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Reviews for December 17th, 2010






Alien Girl

Directed by Anton Bormatov.


When one the police capture of his gang members, Rasp (Eugene Mundun), the leader of the gang, commands four other gang members to travel to Prague on a mission to rescue the gang memberís sister, Angela (Natalia Romanycheva), a.k.a. Alien Girl, whoís been kidnapped. The gang members sent to Prague include, namely, Kid (Kirill Poluhin), Booger (Alexander Golubkov), Whiz (Eugene Tkachuk) and Beef (Anatoly Otradnov). Not surprisingly, their mission doesnít quite go as smoothly as expected, especially when Angela turns out to have a secret of her own that compels her to seek vengeance against Rasp. In one of the filmís many convoluted subplots, she ends up having a steamy love affair with Whiz, who takes off his shirt almost as Jacob does in the Twilight series. Co-writers Vladimir Nesterenko and Sergei Sokolyuk do include a fair share of twists and turns along the way, but they feel too gimmicky because the characters remain on the backburner, so thereís not nearly enough of a chance to root for any of them, especially Angela whoís the most interesting character of them all. Instead, what you get is tons of action sequences and gory violence that quickly lose their impact thereby causing Alien Girlís momentum to wane. Director Anton Bormatov films most scenes with appropriately gritty cinematography in many nighttime settings that help to enrich the overall dark tone, but that tone eventually becomes rather monotonous. Fortunately, the charismatic, strong performance by Natalia Romanycheva as the titular, tough-as-nails character will keep you at least mildly engaged, but not nearly enough to make Alien Girl as memorable and powerful as it could have been with much tighter, organic, character-driven and intelligent screenplay. At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, Alien Girl is gritty and action-packed, but often contrived and monotonous while lacking enough of a heart and brain to be a truly suspenseful and engrossing Russian gangster film.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Opens at the Village East Cinema.
Released by Paladin.



How Do You Know

Directed by James L. Brooks.


Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Opens nationwide.
Released by Columbia Pictures.



Satan Hates You

Directed by James Felix McKenney.


Marc (Don Wood), a drunkard, suffers from a sexual identity crisis that goes so completely haywire the he becomes a homicidal killer. Meanwhile, Wendy (Christine Spencer), lives life on the fast lane filled with sex, drugs and booze. It turns out that sheís pregnant and, in a particularly vomit-inducing scene, she decides to have an abortion. Little does she know that the abortionists performing the operation happen to very sadistic in their methods. Will you be creeped out by the grinded-up babyís feet moving a little inside a blood-filled jar or will you laugh at it? Chances are, youíll probably just be merely grossed out just like you will during the vast majority of the film. The brief inclusion of a televangelist, Dr. Michael Gabriel (Angus Scrimm), who inspires Wendy provides a modicum of clever, bold satire that pokes fun at televangelists, but, for the most part, Satan Hates You is just inane, anarchic and silly. Two devil watch over Marc and Wendy to encourage them to give in to evil doings. That concept, however, becomes squandered because writer/director James Felix McKenney doesnít take it nearly far enough. He does take a few bold risks at times, though, such as that abortion scene and one involving Marc beating someone to death with a bible. The gore and special effects look very cheap and unimpressive, so donít expect to believe what you see for a second even if the actors know how to scream well. Ultimately, Satan Hates You would have worked better if it were to go all out in terms of campiness or perhaps turned into a Grindhouse movie that you can laugh at; instead itís a dull, disgusting and underwhelming semi-satire thatís bold in its concepts, but neither scary, funny nor clever in its execution. Disclaimer: I missed the last 5 minutes because of a scheduling conflict, so please forgive me if, miraculously, there happen to be any saving graces of brilliance during those final moments.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn.



Tron: Legacy

Directed by Joseph Kosinski.


27-year-old Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) hasnít gotten over the disappearance of his father, Kevin (Jeff Bridges), the CEO of Encom, twenty years ago. Just as the executives of Encom are about to sell their companyís software, thereby making it no longer free of charge, Sam breaks into Encom, hacks the video system, and disrupts the corporate meeting before he parachutes off the building, gets captured by the police and thrown into jail. Upon his imminent release, Sam runs into Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), the current CEO of Encom, who informs him that he received a page from a disconnected phone line in Kevinís office located in a dilapidated arcade building, Flynnís Arcade. Upon his arrival at the arcade, he discovers a secret passageway behind a videogame called TRON and enters his fatherís office. After playing around with a computer, he finds himself zapped right into the Grid of TRON where his father had been trapped and imprisoned for all these years by Clu, a program modeled after Kevinís younger self who wants to conquer the real world. When Sam isnít battling programs in a series of games, heís trying to find and rescue his beloved father with Quorra (Olivia Wilde), his fatherís friend, as his guide. The plot gets a bit more complicated as it progresses, but you need not worry because co-writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz spell everything out for the audience and spoon-feeds them some backstory thereby leaving very little room for interpretation and subtlety. The main problem, though, is that the dialogue itself sounds so stilted and awkward that it takes away from the filmís slight dramatic momentum. ďBehold the son of our creator!Ē are among those silly lines. Then thereís a touchy-feely scene or two between Kevin Sam that falls so flat that you might tempted to laugh instead of shedding a tear. The closest sections that reach a level of campiness are the brief scenes where Michael Sheen shows up as the delightfully androgynous program Zuse. On a positive note, first-time director Joseph Kosinski knows how to keep your eyes entertained with the slick, stylish set designs and nifty CGI effects that make some of the action sequences mildly exhilarating, especially in IMAX 3D format. Even the musical score sounds quite impressive occasionally. At a running time of just over 2 hours, Tron: Legacy is a vapid and brainless blockbuster that's exhilarating on a purely aesthetic level, but suffers from laughably stilted dialogue and excessive style over substance.
Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Opens nationwide.
Released by Walt Disney Pictures.





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