As I discussed on the podcast (http://t.co/neuhHW7E), I read many of the Alex Cross novels. Unfortunately and typically in novel massacres, Alex Cross is its own story and universe. The film is set in Detroit instead of Washington D.C., his partner changes from black to white (A.K.A. the change I hate the most), and Cross’ and the killer Picasso’s origins are changed significantly.
Before I delve into the review, I am sure many want to know how Tyler Perry did playing Dr. Alex Cross. Unlike the previous Cross, Morgan Freeman, Perry is Cross’ correct age from the novel. While many clamored for Idris Elba (The Wire, Prometheus), Perry does an admirable job playing Cross. In my opinion, Perry balances the brilliance, anger, humor, and kindness that many readers come to like well. He’s not built like the boxer from the novels, but his height and presence mostly works against Picasso. This is certainly one of the many details that need to be built upon in future sequels.
The film is reasonably well done. After Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, Matthew Fox is the next most impressive transformation done to play a character in a film this year. He is admirably intense in both Picasso’s physicality and insanity. Fox is a curious choice to play a torturer of women after former Lost co-star Tweeted that Fox was abusive toward women in May (a case of abuse was dismissed in court), but he plays a good bad guy nonetheless. The other actors were fine. Edward Burns plays a good partner, but even though it is not his fault, his acting did not make me wish they never passed over Sampson as Cross’ partner in the movie.
The story, however, could have used a little work. They did not show enough of Cross’ talents dissecting murder scenes, and that made the film seemed rushed. The romance between Cross’ crime fighting partners Kane (Burns) and Ashe (Rachel Nichols) took away some of my interest and killing more than Cross’ wife was a little much from a professional killer (More family? A co-worker or two? I won’t say). There is some good action, and what would a film of the last 15 years be without a plot twist? The movie is above average, and with the correct set of expectations, will be enjoyable. Overall, Alex Cross was a good start, but I hope they work harder to improve the sequels.
2 ½ stars out of 5
Roy and Bayleigh discuss movies, television, and entertainment news in what will tentatively be called the Loud Colors Podcast. Bayleigh discusses The Perks of Being a Wallflower, they discuss Frankenweenie, and Roy discusses Taken 2 and Alex Cross. For television, they bring us current on Dexter and Revenge. For news, they discuss the hosts of the Oscars and Golden Globes, Justice League and Avengers 2 projects, Ghostbusters 3, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
When I learned Taken 2 was in production, I was 80% happy. My only reservation was the story ended well when he delivered Kim (Maggie Grace) to Lenore (Famke Janssen) and then bitch slapped the olive branch away that Lenore attempted to hand him. I enjoyed Mills’ walk to the cab as his looks and actions remind Lenore that the last 72 hours could have all been avoided if she listened to him instead of conspiring to set up Kim’s European vacation under false pretenses.
After an unspecified amount of time from the events of Taken, Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) is in Istanbul working security for a high-profile client. After Taken’s events, Lenore eschews the cold stares, insults, and the lies once given to Mills and acts warmly towards him. Kim is far from helpless, but is still processing her past kidnapping and attempted human trafficking. Unless you have not seen the preview, you know that they accept his invitation and join him after the job is completed.
In the meantime, the families of the Albanians bury their dead. The father of the man tortured by shock therapy, Murad Krasniqui (Rade Serbedzija – an accomplished that guy), begins to accumulate intelligence on how to find Mills. The work pays off, and Mills and Lenore are kidnapped. I will allow you to watch the movie to see if Kim is caught and what she has been taught by her father. Surprisingly, the bad guys give Mills enough space to escape. Mills is meticulous in planning and technique and leaves nothing to chance when the chips are down. And when he is free to hunt the bad guys, you know a plague is coming (and you almost pity them).
If you clicked with Taken, you will like Taken 2. The pacing is similar. There is little waste in 91 minutes because there is no time to waste in the story. The time of day in both movies are the only night and day differences. There is enough information in the sequel if you choose to take someone who has not seen the first one. I appreciate the fact we do not have to watch a lot of unnecessary scenes like we suffered through in The Avengers , The Dark Knight Rises, and many of the Summer 2012 films. I was not a fan of the ending, but this did not hurt how much I enjoyed the ride.
Three out of five stars
At least he knows who he is. That’s about all I can say about how I believe Jeremy Renner’s character, Aaron Cross, is superior to Jason Bourne.
Cross is the next generation of super-soldiers after Bourne’s class. Dependent on performance-enhancing drugs, he finishes a mission and waits for his next assignment. In that time, he and another super-soldier get wind that they are under attack. Cross survives and makes the CIA believe that he is dead. The other one is not so lucky. Trained to not miss a dose and fearful that missing them will hurt or kill him, he seeks out anyone who can help him find a supply because his is almost depleted.
In the meantime (and how this story connects to 2007’s Bourne Ultimatum), Simon Ross, a reporter from the Guardian begins writing details about the Treadstone and Blackbriar projects. Reacting to the leak, government officials, led by retired Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), set a plan to murder all involved to tie up any loose ends. The assassins are murdered by each other or their handlers. Cross, believed dead, is left to fend for himself in Alaska.
The government scientists behind the projects are murdered one-by-one in a terrifying attack. Before the final doctor could be murdered, the killer is shot dead. Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is the lone person who can answer Cross’ questions and provide the pills he desperately needs. After saving Shearing, both of them attempt to escape an international manhunt while finding the pills that gives Cross his edge.
Many of the articles I read say that Renner’s character is superior to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. I say that’s nonsense. They way that Aaron Cross is written and acted, you feel like he is Jason Bourne without the amnesia. The action is tense, but like the character, you feel like it has all happened before. The director of this film, Tony Gilroy, helped write all four screenplays, so he is familiar with the material. Many of the fight scenes and chases seemed plagiarized from Paul Greengrass’ Bourne films. In my opinion, using some elements is wise, but Gilroy takes too many liberties. Greengrass is quoted as saying that a fourth film would have to be called the ”Bourne Redundancy.” This film helped make him look like Nostradamus. With almost $213,000,000 (worldwide gross as of September 24, 2012) reasons and counting, the cries of unoriginality will surely be drowned out. All that said, it was fun to watch.
2 ½ stars out of 5
Jaws defined the summer blockbuster. The production was full of problems that should have sunk this film. Director Steven Spielberg, the production staff, and the actors managed to defy the odds and put together the highest-grossing film in history. We discuss many of the problems and how they were turned around to be a hugely successful and well-made film.
Sean, Roy, and special guest Stephen from the Media Meltdown Podcast have an in-depth discussion about the film. We thank you for your listenership and hope you enjoy the show.
Roy from the Synesthesia Podcast was asked to write something about Media and Race. He chose the film Blazing Saddles because it’s funny and relevant. Please excuse the uses of African American and Anglo American – academia you know.
Blazing Saddles, released in 1974, is a comedy-western satire directed by Mel Brooks. The timeframe of the film is 1874. The United States is wrapped up in urbanization, and the fictional town of Rock Ridge is about to become a rail stop because quicksand ruined the original plan. The Attorney General, Hedley Lamarr, plans to use this change to make himself millions of dollars by swindling the townspeople out of the land. Preying on their racism, he cons the governor to decree that an African American be sheriff of the all-Anglo town. Because they are all white and named Johnson, they do not take to the sheriff at first.
Sheriff Bart normally would be the victim in a story like this, but Brooks is a master satirist. Early in the film, the work detail boss, Lyle, wants the group of African American track layers to sing a spiritual. Bart uses the moment to trick the group of Anglos to sing one themselves. During his introduction to the Johnsons of Rock Ridge, Sheriff Bart has to trick the crowd into putting their guns away after learning he is African American. He beings to earn his stripes with the community when he arrests the town menace, Mongo, for bullying the people and disturbing the peace. Repeated tries by Lamarr to ruin Sheriff Bart fail, and he, former public drunk the Waco Kid, and the townspeople eventually foil the plot and save the town. As a dominant African American male, Sheriff Bart did not play a stereotypical role. However, many of the peripheral players: the all-Anglo townspeople, politicians, and evildoers all played stereotypical roles in the film.
Because of the story’s plot, the African American characters were initially assigned stereotypical roles. They were the railroad workers who worked in hot conditions for low wages by oppressive Anglo Americans. They looked to Bart for leadership, but they were not portrayed as stereotypical helpless people. The women in the film were portrayed as weaker objects. In the beginning, two men were beating a woman in Rock Ridge in the daylight. Later, Lamarr slapped whore Lili von Shtupp in the face when he did not like what she had to say. Von Shtupp also becomes a subordinate to the stereotypically well-endowed and virile African American male after a one night stand. Both groups of men (and a group of homosexual men) were referred to as faggots by railroad boss Taggart and show director (and presumably homosexual as well) Buddy Bizarre. Although these scenes were set up to satirize such relationships in earlier films, no group was spared in this film.
Today, this film would never be made. Because of political correctness, this movie would never have been greenlit and groups would line up to admonish the film if someone had made it. The jokes would have been equally inappropriate, but the joke would not have worked as well with today’s audience. The fact that Brooks is not racist, misogynist, or homophobic would not have saved him or many of the actors from a media firestorm. Thankfully, Brooks deftly handles such crude humor and makes an enjoyable film to laugh at hate and the simple-mindedness behind it.
Sean, Roy, and special guest Steve (from the Media Meltdown Podcast) discuss summer movies while recording the Synesthesia Podcast on Jaws . Sean and Roy discuss their hatred of Independence Day. Naturally, the conversation moves to The Avengers. It was a huge rabbit trail, but it deserved to be posted and not on the cutting room floor. We hope you enjoy the little extra.
You are the sum of your choices.
The movie, The Words, is a story within a story. Clayton Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is at a literary event where he reads his new novel about a couple named Rory and Dora and their life before and after the release of the critically acclaimed novel, The Window Tears.
Hammond’s main character, Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), is an aspiring writer who spends two years crafting his novel. Dora (Zoe Saldana) is his supportive girlfriend who believes in him enough to live a life without frills. After multiple rejections from New York publishers, Rory finds an entry job delivering mail at a publisher’s office to help find future connections. Though not content with the choice, Rory is forced to find full-time work after the final loan from his father (J.K. Simmons). Rory and Dora marry. At their Paris honeymoon, Rory finds an antique satchel, and Dora purchases it for him.
After returning home, Rory learns there is a manuscript for a novel hidden in a compartment. He reads it and quickly learns the story is far superior to his. Rory retypes the novel on his laptop and Dora accidentally finds it. After she apologizes for invading his privacy, she informs him the novel is too good not to publish. Because she never saw the manila folder with the original typewritten copy, she has no idea someone else wrote it. Rory chooses to pass the work off as his to avoid disappointing her.
As the story continues, his unethical decision unravels slowly. Jansen is confronted by an old man (Jeremy Irons) who may or may not have written the story. He tells the story of his life in France as a young Army soldier during the end of World War II. He meets and marries his wife, and events happen where he writes and loses his masterpiece. After the old man tells his story, Rory is at another impasse. Is the story enough for Rory do the right thing and admit his lie? Does his reputation tank similarly to James Frey (A Million Little Pieces)? Through Hammond’s words, we discover the answers – or do we?
The cast is very good. I like Cooper a lot, and I have always enjoyed Irons and Simmons. I have not seen enough films with Saldana to have an opinion, but so far I like her in what I have seen. The rest of the cast is solid. Olivia Wilde (House) also plays a role in the film as does Michael McKean.
This was a date night movie. I had zero expectations going in because I did not know the movie existed before my wife suggested it. I enjoyed the story and though I will not buy the DVD, I would watch it again if Dawn does or when it ends up on television. After a summer of unmet expectations from the popcorn movies, it was nice to watch a story-driven movie. I am glad I went and saw a movie that would normally not be on my radar.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.