Friday, June 22, 2012

PCP on DVD - Haywire

Welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today on PCP I'll be reviewing the Steven Soderbergh action flick Haywire.  Haywire is one of those movies that have a sharp divide between critics and audiences for their opinion of the movie.  If you go to movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes's webpage for this film, the critics approval of the film stands at 80%, but the audience approval stands at 40%.  That is a remarkably different viewpoint between the two main classes of audience.  Is it because the professional critics are biased in favor of anything directed by Steven Soderbergh? Is it because the audiences are dumb?  Or is it something else?  Read on for my take on the film.

Haywire - 2012, Rated R.  93 minutes.  Starring Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Angarano.  My rating:  6 out of 10.

How do you help out an actress making her acting debut?  Simple, you surround her with extremely talented actors.  The film is costarring Oscar winner Michael Douglas, Four Golden Globe nominees in Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, & Ewan McGregor, and also starring Channing Tatum and Michael Angarano.  Gina Carano makes her starring film debut as Mallory Kane, a government black-ops contractor that is on the run.  Carano is best known as a former MMA fighter, and also as the gladiator Crush on the recent American Gladiators reboot. 

Soderbergh is not a director known for making action films.  It shows in this film, as it is not paced like your typical actioner about a betrayed spy.  That doesn't mean that the fight sequences aren't great however.  Whoever did the fight choreography was outstanding in this film, particularly in Carano's fights versus Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender.  If you enjoy movies with extremely realistic fight sequences, then Haywire is a film for you.  The film is realistic to a fault, with absolutely nothing that comes across as CGI or outside the bounds of normal physics.  For some viewers (my wife for example) this type of film comes across as boring.  With my wife, if she's stuck watching an action flick with me, she at least wants to see spectacle and explosions and crazy over the top action setpieces.  None of those are really present in Haywire, which is why she didn't particularly enjoy the film.  I personally thought the film was only okay. 

As previously mentioned, the fight sequences are outstanding.  Outside of those sequences however is where the film bogs down.  Carano is not exactly the world's best actress although I've definitely seen far worse.  She's helped out a lot by her fellow castmembers but she's definitely dragging down the film in spots.  Since she is a great asskicker however, I would never say that to her face.  I also would still be willing to see more movies with her in it, to see if she can develop into a better actress, and also because she kicks ass so convincingly here.  If the Avengers ever expands to have She-Hulk as part of the cast, then I think Carano would be a natural choice.

Bottom line, if nothing better is on, then go for it with this movie, but if you're not either a fanatical Soderbergh nut or a fanatical MMA nut, you can miss this movie without missing out on much of anything.

Monday, June 11, 2012

PCP on DVD - Backlog clearout of reviews (again)

Thanks for dropping by to take a hit of PCP here at CRAPOLA.  Thanks to the full schedule I have when it comes to being a new father, full time employment, and grad school, I have yet again developed a backlog of DVD reviews.  So to clear these all out so I can start posting individual reviews as I watch each movie, here is a clearout of short reviews of everything I've caught recently on DVD, 18 films in all, in alphabetical order.  As the summer goes on, I'll be seeing a few more films in theaters and I'll aim for a quick turnaround on those reviews, and any movies I catch on DVD I'll try to review within a week of watching as well.  Sorry for the weak posting schedule lately, I'll endeavor to do better in the future but in the meantime I thank you for your patience!  Now on to the reviews!

12 Angry Men (1957)  My rating:  10 out of 10.  This legal classic from 1957 still holds up incredibly well today.  Shot on a minimalist set (the jury room is where 99% of the film takes place) and with characters only going by their juror numbers, this adaptation of a play is a remarkably powerful film.  Henry Fonda as juror # 8 is the star of the cast in this film about sending a man to the death penalty.  If you haven't seen this movie yet, go see it, I can't recommend it enough!

Contagion (2011)  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Far more realistic than any other film about a cataclysm that I've ever seen, this story about the spread of a catastrophic illness throughout humanity will make you want to take a bath in Purell.  Unfortunately it is a bit slow at parts, and some characters that are featured early in the film disappear without their story being resolved, which is frustrating.  Still a decent film though.

Footloose (2011)  My rating:  5 out of 10.  This remake of a classic had no business being made, except for the fact that Hollywood is having an extremely hard time coming up with original ideas these days.  The dance scenes are of course well done, but the acting isn't the best.  Like the overwhelming majority of remakes coming out of Hollywood, I don't think you'll find anyone that thinks this was better than the original.

Green Zone (2010) My rating:  8 out of 10.  It's the Bourne Iraq War.  Starring Matt Damon and directed by Bourne 2 and 3 director Paul Greengrass, this film has a lot of visual similarity to the Bourne films.  Set in the early days of the Iraq War, this film benefits from 20/20 hindsight about the horrendous mistakes made by the American government when it came to the prosecution of this war that we're only just now getting out of, by highlighting those mistakes in flashing neon letters for all to see.  I'd be curious to hear from any veterans of the recent conflict their thoughts on this film, in terms of its portrayal of combat as well as the political message behind the film.

The Help (2011) My rating:  10 out of 10.  Outstanding performances from a very talented cast (including one Oscar winning performance and 2 Oscar nominated performances) make this film an enjoyable one to watch.  It strikes me as a little bit racist though, having the white girl ride to the rescue of the domestic help, but maybe that's just how I (and some others) see it.  Most see it for what it also was - an extremely well acted film.

13 more quick reviews are after the jump, including Real Steel, In Time, Moneyball, and more!