MovieCriticND's blog

Wisconsin Film Festival 2011, Part I

First of all, a special shout-out to the Orphan Film Symposium -- they showed a collection of "orphan" short films at the festival, including some rare Wisconsin-based gems. Orphan films, as the name implies, are forgotten films, those whose creators have died, perhaps, or films whose copyrights were held by companies now out of business or otherwise uninterested.

The main characters stare at each other, waiting for something to happen.

Sucker Punch

It's as I feared. I still don't know why it's called Sucker Punch. People do get sucker punched, but it's hardly a major focus of the film. Actually, there really isn't a major focus. I'll try to explain, though I'm pretty sure it won't help.

Baby, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, Blondie, Mme. Gorsky, Sneezy, and Doc.


Now, I'm a geek. I know this and admit it freely. Among other signs of geekdom, I own comic books and Magic cards, roleplay every Saturday, and understand every in-joke in Galaxy Quest.

The guys model the latest in headlamps for easier alien-hunting.

Battle Los Angeles

As it turns out, this wasn't so much another Skyline as another Independence Day -- so in other words, not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Looks like Skyline.  Watches like Independence Day.

The Adjustment Bureau

Not just Matt Damon, but also Matt Damon in an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. It's heaven. Well, not quite heaven, though they do drop several big hints that some celestial agency might be at work. Or maybe aliens. Unlike The Box, though, they make it all work.

Matt Damon nurses a migraine while trying to figure out what They're up to.

Drive Angry

I sort of feel like I just watched Machete again. It was another movie that seems to have set out to be really bad in the hopes of turning out really good. It was less bloody, had slightly more plot, and Nicolas Cage is far less ugly than Danny Trejo, but it still seemed a lot like watching Machete. This was Machete Light, I guess.

Hell is already walking the earth. I mean, driving the earth.

When Rebooting Stops Making Sense

It had to happen. There's finally a weekend when there are two at least halfway-decent looking movies opening, and I can't get to the theatre without a dogsled. But I'm not ranting about snow, or even about politics. There's quite enough of that going on around here already.

No, I'm wondering about Spider-Man. That's right. Hey, it's a burning issue.

Spider-Men. Garfield vs. Maguire in the Ultimate Showdown!

The Eagle

There's something of a legend around the Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire. More properly called the Legio IX Hispania, or the Spanish Legion -- not because they were from Spain, but because they helped beat that area into submission in the 40's B.C.E. -- the story says that they were wiped out in the Scottish Highlands by fierce Celtic warriors in about 120 A.D. Five thousand men were lost, and after that humiliating defeat the emperor Hadrian built the wall that now bears his name, to keep those scary Picts out of the civilized world.

Marcus and Esca eye each other warily for the four thousandth time.


Beware. Almost nothing in this film is what it seems to be. The Esa-ala caves in New Guinea, where this was supposedly filmed, don't actually exist. The breathtaking entrance to the caves, a yawning hole that just seems to pop up out of nowhere in the middle of a jungle, is the entrance to the Cave of the Swallows in Mexico. As for the rest of the cave system, it's all either CGI or crafted soundstage stuff based on the various caves the crews scouted.

The Cave of the Swallows, playing the Esa-ala caves.

The Rite

There's a scene where Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds, Amazing Grace, also soon to be Aberforth Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter flick), while talking to reluctant student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), asks him what he thinks of the exorcism class. Now that's not a question you hear every day. Michael's reply is that he doesn't know what to make of it. I mention this because I don't know what to make of the movie, either.

Anthony Hopkins in full-on exorcism mode.