Sunday, November 21, 2010

You won’t think about this for The Next Three Days by William Kunz

          The Next Three Days is your typical run of the mill pre-winter action film. Russell Crowe, a veteran Oscar winning actor, has resorted to taking less edgy roles in reward for a bigger pay-day. The Next Three Days is a prime example of Crowe’s fall from greatness. Along side Russell Crowe is Elizabeth Banks from the comedy genre, who is definitely out of her comfort zone in this drama. Liam Nelson who also decided a long time ago to sell his talent for money shows up for a scene to drop his mysterious voice into the film. Besides that we have a mix of “B list” actors including Olivia Wilde of “House Md” and Jason Beghe who has had various bit parts throughout the years. Wrap all of them into a cheesy plot and out comes The Next Three Days.
          The film starts off with an odd sequence showing a bloodied Russell Crowe with a man dying in the back of his car. The film quickly cuts to what I thought would be the title, but to my surprise it said The First Three Years and for a second I felt as if I wondered into the wrong film. The film then cuts to an enraged fight, which involves Russell’s wife getting into a fight with another couple. The next morning Elizabeth Banks character is seen being arrested for murder. All of this takes place in front of Crowe’s and Banks precious but annoying child who seems to cry the entire film. Soon the film cuts three years later where Russell Crowe has exhausted all his options. Crowe’s lawyers have abandoned his case and he has no money to bring the case to the Supreme Court. After going to the local library and reading a few books he decides the most logical plan is of all things, a prison break! This leads to an hour of overly boring and stupid scenes showing Russell Crowe attempting to get money and ideas to break his wife out of county jail that could have easily been displayed in a simple montage. The only reason I could see them wanting to do this is because of a single random scene that involves Liam Nelson. Nelson shows up to tell Russell Crowe all the useful things he has to do- like how much time he needs to escape the city and that he needs a metaphorical key to break his wife out. Ultimately the scene was boring and pointless, with the only interesting aspect being Nelson getting third billing.
         The film decides to put logic and realism aside for the purposes of action, and I feel as if the film suffers because of it. For one, why is his Crowe’s wife in county jail for three years on a murder conviction? Once the conviction would have been handed down she would have gone to the state penitentiary regardless of her appeal process. Also the plot device known as Liam Nelson, knows everything Crowe needs, why would he help somebody for a little bit of money? That’s called accessory before the fact! And why would a tired Nelson risk going back to jail after escaping prison seven times? It’s little things like this that drags the film down.
         Anyway, enough complaints where were we? Ah, right after the initial boring hour of lead up! Crowe’s character eventually figures out how to best the system which the film takes time to explain and then Crowe takes out his “carefully” laid out plan to new extremes. Most of it just seems fake and out right unbelievable. The ambiguous ending would have worked much better and instead destroyed the mystery element of the film entirely. This really hindered the film as a whole, and brought about yet another disappointing aspect.
          Overall, the film was probably thirty minutes too long and really felt like there was too much filler. The movie moved along at a decent pace and just built up for the last forty-five minutes where they make the classic “run for it.” The chemistry between Crowe and Banks didn’t work great and GM obviously paid a large sum to show off their cars in this particular film. Basically this is a great film to see if you didn’t pay, and or got it by way of rental.

Rating: (meh) 2.5

Mega-weak in Originality by Taylor Ellis

Animation, Animation, Animation- it seems to be the big hype these days, as every few months a new visual film leaks through the studios of Hollywood into our nearby theatres. However this is not surprising, with the success of movies like Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, studios will continuously be at the “drawing board” trying to strike up a masterpiece.

Megamind (2010), the newest film from DreamWorks appeared to be the newest form of this modern day visual candy.  The story follows “Mega-mind,”(voiced by Will Ferrell) a super villain who hasn’t had much luck in the takedown of his archenemy “Metro-Man” (voiced by Brad Pitt), who strikes an ingenious plan for his ultimate demise.  Megamind also starts the voice talents of Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, as an anchorwoman and cameraman who always have the latest scoop on Metro-Man and his battles against Megamind.

As the story progresses one can see a lot of familiarity from other films being used in this new animated flick. The whole premise of the film seems almost as if it was borrowed from Despicable Me, and some dialogue throughout the film is just outright stolen.  While the statement of “ There is nothing new under the sun” remains true, the fact that Megamind took away brilliant elements of other films is just low. One of the most important aspects of animated films is their originality, and with Megamind originality is rarely seen.  While the story of Megamind was far from original, it must be said that there were parts in the film that were clever and humorous.

Annoying as the plot may have been, this was not the only element of the film that seemed to be lacking. Through the colorful characters it couldn’t be ignored: the setting (Metro City) was amazingly dull and bland. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if the entire city was just completely ignored. Every building looked identical- color, texture, and gradient—it was all the exact same. Even as shots of the city were shown, the streets were bare and everything looked all too neat for a city that needed a “hero.” One could argue that parts in the film explain the emptiness of the city, but I don’t buy it. Metro City it self appears empty and void, which doesn’t help the viewer place care on the silly matters at hand.

Many will find the humor in Megamind is hit or miss. Occasionally, there are laughs that will exceed the mindset of children, but most of the time it is directed at school-aged humor. Without the voice talents of Ferrell, it would be safe to say that the humor would be hardly existent in this film. Other characters in Megamind may draw a few laughs, while Megamind himself will remain at the heart of the matter. However, Megamind more than likely will spawn a few smiles from even the most cold hearted villain.

 While Megamind clearly has its problems, it also has its successes’ as well. The voice acting was outstanding, and gave the film a good helping of personality. Will Ferrell knows how to bring out the humor in many situations, and even in Megamind this remains true (for the most part.) With the help of Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, viewers will be pleased with the amount of humor in the film, but may find it childish and out of place at times. Visually, Megamind was good, but not great. The liveliness of the bright colors and costumes made the film exciting and the main characters were animated quite beautifully. Picky viewers may notice some characters are more visual, while other characters aren’t as crisp as their counterparts.

 Overall, Megamind was an incredibly fun film. Yes, it lacked in originality and seemed very predictable, but its voice cast and visuals seem to do the film somewhat a justice. While Megamind isn’t an animated film to be remembered, it is one that lets you appreciate previous works such as Up. Unfortunately Megamind's sub par humor and plot stole far too much from other films which ultimately overshadows it's potential.

Rating: 2.5+ out of 4 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We're Back and Its Show Time!

Man-o-man! Its been awhile since the last post! Things have been pretty busy for both Ellis and Kunz lately, but you can expect reviews to start coming in on a weekly basis starting tomorrow.

-Ellis and Kunz