June 27, 2011

The Rite (2011)

Hollywood’s latest Exorcist clone, featuring Anthony Hopkins in the elderly priest role, supposedly replacing Max von Sydow’s role from the original, albeit poorly. Unfortunately not even Hopkins can save this one. It starts off promising but quickly descends into cliché and a blatantly pathetic attempt to capitalize on whatever relevance Christianity still thinks it has. The rite is one of those films that I knew I wanted to see based on the subject matter and actor alone, but everything else around it, including plot and acting seems sub-par (even Hopkins seems like he’s just delivering his lines with the enthusiasm of someone who’s only doing it for the money – which he is, he pretty much stopped giving a shit around the time he starred alongside Chris Rock in that buddy cop movie ‘Bad Company’). The only “good” part in it is Ciarán Hinds, but that’s only because he was so great in Rome. If I really wanted some Exorcist clones I’d go with something like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and anything with Gabriel Byrne or Paul Bettany in it. And for god’s sake you make a vatican movie with no conspiracy? Have you learnt nothing?

June 15, 2011

Super 8 (2011)

The latest J.J Abrams lense-flare simulator is finally here and it has the added benefit of raping our childhood with pseudo-Spielberg nostalgia. From the start, with that Amblin E.T. logo and the title announcing Spielberg as producer, this is all about evoking those fond memories of times gone by, when kids rode bicycles at night and got into adventurous trouble. To his credit, it is well executed for the most part, and the kids’ performances shine in an otherwise adult film (I presume most kids their age would not benefit from the 80’s nostalgia factor, at least not in the way they would from something like Transformers, but that’s a whole other angle). It riffs off of things like E.T., Gremlins, Goonies and the like, with a diverse bunch of (white) kids in smalltown (white) america. The effects and mystery however are just a canvas for the developing relationships between the kids against he backdrop of their respective parents. The ending is, as expected, flawed, perhaps because the mystery is all too predictable or perhaps because we stop caring towards the part where the air-force turns the little town into their own private battlefield for the kids to dodge bullets through. The signature Abrams flares are just as distracting, appearing seemingly out of nowhere (like in a dark underground cave, or due to moonlight) but not nearly as distracting as they were in Star Trek. Anachronisms are abound, but overall necessary for the nostalgia factor. So what if the walkman was only introduced to the Japanese market a whole month after the movie happens and only made it to the U.S. a year later, it’s still funny to see them talk about it like it’s the latest and greatest thing. Overall the film is better than average and actually quite enjoyable, especially if you can related to the nostalgia, but ultimately it is nevertheless flawed.