Matt Damon do the Bourne series, as his physical transformation is amusing in itself. He’s obviously a great actor as he was able to pull off the bumbling and pitiful corporate geek role as believable as he was as a ruthless assassin. IFC awarded him with the “Actor of the Decade” title and given his body of work, he just might warrant that. Yet, be that as it may, he still can’t save this movie. It seems to take a lifetime to end, too. Oh well, at least we saved our money at the $2.50 theater, as this definitely isn’t worth much more than that.

If you’re in for a movie based on a true story about a whistleblower, rent The Insider instead. I’d be hard-pressed to find one thing wrong with that movie and Russell Crowe also underwent an amazing physical transformation by gaining 35 pounds for the role of Jeffrey Wigand.