There isn't anyone working in Hollywood that has more experience at destroying the world than Director, Roland Emmerich. Â In fact, I can't think of anyone who does it better either. Â The man seems to have a sick fascination with it. Â He's done "Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Godzilla."
His latest apocalyptic orgy is "2012" which is the movie adaptation of the crazy Mayan Calendar theory that the world will end on 12/21/12 because...um...well, we don't really know. Â The movie attempts to explain why the world would end on that day with talk of solar flares from the sun, magnetic reversal of the poles and the shifting of the Earth's crust but none of that really makes any sense and let's face it...it doesn't have too. Â It stars John Cusack (who's slumming it in this movie only because he needs the money, I'm guessing), Woody Harrelson, Oliver Platt ("Year One") and Chiwetel Ejiofor (who was awesome in "American Gangster" and "Children of Men"). Â Danny Glover also shows up as The President, but if Obama looks that old and weathered before his next term, I feel bad for him. Â Let's get right down to it, this movie is awful. Â It might be the most expensive B-Movie ever made. Â Usually these FX-laden eye parties are reserved for the mindless quagmire of the Summer, but the fact that the studio released it during Oscar season just makes it more laughable. Â In fact laughing is what I did for most of the movie and I wasn't alone. Â Sections of the theater were laughing at the screen during sequences that were clearly meant to be thrilling or sad. Â I think the reason why is because the movie lives in such a stereotypical "disaster movie" world that even your most casual of theater-goers will recognize the cliches. Â The unlikely hero who's still in love with an ex-wife he must save. Â The characters with the ability to outrun earthquakes, out drive volcanic, nuclear clouds and out fly a crumbling city even in the face of no flying experience. Â The plucky characters that are there for comic relief. Â The cute kids that either have to overcome a physical malady or learn to respect their father again (in this movie it's both). Â And who could forget the illogical explanations of scientific "facts" that are there just to move the plot forward. Â It's all there wrapped up in a slick, expensive, CG wonderland of death and destruction that sits at a running time of over 2 and a half hours long. Â Worth the price of admission? Â Only if you're drunk with some friends and want to have a blast making fun of a bad movie; and let's face it, that could be some of the most fun you'll ever have at the movies.
2012 (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D+
There is a big part of me that is so angry that director Robert Zemeckis no longer directs live-action movies. Â I miss films like "Forrest Gump," "Cast Away," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and The Back to the Future series. Â Lately he's only done these CGI animated movies, like "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf." Â However his new one, which is the next in a long line of film versions of Charles Dickens' story is absolutely incredible! Â For those of you out there that say, "Oh great! Â This is being made into a movie AGAIN?!" Â I say, I'm glad. Â This really is one of the greatest stories ever written and the fact that it has been made so many times is a testament to that. Â Is this the best version of the story? Â That I'm not sure of since there have been so many great versions, but I can say that it's in the Top 3. Â What it is the best at though is 3D creativity. Â This was by-far the greatest 3D movie I've ever seen. Â You know from the opening credits that Zemeckis is going to take you on a trip through London that could never ever be done in live-action. Â Because of that, the sequences are not only vibrantly gorgeous to look out, they're creative in a way that I never would've imagined. Â (I think a Best Director Oscar should be in consideration.) Â That remarkable ingenuity not only leads to adventure and thrills but it also takes us down some very dark and scary places. Â WARNING: some of these scenes are too intense for small children. Â Zemeckis didn't pull back on the reins at all and created some downright frightening images and sequences in an attempt to make the movie as close to the book as possible. Â That includes some scenes that The Muppets and Mickey may have left out. Â If there is anything bad to say about the movie it might be in the performances from the actors. Â Don't get me wrong; it's amazing to see the same actors play multiple roles of all ages and sizes because they're not really on the screen. Â I'm just one of those snobs that still can't look past the CGI characters to the human emotions behind them. Â But that's not the fault of stars Jim Carey, Gary Oldman and others. Â Carey is 80% of this movie playing Scrooge (of every age) and all the spirits. Â However his Scrooge is nothing more than a realistic Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," his Ghost of Christmas Past is a distractingly creepy gay Irishman and his Ghost of Christmas Present is merely a fat Ring Starr. Â But those borrowed characters are more amusing than pitiful and don't ruin the film at all. Â Will this version of "A Christmas Carol" put you in the Christmas spirit after watching it? Â I can't imagine how it wouldn't. Â Now whether or not you can hold on to it since they released it almost 2 months before Christmas is another question.
A Christmas Carol (Rated PG)
Gavin Grade: A
You have to be a really weird movie to even come close to living up the hype that a title like "The Men Who Stare at Goats" has. Â The story, which claims to be true, is about not only what the title is about but also how America financed a secret group of soldiers who were perfecting their "supernatural powers." Â Sadly, the movie doesn't live up to the title. Â In fact there are some parts that are almost so believable and rooted in reality that it no longer lives in the realm of absurd humor and is actually kind of sad and dark. Â George Clooney and Ewan McGregor star in it as some sort of weird buddy team roaming the Iraqi desert on a mission, perhaps to find the plot of the film. Â Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey round out the cast acting as if they are each working off of different versions of the same script. Â There's a huge disconnect in this film that resonates with everything about it. Â It seems like this was a movie that was started but had no finished script to work on but it was too late to stop. Â That's the only thing I can think of since the cast is full of the kind of talented actors that can go from drama to comedy in one flawless swoop. Â I can't tell if the fault of the movie not making a solid landing on its own feet was first-time director Grant Heslov's, or the script itself which was co-written by Jon Ronson, for whom the story is based on. Â If the movie is any indication as to what it was really like for Ronson to go through this (if it's real at all), I'm sure it was a confusing, trippy experience that was perhaps too bizarre to recount in written form in any logical sense. Â The film drifts from scene to scene with very little glue holding the story together or explanation as to why things are happening. Â That's not to say that it's not funny though. Â Clooney plays deadpan comedy so well that it makes it such a treat when he takes a role that allows him to do it. Â The situations that he talks about, mixed with McGregor's narration, make for some very funny montages. Â The use of quick flashbacks as an almost live-action version of "Family Guy" at times generate some of the biggest laughs in the movie. Â But those aren't enough to make the movie good. Â At only 93 minutes long, it feels more like over two hours. Â In the film the men who stared at goats apparently did it for hours and hours and hours trying to kill them with their minds; I wonder if us staring at this movie for just one hour killed OUR minds.
The Men Who Stare At Goats (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C