Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stunning Cinematography and 3D Can't Save This Film From Feeling Lifeless to Us: Our Review of "Life of Pi" (2012)

Directed By: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall

Rating: PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril

Run Time: 2 hour, 7 minutes

Synopsis: When Pi Patel (Sharma) and his family travel by freighter across the Pacific to move their zoo animals to Canada, a large storm sinks their ship, leaving Pi as the only human survivor. Stranded at sea for almost a year and only a dangerous Bengal tiger as his companion, Pi battles with the faith he lost as a child while struggling with the elements to stay alive.


Andrew: Hello readers! Earlier this week Sarah and I caught a matinee showing of the new film adaptation of Yann Martel's immensely popular 2001 novel, Life of Pi, directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee. Told through flashbacks, the film is about the survival of an Indian teenager named Pi (short for Piscine, named after a French swimming pool, natch) who gets stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean after the cargo freighter his family’s zoo was being transported on sinks, with his only company for 227 days out on the sea is a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

This was a film whose trailer we've seen numerous times; it’s one that I don’t think either one of us was necessarily excited about seeing, though I did want to see it because it was shot in 3D, not post-converted. Ang Lee has said numerous times that he didn't think “Life of Pi” was a filmable book until he decided to give it a shot in 3D.

So that’s why I wanted to see it, but I know you weren’t too particularly jazzed about seeing this one. Now that we've seen it, what did you think of Life of Pi?

Sarah: I’m still a wondering a little bit what all the fuss was about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful movie. It’s beautiful. But like Avatar, most of the movie’s stock seems to ride on the special effects and the 3D. I wasn’t blown away. I thought that the story was…not weak…I just never read the book, it never appealed to me, and it still doesn’t appeal to me. It’s not like I want to rush home and read the book now.

I don’t know. It was pretty, but that’s about all I can say about how I truly feel about Life of Pi. Sorry, but it’s true.

Life of Pi, based on the novel of the same name, largely takes place on or around a lifeboat adrift in the
Pacific where Pi Patel must survive the elements and a tiger named Richard Parker.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Some Decent Action Scenes Can't Save This Needless Remake: Our Review of "Red Dawn" (2012)

Directed By: Dan Bradley 

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language

Run Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Synopsis: U.S. Marine Jed Eckert (Hemsworth) is home on leave, visiting his father and younger brother, Matt (Peck), when North Korean soldiers suddenly invade their hometown. Jed and Matt flee to the woods, form a rebellion with a group of friends they saved, call themselves Wolverines after their high school mascot, and attempt to save their town. A remake of the 1984 original.


Andrew: Hello readers! The other night Sarah and I joined the crowds looking to see a movie the night before Thanksgiving, where we joined a relatively full crowd in seeing the new Red Dawn remake starring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson. Red Dawn, much like The Cabin in the Woods, was originally filmed in 2009 starring a pre-Thor Hemsworth, but shelved thanks to MGM’s bankruptcy problems and is just now getting released in 2012.

Sarah, you haven’t seen the original 1984 version starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and other notable 80’s actors, correct?

Sarah: That is correct. I didn’t even know Swayze and Sheen were in it.

A: Then I can tell you that the new version is relatively faithful to the original. Most of the character names are exactly the same…

S: What about the story? I know the original version had the Russians as the invading enemy and the new one changed it to North Korea.

A: That’s one of the two big differences for sure. The two differences are that A.) they’ve moved the setting from Colorado to Spokane, Washington, and B.) they’ve changed the villains from the Russians to the North Koreans.

Now, when they originally filmed the movie in 2009 the bad guys were actually the Chinese…

Chris Hemsworth headlines the cast of young up-and-comers in the remake of 1984's Red Dawn. Ironically, he filmed this in 2009 before hitting it big in 2011's Thor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dreamworks' Latest Animated Film Is Sure To Be a Holiday Hit: Our Review of "Rise of the Guardians" (2012)

Directed By: Peter Ramsey 

Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Isla Fisher

Rating: PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Synopsis: A magical and secret group called The Guardians of Childhood - comprised of Santa Claus (Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Fisher) and the Sandman - protect the hopes and dreams of children worldwide. Through their classic duties (i.e. delivering Christmas gifts, Easter eggs, leaving gifts for lost teeth) they must maintain children's belief in them in order to protect them.  But when an ancient evil named Pitch (Law) rises from the darkness and threatens the Guardians' very existence, they must reach out to the lonely and misunderstood Jack Frost (Pine) to join them in their cause.


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I were able to catch an advance showing of this holiday season’s newest animated film, Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians, based on William Joyce’s “The Guardians of Childhood” book series. In a neat spin on some classic childhood characters, the film’s protagonists – The Guardians, if you will – are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and their newest member, Jack Frost.

Sarah: And here they’re all called something different: Santa Claus is just called North, the Easter Bunny is E. Astor Bunnymund, the Tooth Fairy is simply Tooth and the Sandman is called Sandy.

A: Correct. And what the Guardians do, essentially, is protect children’s wishes, hopes, dreams, etc. and try their best to bring joy to kids around the world. They strive to continually ensure that children "believe" in them, because it's only through strong belief do they truly exist, and only when they exist can they defend the children against evil forces that may threaten them, particularly The Boogeyman…

North (a.k.a. Santa Claus) explains to Jack Frost that every light on their globe is a child who believes in the Guardians' existence, while Tooth, Sandy and Bunnymund watch from the side. It's really a neat idea that's executed quite well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Twilight Film That Actually Shows Some Promise, But Still Isn't Very Good: Our Review of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two" (2012)

Directed By: Bill Condon (Dreamgirls

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Synopsis: Bella (Stewart) has just been turned into a vampire by her husband, Edward (Pattinson), following the complicated birth of their daughter, Renesmee. While enjoying the vampire life and marriage at first, a threat to their family rises after the Volturi are mistakenly told Bella and Edward's daughter is an illegal vampire child. Knowing a showdown is looming, the Cullen clan scours the globe trying to recruit as many friends as they can to back up their claim that Renesmee is no threat to the Volturi...but will it be enough to avoid a death sentence?


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I braved the throngs of teenage girls and caught a showing of the fifth and final entry in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two. Sarah, this is more your cup of tea, so why don’t you quickly break this one down for us?

Sarah: Well as you said this is the fifth movie in the series, having split the fourth and final book in the series into two films (as the trend seems to be nowadays). So picking up right where the last film left off, we see Kristen Stewart’s Bella as a vampire now as she is discovering her new strengths and abilities. The past four movies we’ve really seen Bella as a bumbling, clumsy teenager who is super-awkward and now we see her come into her own, like this was what she was always meant to be.

Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella also have a newborn daughter, Renesmee, who is alive and well but is growing at an alarming rate and because no one has ever had experience dealing with a half-human, half-vampire hybrid no one knows if she’ll keep growing this fast, if she’ll age too quickly, will grow old and die in a short period of time, etc. And maybe more importantly the Volturi, the vampire police, are informed of Renesmee’s existence and are lead to believe she’s an Immortal Child, which is a child that has been bitten and turned, which is illegal. That’s not the case with Renesmee, so the Cullen clan goes around the world trying to scrounge up “witnesses” to testify to the Volturi that she isn’t an Immortal Child. That’s about the first three-quarters of the film.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Preview of This Week's New Releases (for Friday, November 16th)

Andrew: Hello readers! Our weekly preview is back after a one-week hiatus, and while it's not going to be a particularly long preview, there are definitely some talking points here for us to touch on. Sarah, there are only two wide releases for this weekend - the final installment of the hugely popular Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, and Steven Spielberg’s Abraham Lincoln biopic, Lincoln. We'll also briefly touch on a smaller film we've been waiting for that has finally hit our neck of the woods, The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.

So let's start this off with the new Twilight movie, shall we? Sarah, can you summarize what the last film is about? Where does it pick up from where the last one left off?

Sarah: Well in the first part of Breaking Dawn, we finally get to see Kristen Stewart’s Bella and Robert Pattinson’s Edward tie the knot and the final breakdown of Taylor Lautner’s Jacob as he realizes that that Bella will never be his. While Bella and Edward are on their honeymoon, she makes the grave discovery that she is somehow pregnant...and apparently a couple of months along. This is what happens when you get are impregnated by a vampire, people!. The rest of the story follows Bella on her very painful pregnancy as the baby grows at an accelerated rate and basically sucks the life out of her. The Cullens quickly realize that the only way she is ever going to survive the birth is if she is turned to a vampire at the right moment. The movie ends with Jacob imprinting on the Edward/Bella baby and Bella opening her blood red eyes. 

I have to say I am excited to see this one; a little bit because I am ready for it to be over, a little bit because I want to see some vampires kicking butt. I am hoping to see Michael Sheen more in this one, because he plays such a good vampire as the head of the vampire police, the Volturi. It is one of the most anticipated movies of the holiday season, so I will be interested to see if it lives up to the hype.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Six Pack Of... Movies We're Still Looking Forward To In 2012

Andrew: Hello readers! Sorry that we've been a little quiet the past few days, been a little busy with the day-jobs. We wanted to break that silence with a new Six-Pack, and it dawned on us today that the year 2012 is going to be OVER in just 7 weeks, but there are still a LOT of movies that will be coming out between now and then that we're very excited to see! So we put the two together, and now, for you reading enjoyment, A Six-Pack Of Movies We're Still Looking Forward To In 2012!

1.) HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (December 7th)

Sarah: I'm going to do this by date and the first movie that I am going to start with is Hyde Park on Hudson. This movie is about the love affair between Franklin Roosevelt and his distant cousin, Margaret Suckley. The story centers around a weekend spent in upstate New York when the King and Queen of England came to visit. Starring Bill Murray as FDR, Laura Linney as Margaret, along with Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman and Samuel West, this is one that I have been really looking forward to ever since I saw the first trailer for it. I love period piece movies so this, of course, was right up my alley. We haven't really had a lot of movies where FDR has been the star so it will be interesting to see a different side of a famous President. I am excited to see how Linney and Murray play off each other. The one concern that I have it that it could be a bit of a snoozer, but I'm really hoping that's not the case!

Official Trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson

Saturday, November 10, 2012

After Such a Long Wait We Expected a Better Movie Than This: Our Review of "Lincoln" (2012)

Directed By: Steven Spielberg 

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn

Rating: PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language

Run Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes

Synopsis: During what would be the final few months of his life, President Abraham Lincoln (Day-Lewis) struggles with the politics and ethics of trying to end the Civil War and get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed while avoiding the scenario of getting one result at the expense of the other.


Andrew: We’re posting this a little late, but Sarah and I were able to catch an advance screening of Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln, his long-awaited biopic of Honest Abe. It has a cavalcade of stars, headlined by two-time Academy Award-winer Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) in the title role, along with supporting turns by Sally Field (The Amazing Spider-Man), Tommy Lee Jones (Hope Springs), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) and a whole lot of other actors.

Sarah: Just about anyone you can think of was in this movie.

A: Pretty much! Obviously it’s a biographical film of Abraham Lincoln, but it only the last few months of his life, particularly during the final weeks prior to the House of Representatives voting to approve the 13th Amendment. It’s a very small but important part of his life and his fight to end slavery.

So Sarah, while this was a movie that was in gestation for quite some time (Spielberg has been trying to get this movie made for years with Liam Neeson attached at one point to star as Lincoln), we haven’t been totally jazzed to see it. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we weren’t enamored with War Horse.  We’re probably in the minority about this, but when we saw the trailer for Lincoln, it gave us flashbacks to War Horse didn’t it?

Do not be fooled by the trailer for Lincoln. Most of the movie takes place in a room like this or in the House of Republicans' chambers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Five Reasons Why... Andrew Loves The James Bond Series

Andrew: So far during our 7 Days of 007 week, Sarah and I have been able to watch and review a James Bond movie every night, but tonight Sarah had to work late, so we’re not going to be able to review one tonight. Instead, I felt like this would be a good chance to share exactly why I love this series so much. I thought about it all day, and these are the Five Reasons Why I love the James Bond Series.

When I was a kid I almost felt like Desmond Llewelyn's Q was
another grandfather to me. That's how often I watched thesefilms.
1.) The Gadgets – Let’s be honest, there isn’t a single guy out there who has seen any of the Bond movies who WASN’T jealous of all the cool gadgets MI6’s Q Branch creates. Off the top of my head I can think of a watch with a laser cutter (GoldenEye), a jetpack (Thunderball), a briefcase with hidden guns and knife (From Russia With Love), the Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger),  a magnetic watch (Live and Let Die) and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Bond used Q’s gadgets to get out of jams, to gain information…pretty much anything you can think of (yes, including undressing women!) Q Branch was absent from Daniel Craig’s first two Bond films, but Skyfall sees the character resurrected by Ben Whishaw in a nice modern take on Major Boothroyd. I’m excited to see what inventions he comes up with for 007 in future installments. 

2.) The Girls – Oh c’mon, of course I couldn't leave out the Bond girls. I am a red-blooded male after all. But it’s not just the attractiveness of the Bond girls, it is how they increasingly became stronger female characters as the series progressed. The series has come a long way since Honey Rider’s famous introduction; from Bond girls like Honey and Tatiana from From Russia With Love who were almost nothing more than pretty faces, to Grace Jones’ May Day, Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onatopp and Halle Berry’s Jinx being strong soldiers/spies on par with 007. Craig’s films have been a mixed bag in this regard with Vesper Lynd being a great one, Quantum of Solace’s being absolutely forgettable, and Skyfall has one hit (Naomie Harris’ Eve) and one miss (Berenice Marloh’s Severine).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7 Days of 007: A Two Tickets For... Retro Review of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969)

Andrew: Hello readers! It’s Day 4 of our 7 Days of 007 and tonight we watched On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the first Bond movie made without Sean Connery as 007. Connery had decided after You Only Live Twice that he was finished with the role, so the producers moved on with a new actor as their star, and they found George Lazenby. He was a model in a commercial the producers saw and was given an audition, which he won. 

Sarah, now that we’ve seen On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, tell me – what did you think of Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond?

Sarah: At first I was a little skeptical as to whether or not he was going to work, but as the movie progressed I actually didn’t mind him! I actually liked him in the role. I felt he did a good job. Sometimes I feel with Connery that he’s a little too smug, like he knows he can get by on his good looks and his charm. I didn’t get that with Lazenby.

I also found this to be much more action-packed than any of the Connery ones we’ve watched this week. Lazenby does a great job with the action scenes, and that separated him from Connery to me. I thought he did a great job.

A: He’s certainly not the greatest actor in the world, but I thought he did fine for character in his only turn as Bond. Like you, at first I wasn’t sure how he’d fit in the role as he starts off kind of bland, but as the movie goes along he kind of starts to come into the character as his own. We got used to it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

7 Days of 007: A Two Tickets For... Retro Review of "Goldfinger" (1964)

Andrew: Hello readers! It’s Day 3 of our 7 Days of 007, and tonight we concluded our Sean Connery portion of the series by watching the 1964 classic Goldfinger. Sarah, what were your thoughts on it? 

Sarah: I liked From Russia With Love better.

A: And why is that?

S: I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s because I had a hard time with the villain being this chubby white guy from England. I had a tough time because he’s more like the intelligent banker who likes his gadgets versus a villain with some brawn that can hit you where it hurts, like we saw with Robert Shaw’s villain in From Russia With Love.

A: To play Devil’s advocate, Goldfinger’s plan was to hit everyone where it, arguably, hurts more – fiscally.  He wasn’t trying to take over the world, he was just trying to get rich.

S: Yes, there are very different bad guys in these first few movies. I think I like the taking-over-the-world bad guys better for James Bond. It’s just personal preference, and I’m aloud to have a personal preference.

A: Absolutely.

S: I will say though, Pussy Galore is by far the strongest Bond girl so far. She’s a take-no-prisoners girl, although she’s wooed by Bond, but let’s be honest what woman isn’t? Yet she’s still kicking ass and taking names later, and I think that shows a shift in the way women were portrayed in the films and maybe even culture at the time. It was very interesting.

A: Ok, so you weren’t a fan of Auric Goldfinger as a villain, but what did you think of his henchman, Oddjob?

Monday, November 5, 2012

7 Days of 007: A Two Tickets For... Retro Review of "From Russia With Love" (1963)

Andrew: Hello readers! It’s Day 2 of our 7 Days of 007. Yesterday we kicked off our weeklong celebration of Skyfall’s release by watching the very first Bond movie, Dr. No. For our second night I felt it was prudent to have Sarah and I watch the second Bond movie, From Russia With Love. I feel, and it’s generally believed by Bond fans, that From Russia With Love was not only an improvement on Dr. No but is still one of the best films in the franchise. 

So Sarah, now that you’ve seen the first two Bond films on back-to-back nights, how would you compare From Russia With Love to Dr. No?

Sarah: It’s leaps and bounds better. It’s like the filmmakers went back to the source material and decided they needed to choose a certain path to take Bond and go with it. I found that this film was more the Bond we know and love today. He was more a spy, there were more gadgets for him to play with…and you know, we’re introduced to the characters better in the second film.

The villain has an ominous feel to him because you never quite see all of him but you hear his voice. He has these henchmen working for him, we see them, we know what part they play. It’s just so much better than the first one.

They kind of finally figured out the way they wanted to take the series.

A: Now the villain you mentioned, the unseen man who was stroking a white cat, is Ernst Stavro Blofeld – the big baddie in the series. But the actual henchmen that Bond are two SPECTRE agents named Grant, played by a much younger looking Robert Shaw (Jaws), and Rosa Klebb, played by Lotte Lenya.

No Pixar? No Problem!: Our Review of "Wreck-It Ralph" (2012)

Directed By: Rich Moore (The Simpsons

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch

Rating: PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Synopsis: Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly) plays the villain in an old, beloved arcade game called Fix-It Felix, Jr. After decades of being disliked for being the bad guy, when he really isn’t one, he decides to leave his game to try and win a medal to prove his worth. Along the way he befriends a 9-year-old girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman), a racer in a game called Sugar Rush, who’s also ostracized because she’s a “glitch.” Together they try to prove their worth to the world, but unknowingly may ultimately bring doom to their respective games.


Andrew: Hello readers! This past weekend Sarah and I went on a little date and caught a showing of Wreck-It Ralph, the latest animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. That’s right, it’s not a Pixar film, but you honestly wouldn’t know it if you went in without any prior knowledge of the film.

It stars John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) as the voice of Wreck-It Ralph, the “bad guy” of a 30-year-old arcade game called Fix-It Felix, Jr. It’s Ralph’s job within his game to play the villain and smash a tenement building to pieces so the namesake of the game, Fix-It Felix, Jr. (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) can come along with his magic hammer and fix all the broken windows and be awarded medals by the building’s residents. But it turns out Ralph isn’t really a bad guy, it’s just his role in the video game and he’s tired of living in a dump (literally) and never being given the proper recognition for his contribution to the game’s longevity, so he goes about jumping to other games to try and be the good guy and win himself a medal.

Sarah, this is a film that we’ve been looking forward to ever since we saw the trailer many moons ago. Now that we’ve seen it, what did you think of Wreck-It Ralph?

Sarah: I loved Wreck-It Ralph! I thought that the cuteness of the characters mixed with the modern and classic video games was genius. We talked about in the preview that we were fine with tht fact that Pixar wasn't involved in this movie and I think Disney succeeded in more ways than one. What did you think about Ralph?

Wreck-It Ralph is full of fantastic scenes using classic video game characters, such as this "Bad Guys Anonymous" scene that kicks the film off.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

7 Days of 007: A Two Tickets For... Retro Review of "Dr. No" (1962)

Andrew: Hello readers! In honor of this upcoming Friday’s domestic release of Skyfall, the 23rd (official) entry in the James Bond film series, we are doing a little thing we like to call 7 Days of 007! Each day this week we will be watching and discussing one of seven Bond films I have chosen for this endeavor. 

Essentially, Sarah hasn’t seen any of the Bond films prior to Pierce Brosnan taking over the role of Bond. So I have selected seven pre-Daniel Craig Bond films for us to watch; seven that I have deemed more essential than the others for Sarah’s crash course in 007 history.

To begin our 7 Days of 007 where else would we start but the very beginning with 1962’s Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as everyone’s favorite MI6 agent.

Sarah, just to confirm first: You hadn’t seen ANY of Connery’s Bond films before today, correct?

Sarah: Correct.

A: So I guess the best way to start this off is to ask what your initial thoughts are on Dr. No?

S: My initial thought is that is this is definitely THE original James Bond. Connery has a definite presence about him, he’s very suave, he’s very much a ladies man. But the action aspect of James Bond wasn’t quite there yet in the first film.

The movie is VERY 1960’s. It’s a little cheesy, but other than that it was a great introduction to the character of James Bond on the silver screen.

A: You say it’s “VERY 1960’s.” What do you mean by that?

Even Denzel Isn't Able to Steer Zemeckis' Latest to Its Full Potential: Our Review of "Flight" (2012)

Directed By: Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle

Rating: R for drug & alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence

Run Time: 2 hours, 18 minutes

Synopsis: Whip Whitaker (Washington) is a skilled and veteran airline pilot who, when a mechanical malfunction causes his passenger jet to go into an unstoppable dive, manages to safely and improbably crash land the plane saving most on board. Despite his heroic effort he becomes the target of an investigation when it comes to light that he was both drunk and high on cocaine the day of his miracle landing.


Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I went to the theatre to catch the new Denzel Washington (American Gangster) drama Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis in his return to live-action movies (his last 3 films all being motion-capture and his last live-action film being 2000’s Cast Away). Denzel plays an experience airline captain named Whip Whitaker who safely lands his passenger jet after an equipment malfunction, but ends up being investigated because his toxicology report taken after the crash shows he was drunk and high on cocaine while piloting the jet.

Sarah, this is a film whose trailer we’ve been seeing for many months now. It isn’t exactly one we were jumping at the bit to see, but every single time we saw the trailer we were intrigued by the airplane crash sequence that seems to be the focal point of the film.

So I want to start things in the review a little differently and ask a specific question: Now that we’ve seen Flight, what did you think of the opening plane crash scene?

Sarah: It was incredibly realistic. It was terrifying. You know, once again like Argo, we knew certain aspects of the plot; we knew going in that Whip is able to successfully land the plane with minimal casualties. But the crash is SO intense and SO terrifying that I found myself being really shaken up at the end of the scene. I almost couldn’t help tear up during the scene because of how scary it was.

It totally taps into a very primal fear that people have. You know, we ARE land-dwellers after all. So it takes you back to a natural fear, not a horror movie fear, but a legitimate fear of flying. So if you have trouble flying in a plane or with heights, do not see this movie. It’ll completely scare the crap out of you. What did you think?

A: I agree with you that it is one of the most intense things I’ve seen on the big-screen in quite some while. You’re correct that it’s incredibly realistic. And it’s a relatively extended scene, unlike in Cast Away where its plane crash scene was quick and over with like that. This one’s pretty drawn out.

I was very fascinated by it because you get an idea of how good a pilot Whip really is, and al the technical jargon and the mechanics of the plane and flight…they clearly had a lot of research and consultation into how that all works. So I was intrigued with that, but at the same time I was terrified. Because even when just taking off, their plane is taking off right into a terrible storm, and from all the flying we’ve both done we know how freaky that can be. Primal fear was the best way to put it, in that we’ve been there before and we know what that feeling is like. Zemeckis did a great job putting that on-screen.

So this is a great way to start the movie off, but this leads me to my next question. The movie literally starts off with a bang, but what did you think of the rest of the film? Because it’s 2 hours and 20 minutes long and the plane crash sequence probably takes up the first 20 or 30 minutes of it…

S: From the beginning of the movie to when Whip wakes up in the hospital is about 30 minutes. That was thrilling. But then I found that the movie just stops. They had built up this intensity that completely goes away in the rest of the movie.

When we meet Whip we’re immediately shown that he’s quite the alcoholic and he likes his cocaine, and like most high-functioning alcoholics he’s able to pass off sobriety. So we get that he’s a dangerous man and probably shouldn’t be flying.

So we get that done and out of the way, and like you said the film starts off with a bang, it’s very in your face. But then it becomes a slow character drama and it’s like, “Yes, we KNOW he’s an alcoholic. Yes, we KNOW he likes his drugs. Can we move the story along any faster?”

I felt like they dragged out the parts that didn’t need to be so long and chopped down parts that should have been extended.

A: Can you give me an example of those?

S: The biggest one I thought was a time jump from when Whip stays with his friend and pilot union rep, Charlie, played by Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek), in order to try and stay sober before his investigation hearing.

A: They skip over nine whole days, right?

S: They skip over nine whole days, when before we see what seems like a couple of weeks of his trying to heal, trying to face his demons a bit on his own or with a lady friend he meets in the hospital named Nicole (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes). I felt like those nine days they skipped over could have been an interesting look in seeing how Whip did living with Charlie and his family and how they could have helped him.

I don’t know…I just felt like not a lot of attention was paid to that. Plus they lingered on Whip’s relationship with Nicole and they pound it into our heads that Whip’s an alcoholic and he’s lying to everybody that he can control it…I don’t know.

A: I think what you’re trying to say is that the flow of the film after the plane crash was inconsistent.

S: Oh! And another part they sort of skip over after making a point of making is when Whip is trying to find out what his fellow crew members that survived are saying to the investigators about him. The movie makes a big deal over how he sort of asks his crew members to lie for him and then nothing really comes of it. They completely gloss over it. I understand why they put those pieces in, because he’s scared and doesn’t want to go to prison. But then they don’t really do anything with it.

A: I understand where you’re coming from, and I’m not trying to defend the movie too much here but it’s how I see the film, but Flight is really a deep character study of Whip and his addiction problems. And for the most part they do a great job of only presenting you with everything from his angle.

So when he’s talking to his stewardess or co-pilot and get a feel for what they’re going to say or what they already said to the investigators, it’s almost like it doesn’t matter what the outcome of that is because he’s not going to find out until the hearing.

I don’t’ know if you noticed, but the characters in the film – Whip, Charlie, Whip’s lawyer Hugh, played by Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) – they all talk about the investigation but you never see investigators’ side. You never see the actual investigation. You only ever see from Whip’s perspective of what he’s being told about the investigation.

So what you just mentioned doesn’t really bother me too much because it’s more about Whip asking them to lie. He’s not a good guy. He’s an antihero.

S: Yes, even though he’s a hero for landing the plane and saving 96 of the 102 people on board.

A: Yes, he’s heroic in that instance, but he’s still an antihero in the film. (Side note: did you notice how everyone in the movie always said there were “102 souls” on-board? Always souls, never “people.” I wonder why that is, but I digress.)

MY problem with the movie also stems from the fact that we’re almost always presented with things from Whip’s perspective. If Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins wanted to present things only from Whip’s perspective, then I think they made a mistake in introducing Nicole at the very beginning.

My problem with introducing Nicole is that they bring her in almost right from the beginning, you see her problems and her addiction to heroin, then she crosses paths with Whip and they try to support each other, then she isn’t in the second half of the movie at all.

I’m fine with what her role is where she’s supposed to be someone Whip can connect with, be someone who can either enable him or hopefully help him and then she leaves so that Whip has to face another hurdle of sorts. But the problem is we get so invested in her, where it looks like she’s the second main character, that when she leaves I was left wondering why we were lead to care SO MUCH about her character. It made the rest of the film very uneven for me.

S: I just think they missed the mark with this movie. The first scene? It gave the rest of the film so much promise. Denzel does a great job, too!

A: Denzel does a fantastic job. My problem with this movie is, and we mentioned this in our preview a bit, but this was a total Oscar bait film.

S: For Denzel, not for the movie as a whole.

A: No, see I think the whole movie was Oscar bait. It’s a movie about redemption, it’s a spotlight movie for Denzel, it’s Zemeckis’ return to live-action…you know he won an Oscar for Forrest Gump, he got nominated for Cast Away so he certainly has the Oscar cred going already. These are the kinds of movies he used to be known for.

But my problem with Flight, and I’ve read this term lately on the blogosphere, but there were so many “Oscar clips” in this film. You know, where it’s clear that THIS is the scene that they’re going to send in to voters for award consideration. There are a lot of scenes like that, which gets redundant and heavy-handed.

Denzel’s best scenes are the subtle ones where I didn’t FEEL like he’s going for the Oscar.

S: And there were a few scenes in the movie where I definitely got that feeling, like his final monologue.

A: Yes. But I liked scenes like the crash scene when he tells his flight attendant to say out loud that she loves her son so it gets recorded on the black box in case they do die. He’s so calm, cool and collected. Denzel pulls that off masterfully. Stuff like that he’s phenomenal with.

But then there are the monologues and melodramatic stuff…I don’t know. I think he’ll certainly get nominated for an Oscar. I don’t think he’ll win, and you know what? I’m not a fan of how the Best Actor Oscar race is shaping up this year, but that’s beside the point.

I liked the movie as a whole. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I was disappointed in it.

S: Yes, disappointment is how I felt about Flight. It starts off SO GOOD and then it crashes and burns.

A: It starts off brilliantly! I loved the first scene, which isn’t the plane crash, but it’s Whip waking up in his hotel…

S: With a naked woman…

A: He finishes off the dregs of an old beer from the night before, his phone rings and it’s his ex-wife nagging him about tuition money for their son’s private school, he does a line of coke…it’s so anti-Denzel, but then BAM, they cut to him leaving his room looking all dapper in his uniform and shades?

S: It’s a great character introduction, it really is.

A: Then there’s the plane crash, which was also great, but the rest of the movie left something to be desired for both of us it seems.

S: The rest of the movie is definitely not as exciting as the trailer makes it out to be.

A: It’s way too long. Lots of stuff that could’ve been cut out.

S: It should have been done differently. Disappointment is definitely the final word for us on this movie. I personally didn’t find it Oscar-worthy as a whole.

A: I think it’s Oscar-worthy…

S: I think Denzel’s performance is, but I don’t think the movie as a whole is.

A: I don’t think it’s a Best Picture nominee, but I can see how some other critics might.

Ok, real quick, some quick hits I wanted to mention. The special effects for the plane crash are phenomenal. Special effects are Zemeckis’ forte, what with him being the director of the Back to the Future films, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump

The music choices were so heavy-handed and cliché, it drove me nuts. Like when Nicole shoots up heroin they play “Under The Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or when John Goodman’s drug dealer shows up for the first time they play “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones. It’s just too on the nose for my taste.

S: Or like when they use “With a Little Help from My Friends” when Whip does some coke in a pivotal scene?

A: Yes! Too on the nose. Great songs, but I hated how Zemeckis chose so many popular songs that fit the scene too well.

And finally the supporting cast was pretty good. I liked John Goodman (Argo) as Whip’s drug dealer, Harling. He was funny and I wish he was in the movie more, but he’s only in it for three scenes.

S: He was hilarious. Along with his scenes in Argo he’s been stealing scenes left and right lately. Love him.

A: And we can’t forget to mention something we laughed at – the opening scene where Whip wakes up with a naked woman in bed with him?

S: That was Ruxin’s wife from The League! That was totally Sophia!

A: Yeah! For the record, her actual name is Nadine Velazquez, not just “Ruxin’s wife,” but yes, she’s like…COMPLETELY nude…

S: FULL frontal nudity. You see literally every inch of her!

A: And that was part of why I loved the first part of the film was because that crazy amount of nudity and drug usage and swearing by Denzel was totally NOT what I was expecting.

S: All I wanted to do was shout out, “Nice job, Ruxin!”

A: Because they always joke about how hot she in on the show and we finally get to see what they mean because she’s completely in her birthday suit.

S: They went pretty hardcore with the start of the movie.

A: Yeah, and that’s another reason the rest of the film was such a let-down.

Okay, final thoughts on Flight?

S: Disappointed. If you decide to see it in theatres, only stay until the crash ends and then you can leave. It’s very predictable as a whole even with Denzel’s performance. Step it up a bit Hollywood, you’re disappointing me lately.

FINAL VERDICT: Netflix it!

(Individual Scores - S: 3/5  A: 3.5/5)

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