Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan and Isabel Lucas
Directed by: The Spierig Brothers
What it’s about: Ten years in the future, vampires have taken over the earth. As their numbers rise and the human population dwindles, there is a major food shortage. The vampires try to find an effective blood substitute, but a rogue band of humans are also looking for a way to cure the disease.
What I liked: First, let me express how refreshing it was to see a vampire movie that didn’t involve sparkling, romance or teen angst. It’s great to see the return of vampires as blood-thirsty beasts that are essentially horrific monsters.
Daybreakers takes the cinematic vampires to places we really haven’t seen in mainstream movies. It takes a chance to explore what would happen if these monsters actually existed and how they would strike a balance (or fail to do so) between themselves and their human prey.
I’m a horror/sci-fi junkie, so a movie like this was a hell of a lot of fun with kick-ass battles and vampires that explode when shot with crossbow stakes. Along with the speculative fiction aspect of this movie, the gore, violence and action was pretty sweet.
What I didn’t: While this movie delved into some cool places for vampire fiction, the storytelling was a little clunky. The Spierig Brothers relied too much on narration via television news broadcasts to get the background delivered.
Additionally, there were some pretty thinly veiled analogies of what monsters vampires can be to humans, taken against the political climate of today. I get it. We are all the same, but when we separated into groups, we are bastards to each other. Yeah, hammer that point home, why don’t you?
Finally, as cool as the vampires were, I was bored to tears with the human characters. Any time the film cut to the resistance fighters hunkered down to fight the good fight, my mind wandered. It doesn’t bode well for a vampire film to be soft on the human sympathy.
Who is gonna like this movie: Sci-fi horror movie junkies.
Rated: PG for sensuality and language.
Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Kaitlin Olson, Adam Scott and Peter O’Meara
Directed by: Anand Tucker
What it’s about: Amy Adams plays a sophisticated New York businesswoman who is dying to get married to her boyfriend of four years. When he goes to Dublin for a conference, she hops on a plane and decides to propose to him on leap year because it’s an old Irish tradition. Unfortunately, weather snafus land her hundreds of miles away, and she has to get the help of a local pub owner to escort her to Dublin. And, surprise surprise, a new romance evolves.
What I liked: Both Amy Adams and Matthew Goode are excellent actors. In a way, this movie is beneath them because it’s nothing special. Still, the two of them provide decent performances and chemistry. I may not have been a big fan of the movie, but you could do worse with your cast.
Oh, and the photography of the Irish countryside is beautiful in this film… when it’s not green-screened in.
What I didn’t: Unlike many critics out there, I don’t mind a good romantic comedy. However, this movie really isn’t one of them. If you’re a chick who digs any sort of chick flick, you’ll like this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the spark of better films of the genre. Instead, you’re left with a movie that feels more like Made of Honor or The Wedding Planner than Pretty Woman or The Holiday.
The story is predictable, and the characters don’t always have the proper motivations. I’m personally getting sick of fish-out-of-water movies in which New Yorkers become suddenly brain damaged when they’re slightly out of their element. Do sophisticated Manhattanites not realize that there are robbers and thieves outside of the Big Apple?
Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who likes ho-hum rom-coms.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Rated: PG-13 for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.
Starring: Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Christopher Plummer
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
What it’s about: Doctor Parnassus is a man who once made a wager with the Devil – his daughter’s soul when she turns sixteen for a dose of immortality. After evading the Devil for years, Parnassus finds his debt being called in while he’s running a sideshow in which he allows people to step into their imagination. In order to save his daughter’s soul, Parnassus gets some help from a mysterious stranger that they saved from hanging.
What I liked: This film was about 50% of a cool movie. That 50% takes place inside the Imaginarium. No big surprise there. Like The Lovely Bones, the coolest parts of the film are in the fantasy world, and it shows director Terry Gilliam’s visionary style.
This movie is also an interesting footnote in the history of cinema in that it’s the final film that Heath Ledger was working on when he died. Anyone who wants to see how his final performance turned out will enjoy the movie. And I give kudos to Gilliam and company for finding a way to recast other actors to fill out Ledger’s characters so the film could be released.
What I didn’t: As awesome as the Imaginarium portions of the film appear, they really don’t have as much impact on the story as they could. Instead, things get confusing and extraneous during these moments. Sure, they look cool, but like the aforementioned The Lovely Bones, they are there to look cool rather than really propel the story.
What we’re left with is a rather uninspired story in the real world focusing on the political inner-workings of a sideshow. I really could care less about the characters as day-to-day humans, and the Devil was the most interesting person in the movie… which isn’t good.
Finally, Vern Troyer’s acting in this film is so bad, it would make the Pope weep. Sure, he’s short, and the role of Mini-Me suited him fine. But in this film, he’s delivering his lines with the same conviction of a first-time porno star.
Who is gonna like this movie: Die-hard fans of Terry Gilliam or Heath Ledger.