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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Whip it - Theater

AndyO review: * * * 1/2

Metacritic: 67/100

Whip it is Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, a coming-of-age story about a girl in a small Texas town who wants to join a rollerderby team.

First, Drew Barrymore's direction is excellent. She was obviously taking notes from Spielberg and all the other directors she's worked with over the years.

Second, Ellen Page is a force of nature. Her performance in Juno was no fluke (all you have to do is watch Hard Candy, which was done before Juno, to see that). There are very few actors who can draw you into a character the way Page does.

Third, I didn't know anything about rollerderby until I saw this film. I always thought it was about women trying to kill each other while skating around in circles. Well, I guess there are rules -- and there is a way to win.

Do yourself a favor and go see this film. Today.


posted by AndyO @ 6:01 PM   0 comments

Surrogates - Theater

AndyO review: * * 1/2

Metacritic: 45/100


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Surrogates could have been a great Science Fiction film. It combines many of the themes and ideas seen in countless other Sci-Fi films (notably The Matrix) to form something unique and entertaining. But a short running time and formulaic plot hold back the film.

Surrogates shows us a world where humans experience their daily lives through robot avatars. The robots go to work and play and the humans stay home in their pajamas, controlling them in the real world. Crime and disease plummet to all-time lows. Everyone looks great and can jump around like a superhero when they need to.

Thomas Greer (Bruce Willis) is a detective in this world. Instead of the weathered, shaved head version of Willis we're used to seeing, we see a smooth-faced version with a full head of hair. Greer and his partner, Jennifer Peters (Rhada Mitchell), are sent to investigate the destruction of two surrogates outside a night club. When they discover one of the surrogate operators is the son of the inventor of surrogate technology, Dr. Lionel Cantor (James Cromwell), everyone knows something is up. But then they find out Cantor's son is dead, as is the operator of the other surrogate -- something that shouldn't happen with the fail-safe switches built into the machines.

But it wasn't this plot that I was interested in. I wanted to know more about these stories, on the edges of this plot:

  • Greer and his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike) don't see each other at home, except through their surrogates. When Greer wants to take a vacation without their avatars, Maggie objects. She doesn't want her husband to see that she's not the perfect version of herself that she wants to be.
  • The operator of the female, blonde surrogate that was murdered along with Cantor's son was a man. As the usual detective story crept forward, I kept thinking about that man and realized surrogate technology would enable people to be who they want to be. (This is already a reality with the Internet today where you don't really know who you're talking to.)
  • Parents are encouraged to get surrogates for their children, so they're always safe at home.
  • Part of society has rejected surrogate technology and lives in reservations where surrogates are forbidden.

A great version of this film would have found the right story to explore the philosophical and moral questions in more detail. Which is why I think you'll see a Surrogates TV series.

One thing that I found extremely odd was the casting of James Cromwell. He practically plays the same character as he did in I, Robot and L.A. Confidential.


posted by AndyO @ 5:46 PM   4 comments

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Theater

AndyO review: * * * 1/2

Metacritic: 66/100

One of the most creative children's films I've seen in a long time that explores the theme of parental (and societal) approval. Well worth the price of admission, but I don't recommend seeing this in IMAX 3-D (unless you want to pay a lot).


posted by AndyO @ 11:51 AM   0 comments

The Informant! - Theater

AndyO review: * * * 1/2

Metacritic: 66/100

Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon team up again in this true-life tale of Mark Whitacre -- an executive who turns on his employer, Archer Daniels Midland. While this is being marketed as a comedy, The Informant! is not as laugh-out-loud funny as those advertisements would like you to think. And while it might have been different than what I expected, I enjoyed it from start to finish.


posted by AndyO @ 11:29 AM   0 comments