I don’t run to the theater every time a new movie I want to see comes out. As a matter of fact, since I was struck with double vision in July, I haven’t gone out to a movie at all, mainly because I feared that seeing TWO giant screens might drive me mad. Anyway, I digress. Usually when I see previews of movies that look good to me on TV, I remember the titles. Then I go to Blockbuster when they’re having big movie sales and pick them up. This year they had five movies for $19.99 which is roughly $4 per movie, which you just can’t beat. I bought ten. I watched five over the holiday weekend and was actually surprised at which ones I liked and which sucked. So, I’m going to give you the equivalent of $2.00 movie reviews. I won’t go into the directing, artistic merit, yada, yada, yada. I’ll just share my impressions in a sort of shorthand way.
Carriers – This was a “lethal virus wipes out most of the country” type movie, the kind I always like, particularly on Christmas day. It features four young people (three I didn’t know and one, Emily Van Camp who plays Rebecca on “Brothers and Sisters”) who are trying to make their way by car to a seaside resort which they think is remote enough that they will be safe. The virus can be transmitted from an infected person by their breath or their fluids, so everybody wears a mask around their neck, just in case. Gas is a rare commodity so, if someone wants you to stop on the road, you’re smart to keep going because (a) they might be infected and (b) they might kill you and take your car. At the end of the world, laws don’t count for much. I expected this movie to be mainly horror, so was surprised that it didn’t scare me so much as it touched me. They do meet people along the way and it poses a lot of interesting moral questions. I liked it even though it made me sad.
The Hurt Locker – Didn’t this movie win an Academy Award for Best Director? I think so. It stars Jeremy Renner as Staff Sargeant James, an expert at disarming bombs. It’s set in Iraq and made me feel like I was there – the heat, the smells, the crowds and the danger. He and his team go around disarming bombs and we come to realize that for some servicemen the danger is like a drug, making it impossible to ever live a normal life again. It was good.
The Road – I had read countless glowing reviews of this movie by critics. It is based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of a man and his son walking through a post-apocalyptic world. Along with Viggo Mortensen as the father, Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron are also listed as co-stars, but the latter two play only cameo roles. This is a BLEAK movie. And by bleak, I mean it has scenes so horrific that I wish I’d never seen them. One, in particular, regarding cannibals is seared into my brain. In one of the early flashbacks we see the wife choose suicide rather than live in the world as it had become. I think she had the right idea. The movie felt authentic, but left me feeling empty.
Last Chance Harvey – This movie starred Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as two “older” adults who meet by accident in England and supposedly realize that “it’s never too late for a second chance at love.” This was the movie I wanted to see. The previews looked good. I like Dustin Hoffman (“Kramer versus Kramer” is one of my favorite movies.) I love England. I should have loved this movie. All through it I kept telling myself it was good. But seriously? It sucked. It was as if the writers liked the idea of the story but didn’t want to go to the trouble of actually filling in the details. So it wasn’t witty and funny and romantic. Actually, it made me feel tense. Dustin Hoffman acted like Emma Thompson was radioactive, even though he seemed to stalk her throughout the movie. There was never a tender touch or a romantic declaration. The one time he kisses her in the entire movie, he kisses the SIDE of her mouth! What’s with that? Nope, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Emma Thompson acted frustrated through most of the story. That made two of us.
The Perfect Getaway – This movie starred Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Kiele Sanchez and Steve Zahn. It’s about honeymooners hiking a jungle trail to a remote Hawaiian beach. Along the way they hear that the police are seeking two psychopaths who are stalking and murdering tourists. They decide to go on anyway with another couple they meet along the trail. When I saw the preview for this movie, I just knew I’d love it. I mean, come on, psychopaths stalking you along a remote trail…what’s not to love? I was ready to be scared and I was. But what appears to be a perfectly predictable B-grade movie turned out to be anything but! It was suspenseful and funny and had a wicked twist.
One of the guys looked so familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen him. He plays one of those guys who think they’re so macho and he was really over the top. It wasn’t until I saw Timothy Olyphant’s name that I realized it was him. The last time I saw him was in three seasons of “Deadwood” where he played a totally serious, very straitlaced sheriff. It was so fun seeing him in a role like this. This was a totally enjoyable movie.
All in all, I’d recommend “The Perfect Getaway” for a good story, “The Hurt Locker” for an education, and “Carriers” for food for thought. If you’ve seen any of these I’ve reviewed and want to chime in with your opinions, don’t hesitate.
After all, these reviews are probably worth just what you paid for them!