Movie Reviews – February 2012

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In Theaters: 01.13
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: An ex-criminal who was the god of his illegal profession leaves the dirty underworld to pursue a legitimate family life, but when a reckless family member neglects to follow his righteous footsteps, said ex-criminal must perform one last job to ensure the safety of his family. It’s a storyline that’s been beaten to death, yet never seems to get old. This time around, it’s Mark Wahlberg who portrays an ex-smuggler attempting to rescue his brother-in-law from drug lord Giovanni Ribisi with the help of his partner-in-crime, Ben Foster, and a cargo ship secretly holding millions in counterfeit cash. Director Baltasar Kormákur (who played the lead character in the 2010 Icelandic original) takes his sweet time getting this choppy sea crime caper underway, but once the action starts, it doesn’t quit. However, with the film’s early delay, Kormákur neglects to leave sufficient screen time to allow his heist to flow naturally, creating rushed action sequences that would have been much more intense with a shorter first act. The biggest dilemma comes from the cast. While all of them deliver their roles appropriately, each one has performed these types of characters one time too many, so every twist and turn can be predicted by staring at the film’s poster. While January is usually the month where theatrical films go to die and be forgotten quickly, Kormákur barely slips by with this unsurprising, yet fairly entertaining smuggler’s run on the high seas. –Jimmy Martin

Joyful Noise
Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 01.13
The Mayans must be right about the end of times happening in twelve months, because the first sign of the apocalypse has surfaced in the form of a feature-length episode of “Glee” censored and liquefied for geriatrics and helmed by Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. (Does anybody remember when she was in the super group Native Tongues? Man, those were the days.) When G.G. Sparrow’s (Parton) husband/choir director (Kris Kristofferson) dies of a heart attack, a rivalry is formed between the widow and his second-in-command, Vi Rose Hill (Latifah), after the latter takes control of the singing group. To make matters more awkward, G.G.’s grandson (Jeremy Jordan) and Vi’s daughter (Keke Palmer) spark a budding romance that they can only share on the stage as their guardians attempt to block all contact behind the scenes. Director Todd Graff’s attempt to cash in on the popularity of the musical genre lacks sincerity and feels so forced that not even the religious undertones feel authentic. It’s like watching a televangelist performing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits while dollar bills fall out of his pocket. The worst of the disaster arrives with a duet performed by Parton and Kristofferson (both of whom appear to have spent more money on cosmetic surgeries than the entire budget of the film) and it resembles two burned Muppets trying to serenade one another. It’s disturbing. From the off-putting lip syncing to the multiple contradictory messages crammed down audiences’ throats, 2012 has welcomed the first potential Razzie nomination without wasting any time. Hopefully, this year gets better quick, or I’ll be smiling brightly when the planet explodes in December. –Jimmy Martin

Man on a Ledge
Summit Entertainment
In Theaters: 01.27
If the unoriginal title alone didn’t implant the sense of an overwhelming disinterest deep within your soul, the slapdash screenplay and half-hearted performances in Asger Leth’s dopey “whodunit” certainly will. Former police officer turned convict Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) has been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Rather than wasting his life away behind bars, damning billionaire David Englander (Ed Harris) for his predicament, he escapes and quickly finds himself leaning over the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New York City. However, not everything is what it seems. As Cassidy proclaims his innocence to chief negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), his brother (Jamie Bell) works feverishly across the street in an elaborate diamond heist to reveal his sibling’s innocence. With the abundance of crime caper flicks hitting theaters, films must set themselves apart from the masses in order to solidify importance. Sadly, Leth fails in this mission as he implants thievery tactics used in films released many, many years ago. For a state-of-the-art robbery, it’s fairly outdated. Essentially, it’s the poor man’s Mission Impossible. While many scenes do provoke a heightened heart rate, the intensity is swiftly suffocated with worn-out dialogue and plot holes so large that a suicide jumper could do a reverse 3 ½ somersault through them on his way to the pavement. –Jimmy Martin