November 2010 Reviews
By Shawn McKenzie 11/24/2010
Here are my reviews of the movies that were released in November of 2010. Check back later as the month progresses for more reviews.
Go directly to my reviews of Tangled and Faster.
Hundreds of years ago, a single drop of sunlight fell to Earth and created a magical golden flower with powers to heal and keep a person immortal (and looking young) by just singing the song “Healing Incantation” to it. Mother Gothel (voice of Donna Murphy) discovered the flower, and she covered it up under a fake shrubbery. Meanwhile, a king wanted to heal the dying pregnant queen, so he sent out his men to find the flower. Mother Gothel accidentally knocked the shrubbery out of the way for the king’s men to find it. The queen ate the flower, and she survived…giving birth to a beautiful girl named Rapunzel with golden blonde hair. Mother Gothel broke into the palace and tried to cut the hair of the child, but discovered that cutting the hair resulted in the magic no longer working (the cut hair went from blonde to brunette.) She kidnaps the infant girl and raises her as her own. Almost eighteen years later, Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore) has 70-foot long hair that is strong enough to pull her Mother Gothel up and down a tall tower in which she is locked up to “protect” her from the bad things in the real world outside of the tower. Her only friend is her chameleon, Pascal, and together they want to know more about a festival of lights celebrated in the kingdom that coincidentally happens every year on her birthday. She doesn’t know that the festival…in which hundreds of floating lanterns light up the sky…is meant as a signal to try to bring the king and queen’s daughter back to them. Right before her 18th birthday, the witty and charming thief Flynn Ryder (voice of Zachary Levi) has stolen a valuable crown from the palace with twins the Stabbington Brothers (voices of Ron Perlman), but he double-crosses them. He is then now on the run from not only the brothers, but also from the Captain of the Guard (M.C. Gainey) and his tough but efficient horse Maximus. Flynn sees Rapunzel’s tower and climbs up it to hide, but Rapunzel knocks him unconscious with a frying pan. She hides the stolen crown and tells her that she will give it back after he takes her to see the festival of lights. They head out to the festival being chased by the palace’s guards, the Stabbington Brothers, various thugs (voiced by Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, and Paul F. Tompkins) looking for the reward money of the capturing of Flynn, and Mother Gothel (who has come back from getting Rapunzel some paints only to find her gone.) Along the way, Rapunzel and Flynn fall in love…all while singing various songs. It’s good to see another Disney musical, after so many years of them ceasing to exist. Last year’s hand-drawn The Princess and the Frog was also a musical, and it felt like the Disney films in which with I grew up. Unless I am forgetting one, I don’t think Disney has had a computer-animated musical yet (other than that one musical scene in 1999’s Toy Story 2.) I think that they need more of them though. Moore and Levi have great vocal chemistry, and Levi specifically stands out as the roguish bandit. The two unvoiced animals, Pascal and Maximus, also stand out as cute supporting characters. Aside from a continuity error that irks me (I won’t spoil it, but it involves the hair’s magic power at the end of the movie), I think that this movie may rival Despicable Me for the third Best Animated Feature slot at the Oscars. (The Academy announced that they are nominating only three movies this year in that category, and How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 are virtual locks for the other two slots.) You may think like me that it was stupid to call it Tangled instead of Rapunzel (Frog didn’t live up to their box office expectations, so they thought changing the title would bring more boys to see it), but you will be charmed to see yet another Disney classic up on the screen again.
After being paroled by the Warden (Tom Berenger), James Cullen, a.k.a. “Driver” (Dwayne Johnson), is set to kill the men who murdered his brother Gary (Matt Gerald) following a bank heist they did before he went to jail. He goes to private investigator Roy Grone (Mike Epps) and his muscle Kenny (Sid S. Liufau) to get the addresses of these men he means to kill. First, he kills a guy who is now a telemarketer (Courtney Gains.) He then goes after a dirty old man who turns out to be an amateur videographer of snuff films (John Cirigliano.) The third one on the docket is a large club owner named Baphomet (Lester Speight.) Finally, he goes after a reformed tent revival minister (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.) Along the way, he visits his ex-girlfriend (Jennifer Carpenter.) Two very different people are after Driver though. Slade Humphries, a.k.a. “Cop” (Billy Bob Thornton) is a junkie veteran Bakersfield cop who is just days away from retirement…which is good, because he needs to spend more time with his estranged wife Marina (Moon Bloodgood) and 8-year-old son Tommy (Aedin Mincks.) His boss, Sergeant Mallory (Xander Berkeley), teams him up with Detective Cicero (Carla Cugino) to capture Driver. The other person after Driver is a self-made millionaire known only as “Killer” (Oliver Jackson-Cohen.) He is hired to assassinate Driver…and he does it just for fun (he grew up handicapped, and he sees a psychiatrist now…so his state of mind is already warped.) His fiancée Lily (Maggie Grace) wants him to give up his side job as a hired killer. Driver, though, won’t give up until he’s satisfied…and neither will Cop or Killer in their road to redemption. After years of appearing in kiddie flicks (The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, Planet 51, Tooth Fairy) and making surprise cameos (Reno 911!: Miami, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Other Guys, You Again), Johnson has finally made another R-rated action flick. His last one was 2004’s Walking Tall (I don’t want to count the embarrassing 2005 videogame flick Doom, because he was the bad guy in that one.) While Walking Tall was a remake of the 1973 original, this movie reminds me of another Seventies film…1974’s Death Wish starring Charles Bronson. In addition, it reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” movies from the Sixties, but I thought it was kind of a stupid idea to name the three male leads by their archetype and give almost everyone else real names (I don’t think that I’m really spoiling any plot points by revealing their real names in this review.) It had that over-the-top violence of those movies, which made it fun. Even though he doesn’t have his trademark wit in this movie (I don’t think he even cracks a smile), Johnson is the main reason to see it. Thornton seemed a little too laid back, and Jackson-Cohen didn’t seem crazy enough. I’m recommending the movie because I want to see The Rock back on the movie screen again in a tough role. Maybe if the movie is successful, he won’t have to go back to doing kiddie flicks and cameos again.
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