DVD Releases (1/8/08)
1. 3:10 to Yuma
Starring: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Gretchen Mol, and Ben Foster, with a cameo by Luke Wilson.
Directed by: James Mangold.
Written by: Halsted Welles and Michael Brandt.
Synopsis: An unsuccessful handicapped rancher Dan Evans (Bale) is hired to make sure Ben Wade (Crowe), a dangerous criminal, makes it to a train that is set to take him to Yuma for trial. Unfortunately for Evans, Wade’s crew finds out where they are headed and are intent on intercepting their captive leader and the men hired to take him to justice.
For the most part this is a tense old west thriller about an overmatched desperate man determined to complete his mission despite how suicidal it becomes. The film’s violent and exhilarating action sequences are placed carefully throughout; 3:10 may occasionally slow down to catch its breath but never for long. Bale’s earnest performance as the well-meaning Wade gathers sincere compassion from the audience. While Crowe’s savvy and dangerous performance as Ben Wade seduces the audience, who is secretly rooting for Wade to get away even though we have witnessed him murder several people without a sense of remorse. The film’s only misstep occurs in its illogical conclusion. Audience members are usually ready to suspend their disbelief, but this ending asks the audience to completely forget about common sense, resulting in an unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise entertaining and well-made film.
2. Death Sentence
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston (Travolta’s lady), Garrett Hedlund, and John Goodman (Roseanne’s fictional man).
Directed by: James Wan.
Written by: Ian Geffers and Brian Garfield.
Synopsis: Nick Hume (Bacon) has a great life. He is a successful businessman, has a loving beautiful wife (Preston), and two healthy (for now) sons. However one night Bacon’s hockey star son is killed in a random act of gang violence. Hume’s is overcome with grief, but his grief quickly turns into rage when is son murderer is set free. Hume kills the gang member responsible for his son’s death in turn creating a war between him and gang members.
James Wan is the director of the first Saw film as well as the ventriloquist horror film Dead Silence. Why did Mr. Wan depart from the horror genre? It certainly wasn’t to make a film that had any real character development or to create a believable and meaningful story. Hume’s transition from a loving and sensible business man to a cold blooded killer capable of dismantling gangs is so easy for Hume you would think that he was a marine before he went to business school. The film’s paper-thin story is only an excuse for Wan to stage violent but redundant action scenes, in which Hume may be scathed but never destroyed no matter how many ruthless gang members he is battles. This a stupid film, it disguises itself as an analysis of revenge, but really it just revels in the bloody bleak world it has created never saying anything significant.
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Rose Bryne, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, and Cliff Curtis
Directed by: Danny Boyle.
Written by: Alex Garland
Synopsis: Years in the future the Sun is dying. Earth’s last hope is a group of astronauts who are attempting to send a bomb into the son, hopefully causing the Sun to become fully alive again.
Sunshine re-teams the star, director, and writer on the hit zombie film 28 Days Later. It is important to know this because while this is predominantly a sci-fi film, Sunshine has strong horror elements, especially in its manic and violent ending. The film has a claustrophobic feel, spending almost every second of its running time on aboard the seemingly doomed space ship. As the stakes are heightened and the characters become more unraveled Sunshine becomes more mesmerizing. You watch breathlessly as these characters not only have to deal with their likely death, but also bare the responsibility of being humanities’ last hope. The film’s ending might be off-putting and silly to some, but it is a relevant reminder that the past is never truly buried, and must be dealt with before moving forward.
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