Tune to The 2 Guys Named Chris Show every Monday to get the scoop on the latest new films and releases to DVD from a Canadian point of view. Julie Crawford, Film Critic for The Vancouver Courier, gives her two cents worth every Monday morning on Rock 92.
January 7, 2013
by Biggie Josh Ellinger,posted Jan 10 2013 6:23AM
A wonderful film, but a harrowing two hours, The Impossible is the true account of one family’s ordeal during the Boxing Day 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which killed 230,000 people. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as a couple vacationing at a beachfront resort in Thailand with their three young boys. When the 30-foot wave hits, the whole family is separated.
It reportedly took a year to film the 10-minute sequence when the tsunami hits. It’s unbelievably realistic: the mom (Watts) gets battered around by planks, bricks, tree branches, bits of metal, like she’s in the spin cycle of a washer. We don’t know who lives or dies, and if these people find each other… Great acting, superlative effects and sustained tension. Naomi Watts and perhaps Ewan McGregor should be up at Oscar time.
An obviously political film that is anti-fracking and laments the death of small towns by big business, but somehow under the direction of Gus Van Sant the politics go down really easy and almost as an afterthought while we watch the film’s hero, Matt Damon, go about his business.
Damon stars, in a script he co-wrote with John Krasinski, as Steve Butler, whose job is to talk small-town farmers into selling over rights to drill on their property, with the promise of a huge payday, better schools for their kids, better future for the town… whatever it takes. But every time he knocks on the door, Steve hates himself a little bit more. When there’s opposition from an environmental activist (Krasinski) who suddenly appears in town, showing pictures of dead livestock and poisoned water, things really heat up and Steve is forced to make some decisions.
Damon is definitely more convincing playing the conflicted Iowa farmboy than a cutthroat corporate type, but he’s decent in the role. There’s also a little twist that you may not see coming; overall a good film.
Hit and Run
Real-life couple Dax Shepard (from TV’s Parenthood) and Kristen Bell star in this story about a man who breaks out of the witness protection program to follow his girlfriend to her dream job in L.A. They are on the run from bad guy Bradley Cooper, from a crazy ex-boyfriend, and from the U.S. Marshall (Tom Arnold). From there it becomes a pretty lively car chase movie, starring a 1967 Lincoln Continental with a 700 hp engine, but the film has some pretty decent dialogue to break up the mayhem. Shepard wrote this movie, he directed it, he used his own cars, and it reportedly only took 10 weeks to shoot: you have to admire that kind of efficiency. I enjoyed this film: it’s a good time. DVD commentary by Shepard and Bell, an extra on the cars used in the film, deleted scenes, and more.
The House at the End of the Street
What starts out as a nice little relationship piece between Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Shue, who plays her mom, quickly morphs into a paint-by-numbers horror film, complete with flashlights that don’t work when they’re supposed to, and our heroine running around in a tank top. Mother and daughter Elissa move into a house with really cheap rent, because it’s next door to where a girl killed her parents a few years back. The girl is supposedly dead, and the brother still lives in the house, so of course Elissa finds herself attracted to him. It’s not a terrible film, but you could see exactly where the real potential was squandered in the name of cheap scares.
This is a remake of 1995’s Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone (a huge flop) but aided by a decent writer (Alex Garland: 28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go). A man in the future mega city that stretches from Boston to DC, Dredd (Karl Urban) patrols the city and arrests, sentences and often kills criminals on the spot. Dredd is assigned a rookie (Olivia Thirlby) which ups the emotional ante a little and gives us a break from the relentless violence and blood splatter that characterize the rest of the film. Decent action sequences that don’t rely on CG: I have to give the film kudos for that.