FILM REVIEW: Fright Night (2011, dir. Craig Gillespie)

Rating: 4 out of 10

My older sister dragged me to this movie. About halfway through the film, after a scene that I found somewhat distasteful, the following exchange ensued:

ME: I blame you for all of this.

HER: This is a good movie!

ME: What!?

So I am aware that not everyone will feel about this movie the way I did. I am not a horror aficionado. I don’t like vampires. But I think I have a fair review to give of this film. Succinctly: it was not very good. My main issues with it are that a) the screenplay was a cookie-cutter product that was probably written based on the guidelines of a How To Write A Screenplay handbook; b) the characters and action sequences were uninteresting; and c) the kiss between David Tennant and Anton Yelchin did not last long enough.

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FILM REVIEW: Source Code (2010, dir. Duncan Jones)

RATING: 5.5 out of 10

I really wanted to like Source Code. I really did.

And I did like it, for the first twenty minutes. The film actually sets up its mysterious premise rather beautifully: Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) suddenly finds himself in someone else’s body, on a train that ends up exploding, but instead of dying wakes up in some bizarre pod being given instructions by Vera Farmiga through a TV screen. I’d be confused, too. Stevens is being sent– back in time? into an alternate universe? we don’t know, and it’s debatable whether the screenwriter himself knows– to find out who blew up the train, because apparently it was just the first in a series of terrorist attacks, which Stevens needs to help prevent by plumbing his flash-backs to the train wreck for clues. It’s an engaging concept, certainly, but the movie ultimately didn’t know what its own boundaries were and therefore ended up breaking its own rules. Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Never Let Me Go (2010; dir. Mark Romanek)

RATING: 7.5 out of 10 boats on a beach

Never Let Me Go is a very soft sort of sci-fi. It takes place in an alternate reality where humans are cloned for organ-harvesting, sure, but in the same vein as Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind you won’t see any flying cars or holographic displays here. This world is the same as ours, except for one changed variable in the past that has led to subtle and often unexpected differences in everyday life. The story focuses on the effects of this medical invention on three clones, sticking close to their limited perspective on the world they live in, thus ensuring that the film retains an organic, human center in the face of the kind of antiseptic nausea that could threaten to overtake a story with such an instinctively unpalatable concept. The science fiction element is used simply and precisely as a filter through which we can see certain facets of human life a little differently. The film subtly probes into questions about death, loss, and acceptance– but just out of the corner of your eye, so by the end you’ve been sucker-punched by a poignancy that you should have seen coming, but didn’t.

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FILM REVIEW: Cowboys & Aliens (2011; dir. Jon Favreau)

RATING: 6.5 out of 10 symbolic hummingbirds

I will admit that when I first saw the trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, I gave a derisive laugh.

But the successive trailers piqued my genuine interest. It seemed fun, adventurous, and with some really cool-looking spaceships; plus, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde are really attractive people. I was basically sold already. I was dismayed by the unfavorable consensus when the critical reviews started rolling in, but I decided to stick with my own intuition about the film and see it in theaters nonetheless. I made the right decision. I offer this review up as a defense of the film’s virtues, because for all of its admitted faults, I think it’s being judged unfairly and deserves recognition for what it accomplishes.

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