I've been slacking. I haven't made a new Torrent Theater post since I reviewed The Wrestler (which got shafted at the Oscar's by the way) so this instalment will be a couple of short reviews of some recent films & a couple of movies that have just come out on DVD.
We've seen this story before. Liam Neeson stars as an estranged father (who just happens to be a retired CIA operative) tries to reconcile his relationship with his teenaged daughter (Maggie Grace) & his bitchy ex wife (Famke Janssen), daughter takes a trip to France & gets kidnapped by an underground sex slave ring, father goes to Paris to rescue daughter, yadda yadda yadda. The action is well done & Neeson does a good job in what's otherwise a paint by numbers action flick, deftly handling a role more suited for a much younger actor. A nice piece of escapist fluff in the vein of "Dirty Harry" & "Death Wish". Worth a rental.
After a couple of Box Office duds, English director, Guy Ritchie ("Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels", "Snatch") returns with his latest crime comedy set in London's underworld & the results are hit & miss. Well, really more miss then hit. With an eclectic cast of Hollywood B-Lister's (Leonitus, Stringer Bell, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Ari from Entourage) & bunch of homegrown talent, RockNRolla might as well be called "Snatch 2" or "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels 3". Yeah, there's a colorful cast of characters but as nuanced as they appear, they're all pretty one note. I've seen cartoon characters with more depth. Ritchie's latest has the same frenetic pacing & hyperkinetic camerawork as his first two films but lacks the cleverness that made them successful. RockNRolla isn't horrible but it's not really good either. Wait till it comes on Showtime.
The Day The Earth Stood Still
For a remake of a Science Fiction movie from the 50's, you'd think there'd be a considerable improvement in what the filmakers were able to with the material. This film disproves that theory. Keanu Reeves, the master of detatchment, plays Klaatu, an alien sent to Earth to kill off the human race in order to protect the planet from...? Umm, yeah. It's not really clear exactly why the aliens wanna kill us. That'd make too much sense. The Day The Earth Stood Still tops it's predecessor in the special effects department, re-imagining Klaatu's robot guardian GORT as a 28 foot tall monolith & trading in the flying saucer for a glowing CGI enhanced orb, but that's only to distract from the fact the story is thin & the aliens motives & actions aren't plausable. Rent the original & watch this when it comes on cable.
Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
Serving as a prequel to the previous films, this latest installment in the Underworld series helps to flesh out the vampire/werewolf conflict & provides a deeper backstory for franchise. Only Bill Nighy & Michael Sheen return from the previous movies & put on strong performances as well as help give the film some credibility. The film deals with the Lycans (that's werewolf for people with lives) & their rise from slavery under the vampires, hence the snappy title. Not the best movie in the Underworld series but if you own the first two movies then you'll probably want this one & if you haven't seen them, then renting Underworld: Rise Of the Lycans is a perfect starting point.