The movie “Flight” stars Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker the crack airline pilot with something of a debauched lifestyle. The premise is simple: a routine flight takes a turn for the worse and Whip Whitaker is forced to crash land a plane in an open field; it isn’t a simple crash landing, in fact, it seems more like a landing only he and he alone could have made. Because of his efforts, 96 of 102 souls on board are saved. But there’s a catch; he’s a drunk, and at the time of the crash he was intoxicated.
At first, Whitaker is regarded as a hero; he landed a plane that no other man could possibly have losing only six people (one of which was Katerina, his flight attendant lover). But soon, things start to go awry. His blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was over .2. An investigation ensues. He has a hot shot attorney who gets his blood test results thrown out, but there is other evidence: two empty vodka bottles on a flight for which no drinks were served. Things look bleak. Throughout the film, Whitaker’s alcoholism is powerfully evident.
He begins to develop a relationship with Nicole, a young woman who has had her share of bumps on the road of life: she’s a drug addict and alcoholic herself, but she is bent on recovering her life. Their relationship struggles to take off; Nicole wants Whitaker to join her at AA meetings; she believes they can fix their lives. Unfortunately, the chemical addiction that has Whitaker in its grip is too strong and eventually their relationship falls apart.
Then, there is the inquiry for the plane crash. Whitaker could lose everything if he messes it up. He has a chance, if he keeps to the script his lawyer gives him and he sobers up, but that seems beyond his capabilities. Ultimately, (spoiler alert) he confesses his drunkenness in the middle of the hearing and takes full responsibility for it, primarily because the only other option would be to blame it on Katerina, his now deceased lover. Although he winds up in prison at the end of the movie, he is comfortable with that arrangement. It will be several years before he gets out, but he looks to the future with hope, emerging from the disaster a changed man.
Overall, I thought the movie was good. It is, however, an R rated movie with a gratuitous shot of full frontal nudity in the beginning, but the story holds together well. I half-feared they were going to wind up glorifying drug-use and abuse with the resolution of the story, but they didn’t. It ended well.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half or four stars out of five.
The latest installment in the James Bond 007 series, entitled “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig, continues the tradition of the incorrigible secret agent we’ve all come to love. I normally react reasonably well to Bond films. There’s usually plenty of action and adventure to keep me interested. The occasional explosion, an over-active specimen of wildlife, and various clever feats involving physical dexterity or intellectual acumen. And, of course, there are oodles and oodles of gorgeous women. That certainly doesn’t hurt.
The movie begins with a bang … James Bond is inadvertently shot by a fellow agent when a mission they are on turns sour. The bad guy escapes with a list of all the secret agents involved with NATO who are currently embedded in terrorist organizations throughout the world. And, of course, to add character conflict it was the mysterious “M” who gave the go ahead for the nearly fatal shot. Although Bond survives his injuries, he takes a little bit of time off (I think on the order of several months, but I’m not sure), before he returns to London to save his country from the sinister mind bent on its ruin.
What follows is an intriguing spy-chase that takes Bond from London to Shanghai and elsewhere. There’s a lot of computer hacking going on … well, it is a modern Bond. I always find it amusing how Hollywood represents computer conflicts. Code is generally not photogenic; so, we are usually given some kind of visual metaphor as an enticing substitute. I guess I can’t complain; it works well enough. Anyway, that’s getting a little sidetracked. Back to the review.
The movie is typical Bond: beautiful women, a few (only a few this time) special gadgets to aid the secret agent, and lots of gunfire and chases. Great stuff. Oh, and there’s also a few Komodo Dragons to boot. And, of course, someone has to be eaten by one said dragon.
Overall, the acting was good; the plot was good; the special effects were good; but it just didn’t grab me for some reason. Maybe I’m outgrowing Bond movies or something. The shootout at the end seemed mundane and unsurprising even though (spoiler alert) they ultimately killed off a major character. I don’t know what it was … maybe the setting. The moor just seemed too grey and dismal. I didn’t like it. But that seems to be an odd reason to dislike a movie. Actually ‘dislike’ is too strong a term. It was okay, but I’ve seen better Bond movies.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three and a half out of five stars.
Every once in a while I get a hankering to go see a horror movie. “The Evil Dead” was still in theatres this past week, so I went to it. It was a short film, only ninety or so minutes, but they crammed as much blood and guts into that movie as they could manage. Once upon a time, these types of movies might actually frighten me. Nowadays, they are lucky if they garner a startled jump on my part.
Anyway, the movie is about five friends who go on retreat into an old run-down cabin in the woods. One of them has a drug addiction problem, and the others are trying to get her to quit cold turkey. It’s an intervention. Basically, the plan is to keep her secluded away from civilization until she can straighten out. But things soon take a turn toward the worse when they find the basement of the cabin. It is filled with hanging dead cats, and stinks to high heaven. It is also the resting place of a sinister book. One of the friends, curious, opens the book without the others knowing of it. From the looks of things, it appears to be a book of witchcraft of some kind (the old medieval Satan-worshipping type of witchcraft, not modern day wicca). Then, ignoring all the scribbled warnings on the inside pages of the book, he makes a rubbing of several words and reads them, like a prayer. This, of course, invokes the evil of the book. One of the friends becomes possessed by a demon from the woods and all hell quickly breaks loose. One by one the friends are eliminated in gruesome, graphic, detail until only one remains to fight for survival.
Strengths: well, the movie did get me to jump a couple times, but I wouldn’t say I was ever really frightened. The plot held together well. There weren’t any logical flaws, assuming you can accept the basic premise. Weaknesses: well, it may have been a horror movie, but it seemed to rely too much on gore for my tastes. It wasn’t overly clever, or anything, it was just, eww, we’ll have this sharp metal thingy go in here, and cut off this, etc… etc… But hey, if you are into that stuff (for movies, of course) this might be up your alley.
Overall, I’ll give this movie three stars out of five.
I saw this movie, “The Cold Light of Day,” the other night with some friends of mine. I didn’t know what to expect going in, although it had a couple big names, specifically, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver. Basically, it was supposed to be an action, thriller, spy story type of deal. Sounded good; so we sat down to watch.
Henry Cavill plays the main character in the movie, a young businessman named Will who starts the movie learning his company is bankrupt while he’s on vacation with his family in Spain. Shortly thereafter, he has a spat with his father (Bruce Willis) and he heads into town by himself. When he comes back, his family has disappeared and he must begin a tenacious search for his family in the hopes that he can rescue them. He soon meets his father and discovers that he (his father) is actually a CIA agent and that his family’s kidnapping is linked to his dad’s activities. Then, his father is shot and taken out of the picture, leaving him alone to deal with the mess.
What follows is a harrowing adventure through the city of Madrid. Will experiences just about every form of physical abuse known to man. He’s shot, he’s burned, he’s in a bike accident, he’s choked out, he’s beat up, he’s choked out again, he’s in a car accident … basically, he’s having a really, really bad day. But it’s all in good fun. He survives, wins the day, discovers he has a sister, and he and the surviving members of his family live happily ever after. Or something like that.
Overall, I thought the movie was good. The plot was easy to follow with a number of clever twists that made it interesting. Some of the dialogue, at least in the beginning, I thought was forced, but I soon moved beyond that and got absorbed in the story. The amount of physical abuse the character of Will underwent was actually amusing. My friend and I were making jokes about it. “Yes, all he needs to be is maced and tasered now, and he’ll have run the whole gamut.” The Israeli Mossad made a showing in the film, but they were suspiciously absent at at least one critical moment just so the hero could be, well, a hero. Also, Bruce Willis’ role in the movie is surprisingly short, which is annoying when they use his name as one of the draws to the film. Other than that, I found the movie quite entertaining.
Overall, I’ll give the film three and a half, or maybe even four stars out of five.
The movie “Brave” is Disney’s Pixar’s latest filmmaking venture. It is basically a computer animation that tells the story of a young woman—a Scottish princess, actually—who is going through the typical teen troubles that have become the common fare of Hollywood. The difference being this story is set in medieval Scottland. At least, I think it’s medieval times: the characters are armed with bows and swords and axes, they are ruled by kings and queens, and they tell stories of close encounters with over-sized bears.
The plot revolves around the betrothal of the young woman (for the life of me, I can’t remember her name—I should, but I had an ear infection when I saw the movie, and they were talking in those fierce Scottish accents anyway). As was common in earlier times, the girl’s parents—the Scottish king and queen—are in the process of arranging her marriage. Basically, they want to hold an athletic contest of some sort, where the firstborn sons of the three other Scottish lords are to compete for her hand. She will wed the victor, or so her parents think. I think her name is “Merriada” or something like that. I’ll call her “M” for short. M wants nothing to do with any of her suitors. She’s a typical teenager hell-bent on living her life as she wants to, not as her parents want her to. So she takes steps to thwart her parents’ wills, some of which prove more disastrous than others. She encounters powerful bears, a clever witch, and a number of mystical wil-o-wisps.
Overall, I thought it was a decent movie, but I thought the message was muddled. She goes through her trials and tribulations which were basically a result of her own doing. Her goal is good—she simply wants a say in her own marriage—but she nearly gets her mother killed by her shenanigans. The conflict between what her mother wants and what she wants is only resolved when her mother changes her mind. And I don’t think that transition was handled well—it was cute, but it lacked something. Finally, I’ve noticed a trend in some of the more recent Disney movies. They seem to be getting darker and darker, as if they are forgetting that their primary audience is very young children. This one wasn’t too bad, but there were scenes with skulls and a battle with a very powerful bear that ended with a dead animal. Plus, the looming presence that M might lose her mother might be a bit too much for the very young. Still, it was a good, if not spectacular, movie.
I’ll give it three and a half—maybe even four—stars out of five stars.