Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: January 20, 2012

Kevin Carr's Weekly Report Card

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in his favorite Jedi robe, grabs his lightsaber and heads out to see the latest George Lucas movie…and boy does he look stupid. After realizing that Red Tails has nothing to do with the color of creatures’ backsides in the Tattooine cantina, he then dresses in his favorite “Team Jacob” tee shirt to see the latest vampire/werewolf movie. Again, he looks ridiculous. Finally, he sulks into a movie theater showing the new Steven Soderbergh film, falls in love with new action star Gina Carano and is happy.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Kevin is joined by Emily Intravia from DeadlyDollsHouse.com and Gleekast to chat about the new movies of the week.

Studio: Relativity Media

Rated: R for some violence

Starring: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

What it’s about: MMA fighter Gina Carano takes on her first starring role as Mallory, an ex-Marine who works as a mercenary for a private company. When she’s betrayed in the field and almost killed, she goes rogue to seek revenge and to clear her name.

What makes the grade: With Haywire, Soderbergh does for the rogue agent action film what he did for the heist movie with Oceans Eleven. While the genre itself has been overdone in the past decade or so, Soderbergh offers a unique twist on it.

There’s nothing terribly unique about Haywire aside from its delivery, which has a distinctive Soderbergh vibe to it – from the pacing and editing to the cinematography and music selection. This gives the film a fresh feeling while treading some worn paths.

Soderbergh relies on Carano to carry the film, but he wisely doesn’t heap heavy emotion and acting moments on her. Instead, he lets her deliver lines with a deadpan feel and almost emotionless quality that works for the role. Unlike Taylor Lautner drowning in his own bad acting in a movie like Abduction, Carano isn’t overtaxed and is just allowed to do what she does best – kick a whole lotta ass and look hot as hell doing it.

What fails: The biggest hurdle that Haywire has is rising above itself. There’s very little new in the story, and we’ve seen a lot of these techniques before. Allowing Carano to change her adorable outfits too often gives the film an unbelievable quality to it, but this is a small problem to have with the movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who want a new approach to a rogue agent movie.

Grade: A-

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Rated: PG-13 for some sequences of war violence

Starring: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Daniela Ruah and Michael B. Jordan

Directed by: Anthony Hemingway

What it’s about: George Lucas executive produces this historical war film about the Tuskegee Airmen who make a name for themselves as reliable pilots during World War II.

What makes the grade: Really, the only reason to see Red Tails is for the dogfight sequences. It’s quite a brilliant movie when the pilots are in their planes, shooting down German fighters. The set-up and delivery of these scenes show where Lucas drew inspiration for the massive battle sequences in the Star Wars films, and as long as the planes are flying, it’s a great adventure.

What fails: Unfortunately, the planes don’t fly during the bulk of the film. Instead, we’re left with a dull, uninspired plot with alarmingly racist characters (including one who plays the guitar and talks like a cartoon character, a mechanic with a goofy hat always yelling at the pilots about repairs and a young pilot constantly praying to “black Jesus”) and no real direction.

The real shame of Red Tails is that it uses every old war movie cliche, borrowing heavily from the plot of the World War I fighter pilot movie Flyboys and even last summer’s Captain America. There is no real star of the film, which is confusing since the above-the-line stars (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard) share about fifteen minutes of screen time total.

It’s not a terrible movie, but the two-hour-plus running time drags as we follow characters we don’t really care about, leaving the audience to check their watches and wonder when the next dogfight battle will take place.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who really wants to see a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, even if it’s not that good.

Grade: C

Studio: Screen Gems

Rated: R for strong violence and gore, and for some language

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, India Eisley, Charles Dance and Michael Ealy

Directed by: Måns Mårlind

What it’s about: After the vampires and lycans are discovered to exist, the humans start a cleansing of the races. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is captured and held in stasis for twelve years during this time. When she wakes up, she finds herself on the run with her hybrid daughter (India Eisley), discovering a new lycan threat that could wipe out all surviving vampires forever.

What makes the grade: By this time, you should know what is appealing about these Underworld movies. They feature lots of fighting, lots of bullets, many shots of Kate Beckinsale’s skinny ass in a leather cat suit, plenty of steely glares and not a shred of humor. If that’s what you look for in a movie, you’ll think this is the greatest movie of the year. I suppose it delivers the bloody R-rated action well enough, even if the story behind it really makes no sense. The best thing I can say about the movie considering this point is that at least Chuck Norris wasn’t involved.

What fails: It’s not like the Underworld movies have been brilliantly crafted and developed films. They’ve been standard action-horror films that took themselves way too seriously for the better part of a decade. Sure, Beckinsale’s back, but her character is as flat and as boring as ever. No prospect of vampire motherhood makes her any more interesting.

The film suffers from what made the other movies laughable. No one runs, but rather swaggers with their leather dusters flapping in the wind. People (and vampires and lycans) are slaughtered often for no other reason than they’re in the way, and often in a spray of CGI blood. The plot barely makes sense from scene to scene, relying on stuffy line delivery and nonsensical action sequences to propel the movie.

But if you can’t wait for the next Resident Evil movie to deliver the same thing, this will do in a pinch.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who has spent time on a message board defending the other Underworld movies.

Grade: C-

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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