Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
What some are calling the UK’s answer to Agent Cody Banks, Alex Rider is a fun romp with plenty of action and excitement to go around. Based on a series of best-selling young-adult novels, the film is targeted for a younger audience than your typical Mission: Impossible or James Bond crowd, taking itself a lot less serious than those franchises. Ewan McGregor has a small part as Alex’s uncle Ian, and Alicia Silverstone has a larger part as the fifteen year-old Alex’s rather goofy nanny, although she still looks young enough to be an older sister instead of the woman who has been helping to raise Alex since he was five. Mickey Rourke sets his career back a step playing the overly eye-lined villain.
I first heard about this film during my summer vacation in England. The film was preparing for an August release there and was released in the US in October. Back then I compared Alex Pettyfer (the film’s handsome young star) to a blond version of Tom Cruise, and he has a similar charisma onscreen. I give the movie a B.
I’m not much of a fan of Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, or Leonardo DiCaprio, but I respect their talent, so I thought I’d give this film (also starring Matt Damon) a chance. While the profanity laced story moved rather smoothly, the ending is something left to be desired, although my respect for DiCaprio’s talent improved overall. The dialog track slipping out for a combined total of 30 minutes during my viewing wasn’t much of a help either. Despite that problem, the film was okay. B-
I used the free ticket I received for suffering through the technical problems to see this Aardman Animations production about Roddy, a pet rat (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who has been flushed into the true sewer underworld life of rats, which is soon to be flushed away due to the devious plans of the villainous Toad. Roddy and the street-wise Rita (voiced by Kate Winslet) must find a way to prevent the calamity before half-time of the World Cup championship when the underground Ratropolis will be flushed away. Entertaining and filled with humor, you may have to watch it twice to get all the jokes. B.
Stranger Than Fiction
Author Kay Eiffel kills the lead characters in all her books. Unbeknownst to her, her newest character is a real person, and he doesn’t want to die.
I guess that sounds more ominous than it really is, but that’s basically the main problem facing Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). I’m no fan of Ferrell’s, but he is actually likeable and bearable in this film. B
The film everyone has been waiting for lives up to the positive hype. Daniel Craig plays a young and cocky James Bond on his first major mission. Winning a game of high-stakes poker with someone else’s money may sound more like pleasure than business, but Bond is up against a banker for terrorists (Mads Mikkelsen) who he must bring back alive. At Bond’s side is treasury agent Vesper Lynd (played by the stunning Eva Green). She’s responsible for the money Bond is gambling with, but she may have an agenda of her own.
Like most Bond movies, the plot for Casino Royale is complicated, but unlike many Bond films, it is comprehensible, too. The franchise has clearly been reinvented with this film, Judi Dench as M being the only direct link to the last set of films. A leg-crossing torture scene is painful even when I knew it was coming. The film slows toward the end, and the opening credit segment is disappointing (where are the half-naked dancing girls?), but the film is overall a fantastic addition to the Bond franchise. A-.
Darren Aronofsky directed the biggest movie related practical joke pulled on me, Requiem For A Dream. A former co-worker of mine loaned me a copy of the DVD saying that there was a great sex scene with Jennifer Connelly in it. The liner-notes inside the DVD for Requiem featured a litany of high-praise from the head goof-ball over at Aint-it-Cool-News. After watching the DVD, I came to a quick conclusion that both of them were full of crap! Oh, yeah, it’s a rather amazing, maybe artistic piece of work, but I’m sure as hell ain’t going to see it again or recommend anyone else see it, either.
That being said, I went into The Fountain with some trepidation. Oh, I had a better idea of what it was about than Aronofsky’s previous film, but there was still some wariness in the back of my head, which as it turned out, was only slightly justified.
Some may say this is a millennium long love story between Issy (Rachael Weisz) and Tom (Hugh Jackman), beginning as a conquistador in search of the Fountain of Youth for his beloved queen, moving to a modern day doctor frantically searching for the cure to his wife’s cancer, and ending with… well, I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve read the third portion involves an astronaut and his intergalactic trip to restore the dying tree of life. Jackman carries the film very well, intense and convincing as all three of the characters he plays, while Weisz perfomance is subtle and more supportive of Jackman's than anything else.
Is Aronofsky’s story an existential vision, a metaphysical marvel, pompous prattle? What is the fate of the ring and what does it symbolize?
The hell if I know.
You don’t have to think very hard to enjoy this movie. The doctor and his wife are, in my view, the main subject of this story, and the conquistador and the astronaut are only parts of the story the wife has been writing in her final days called “The Fountain.” It helps in making the story easier to understand, although there are still a few questions that just can’t be answered by that train of thought as the film takes a turn in a weird direction reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001.
All in all I recommend The Fountain and give it a grade of B.
EDIT: It's Hugh Jackman not Jackson! I'm an idiot and I know it.