December 2011 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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With some hindsight, I know I went into The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with high expectations that would be almost impossible to meet. I was expecting the greatest film ever and if didn’t get it I would be disappointed. I saw the film and it wasn’t the best film ever, it wasn’t even the best film I had seen that week. So I can’t help but be disappointed. Was the film that bad? No, it was very ok. The film was shot and edited beautifully, the actors gave it their all (especially Rooney Mara in the lead) and the story was ok. The film was a solid B, but when you are hoping for and expecting an A+ you can’t help but be let down.

Director David Fincher had done two other serial killer thrillers before in Se7en and Zodiac and both films are masterpieces in their own ways. Both also were very distinct Fincher films.  Dragon Tattoo felt like the first movie he had made since Alien 3 that I felt like he was just a director for hire. Sure the movie looked beautiful and there were many cool touches, but the film felt like a slave to its source material for the movie to ever feel unique or to breathe. The best things about the film were the teaser trailer and the opening credits, two aspects that Fincher could create without worrying about how fans of the book would react.  There is a direct link between the two things and I don’t think it was a coincidence.


Submarine (2011)

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I have sort of a weird thing to get off my chest: I don't feel that there has been a film set in high school that properly represents myself. Believe me, I've looked, but I've never been able to relate. I was never that interested in sex, or drugs, or being popular or going to prom. There never seemed to be a place for the character “outside” it all; the character who didn't want to play the “game” of high school and just wanted to get it over and done with.

Being older and better versed in film and film conventions than I was back the, I realize that such a character would make for a pretty dull film. I also realize that the fact that I'm pushing 30 and still concerned about my representation in high school-aged dramas sounds at best “pathetic” and at worst “troublesome,” but I think it helps clarify my stance on the genre (or at least my stance circa junior high).

I also think that Oliver Tate might be the first protagonist of a teen film that I can really relate to, the first one that comes close to expressing how I experienced high school and the world. I'm not sure if I should be comforted or horrified by this revelation. Maybe by the end of this review you can tell me.


In the Name of the King 2 (2011)

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The credits say this dragon was created by one man. Given the Jason and the Argonauts vibe with its movements this fact doesn't come as a surprise.

The nice thing about our rating scale here at Can't Stop the Movies is that I just need to enjoy a film to give it a good rating.  One of the defining Uwe Boll film enjoyment moments came early during the first In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale when Matthew Lillard stumbled onscreen, drunk or high, slurring his lines with the force and verve of a young Brando.  This was before Burt Reynolds delivered a five minute monologue about seaweed on his deathbed or Ron Perlman tried to keep himself from punching everyone on set.

So I sat down to the sequel which had shed the cumbersome A Dungeon Siege Tale, adding a much more economical 2 instead.  Very quickly a not yet identified but soon to be forgotten young fighter is slicing up ninjas in the forest and after felling her foes wanders offstage to find that she, gasp, is in modern day Toronto!  Had Uwe Boll finally done it, did he just decide to incorporate every mistake he made into the plot of the film itself?


Apollo 18 (2011)

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Audiences have turned out in droves to watch the Paranormal Activity series, so unfazed by the lack of scares and sterile progression that each film in the franchise has made millions of dollars.  Quality be damned, our culture has decided that is the kind of found-footage horror film we want to see.  So afford me a kindness for a moment, because it is a total crock that a movie like Apollo 18 gets derided as a PA ripoff when it's superior in every way.

Apollo 18 has been one of the years most derided films and this reputation perplexes me greatly.  It's a fun rewrite of our space program and recently abandoned lunar exploration missions, setting the stage during the abandoned Apollo 18 mission which the film tells us actually occurred.  The conceit actually has potential implications outside of its fictional premise, offering a wonderfully implausible explanation for our decision to stay firmly grounded on this planet.


David Fincher: Panic Room (2002)

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Ryan:  Panic Room is a film that shows David Fincher is having fun playing with his toys. Here he made a film with countless trick shots, awesome camera angels and a tension filled plot, yet the movie has always felt slight to me. This is the first movie since Alien 3 that did not have the strongest script and it shows in the film. We have gone from films exploring the darkness in men’s souls to a theme park ride type movie that is a contemporary cousin to such classic thrillers as Dial M For Murder or Wait Until Dark. With screenwriter David Koepp (Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park) and star Jodie Foster, Fincher crafted a very entertaining and successful thriller but I almost feel like this type of movie is something that Fincher has moved beyond.

Now after saying that, let me state that I also find this movie immensely watchable because while it might be generic, it is made superbly. Koepp is never going to be considered as one of the greatest screenwriters in the history of cinema but he can make popcorn films pretty well and that is all Panic Room is. If you go into the film expecting Oscar caliber acting or a deep character piece you will be disappointed but when you are in the mood for a tense, fast-paced thriller, Panic Room fits the bill perfectly.