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Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Quick Hits

After a bit of a dry spell, I watched four movies over the past two weekends, so here we go:

Resident Evil: Retribution:  Like the T-virus mutated zombies and monsters that inhabit its sci-fi dystopian future, 'Resident Evil' just refuses to lie down and die.  But that's a good thing in my book, because even though this is the fifth installment in the long-running franchise, I simply can't seem to get enough.  RE:Retribution picks up where RE:Afterlife left off, with Milla Jovovich's Alice allying with the villain from that movie, Umbrella Corporation president Albert Wesker, who's a cross between Max Headroom and 'The Matrix' trilogy's Agent Smith.  The whole setup is right out of a video game, with Alice and the few survivors she picked up , including the daughter of one of her doppelgangers, trying to make it out of the labyrinthine and treacherous underwater lair of an Umbrella Corporation facility, level by level.  Harking back to the original 'Resident Evil,' circa 2002, the real villain of the movie is the computer AI 'Red Queen,' whose single-minded purpose to terminate Alice and company makes 2001:A Space Odyssey's HAL 9000 seem tame by comparison.  Now on to the sixth already!

The Possession:  Think ‘The Exorcist’ with Judaism replacing Catholicism plus a dash of 'The Poltergeist,' and you pretty much get the idea of this latest ‘little girl possessed by evil demonic spirit’ chiller from Ghost House Pictures, director Sam Raimi’s production company. As formulaic and been-there-done-that 'The Possession’ may be, it worked because with movies like this it's all about building atmosphere and slow-burning suspense, and neither are in short supply here. Never mind the plot holes and head-scratching ‘what were they thinking?’ moments, like why did they buy the creepy antique wooden box at a yard sale in the first place. It’s a movie about a supernatural malevolent spirit, damn it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan played the father of the girl, so I couldn’t help thinking: “He’s the Winchester dad, so shouldn’t he know exactly how to kick demonic butt?”  Oops, wrong show.

LawlessInspired by the true story of the Bondurants, three brothers who ran a lucrative bootlegging operation in the hills of Virginia during the Prohibition era, ‘Lawless’ has the soul of a western, where if a man can’t stand up for his own freedom to moonshine without getting pushed around by cityslickers who want to cut in on the action, then he clearly isn't fit to be one. Tom Hardy, following his role as Bane in 'The Dark Knight Rises,' exudes the macho manliness expected of a hardy mountain man from the mean Virginia hills, while boyish Shia LaBeouf aspires to be as 'invincible' as his brother but only found his courage when the local preacher’s daughter he swooned over was threatened. Guy Pierce was perfectly cast as the archetypal Hollywood villain (in every exaggerated sense), whose city-bred aristocratic sensibilities were only matched by his ruthless but efficient barbarity.

Premium RushI loved Kevin Bacon's 'Quicksilver' back in '86, so this 'fast and the furious' cyclist movie about a bike courier in NYC who got himself in some danger and intrigue was a no-brainer for me. Leaner and meaner than ever from his '3rd Rock from the Sun' days, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was very believable and convincing as Wilee, a takeoff from Wile E. Coyote, even though he should really be called Rhode Runnar, but that would just be too obvious, wouldn't it?  'Premium Rush' lived up to its name; there's balls-to-the-wall adrenaline-fueled cycling action through the streets of New York City, and the movie maintained its fast pace and suspense in spite of a thread-bare plot. High entertainment.  The need-for-speed, live-for-the-moment ethos of the bike messenger culture is simply exhilarating. I wish I have the guts to do what they do for $80 a day.  Just think of what it would do for my cardio.
 
RE:Retribution - 8/10
The Possession - 7/10
Lawless - 8/10
Premium Rush - 8/10