It’d been a good while since we’ve had a good alien movie so I checked out Dark Skies hoping that it would break the dry spell. It had a pretty decent cast of Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons was even in it for a few minutes. Basically there’s a family of four living in a normal neighborhood when strange things start to happen. Their youngest son says the sandman visits him at night, they find things missing or rearranged in their house, birds start flying into their house and the family will sometimes just lose control of their own bodies. After some online research (because that’s always the best idea) they’re convinced that they’re being visited by aliens. They seek out the advice of an expert of these things and he pretty much tells them that they’re fucked. The family decides to try to fight it and there’s a big alien show down, sort of. The movie had a few creepy parts but nothing past that, there were a couple quick scares but not a lot, overall it was alright. It wasn’t bad but it was very far from great, in general I left Dark Skies just feeling let down. If you’re going to see this I’d wait until it comes out where you can redbox it or catch it for free because if you’re still looking for the next great alien movie Dark Skies leaves you still looking.
First time director Jake Schreier and first time feature writer Christopher D. Ford bring us Robot & Frank, the story of an old jewel thief and his helper robot turned partner. Taking place in what seems to be the near future there’s Frank (Frank Langella) an old man that’s pretty set in his ways. He likes reading books he gets from the library, hates all the technology that’s all around him, has a memory that’s starting to go and is an ex-jewel thief that still likes to shoplift on occasion. His son Hunter (James Marsden) basically gets tired of driving up to see him and take care of the old man so he buys him a robot that is programmed to help him around the house and look after his health. Frank is obviously very against the robot at first, as is his daughter Madison (Liv Tyler). Though after a while Frank realizes he is able to teach the Robot things, things like picking locks and cracking safes. There’s some stuck up rich people in town, they’ve bought the library that Frank likes to go to and cleared all the books out of it so for a measure of revenge and some fun Frank decides to rob the place with the help of the robot. The movie is one of those comedy/drama deals, one where it’s got some good jokes in it but you won’t be laughing through the whole thing. I was pretty excited for this because movies with robots are pretty fun and this really exceeded my expectations. I’d recommend checking this one out while you can, it’s a limited release so you might have to search for it but it’ll be worth it.
Looper is an action/sci-fi movie about a man who is pretty much a hitman for organized crime in the future. They send whoever they want killed back in time, the person at the present kills them then disposes of the body. At some point you may be called on to kill yourself, for that you get a big payout and your job is done. Joe is one of these hitmen, or Loopers. The Joe of the past/present is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, future Joe is Bruce Willis. Already with those two you’ve got a pretty good indication that you’re going to have a great movie. Old Joe gets sent back to be killed, but he escapes, young Joe is chasing him down to do his job. Old Joe is on a mission to find the crime boss of the future, who is now a kid, and kill him before he can put in motion events that will kill his wife. Besides Bruce and Joseph you’ve also got Jeff Daniels in here for a little bit, another plus. There’s a few jump arounds and changes in timelines so if you’re not paying attention things can get a little confusing. Overall this movie was pretty great, not quite what I expected though, a little less action and more weirdness than I expected but that’s not a bad thing. The movie was written and directed by Rian Johnson, the same guy that wrote and directed Brick (another Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie which you need to see if you haven’t). The only thing I didn’t really like about this was the ending, I thought that was a little weak, but overall I really enjoyed this movie, go check it out if you get the chance.
Chronicle, movie that had so much potential, but really just pissed it all away. I was really looking forward to seeing Chronicle but ended up hating it, I was actually debating taking a nap during the movie at one point. You’ve got three kids in high school that get telekinetic powers after finding this giant rock thing in a cave one day. As they use the powers more and more they get stronger, one turns villainous. That’s pretty much the plot, which is also all the information you got from the trailer. Speaking of the trailer, almost everything in the trailer happens in the first twenty minutes or so of the movie, that’s almost always a bad sign. Telekinesis is my favorite power, and I’m a big comic nerd so I figured even if they tried to fuck this up, it would most likely still turn out fun, too bad I was wrong. Almost the whole movie is down with the handheld cam thing, which I hate and the CG was pretty terrible. Every time something was floating it looked really cartoony. I’ve seen better affects in commercials. The main characters left a lot to be desired too, I hated everyone in this movie except Steve, he was the only guy that had any sort of real screen presence, but at the same time it made the least amount of sense for him to be in the group. The group was thrown together and made no real sense; these people wouldn’t have actually been friends. One was a complete douche bag, one was a total bitch that I actually wish got picked on and bullied even more than he did and one was the super popular guy who wouldn’t have been hanging out with these losers. Granted Matt and Andrew (douche and loser) were related, but they even admit they didn’t like each other until they got powers. The whole part of Andrew turning evil is pretty poorly handled too. What would have made sense is if he starts slowly on the path of evil as a way to save his sick mother (which they do touch on, but it’s way too little too late). What actually happened was ‘boo hoo hoo I have no friends so screw everybody’, the reason this is flawed at best is because once he has powers he’s popular and liked. The whole movie is a complete wash, just save your money and avoid it, no matter how cool you might think it’ll be its not.
Director of both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau has a crack at the movie adaptation of the 2006 graphic novel of the same name. It’s one of those movies that all I needed to do was hear the title and I was on board. The first thing you’ll notice about this one is the amazing cast. We’ve got the legendary Harrison Ford along with former Bond man Daniel Craig, it’s a great team for this movie but it doesn’t stop there. You’ll also probably take notice of Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown and Paul Dano, all of them have small parts but all are a perfect fit. You’ve also got a great job done by Olivia Wilde and if you watch the great show Justified you’ll probably catch the man that plays Boyd Crowder, Walton Goggins. This is the best movie I’ve seen this year so far, and I think what really made this one work is it isn’t overly cheesy or campy. What we have is a straight up western movie, and I love westerns, however instead of Indians or an outlaw that is causing the trouble it just happens to be aliens. The affects in this movie are really good, which helps keep away from the campiness. If you like Westerns, Sci-Fi movies, or just fun you have to see this movie, I really can’t stress it enough. It’s a great western where they fight aliens, it is Cowboys & Aliens.
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