David Valdes

David Valdes

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Transcendence Review


OK

Far too slow-paced to work as a thriller and too shallow to properly challenge us as science fiction, this film is unlikely to please many audience members. That isn't to say that it's unwatchable: it looks terrific, and features a strong cast who are solid in thinly written roles. But the material promises far more than the film delivers.

At the centre is Will (Johnny Depp), an artificial intelligence expert who is attacked by an anti-technology terrorist group. With only weeks to live, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and his colleague Max (Paul Bettany) upload his consciousness into his computer system, so after he dies he is able to transcend his humanity to solve far-advanced problems. He directs Evelyn to create a vast secret hideout to further develop the work, which progresses for two years until the terrorists, led by Bree (Kate Mara), find them. And now Will's old colleague Joseph (Morgan Freeman) and an FBI agent (Cillian Murphy) have to choose which side they're on.

This is precisely where the script fails: the sides are far too clear from the start. What should be a story packed with moral ambiguity is instead shaped into a straightforward good versus evil drama that betrays screenwriter Jack Paglen's mistrust of technology. And since everything is slanted so sharply, there's nowhere for the story or characters to go. First-time director Wally Pfister (the Oscar-winning Dark Knight cinematographer) makes sure everything look terrific, but everything moves so hesitantly that we feel like we're watching the movie in slow motion. It's as if the film is always on the verge of saying something important, but can never quite get the words out.

Continue reading: Transcendence Review

The Book of Eli Review


Weak
Although it feels like a parallel story taking place at the same time as The Road, this post-apocalyptic thriller has the opposite effect, actually getting less complex and interesting as it goes along. At least it starts out well.

Eli (Washington) is a loner walking through a decimated American landscape some 30 years after "the war" brought about "the flash". His most precious possession is an old book, and he's willing to fight to the death to protect it as he heads west. Then he stumbles into a roughneck town run by the greedy Carnegie (Oldman), who's searching for the legendary book with his brutal henchman (Stevenson). And when the daughter (Kunis) of Carnegie's blind girlfriend (Beals) runs off after Eli, things get messy.

Continue reading: The Book of Eli Review

The Green Mile Review


Excellent
The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon. Start the race and the movie together: The race would long be over before the film. The winner would be at home, taking a nap. Yes, The Green Mile is three hours long.

Not that long movies have never been successful, and not that The Green Mile is bad. You might even think a long movie is required here. Pulled from Stephen King's acclaimed series of six books by the same name, King returns to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his), the kind that seems to perform the best, away from splatter and gore, and into the minds of the strangest of characters.

Continue reading: The Green Mile Review

The Green Mile Review


Excellent
The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon. Start the race and the movie together: The race would long be over before the film. The winner would be at home, taking a nap. Yes, The Green Mile is three hours long.

Not that long movies have never been successful, and not that The Green Mile is bad. You might even think a long movie is required here. Pulled from Stephen King's acclaimed series of six books by the same name, King returns to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his), the kind that seems to perform the best, away from splatter and gore, and into the minds of the strangest of characters.

Continue reading: The Green Mile Review

Open Range Review


Grim
During a summer in which TV remakes, romantic comedies, sequels, and comic book movies overcrowd at the multiplexes, Open Range is the only Western scheduled for release. While I give kudos to Dances with Wolves auteur Kevin Costner -- who directs, produces, and acts in the film -- for broadening the range of this season's genres, I only wish that I could welcome the film's drastic change of pace. Frankly, I'd rather watch another stupid superhero flick.

It's 1882, and best friends Charley (Costner) and Boss (Robert Duvall) are cowboys who have lived on the open range for ten years, driving cattle in a world where nature makes the only laws. Roaming the West with them are rambunctious young cowboys Button (Diego Luna), Mose (Abraham Benrubi), and Charley's faithful dog. When a rainstorm strands their wagon, Charley and Boss send Mose to the nearest frontier town to gather additional supplies. When he doesn't return, they decide to take a visit to the town -- with their revolvers at hand -- to search for him.

Continue reading: Open Range Review

The Dead Pool Review


Weak
The fifth and last of the Dirty Harry movies, The Dead Pool may not be the best in the series, but it's probably the funniest. Thanks to Evan Kim's reluctant "Chinese-American partner," Patricia Clarkson's tough reporter, and Liam Neeson's egomaniacal Brit movie director, The Dead Pool is at least populated with memorable supporting characters. The story -- involving a betting pool involving which San Francisco celebrities are going to die (who then start getting murdered) -- is a bit trite, but at 91 minutes, it doesn't get in the way of lots of old-fashioned shootin'.

The Time Machine (2002) Review


Grim
Guy Pearce remakes his second film of the year with The Time Machine... and it's barely March. Unfortunately, he had considerably better luck with The Count of Monte Cristo than with this limp retread.

Then again, the original Time Machine wasn't really anything special - a bunch of bad makeup effects and a weak plot. This time out the makeup's better but the story's a total loss.

Continue reading: The Time Machine (2002) Review

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