Saturday, February 06, 2010

Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

I was mildly surprised when I heard Peter Jackson was going to be directing The Lovely Bones, but now that I've seen it, I have to go on record as saying that he is one of this generation's most gifted directors. Now, that was probably already evident because of what he did the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but those were one type of picture; this is another type of film entirely.

Based on the novel by Alice Sebold (which I didn't read so I have no idea how loyal the film is), The Lovely Bones is a heartbreaking, realistic and frightening film that works on many different levels. As a parent, this is the most horrific type of film you can watch (even though Jackson left all of the gruesome happenings off-camera). Even still, it's like a punch to the gut.

For those who don't know the premise, it's the story of a teenage girl who gets abducted and killed by one of her neighbors. Her spirit resides in the In Between where she watches as her family tries to cope with her death and her father tries to find her killer. She's torn between her want for vengeance and wishing her family could heal.

The Lovely Bones is masterfully paced, brilliantly acted, especially by Stanley Tucci and Saoirse Ronan (who I think should have gotten an Oscar nom), and one of the best major movies of 2009 in my opinion. For the life of me, I can't see how Peter Jackson wasn't nominated for a Best Director Oscar for this remarkable film.

I give The Lovely Bones ***** out of *****. Why 5 stars? Because I'm a cold hearted bastard who rarely gets emotionally moved by movies, yet this one did just that.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Movie Review: Legion

I must admit, I'm a fan of apocalyptic stories. And I also love tales of good versus evil. But, what about an apocalyptic story of good versus good? Well, that's kind of what we have in Legion. You see, God has given up on mankind because we pretty much suck (He's a little late to the party, but I digress). So, He has a temper tantrum and decides to send his angels down to Earth to open up a can of whoop-ass. There's one particular baby God has instructed his "legion" to kill. Unfortunately for Him, the Archangel Michael loves the humans so much that he gets here before God's army to help protect the unborn baby. So, it's a machine gun-totting Michael and a rag-tag group of ordinary folks stranded at a desert truck stop versus God's army.

"Professional" film critics pretty much panned Legion for its tired premise (which is similar in tone to the TV show Supernatural), lackluster acting and poor script, but I'm here to say, the hell with that! You know what? I liked Legion. I thought it was a fun escape on a Saturday afternoon and well, isn't that what a movie experience is supposed to be about? There's plenty of action, some chuckles here and there, yeah, some deadpan acting, but hey, this isn't supposed to be high-class theatre. If you're looking for high couture filmmaking, get a ticket to the thespian-filled When in Rome for Christ's sake. I mean, the poster alone, with the angel holding a knife in one hand and an uzi in the other should tell you this isn't Brokeback Mountain.

As much as I liked Legion, the film is not without its own share of problems. For starters; why is it that angels speak with British accents? Are all of God's top advisors from across the pond? And, if these are angels coming to kick ass and take names, why do they look like demons? And if they're angels, why do they curse and say terribly insulting things before trying to bite our throats out with pointy baby teeth? They're not exactly acting angelic!

Look, if you like films that provide a simplistic escape from everyday life for an hour and a half, then Legion is a fun-filled ride. If you're looking to come out of the theater with your life changed after witnessing a moving, well-acted masterpiece, then forget about it. I give Legion ***1/3 out of *****, exploding lesions and all.