Saturday, October 29, 2011

"In Time"

So... Sci-fi thrillers. Sci-fi thrillers can be filed into any number of places. They can be filed into the pure-fun adrenalin-rush kind of film that doesn't seek to say a thing. They can be just as mindless as your average crime thriller.

And then, they can use their hook to sort of comment on social issues that go down today.

You don't get cookies for figuring out which category today's movie falls into, just telling you now.

In Time

In the near future, man has been cured of aging: people will stop aging at twenty five, and now the amount of time a person has left to live has become the world's chief unit of currency. In this world, the rich live forever while the poor live by the days. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a man who lives in a ghetto in this world. When he is given a hundred and sixteen years by a mysterious, suicidal millionaire, however, he finds himself sucked up in something bigger. Along with Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), the millionaire heiress of a bank tycoon, he becomes a Robin Hood kind of figure to the poor.

So... I don't think I need to tell you what the movie discusses with its hook, or the fact that with Occupy Wall Street/The Nation picking up heat this movie couldn't have been better timed. But if I do... well, it uses this thing to discuss class divisions in modern day America. To this end, it plays with a lot of the possibilities involved with this world. It manages to do that thing that is most difficult in a sci-fi movie: it manages to explain how the world works without ever having to resort to telling the audience about it. And trust me, it's extremely effective, as the viewer gets more invested in the world and what it has to say about our own state than he/she would have if most of the rules of this world had been told to us.

In terms of the metaphor that is explored... Well, the metaphor is pretty appropriate, but if there's one thing I had to say about how it discusses the issue, I think that sometimes it stretches the metaphor a little bit. There is being subtle about a message, and then there is slapping you in the face with 'this is messed up'. It's a very neat thing to see just how much time as a unit of currency affects the proceedings, but there are a few points when the metaphor is stretched a little too far. Thus, the message tends to get overpowering, and at some points the movie actually becomes less interesting because of it.

But that said, it's still a reasonably entertaining little movie. Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried make for two very appealing leads, and at the end of the day, we want these characters to succeed. The entire rest of the cast (including Cillian Murphy and Alex Pettyfer in what I think is a career-changing performance for Pettyfer) is also quite good, and they make the most of their roles (even Olivia Wilde, who makes the most of the (almost literal) five minutes that she has in the movie). The action, while fairly standard, is visible and easy to keep track of, and so the whole thing more or less still comes together.

So while it does tend to stretch its metaphor to the point that it is bashing us over the head with it, In Time still manages to be somewhat successful for what it is. Honestly, I think the mark that makes this movie is that I thought the premise worked really well in the movie's universe. When I first heard about this movie, I thought it was going to be the silliest movie of the year, but I was pleasantly proven wrong. And nevertheless, it's a fun little thriller at the end of the day.


It has a few flaws, but is still worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Paranormal Activity 3"

Okay, so the first two Paranormal Activity movies were good movies, going around doing crazier things with horror. They were both atmospheric, they both worked really well, and they warranted a second sequel.

So what's that sequel?

Well... it's today's movie.

Paranormal Activity 3

Katie and Kristi had encountered the ghost before, and now, we see the first time they saw it. Kristi and Katie are little girls at that time, and when strange things start happening around the house, things get absolutely crazy.

And crazy, in the typical Paranormal Activity way. As with the first two films, there is a lot of building of atmosphere that is done. These movies have always been slow, and this one gets all the cues down right. The scares start off with a few very, very minor things, and they only build in intensity as the movie goes on. And once they really start coming, they are absolutely visceral in their realization.

So then why does this movie feel like the PA franchise is starting to lose its novelty?

Well... I can think of a few reasons, but I guess the two big ones are really important:

The first one: CGI. We can see it now. Paranormal Activity itself used all practical effects. It had to, given that it was made on a ridiculously tight budget. Paranormal Activity 2 didn't use all that much, but what CGI was used wasn't really all that noticeable? But here? Oh, there's CGI all right, and what there is looks really bad in comparison with the practical effects. It's not used often, but when it is, it really sticks out, and that's never a good thing with a movie.

The second thing, and this is a huge one: END. CREDITS. Paranormal Activity did not have them. Paranormal Activity 2 did not have them. So why does Paranormal Activity 3 have them? It completely breaks the immersion if you cut to "directed by so and so" after the last shot of the movie. Seriously, people. Seriously?

And this isn't counting some of the other problems with this movie. There are child actresses in this, and unfortunately, the girl who played Kristi to me didn't feel very convincing at all in her role. On the whole, there were some things in the acting that just didn't work at all. And then, there's the fact that many facets of the plot make little to no sense, particularly during the last fifteen minutes or so. All this tends to catch up with you as you exit the theater.

And in the end? It shows signs that Paranormal Activity 3 may just be the point when the PA franchise is starting to get bad. I was sitting in a theater where half the audience was laughing at some things. At first I got a little annoyed, but as I watched the movie, I began to find myself agreeing with them. Is it tense? Yes. But once you leave the theater, you're asking yourself "what was I so scared about?"

Thus, why the franchise may have gone past the point where any good movies can be made from it.


It has its moments, but overall you might be left disappointed.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

P.S. Yes, I know I didn't leave a review last week. I'm sorry. A lot of things were going on last weekend, and unfortunately I wasn't able to get a review out. I'll try to make up for it this week, though, so stay tuned.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Real Steel"

Expectations are a funny thing. About a week before release, I was expecting today's movie to be really bad, awful even. So lo and behold, when I check Rotten Tomatoes (yes, I check movie ratings on RT prior to release) and find that it's actually hovering relatively high on the tomatometer for most of the days leading up to the release. So I decided I'd give this movie a chance.

And... well... here we are, with today's movie.

Real Steel

Charlie (Hugh Jackman) is a former professional boxer who got ousted from the game when crowds began to crowd around boxing with robots instead of people. Thus, he falls on really hard times, for both himself and his robot maintenance lady Bailey (Evangeline Lily). However, this changes when the death of an ex-girlfriend of his leads him into looking after his son Max (Dakota Goyo), things change when Max finds a bot named Atom that turns out to become a huge hit on the underground circuit, and then in the professional ring.

So essentially, Rocky, if it was being done with giant fighting robots and a random kid plunked down if Mickey wasn't there.

But over the course of the movie, I found I really didn't care that it was a Rocky retread. Because all the individual elements still come together.

The acting especially makes everything work. Hugh Jackman brings a great energy to the part of Charlie, and while he is a bit of a jerk at the start of the movie, we're with him throughout the entire ride for a lot of reasons, and all the supporting actors do their thing well, even the ones with the smaller amounts of material. Honestly, though, I think the biggest props go to Dakota Goyo, who took a part that could have been extremely annoying and grating and turned it into one of the most engaging parts of the whole movie. Seriously, the kid's a good actor, and I think he'll be a talent to watch.

And the action is really good. Yes, we can see it all, and yes, it's incredibly exciting. You wouldn't think that watching computer-generated robots fight would be so engaging, but, well, here you have it, and in much more exciting form than in your average Bayformers movie. I think the one misstep this movie made was to rely on having one too many fight montages, but even that can be forgiven when they're still pretty entertaining to watch.

And in terms of the plot? Yeah, everything is played safe, but in many ways it's a good kind of safe, because some bits actually feel a little more fresh that way. There aren't a very large amount of subplots surrounding the movie, but in the end that small amount helps keep the movie focused on the main plot. And in the end, it's a focus that the movie could not have gone without, for everything feels so much more satisfying since we know what the stakes are for each character and we can follow and sympathize with the characters more.

It's tough to say exactly how Real Steel works. I know that many times, playing things safe ends up coming up uninspired, but in a few select cases, I think it's possible for exceptions to be made. And this is one of those cases, in which we get a movie that is thoroughly entertaining and, in the end, quite good.

So yeah.


Most definitely worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


So, cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer, one of the leading causes of death in the United States of America, and that disease that puts so much pressure on life. And one that goes around with it.

So how does one deal with it? Well... there are lots of ways, depending on how you are related.

And today's movie is a comedy about that.


Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a writer for a local radio station, has a supportive girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and a great friend in Kyle (Seth Rogen). However, all this is jilted with the sudden revelation that at the ripe age of 27, he has a very rare form of spinal cancer. And so, he finds himself facing 50/50 odds with Kyle as his friend through everything.

So... a comedy about cancer. Of course, cancer is an extremely sensitive subject, and has to be treated with aplomb. Too much low-brow, and it can come across as being extremely offensive and not cool. Too sensitive, however, and the humor can lose something.

And as for that? Well, Will Reiser's screenplay hits all the right notes. It manages to have a blend of comedy that somehow works despite the incredibly touchy subject matter. It's funny, side-splittingly hilarious at a lot of points, but it's never in a way that crosses a line that shouldn't be crossed. And when it needs to be serious, the humor wisely backs off, and surprisingly, this movie proves that it's not a jarring tonal shift if you nearly engage in a 'this is sad' cry in a comedy. So it manages to be both hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.

And the fact that it has a bunch of really good actors here also helps a lot. The comic timing of everyone is great here, and when they need to be serious they manage to bring a lot of great things to the table. Everyone is great in this movie, especially the lead actors, and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen as the two leads. They also help in keeping the tone of the movie consistent, even when it juggles comedy and drama at the flick of a switch.

So to sum it up? 50/50 is a movie about a very, very serious subject that manages to treat it in both a humorous way and a really serious way. It's got a charming cast, a really tight screenplay, and it works really well as a whole. So go check it out.


Most definitely worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.