Tag Archives: 127 Hours

The Interview Review, A Controversial Comedy of Mediocre Preportions

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The Interview

Directed by: Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg

Starring: Seth Rogan, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park

I don’t know if there has been a movie that has received this much attention by the media in a long time. It is well-known that Sony recently got hacked and threatened by a terrorist organization to remove this movie from theater or else there will be grave consequences. Not long after theaters began refusing to show the film. Sony eventually pulled it from release all together, which lead to a public outcry. The United States didn’t appreciate Sony giving into the demands of a terrorist, so Sony decided to release the movie on VOD and select theaters. Usually movies that cause this kind of controversy are movies like Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom or In The Realm of the Senses, not some comedy starring Seth Rogan. In short was all the controversy necessary; absolutely not. But does that mean it is a bad movie? Short answer, No.

Dave Skylark (James Franco) is a popular televsion personality who runs a show called Skylark Tonight. It is a show where he interviews celebrities and reveal personal things about them. Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogan) is his producer and his best friend. One day the two learn that North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un (Randall Park) is a big fan of his show. They end up scoring a personal interview with him. Not long after they receive this news the CIA come to them to go on a mission to assassinate him. Once they get to North Korea things go differently than they or the CIA expected.

To me, these are two separate movies, the first being a standard Seth Rogan comedy involving two buddies and their closer than normal relationship and the second is a movie about the assassination of Kim Jung-Un. Some choices made in the first half the movie don’t work as well as they should but once the movie gets going it feels fresh and interesting. There are many ways that the movie could have handled the “assassination” portion. I know if they created a fake dictator ruling a fake country, instead of North Korea, would have created the same effect. The fact they are making a statement about the hell that goes on there is pretty ballsy of them and I respect the movie for doing that.

Once the main characters reach North Korea the movie becomes exactly what you would have expected from it. During this part of the movie we really get a sympathetic look at Kim Jung-Un, who is played with great sincerity by Randall Park. They humanize a man that we all perceived to be a monster. Sure, in the end, he is still an evil dictator but the movie shows a much deeper and tortured side to him. The movie doesn’t just make a commentary on North Korea, it also says something about America today and the interest we have in celebrity life rather than actual “news”. It’s a satire to its core but it combines what Seth Rogan does well with its harsh political commentary.

I have a lot of problems with James Franco’s performance as Dave Skylark. For a man with an Oscar nomination under his belt, he isn’t able to bring life to his character. Lately his movie choices have been a little odd, focusing in directing and acting in multiple movies in a single year. After a while you can see the fatigue with his performances. He does have a lot of good interactions with Seth Rogan and Randall Park but nothing to make him interesting.

The beginning of the movie I have the most trouble with. Early on I believed that the movie will be a complete mess. Seth Rogan has developed this sense of humor that has branched out for many years and has become mainstream now. If there isn’t a drugs, gross out scenes, or male friends that appear to be way to “close” to each other. This is all that the first part of the story is. Like 22 Jump Street and Neighbors, this kind of comedy doesn’t appeal to me.  They abandon this template and go for something a little different. I like that transition and wish that would have done that throughout the entire movie.

The Interview is rather dumb comedy that manages to go for something new. It achieves a lot with their insane premise but doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

Grade: C+

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Sunshine Review, An Intriguing Premise Never Fully Realized

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Sunshine

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Starring: Rose ByrneCliff CurtisChris EvansTroy GarityCillian MurphyHiroyuki SanadaBenedict Wong, and Michelle Yeoh

Science Fiction is a genre full of ideas. They tend to be the most thoughtful and interesting films that could use philosophy to its benefit. As of late science fiction has become something of a genre filled with action and superheros but they’ve lost the touch that made films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey a classic. Sunshine is an existential science fiction film filled with philosophy and an interesting idea. I mean for the first two acts anyways. Some where during the writing process they thought it would be a good idea to completely shift gears and turn it into a standard Alien rip-off. The movie had so much going for it until it fell into a clichéd ridden mess.

In 2057, the sun is dying and Earth is on the brink of extinction. Sent up into space to reignite the sun, a group of space travelers load a massive bomb on to the Icarus II. It is the final time that mankind can achieve such a mission. Once out of range of Earth’s communications  a distress signal is recovered from Icarus I. In an attempt to make contact with the space ship, it is decided that the crew is going to make their way to Icarus I so that they can get their hands on a second bomb and have more than one chance to reignite the sun. Once on the Icarus I they meet someone who will interfere with their mission.

The movie begins with a solid concept, the last remaining crew members must deal with the harsh reality of space, but as soon as the villain of the movie comes aboard everything goes wrong. An hour in it is all about the survival of the crew within space mixed with the philosophy of their journey. It bares influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey and usually succeeds until the third act. The majority of the problems come from the complete shift of tone of the movie. Before you have this think piece that is interesting and then after the one hour mark it turns into Alien. The villain, Pinbaker (Mark Strong), essentially stalks his prey on board the ship and is intent on killing them. He is an interesting character in a whole. It feels disingenuous to the rest of the film. It makes me feel that the writers didn’t know where to take the movie and just decided that the best thing to do was create a villain that wanted to thwart their plan. It’s slightly lazy considering the rest of the film is incredibly thought provoking and one of the best things that the genre has to offer.

The movie is still relatively well made. Danny Boyle is one of the most competent directors working today. His vision wis this movie is incredible and the end thirty minutes is one kinetic thrill ride with insane editing but it conflicted with the slow and mellow hour before. The performances are intense and really showcase the actors abilities within the source material. Chris Evans seems to be best in situations like theses. Snowpiercer is another movie that really shows just what he is made of. The music is really well known now and it is amazing how well it works with the movie.

If it wasn’t for the terrible third act of this film and I would label this as one of the best science fiction films in a long time. It’s concept is unbelievable and the execution is spot on. It is an interesting experimental but a flawed one.

Grade: C+