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Rob’s Review: Getaway

Getaway on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

C
The Good:

Good, brainless action
Some interesting shots


The Bad:

Ridiculous premise
Some action shots don't match

Cast & Crew:

Writer: Sean Finegan, Gregg Maxwell Parker
Director: Courtney Solomon
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake

Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language.

Getaway gives you pretty much exactly what you expect out of it. The premise itself is utterly ridiculous, but if you turn your brain off it delivers a satisfactory amount of excitement.

 Getaway on Cinedraft.com

Ethan Hawke’s wife is kidnapped, and a mysterious stranger informs him that if he wants to see her again he needs to steal a car that has been specially set up with cameras to watch him and do whatever the mysterious voice tells him for the rest of the night. He picks up a passenger during the night when Selena Gomez tries to steal her car back from Hawke and we find “the voice” has planned this all along.

As I said, the premise is just ridiculous. It depends on “the voice” being pretty much omnipotent, seeing all, knowing all, predicting everything, and being able to magically change anything he wants. It makes no sense logically, but it serves to propel the action. Likewise, Gomez’s character is the stereotypical magical hacker who just happens to be able to tap into video feeds from her iPad and do anything else the writer needs them to do.

Getaway on Cinedraft.comThe film is basically one big chase scene, and the cinematographer’s default choice for chase scenes seems to be “well, let’s throw a GoPro on the hood and use that”. It provides some interesting angles (and one really nice, really long continuous shot from the Shelby’s hood as it veers through traffic), but it also gives us shots that don’t quite seem to match the rest of the shots, pulling you out of the movie a bit.

Getaway is kind of half Speed, and half The Net (without the Sandra Bullock in both cases). It’s mindless entertainment that you don’t need to rush out to see but that you’ll end up stopping to watch when you flip by it on TV in the future.








Rob’s Review: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Lee Daniels' The Butler on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

A-
The Good:

Excellent performances from Whitaker and Oyelowo
Works as a father-son drama


The Bad:

Presidents universally miscast.
Plays fast and loose with actual history

Cast & Crew:

Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey,David Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda

Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking

Lee Daniels’ The Butler gets off to a kind of rapey and murdery start.  Forrest Whitaker’s Cecil Gaines grows up in the south, and when his mother is raped and his father is murdered by their employer, the matriarch of the employing family moves young Cecil into the house to be a servant. Cecil knows this won’t end well, so after some training he runs off and finds employment at a hotel, where he begins to learn the fine art of buttling. Eventually he moves to Washington D.C. where he begins working at a fine hotel, and eventually he is discovered and offered a job at the White House, where he serves every President from Eisenhower to Reagan.

 The Butler on Cinedraft.com

The film gives us little glimpses of (most of) these presidents (they skip right over Ford and Carter), mostly looking at Civil Rights in that era, contrasting civil rights discussions in the White House with the experience of Gaines’ son, a Freedom Rider in the South. The meat of the movie is in Gaines’ relationship with his son and the rest of his family, but these little peeks inside the White House do a pretty good job of humanizing the Presidents, even if they can’t do any one of them justice.

The presidents are pretty much universally miscast, the filmmakers seeming to care more about having actors you’d recognize more than actors who would actually make you think they ARE that president. The makeup on them is generally good though, and it’s exceptional on Forrest Whitaker himself. You see Gaines over the majority of his life and Whitaker always looks the part.

 The Butler on Cinedraft.com

Oprah is good as Gaines’ wife, but the real standout of the supporting cast is David Oyewolo as Gaines’ son Louis. He’s really almost a co-lead as he grows up in the midst of the civil rights movement, going away to college to be in the civil rights movement, becomes a Freedom Rider, travels with Dr. King, becomes a Black Panther and comes back to the mainstream. Louis goes through a huge arc, and Oyewolo makes it all believable.

There will be Oscar nominations to come out of this film, and it’s an important story, if not a terribly historically accurate one. It’s “inspired” by the story of a real butler at the White House, but the parts of the narrative that work the best definitely came from the mind of Danny Strong. And I can’t fault the film for that, because they ARE the parts that work the best. Those who are getting upset about “President X didn’t really think that” or “the real Butler didn’t have a son in Vietnam” are missing the real point of the movie (though so are any who might go the other direction, putting too much faith in its accuracy).  It doesn’t gel perfectly, and this isn’t really the story of the Butler who worked at the White House forever, it’s the story of a father and a son during the civil rights movement, and as that alone it works.








Rob’s Quick Review: The Wolverine

The Wolverine on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

C-
The Good:

Bones of a good story are there.
Technically proficient.


The Bad:

Not nearly enough plot for the runtime.
Takes too long to get to the important points.
Undercuts Wolverine's real character.

Cast & Crew:

Written by: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Directed by: James Mangold
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language

Dear Fox,

Please check in with Marvel.  They seem to have figured out how to make a superhero movie, but you’ve just never gotten the hang of it, have you? With The Wolverine you’ve managed to cram 75 minutes of plot into 126 minutes.  I know that about 20 minutes of that seems to have been invested in constantly having  turn around and stare at the camera while we watch him instantly heal, but that still leaves you with a good half-hour too much movie. Don’t get me wrong, Wolverine in Japan battling the Silver Samurai was a good idea, you just took too much time actually getting him to Japan, and FAR too much time actually getting to the Silver Samurai.

Wolverine’s 3 primary powers are stabbing people, healing, and being a dick. I know it’s hard to make a PG-13 movie about a guy whose primary power is stabbing lots of people, so I get why the stabbing-to-blood ratio is so high, but you’re even undercutting his bloodless dickishness, like when he throws somebody out the window of a high rise only to have them land in a pool that Wolverine didn’t know was there. The bones of a good Wolverine movie were there in that plot, but you just don’t seem to know how to infuse the adamantium and make those bones shine.

Sincerely,

Rob








Rob’s Quick Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

C-
The Good:

Magnificent world-building.
Spectacular special effect.


The Bad:

Writing doesn't keep up with the visuals.
One-dimensional characters.
No real substance to match the visual flash.

Cast & Crew:

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Idris Elba, Charlie Day & Ron Perlman

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language

Pacific Rim has magnificent world-building, and spectacular special effects. It’s just visually breathtaking. (Even if I do wish the Mech/Kaiju fights were obscured less by rain and the night.)  Unfortunately the writing doesn’t keep up with the visuals. It has a good framework there, but nothing’s really properly fleshed out from a character perspective. The characters are closer to action figures than they are to real people, they’ve very one-dimensional. Yes, the Kaiju do a lot of damage to the city of Hong Kong in Pacific Rim, but I’m pretty sure about half that damage is actually just from Ron Perlman chewing through the scenery. (Which actually isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was more than ready for a character to at least be memorable.) If you’re looking for a visual feast then Pacific Rim has you covered, but if you’re looking for anything more substantial then Pacific Rim just melts away like cotton candy.

*Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures








Rob’s Review: The Great Gatsby

Letter Grade:
(?)

A-
The Good:

Masterful performance from DiCaprio.
Superb visuals give the film a dream-like quality.
Gave me a much greater appreciation for the book.


The Bad:

Loses its way in the middle and meanders about for a while before picking up again.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan
Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language

If you go into Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby just looking for a happy-go-lucky interpretation of the hedonistic Roaring 20s (and the party scenes ARE wondrous), you’re going to be disappointed. If you go in with an appreciation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel then I think you’ll be very pleased. (more…)