REVIEW: The Call

6 08 2017

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing an Academy Award-winning actress reduced to doing the cinematic equivalent of TV network crime procedurals, you’re in luck. Brad Anderson’s “The Call,” starring Halle Berry, exists. That’s about all you can say for it.

In the film, Berry plays 911 operator Jordan Turner, a woman who botched one call so badly that … she still keeps answering 911 calls. She should have trusted her gut because she ends up on the other line with Abigail Breslin’s Casey Welson in the process of her kidnapping. “The Call” does have its share of intense moments, to be fair, but you can see every plot twist and turn coming from a mile away. If it weren’t for the presence of someone like Halle Berry, so hell-bent on making it seem deadly serious, the film might play like a parody of these low rent thrillers. But alas, it’s the kind of soft lob up the middle that you expect.

When brushing up on the specifics of the film to write this review, I learned from the Wikipedia page that writer Richard D’Avidio originally envisioned it as a television series. This format confusion actually says a lot about the form of the finished film. “The Call” plays like a bloated pilot, something that easily has 42 minutes worth of watchable material but gets padded with filler stretching the length to merit a theatrical release. C+

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REVIEW: New Year’s Eve

2 01 2012

What were you doing this new year’s eve?  I hope you were celebrating with those you love or just celebrating in general.  But if you happened to be at the movie theater, I pray that you were nowhere near the egregious load of crap disguised as a movie called “New Year’s Eve.”  If you were one of those looking to get in the holiday spirit, I surmise you walked out not blissful for the year to come but rather disgusted that movies like this are allowed to exist.

Only see the movie for the following reasons:

1. You for some reason like to watch bad actors doing bad acting.  Yes, Katherine Heigl, you should not have spit in Judd Apatow’s face because he actually gave you a multi-dimensional character.  Now, enjoy being stuck in movies like this and “Life As We Know It” for the rest of your life.  Zac Efron … it’s official, your glory days were in the “High School Musical” era.  And in case you need a reminder, many musicians can’t act – looking at you, Ludacris and Jon Bon Jovi.  Oh, and Lea Michele too, who somehow to forgot how to act between “Spring Awakening” and “New Year’s Eve,” picking up how to be a gratingly obnoxious diva.  (Wait, she got that from “Glee!”  Thanks a lot, Ryan Murphy…)

2. You for some reason like to watch good actors doing bad acting.  Can you count the Oscar wins and nominations on this poster?  13 Oscar nominations and 5 wins.  While we can’t get the Academy to reclaim the statues (and indeed they shouldn’t), we as a public can take away their credibility and prestige.  I just don’t understand why Robert DeNiro can’t seem to stop the out-of-control downward spiral that is his career.  Strangely enough, the most unbearable members of the cast is a horserace between two-time Oscar champion Hilary Swank and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer.  Any good will for a career comeback after “Hairspray” just went down the drain.

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REVIEW: Zombieland

15 02 2010

It seems particularly fitting that the riotous climactic battle of “Zombieland” should take place in an amusement park.  Really, the whole movie itself is like a carnival ride.  Designed for maximum entertainment, it’s a high-speed tour through the zombie apocalypse told with irreverence instead of the usual sympathy.  The filmmakers understand that the people that watch movies like “Zombieland” get a kick out seeing some comical carnage, and they give it to us gratuitously.

The humor never gets old or boring though, and not just because watching a zombie get owned is one of the funniest things ever.  Much to my surprise, “Zombieland” is also an incredibly witty movie, drawing a great deal of laughs from some uproarious one-liners.  It has the pop culture sting of a Quentin Tarantino script, which is one of the biggest compliments I could give a movie.

In fact, this is one of the rare movies where I wanted to see more.  Clocking in at under an hour and a half, it doesn’t end too soon so much as it ends too quickly for us.  As long as you don’t mind the blood and gore, watching zombies die in as many ways as the screenwriters could think of is enough to satisfy for well over the time they gave us.

The actors are all good, in particular Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, the outrageous zombie hunter with an unnatural affinity for Twinkies.  But let’s be honest, who watches this for Jesse Eisenberg?  Or for Emma Stone?  If you’re going to watch this, it’s because you want to see some zombie horror that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest.  Horror comedy has generally been a cult genre, but “Zombieland” is a movie that definitely has the power to make it mainstream in a big way.  This is one kickass horror comedy that will have you busting a gut.  B+