Fans of the book will probably come away feeling satisfied at this big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s landmark science fiction novel but there is also no doubting that the final product feels inherently cramped, truncated and altogether missing a large dose of heart. Editing the dense source material into a two hour feature film was always going to be a Herculean task and though director/writer Gavin Hood does an admirable job of hitting all the major plot points the fact remains that it might have served the source material better if this project were instead a 10 episode HBO show where the complex nuances, allegories and character development would surely have added to the rich tapestry that Card had crafted.
I’m probably going to be in the minority here but Wilson Yip’s A Chinese Ghost Story remake of the 1987 classic of the same name, originally staring Joey Wong and Leslie Cheung, is more than a competent take on the tale that will achieve its primary goal – in bringing the story to a new generation of fans who, have no compunction to ever rent or buy a movie older than five years of age. That is not to say this new version is in any way better than the original but it does at least attempt to mix things up with a radical revision to the primary love story that puts a new spin on old material. Some will like it and others will rant at the dying of the light that this new version is sacrileges but they would be missing a decent tragic romance that at least is much more restrained than other recent fair that attempts emotional manipulation with the razor sharp skill of an abattoir butcher (I’m looking at you, The Sorcerer and the White Snake).
While there is no doubt that Ron Moore’s rebooted Battlestar Galactica was a massive hit with both fans and critics the same can’t be said about its subsequent incarnations as Caprica tanked in the ratings while the prequel Blood and Chrome never even received a season order as its pilot was unceremoniously dumped onto the Internet to premiere as a series of webisodes. It is actually a somewhat startling series of events since, at one point, it seemed as if the reboot would be able to spawn myriad spin-offs much like Star Trek did not so long ago but as it stands today, this incarnation of Galactica is officially dead and buried.
Director Kasper Barfoed’s The Numbers Station is an incomprehensibly boorish cinematic experience that feels totally devoid of ambition. I despise using sports metaphors, yet this is the sort of movie where everyone seems to be content in getting base hits rather than aiming for a home run. This general lackadaisical attitude permeates every aspect of the film from murky ill-lit environments to John Cusack’s bored visage to even the screenplay which is so shoddily constructed from genre spare parts that it feels as if it is about to break down in virtually every scene. It is no surprise that the movie has been graced with a limited global rollout as box office prospects are decidedly dim even from rentals.
Director Roland Emmerich is well-known for his grand disaster movies from an alien invasion in Independence Day to the world basically ending in 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, this is a man who clearly revels in blowing things up in an epic scale which is why his newest film White House Down actually feels like an indie movie as there’s not as much destruction going on. Sure, the White House and a few other buildings get knocked around a bit but that’s nothing new considering Emmerich has made a career out of blowing up the White House and this time around the focus isn’t global calamity but rather in concocting a movie that feels inspired by Die Hard except with a more family-oriented PG-13 rating. It just doesn’t work.
Unless a miracle happens Keanu Reeves will probably never win an Academy Award for Best Actor but if Man of Tai Chi proves anything it is that Reeves might have a different career path behind the camera once his wooden acting days are over. Reeves has never been considered as an acting giant but give the man some credit as his laid back attitude works depending on the material he is given. Man of Tai Chi has Reeves doing double duty playing the film’s major antagonist as well as being its director. Yes, this is his directorial debut and while it isn’t anything special there are a few hints that perhaps Reeves really has been paying attention to all the good directors he has had the pleasure of working with.
Epic is not exactly a bad movie but its mediocrity is a total bore. Parents will probably mentally check out around the ten minute mark and although kids might be entertained I doubt most of them will even remember what they saw once they leave the cinema. If you are going to do an adventure yarn targeted to kids at least don’t stick so closely to the traditional formula and if you really are going to lift material from elsewhere you better put your own spin on it or else many will call you out as a total hack.
Director Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen is an exasperatingly dumb movie with an altogether ridiculous plot focusing on North Korean terrorists taking over the White House and holding the President and his staff hostage in order to force America to withdraw its forces from South Korea. However, as hackneyed as the plot sounds, the movie actually works because it never pretends to be anything more than a modern update of the Die Hard formula that pits one man against insurmountable odds.