Fury ratchets up the intensity from the opening moments and maintains it for over two hours through the introduction of characters that initially feel stock but become something else – and escalating violence and hints at the erosion of decency that war can cause.
Lawless – John Hillcoat’s latest collaboration with Nick Cave – wants desperately to achieve a Bonnie and Clyde vibe but lacks the panache. Instead, we get a kind of ‘30s Drive with stretches of character punctuated with sudden, explosive violence.
Ok, before I start my rambling, incoherent review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, let’s start with a PSA Announcement. (In my Voiceover voice) Parents, if you don’t know how to control your kids in public, KEEP THEM AT HOME!! God, one of these days, I’m going to get into fisticuffs with these bad, annoying movie goers. But there’s nothing worse than a Parent who won’t control their freaking kids. I swear there was this kid who was talking at the top of his lungs through the ENTIRE movie. It was driving me mad.
One woman got up and left in the beginning of the movie saying “I can’t take this anymore” and yelled at the woman learn to control your kid. Then about a 1 1/2 in, I snapped and yelled at the woman to keep her Kid quiet. Her response almost sent me over the edge, what was it you kind readers ask? “I already asked him to be quiet. He’s 4 years old, what do you expect me to do?” What kind of response could I have to that? It’s called freaking DISCIPLINE! Take the brat out of the theater! Go home! Of course I didn’t say these things, but I desperately wanted to. At first she threatened to take the kid out of the theater and he was like, “No, no… I want to stay.” So of course she did NOTHING, I HATE parents who refuse to control their devil spawn in public. I think we act as enablers for these bad parents, because we are all too scared to say anything. If more people speak up, maybe, in my dream world these parents would get the message that people will no longer put up with these monsters.
Words cannot describe the horrors that was witnessed while watching the latest film from Director Michael Bay. Normally, one would expect to see a great summer blockbuster and a great sequel to boot. Unfortunately, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen fails to impress summer movie audience. With its six acts within two plus hours of boring dialogue, the Bay cliche of blow everything to sky high attitude, emotionless characters, and some twin robots that make you do a double take. The film doesn’t make me go WOW! It makes go HOW LOW can you go.
To cut a long story short. The Autobots have spent the last two years working side by side with the US military to track down remaining Decepticon forces that got away after Megatron was killed in the last movie. But an increased number of Decepticon attacks, plus an ominous warning, has Optimous Prime and the military worried about a coming invasion. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebeouf) is off to college, but he immediately stumbles upon a lost sliver of the ‘AllSpark.’ Contact with the artifact causes a flood of Earth and Cybertron knowledge into his head, once again making Sam a target for the Decepticons.
Eagle Eye marks the fourth time Shia LeBeouf has worked on a Steven Spielberg production, and the second time that he’s worked with both Spielberg and director D.J. Caruso – and the triple team may well be turning into one of modern cinema’s most potent.
Eagle Eye is a techno-thriller that comes across as a twisted tale that might make Tom Clancy duck for cover. It opens with a missile launch intended to take out a major terrorist – a launch that is undertaken with only a 51% chance of the target being correctly identified. From there we move into the life of Jerry Shaw [LaBeouf], who seems to be a typical, ambition-free slacker, watching him at work as a “copy associate” for Kinko’s-like copy shop; fleecing a few friends in a poker game, and attending the funeral of his identical twin brother.
The next part of the film is pretty much what we got in the trailer: Jerry finding a lot of money in his account and a lot of weapons components in his living room: the warning call and his being taken in by the FBI – introducing us to Special Agent Thomas Morgan [Billy Bob Thornton] – and his escape by incredible means and ultimately, his teaming up with Rachel Holliman [Monaghan], whose participation in what follows is coerced by threats to her son. From there, we do, eventually, learn the identity of the mysterious female voice that can call them even from pay phones, or a cell phone belonging to the napping guy across from Shaw on a train.
Part of the reason that Eagle Eye works is that a lot of it [but not all, as you’ll see when you learn the identity of the mystery woman] is technically feasible right now. The film hooks us with what’s possible then draws into the realms of the definitely not yet real. The transition is smooth and the shocking reveal of the source of the voice, and the over-the-top plot that follows, zip by quickly enough that we buy them in the context of the film. The way all the various parts of the film connect may be a bit of a stretch, but the sheer fun of the film supersedes that.
LaBeouf does a good job as slacker Jerry; Thornton keeps Agent Morgan from being just another federal grunt, and Rosario Dawson simmers as an Air force investigator looking into the death of Jerry’s brother – though Monaghan is barely adequate as Rachel.
Michael Chiklis gets the role of the Secretary of Defence Callister – a role that leads everyone to the key plot point of the film: the identity of the mysterious female voice that hounds Jerry and Rachel – and the voice’s grandiose plans.
The special effects are very good and the CGI have enough weight that we buy them even if they are used to create something that is way over the edge of the possible. There may be a nod to societal commentary in the way that various devices [security cameras, traffic cameras and cell phones among them] are used to shred the duo’s privacy, but it’s a surface thing that comes as the by-product of a thriller that aims more toward entertaining than saying stuff.
Ok, I’ll admit I’ve always been pretty ambivalent towards the Indiana Jones trilogy. I liked Raiders well enough, but loathed Temple of Doom – it’s completely un-watchable, while Last Crusade was meh. So when they announced that they were finally going to do Indy 4 I could not have cared less. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull returns the series to it’s Raiders glory. This is the film that should have followed the Raiders, it’s pretty much a direct sequel with many nods to the first film and in the final moments brings everything full circle. When this film works, it works really well, but there’s still that strange sense of deja-vu. It feels like you are watching the original again, only 20 years later with slightly different characters and plot. Maybe it’s because I watched Raiders the night before the screening so it was still fresh in my mind. But everything felt familiar instead of Nazi’s you had Russians, instead of Belloq we had Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), instead of the Ark we had this goofy looking Crystal Skull which looked exactly like the head from one of the Alien films. I can see the crossover fan fiction already. This familiarity isn’t a bad thing – especially considering how completely out of sync Temple of Doom feels like when I watch it. It put a smile on my face the first time Indy (Harrison Ford) is re-introduced to the world in shadow with his hat and the first time you hear the classic John Williams theme again. It’s like I’m a kid again. I don’t care what anyone says John Williams is the greatest film composer of our times. You don’t have a soul if the Raiders theme doesn’t get your blood pumping. No many how many times it’s replayed it during the movie. The opening 30 minutes of Raiders is simply, brilliant is too strong a word, exhilarating is better. But then something happens that starts to derail things and it pains me to say it, because we love him here at EM and I’ve met him a couple of times, Shia LaBeouf brings everything to a screeching halt. Everything about his character is just horrible: from the stupid name – (Mutt Williams) to the greaser, bad boy attitude, to the playing with his pocket knife and his habit of combing his hair when he’s nervous. None of it works, it just doesn’t ring true. Shia isn’t the bad boy, James Dean type. He’s the normal kid who gets into trouble because he’s a smart ass.
Awhile ago, when I was yelling at people that Atonement wasn’t a “complex” plot (just stupid) and that there’s no such thing as “complex” plots just poorly scripted films, I may have to eat my words. I find myself on the fence as to whether this movie is overly complex or stupid. There’s a fine line between the two and I think David Koepp (screenplay), George Lucas (story) and Jeff Nathanson‘s script walks that fine line. This movie takes place right in the middle of the Cold War scare and in the opening there are several references to the witch hunt and how this isn’t “our America,” anymore. But then the next few scenes you have Russian agents speaking in heavy Russian accents in the middle of an Ice-Cream parlor and chasing Indy all over town. Not to mention they break into a top secret military base. The FBI would be completely incompetent if they didn’t investigate all the obvious Russian activity. The writers want to make a political statement, but this obviously isn’t the film for it. Even if it is set during that paranoid period in our history. They would have been better off just ignoring the subtext then trying to shoehorn one in. Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you. And politicians and government agencies are always out to capitalize on it, just look at our current situation.
All of the major action set pieces also feel like stuff that we’ve seen in the other three films only longer. There’s one chase sequence that’s fun for the first 5 minutes but 10 or 15 minutes in, I was like – I get the point, let’s move on already. This is a b to the w action film with little character development or progression. No one in this film has grown since Raiders. Which actually is a good thing, it’s what we’re comfortable with as an audience and really, why mess with a formula that works. But back to the plot, without giving anything away instead of chasing an ancient artifact, this time Indy gets caught up in a Russian Spy’s (Irina) quest for an object that promises untold knowledge and treasure. I won’t say more than that, but the film’s 3rd act feels like poorly constructed fan fiction. A great what if Indy discovered….It’s really nice special effects, but what happens in the end is almost exactly what happens at the end of Raiders. After the ride Steven Spielberg takes us on, I somehow expected something more, I don’t know, original. I can’t see Shia being able to carry an entire Indy film by himself, but it’s clear that’s where Spielberg and Lucas want to go. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t a perfect film, but it’s far more satisfying as a whole than the sum of it’s parts.
Final Grade B
EM Review by Michelle Alexandria Originally Posted 5.22.08
I haven’t done much coverage of the upcoming Indiana Jones film but here’s some interesting news, the teaser trailer debuts in theaters this weekend. Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. announced today that the first teaser trailer for the highly anticipated Indiana Jones adventure “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford in the title role, will debut in theaters across the globe on February 14, 2008. The trailer will air exclusively on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Immediately thereafter, the footage will be available at the film’s official site IndianaJones.com, Yahoo! Movies and in motion picture theaters.
On May 22, Indiana Jones is back in a new globe-trotting adventure, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford as Indy, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a Lucasfilm Ltd. Production. The movie features an outstanding cast, including Oscar® winner Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent and Shia LaBeouf. Frank Marshall is the film’s producer. George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy are the executive producers. The screenplay is by David Koepp from a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. It’s pretty interesting and ironic that Shia, David and Jeff Nathanson have all talked exclusively with Eclipse in the past and will be featured in the upcoming EM Interview book.