Sun, Feb 26, 2012

: The Good Student

I wanted to really like this. The premise of a nerdy high school history teacher who becomes a suspect in a pretty student’s disappearance intrigued me. I assumed this was going to be a commentary on people’s perceptions or way the law can convict an innocent man.

Instead, this has the wrong tone right from the start. The music is terrible throughout. It just doesn’t fit. It should have either been serious and dramatic or quirky, and instead it’s halfway in-between. The whole film is that way: part drama, part comedy, and neither work. It’s very uneven. The jokes fall flat and some of the characters and scenes are so over-the-top that it just can’t be taken as serious drama. There’s a ton of awkwardness. For instance, it’s suggested the teacher might have had a sexual relationship with the student — the public thinks so — and obviously that’s rape and an extremely serious and sensitive subject. Yet there’s a fellow teacher who brags about sleeping with his students in exchange for better grades. The way the film presents the guy it’s almost like it’s condoning it.

The tone the film should have had is something like Jawbreaker or Fargo. That fact that it didn’t I found frustrating throughout.

The pacing is also flawed. It’s very slow. The plot is a little awkward, too, going four or five different directions, yet not doing much with any of those storylines. For instance, there are hints dropped of various people who could have done the kidnapping and I expected those to be explored further as the film progressed, but they are not. It’s very odd.

But the film’s biggest mistakes are the ones that strain credibility. For one, the lonely teacher has a gorgeous next door neighbor who keeps hitting on him and he ignores her. There was no explanation for that and it needed one as without it you start reading more into the situation than is there.

An even dumber mistake is that there’s no explanation of how the kidnapped girl manages to survive the many days she is missing. (I don’t remember the final count of her absence, but I think it was a few weeks.) We are periodically shown shots of the girl tied up on a cot in a storage room. She’s apparently there the whole time. Other than one brief scene where her masked kidnapper brings her some food, there’s no info on how she lives for all that time. How would she go to the bathroom all tied up and left alone like that? Wouldn’t she have injuries like bed sores? Wouldn’t she try to escape or scream for help? I’ve seen other films that deal with the logistical problems of kidnapping, such as The Disappearance of Alice Creed, and it’s a complex problem (i.e. you have to untie the prisoner to use the facilities and they can try to escape). If she’d been missing for a day or two, I could believe it the way this film handled it, but she basically looks the same on day 20 as on day 1 and that was just absurd.

There are some decent aspects of the film. I liked the portrait of the teacher and the way they made him be both sympathetic and weird. He’s a loner, still grieving from his wife’s death years earlier, and he develops a crush on his student. He’s the last one to see her before she vanishes and thus becomes a suspect. He rents a porn tape and one of his other students who works at the video store notices and therefore think he’s a pervert. Yet he’s also a nice guy, pretty intelligent, and he genuinely cares for his students. His performance is good, but limited by the material.

There’s a “twist” at the end that isn’t that surprising, though it’s decent, but it comes way too late in the film to really have much impact. It raises more questions than it answers. I guess it’s supposed to be a “thinker” but it comes across as more of an “Oh.”

In the end, this is another one of those ideas with great potential, but poorly realized. I’d love to have seen how great directors like the Coen brothers would have done this same story. I bet they could have shot the exact same script and it would have been ten times better (even more if they fixed the script’s flaws).

Topic: [/movie]


Fri, Feb 24, 2012

: Gone

When I first heard about this film I wasn’t that interested because the concept sounded limited: a girl, previously a victim who escaped a serial killer, now thinks her sister has been abducted by the same guy, but the cops don’t believe her so she’s forced to find him on her own.

That seemed weak to me because as soon as she’s got any real evidence the cops would figure out the truth, right? Except the trailers leave out the key bit of info that the girl has psychological problems and had been institutionalized, and the cops never found any evidence that anyone had abducted her in the first place (which makes the police reaction more believable). Throw that into the mix and we’re into Interesting Land. We’re unsure — just like the main character herself — if she’s losing her mind or really onto something.

The film doesn’t play up that angle as much as I like — it’s more implied than confronted — but we still end up with a decent thriller. It’s quite exciting having her look for a killer everyone thinks is just her imagination while on the run from the cops herself, as they have heard she’s carrying an unregistered firearm and want her stopped. She’s got a deadline, too, as she knows the killer kills his victims at night so she’s only got the one day to rescue her sister.

It’s a far from perfect film: there are tons of niggling flaws throughout, little skips in logic that I found distracting. Sometimes the cops don’t seem to be responding quite realistically, or the investigative path the girl follows is a little too convenient. There are strange, I-don’t-believe-it moments, such as when a guy tells her rented his van to a complete stranger for $200 and he doesn’t know the guy’s name, phone number, address, or anything. Yeah, that’s gonna happen. I lend my vehicle all the time to strangers!

But most of these flaws are just tiny things that hardly matter. For example, when she borrows a friend’s car she takes the entire set of keys — meaning the friend loses her house keys?

The bad guy is also poorly handled. I don’t want to give anything away, but he’s an amazingly stupid serial killer (bringing into question how he could have gone so long without getting caught). And the girl — who’s quite clever and resourceful throughout, doesn’t do something in her escape from him that she does later in the film. It seemed like an obvious thing to me and it felt odd that she doesn’t do it.

But despite these flaws, we still have an intriguing film. The ending, while not perfect, is satisfying. This kind of a film really depends on the ending because it’s all build-up and I worried they would screw it up and leave me frustrated. It’s a slightly odd ending, mostly because of what a dummy the bad guy is, but it does just enough to work.

The bottom line is that I liked the movie. There’s tension (no real scares), it moves at a high pace, there are good performances, the story’s above average (no real depth, but better than most), and it’s set in Portland, Oregon, near where I live. Don’t expect too much and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Topic: [/movie]


: Malice in Wonderland

This is a fascinating idea — a quirky modern-day version of an Alice in Wonderland type drug trip — but sadly there’s not much to it beyond the gimmick.

The plot is simple enough: an American girl in London, a billionaire’s daughter, gets lost with amnesia and has adventures somewhat analogous to those of the original Alice. In this case she takes some pills that are supposed to help her memory but might just be scrambling her mind as everything gets a bit crazy after that. She meets up with villains and bizarre people and sees strange things.

I did like many aspects of this. There are wonderful gems: various characters resemble their Wonderland equivalents, a lot of the dialog is variations on dialog from the novel, there are tons of subtle (and clever) Alice references, and there’s a lot of fun humor.

Unfortunately, the settings are so weird and you really don’t have the faintest idea what’s going on for about 70% of this movie, and that it makes it difficult to follow and appreciate. Some of the dialog shoots at you so fast and crazily you can’t keep up. That, of course, is similar to Alice, where the conversations are certainly strange, but whereas in the book they are light and fun here the darker tone and modern setting makes far heavier and less entertaining.

I like dense material, but this is material that feels dense without a reason for being dense. There are many scenes that feel like they were written just to have an Alice link but don’t advance the story at all.

In the end, the plot is just too shallow and barely anything happens. The “revelation” at the end is too trivial and weak. It almost works, but for all of the mysterious build-up it needed to be about ten times more powerful. Instead it falls limp and is too predictable.

This can be worth watching if you’re in the right mood (perhaps smoking mushrooms, ha ha) and I certainly did really like certain moments and some of the interesting visuals, but it’s much too uneven and inscrutable for most people.

Topic: [/movie]


Sun, Feb 19, 2012

: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

I’m not sure what to make of this. I’d heard of it — Nicole Kidman plays the famous photographer lead — but it’s definitely not for many tastes. It’s not a straight biography. The opening title card says that and explains it’s an “imaginary portrait” but doesn’t explain what that is either, so I don’t know if what happened here was real or not.

I expected something on the surreal side, like a Salvador Dali painting come to life. I thought there’d be fantasy sequences and oddities that inspired this artist. Instead the film plays out like the old Beauty and the Beast television show.

The story’s really pretty linear and ordinary. Diane Arbus is a daughter of wealth who married a family photographer and she’s his assistant. She’s bored and weird, and when a mysterious masked man moves in upstairs she’s fascinated. Eventually she meets him on the premise of wanting to photograph him, and he turns out to be a former circus “wolfman” (covered with hair). She isn’t repulsed but finds him intriguing. He introduces her to the world of the bizarre: circus freaks and other oddities. She eventually neglects her family to have an affair with him, but apparently also launches the start of her photography career.

There’s much I really liked. The moody sets and photography and music and performances are all wonderfully done, but though there’s a profound sense of something about to happen, nothing ever does (at least that I could tell). And though I liked the characters, I never really learned much about Diane. It is compelling enough that I wanted to know more — but the film left me frustrated because it didn’t give me that.

The film’s most fatal flaw for me, as someone unfamiliar with Diane’s work, is that we never really get to see her photography. The story mostly happens before she became famous, so in a way that makes sense, and I gather that she apparently took pictures of weird stuff and helped “redefine the twentieth century’s perspective of beauty,” but throughout the film I kept thinking, “This would probably have more impact and make more sense if I knew her work or who the hell she is.” Most biography-type films try to give us insight into the artist and their work, but this only hints at it. We see she’s interested in the weird, but we never learn why. We never know what makes her tick.

In the end I was left disappointed and unsatisfied, confused, saddened by the tragic storyline, and uncertain what I was supposed to get out of this. What was the point? She was an unusual artist with a weird bent. Yeah? What else is new? Doesn’t that describe every artist to an extent? What made her special? I liked that they were trying to do something a little different than a straight biography here, but this needed more biographical elements to make sense and give it a foundation, and I also think it was very weak on the fantastical. It promoted itself as being strange and bizarre and yet there wasn’t that much of that. Probably this is a movie only for Diane Arbus fans.

Topic: [/movie]


: Lucky

I usually love black comedies like this and wanted to like this one. It has a terrific premise: a shy nobody who happens to be killing women who resemble his love interest who ignores him, accidentally wins a $36 million lottery when his mother redeems the ticket left behind by his latest victim, and the newfound wealth means his love is suddenly interested in him and they get married.

I figured a fun romp as he plays cat and mouse with the police and his new wife, but that’s not what happens at all.

The first half of the movie is pretty good. I liked the setup of the characters, the new money and wife helping the shy guy to blossom, and the way the guy’s gold-digger lover is an awkward fit and he just can’t see that.

Unfortunately, the film starts to wander after that, unsure of whether it’s a comedy or drama or thriller. The wife finds out about the murders and goes a bit crazy herself and the film’s just too weird. We aren’t sure what’s going on or why, and nothing makes much sense. There’s awkward editing that helps with this confusion. For instance, when he’s murdering a maid while on their honeymoon and the wife sees, she only sees the woman’s feet, not really enough to tell he’s killing the woman. I thought at first she thought he was having an affair — that would be the more natural assumption — and that explained her sudden change of attitude toward him. But later I realized that she knew he was a murderer but was staying with him anyway, apparently for the money. Very odd. (My rule would be: if a character does something of the norm, you need to make what they do crystal clear to the audience, since it’s already weird and unexpected. Don’t play coy editing games in that situation.)

We limp to an equally unsatisfying ending that doesn’t resolve much and leaves us more confused than ever about their relationship. In the end, this is uneven and awkward. There are some neat moments and good performances (the wife and killer are terrific), but it all acts like it’s profound when it’s really not. Bummer.

Topic: [/movie]


Fri, Feb 17, 2012

: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

I wasn’t a big fan of the first film and this one is only marginally better. It’s a little more fun with a handful of humorous moments, but the story is just as lame. This time it’s about a boy who’s the Devil’s child — the Devil wants him and the Rider’s going to protect the boy.

None of it makes any sense and the plot is pretty much “Rider finds kidnapped boy and beats up bad guys” repeated three times. Some of the action and special effects are cool (my favorite was when Nicholas Cage is on the bike and his head keeps half-switching into Ghost Rider skull and back to human again), but those moments are spotty.

All-in-all, it’s pretty much what you expect from a franchise like this. But then again, maybe I just don’t get the whole Ghost Rider premise. Nothing about the concept makes any sense to me.

Topic: [/movie]


Wed, Feb 15, 2012

: Homeland

I don’t often write about TV series, but I believe if they are done properly, they can be better than films. That’s because shows have more time to develop the storyline and they can be more complicated, similar to a really thick novel. Showtime’s original series Homeland is vastly better than most films.

I knew nothing about it as I wasn’t a subscriber to the channel. I’d heard the name of the show last fall when it came out, but that was about it. I vaguely remember hearing that the critics were praising it and more recently — after watching the first episode — I heard it won a bunch of awards. I’m not surprised. It is a fantastic show. I caught the first episode during a Showtime “free weekend” and I loved it so much I bought a subscription to the channel. If you know miser me who hates monthly fees, that’s impressive.

The premise of the show is brilliantly simple. An American CIA analyst, Carrie Mathison (played by the perfectly cast Claire Danes in her best role ever), gets intelligence that an American POW has been “turned” (brainwashed into becoming a traitor). She doesn’t know what to do with this info until suddenly an American soldier, Nicholas Brody, is discovered in a hole in the ground in the Middle East. Carrie is convinced that Brody (awesomely played by Damian Lewis) is the turned POW and is going to carry out a terrorist attack in the U.S. Brody comes back to the States and is celebrated a hero, but his home life is chaotic. He’s a changed man: gone for eight years, tortured and kept in isolation, he’s not exactly stable, and after so much time away, his children don’t know him and he learns his wife has been sleeping with his best friend. But is his strangeness due to his traumatic experience or is he a spy? Even more intriguing, we learn that analyst Carrie has a history of mental problems (she needs drugs to stay stable), so we begin to wonder if she’s insane or brilliant. There’s plenty of setup here for amazing drama, tension, and spy games.

Now with a binary “is he or isn’t he” premise like that, this struck me as an intriguing but ultimately shortlived show. After all, how long can they milk the suspense of Brody’s guilt or innocence? But wow, does this show do it! No spoilers, but not only does the show manage to carry on the premise throughout this first season, but it sets itself up brilliantly for a second season (something I couldn’t figure out they were going to do). Most importantly, it does this in a way that’s utterly logical and believable: nothing is forced or artificial.

In fact, that’s a key thing about this entire show that I loved: it’s one of the truest portrays of politics and spy craft that I’ve ever seen. For example, in most spy movies, the spy is doing things like infiltrating the enemy or sneaking in to steal information or something. While there’s a little bit of that here — surveillance and trailing and snooping — this show is much more about doing things like blackmailing shifty characters into cooperating with the government, or interrogating suspects in clever ways to get information from them. It’s realistic, too: the information obtained isn’t obviously important, like the location of a bomb, but it is tiny and almost trivial — perhaps just the fact that two people know each other — and top analysts can extract clues from that to figure out the big picture.

Other than one scene (out of hundreds) that felt off to me, the entire first season was nearly flawless. Most TV shows, even great ones, have a few dud episodes or a few moments that don’t quite work. This one did not. I watched every minute of every episode with my hands clenched and my breath held. It’s just amazing drama. With every episode I kept thinking “they can’t do this again next time” and yet they did. What’s awesome, though, is that every episode feels incredibly satisfying. This is not like most shows — say Alcatraz — that tease you with information but don’t really pay out much of the story. In Homeland things actually happen and the show progresses by a large amount in every episode — and yet the next one has just as much drama and twists and turns. It’s just amazing.

You have to watch this show. It’s grim, gritty, messy like real-life, the performances are fantastic, and the the story is just stunning. Apparently the show’s based on an Israeli TV series, Prisoners of War, and while I have no idea how good that show is or how similar this one is, I can imagine how that would work (POW returning to Israel and not knowing if the soldier has been turned or not). I can’t wait for more of this show, though I suppose season two won’t out until next fall. I’m not sure I can wait that long. I’m still trembling from watching all these episodes (I watched the last five non-stop) and I feel like going back and watching the entire series again from the beginning. I can’t think of any TV show that’s ever made me want to do that (there are some I like to watch more than once, but not immediately after watching the whole series).

Topic: [/television]


Tue, Feb 14, 2012

: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Author: Jeff Lindsay

I’m a huge fan of the Dexter television show — about a Miami blood spatter analyst who moonlights as a serial killer of serial killers — and decided I wanted to read the novel the show is based upon. I got the audiobook version and have been listening to it for the past couple of weeks.

At first I was surprised by how faithful the show is to the book as much was exactly the same as the first season of the show. But as the book progressed, the show goes a different direction. Usually I go for the book over the adaptation, but in this case I like the show better. The story’s more polished and seems to understand the title character better. Most of the differences are minor, some have to do with condensing the novel into a show, and some have to do with actors and how they portray various characters.

One interesting thing is that I so adore Michael C. Hall’s performance as Dexter and I love his narration that the audiobook felt awkward because it isn’t narrated by him (it was recorded before the show started). The reader just doesn’t capture Dexter’s fascinating quirkiness and dark humor properly. But of course that’s only a flaw of the audio version and it’s a very minor complaint.

Overall, I liked the book, though the ending veers severely away from where the show goes (no spoilers, but the book kills a character that the TV show does not). Very interesting. I prefer the show but I bought another book or two in the series and I’m going to read them and see if it’s worth reading all Dexter novels.

Topic: [/book]


Mon, Feb 13, 2012

: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

I liked the first film and though this one has a different cast (same boy, but everyone else is new), it’s similarly silly fun. At times the plot is so absurd it’s idiotic (yeah, the air lock of a 140-year-old submarine would still be functioning after all that time), but with the cast mugging good-naturedly at the camera you just can’t help but smile and go along with it (stepdad The Rock is perfectly cast in that regard).

Everyone (Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, and Vanessa Hudgens) are having fun and the island scenery is spectacular. There are tons of digital but pretty decent special effects (my favorite was the minature elephant that The Rock was holding) and the 3D version wasn’t bad. There’s not much of a plot other than “get to island, get off the island” but it’s still enjoyable. Overall this is a fine family film, as harmless as the roller coaster ride it resembles.

Topic: [/movie]


Sat, Feb 11, 2012

: The Road

I wanted to see this theatres but missed out. Now I’m not so sure that was a bad thing. It’s a terribly depressing film. It’s set in a desolate future where the world has ended and people have resorted to canibalism to survive. The son and the dad are all alone and basically the dad’s just counting time until when he can use the two bullets he’s saved for them.

Supposedly the father-son moments were supposed to special and touching, but I didn’t find them so. The kid was just annoying — a whining crier scared of his own shadow, and I didn’t find his performance very believable. At the most critical emotional moments his poor acting shown through and ruined it. The father was too morose to be very likable so there really wasn’t anyone for me to care about.

There are some interesting moments and the story’s not bad — just grim and sad — but I thought the look of the film was so dark and gray (literally) and it was hard to even see anything. Except for the full-color flashbacks the whole picture looked like I was seeing it through a thin sheet of gray cloth.

Other sad movies didn’t effect me this way — even Schindler’s List is heroic and I loved The Grey — but I just couldn’t much out of this one.

Topic: [/movie]


Fri, Feb 10, 2012

: Safe House

The concept of this sounded great in the trailers — a lowly CIA nobody manning a safe house in Capetown is suddenly the center of everything when the world’s most dangerous criminal is brought in to him to guard. But safe house’s location is compromised and attacked, and only the CIA guy escapes with his prisoner and they’re on the run not knowing who they can trust.

The trailer talked about how the criminal is a master at psychological manipulation and promised all sorts of mind games where we’re not sure if our criminal is playing our hero or vice versa.

But unfortunately the film fails to deliver on all that promise. The “revelation” at the end was something I predicted three minutes into the film… and little surprised me after that. There are large logic gaps throughout the film where much isn’t explained. For instance, while on the run our hero suddenly has a vehicle, but we aren’t shown where he got it. Did he steal it? Is it a car he had hidden for emergencies?

We aren’t really sure how our hero or others figures things out, and sometimes when it is clear, it’s not that intelligent. The bad guys seem to have unlimited resources in terms of bullets, guns, SUVs, and men, while the good is stranded on his own.

The middle part of the film is a muddle and more confusing than anything, and the end, when everything’s ultimately explained, is too predictable.

All that being said, however, this is not a bad film; it’s just not great. It’s disappointing to me because my expectations were high and the idea had huge potential. I figured the “psychological manipulation” would be along the lines of the amazing Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs but it was a faint shadow of that.

On the plus side, the film’s action scenes are good, though some of the fights go on much too long. Once the action gets going it doesn’t stop, either, so the whole movie’s a non-stop thrill-ride. The performances are terrific, with both Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington rising above the material. Ultimately it’s a film that the nitpicky will find annoying and the casual viewer will probably enjoy.

Topic: [/movie]


Tue, Feb 07, 2012

: The Switch

This was very different from what I expected. I thought it was a lame comedy about sperm donor switching, but it turned out to be a semi-sweet tale about a shy dork who “accidentally” helps his best friend get pregnant and later realizes he has to tell her the kid she got is his.

There are some really good moments, especially with the dad as he connects with the weird kid (who is like his father), but the whole film feels awkward, as though there isn’t a laugh track when there should be. It feels like stuff is trying to be funny but isn’t. I think it’s a case of a film that isn’t sure what it is — a serious drama or a comedy.

Another serious problem is that the central premise is just too absurd. When I first heard of the concept, I assumed it was something like a lab mixup that mislabled the sperm samples, but it’s nothing like that at all. They worked hard to make it believable and it almost gets there, but in the end it’s just too farfetched and that weakens the entire film. Such ridiculousness works for a silly comedy, but not for a drama, and this feels much more like the later, meaning that the flawed concept equals a flawed film.

Still, it’s better than I expected. The kid-dad stuff was really sweet and made the film worth watching for me.

Topic: [/movie]


: Hobo With A Shotgun

Wow, is this film violent! I kid you not: this is the most violent film I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of gruesome deaths and injuries. It makes Robocop seem mild. It’s not just the deaths of the bad guys (I’m all for that), but even our heros have horrible things happen to them. (Not to spoil things, but in one scene our hobo hero chews glass. Yeah, fun to watch. Not.)

Just the title had me intrigued and eager to check it out, but unfortunately the setting of this film is just too depressing for me to enjoy it. It’s set in some sort of lawless city where a Bad Dude and his sons run everything and literally kill people for sport. It’s really a sick place and there isn’t much hope shown. There were a few tender moments between our main characters, the hobo and the prostitute he rescued, and I liked that, but they were too brief and so much bad stuff happens to them that it’s really difficult to watch.

A lot of ultraviolent movies get away with it because the violence is cartoony or there’s a great sense of humor about things. This has that, to an extent, but the humor falls flat when it’s our heros getting their heads sawed off or arm chewed up. We can laugh when bad stuff happens to the bad guy, but we have to suffer along with our heros, and that made this film not very enjoyable to me.

I liked a lot of it — it’s stylishly shot, the plot is decent (standard revenge story), and the performances good (especially Rutger Hauer in the lead role) — but ultimately I didn’t enjoy it. Weird film in that regard, for I wanted to like it a lot. I’m still glad I saw it as it is interesting, but it’s definitely distasteful and caution should be exercised before viewing.

Topic: [/movie]


Sun, Feb 05, 2012

: Rubber

How in the world do I even begin to describe this hilariously bizarre film? It’s an odd film that to explain ruins it, so I’ll do my best to minimize any spoilers.

On the surface, it appears to be a classic B-movie horror concept: a sentient tire (yes, a tire) rolls through a desert town blowing up people’s heads with its mind.

If that description doesn’t make you want to see this, I don’t know what will!

But the film is much deeper than it sounds. It reminds me of a play where the audience is part of the show. In this case there is an audience in the film watching the film — which allows commentary on the film within the film. This takes everything to fantastic new levels. The film’s surreal, self-aware, and wonderfully inventive. Even when the film hits a boring spot the internal audience mocks that — automatically invalidating the criticism!

It’s a difficult film to explain further. I’ll just let you watch it. Note that it’s not perfect: there are aspects of the concept that don’t quite work and the film is limited by its genre, but it’s still remarkable and very entertaining. Highly recommended if absurdist horror-comedy appeals to you (it reminds me a lot of some of Peter Jackson’s early work).

Topic: [/movie]


Sat, Feb 04, 2012

: Zookeeper

Stupid and predictable in terms of the main storyline, but I’m a sucker for talking animal movies. Like most of those, this one is very uneven with only a few highlight jokes that are pretty good and a lot that fall flat or go on too long, but it’s still pleasant overall and not too obnoxious.

Topic: [/movie]


Fri, Feb 03, 2012

: Chronicle

I didn’t hold out much hope for this judging by the limp previews: the story seemed limited to some kids apparently obtaining powers of telekinesis. I also didn’t realize it was a “found footage” type of film or I would have been even more leery. But it turns out to be a very good film (for its type).

It’s sort of a cross between Cloverfield and Carrie. The plot is simple: a trio of boys find a mysterious thing underground and when they wake up later, they are all telekinetic. They discover that they get better at it with practice, but soon realize that their powers are dangerous and they need to be careful with them. The boys are not initially a group, but their powers allow them to unify. They help the social outcast become cool, but then everything backfires and bad things happen.

It’s this aspect of the film that makes it interesting: how would you or I react given superpowers? Would we use them for good or selfishly? The film realistically tackles this question, giving us several different answers, and it’s an entertaining ride.

The climax is over-the-top but interesting, and the found footage gimmick actually works well for this storyline. The cast of unknows is great (especially the nerdy kid, who strikes a perfect balance between unhinged and awkwardly cool) and the special effects are nicely subtle for the most part.

Still, the film is limited by its genre and filming technique. There are some rough moments and akward transitions and more than once the events strain credibility (both in terms of what happens and in the idea that such an event would just happen to be filmed). But it’s still a remarkable achievement for this kind of film. It’s definitely an interesting film worth seeing, a film that rises well above the norm for its genre.

Topic: [/movie]