Friday, January 13, 2012

Review - Movie Catch-up - December/January

So over the holidays there were a lot of new movies released, (as there are every year), but Bob & I didn't get out to any of them until after Christmas, and we're still playing catch-up.  But the last few weekends we did make it to a few:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) * * * * *
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, and (briefly) Rachel McAdams.
Directed by Guy Ritchie.

From IMDB: "Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson (Jude Law), take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), with the help of Holmes's older brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) and a gypsy named Sim (Noomi Rapace)."

I absolutely loved the first Sherlock Holmes movie and I think that the pairing and chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is absolutely magical.  So I was quite looking forward to this sequel,  and while it does have a few problems, overall it did not disappoint!

Dr. Watson visits Sherlock hours before his wedding and discovers that Sherlock is embroiled in another mystery.  Someone has been busily blowing up buildings and assassinating people all over the continent, and war is looming on the horizon as governments blame each other for the growing terror.  So of course Sherlock drags his best (and only?) friend directly into the middle of the fray, chasing across Europe in search of clues to prove his theory that Moriarty is behind it all, leading to an ultimate showdown between the rivals, and completely ruining Watson's honeymoon.

At first the reasons for the search and all the travel are a bit fuzzy and some might find the movie difficult to follow, but what the film might lack in clear motives it definitely makes up for with many fun explosions and witty banter between the crazed Sherlock and the oh-so-pretty Watson.  I've noticed some people have complained about the gratuitous use of slow-motion in the film, but I have to say that the chase scene in the forest, which you have, no doubt, seen a small portion of in the trailer, is absolutely stunning in its' gorgeous beauty.

Yes, I just called a gunfight and people running through the forest gorgeous and beautiful.  That's how I roll.

Overall, and in spite of the few problems with the story, I think I liked this movie even better than the first one, which I did not expect.  RDJ shines as Sherlock, and Jude Law makes an excellent sidekick as Watson.  Five stars from me, and Bob said it was pretty good.  That's high praise from him!

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) * * * *
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg

From IMDB: "In the 4th installment of the Mission Impossible series, Ethan Hunt and his team are racing against time to track down a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks, who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States. An attempt by the team to stop him at the Kremlin ends in a disaster, with an explosion causing severe destruction to the Kremlin and the IMF being implicated in the bombing, forcing the President to invoke Ghost Protocol, under which the IMF is disavowed, and will be offered no help or backup in any form. Undaunted, Ethan and his team chase Hendricks to Dubai, and from there to Mumbai, but several spectacular action sequences later, they might still be too late to stop a disaster."

Another action thriller, with lots of explosions and edge-of-your-seat moments, MI4 delivers almost non-stop excitement, some clever dialogue, and loads of fun.  I have a special love for the Mission: Impossible franchise in general, so for me this was a sure thing.  There were some fun cameos and some brief emotional moments.  Jeremy Renner was cute as ever and did a great job as the agent-turned-analyst-turned-agent, although his angst-y moments didn't quite have as much emotional impact as they should have, and I'm not sure if that was the writing or his acting.  Nonetheless this movie gets four stars from me for pure fun!  (Bob intensely dislikes Tom Cruise, so we won't ask him what he thought this time).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) * * * * *
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Directed by David Fincher

From IMDB: "This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch's niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined."

This movie was amazing.  There's been a lot of controversy about the film, from casting choices to the decision to "Americanize" the Swedish movie (which I have not seen, but will someday) in the first place.  I think David Fincher did a really great job with the material - there's a general creepy and menacing feeling throughout the movie, even in the parts that aren't the least bit creepy or menacing, but you feel that potential there, simmering just below the surface, exactly as I felt it while reading the novel.  I think Daniel Craig was a great choice for the role of Mikel, and while I've never seen Rooney Mara in anything that I know of I think she did an amazing job of portraying Lisbeth.  Overall it's a great movie, a great mystery, and while I didn't like the way they fiddled with the ending, it didn't harm the overall story.  My one nitpick with the film was that it was difficult to keep track of the various Vanger family members, but that really doesn't matter much in the overall scheme of things.

One thing I'd like to say about the controversy surrounding the issue of the violence in the film: There is some.  More than what would be in your average RomCom, but far less than you would see in a Chuck Norris/Bruce Willis/Jason Statham action movie  The difference is that it's directed towards women, instead of  towards men. It's awful and uncomfortable to view, as it should be.  However, is was handled with incredible delicacy and sensitivity, I my opinion.  It isn't gratuitous, they don't show more than they need to, and it is definitely not glorified in any way.

That aside, I think it's a fantastic movie, and it definitely gets five stars from me.  Bob even enjoyed it, though he did have trouble following the first half of the movie, as he hasn't read the book.

So there we go!  have you seen any of these movies yet?  What did you think?  As always you are encouraged to leave your comments below!

Also, I totally can't wait to see One for the Money!!  Coming soon!!


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