Movie Valley
August 2010 Movie Reviews
Back to the main movie page

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed By: Phillip Noyce
Run Time: 1 hr 39 mins

Salt is about a spy accused of being a double-agent. Now she's on the run, trying to prove her innocence and save her husband.

It was nice to see a smart, tough female agent. I liked that. Okay, so the part was originally a man and was supposed to star Tom Cruise, but he had to back out when his "wonderful" Knight and Day took more precedence. Ha! for him. I did like Salt's character - smart, thinking. I'm not sure I would have liked her as a him (probably because I don't like Tom Cruise).

The movie was only 90 minutes long but it seemed much longer than that. It was slow, which is surprising considering there were a lot of chase scenes and a lot of trying to figure the whodunit.

I was told that the movie's twist was easily figured out. I figured out one twist well before the reveal but the second twist, the one I was absolutely sure I had picked from the very beginning, proved not to be a point at all. It was what it said it was. I just didn't want to believe it. I kept waiting for it to turn my way but it didn't. It wasn't even a red herring. The actual twist would have been incredibly easy to figure out if Cruise (a man) had played Salt.

This movie paved the way for Salt 2.

Suspenseful. And then again, it wasn't because a lot of the suspense generated by the chase scenes had no thrill because the action was so far-fetched. If Salt can keep getting away, even though she appeared to be trapped, due to some implausible stunts, it was hard to be scared, hard to worry about her. Eh, she got away before when she was surrounded by agents, trapped under a car with no gun to shoot her way out, so she can surely do it again.

I liked it. Not one I'd rent but it was decent. I'll probably see Salt 2. I guess that says something.

The Expendables
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone
Run Time: 1 hr 43 mins

The Expendables is about a group of mercenaries hired to overthrow a ruthless South American dictator.

I went into this movie thinking there'd be no plot. I wasn't expecting much. I was excited to see all these action stars, albeit most of them aging, together in one movie. I didn't care about plot. I was even prepared for it to be horrible. I didn't care. I wanted to see Stallone and Lundgren together again (last paired up in Rocky III - Lundgren played the Russian... even though he's Swedish). When I heard that Stallone wanted so much to work with Lundgren again that he specifically wrote the part of Gunnar for Lundgren, I was excited. Very excited.

I went into the movie with no expectations. Apparently, I was aiming too high. I did not think the acting was going to be so rough or the script so incredibly corny/trying too hard/out of touch (queue the "dipshit" comment). I know most of these actors aren't really known for their acting abilities, but for the most part, they're really decent thespians. I adored Stallone in Copland (although I'm probably one of few who did) and Oscar. Who knew that Eric Roberts' acting would be the shining beacon, particularly up against Mickey Rourke, Academy Award winner. Rourke's performance is the epitome of the term "phoning it in"... while completely drunk/high. Uffda.

This movie isn't all bad. In fact, it's quite a fun romp. The actors were indeed having fun themselves filming the movie, and that joy sparkled through. Some lines were incredibly funny ("he wants to be president") and I did laugh more than I expected.

The gore is CGI to the max, with bodies exploding and blood spurting out in slo-mo. Some of the action sequences were far-fetched (this coming from a girl who really believes a bus CAN jump 100 feet). I always wondered when they start planting bombs all over the place, how do they remember where they put them all in the heat of battle and they start setting them off? I would be always thinking to myself, "Wait. Should I be standing here? Should I run there or there? Where did Ralph put that last bomb? Was it here?" And when they plant them with different detonators for different timed explosions, how can they be sure they put the right bomb in the proper area?

The cinematography was bizarre. I think Stallone was trying too hard for avant-garde. What was up with the out-of-focus reflection in the sword shot? I spent far too much timing cocking my head every which way, trying to make out an image of what I was supposed to be seeing that I missed what was about to happen. How about the close-ups of the eyeballs during the plan details discussion? All eyeballs for 5 minutes, switching back and forth among various character's eyeballs.

I wish Dolph was in it more. His character was fun, flawed, but fun.

For all the criticisms I've hashed out about the movie, it was indeed a good, enjoyable ride. I actually did like it. It was fun. It was wonderful seeing all these action stars together in one movie (although it would have been nicer if some of them had more screen time). It also really would have made the draw factor more enticing if they had more action stars in it. I mean, where was Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Segall (although I never really liked him)? How about Vin Diesel? Surely these guys weren't busy....

I really enjoyed the ending motorcycle ride scene and the surprise just before that scene. Decent movie. It had heart.

The Other Guys
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Duane Johnson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan
Directed By: Adam McKay
Run Time: 1 hr 47 mins

The Other Guys is about two desk-jockey cops who decide to try to prove themselves as "real" cops. Det. Allen Gamble (played by Ferrell) is very book-ish and likes to type up other cops' reports; Det. Terry Hoitz (played by Wahlberg) is itching to get back out on the streets but his fear of repeating a accidental shooting incident keeps him in the office. When something happens to the over-the-top hotshot partners (played by Jackson and Johnson), the "other guys" spring into action... and are promptly assumed (and their actions perceived) to be screwing things up. The department doesn't back them up (and makes fun of them mercilessly) so the two are on their own to solve a case that doesn't seem to be a case.

The opening scene with action cops Jackson and Johnson was incredibly over the top, complete with driving a cop car into (and through) the side of a bus that contains the criminals they're chasing and riddled with bad B-movie "witty" comments. It was so over the top that it was absolutely hilarious. I kept thinking that this first scene was going to be a movie that the "other guys" were watching. Funny. Very funny. And then the rest of the movie happened.

I want to like Will Ferrell, really I do. I've seen most of his movies. He shows promise but has yet to keep up his end of the bargain - make me like him completely. He's too hit-or-miss. There were a lot of lines and moments throughout the movie that made me really, really laugh. Really laugh. But there were too many uncomfortably unfunny scenes. Really uncomfortable. The movie had its brilliant spots but too many spots fell way too flat. Really flat. I found Mark Wahlberg to the be cause of many of the really bad spots because he apparently took an acting class where he was taught that in order to be his funniest, he should yell every line. But the uncomfortable trying-too-hard-but-failing miserably scenes were mostly Will Ferrell. Of course, it wasn't all bad. Several of the unfunny scenes that droned on far too long had a whopper of an ending funny line. All that crap led up to gold (queue the shark attack comeback). I kept expecting to be rewarded after an unfunny scene but a lot of those unfunny scenes were truly - even to the end - unfunny. I mean, what was up with pimps don't cry? Wow.

This movie could have been killer... if those unfunny scenes had been shorter (I'm not asking for them to be completely removed because that would asking too much, just shorter). I loved the opening. It was decent. Sigh. Until the next Will Ferrell disappointment. A warning to Mr. Ferrell: You may go the way of M. Knight Shmalyan. After sitting through too many stinks from him, I've sworn off his movies. Sigh. No, I haven't. I'll probably see Devil.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Run Time: 2 hrs 28 mins

Inception is about Dom Cobb (played by DiCaprio), a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible -- inception.

It's been awhile since I watched this movie so I don't remember my total impression of it other than this: Make sure you listen after the movie cuts to black. You'll walk out of the movie with a totally different impression of the ending if you do.