Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movie Review: 2012 Review Summaries - Part 2

Five Reviews in total:  Battleship, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Bourne Legacy, Chimpanzee, & Chronicle.

Battleship (2012).  Starring Taylor Kitsch & Alexander Skarsgard.  Directed by Peter Berg.  Rated PG-13

Story: 1 / 5
Direction: 2 / 5
Acting: 2 / 5
Visual: 3 / 5
Overall Rating: 2 / 5

Aliens attack, things blow up, old guys operate a battleship that was retrofitted 30 years after they left the service to the point where they wouldn’t understand how it worked anymore.  Battleship is a brilliantly stupid film.  It fails in nearly every way, but it was impossible for me not to be entertained by its childlike indifference to quality story telling.

Would I recommend this film?  Not really, but when you see it on TV give it a try, you may find yourself amused.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012).  Starring Quvenzhan√© Wallis & Dwight Henry.  Directed by Benh Zeitlin.  Rated PG-13.

Story: 2 / 5
Direction: 5 / 5
Acting: 5 / 5
Visual: 5 / 5
Overall Rating: 4.25 / 5

I don’t know how to explain Beasts of the Southern Wild because I honestly had no idea what the film was about.  On the surface it’s a story about a little girl who lives with her father in a community near New Orleans.  This community chooses to live outside society, and in squalor, even though the government clearly is willing to offer them medicine, housing, and other social services so they can provide healthy and stable lives for their children.  They’re not indigenous people hanging on to a more primitive way of life that modern society has infringed upon.  They are filthy uneducated individuals who live off of society’s garbage.  The visuals are amazing, the acting, pacing, and all other elements are as nearly perfect as a film can get, but the story was simply not clear. Was it really about something else?  Was it some kind of retelling of a classic story, but set in a weird modern day location?

Would I recommend this film?  Yes, but mostly so other people can watch it and explain it to me.

Bourne Legacy, The (2012).  Starring Jeremy Renner & Rachel Wiesz.  Directed by Tony Gilroy.  Raged PG-13.

Story: 2 / 5
Direction: 2 / 5
Acting: 3 / 5
Visual: 2 / 5
Overall Rating: 2.25 / 5

There are more super agents out there and Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of them, but unlike Jason Bourne he has been enhanced with drugs!  Silly, pointless, but with a decent turn by Renner in a role he is now playing in pretty much every film.

Would I recommend this film?  Only to someone trapped at home with nothing better to do.  I hear the flu is really bad this year.  Good thing for this film.

Chimpanzee (2012).  Starring Tim Allen (narration).  Directed by Alastair Fothergill & Mark Linfield.  Rated G (for graphic scenes of primate homoeroticism)

Story: 2 / 5
Direction: 3 / 5
Acting: N/A
Visual: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 3 / 5

Chimpanzee is a documentary about a tribe of chimps and their struggles against a rival gang who invade their territory and kill one of the mama chimps.  It’s cute, well executed, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was some trickery in the story telling.  There are no scenes showing the two chimp tribes clearly interacting, though they say the “bad chimps” attacked the “good chimps” and even killed one of them.  During the credits they mention two nature reserves where they filmed, both in very disparate regions of Africa.  Chimps don’t cross hundreds of miles, cities, and motorways to get to new feeding grounds.  So why would they do this?  To further this theory IMDB’s Trivia section for the film mentions that the mama chimp was killed by a leopard (and not another chimp).  Still it’s cute and has chimps in it.  Movies that have any kind of ape are an automatic first run for me.

Would I recommend this film?  Yes, it has chimps in it.  Do I need to keep saying that?

Chronicle (2012).  Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell & Michael B. Jordan.  Directed by Josh Trank.  Rated PG-13.

Story: 4 / 5
Direction: 3 / 5
Acting: 3 / 5
Visual: 2 / 5
Overall Rating: 3 / 5

Chronicle tells the story of the Star Wars Prequels, but effectively and in 84 minutes.  Kidding aside, a group of teenagers, one of whom is a bit of an outcast loner, are given some extraordinary powers after coming into contact with an extraterrestrial object.  They learn to use and then abuse their powers, with the outcast character, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), finally getting pushed over the edge and going psychotic.  The film’s only real failing is its baffling choice to shoot this as a found footage piece.  There was no reason for it.  It added nothing to the narrative.

Would I recommend this film?  Definitely.  It’s a well executed character study of how power can corrupt.

Explanation of Ratings

All ratings are on a 5 point scale where 1 is the lowest possible score.  A score of 3 indicates the film was simply effective in this regard.  A score of 5 indicates perfection in a given category.  The overall rating is a simple average of the four scores.

  • Story -- How well the film was written?  Did the story make sense?  Were there plot holes?  Was the dialogue natural for the style/genre?
  • Direction -- How well was the film put together?  Did all of the elements come together properly?  How was the pacing?  Was the tone consistent and effective?  A subcategory of this would be editing, but for the purpose of these reviews it is combined into one category.
  • Acting -- How good were the performances?  In a drama did the lead actor/actress draw the audience in?  In a comedy where the performers funny?  This is an amalgam score of all the performances in the piece.  A single great performance can elevate the entire score, but a bunch of bad performances can just as easily bring it down.
  • Visual -- How did the film look?  If there were visual effects were they used appropriately and did they look good?  Did the overall look enhance the telling of the story?

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