Friday, February 10, 2012

Safe House

Title: Safe House
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepherd, Vera Farmiga
Genres: Thriller, Action/Adventure
Running Time: 1 hour. 55 minutes
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'Safe House' is rapid paced and action packed, almost to the point of too much. The majority of the film is gun fights, fist fights, car chases, or a combination thereof. I do wish they would have spent less time fighting, and more time exploring these characters. The small portion of the close-to-2-hour film spent on character development laid the groundwork for some fairly strong characters, especially considering the caliber of the cast. It is easy to see the potential of how great this film could have been, and while it does not quite reach that potential, it is still a really good film.

Denzel Washington puts in a solid performance, and Ryan Reynolds is actually, surprisingly, a pretty good in the action genre, something that I found somewhat unexpected, considering his usual fare of rom-coms opposite the likes of Sandra Bullock.

'Safe House' is definitely worth seeing, if you like action thrillers.
Grade: 7.5

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Miracle

Title: Big Miracle
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Tim Blake Nelson, Vinessa Shaw
Genres: Adaptation, Drama, Family
Running Time: 1 hour. 47 minutes
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG

Review: 'Big Miracle' is a family film, based on the true story of a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who join forces with some unlikely allies to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in Alaska. It has a great story, a great cast (Hello, Kristen Bell, Drew Barrymore, and John Krasinski!), and some really funny moments. It's not called 'Big Miracle' for nothing.

All things considered, 'Big Miracle' is a heartwarming family film, suitable for kids and adults alike. And while it does occasionally tug at the heart strings, and might even well up an eye or two here and there, it is not a sad story overall. I will admit to having shed a couple of tears, but I'm pretty soft-hearted, particularly when it pertains to animals, and I still left the theater uplifted. I would recommend seeing 'Big Miracle', and if you don't in the theaters, definitely see it on DVD.

P.s. Do not walk out as soon as the credits start rolling, or you will miss the side-by-side comparison of the real deal versus the film, which was quite entertaining.
Grade: 7.5

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Title: Chronicle
Directed by: Joshua Trank
Starring: Dane Dehaan, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw, Michael Kelly
Genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller, Drama
Running Time: 1 hour. 24 minutes
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I saw 'Chronicle' yesterday. It tells the story of 3 teenage boys who develop unique abilities after being exposed to some mystery item. What follows is their exploration of their new power while documenting everything with their video camera. Having the story told Blairewitch Project-style really suited the story, but depending if you like that style of film or not, it might be a deal breaker.

The backdrop of the story is the pre-power teenage lives of these boys. High school, popularity, bullying, parental abuse, parental alcoholism, and a very sick mom. You can clearly see how each of their backgrounds really influenced how they handle their new power. The reaction of the boys was actually one of the strongest parts of the film. They are irresponsible, childish, careless and full of hybris. The troubled kid, well portrayed by Dane DeHaan, drives the film, and his reactions were particular realistic and believable. DeHaan kind of reminded me of a young DiCaprio.

Personally, I found 'Chronicle' extremely depressing.

The target audience of this flick is of course teenage kids, as it should be. I find it unlikely anyone else would actually like this film. I recommend passing on this one, unless you are in fact part of that target market.
Grade: 6