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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Men in Black 3, Prometheus, Taxi Driver, Haywire, and The Whistleblower

We’ve watched a few movies in the last couple of weeks, some new and some old. None of them are must-sees, but here are our thoughts anyway.

Haywire - This is a by-the-book action movie about a government operative who was betrayed by people inside her organization. The movie exists to have Gina Carano, professional MMA fighter, play the main character. It was really nice to see a believable female fighter play an action lead, for once. One of our pet peeves in entertainment is when a 90-pound woman throws a grown man around. Gina’s moves are appropriate for her size and strength. The plot is too complicated for such a derivative, basic movie. The supporting cast is good and keeps this movie from failing. Gina’s acting isn’t bad, but it’s not believable. You can see her acting. It’s not laughable, but you never forget she’s not the actual character. The best scene comes in the middle, and it’s the one where Gina fights a male character in a hotel room. There’s not enough fighting in this movie. There’s too much talking for a movie that’s only good when there is fighting going on, so the overall experience ends up being kind of “meh.” The climax isn’t as good as the aforementioned fight scene in the middle, so after that scene, the movie kind of fizzles out. 
Movie grade: C+

Whistleblower - This movie is about an American police woman who works for the U.N. in Bosnia and discovers that U.N. peacekeepers are involved in sex trafficking. Rachel Weisz stars as a protagonist with both guts and a heart. She’s a cute little pitbull who will stop at nothing and face any foe or threat to save these girls. What’s good about this movie is that it’s a true story that could spread awareness about the downsides of certain organizations and the growing human trafficking problem. It’s also a gripping story. What stinks is that the script is heavy-handed and clumsy. There is a rape scene that’s disturbing. What’s with our ratings system that gives rape an R or PG-13 rating and a woman orgasming an NC-17? We’d recommend this movie if the subject interests you, or if you like thrillers based on true stories. Otherwise, you can skip it. 
Movie grade: B-

Men in Black III - Neither of us wanted to see this movie and one of us got dragged to it. That blogger was pleasantly surprised. It was hilarious and well-acted. Josh Brolin played a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones, and he was perfectly cast. You don’t have to see the first two movies to enjoy this one on its own, and it’s much better than the second movie (which everyone should just skip). There was even a sweet moment at the end that left moviegoers misty eyed. The 3-D is not necessary, but if you love Andy Warhol, you might be offended. We died laughing when we found out that the bad guy was played by Flight of the Concords’ Jermaine Clement. You also get to see the main Pussycat Doll die in the first scene. That alone might convince the other blogger to see the movie. Emma Thompson rounds out the fun cast. This blogger thinks it will leave you smiling. The other blogger doesn’t think it’s possible that this movie is any good. Movies that exceed expectations are always the best. 
Movie grade: B+ 

Which brings us to two movies that didn’t meet our expectations….

Taxi Driver - It’s taken us a while to get around to seeing this classic, despite the fact that Robert DeNiro was pretty hot when he was younger. His character was unnerving and we felt extremely uncomfortable watching him court his main love interest. This movie is about a mentally ill Vietnam vet, Travis Bickle, who drives a cab around New York City before Guiliani got a hold of it. Travis is appalled at the dirt, misery, and crime in the city, and late in the movie befriends a child prostitute played by a young Jodie Foster. The performances and script are great, but there is too much walking around, driving, and other time wasting in this movie, all set to some weird jazz music. It could have been about 20 minutes shorter for entertainment purposes. There’s no denying it’s a technically good movie though and we actually liked the way it ended. It was just so long and dour. 
Movie grade: B-

Prometheus - We’ve been looking forward to this movie forever and we ended up with a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is just so wonderfully weird. On the other, it doesn’t live up to its nerd potential. The movie set up a bunch of deep themes, good questions, and possibly colorful characters in its first half. The first half was thoughtful, if a little slow, and seemed like it was setting up something mind-blowing and slightly deep. However, the second half was a slasher movie (like the first Alien) that dropped all the themes the first half raised. It was like the movie dropped most of what it picked up and most of the characters and plotlines went nowhere. A huge problem is that we didn’t care about most of the characters. Two great things about this movie are the epic visuals and the action scenes. We would recommend this movie in 3-D, if that’s something you can stand/afford. Everything looks great and the carnage is gripping. We liked the inclusion of both atheist and religious characters. We also liked the opening scene. The best thing about this movie is the android David. David provides both creepiness and comic relief. If he’s not in any sequel they make, we won’t bother to see it. Prometheus doesn’t do anything original and with the talent behind it, it should have. The movie won’t stay with you days later. It’s one of the movie events of the summer, so movie buffs should see it, even if it turned out to be disappointing. If you don’t like sci-fi, don’t see it. We brought a non-nerd and he was miserable. This is a movie you are either going to think is "just okay" or you are going to hate it.
Movie grade: B

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