Three months down in 2012 and I’ve selected my favorite five movies thus far. These may or may not show up on my year end list – but they still remain movies you should track down and enjoy…
#5 - HAYWIRE
Bottom Line: THE BOURNE ESTROGEN! This slimmed-down, bare-knuckled, slow-burn, art-house action revenge flick sizzles with the white hot presence of a first time leading lady/former Mixed Martial Arts star, a talented director and a willing, able and well known, star-studded cast. We may have seen this all before (in one action form or another) and I guess it could have been a bit more haywire-y-er…but it’s a lot more fun when the female leading the charge can actually kick some a**!
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewen McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh (TRAFFIC; OCEAN’S 11-13 and CONTAGION)
Running time: 93 minutes
Story: Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive. Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary. (Relativity Media)
Bottom Line: A self-aware, hilariously high-octane, back-to-school action/comedy with two spirited performers (Hill and Tatum) delivering the comedic, chemistry rich goods! The wit, raunch and freshness ultimately turns to formula-driven, lets-wrap-this-thing-up-with-a-car-chase-and-shoot-em-up-antics, but this SUPERBAD meets LETHAL WEAPON-esque flick still rises well above the mediocrity of almost everything else out there right now. If you’re just looking for a fun time at the movies…might as well JUMP!
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube
Directed by: Chris Miller (CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS)
Running time: 109 minutes
Story: Schmidt and Jenko are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier ¬and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind. (Columbia Pictures)
Bottom Line: A heartfelt, harmless and (at times) happily ham-fisted family friendly flick that delivers precisely what you’d expect…but with more wit and emotion than you actually would expect. Engaging and energetic – the committed cast and crew give this movie enough positive momentum to ensure you and your kids have a whale of a good time! Surprisingly, my 7- and 5-year old boys were locked in and engaged throughout – bestowing A+’s as we left the theater. A breakfast of popcorn and Icee's, during an early morning screening, will do that sometimes...
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krazinski, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, Tim Blake Nelson, Vinessa Shaw and Ted Danson
Directed by: Ken Kwapis (HE’S JUST NOT THAT IN TO YOU, LICENSE TO WED and DUNSTON CHECKS IN)
Running time: 107 minutes
Story: Inspired by the true story that captured the hearts of people across the world, the rescue adventure, Big Miracle, tells the amazing tale of a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who are joined by rival world superpowers to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. (Universal Pictures)
Bottom Line: A sharply written, expertly acted, intensely nerve-wracking and intriguingly structured, post apocalyptic flick that’s sure to please both readers of the three book series as well as the casual moviegoer (Mrs. Brian the Movie Guy glowingly called it the best page-to-screen adaptation she’s ever seen – and gave it an 'A'). Minor flaws aside - I had a few nagging questions that will hopefully be covered in the continuing saga - this LORD OF THE FLIES meets THE TRUMAN SHOW by way of Schwarzenegger’s THE RUNNING MAN hybrid is completely accessible to both genders (unlike the awful cinematic incarnations of TWILIGHT). The first round of HUNGER GAMES may fill your belly – but loosen your belt ‘cause you’ll wantingly crave seconds and thirds!
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hensworth, Woofy Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Gary Ross (SEABISCUIT and PLEASANTVILLE)
Running time: 142 minutes
Story: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (Lionsgate)
Bottom Line: A tightly wound, philosophically wrapped, beautifully shot and ferociously exciting, Alaskan Wilderness, Jack London-esque survival thriller. Fans of the genre might wish for a little less talking and a little more Liam-Neeson-punches-a-wolf-in-the-face-action, but this well made, grippingly brutal man vs. wilderness, guy’s guy popcorn flick stands and delivers! No GREY area here…this is the most fun you’ll have at the movies this month.
Starring: Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney
Directed by: Joe Carnahan (THE A-TEAM, SMOKIN’ ACES and NARC)
Running time: 117 minutes
Story: In The Grey, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements – and a vicious pack of rogue wolves on the hunt – before their time runs out. (Open Road Films)