Monday, January 24, 2011

Green Hornet, The Dilemma and Black Swan!

Awards season is always a fun time of the year for any movie patron. The best of the best always find their way to the local multiplex in the hopes of gathering the most attention for the coveted Oscar. But there is also a lot of misses during this time too! This week my first two reviews are such films – films so bad that they can even be lumped in together so as not to waste too much of the precious space that I have for the column!

‘The Green Hornet’, the new ‘action/comedy’ from Seth Rogan hit the theaters is all of its 3D glory. Save your hard earned dollars and avoid this mess like the plague. Rogan, as the billionaire playboy Britt Reid turned superhero, is well out of his element. I think his agent approached him with the idea of getting him out of the roles that made him famous; the dopey, slacker who finds himself in over his head. In that role, Rogan is almost lovable; in this role, he is simply a floundering idiot. Even sadder, Christoph Waltz, the Academy Award winner from last year, as the villain Benjamin Chudnofsky; a performance that he seemed to phone in…long distance. Jay Chou plays Kato, a role that launched the career of Bruce Lee; I promise you, Bruce Lee is rolling over in his grave. The one bright spot, Cameron Diaz as Lenore Case, who seems terribly out place, yet makes every scene she is in watchable.

The story, dialogue and direction are inept and directed towards large explosions and a lot of breaking glass. If you are 12 and like to see things go ‘BOOM’ – then this 1 star effort is a movie you will want to see. Otherwise, go see ‘True Grit’ again and marvel at the genius of the Coen Brothers!

Following a close second on the ‘I can’t believe they spent money to make this list’ is the newest comedy from Vince Vaughn and Kevin James (has Kevin James done anything funny since King of Queens?), ‘The Dilemma’. With a very promising cast and something of an interesting story, James and Vaughn turn a film that could have had legs into a cheesy, unfunny mess. There is no point in the film that you can tell if it is supposed to be a slapstick, screwball comedy or a very dark comedy. The lack of direction is amazing; especially considering it was directed by the Academy Award winning Ron Howard. Obviously his eye and ear for comedy is off a bit.

Vaughn has made a career out of playing the fast talking frat boy in movies like ‘Old School’ and ‘Dodgeball’ – in that environment he does exceptionally well. However, here, in a story about adultery, secrets and lies; the fast talking frat boy falls flat on his face and we are quickly tired of the role. Kevin James, well what can I say about Kevin James other than he just keeps repeating his ‘King of Queens’ character, just in a different costume. It’s gotten boring and unoriginal. Save this 1 ½ star effort for the Redbox rental!

Finally, the bright shining star in this group, ‘Black Swan’! Riveting, deeply disturbing, thought provoking and touching, ‘Black Swan’ will stay with you long after you have left the theater. Natalie Portman delivers the performance of her career. She is just about guaranteed the Oscar in my eyes playing the deeply disturbed Nina as she realizes her lifetime dream of dancing the Queen Swan in Swan Lake.

We are front seat to her descent into hell as her sanity crumbles under the pressure from her smothering mother (played with bravura by Barbara Hersey) and her tyrannical director played with wolf like charm by Vincent Cassel. As directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler), ‘Black Swan’ is an outstanding and completely absorbing look into the breakdown of a very fragile being. The descent is so compelling that we are feeling the pressure right along with her. I left the theater with my chest compressed and emotionally exhausted. This is a movie that engrosses you, pulls you in and never lets you go but you don’t want to look away (as much as you may want to try). The direction is flawless, the acting is superb and the pulsing soundtrack adds to the tone of the film perfectly.

This is a 4 star film worthy of the Academy attention and your attention. Leave ‘The Green Hornet’ and ‘The Dilemma’ to the teenie boppers; instead, take a ride to see ‘Black Swan’.

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