Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: September 10, 2010

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr announces that he is quitting his career as a film critic and plans to start a new career crooning to the tunes of Zamphir and his pan flute. Frank Stallone, the less-famous brother of an A-list actor, will be shooting a documentary of the entire thing. However, as one last hurrah, Kevin cracks some knuckles with his ruler and grades the new films this week, Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D and I’m Still Here. (Yes, he is aware that it’s Bella Swan’s birthday this weekend, but haven’t we had enough Twilight for a while?)

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin invites special guest Fozzie Bare from ThePodcastPodcast.com to the Magical Studio in the Sky to take a look at this week’s slate of new releases.

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Studio: Screen Gems

Rated: R for sequences of strong violence and language

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Wentworth Miller, Ali Larter, Kim Coates and Spencer Locke

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson

What it’s about: Milla Jovovich returns as Alice to go after the Umbrella Corporation for turning most of the world into zombies. Alice tries to find her friends who left for Alaska to find a city free of infection (don’t we all know what that’s like on a weekend getaway?), then tracks down some survivors in a prison in Los Angeles. Really, it’s just an excuse to shoot some zombies.

What I liked: There are really only two reasons to enjoy this movie. First, the action is pretty sweet. It’s not perfect, and it does sometimes look overly computer generated, but the gunplay and video game inspired moments are fun to watch.

Additionally, this movie effectively uses the 3D style, looking fantastic on the large format screen. I respect Resident Evil: Afterlife for being conceived in 3D and balancing gimmick with cinematic immersion. Still, these two things are not enough to really warrant a full-price IMAX 3D ticket, even though that’s the best way to experience the film.

What I didn’t: Sigh… Paul W.S. Anderson, why hast thou foresaken me? I have defended your films for decades, but you’re not doing yourself any favors any more.

Yes, the 3D is pretty slick. Yes, the action is fun to watch. Yes, it’s nice to see Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter kicking ass. But the rest of the film? Big fat “meh.”

The story gets stupid about five minutes in, and it never recovers. The acting is painful to watch, even from Jovovich, who has been known to turn out a decent performance before. Like so many other films, the characters are so egocentric for the business, featuring the only survivors in L.A. being a movie producer, his assistant, a hot actress-turned-waitress and an NBA star. This is the hottest looking band of survivors who don’t have electricity but manage to be pristinely groomed throughout the film.

By the fourth film that is nothing more than an excuse for a shoot-em-up, you can’t expect there to be much of a plot. But I get the feeling that Anderson was really trying to put one in there. I just didn’t care at all for the people in this film… not even the hot ones.

My memory of this movie is fading fast. I’m sure if you find me three weeks from now and ask me to recall anything, I won’t be able to remember anything but the visuals. Story, character, motivation and logic are all shot in the head like a zombie on the rampage.

Who is gonna like this movie: Die-hard fans of the franchise.

Grade: C-

Studio: Magnolia Pictures

Rated: Not rated

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Directed by: Casey Affleck

What it’s about: Joaquin Phoenix caused a stir when he announced that he was quitting acting to pursue a hip-hop career. And he swears that it was not a hoax! [Hint: It was.] Phoenix’s brother-in-law Casey Affleck films this documentary about this career transformation. And he swears that it is not a mockumentary! [Hint: It is.] Together, they present the destruction of a public figure as he desperately tries to change careers. And they swear it is all real! [Hint: It’s not.]

What I liked: At least I got an answer to the speculation on whether Phoenix was pulling some form of Andy Kaufman-inspired publicity stunt.

But yeah, it wasn’t worth the near-two hour running time. Even the hooker boobies looked bad.

What I didn’t: I’m all for mockumentaries. I’m all for making a film that pulls the wool over someone’s eyes. But I’m Still Here is so shabbily put together, and it tries so hard to be outrageous that there isn’t an ounce of reality to the entire production.

This film reminds me of last year’s The Fourth Kind, which predicated itself on the lie that it was all real. It tried so hard to convince you that it was based on a true story that when you finally figured it out, it feels like a cheat. And I’m Still Here reeks of an April Fools joke from someone who argues with you for twenty minutes in the hopes of convincing you that they aren’t pulling an April Fools joke.

This may work on some level as a full-blown method acting piece of performance art for Phoenix, but he tries so hard to make himself look pathetic, it’s just not believable. From blatantly snorting coke in front of the cameras to getting excited about sniffing a hooker’s butthole to literally getting shat upon, Phoenix and Affleck appear to have a contrived, pre-determined plan on how to humiliate the actor.

And it doesn’t help their case to have badly looped lines and unrealistically set-up shots. There’s as much genuine spontaneity in this film as the Paris Hilton sex tape.

Who is gonna like this movie: Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix.

Grade: D

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

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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