Movie Valley
December 2010 Movie Reviews
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The Tourist
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany
Directed By: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Run Time: 1 hr 43 minutes

The Tourist is about a woman, who's being trailed by British Intelligence, meets up with a stranger on a train. Since Frank (played by Depp) resembles the man the BI is looking for, the cat and mouse game is on.

This movie is kind of slow, particularly the intrigue scenes. The opening cat and mouse scene was fun but after Elise (played by Jolie) boards the train, the pace turns to a crawl. Even the boat chase scene is slow - the boats travel about 20 miles an hour (if that). They're very slowly getting away...

Angelina Jolie is very captivating in this movie. She's incredibly elegant and even I found myself staring at her... although I think she desperately needs a cookie (she's way too thin).

I found myself being bored too much in this movie. I just didn't care. I sighed a few times. I was able to predict to myself how many of the scenes would end. I was, however, very interested in discovering who really was Alexander Pierce and when we would see him. I tried very hard to find him and thought I had it figured out. I was actually wrong... which was quite refreshing. Although I do like figuring out plot points... it's never really good when I can do that. I did, however, guess a lot of the rest of the plot but since the end was a surprise, I liked the movie. Good, unpredictable endings make the movie actually likable and good. I liked the movie but it took the ending to make it good (so be sure to stick it out until the end).

Ricky Gervais certainly picked on this movie at the Golden Globes award show, but it wasn't that bad. The setting is beautiful, the acting is quite good, and both leads ooze charisma. And the twist at the end is charming. So... if you can get through the slowness, it's not a bad movie.

Tron Legacy
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner
Directed By: Michael Apted
Run Time: 2 hrs 7 minutes

There's a scene in a Halloween episode of the Simpsons where Homer has stumbled into a three-dimensional world and he asks people back in Springfield, "Did anyone see the movie Tron?" Everyone replies no. Tron Legacy is sort of a continuation of the 1982 science fiction movie Tron. Kevin Flynn (played by Bridges) creates a video game that he ultimately enters and battles the game. In the original Tron, he escapes the game but in Tron Legacy his character from the 80s did not. He leaves his family - and most importantly his son Sam (played by Hedlund) behind for 25 years. Everyone thinks he's dead or ran away. Sam is a bit rebellious but when Alan Bradley (played again by Boxleitner) tells him he received a page from his father, Sam goes back to the arcade where his father created his games and gets sucked into the game Tron himself. He meets his father, his father's alter ego Clu, and Quorra (played by Wilde), a digital player. Quorra and Sam battle Clu and all of the other digital players in an effort to escape the game.

I never saw the original movie. I don't think you need it to enjoy this movie but it certainly wouldn't hurt to watch the original first. Jeff did see the original - and loved it. He didn't love this movie. We saw it in 3D, which was Jeff's first EVER 3D movie. I'm still in awe over that fact.

Considering you can guess how it ends, this movie is a bit long. The main battle between Sam and Clu and the rest of the players seemed too easy. For that matter, the battles Sam encountered in his first several minutes in Tron seemed too easy, too.

I enjoyed the return of Bruce Boxleitner to the screen (even though I hadn't watched the original). He'll always be Scarecrow to me.

The main enjoyment of this movie is seeing Jeff Bridges with an incredibly young face. That part of the technology is absolutely amazing. I loved just watching the scenes with Clu just for the young Jeff Bridges' face.

I'm not quite certain I understand the game of Tron, other than do everything you can to survive... and to bring your opponent down. Even though I didn't see the movie, the scenes that involved the digital cars made me think of Speed Racer (and subsequently kept chanting in my head, "Go, Speed, Go!").

The movie was a fun ride... and yet not. The plot was a little thin; the movie a little long; and the ending incredibly predictable. Although I didn't love it, I still enjoyed it. It didn't make me groan (although I did wonder when it would end).

Not a bad movie. Not a good movie, either. Probably would be best enjoyed in the theater on the big screen in 3D. Not sure the tone will do well on the small screen (nor will you fully be able to enjoy the young Jeff Bridges when his face is so tiny on the TV).

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Simon Pegg
Directed By: Michael Apted
Run Time: 1 hr 42 minutes

Unless you've read the books - and read them recently - and you've watched the other Narnia movies - this is probably not the movie for you. I know I read the first couple of books when I was a child and I did watch The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (in Peru, nonetheless) but I can't remember if I read this book. I do remember being bored by it so it's quite likely I never finished it. The movie is the same as I remember the book - boring. I just noticed the official runtime - an hour and forty-two minutes. Wow. It seemed like well over two hours sitting through it. This movie seems long and yet isn't. That can't be good.

You know nothing is going to happen to the main characters. The tasks of finding the swords and the people who've disappeared into the mist are solved way too easily. There's not too much drama or action. There are a couple of funny lines. The landscapes are beautiful (I saw it in plain 2-D). The only bright spot is Eustace - after the change. He annoyed me - just like he annoyed everyone else - before the change.

The one thing that shocked me was how overt the "Aslan is God" reference was in this movie. When The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out, I remember there was much to-do about the whole God/Christian symbolism in the book/movie. I remember thinking - and still wondered after I saw the movie - where that was. I totally missed it. You cannot miss it in this movie. I now wonder if it's that blatant in the Dawn Treader book, too.

I think I was also bothered by the whole "Narnia is really a world, not imagination" storyline. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I felt as though the children were pulling each other into their imaginary worlds and in this one, it was definitely a world. They had to prove to Eustace that there was a world with the actual world for him to believe, which is not teaching a child who can't imagine to use his imagination.

I was incredibly bored by this movie. I did not feel the wonder and merriment that one should feel with a children's book. I kept wondering when it would be over, which is never a good sign. A lot of movies are better watched on the big screen, some are perfect on the small screen on a rainy day or when you're home sick in bed (like my favorite Chicken Little). This movie is neither. Skip it unless you like being bored.

Starring: Zachary Levi, Mandy Moore, Donna Murphy
Directed By: Byron Howard & Nathan Greno
Run Time: 1 hr 40 minutes

This was a very dark film. Not story dark (well, there was a bit of that) but visually dark. Add 3-D glasses with grey lenses, and the movie becomes a lot darker. There were many, many scenes at night or in the dark and it was very difficult to see what was going on. I could see the character's faces but nothing else.

I was a bit bored by this film. It was interesting. Cute. But it didn't hold my attention. I liked Pasqual, the chameleon side-kick, although I thought he might be a little out of place habitat-wise, and both Flynn and Rapunzel were genuine and interesting and likable, however, it just didn't hold my attention. I think they could have used Zachary Levi's singing talents more and pull the attention off Mandy Moore (who is a very good singer... and actress... but it seemed like this was a vehicle for Mandy to sing and not an ensemble).

It was a cute movie, but it's not one I'll need to own.

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson Cohen, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood
Directed By: George Tillman Jr
Run Time: 1 hr 38 minutes

After 10 years in prison, Driver (played by Johnson) has a singular focus - to avenge the murder of his brother during the botched bank robbery that led to his imprisonment. Now a free man with a deadly to-do list in hand, he's finally on his mission... but with two men on his trail - a veteran cop just days from retirement (played by Thornton), and a young egocentric hitman with a flair for the art of killing and a newfound worthy opponent. The hunter is also the hunted. It's a do or die race to the list's finish as the mystery surrounding his brother's murder deepens, and new details emerge along the way hinting that Driver's list may be incomplete.

Wasn't sure what to think of this movie based on the previews. It seemed like a violent revenge film. There had to be more to this movie other than a man bent on revenge, right? For the first half hour, that is truly what this movie is about. There were some smart lines, some funny lines, and Driver's backstory is fairly interesting.Even after this movie, I'm not sure how I feel about it. It was fairly decent for an action movie, but the plot still bothers me.

I think the writers tried to make too much of it by giving the main characters flaws. I wasn't quite sure what to make of a hitman with physiological problems. I did NOT like Billy Bob's character. Not sure how creepy his character was supposed to be but I totally cringed every time he was on screen. The full circle the characters came together in totally annoyed me. Wasn't sure how plausible it was.

I had issues with the violence, not because it was gory (it wasn't - they cut away before the real carnage happened), but because it was so deliberate, so cold, so hateful. It hurt.

The one thing I really liked about this movie was not the movie itself but the fact that Carla Gugino and Dwayne Johnson were in another movie together (they were in Race to Witch Mountain ). They don't actually share screen time.

Speaking of Carla Gugino, I really thought her character should have been tougher and smarter. She has that essence herself and it's too bad she couldn't pull more of that into her character.

The end scene was interesting. I'm not sure how I really feel about it because I didn't buy the whole "small world" wrap-up. Too convenient.

So... not a horrible movie considering the plot (revenge). It could have been smarter. The chase scenes were intense. Billy Bob was creepy. It could have been worse.

The driving/chase action sequences were really engaging. I actually held my breath as the cars zipped in and out of traffic. It really sucked me in.