Tron Legacy (2010) – 3/5

Pretty film with a stupid plot and a recycled performance from Jeff Bridges who plays a high-tech, 21st century version of “The Dude.” Not cool, man. Talk about a wasted opportunity. I don’t understand how you can make a film that is both mind-numbingly cliché and absolutely nonsensical. Yet, here we are, two contradictions living together for all the world to see. And it’s a disaster. Sad.

This is what happens when writers with no imagination stick to a tired formula that simply requires them to fill in the blanks and hit print than come up with something creative and original. And, heck, it’s not like they would have had to have tried that hard; half the work was already done for them in the first film. The world and characters were already there, all they had to do was play around with it a bit, which is, you know, the reason people get into writing to begin with.

But no, instead we’re left with this lifeless, illogical mess. Everything else was okay, even the acting, though, really, why they made Bridges’ take on stoner like qualities is beyond me. And at least the special effects were nice. But, man, what a waste of money and talent for what could have truly been something special.

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Kurt & Courtney (1998) – 3.5/5

Amateurishly made doc about an interesting subject that proves once and for all that anyone with half a brain can make a decent documentary if the subject is engaging enough. Also, it provides a decent summary of Kurt Cobain’s life, though the people interviewed, aside from direct family members, are questionable at best. Crackheads, thugs, and criminals the lot of them. Nice choices. Were these really even the types Cobain spent time with when he was alive? No wonder he killed himself.

Terrible interview/filmmaking style overall, though. And take off those damn headphones when you’re about to interview someone on the spot. No wonder he got such hostile reactions from people; no one likes a camera and a boom randomly shoved into their face.

And what an odd nail biter of an ending. What in god’s name was he thinking going up on stage to bash Courtney Love at her own award show. Yikes! Took guts, but was ultimately pointless and mean-spirited.

Patton (1970) – 5/5

Freaking fantastic film that’s longer than it should be and a bit slow at times but is so well acted that it more than makes up for those shortcomings. George C. Scott gives one of the best performances of all time as the title character Patton; why this man isn’t more of a legend in cinema is truly baffling. Probably because he rejected the Academy whenever they nominated him for anything, citing that it “shouldn’t be a competition.” Good for him.

The cinematography is also nice, and the story takes an interesting spin on the tired WWII genre by focusing on a less than sympathetic American general whose historical ambitions teetered on the verge of obsession. The acting from Scott is astounding; something to truly behold. His mannerisms and facial expressions, along with his often hilarious line readings are just brilliant. I’m not sure if some of those lines were meant to come out as comical as they do, but the character just says such absurd things sometimes in such a believable way that you can’t help but laugh. What a great, gruff voice.

And the action set pieces are spectacular, more so than in most action films today. I have no idea how they pulled off some of those scenes with the tanks and fighter planes and hundreds and hundreds of soldiers all in the same shot at the same time, and the first set piece where Patton is shooting at bomber planes with his pistol as they fly over his head, with everything in the same frame. How the heck did they do all that without special effects? It must have taken forever.

The film is truly an achievement, both technically and artistically, with a performance that’s really one of the best ever captured on film. If the film had been tighter, it would probably be more accessible, but as it stands, it’s pretty great, especially if you’re a fan of action films, or war films, or films with brilliant performances. Strongly recommended.

The Way Back (2010) – 4/5

Pretty good travel/escape movie with some great performances and some beautiful scenes, though the odd, neck-breaking pace of the middle half is confusing and borderline annoying at times. Slow down, people. Geez.

I understand that they needed to cover thousands of miles of voyage in about 45 minutes, but when every scene lasts about a minute and every scene change is a new location with limited to no explanation as to what the heck happened to the characters in between, it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on. The escape from the prison itself takes about 10 seconds, with the characters talking about it one moment, then somehow having escaped and running into the forest while being chased by dogs the next. Huh? No planning? Is it really that easy to escape from prisons in Russia?

The film succeeds best when it takes its time. Again, I understand this is difficult given the nature of the story, but it could have been edited better, or at least more cohesively.

Still, it’s a pretty good movie overall, with some great performances from Ed Harris and, I’d never thought I’d see the day, Colin Farrell. This is arguably the first movie I’ve seen Farrell in where I actually enjoyed his presence on-screen and was saddened when he left. The guy has finally learned how to act, and act well. Congrats.

Overall, yeah, good film, worth watching. It’s an interesting story that will physically exhaust you by the end. Must have been a hell of a shoot, too. Worth watching.