Sunday, February 11, 2007
Movie Reviews: THE QUEEN, HARD CANDY, SAW III & ALTERED
When news of the death of Princess Diana reaches the British public, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) retreats behind the walls of Balmoral Castle with her family, unable to comprehend the public response to the tragedy. For Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), the popular and newly elected prime minister, the people's need for reassurance and support from the royal family is palpable. As the unprecedented outpouring of emotion grows ever stronger, Blair must find a way to reconnect the queen with the British public.
Cast Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Alex Jennings,
Roger Allam (more)
Director(s) Stephen Frears
Writer(s) Peter Morgan
Status In theaters (limited)
Release Date Oct. 6, 2006 — limited; Oct. 13, 2006 — wider
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for brief strong language.
The Queen is one of those movies that is a true joy to watch and one which you savor every minute of its run time. Helen Mirren deservedly earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. From the first moment that Mirren appears on screen you can't take your eyes off her performance. She completely envelopes herself in the role and becomes a mirror image of the real thing. Mirren's top tier performance allows the audience to feel and root for a character that could have easily have come off as pompous and detached. The rest of the cast also does and excellent job of match Mirren's excellence. Michael Sheen is equally impressive as Tony Blair; his performance is so true to life you would be hard pressed to tell him apart from the real thing. The direction is solid and never moves anything along too fast and allows you to digest the small of details or moments. The Queen is top notch film that delivers excellent performances and gripping direction.
A teenage girl named Hayley (Ellen Page) meets a 30-something photographer named Jeff (Patrick Wilson) online and arranges a meeting at a coffee shop. Afterward, they go back to his place, where she mixes drinks and strips for a photo shoot. But Jeff gets dizzy and passes out. When he wakes up, he's tied to a chair and Hayley's got a knife. She tells Jeff to confess to being a pedophile and wants to know what happened to Donna Mauer, a girl who disappeared from the very same coffee shop.
Cast Patrick Wilson, Sandra Oh, Jennifer Holmes, Ellen Page (more)
Director(s) David Slade
Writer(s) Brian Nelson
Status On DVD
Release Date April 14, 2006; April 28, 2006 — expanded release
DVD Release Date Sept. 19, 2006
Running Time 99 minutes
MPAA Rating R - disturbing violence, sexual content, and language
Hard Candy is a visually stunning film with equally stunning performances. This twisted take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable is a razor sharp film mostly due to Ellen Page's powerhouse performance. Page's ability to vary her performance from naive to cold and calculating is a true pleasure to witness. Patrick Wilson is equally strong as the devilishly charming Jeff. This movie is stylishly directed by David Slade, whose use of color really ups the ante in many of the film's intense sequences. Slade's direction really creates a sense of claustrophobia and intensity that gives this film a real heart beat. If this film has a failing it's that at times some of the dialogue is extremely heavy handed and can't take you out of the film. This happens a few times and it doesn't ruin the movie but I think the same effect would have been accomplished without certain monologues hammering home the filmmaker's point. Still, even with these failing this is an excellent film.
Jigsaw's (Tobin Smith) new apprentice, Amanda (Shawnee Smith), kidnaps a woman named Lynn and takes her to an abandoned warehouse. Jigsaw is on the verge of death, and she is charged with keeping the madman alive long enough for another of his victims, Jeff, to complete a game of his own. Together, Lynn and Jeff struggle to complete their assigned tests, unaware that Jigsaw has something even more devious planned for them.
Cast Tobin Bell, Angus MacFadyen, Dina Meyer, Shawnee Smith, Alan Van Sprang, Costas Mandylor (more)
Director(s) Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer(s) Leigh Whannell
Status On DVD
Release Date Oct. 27, 2006
DVD Release Date Jan. 23, 2007
MPAA Rating R - for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language.
The Saw franchise has sky rocketed since the first, albeit flawed, film hit theaters. The 2nd film in the series failed to live up to the original and this third installment does only slightly better. Saw III forgoes the scares and instead goes for the gore factor. This movie ups the gore and comes off as more of a torture film than a straight forward horror film. The performances are fairly forgettable and most of the characters are given very little to do aside from look frighten and scream. Tobin Bell is relegated to narrating his portion of the story from Jigsaw's death bed. The direction is still choppy relying too heavily on flash MTV style editing. This movie is watch able and does offer a semi interesting twist to the finish but I doubt any of these sequels will be able to catch the audience by surprise like the first film did.
Fifteen years ago, five men were abducted by aliens. Only four returned. Now, these same four men have managed to capture one of the creatures who killed their friend and ruined their lives. It's time for payback but payback swings both ways.
Cast Adam Kaufman, Catherine Mangan, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Brad William Henke
Director(s) Eduardo Sanchez
Writer(s) Jamie Nash
Status On DVD
Release Date Dec. 19, 2006
DVD Release Date Dec. 19, 2006
MPAA Rating R - Rated R for strong violence and gore, and for pervasive language.
Eduardo Sanchez, half of the team that created the phenomena known as The Blair Witch Project, has created a passable B movie horror sci-fi film that is better than expected. Adam Kaufman is the main reason this movie is as entertaining as it is, his performance is really solid and engages the audience; making us care about the players in this film. The FX here are solid and most are practical tangible props as opposed to CGI creations. The creature effects are solid even if the alien comes off as a bit silly. Sadly some of the film's sequences are so ludicrous that it doesn't bend credibility but breaks it. Still as a B movie it's a solid little gore fest that's a good way to pass a few hours.