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G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

Studio: Paramount

Rated: PG-13 for strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout.

Starring: Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Directed by: Stephen Sommers

What it’s about: A mysterious group of mercenaries are trying to steal a batch of nanobot warheads. The elite multi-national team of G.I. Joe soldiers are dispatched to block the theft and thwart the warheads’ use in terrorist attacks.

What I liked: As someone who watched the 80s cartoon of G.I. Joe when I was a kid, I will say that this film is better than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Still, in essence, they are both the same movies.

I’ve been a sucker for Stephen Sommers’ movies, including the much maligned Van Helsing, so I forgave a lot of the warts on G.I. Joe simply for my affinity for the guy’s high-octane action sequences. It is for these that the movie is worth watching on the big screen. In particular, the extended accelerator suit chase through the streets of Paris is the highlight of the film.

If you want to enjoy this movie, go to the theater and pretend that it is Saturday morning, and you are a ten year old boy with a huge bowl of sugar cereal in front of you, watching cartoons in the basement while your parents are doing God-knows-what upstairs.

What I didn’t: As fun as the action, technology and effects were in this movie, the film was deficient in almost every other way possible. The story was needlessly convoluted, flashing back and forth in time in an attempt to cover every character’s backstory. The dialogue was cringe-worthy throughout, and the acting was atrocious. Even Dennis Quaid, who is normally quite good, was nothing but a giant can of Cheez-Whiz. I guess that’s what you can expect from a film that has Channing Tatum as its anchor star.

Who is gonna like this movie: Ten-year-old kids and middle-aged guys who were ten-year-old kids when the cartoon first ran in the 1980s.

Grade: B-

JULIE & JULIA

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina and Linda Emond

Directed by: Norah Ephron

What it’s about: Julie Powell was a lower-middle class government worker in New York who used cooking as a means of escape. One day, she decides to challenge herself to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s seminal French cuisine cookbook over the course of a year, and to blog about it. Woven into this story is the biopic of Julia Child who went from a bored housewife in the 1950s to a cooking legend in America.

What I liked: I have to admit that there was very little about this movie that I enjoyed. That was mostly because I was bored to tears with it, finding no interest in either Julia Child’s history or Julie Powell’s somewhat creepy obsession. However, I did respect the film for what it was.

I respected Meryl Streep’s impression of Julia Child. She nails the voice and mannerisms perfectly… so perfectly that it’s hard to believe it’s not an SNL sketch. And while I’ve never been a fan of Norah Ephron as a director, she assembled a competent film that will touch a certain audience… and you know who you are.

What I didn’t: Pretty much everything else. While I have enjoyed Norah Ephron’s scripts, I’ve found her to be quite passionless as a director. I really didn’t care about anyone in this film. I didn’t care about Julia Child because she potted around for years perfecting her cookbook. Sure, it’s a great cookbook and her stubbornness paid off in the end, but her refusal to split it up into volumes and the insistence in taking years to complete it was annoying.

I do love Amy Adams as an actor, but her portrayal of the mousy Julie Powell was uninspired. Her blind devotion to all things Julia Child borderlined to creepy, and she just seemed weak-willed about everything but blogging her project every day.

Who is gonna like this movie: Julia Child fanatics and people who loved Julie Powell’s book.

Grade: C-

A PERFECT GETAWAY

Studio: Rogue Pictures

Rated: R for graphic violence, language including sexual references and some drug use.

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Marley Shelton, Steve Zahn and Kiele Sanchez

Directed by: David Twohy

What it’s about: Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn play a couple on their honeymoon in Hawaii who take a backpacking adventure into the jungle. Along the way, they hear the story of a couple who brutally murdered newlyweds in Honolulu. While backpacking, they meet up with two different couples that they suspect might be the killers.

What I liked: First, I will admit that there are many flaws to this film, but there was a certain level of enjoyability I found in it. The best part was the acting by Timothy Olyphant and Steve Zahn. Both of them play rather stock characters, but they do it well and make the ride fun. Similarly, Milla Jovovich and Kiele Sanchez are both easy on the eyes (especially in a skinny-dipping scene that was nice but could have been more generous in the skinny department).

There’s also what some might consider to be an overly introspective discussion of screenplay writing in the film, although I enjoyed it simply because it was only used to actually give hints as to what tricks the writer was doing at that very moment.

More of a thriller/action piece than a horror story, A Perfect Getaway isn’t perfect, but I liked it.

What I didn’t: The biggest flaws in this film come from overly clever writing that is bolstered by an overly clever advertising campaign. The trailers brag about how awesome the twist in the film is. The only problem with that is that you’re leading your audience into the movie with them searching for the twist. The reality is that it doesn’t take a lot of thought to figure things out in the first half hour, and then you’re left with letting the movie play out just to see if you were right. (And I can assure you that you will be.)

There’s also some writing that cheats the audience with unnecessary and contradictory conversations among the characters. There’s also this weird diversion in the third act that is about as relevant as tits on a bull.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who don’t want to see Julie & Julia or G.I. Joe this weekend but want to catch something new.

Grade: B-


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