All posts by Irwin

Project X

Bill I’s Review – 1.5 out of 5

Where do I start? First, I am not the target demographic for this experience; I’m probably a factor of 3 times older than that! Why did I even go? Because I love fun, stupid movies that have nutty scenes such as The Hangover, Superbad, Bruno, and American Pie, as long as they are witty. Early Spoiler Alert…Project X is not witty. Ferris Bueller it’s not, although it certainly has some of its key elements. Although Project X brought to mind some wild college parties I attended back in the day, watching this film was more like watching a film of those parties, instead of actually participating in one. (actually I never even heard of a party as wild as in Project X, but memory enhances). Not so exciting if you’re not there, drinking, laughing, going stupid wild. It did keep me in my seat and had me smiling at various points, and its lead actors are OK, but more of the level of Triple AAA minor league versions of Johah Hill, Michael Cera, and Seann William Scott. I remember when I first watched Animal House, and like everyone rooted for Belushi and his frat buddies…for Project X I most identified with the middle aged-neighbor who asked for the party to shut down, too noisy since he needed to go to sleep to get up for work in the morning, or he’d call the police. I’ve fought this battle in my own house plenty of times. Most of you might want to spend your time reminiscing instead of going to this movie, unless you are under 17 and fantasizing about someday going to a party like this. By they way, the music is real good. And I guarantee, the idea of flying dog with balloons came from Howard Stern’s show, innovative as usual.

Safe House

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
Reminiscent (or just a copy) of the Bourne movies, this has all the key elements: government agents who are either rogue or legitimate (you won’t know till the end), a tightly wound middle-aged female 2nd in charge (here played by Vera Famiglia), in conflict with world weary older dude (Brendan Gleeson), GQ-looking agent on the run (Ryan Reynolds) with a cute foreign lover (Nora Arnezeder), bad guys everywhere with bullets flying, brutal fight scenes both in close quarters and in and out of third world buildings and roof tops, exotic and run-down locales, I could go on and on, including the same cinematographer (Oliver Wood). But this film has Denzel, who steals every scene he’s in, often by just sitting handcuffed or standing observing. He doesn’t need much dialogue to convey his character. This is fast paced, quick cutting action, that kept me riveted throughout. Don’t worry too much about the plot, like I said, there’s bad guys after good guys, or vice versa, you find out at the end. Which by the way, decides to copy the latest Mission Impossible instead of Bourne. I don’t think that gives away anything. Enjoy the fun and mothers, don’t let your boys grow up to be secret agents!

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

I know it’s boring when we agree, but I think Bill’s review is right on! Starting with the strength of Denzel’s performance, the reminiscence to the Bourne movies (although not as good) and all the way to the similarity to the Mission Impossible ending.

While I liked most of the action scenes, I did find the quick cutting made a couple of them tough to follow and just hoped the right people were winning (I thought that in the Bourne movies too!).

In addition to the fine performance by Washington, I thought Ryan Reynolds was very good too.

As Bill I. said, the CIA bad guy was pretty arbitrarily chosen and the plot should not be focused on.  If you are an action fan, this movie is ok although not great.

IMDB – Safe House

RottenTomatoes – Safe House

The Grey

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 Stars

This reminded me of 27 Hours combined with The Blob, with Liam Neeson and his group of fellow Biig Oil workers marooned post airline crash and nasty wolves snapping up any slow or wounded stragglers. Where was Captain Sully? Katie (my daughter) thought the wolves were not realistic, but that did not bother me; they were scary and when they attacked it was effective. Tension was kept throughout, balanced with some hazy sentimental flashbacks. Liam plays a character similar to the one he played in Taken: a veteran dude, knows-it-all, wastes no time in taking action, and is above all a survivor. My one quibble: watch for the scene where the group stands on a cliff, and hears a river way down below. Then when they make it all the way to this noisy river it’s as calm as a small pond. Later, Liam extricates hiimself from raging rapids, and you see the stream is now about 10 feet in width and again back to calm. Where did all the water go? Anyway, this is entertaining and yes, there’s a quick scene at the end of the credits.

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Poor Liam Neeson! His life is going from bad to  worse. The love of his life is gone, he’s in a plane crash and then when he survives that, he and the other survivors have to deal with these really ticked off wolves that  are out for blood while trying not to freeze to death, starve or just get stuck in very deep snow.

Liam plays the alpha male of the human pack trying to lead them to safety (while dealing with his personal demons) and hoping to get his shot at the alpha male of the wolves. Liam deserves credit for being an action hero with movies like this and Taken while in his late 50s.

The tension between the wolves and survivors (and between the survivors) is good.   This isn’t really my type of movie so it’s easy for me to poke holes in some of the situations, etc. but if you are into this sort of movie then you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did.

IMDB – The Grey

Rotten Tomatoes – The Grey

Liam Neeson stars in the survival thriller, “The Grey.”

The Artist

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

I finally got around to seeing the non-talkie The Artist, which has been touted by many as one of the best of 2011. I cannot rank it as one of my ten favorites for the year, especially since my eyelids kept trying to close on me. I guess it’s the best that could have been done without any dialogue, and the leading characters were certainly charismatic and expressive, especially Uggie the wonder dog (best supporting actor candidate?). If this had conventional dialogue, it would be evident how banal the story line is. I loved the last 5 minutes however, which was cleverly done, but in retrospect I’d rather spend my entertainment time watching some of the episodes of Treme I have saved on my dvr at home. Bill C., please pipe in with your review, I believe you liked it more than did I.

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

This film did make my top 10 list, although I understand (and expected) Bill I to enjoy it less than I did. I viewed this homage to a bygone era of Hollywood movie-making as fresh and unique. I enjoyed the nods to Douglass Fairbanks, Chaplin (see A Dog’s Life if you get the chance), Rodgers and Astaire, A Star is Born, Singing in the Rain, and a bunch I’m sure I missed.

The performances (dog included) were all top-notch (they are all great smilers except for the dog) and, like Bill I, I really enjoyed the ending. There were a lot of nice little moments in the film as well. I agree with Bill I that the plot was very basic, especially compared to many of today’s movies, but for me that was consistent with some of the movies it was paying homage to and added to its charm.

Bottom line: I enjoyed this a lot, but if you’re looking for a plot-driven movie, this might not be the movie for you.

Photo added by Bill I.

The Artist – IMDB

The Artist – Rotten Tomatoes