Movie Valley
June 2010 Movie Reviews
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Starring: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Alison Barry, Dervla Kirwan, Stephen Rea
Directed By: Neil Jordan
Run Time: 1 hr 51 mins

Ondine is about an Irish fisherman named Syracuse (played by Farrell) who pulls up his net only to discover a woman inside the net. Although women on boats is supposed to bring bad luck, it seems Ondine (played by Bachleda) brings Syracuse good luck. Syracuse's daughter Annie (played by Barry) believes that Ondine (whose name means "she came from the sea") is a selkie, which in Celtic myth is a woman on land, seal in the water.

This is an Irish movie. It takes place in Ireland and features mostly Irish actors, which probably explains why you've never heard of this movie. Put it in your Netflix queue. It's an absolutely wonderful movie. A little slow, perhaps, but magical, mysterious, enchanting, and sweet definitely. I loved it.

This movie is kind of a magical fairy tale mystery. Who is this woman? Is she actually a selkie? Even if you have no fantasy blood in you, you will spend this movie wondering how all these wonderful things keep happening to the fisherman. If you do have a touch of whimsical blood in you, you will believe this woman is truly a selkie, because how else could all these fantastical things keep happening to poor down on his luck Syracuse? I was on the fence. I did believe in the Celtic myth. It was all so magical. But the logical side in me kept trying to deduce an explanation, to figure out what Ondine's background was.

The characters in this movie are absolutely wonderful. I loved Syracuse. I liked his humbleness. I liked the simplicity to his nature. I liked his unwavering love for his daughter. And his devotion to redemption was powerful. The Syracuse-Alcoholics Anonymous-priest storyline cracked me up. Colin Farrell really has a wonderful sense of comical delivery. A bit dead-pan with a touch of irony and bad-boyishness to it. Alicja Bachleda is incredibly beautiful. As Ondine, she made everything seem so effortless. I liked Ondine's kindness. And Annie. You gotta love the frail little stubborn girl in a wheelchair. I did have to wonder why, if she could walk, was she confined to the wheelchair. With such a defiant/stubborn streak to her, you'd think that if she could walk, she'd do it, just to do it. Frail but tough and immensely sweet.

I spent the movie trying to figure out Ondine's backstory. It really was a magical mystery. Who is she? Why was she in the water? Why do all these wonderful things keep happening to Syracuse? I kept shushing myself, eager to just enjoy the fairy tale as it unfolded. I didn't want to find out if she was or wasn't a selkie. The uncertainty was refreshing and thrilling. All the selkie facts kept pointing to the likelihood.

This movie is so many things - it's a fairy tale. It's a mystery. It's a love story. So, if you're looking for a sweet fable filled with intrigue, suspense, and heart-wrenching love, this is the movie for you.

Helpful (but lamented) tip: I must admit that some of the dialog was totally lost on me. Yes, they are indeed speaking English... but I hadn't a clue how to decipher their Irish accents and slang! I got the gist of the conversations... but subtitles (if you're watching at home) would be a good idea.

The A-Team
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bloom
Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Run Time: 1 hr 57 mins

The A-Team taps into 80s nostalgia by putting the TV series on the big screen. This movie is the beginning of the story, how the characters Face (played by Cooper), Hannibal (played by Neeson), BA (played by Jackson), and Murdock (played by Copley) came together and why they're outlaws.

I've heard that this movie isn't very good. I glossed over a review that said that the charm of the TV series doesn't translate into this movie. I read that The Karate Kid was better and since I had no intentions of seeing The Karate Kid, I didn't want to see this movie. But since there was nothing else playing at the time I normally like to see a movie, I decided to give this one a go. A couple of people I know who had seen it said it was decent. Why not? I'm here to say this: don't believe the reviews (if they're bad). I am so glad I saw it!

Although this isn't saying much, this movie beats Marmaduke paws down! This one never made me groan. I never checked my watch to see how much time was left. It sucked me in from the very first minute AND it was funny. While this probably won't make my 2010 top ten list, it was pretty good (it might actually make the top 20). Really. It was good. Okay, so the action sequences were a little (and by "little," I mean waaay) far-fetched but they were fun and engrossing. I had never seen these done before (the helicopter going cold to elude the heat-seeking missiles, the container switch-a-roo). I liked the imagination behind the action sequences. As far as realism, well, I'm the girl who truly believes a city bus can indeed jump a 50 foot gap in the highway. Action movies aren't about real. I mean, who shoots fifty times at the good guy and never even grazes them? And yet people buy that. I truly believe that there was only one ship in port at LAX and you can actually play a ball-under-cup game with shipping containers. This movie made me believe that.

I was a little concerned with some of the casting. I wasn't sure Liam Neeson could do George Poppard's Hannibal justice, particularly when I saw the trailer with his obviously dyed grey hair and chomping on a cigar. It seemed so forced. And then, five minutes into it, I decided he was a good Hannibal. He cared. He was smart. He seemed fun. I also didn't think I was going to like Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson's BA Baracus, particularly when I heard him utter, "Fool!" I mean, that was Mr. T being Mr. T, not BA. And I wasn't sure anyone named "Rampage" could act, but he certainly could. Jackson's Baracus won me over. He had heart, which is something I don't think Mr. T ever showed. Cooper was definitely Face, just by name alone. For such a pretty boy, I was amazed at how well Cooper pulled off some incredibly dumb lines and made them seem cool. I remember being struck by that while watching the movie. Sharlto Copley (who played Wikus in District 9) was an absolutely wonderful Murdock. He was funny and charming and yet seemed amazingly competent. I think his "insane" classification was only by military standards that he didn't fit into military regime. I also really liked Jessica Biel. She was tough and smart and could hold her own... although someone really needs to show her how to hold a gun.

I thought the charm of the TV show was captured well, and maybe even better. I wasn't too thrilled about the backstory when it brought them to Iraq, but I liked how it showed they could formulate and execute a plan - and were always a team. This movie did not poke fun at the TV show (although I was disappointed there wasn't one cameo from at least one of the quartet) nor was it over the top. It had the right amount of whimsy. This movie was definitely harmless. There was no swearing to speak of, no gore, and no nudity.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this movie was. I really did quite enjoy it. I liked seeing how all the characters came together. I liked the story of how they became outlaws. It made me laugh. It was entertaining, which a lot of movies aren't (cough, Marmaduke). I kept trying to figure out how they were going to get out of certain situations. So, if you're in the mood for a little mindless whimsy, try this movie. Sit back, enjoy, and don't say, "Aw, that could never happen!" because really, most things in movies could never really happen.

Starring: Lee Pace, Judy Greer, William H. Macy, Owen Wilson, George Lopez
Directed By: Tom Dey
Run Time: 1 hr 27 mins

Marmaduke is about a Great Dane. He and his family move from Kansas to California and Marmaduke is struggling to adapt to the change.

When I told Jeff that this was my movie this week, he looked at me and asked, "Really?" And when the preview for the movie came on TV one night, he looked at me again and asked, "Really?" Um, yeah! It has a talking Great Dane in it! And there's a puppy dance-off! What's not to like about that?

And now that I've watched the movie, I can honestly respond to him, "Um. Wow. What was I thinking? Really." Really. It's just plain bad. I know most of you were already thinking that without having seen it but I figured there'd be an air of whimsy/tongue in cheek to it. There wasn't. It took itself waaaay too seriously. And you can't do that with a movie with a talking dog.

What was with the story? Who thought that'd would be an interesting take on a large talking dog? I understand that the dog talks and that his family - the humans - don't know he's talking. What I don't get is why the dog continues to talk to his family as though they should understand him. He knows they can't. As if that weren't bad enough (it was rather annoying), the story is just too stupid for words. Yes, Marmaduke is a big, awkward dog that has a way of getting into trouble he doesn't mean to get into (like knocking over the boss because there's a bee on his nose). But the story played Marmaduke as a teenager in a new high school... except as a dog at a new dog park, trying to fit in. He's not a cool purebred so he has to hang with the mutts. Then there are dog parties and dog cliques. I just didn't buy it. Why couldn't it have just been about a gangly dog who knocks things over accidently but at the most inopportune time? Why did it have to have the high school feel to it? Oh, right. Because Owen Wilson's already made that movie called Marley and Me.

I did like the end exchange. "Do you think dogs can talk?" "Doubtful." "Do you thinks dogs can dance?" Cue doggie dance scene. But even that, which I was all hyped up for, was too cgi and not at all cool.

I absolutely hated the Carlos/dog park scene. I was horrified by it. I did not find it funny to see a dog - even jokingly - attack a cat. I didn't even like seeing the cat at the dog park. I shudder to think what would happen to a cat at a dog park.

I was annoyed by Phil (played by Pace)'s boss (played by William H. Macy). He founded an organic dog food company and held his first meeting with Phil with the dogs in the dog park and yet was so non-dog friendly (telling Phil to get control of his dog when it obviously wasn't the dog's fault). I also didn't like the predictable disaster scenes. So you're telling me no one could/would step in to catch Marmaduke or the dog that was chasing him? And no one else saw that it wasn't Marmaduke's fault - that the other dog started it? I know the humans couldn't understand the dog dialog but surely they understand simple body language.

Ugh. This is an incredibly poorly acted movie. I know many people aren't shocked to read that but I was. Lee Pace, Judy Greer, and William H. Macy are pretty good actors but yet they all phoned it in for this movie. I'm sure they had no problem using their minutes to phone it in. I cringed each and every time Phil (Pace) and Deb (Greer) cried, "Marmaduke!" It seemed like a bad - emphasis on the word bad - SNL skit.

One aside here: Lee Pace is just a little over 30 in real life. I did not, for the life of me, buy that he was the father of a 16 year old. I know they start young in Kansas, but the age difference (or lack thereof) really bothered me. He just didn't seem like a dad. The scenes with his daughter (who is probably 10 years younger than he in real life) were so awkward.

Bad script. Bad story. Poorly acted. There were actually one or two funny lines. But not many. And not any whimsy. Bad, bad movie. It had me at the talking dog concept but lost me at the talking angst filled dog.