GOT ME/LOST ME – September 23, 2011



starring Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by John Singleton. Rated PG-13.

Breathe easy, Team Jacob – you just read the title wrong. It’s “Abduction” as in “the act of kidnapping” – not “Ab Reduction” as in “The wolf boy’s removing his moneymakers.” Continue with your usual senselessly obsessive drooling while the adults talk…

This action movie that looks to play like “Jason Bourne Jr.” (even judging by the poster) seems set to go no further than guilty pleasure territory. Fortunately Singleton – who as most know was the first African-American to be nominated for the Academy Award in direction with Boyz n the Hood – somewhat appears to be in fine form again (after a string of misfires like Four Brothers and the remake of Shaft). As for the Twilight regular in the lead role, Abduction might serve as a new level of maturity for Lautner. Along with a noteworthy director, he is also working alongside a professional cast that includes Molina, Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, and Michael Nyqvist (from Sweden’s Millennium Trilogy adaptations). Even if the film is nothing more than a jungle gym of substandard CIA twists for the hero to clamber through, the adventure should still be more tolerable and – dare I say – more fun than not.

… And his shirt thankfully stayed on the entire trailer! There was even a snippet of a pool party!



Dolphin Tale

starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., and Kris Kristofferson. Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Rated PG.

I was nearly decapitated from the pressurized force of inspirational whimsy shooting out of my smartphone! This is the true story (with fictional human characters) of Winter the dolphin, the aquatic mammal who lost her hind flippers and vertebrae in a trap. Rather than succumbing to the sudden loss of appendage and dying, she befriends some humans and makes due with her handicap – setting a visual example for others who were unfairly robbed of a physicality. Winter is played by herself in the film.

Okay – pretty pleasant story and I usually am a sucker for any instance of human/animal companionship. However, after Marley & Me, Water for Elephants, even Rise of the Planet of the Apes and more, the overused themes are really becoming exasperating. With Dolphin Tale, I also sense inexperience from the crew (and an attempt to compensate with the major star/friend of the animals Freeman). I just feel that if the studios and people involved very truly felt that Winter’s life must be shared with an equal opportunity for all (and I see no reason why it shouldn’t), why would we be presented with a product that looks as generic and lackluster as this? How unfair it seems that there are more gorgeously shot celebrity biopics in existence.



Killer Elite

starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski, and Robert De Niro. Directed by Gary McKendry. Rated R.

The only reason I am open to see what the latest installment from Statham and his delusional world of adrenaline presents is due to Owen and De Niro. Wondering if either of the capable two can inject some coherence into this offering aside, there are several warning signs that this will be mind-numbing crap. Where to start? Statham escapes a point blank gun while tied to a chair (Awesome! Cue….. “Rock You Like a Hurricane”?…). Mr. Eko is yet again an evil henchman who will assuredly kick the bucket (He’s starting to give Sean Bean a run for his money, no? Didn’t an elephant squash him in the Ace Ventura sequel?). The love interest seems to be nothing more than a cheerleader… And the ads claim it’s “based on a true story” yet IMDb lists under its writing credits Ranulph Fiennes and his novel The Feather Man. How is it both?

But maybe Owen does more than a Hans Gruber imitation. Maybe De Niro is doing more than cashing a quick paycheck and provides something extra (as he did in Machete). Maybe Statham… No, probably not…

I’ll rent it and (chances are) regret it later.



Machine Gun Preacher

starring Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, and Kathy Baker. Directed by Marc Foster. Rated R.

Guess what – this is another film inspired by true events. Butler plays Sam Childers, a biker and former drug-dealer who embraced Christianity and moved to Sudan to become a one-man gang against the crooked militias who kidnap and enlist children to become soldiers. I expect I will have plenty of personal opinions going into the latest from Foster (Monster’s Ball) as a caucasian agnostic who cringes whenever Hollywood takes a liking to white guys “saving the day” in foreign lands (still shaking off Avatar). However, I am hoping my initial flammable instincts are cooled with an easy flowing combo of self-awareness and outside awareness from the picture. The explosion-heavy trailer ultimately fails to suggest this will be the case, but Foster’s mostly sensible if not solid reputation and career cause my premonitions to remain aflutter.




starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Bennett Miller. Rated PG-13.

I have a friend at work – no doubt a bigger sports nut than I – who has been anticipating this film’s release since December. It’s probably fair to say this guy is often acutely attentive about the strategies and statistics of past victors – a habitual curiosity I can’t help but find admirable. When he told me this behind-the-bleachers story of the Oakland Athletics’ intriguing and slowly effective new system that was receiving the silver screen treatment, his excitement became shared by me. I knew anything with big-time leading man Pitt had a poor chance of going unnoticed for a wide release, and this particular tale is an ambitious sort of spin on the typical underdog sports yarn.

The trailer is confident enough to reveal the chronological “dipping-to-escalating” flow. This may steal some freshness out of Moneyball‘s viewing, but I understand the marketing approach. The reason these actors and filmmakers thought this would make an interesting watch is the technique of the team’s successful season – what choices were made and why they were so quickly deemed a mistake by professionals. Director Miller (Academy Award nominee for Capote) no doubt has a specific audience in mind, and signs point to absolute devotion to any ticket-buyers who know what they’re getting into: a potentially boring display of baseball facts. This an example of the types of risks I like seeing the world of cinema take. The catch of the moviegoer feels truly earned.



Return next week for the GM/LM for September 30th, 2011 which will include 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dream House with Daniel Craig. If you regularly visit Twitter, feel free to follow @gttmovies and @MEIER_in_a_CT for more instant and unadulterated reactions to movies.

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