Posts Tagged ‘theater


After Earth

Today, the average life expectancy for someone born in the United States is approximately 77 years for males and 80-81 years for females.  Whatever the number of years we’re privileged enough to spend on God’s green Earth may be, we can rest assured those years will consist of ups and downs, both personally and professionally.   Now, one person who had his share of ups and downs professionally is director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs).  Shyamalan’s latest directorial project is the new film, After Earth, starring Will Smith.

After Earth is a futuristic science fiction film that takes place, much like its title implies, after planet Earth has undergone extreme warfare and tremendous environmental stress, making it uninhabitable for human beings.  After Earth is the story of a strained father-son relationship between General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith).  An event, which we see in frequent flashbacks, serves as the primary reason for the great amount of tension between Cypher and Kitai.

While traveling through space to a routine military exercise, in which Cypher has reluctantly allowed Kitai to tag along, their spacecraft malfunctions.  In an attempt to save the crew, Cypher orders the ship crash land on planet Earth.  During the crash all of the crew is lost except Kitai and Cypher who has sustained badly broken legs, which one is life threatening.  To save himself and his father, Kitai races against the clock as he ventures out into the unknown and unpredictable land that is now Earth as Cypher directs Kitai’s every move from the crashed spacecraft.

Without a doubt the biggest grievance After Earth commits is how the film decides to utilize its biggest asset, Will Smith.  The film’s trailer and poster lead you to believe Will Smith is the star of the show, but unfortunately he really isn’t. Instead, Mr. Smith is reduced to basically a voice over role with occasional scene of him grimacing from the pain of his damaged legs.  Most screen time is devoted to the younger Smith, Jaden.  Although, Jaden isn’t terrible, he’s not ready to carry an entire film himself, not yet anyway.  Also, for some odd reason, Will and Jaden display British-like accents that appear and disappear throughout the film.

As I mentioned, After Earth is a sci-fi actioner, but it takes a considerable amount of time getting to any action.  Until any combat begins, the film muddles along with long, extended scenes with monotone dialogue with little to no expression from the actors.  When the action does begin, it’s fairly consistent and rather entertaining. However, it’s pretty standard fare for a sci-fi action film and brings nothing new to the table.

After Earth is better than a typical Shyamalan directed film.  On the other hand, it’s below par for a Will Smith flick. However, the film’s redeeming qualities; the father-son relationship dynamic and enjoyable action sequences are not enough to keep it from drowning in a sea of clichéd sci-fi mediocrity.

Best Buy Latest Deals – JUNE 2-8, 2013 – Warm Bodies – Blu-ray Disc


Jack the Giant Slayer

From last year’s Snow White and the Huntsman, to the January released Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Hollywood has recently turned to fairy tales for source material their films.  With this recent trend, it was only a matter of time before the timeless tale of Jack, his magical beans, and the beanstalk would fall victim and be turned into a motion picture.  And so we now have Jack the Giant Slayer.

The story is swift as we get into the action almost right from the beginning as the giant beanstalk makes its appearance.  The film stays true to the folklore upon which it is based.  Staying to so faithful to its original source is a bit of a hindrance.  This is one time that taking the story in another direction would have been helpful and made for a much more entertaining film.   Instead, the story is predictable, so much so that you can almost anticipate what will happen next.  I know I found myself becoming bored and disinterested with the story early on.

The film features Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) in the title role. Hoult turns in a bland performance here as the farm boy who comes across a handful of magical beans. He almost seems to at times disappear into the background as most of the film’s attention is focused on the CGI giants.  Ewan Mcgrewor in the supporting role as Elmont is also nothing great as the giants outshine in both stature and performance.  Stanley Tucci as the evil Roderick turns in the best performance in the film of anyone not added to the screen digitally.  He plays the role with much more passion and vigor than any other actor and with an ever present look of complete insanity.

In the end, Jack the Giant Slayer, for all its faults and misfires, is not completely terrible.  Don’t get me wrong, it is by no means a great film either.  It’s a film with some very impressive CGI, the attention to detail, in terms of the giants is astounding.  It stays true to the source from which is it is derived and will please die-hard fans of the tall tale.  However, the bland performances, predictable story, and over use of CGI will leave most desiring more.



No one enjoys being proven wrong, right?   Whether it’s an argument with your significant other, a dispute at work with your boss, or the Facebook timeline, where you spend hours debating some trivial topic for the entire world to see, no one relishes being proven incorrect.  But, believe me or not, sometimes being wrong isn’t all bad.  And I can name an instance where being mistaken won’t result in spending the night on the couch, job loss, or a lost virtual buddy.  By this time the anticipation must be mounting to an almost unbearable amount as you sit on pins and needles waiting for the answer.  The Answer:  an expected unsatisfying trip to the theater, which is instead, met by a rather enjoyable experience.

And the new Dwayne Johnson flick, Snitch, is a great instance of me being wrong at the theaterAs high as my expectations were for Identity Thief  to be good, they were equally as high for Snitch to be bad, perhaps more so.  Going in, I had Snitch pegged for just another typical Dwayne Johnson film with a weak, see through story, where the bullets fly endlessly.  However, what we have with Snitch is a well concocted story, with fully developed characters.

Snitch at its core is a story about the love of a father for his son and how far he’s willing to go to protect his child.  John Matthews’s (Dwayne Johnson) son lands himself in prison for accepting and attempting to distribute narcotics.  Even with this being his first offense, federal minimum sentencing law is ten years in prison.  Desperate to save his son from spending ten years behind bars, John Matthews makes a deal with an ambitious federal district attorney (Susan Sarandon).  He helps deliver known members of a Mexican drug cartel, the drugs, and the money and in exchange, she’ll significantly reduce his son’s sentence.  What follows is entertaining and a surprisingly thought provoking look at the war on drugs.

The film succeeds on many levels.  First, even though its rated Pg-13, it has a feel similar to Training Day in terms of tone, characters, and setting, but not as good on any level.  The characters are well drawn and feel like actual people instead of the cardboard cutouts these films generally produce.  The script is unique and intelligent for a film of this genre.

The downfalls of the film are few and far between, but big enough to keep it from being really good.  First, Dwayne Johnson is becoming a better actor, but when the film calls for an emotional reaction, he’s just not able to deliver.  The emotional scenes between him and his son do not work because the Rock just isn’t at that level yet.  And Benjamin Bratt as the drug lord is rather laughable.  He’s not intimidating in the slightest and comes off as a joke, badly miscast.

Snitch is surprisingly an entertaining time.  It had potential to be really great, but its drawbacks were big enough to hold it back.  However, if you find yourself at the theater any time soon, Snitch is definitely worth checking out.


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