After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Forget your summer reading list. Let's be honest, you weren't going to get to it anyway. All you need is a few quality hours at the movies, thanks to The Dark Knight Rises.
At a TDKR press conference yesterday, director and co-writer Christopher Nolan revealed that he and his brother, co-writer Jonathan Nolan, were inspired by the themes and events of Charles Dickens' classic novel A Tale of Two Cities when they wrote the script for the trilogy ender. According to Coming Soon, Christopher Nolan says his brother told him "You've got to think of A Tale of Two Cities which, of course, you've read" when he handed him the first draft of the script. (Oddly enough, the well-educated elder Nolan had not, but he quickly fixed the issue.) Jonathan Nolan added that the circumstances of the classic book were a perfect fit for their Batman film. "A Tale of Two Cities was, to me, one of the most harrowing portrait of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris in France in that period. It's hard to imagine that things can go that badly wrong," he says. And while the themes of civil unrest and inequality are obviously a huge component of the Nolan brothers' choice to pull from the story - and to some extent so are the multitudes of integral, complex characters - it's hard to ignore one grand similarity: Protagonist Charles Darnay's dire straights at the beginning of the novel and Batman's exile at the end of The Dark Knight.
When the last Nolan film concluded, we watched our hero ride off into the night, allowing the citizens of Gotham to believe that he had wrongly killed their White Knight, Harvey Dent, when in truth, he was doing away with a villain. The result is a fallen superhero turned traitor of the state, as Dent was a politician.
At the outset of A Tale of Two Cities' Darnay's journey, he too is publicly accused of treason, this time against the crown. He is also innocent, and (spoiler alert) his name is eventually cleared of all charges thanks to the fact that he closely resembles another character. Darnay is damned by a matter of perspective: the witness assumes the figure he saw is Darnay, but it's proved that said witness was mistaken.
We can see elements of this in Batman's condemnation. He is publicly believed to be a traitor, and from afar, he certainly looks guilty. However, those close to the situation like Commissioner Gordon, who was present when Dent died, know the less visible truth.
And with that in mind, we can't help but wonder how closely Batman's journey might mirror Darnay's. In the novel, Darnay is acquitted and goes on to fight against the inequality in his homeland of France and by the end of the novel, he is condemned to death, but manages to escape. The Nolans obviously didn't offer any commentary on how closely their characters' paths might be inspired by Two Cities, but it's certainly worth wondering how these two heroes' journeys might match up.
Could Batman's journey be a modern rendering of Darnay's story? What the Dickens is going to happen in Dark Knight Rises?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
[Images: Scanned by Phillip V. Allingham/ Courtesy of Warner Bros.]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Based on the award-winning children's novel by Natalie Babbitt the story is set in 1914 as Winnie Foster (Alexis Bledel) a rich girl on the brink of maturity longs for change in her life. Her domineering mother (Amy Irving) has plans to turn her into a respectable lady but Winnie is one spirited lass who wants nothing to do with the rigid conformities of her time. In fact she'd much rather escape into the woods surrounding her house. Getting lost one day Winnie stumbles upon Jesse Tuck (Jonathan Jackson) a boy unlike any she's ever met before. He and his family--father Angus (William Hurt) mother Mae (Sissy Spacek) and brother Miles (Scott Bairstow)--live hidden away in a little cabin on a lake and they warmly accept her as one of their own. Winnie realizes the Tucks are different ageless somehow but once Winnie starts to experience the Tucks' freedom and simple way of life she contemplates never going home. That and the fact she and Jesse have fallen in love. Still the Tucks harbor a powerful secret no one else must know about--ever--but an evil man (Ben Kingsley) tracks them down threatening to expose them and profit from the "secret." Luckily things have a way of working out for the Tucks one way or another. It is Winnie who ends up making the tough decisions--life forever with her beloved Jesse or a life with a beginning a middle and an end. Sure I could come right out and tell you what the film's big secret is but then that might spoil the fun of finding out for yourself (although I've given plenty of clues).
The fresh new talent of Bledel Jackson and Bairstow adds to the film's youthful appeal while the veteran actors compliment them nicely. Bledel best known for the WB's Gilmore Girls plays Winnie with the right amount of fiery spirit and endless curiosity while Jackson with those full lips and floppy hair plays the love-struck Jesse perfectly. You believe instantly that Jesse has fallen deeply in love with Winnie; however it's Bledel's performance where there is a problem. She is great at being the spunky Winnie but is somewhat stiff and unconvincing as the smitten one which takes away from the film's romantic scope a bit. Bairstow is quite good as brother Miles a character who shows how the Tucks' "secret" has a dark side. When he tells Winnie the truth about his family and how damaging it has been to him it is a moving and powerful scene. Kingsley as the malevolent Man in the Yellow Suit (that's the character's name I swear) expertly plays upon the film's main theme: the wish by most humans to be able to live forever. Kingsley's greedy eyes tell it all. Hurt and Spacek do a nice job as the simplistic elder Tucks while Irving and Victor Garber deftly play the contrast as Winnie's parents. Each however show how they love their children and will protect them at all costs.
Tuck is definitely one of the more beautiful films to watch certainly up there with other such children's stories as The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Shot in the wooded areas of Maryland the film is full of lush green tones and spectacular vistas. Director Jay Russell is no stranger to heartwarming films having directed the endearing My Dog Skip and knows how to deal with environment. Watching the two young lovers running through tall grass or jumping into pool with a cascading waterfall honestly would make any girl want to go into the woods to find a handsome guy who'll sweep her off her feet. Russell handles the romantic elements as well. Careful not to make it too melodramatic he sweeps you up into the magic of the story while delving into the film's moral dilemmas and life choices the characters must deal with. Unfortunately he can't bring out the best performance from his leading actress but the rest of the film makes up for it.