Archive for August, 2012

The Dictator

The Dictator

Having been a huge fan of the two HBO seasons of “Da Ali G Show” on HBO in college, I’ve been on the Sacha Baron Cohen bandwagon for quite some time. In 2006, while my wife was trying on her wedding dress, I was the only person in the theater at an afternoon showing of “Borat.”

I feel the need to proclaim my love for Sacha Baron Cohen before I say the following words: The Dictator was simply meh.

I thought Borat was (and is) one of the funniest movies ever. “The Dictator” tries to be “Borat,” but in the end winds up coming off as a wildly inconsistent knockoff. Are there a few laughs? Of course. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, though.

The plot is pretty simple. Cohen stars as Admiral General Aladeen, dictator of the fictional country Wadiya. His uncle (Ben Kingsley) hires a hitman to kill Cohen because he wants to take over the country, make it a democracy, and get rich off of selling oil. The assassination attempt fails (although the scene with John C. Reilly is hilarious) and Aladeen is forced to adapt to a normal, American life (sort of a la “Borat”) when no one recognizes him with his beard shaved.

Like I said, there are laughs (the aforementioned scene with John C. Reilly, a scene with Megan Fox, and a helicopter/9-11 scene stand out particularly), but some of the acts (the constant Arabic play of words) grow incredibly tired very quickly. As a whole, it’s a movie that’s probably worth seeing once for a few laughs if you aren’t easily offended. Don’t expect the world, though.


out of 10


08 2012

Safe House

When I say the name Robert De Niro, it likely conjures images of the second Godfather, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, or the handful of other great roles he’s played in the past. I’m guessing you aren’t thinking of any movie he’s made since 1995 (Casino or Heat). Basically, we’ve given him a pass for making a decade and a half of terrible movies. From the start of his career until Ronin in 1998, he’s got 38 certified fresh movies on Rotten Tomatoes vs 6 Rotten movies (that’s an .864 batting average for those of you scoring at home). Since 1998? 10 fresh movies, 23 rotten movies for a .303 batting average).

So why start a review of a movie not starring Robert De Niro with a bunch of Robert De Niro facts? Quite simply, I’m a little worried Denzel Washington is taking a trip down Robert De Niro lane. If you look at Denzel’s career from 1991-2001, he’s made a bunch movies that were both socially important – Malcolm X, Hurricane, Philadelphia – along with extremely entertaining – Crimson Tide, He Got Game (except for the last scene), Training Day – or profitable (Remember the Titans, Pelican Brief). Since 2002, he’s not made bad movies like De Niro. With the exception of American Gangster (which I thought was a wee bit overrated) and Inside Man, he’s just made a bunch of really average movies.

Coming into seeing Safe House, I was quite excited to see this movie. The trailer looked pretty solid and although I hadn’t read any reviews (I’ve been reading less and less movie reviews lately), the buzz I’d heard around the movie was mostly positive.

A half hour into this movie, I was all in. Ryan Reynolds is someone I’ve liked in the past (Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, Van Wilder) and Denzel is always pretty solid (usually in a role that involves him playing a different version of “Denzel.”) Initially, this movie struck me as a good knockoff of The Bourne Identity.

Then, I fell asleep. Figuratively (not literally, unfortunately). The second half of the movie just completely lacked any punch and imagination whatsoever. The story became somewhat stale and predictable. The last half hour of the movie turned into almost forced movie watching.

It was really unfortunate because I think they had 85% of what it takes to make a really good movie. They had a solid cast, a quality action-filled opening sequence, and a really good trailer. It just felt like somewhere in the middle third of the movie, there was a chance to make the movie unique and interest, but they took the safe and predictable road instead.

Overall, I’d say you can skip this one.


out of 10


08 2012

The Artist

The first movie reviewed on Motion Artifacts was “The Dark Knight Rises” (aka “the most anticipated movie of 2012”). Seems fitting that the second movie would be “The Artist,” which was awarded the Academy Award for Best Film of 2012.

Couple quick thoughts…

  • Impressed with how well director Michel Hazanavicius captured the silent film era. From the set design, costumes, look (I loved the 22 frames per second!), sound, title cards, and melodramatic story line they absolutely nailed it. That being said, my main problem with this movie is my main problem I have when someone tells me “Citizen Kane” is the greatest movie ever. It’s really, really good, but the somewhat cheesy nature falls of the story line limits it from being great.

  • Fantastic performances from a great cast. Jean Dujardin gives a terrific performance as aging silent film actor George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo is impossible not to love as upcoming “talkie” star Peppy Miller. John Goodman and James Cromwell both give solid supporting performances, but the star of the show, surprisingly, was Uggie as George Valentin’s dog Jack.

  • The biggest thing I took out of this movie was reminiscing about some of the fantastic silent movies I was introduced to while taking a intro film class in college. I was somewhat forced to watch 10-20 silent movies that I would’ve never seen. At the time, I didn’t really like many of them, but as time has passed, I’ve found that I’ve grown fond of the era. It was a much simpler time and going to the movies was a feel-good experience.


out of 10


08 2012