Archive for March, 2012

Mirror Mirror
Snow White 2012, Part 1

It seems that Hollywood likes to do things in pairs. Remember the pair of asteroid movies in 1998? Or how about the competing movies about ants that same year? And the two movies about Truman Capote that came out between 2005 and 2006? Well, this year’s pair is a couple of big screen adaptations of the Snow White tale. There’s the more hardcore, Lord of the Rings-style Snow White and the Huntsman due this June, but first out of the gate is Mirror Mirror, which aims to be more fantastical, colorful, and family-friendly.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Is it Even Possible?

Mention the title of this movie to someone in conversation and the response is generally something like, “Is that even possible?” Common sense says no, but the movie argues that with a little faith and determination, anything is possible. It is an excellent message, but it almost gets lost amidst the romance, espionage, and political posturing that overtakes the plot. There’s a little too much going on here, and the movie probably would have been better served to simply focus on, well, salmon fishing in the Yemen. As the romantic leads, Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are good, but Kristin Scott Thomas is remarkable.

The Hunger Games
The Odds are in its Favor

Based on the popular novel by Suzanne Collins—the first in a series of three—The Hunger Games has been referred to as both “the next Harry Potter” and “the next Twilight.” Although the latter certainly has its share of devoted fans, I’d wager that the odds are decidedly in favor of most people—this writer included—hoping it turns out to be more like the former, at least in terms of its cinematic quality. Fortunately, I am happy to report that that is the case, as director Gary Ross and company have done a fine job of translating the novel to the screen. The film nails the feel of the novel, keeps most of it intact, and presents it in an entertaining fashion. Fans will not be disappointed.

John Carter
Interplanetary Dud

Cinematically, author Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known as the man who created Tarzan. In the literary world, however, he may be better known for his novels about the adventures of a human named John Carter, who ends up becoming the hero of Mars. The author’s first John Carter story debuted in 1912, meaning that it took an even one hundred years for the John Carter saga to finally hit the silver screen.

Silent House
Terror Experiment

On the surface, the new thriller Silent House may look like a dozen other thrillers to come out recently, movies in which the camera is the direct point-of-view of one of the terrorized characters. The camera here is only a third-person observer, however, just like us. In this case, it is an ever-present observer, one that never cuts away from the action and records the terror all in one continuous take. It’s a fascinating experiment that has been tried by directors as great as Alfred Hitchcock and it works well, for a while, but there is only so many times we can crouch under a bed or table with our protagonist.

Project X
The Price of Popularity

Remember Cloverfield, the movie filmed from a first-person perspective about a giant monster that destroyed New York City? Remember how it opened with a party? Now, imagine it wasn’t the monster that destroyed the city, but the party itself, and you will have some idea of what you’ve got in Project X. High school buddies set out to have the most epic party ever, and as it turns out, that is exactly what they get. The fact that the cast is a bunch of unknowns also works to the movie’s benefit, not only in creating the feeling that this might actually be legitimate footage, but also because it lets the audience just go along for the ride.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Horrific Family Drama

A hit on the festival circuit last year, We Need to Talk About Kevin is finally getting a wide release. It’s general knowledge that the movie revolves around a Columbine-like act of violence at a high school and the relationship between the perpetrator and his mother, but it comes as something of a surprise that the movie turns out to be more of a horror movie than just a family drama.