This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.
Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Kevin is joined by Kristin Dreyer Kramer from NightsAndWeekends.com to talk about the Mars, Eddie Murphy and home invasions.
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
What it’s about: Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic books from the 1920s, this story follows a Civil War vet who is beamed up to Mars where he befriends a strange race of beings and leads a rebellion to save an escaped princess.
What makes the grade: Ever since it was announced that WALL-E director Andrew Stanton would spearhead the adaptation of Burroughs’ classic books, I was excited. Though I haven’t read them (well, to be honest, I’m about half-way through the first one), I thought the concept was amazing, especially considering the time in which they were written. Stanton managed to bring these books to life in a very faithful way, both in terms of visual style and sense of true pulp fiction.
The visuals are the most impressive part of this film, from the mo-cap Martians to the epic battle sequences. The creature design doesn’t deviate too far from Burroughs’ vision, and the film has a wide scope that makes it worthy of its space adventure setting.
And then there’s the whole Lynn Collins in a brass bikini thing going on. Honestly, you could put her into any movie with that costume, and it would instantly make it more watchable.
What fails: There are some problems with John Carter. A lot of information is thrown at the audience in the first fifteen minutes, and before Carter actually gets to Mars, it’s a very different movie. Also, there’s some serious pacing issues throughout the film. However, I’m somewhat forgiving of all this, considering the source material was written almost 100 years ago, and they told stories quite differently back then. If Stanton has any fault in this movie, it’s being too faithful with the pacing of the adaptation.
Who is gonna like this movie: Fanboys, readers of the John Carter book series and anyone looking for a grand adventure in space that doesn’t mind a little archaic storytelling.
Studio: Open Road Films
Rated: R for disturbing violent content and terror
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross and Haley Murphy
Directed by: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
What it’s about: Elizabeth Olsen plays a woman who is cleaning out an abandoned house with her father and uncle. However, after she locks them into the house, which has all of its windows boarded up, she discovers there’s someone else in there with them. Boo!
What makes the grade: The first two-thirds of this film are the selling point to this movie. Based on an Uruguay thriller (underscored with the dubious and unproved “Inspired by true events” statement), this is in essence an experimental film. Shot in real-time with a single continuous shot (well, sort of continuous since there are several moments where you can see the camera cut), it’s a gimmick that works for much of the movie.
When we’re in the house with Olsen’s character and she’s trying to hide or escape, there’s plenty of atmosphere and creepiness to make this work as a solid thriller. The movie doesn’t fly by, but it also doesn’t drag. For the most part, the continuous-shot real-time aspect adds to the tension. I can absolutely respect the film for what it’s trying to achieve and that it’s different than most everything else you’ll see in the American multiplex.
What fails: While the continuous single shot works most of the time, it does cause some problems. The money shot moments are often out of focus or confusing, which results from not having the luxury of shooting take after take to get the perfect timing. Similarly, there’s tons of focus issues throughout where the cinematography breaks down.
But the worst problem with Silent House is that as we get to the end, it’s a major disappointment. The build-up is far better than the pay-off, and it’s never a good idea to make the weakest part of the movie the last twenty minutes of it.
Who is gonna like this movie: People who like atmospheric gimmick thrillers who also don’t mind lame endings.
A THOUSAND WORDS
Rated: PG-13 for sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney, Clark Duke, Jordan-Claire Green and Philip Pavel
Directed by: Brian Robbins
What it’s about: Eddie Murphy plays a fast-talking literary agent who becomes spiritually connected to a tree, which loses a leaf with every word he says. When the leaves all fall, the tree will die, and so will he. He must continue to juggle his family and professional life while using as few words as possible.
What makes the grade: Kerry Washington Looks mighty fine in a black leather bikini and thigh-high hooker boots.
What fails: There are few movies that are such a colossal failure from the script stage, but it’s clear that A Thousand Words is one of them. The entire movie feels like it was green-lit from the concept as soon as Eddie Murphy became attached. Shot in 2008, which explains how it feels like it’s ripping off The Love Guru at times, this film represents the lowest point in Murphy’s career when he was cranking out garbage like Meet Dave.
The story meanders from Murphy’s character trying to learn something profound to him trying to close book deals, then from trying to reconcile with his wife to just throw around unworkable slapstick comedy as the character communicates without speaking. The lack of logic behind the characters (including publishers offering half-million dollar advances on books sight-unseen and his wife having fallen in love with him when he was clearly an asshole) is astounding.
Murphy tries to work a strange hybrid of physical comedy (which he is not known for) and old Saturday Night Live bits like his dated Michael Jackson impression and singing along to Teddy Pendergrass. The movie actually tries to hand out a somber message, which seems to come out of nowhere at times, and it’s hard to tell whether the filmmakers are being sincere or ludicrous with it.
Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who worked on The Adventures of Pluto Nash who is tired of that being declared the worst Eddie Murphy film ever made.