Category Archives: 1.5

Escape Plan (2013)

Escape-Plan

 

I never really got excited for this film, but the trailer was always worth a laugh or two when I saw it attached to another film I was seeing in theaters. When it finally came time to see it, I approached it with low expectations, but I still expected it to at least be fun…well, that is what some would call “wishful thinking” because this film didn’t even manage to accomplish that.

Here’s the IMDB synopsis for this film:

“When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world’s most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside.”

You would think that, if nothing else, seeing two such legendary action stars as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger onscreen together would at least be an enjoyable experience, but you’d be wrong…I maybe managed to crack a smile or offer a little chuckle only once or twice, and that was being generous. The film is filled with lame jokes, poor dialogue, and almost non-existent character development, and the villain, played by Jim Caviezel, has zero visible motivation for building this hell of a prison. What does he gain? Don’t tell me money because money offers no explanation for the sadistic way in which these men are imprisoned.

In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t recommend this film. I wanted to like it at least a little bit, even if it was just so I could tell you all that it’s laughably bad, but, sadly, even that’s not the case. Escape Plan is just bad, no laughing to it. The only moderately not-terrible thing I can say about it? At least it’s not incredibly vulgar like Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain (my review) was, aside from the language, of course. I wish I had more to say about this, but I just don’t care enough about it to bring forth the effort. Sorry, folks.

-Chad

Rating: 1.5 (out of 5)

MPAA: R – for violence and language throughout

P.S. – For a more positive, balanced review of this film, check out my pal TJ’s 3.5-star review over at MovieByte.com!

Advertisements

R.I.P.D. (2013)

NOTE: Review originally written for and posted at MovieByte.com. To see this post and check out the guys over at MovieByte, click here!
RIPD

One word: WHY.

R.I.P.D. tells the story of Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a police officer who opens the film with the burying of some mysterious pieces of gold under an orange tree in his backyard. We quickly learn that the gold was found by him and his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon), during a drug bust, but Nick tells Bobby that he has decided to return the gold. Later that day, during a raid, Bobby shoots Nick, killing him and sending him to the office of Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), head of the Rest In Peace Department, or R.I.P.D. for short. The organization’s purpose is to find dead people, called “deados,” and capture them. Nick is partnered with veteran R.I.P.D. officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), who is not too keen to have a partner. As the two work together on Earth in their avatar forms (Roy as an attractive woman and Nick as an elderly Chinese man), they uncover a plot to start what amounts to an apocalypse, so they must learn to work together in order to prevent the coming of the end of the world.

From the very start of the film, when a voiceover from Nick tells us about how “3 or 4 days ago” he didn’t even know about the R.I.P.D., to the “jokes” that were intended to make us laugh to the choice of the avatars for the two lead characters, everything had me asking, “WHY?!” Why is any of that necessary? Why not just start the film by telling the story rather than with a weird opening that shows us something that happens later in the film? Why make Roy’s avatar an attractive woman (for a reason other than “LOL BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY SINCE HE’S REALLY A DUDE!”)? Nothing in this film made much sense to me, whether it was any of these issues already mentioned or why I was supposed to care about any of the characters or why they made such stupid, obviously incorrect decisions (i.e. apprehending a bad guy and taking him into custody when he obviously wanted to be captured). (I’ll try to minimize my use of the word “why” now…I’m sure you get the idea).

Jeff Bridges does his best Rooster Cogburn impression as Roy: an officer who speaks in a difficult-to-understand “cowboy drawl” with a criticized penchant for killing people rather than capturing them and is also opposed to having a partner. Though Bridges is inherently likable in every role, his general likability doesn’t keep his character here from being lame and uninteresting. Ryan Reynolds, while not necessarily bad, doesn’t bring anything special to the table here, so I didn’t care about him or his wife, even when the two are brought together for what I’m sure is meant to be an “emotional” moment at the end of the film. Kevin Bacon is appropriately sinister as the villain, but, again, his lack of interesting motivation, or anything interesting at all, really, makes his character flat and non-threatening to the audience.

The “jokes” in the film are unfunny (I don’t think I laughed or did anything more than crack a slight smile even once), and the absence of any sort of creativity whatsoever (“deados?” Really?) makes this film fall short of any sort of expectations I had, which, believe it or not, were actually moderately positive. I didn’t expect this film to be super fantastic, but I also didn’t expect it to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from that, either. I’m pretty sure that my facial expressions while watching alternated between a general scowl and “what the heck.” R.I.P.D. may look slightly entertaining in the trailers, but don’t be fooled; the movie is more dead than the “deados.”

-Chad

Rating: 1.5  (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references


ParaNorman (2012)

I’ll prepare you now: I’m about to give this film the lowest rating I’ve ever given. I didn’t really enjoy it at all. It is by far my least favorite film of 2012.

ParaNorman tells the story of Norman, a boy who can see and communicate with ghosts. He is constantly made fun of by his classmates, and his father consistently tries to stifle this gift. One day, Norman’s uncle, who he’s not supposed to talk to, shows up, telling him that he must save the town from the infamous “witch’s curse” that has plagued Blithe Hollow for 300 years. Norman decides to fulfill his duty and goes on a mission to stop this witch from laying waste to the city.

I suppose I can start with the good things…I thought that the animation is well-done and appropriately grotesque. I like that character design differs from person to person (i.e. facial structure, body shape, etc.), rather than all the characters essentially having the same build with only slight variations. The stop-motion in this film is done quite well also, though the style of it is certainly different from the other Academy Award-nominated film, Frankenweenie (read my review here).

I disliked pretty much everything else. The film was filled with what I thought to be pointless scenes (one in which Norman spends two minutes attempting to pry a book from a dead man’s hands comes to mind) and others that just left me asking “why?”, such as the scene in which his uncle’s ghost appears from a toilet in the stall of the school restroom that Norman happens to be occupying at the time…why the toilet? Why then? That’s not a question for the character but for the filmmakers. Everything in a film should have its reason for existing, and I simply can’t find the reason for that scene and for others. The humor found in the movie was typically very unfunny for me, and most of the characters were completely flat and uninteresting, including Norman. I didn’t care what happened to him, and I didn’t understand his motives for anything. Why would he choose to try to fend off this witch based on incomplete information given to him by his crazy uncle? As for the motivation of other characters, why do his sister and other friends suddenly make the decision to stand by his side when the time comes despite having done anything but that beforehand?

Maybe I’m looking too much into this. Maybe I should think, “oh, this is a kid’s film” and approach it appropriately. But kids’ films should be better than that. I don’t know why critics have given this film such favorable reviews, but I did not like it. To be fair, I will probably give this a second chance somewhere down the road…after all, I own it on Blu-Ray. And maybe I’ll change my mind about it, in which case I will let you all know. But for now, I think that ParaNorman is a movie that suffers from poor characters, lame humor, and a lackluster script. While it does contain positive messages about finding the good in people around you, not bullying others because they are different, and being who you are no matter what others say, it’s just not a film that I would recommend.

-Chad

Rating: 1.5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG – for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language