On the DVD front I recently watched the INTERNATIONAL, THE UNINVITED, RED, and the original Swedish language THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

UNINVITED- This 2009 film, was the worst of the four. About a teen whose mom burnt to death in a fire, and her coming to terms with that, after being released from a mental ward. The first feature film by the Guard Brothers while it did have a nice twist at the end, by the time that came I was too annoyed with the characters, and the film to really care. Grade: D.

“Along with me I’m gonna need a scientist, an engineer, and of course, a black person to sacrifice himself in case something goes wrong.”
– Eric Cartman, SOUTH PARK, season 9, Cartman’s Hippie Exit Strategy 2006

RED- RED would have been okay except for one thing, the idiotic lets sacrifice/kill the ethnic character (Morgan Freeman) for no reason whatsoever. It’s the most egregious example I’ve seen in a film.

It was such a moronic death, that I just couldn’t believe the stupidity, I went through the film expecting, to find out it was some trick, the character was wearing a bullet proof vest and distracting them, and playing possum, and would turn up later in the movie.

But Nope. Basically Morgan Freeman’s character just decides to commit suicide for the white characters, when it was completely unnecessary.

I mean completely unnecessary.

We’re not talking the cool Jim Brown in THE DIRTY DOZEN type death, this is utterly unnecessary. When it was probably fifteen ways they could have all gotten out alive. Nope, instead the script just shoehorns in a ‘let’s kill the ethnic character’ scene. This Director, Robert Schwentke and Writers Joe and Erich Hoeber go on my list of incompetent and pedestrian filmmakers to avoid.

They should really be ashamed of themselves, and the fact that the writers wrote the upcoming BATTLESHIP, hints heavily at that being a film worth avoiding. All in all, the unnecessary cliche/stereotype ruined an otherwise okay action flick. GRADE: D-.

THE INTERNATIONAL- nicely filmed thriller, about an Interpol agent trying to bring down an arms running bank. Well filmed and enjoyable. B+.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO- It was better than I thought it was going to be, this tale of an investigation into a 40year old disappearance/murder. Well filmed, well acted, and both disturbing and thrilling. Not something I would feel any need to watch again, but a compelling viewing experience at the time. B.

Upcoming Movies/Trailers of the Winter 2011-2012 Season

Okay I’ve downloaded and viewed a bunch of trailers. My verdicts?

21 JUMP STREET- The original series was okay, if lightweight and relatively forgettable 80s fare. It deserved better than to wind up as the title of this abhorrent, unfunny, stupid, and pathetic excuse for a comedy remake. The saddest part is there are real directors, real writers and real actors who can’t get funding for films, and yet abortions like this not only get made, but get distribution deals. As you may tell, I didn’t like the trailer. Grade: AVOID.

111111- Evil angels movie. Trailer looks like a poor cobbling of previous mad angel films, a genre I generally like, though it’s never been done well. And with the director of the later SAW films headlining this, it’s clear it is not going to be done well this time either. Grade: Wait for DVD rental or cable.

SAFE-Another Jason Statham action film. I don’t dislike Statham, but much like Matt Damon I find him way overused. I just don’t find them interesting enough actors to be in every single movie, the way they are. I just don’t find them interesting… full stop. GRADE: Wait for rental.

RESTITUTION- With stars C. Thomas Howell and Tom Arnold, this straight to DVD flick has made for tv written all over it, as well as some murky storyline about murder, fraud, and conspiracy. That said the trailer is capably put together, and probably makes this look better than it is. GRADE: Not something I would make time to look for at the video store, but if you get the chance to see it free. give a look.

THE INNKEEPERS- I love, love. love Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, I just think he’s one of the most interesting, innovative and talented young directors to come along in years, so I’m inclined to go see any film he directs. The trailer for the INNKEEPER and its SHINING meets JHorror type plot, is strong enough to get me in the theater. GRADE: Worth seeing at the Theater.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:GHOST PROTOCOL- I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again this is the best trailer of the winter (the 1st trailer, not the 2nd one). and looks EFFING AWESOME. And this is a movie that looks like it deserves to be seen on an IMAX sized screen. Brad Bird’s first live-action film, looks poised to show he’s as good a director of live action as he is animation. GRADE: Are you kidding? It’s a MUST SEE in the theaters!

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO- Man that is one long trailer and one unattractive actress and some very understated to the point of bored and boring actors. All this I was thinking watching the latest trailer for this film. I was excited for Fincher returning to the thriller genre, as his last few films I find increasingly uninteresting. Not bad mind you, just not engaging masterpieces the way I consider some of his early films. However each trailer for this film has me more uninterested. GRADE: I’ll see it for a matinée showing and hope for the best. But going just by the unimpressive trailers, if it was not David Fincher directing, this would be a wait for rental flick.

SAFE HOUSE- The first posters for this had me underwhelmed. But I LOVE the trailer. Damn I tell you cinema will be a sad and boring place when you no longer have Denzel Washington as leading man to save us from Statham and Damon retreads. This guy is an Actor with a capital A, he brings the gravitas and weight to films, doing more with a look, than most actors do with entire filmographies. And all of that bloody commanding talent comes though in this brief trailer. And also makes up for the fact that the Green Lantern guy, whatever his name is, is in this flick. Another actor that does nothing for me. But this covert thriller has an exciting trailer, and the trailer has Washington, so GRADE: Definitely one to see in the theater.

THE GREY- I find this Liam Neeson helmed man vs. nature thriller, looks pretty darn compelling in this trailer. I mean man vs. beasts. Last really memorable one would probably have to be THE GHOST AND THE LION. So I’m all for giving this a chance. GRADE: Worth seeing at Matinée prices.

LARGO WINCH: HEIR APPARENT- This is purportedly the third in a series of movies concerning France’s answer to James Bond meets Bruce Wayne. I have not yet seen the first two movies, but like them, this trailer’s movie is another that doesn’t excite me enough to see in theaters. GRADE: Wait for rental.

ELITE SQUAD 2- Heavily armed cops in Brazil killing poor people. That’s what I took away from this trailer, and isn’t something I get behind in real life, or in my fiction. So accolades aside, which the trailer is filled with, my GRADE: Wait for rental.

David Fincher’s THE SOCIAL NETWORK and Matthew Vaughn’s X-MEN FIRST CLASS

Well I finally got around to watching both THE SOCIAL NETWORK and X-MEN FIRST CLASS. They were both from day one not on my must see list. The hype machine notwistanding, I’m relatively good at being able to look at previews/trailers and being able to smell a film that really isn’t worth my theater dollars.

And unfortunately having seen both films (rented them from the Library for $1.50), I was correct to avoid them in the theater.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK is the better of the two, and is in fact better than I thought it would be, I mean a film on FACEBOOK, comeon. However David Fincher does make this an interesting film throughout, however it never really becomes more than that. It’s not a film I’m going to return to, or have any desire to watch again. So a good film, but by no means a great or memorable film. David Fincher exploded with his 2nd film SEVEN (easily his masterpiece), and I was quite enamored of the films immediately following that, THE GAME, FIGHT CLUB, and to a lesser degree PANIC ROOM.

Unfortunately every film since, has been a little less effective and less interesting than the one before… from ZODIAC to BENJAMIN BUTTON to now SOCIAL NETWORK, there’s a gradual but definite decline.

David Fincher I once considered one of the best directors working, but I just don’t see it anymore. Though I hold out hope that THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO shall be a return to greatness for him, being the first film of his in over a decade that I’m actually excited by the trailer. Time will tell. But as far as SOCIAL NETWORK, it’s a Grade: B at best, a capable enough film but not something I’ll be purchasing.

That brings us to Matthew Vaughn’s X-MEN FIRST CLASS, another hailed film that the trailers to me looked awful. I had some issues with Matthew Vaughn’s KICK ASS but overall it was a good, and well done film, capably written. The main problem I have with X-MEN FIRST CLASS is the very stereotypical and boring and to an extent offensive choices it makes, in terms of script and story beats.

The clue is really in the number of writers who worked on the script and story, something like half a dozen writers… never a good sign. I have a lot of problems with the film, but the main thing is this: it is so heavy handed, unsubtle, and so… by the numbers it’s insulting. Here’s a movie about embracing differences, and how do we do that… by pulling the old, to the point of decrepitude bigot writing ploy of killing off the sole Black male character and making the sole female Black character a hor and a villain.

It’s just unworthy of all involved to crank out such stale stereotyping, and that it takes six writers to do so is just sad. People bash on X-MEN III, X-MEN III is a masterpiece compared to this.

Some good performances and a nice beginning unfortunately can’t rise above a halfbaked plot, and creaky dialogue. Final Grade: C-/D+. Catch it for free.

So both films I ultimately suggest, watching if there’s nothing better on, and you can catch it for free, but otherwise… Avoid.