The Weekend Movie Recap: 1/27/12

posted by Rolocop

THE GREY

<begin spoiler if you’ve seen the trailer>

 

 

 

 

Do yourself a favor.  Don’t watch any trailers or TV spots for this movie, it gives away the final scene, not to mention the last shot of the movie.

 

 

 

 

<end spoiler>

Director Joe Carnahan has come along way since his first film BLOOD,GUTS,BULLETS & OCTANE.  It was a low budget film that was trying too hard to be CLERKS with an edge. But his follow-up NARC was an effective, gritty cop thriller.  His next films (SMOKIN’ ACES and THE A-TEAM) were crazy fun.  This time he’s teaming up with Liam Neeson again.

Neeson stars as a hard ass who works on an oil rig in Alaska.  His job is to protect the place from wolves, using his trusty rifle.  He accompanies the men from the rig on a flight, only it crashes in the middle of the cold landscape.  There are only a handful of survivors, and the bad news is that they seem to be days, maybe weeks from civilization.  And if that wasn’t enough, they are being stalked by a pack of hungry vicious wolves.  Neeson knows how the wolves thinks, so he takes charge of the group as the men struggle to stay alive.

The plot is about as basic as you can get, but if you have good characters and some inventive filmmaking it can be solid entertainment.  And this film delivers.  The movie wastes no time as the plane crashes before the 10 minute mark.  And what a crash sequence, which is what I can only describe as the most emotionally disturbing and intense moments I have experienced since THE DESCENT.  It’s going to be awhile before I fly again.  We get to know the characters briefly, and they’re your typical stock characters.  The bad ass, the coward, the loud mouth, the family man, etc.  But the actors (notably Dermot Mulroney and Frank Grillo) make the roles their own, and succeed in getting the viewer to care about them. Then the wolves start attacking and it’s very unsettling.  The rest of the film is a kind of cat and mouse game between the men and the wolves.

Neeson owns this film.  Remember his bad ass from TAKEN?  Total pussy compared to his character here.  The movie gives him just enough back story to make him sympathetic.  And there is a moment early on when he talks a man through dying that shows just how totally awesome Neeson is.  But what I liked most about the movie is that there is a certain poetic element to it.  It’s not just a straight action film.  It’s a man vs. nature adventure that has some thrilling moments.  There are some great scenes that has Neeson reflecting on his life and his beliefs (loved it when he yells at God).

It’s not a perfect film.  I thought some of the characters were a bit too cliched at times.  The movie reminded me of a better movie, THE EDGE, with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.  But for the most part, I think Carnahan has accomplished something most Hollywood directors dream of doing.  Making a solid adventure film with characters you care about.  Also, the direction isn’t boring.  There are some very creative and inventive shots that add to the film rather than distract, though occasionally he uses the shaky cam too much during the wolf attacks.

I can see some mainstream moviegoers being upset that the film doesn’t exactly deliver what the trailers promise, but I thought the actual movie is something better than what the trailer suggests.  It’s more cerebral, and that was right up my alley. Wide Release.  Rating:

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ALBERT NOBBS – Glenn Close first played the title character on stage 30 years ago, and has since been trying to get it made for the big screen.  Close plays a woman passing as a man in order to work as butler in a posh hotel during the early 1900’s in Ireland.  She has been posing as a man for 3 decades and is now , in a way, trapped.  She falls in love with one of the other maids (Mia Wasikowska), but doesn’t have the courage to act upon her feelings…  Until she meets another woman passing for a man, Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), who has a wife. But Nobbs has stiff competition from a maintenance boy who is also trying to woo the girl of her fancy.

This is your typical upstairs/downstairs story and that aspect is done much better in GOSFORD PARK.  However, Glenn Close is excellent in the leading role, as you would expect.  She is definitely the reason to see this, and as the film went on, I became compelled by her character (but is it me, or does Glenn Close look a lot like Robin Williams when she’s dressed up as a man?).  McTeer is a bit hammy, but overall does a decent job.  Mia Wasikowska turns in another solid performance, but I found her romantic interest, Aaron Johnson a bit of a pud.  But fortunately, he’s not the main star. The direction is serviceable, the script follows the formula effectively, and Close is stunning.  I also like the way the film concluded.

Though it has it’s flaws, it’s a good story with an Oscar Nominated Glenn Close doing a fantastic job carrying the film.  It’s worth a look. Opens at The Edina.  Rating:

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Also Opening this weekend:

MAN ON A LEDGE – Intriguing premise is ruined by an absolutely ludicrous and laughably unbelievable script.  The performances are fine I guess (I liked Ed Burns), except for Genesis Rodriguez as Jamie Bell’s love interest and heist partner.  Her character and performance was terrible and is easily a contender for next year’s razzies.  The direction is actually pretty good and for the first hour it delivers a solid (yet generic) thriller, but the final act goes off the deep end with it’s credibility.  Wide Release. Rating:

ONE FOR THE MONEY – Wasn’t screened for critics.  Wide Release.

NORWEGIAN WOOD – Missed this one.  At St. Anthony Main.

Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 12:21 am