Archive for the ‘H’Category

Haywire

Approximately 22 new action movies show up on video shelves every single week (this is just a guess). Since about 1% of these movies are actually watchable, I usually wait to hear from a few different sources that a movie is worth watching before I drop the $1 at Redbox.

Haywire, a 2011 spy thriller from Steven Soderbergh, seems to attempt to capture the spirit of the Bourne series. Female MMA superstar Gina Carano stars as Mallory, a secret agent who is running from her life for reasons that are, at the start of the movie, unknown. The movie starts with a fighting scene in a diner between Mallory and Aaron (Channing Tatum). Mallory escapes and tells her story to the customer at the diner who intervened and allowed her to escape. The next 2/3 of the movie is told through a series of flashbacks before we get to the present time finale.

The action in Haywire is very precise, clean, and unique. I particularly enjoyed the very subtle sounds dubbed into the action scene. Instead of the traditional punch sound you are used to hearing in movies, Soderbergh took a more realistic (and well appreciated) approach to the sound. Gina Carrano might not be the next Oscar winning actress, but I could certainly see her carving a career as the first (???) major female action star.

The cast (Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas) is quite impressive. It has a good look and feel. I enjoyed the pacing, but ultimately it’s somewhat forgettable. It’s probably worth watching once, but it’s not worth racing out to buy immediately, either.

7.0

out of 10

06

12 2012

Headhunters

I’d never heard of this movie, but after watching Sin Nombre, the fine folks at Netflix suggested I might like this one.

Headhunters is 2011 film coming from – of all places – Norway. Roger is a short, wealthy businessman who’s married to Diana – a tall model-type . But what Diana doesn’t know is that a) Roger is cheating on her and b) he’s not wildly rich from his job as a corporate headhunter, but rather from his side job as an art thief. He’s got a somewhat elaborate system where he replaces the art with a knockoff printed from a large-format printer and has a security guy as an accomplice.

I don’t want to give too much plot away, but the look, feel, and style of the movie reminded me a lot of other European filmed movies like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Bourne series.

The movie is much bloodier than I expected, but watching this movie reminded me why I hate a lot of mediocre American thrillers. A quote from Roger Ebert that really sums up my thoughts on the movie : “It entertains with story elements, in which the scares evolve from human behavior. Unlike too many thrillers that depend on stunts, special effects and the Queasy-Cam, this one devises a plot where it matters what happens. It’s not all kinetic energy.”

I know a lot of people are into movies and a lot of the same people are into sports, but nobody has developed a sabrmetric-style scoring system for movies. We all know that Albert Pujols is good at baseball, Kobe Bryant is pretty good at basketball, and Tom Brady knows how to toss the pigskin. In the same way, we all know that The Departed and the first 99.5% of No Country for Old Men are great movies. The key is finding and correctly identifying diamonds in the rough. For example, I would like to know that the value over replacement thriller (or VORT) for Headhunters of +25 or a wins above replacement foreign film (WARFF) of 2.7. Someone needs to make this happen.

Tangents aside, Headhunters is an extremely intense and well-made movie that is well worth your time. It’s currently available streaming on Netflix.

8.0

out of 10

28

11 2012

Hunger Games

Judging by the box office and cultural impact, I am the last person in America to watch The Hunger Games. I’ve got my excuses for why I haven’t seen it yet. First, when it came out in theaters, I was busy helping coaching in the state basketball tournament. Secondly, I have a woman who lives at my house and is related to me by marriage that sees the description of a movie containing the words dystopian, science fiction, post-modern, and battle to the death and loses interest very quickly. This is not meant as a knock on my wife (if I wanted to do that, I’d snarkily mention that both “8 Seconds” and “Urban Cowboy” would reside in her top 10 favorite movies list). As going to the movies by myself isn’t my favorite thing to do, I wind up watching a majority of movies once they are released on DVD.

As you, no doubt know, Hunger Games is based on the Suzanne Collins novel of the same name. Every year, each of the 12 districts that make up Panem sends to one male and one female “tribute” to the Hunger Games which is a televised spectacle in which the 24 children battle to the death until there is only one victor.

Admittedly, the movie is much better than I thought it was going to be. Following the success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Hollywood seemed desperate to take popular literary franchises and turn them into big screen cash. The last big literary franchise – the Twilight series – figuratively and literally… sucked.

I’m not going to go into the details of the plot because, surely, you’ve already seen the movie. Heading into the movie, the biggest question I had was how big of a Battle Royale rip boff was this movie going to be? In fact, knowing I was finally going to watch the Hunger Games this week, I re-watched Battle Royale (review here) last week so I could make a fair comparison.

It’s not as blatant of a rip-off as I expected. There were some elements that were similar, but more that were different than I expected given all of the “The Hunger Games is a Battle Royale rip off” articles I read on the internet. For a true comparison, check out this io9 blog post comparing the two.

Last week, in my review of Battle Royale, I ended with the following

While I’ve yet to see The Hunger Games, I’m putting the odds at 1,000-to-1 that it’s a better movie than Battle Royale. If you haven’t yet seen The Hunger Games, do yourself a favor and check this one out first. If you (likely) have already seen The Hunger Games, go check out the (likely) superior movie that it stole the storyline from.

Now that I’ve seen The Hunger Games, I can definitively say Battle Royale is the superior movie. I’m happy to say, though, the gap is significantly closer than I suspected and The Hunger Games isn’t as big of a rip off as I initially thought it would be.

20

09 2012