Strangely Familiar New Worlds

Damon ElysiumGosh, there are a lot of movies opening this week. Throw in We’re the Millers and Percy Jackson II: The Percy Jacksoning and you’re awfully spoiled for choice, aren’t you?

Well …

The Deep: Baltasar Kormakur’s survival drama is riveting cinema — when it’s a survival drama. The last act, which deals with the aftermath of said survival, is disappointingly mundane. But that central 45 minutes is awfully powerful stuff.

Drug War: Johnnie To, the king of the contemporary Chinese crime thriller, sets ’em up and knocks ’em down in this crisp, twisty exercise in trust and betrayal, starring Sun Hong-lei as a narc out to bring down a cartel and Louis Koo as the meth manufacturer who becomes the key to his investigation … if he isn’t just playing both sides against each other, that is.

Elysium: Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9 is … well, it’s District 9, only stupider. And with really terrible performances from Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. And a truly insipid political message. And as you’ll see from the comments on my review, the meatheads are already lining up to defend it sight unseen.

Informant: Did the FBI send undercover agitators into activist groups to incite them to plot acts of violence against political targets which could then be thwarted by the Bureau for easy, risk-free publicity? Well, yeah. Jamie Meltzer’s documentary profiles one of those agitators, Brandon Darby … but John is highly skeptical of the result.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain: I was unimpressed by Hart’s previous stand-up film, Laugh at My PainRad is unimpressed with his new one. Thanks, Rad.

Lovelace: Amanda Seyfried is the conflicted porn queen in a drama based around the making of Deep Throat. Rad finds it all a little too superficial.

Planes: From the people who brought you Cars, and were then somehow allowed to make Cars 2. Fun Sad fact: this will be the first Pixar movie I do not see on the big screen.

Really, the Leos Carax retro is the best thing in town this weekend. Unless you want to see Sharknado at the Carlton’s midnight show tonight, but trust me: You don’t.

7 thoughts on “Strangely Familiar New Worlds”

  1. FYI, Planes is not a Pixar movie, so you don’t need to feel bad about not seeing it on the big screen. It was produced by DisneyToon Studios, Disney’s DTV arm. It was supposed to go direct to video, but Disney calculated that it would sell more toys and merchandise if it got a theatrical release first.

  2. As much as Disney would like to imply it, “Planes” does not appear to be associated with Pixar. So your big screen streak for their movies will remain alive I guess…

    1. I thought about it long and hard, actually, and I stand by the comparison. All the individual components are respectable and even admirable, and there’s clearly been a lot of thought put into everything we see … but the output is somehow dull-witted and incoherent. And ultimately, really tedious.

  3. I actually enjoyed Sharknado on TV in a laughable, Mystery Science Theatre sort of way. I did cringe at the paraphrasing of the great Indianapolis monologue from Jaws, but there was actually one part of the script (using the term loosely) that I thought was inspired…ending with the word “Fin” instead of “End.” Best writing in the whole movie.

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