Movie Reviews 30

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
There was a lot of fanfare about this movie long before it hit the theaters because it was leaked on the internet prior to it’s release. A lot of discussion ensued not only about the leak and what it would do to ticket sales, but also about the overall quality of the movie and even rumors that it was leaked on purpose. As the reviews were generally negative, I pretty much shunned the movie and thought I would just watch it some time in the far future. But as it turned out, I ended up watching it at one of those second run theaters that show movies a few months after their initial runs. I was a bit surprised to find that while it is not a great movie in any respect, it wasn’t all that bad either. Some of the origin story even surprised me, although I confess that I’m not that much of an X-Men fan to know all the goings on the Marvel comic universe.
I particularly enjoyed the sequences depicting Wolverine and his brother Victor Creed (Sabretooth) living through war after war throught the ages (from the civil war right up to ‘Nam). While relatively brief, they lay down the evolving relationship between the two and other characters that are the foundation of the movie, all culminating in a climactic battle with Weapon XI (Deadpool). Sure it’s all rip roaring, cigar chomping, grunting, over the top action sequences. But it’s just an X-Men movie. Says so right in the title. So enjoy it for what it is.

Splice (2009)
Splice is one of those science fiction horror movies that starts off clearly in the SF genre but by the end is outright horror. It reminded me a lot of the first Species movie and does in fact share many similarities. A husband and wife scientist couple create a new life form in a lab based on multiple animals. But when the media event they stage to present their fruits to the world goes horribly wrong their research is terminated. Undaunted, they create another creature, this time using human DNA in the mix. As the creature grows up, it develops human features and sensibilities, so you just know this is going to turn out nasty, ‘nasty’ being an understatement. Fantastic creature makeup and effects deliver a truly believable new life form that is downright creepy at times and that is just part of what makes this a great movie. Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley star in the role of the misguided scientist couple and Delphine Chanéac plays the part of the creature. The movie really plays with your emotions as the creature starts off as some cute cuddly thing which transitions to a childlike stage beginning to take on the human characteristics, and finally to an adolescent creature trying to figure out why it is different from everyone else. But, as I said, by the end, it’s a totally different movie. There is a final stage in the development that really kicks the movie in horror gear. Trying to be an SF, Horror, Drama, all at the same time will not please everyone, but when you get all the elements right, as this movie does, it works.

Public Enemies (2009)
Johnny Depp is at the peak of his career with his success as Jack Black in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and what seems like every second Tim Burton movie. But in Public Enemies he takes on role that we’re not familiar seeing in Depp’s deep acting repertoire, that of a bad guy. I should point out that Jack Sparrow is really a nice guy that we love to root for in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise despite being a pirate in the literal sense. But in this case as the legendary depression era outlaw John Dillinger, Depp is just a heartless criminal with Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis hunting him down. While both put in credible performances, I can see why this movie featuring two of the biggest names in Hollywood was not a smash hit. While enacting the true life, but inevitably glamorized and embellished story of the gangster and his pursuer, there was a distinct lack of drama that even the additions of Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd could not levitate the movie to block buster status. The thrown in Dillinger love interest that is supposed to humanize the criminal isn’t very credible and more of a distraction. Otherwise, an OK movie with a nice 30’s feel if you’re in the mood for that.

Cujo (1983)
How many movies starring a dog do you know? Old folks will remember Lassie, Rin Tin Tin or even the star studded “Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood“. But as of the 80’s, the one movie that came to mind when you said “Dog movie” was Cujo. Yep, a horror movie from a Stephen King novel featuring a slobbering St Bernard! It sounds weird even just writing that, but trust me, it works. We first see Cujo languishing and rummaging around fields surrounding a dilapidated farm, home to a lazy part time mechanic and his wife. Cujo gets bitten on the noggin by a bat, and subsequently develops rabies. But the movie buildup is about a housewife and her young son. Soon after terminating an affair in the small town, she finds her car in need of repair just as her husband has learned of the affair but must also leave on a business trip. The housewife, with and son in tow, barely make it to the farm/garage as her car sputters, only to find that Cujo, having taken care of the owner, now pounces on all prey in the yard. As the mother and son try to survive until rescue arrives, it is the awkward departure and unsettled status of the relationship between the husband and wife that will ultimately determine the fate of the two captives. When the husband fails to contact the wife the second day is it because there marriage is over and she has moved on? If he even does attempt to find his wife, will he figure out that she may have gone to the remote garage? Can the mother outwit or overpower Cujo? Check it out and find out for yourself. You may be surprised to find out exactly how engaging a slobbering St Bernard can be under the right circumstances.
Subscript: An attempt to sweeten the cinematic image of St Bernards was made in the 90’s with the Beethoven movies, but (with apologies to John Hughes) I’m pretty sure people remember Cujo more than that beast.

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