Posts Tagged ‘Action’

MOVIE: Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

July 17, 2013

stintodarknesssI feel like I don’t really need to “review” this movie, per se, in that if you liked the first one, you’re going to go see this one no matter what I say, and you’re probably going to have a grand old time.  Personally, I loved it.  I think I liked it better than the first one, in fact, possibly because the relationships between the characters really start to expand and deepen this time around. But even if I had negative things to say about ST:ID, I know they would in no way deter a Star Trek fan from going to see it.  If Star Trek fans threw in the towel every time an installment sucked, the franchise never would’ve survived Deep Space Nine (at a minimum).

That said, I don’t, in fact, have anything (much) negative to say about it (it’s maybe a little overly self-referential), and before you naysayers say nay, let me just throw this out there because it’s the one I keep hearing the most:  yes, it’s very predictable.  NO DOY.  It’s both a prequel and a remake, which, granted, is somewhat confusing, but either way, it’s not like you have to be worried one of the major characters isn’t going to make it home alive, dig?  Nor is it supposed to be an exercise in perfection and/or thoughtful script-writing.  It’s a Star Trek movie!  By J. J. Abrams!  Stop thinking so much!

(Though, okay, I will grant you this much:  How is it that however-many-hundreds of years from now, we apparently have worse radar technology instead of better, and therefore don’t see a ship crashing on us from space until it’s literally crashing on us from space?  I mean, we can see stuff before it falls on us NOW and we haven’t even left our own solar system.  You’d think with a sky full of bad guys, Earth would be paying a little more attention to what was heading its way from above.  Although, since a ship of humans invade Qo’noS in this movie (I looked up how to spell “Kronos” in Klingon for you guys) and all they encounter in response is a coupla Klingon squad cars, it seems as though pretty much nobody is on the ball  in the future, which, whatever, guys.  It’s not how I’d do it, but maybe it’s a job security thing?)

BUT ANYWAY!  Instead of telling you all about the awesomeness of this awesome movie that was totally awesome, I wanted to tell you something more interesting (to me, anyway).  After watching this installment, I went home from the theater and immediately loaded up the first few episodes of the original series.  Have you watched any of those recently?  I probably hadn’t since I was a kid, and I tell you what — after three episodes of season 1, I was already thinking to myself, man, Chris Pine is totally NAILING Captain Kirk.  It was weird watching Shatner after seeing Pine, in fact, because it felt like Shatner was doing Pine (this is all coming out a lot dirtier than I intended, looking back, but you know what I mean).

Also, I always thought the Uhura/Spock romance was wholly invented for the new films, but no-ho-ho, my friends!  Go watch the season one episode “Charlie X,” or, more specifically, this clip from it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B4lsvrzfZI.  DUDES!  She practically sits in his lap!  How did I ever miss this?  This made me so happy.

As for the other actors/characters, I adore Quinto’s Spock, who seems more complex to me than Nimoy’s version, possibly because of the extra Uhuransity;  Simon Pegg is always a joy no matter what he does, but most especially here; Anton Yelchin is an adorable puppy; and John Cho is. . . er.  . . kind of invisible, to be honest, but hey, maybe next time, John Cho.

Also, Sherlock/Smaug sure is turning into Mr. Ubiquitous these days, and thank god for it because it’s about dang time.  (With a name like “Benedict Cumberbatch,” we knew he’d go far.)

Oh, hey, notice someone I’m missing?  (No, not Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Pike — don’t even talk to me about that.)  Karl Urban as Bones, perhaps?  Yeah, that’s because I CANNOT STAND KARL URBAN AS BONES.  While Chris Pine truly IS Captain Kirk, Karl Urban continues to merely PLAY Leonard McCoy, and he makes me cringe with about every other sentence of his super-awkward DeForest Kelley impersonation.

That said, I appear to be the only person on the planet who feels this way, so perhaps I should just shut up.

GO SEE THIS IN THEATERS, MY GOD!

[Update:  avoid the comment section if you don’t want to see any spoilers!]

[View trailer | Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre:  Sci-fi, Action
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood

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MOVIE: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

March 14, 2013

70241756Words cannot even begin to express how much I thoroughly, incredibly, delightfully enjoyed this insanely bananas movie.

A few years ago, a reader here recommended the film In Bruges to me, a quirky little comedy about two hit men (one played by anti-Boyfriend Colin Farrell) hiding out in a small town in Belgium while the hoopla over their accidental shooting of [redacted for spoilers] dies down.

Written and directed by Martin McDonaugh, In Bruges is a strange, strangely brilliant movie, with sharp, witty dialogue and a surprising amount of authentic emotion.  It made my #2 spot in my Top Ten Favorite (Good) Movies of 2008 list, and I’ve watched it several times since and loved it all the more every time.

Seven Psychopaths, McDonaugh’s second feature-length picture, follows in similarly-shaped footsteps.  It’s also about a group of guy friends going through something truly weird together, and it’s got a similar kind of empathetic undercurrent to it (not as rich as in Bruges, but there nonetheless), even while it’s also loaded to the hilt with comic-style, exaggerated violence (warning! head explodes!).

The story is about Marty Faranan (Farrell again — and while I hate to say this, I’m really starting to like that guy), a wanna-be scriptwriter living in Los Angeles who has been working hard on his first screenplay for months, yet still only has a concept and a title.  Seven Psychopaths, he’s going to call it, and it’s going to be about. . . seven psychopaths.

Marty’s best friend, Billy (the ever-delightful Sam Rockwell), decides to help Marty out by putting an ad in the paper asking for psychopaths who have interesting stories to give him a call.  THANKS, BILLY!

Meanwhile, Billy and HIS friend Hans (Christopher Walken and his usual brand of semi-contained strangeness) have been working on a money-making scheme in which they kidnap dogs and then “pretend” to find them, collecting reward money.  All is going well until they kidnap the wrong dog — the dog of a notorious gangster, played by Woody Harrelson (cue lots of over-pronunciation of the “t” in “Shih Tzu”).

And just when you think this movie cannot get any more ridiculous or any more ridiculously well-cast, who should walk in the front door but Tom Waits?  Carrying a bunny rabbit, no less!   Honestly, if someone had told me this movie was going to involve Tom Waits and a bunny rabbit, I would’ve been first in line on ticket day.  That’s all it would’ve taken.  THAT IS ALL.

Seven Psychopaths is maybe a little too clever at times — it really likes to pile on the movie archetypes and the meta, with meta on top of meta on top of a picture within a picture.  But the characters are so fun, their relationships so zingy, and their banter so marvelous, the  overdoing-of-things at times just never seemed to get in the way for me.  This movie is flawed, without a doubt, but it’s also an absolute blast.  Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see what McDonaugh does next!

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Comedy, Action
Cast:  Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Pitt, Gabourey Sidibe,

MOVIE: Skyfall (2012)

November 20, 2012

You know what I want for Christmas this year?  I want to skip middle age and go sta-raight to Judi Dench.  Is that really so much to ask?

This movie was fantastic fun, and since the plot is beside the point, I’m not even going to take the time to describe it to, aside from mentioning it actually made sense this time (I still have no idea what Quantum of Solace was about — you should totally click that link to read my review because I just did and it made me laugh).  It made sense, it was entertaining and well-paced, and stuff happened that I actually cared about.  I love it when that happens!

I was excited, also, to see Ben Whishaw as the new Q — I’ve been a fan of his since Perfume and I’m a sucker for cute, young nerds to begin with– and holy crow, I tell you what, any time Javier Bardem plays a bad guy, he is the new scariest bad guy of all time.  He doesn’t need a cattle prod to be terrifying, as it turns out.  He just needs blond eyebrows.

NIGHTMARELAND.

Thumbs way, way up — go see this movie!  You need a break from holiday stress, and Bond is where it’s AT.  (Though, for the record, drinking your martini shaken instead of stirred is for rookies.)

[Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre: Action, Spy
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Judi Motherfucking Dench, Ben Whishaw

MOVIE: The Avengers (2012)

August 22, 2012

I actually saw this movie about a month ago, but I was having a hard time figuring out what to say about it in a review so I never got around to writing one.  But the blooper reel from the upcoming DVD release just hit the Interwebs today, and I realized it kind of says everything that needs to be said.  Which is this:  The Avengers is FUN.  It’s just REALLY, REALLY FUN.   IT IS SO FUN, YOU GUYS.

I can’t think of anything profound to say (clearly) — I’m not a superhero movie or comic fan generally speaking, and I don’t know anything about any of the characters (except for having watched a lot of The Incredible Hulk episodes as a kid, which I bet doesn’t count for much, right, nerds?).  But to me, this struck me as a movie written by a totally joyful fan boy (Joss Whedon) and acted by a whole bunch of incredible talents who were having the time of their lives on set.

Need independent proof of that?  Check out the blooper reel here:  http://vimeo.com/48114558.  Kind of says it all!

This is a movie that oozes happiness and fun.  But it’s not just silliness.  Some of the characters (Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, for example), are complex and interesting, not just big, green, and fond of breaking things (though I confess, I’m still confused why we have a group of human superheroes and then. . . a GOD?  What is Thor doing in this gaggle?  I guess I’ll have to watch his movie next and find out!).  And the script is brilliantly, hilariously written — just what you’d expect from Whedon (I’d actually forgotten he’d written the script, in fact, until the scene at the end during which Capt. America is assigning battle tasks, then turns to Hulk and says simply, “SMASH.”  Oh yes, WHEDON.  Of course!).

You could not do better for a popcorn-munchin’, summer-heat dodgin’ film, in my opinion.  This one fits that bill absolutely perfectly.

So, you know, RECOMMENDED!  Doy.  And that goes for fans of the comics and not-fans of the comics alike!

[Prequeue it at Netflix | Preorder the DVD]

Genre:  Action, SMASH
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner,  Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

MOVIE: Safe House (2012)

June 22, 2012

Aside from the fact I’ve now decided Ryan Reynolds is the most boringest actor OF ALL TIME, I actually enjoyed this thriller, which was my Pay-Per-View pick at a recent librarian conference (my first night in a hotel for a conference, I always iron all my clothes while eating room service and watching a PPV movie — it’s a tradition).  The story’s about two CIA agents — a n00b, Matt Weston (Reynolds), and a old-timer-gone-rogue, Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) — who begin as guard and prisoner and end as hesitant partners at work against a force of corruption on the inside.

As the movie opens, Weston is frustrated with his stale career at the CIA.  His assignment has been to sit on a safe house in a foreign country (I forget where, but it isn’t important), waiting around for someone to need it.  Nobody ever does, though, so in his off-hours, he’s cultivated a personal life — engaged to a beautiful woman who has no idea what he really does for a living.  (And yep, THAT’S coming back to bite him in the ass later in the film, believe you me.  Fellas, why do you insist on lying to your ladies about your secret agent jobs?  It just never ends well.  Never ever ever.  Ever.  Or ever.)

Matt’s life is about to get a lot more exciting, though.  Infamous agent Tobin Frost has just turned himself into the CIA, claiming he’s in possession of some super-seekrit data (the movie’s MacGuffin — most spy flicks gotta have one) that a group of bad guys would kill for.  To protect him (while also torturing him for information — ah, the irony of the US government!), the CIA takes him to the closest safe house — Matt’s.  And though Matt’s initially treated like a servant by the agents guarding Frost, who think of him as a rookie not ready to take on anything major, it’s not long before Weston finds himself on the run with Tobin, trying to hold onto him as a prisoner while also keeping them both from being killed by the aforementioned group of bad guys.

Cue chase scenes.  About ten thousand of them.

From there, the story takes a pretty predictable path.  If you’ve ever seen a Hollywood movie — especially one starring Denzel Washington — then you know how this is going to end.  The protagonists start out as enemies, Weston’s youthful idealism keeping him from believing Frost’s story of massive government corruption.  But as the evidence piles up (along with the bodies), that idealism is replaced by savvy grown-up cynicism, Weston ultimately revealing himself to be a talented agent with great instincts for the job.  Frost and Weston end up working together to solve the mystery at hand, and, you know, tidy little ending, blah blah blah.

There’s nothing in this film you haven’t seen a hundred times before, in other words, but what makes it entertaining is — well, hell, I don’t know.  Something.  Something other than Ryan Reynolds who, MY GOD, is just the blandest person alive.  Washington does what he always does, though, which is something I happen to like, so he’s fun to watch.  And the rest of the cast is strong as well — Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard (mrrrowl!) and good ol’ ex-Boyfriend Liam Cunningham, who is always a pleasure.

All in all, well worth a rental.

[Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre:  Action, Spy
Cast:  Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick, Liam Cunningham

MOVIE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

May 27, 2012

Zzzzzzzzz.  *sleep apnea snort*  What?  What?  Oh, was there a movie just on?  There was?  Huh.  Go figure.

(In other words, what a snoozefest this stinker was!  I think once you go Benedict Cumberbatch, you just can’t go back.  There’s no mystery in this mystery, no real clue-hunting, or clever deducting.  It’s just an action movie, plain and simple.  Which:  Yawnsville, UK.  Maybe worth a rental, but don’t blame me if you have to try it three times before you can actually stay conscious for the whole thing.)

Lameity lame lame lame-o.

[Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre:  Crap, Action
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Rachel McAdams

MOVIE: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

April 25, 2012

I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I find Tom Cruise action movies incredibly entertaining.  Well, okay, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.  But not so embarrassed I can’t take a little ribbing in the comments, so feel free to mock away.

This one, the latest in the Mission: Impossible series, is nowhere near as good as the previous installation of this series (the one with Philip Seymour Hoffman), but it’s still a good time.  The mission is a little on the dull side — they’re trying to stop a crazy guy who wants to blow up a nuclear bomb to sort of “reboot” the world — but it moved along at a decent enough clip, with plenty of one-liners and awesome gadgetry to make it more fun.  The problem with the story, from my perspective, is that the villain is usually the make-it-or-break-it part of a film like this, and “crazy” is not nearly as fun as “evil,” if you ask me.  (In terms of “evil” villains, by the way, I like “evil scientists” the best.)

Simon Pegg is back and enjoyable as always, though half the funny lines he delivered are funny lines I’ve heard 10,000 times in action movies.  But this one also saw the addition of Jeremy Renner to the team, his character left with just enough mystery to suggest he might be a permanent addition to the series (oh, that would be nice!).  I dig.

Worth a rental for sure.  I’ll probably see it again with my mom, by the way, as she’s also a fan of Tom Cruise action flicks.  And yeah, we liked Knight and Day  with Cameron Diaz too.  You can’t make me feel dumb for it, either.  Though I have no doubt you will try.  GO AHEAD.  MAKE MY DAY.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Action, Spy
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Ving Rhames, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson

MOVIE: The Next Three Days (2010)

May 9, 2011
NOTE:  THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS A SPOILER, BUT THIS MOVIE IS SO CRAPPY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IT A FAVOR.

I confess it wasn’t until the closing credits rolled on this flick and I saw Paul Haggis’s name that I thought to myself, “Huh, I probably should’ve paid more attention to that.”  Haggis is, after all, the MASTERMIND behind the BRILLIANT television series Due South (you know, among other Oscar-winning things).

But that Paul Haggis?  Of the complex and clever mind?  Nowhere to be found in this snoozaroo, and I doubt paying closer attention would’ve helped much.  Besides, I watched this on pay-per-view in a hotel room, which means there was absolutely nothing around to distract me in the slightest, and I still had a hard time focusing on it.  The beginning didn’t grab my attention at all and the story was about as predictable as they come (not to mention utterly ridiculous).  What the heck, Hags?  Where is your mind?

The Next Three Days is about a family — husband John (Russell Crowe), wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks), and their young son — whose lives are flipped on end when Lara is suddenly arrested for the murder of her boss.  All the evidence points to her — her car was spotted leaving the scene, the victim’s blood was on her jacket, and she’d spent the previous evening ranting about how much she hated her job to friends.  Motive, means, and opportunity, all lined up perfectly; the trial moves quickly and ends with a guilty verdict, bing bang boom.

At first, the promise of a successful appeal keeps the family going, but as the years pass, it becomes clear Lara is never getting out.  When John learns she’s only got three more days before she’ll finally be moved to the state pen, he’s had it.  He’s gonna bust her out.

And so he does.  And it’s pretty easy.  Roll credits.

YAWN.

I have no idea what the point of this film was.  Everything about it was mediocre, from the acting, to the story, to the lamely forced action scenes.  The only nice thing I can say about it is that it only cost me $4.99, instead of the usual pay-per-view fees of more like $15, which left me feeling free to watch something better when it was over.  Thankfully, what I watched next (review coming soon!) helped clear the bad taste that’s always left in my mouth when I see a completely worthless movie that cost bazillions of dollars to make — bazillions of dollars that could’ve been spent making five independent films that would’ve been fifteen times better.  Man, I hate it when that happens.

SKIP!  NEXT!  BOO!

[Netflix it, if you still don’t believe me, you fool, you fool.]

Genre: Action (dubious)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Ty Simpkins, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Daniel Stern

MOVIE: Source Code (2011)

April 21, 2011
NOTE: This review does NOT contain anything I’d consider a “spoiler.”  But I can’t vouch for the comments section, where spoilage of the ending may occur.  If you haven’t seen the movie, STAY OUTTA THE COMMENTS!

Most of the reviews I’ve read about this movie have said the same thing: it’s a total blast as long as you don’t think about it too much.

Well, where’s the fun in THAT, I ask you.  I’m a bit of a physics nerd, and you can’t make a movie about time travel and expect me NOT to think about it.  That’s just crazy talk, sirs and madams.

But first, let me say that those critics and I agree about one thing:  this movie is definitely fun.  It’s about an Army helicopter pilot, Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is being attacked in the air over Afghanistan when he suddenly finds himself at rest inside a strange metal pod.  On a TV screen above him comes a woman who identifies herself as Col. Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) and explains he’s been recruited for an experimental mission that involves sending his consciousness back in time to inhabit the body of a young man named Sean Fentress on a Chicago-bound commuter train earlier that morning.

Because of the way the procedure works, she says, Stevens can only inhabit Sean for the last eight minutes of his life — you see, Sean, as well as everybody else on the train, was killed that morning when a terrorist’s bomb exploded on board, and they need Stevens to figure out who the bomber is so they can stop him before he detonates another one.

As Stevens returns over and over to re-experience the same eight minutes, he gradually collects enough information to deduce the identity of the bomber.  He also falls in love with a woman on the train, the first face he sees every time he is sent back.

What I found intriguing about this film was less the mystery about the bomber (which is pretty ho-hum, frankly) and more the mystery about this experimental time travel procedure, which the movie doesn’t even attempt to explain, aside from saying it involves “quantum mechanics and parabolic calculus.”  To the movie, and to most of its viewers, the “how?” is not really important.  But to nerds like me, it’s endlessly thought-provoking, so I will now ramble on for several paragraphs while I work through some of my theories.

There are two possibilities, to my mind.  One is that the time travel Stevens is experiencing involves parallel universes (as opposed to a more Back to the Future-type time travel, where you go back in your own reality and your actions can impact your own future — these are two well-known ideas about how time travel might work, and it’s my understanding that most physicists who believe in this stuff think the parallel universe one is more likely).

There are several elements in the story that suggest this parallel universe thing is at work, especially the ending, but there are also several elements that don’t quite make sense in that context.

For example, my understanding of parallel universes is that they’re not identical (and how could they be, when all it takes to change everything is the flap of a single butterfly’s wings, right?), and that’s suggested here too by the fact Stevens in Sean’s body is obviously altering the events of that time line.  But if that’s the case, and parallel universes are not identical, then how are they so sure the bombing will happen at all, let alone be perpetrated by the same guy?  And why does Goodwin tell Stevens he can’t save the people on the train because they’re already dead (in her universe/time line).  He’d be able to save them in HIS universe/time, right?

That, and other discrepancies like it, bring me to my other theory, which is that the procedure isn’t about time travel at all — the way we think of it anyway. Instead I’m thinking it could be some kind of complex computer simulation.  Professor Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), the procedure’s developer, talks about the brain being able to store eight minutes of memory after death, as though it were somehow retrievable data.  If it’s a simulation, that explains why Goodwin insists Stevens can’t save anybody (though she may simply have been lying about that for expediency’s sake, I suppose).  BUT, it doesn’t really explain how he could find the bomber. Sean’s last eight minutes were spent sitting in a train car talking to a friend — the only memories he would have would be of that single car, and possibly the restroom and any passengers who happened to walk through.  Yet Stevens is able to go beyond that and to interact with people Sean did not interact with, as well as get off the train and experience events there.

Then again, an advanced computer should be able to accurately extrapolate a lot of information from that original data set.  And so, in that case, maybe this theory works.  Goodwin tells Stevens the bomber is one of the passengers in that car, for one thing, which goes along with the idea that Sean is the perfect person to inhabit (though I’m not sure how she could possibly know the bomber was from that car and not, say, the car next to it — the location of the bomb and the phone the bomber leaves behind suggest proximity, not specificity) (but whatever).  Also, Stevens and the computer simulation are also given more data as Goodwin’s day progresses and her investigators find additional clues, thus providing more variables, leading, potentially, to more, and more accurate, extrapolations.

This is the theory that makes the most sense to me — at least until we get to the end.  Then I start having to go a little more Russell-Crowe-in-Virtuosity to get it to work out.

Oh, heck, who knows?  All I really know is that I wish I’d seen this one with my mom, because we LOVE trying to hash these kinds of things out together after watching movies like this one, and now I’ll have to wait for the damn DVD!  Rats!  (Though if any of you guys saw the movie and want to nerd out with me in the comments, I would love it.  Feel free to talk about the ending there, and if you haven’t seen the film, again, STAY OUT!)

Extremely entertaining flick and a great one for all fans of sci-fi action, nerd and non-nerd alike.  Recommended!

[Prequeue it at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Science Fiction, Action
Cast:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden

MOVIE: Sanctum (2011)

February 17, 2011

My expectations for this movie were low — I was pretty much just after a 2-hour episode of I Shouldn’t Be Alive and a chance to stare lustfully at Ioan Gruffud’s delicious  nose for a while.  So, it says a lot that even going in with little in the way of hope, I still emerged from this stinker disappointed. When are the people who make movies going to realize that scripts matter?  This movie had all the elements it needed to be really entertaining — a great setting and a decent story (about a group of people trapped in a huge, underwater cave system in Australia, forced to work together to try to find their way out with minimal gear). But instead of focusing on the adventure elements, they spent way, WAY too much time on stupid, trite, unoriginal interpersonal relationship nonsense.  Beeyuck, I say.

If the whole movie had been like the last ten minutes, my pals and I agreed, where the survival and escape parts finally became the focus, it could’ve been pretty good.  Alternatively, if the characters had been interesting people with actual depth, instead of merely being oft-recycled characters from 8000 other films just like this one, it also could’ve been pretty good.  Or at least pretty better, anyway.

Instead, our four main characters were these extremely familiar yahoos:

Cranky Team Leader:  Extremely focused cave diving expert who abandoned his wife and son years ago when he realized the only thing he truly cared about was work.  Can’t express emotions and has long since given up on trying.  Likes to quote Coleridge incessantly, I’m assuming because the writer read “Kubla Khan” in high school and has been waiting ever since to impress chicks by working it into a script.  (Shut up, Coleridge.)

Team Leader’s Teenage Son:  Dragged along on this expedition by his father in a half-hearted attempt to un-irreconcilable their differences.  Predictably snotty and bitter about it, though I should note he was the only character I liked who made it to the final act.  As it turns out, Rhys Wakefield is pretty adorable;  I wouldn’t mind seeing him again in something.  Something . . . say . . . good, perhaps.

Rich American Prick:  Ioan Gruffud’s character (forced to speak in a brash American accent, which did not help matters much), who is funding the expedition.  He’s just arrived at the site as the film opens, primarily, it seems, to show off his huge, costly project to his new girlfriend.  He’s an arrogant jerk.  He also, coincidentally, has all the worst lines in the film (my friends and I were snorting back laughs every time Ioan opened his mouth, poor fella).

Also, for the record, I never want to hear Horatio Hornblower use the word “clusterfuck” ever again.  It just comes out all wrong.  Ioan, next time make them let you substitute “absolute bollocks” instead, ya dig?  Obliged.

Rich American’s Stupid Girlfriend:  She’s actually an experienced mountain climber, which is why it was so surprising when she refused to take any of the advice the divers kept giving her.  You’d think an experienced-anything would know better.  It starts with her refusing to put on a wet suit despite the obvious risk of hypothermia (the water is a mile deep in a CAVE where it gets no SUN, lady!), and it only goes downhill from there.   I couldn’t wait for her to die, to be honest.  I’m sure that makes me sound like a terrible person, but, hey, just wait until you meet her.

These guys all get trapped in the cave system together when a hurricane hits land above them and a boulder falls into their only known exit.  They spend most of the next 90 minutes bickering and swimming around, boring boring boring, and it’s not until the final ten minutes, when we’re down to just the father and son, that the movie finally hits its stride.  In the meantime, everything else goes exactly as you’d expect — the father and son clash constantly then finally bond when it becomes clear to the son that his father cares if he lives or dies, the Rich American argues all the time and acts cocky and is later revealed to be a total coward, all the nice people get killed early on and in truly horrible ways, etc. etc.

And then, ugh, there was the 3D, which was absolutely pointless.  It added nothing of interest whatsoever visually (not that there was much to work with — boringest underground cave system EVER), which surprised me because it was my understanding they shot the movie in 3D, as opposed to adding the effects later, and so one would assume they were thinking about cool things to do with it the whole time.  Alas, not.  Also, James Cameron was the producer, a man who clearly knows a lot about how to use 3D effectively (Avatar was a bad movie, yes, but the 3D effects totally blew my mind).   So, like, what the hell, team?  If you have the option of seeing this in 2D instead, you should take it.  Save yourself the extra dough and spend it on margaritas afterward so you and your own movie-watching pals can get sloshed and make fun of Ioan Gruffud all evening.  Ach, if only we’d known!

Then again, I should probably mention that it’s entirely possible this movie was a lot better than I’m giving it credit for.  Because, in all honesty, I spent a ridiculous amount of time focusing on Cranky Team Leader’s face, ignoring everything else, trying to figure out why Stellan Skarsgaard looked so weird.  Turns out, Stellan Skarsgaard looked so weird because he was actually Richard Roxburgh.  Go figure.

That plus the fact we were waited on by Poor Man’s Philip Seymour Hoffman at the concessions stand left me all dopplegangerly disoriented, which I’m sure helped matters very little.

Phew.  Whadda stinker.  I will say, though, that I had a great time watching this movie — there’s really nothing quite as entertaining as seeing a bad film with a couple of bad-film loving friends.  Let’s do that again soon, ladies.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Action, Adventure
Cast:  Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Christopher Baker, Nicole Downs, Allison Cratchley, John Garvin