It’s the movie where the 99 per cent get angry and take back what they rightfully deserve. Don’t worry, Tower Heist is not some boring Occupy-the-world documentary, but rather an enjoyable action-adventure heist film.
Ben Stiller stars as Josh Kovacs, a recently fired building manager for a posh, uptown New York City apartment building, who becomes a modern day Robin Hood after his employees’ pensions are swindled by their very own penthouse resident and Wall Street billionaire—Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).
Charlie (Casey Affleck), Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), Enrique Dev’Reaux (Michael Pena), Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), and Slide (Eddie Murphy) round out Kovacs’ group of merry men. The group decides to rob Shaw’s 24-hour, FBI-monitored apartment and steal the cash they believe he’s holding there.
Although the movie is well executed, it suffers from mediocrity. The film never lives up to that fervor or zeal that most heist movies do. Most of the characters are regular Joes not looking for a ploy to get rich quick, but rather get back what they deserve. The stakes are never raised, the suspense is never heightened, and because of this, the ending is even more anti-climactic. Tower Heist takes too long getting into the intricate and detailed planning for the actual takedown of the apartment, and there is too much character development and not enough action. While Tower Heist isn’t comparable to other heist films, there are enough jokes peppered in, mostly epic one-liners from Pena’s character, to make it a decent film.
BASED ON A manuscript by renowned writer Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary stars Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, a young journalist. Kemp travels to Puerto Rico to work for a local newspaper that’s running on its last legs. Amidst the seemingly endless shots of rum, he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy of land-grabbing, spearheaded by corrupt businessman Hal Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Kemp mistrusts Sanderson and his cronies, and falls head over heels for Sanderson’s free-spirited girlfriend (Amber Heard).
The Rum Diary is an intriguing tale set in a lush but dangerous environment, where poverty-stricken locals clash with the American tourists who stay in luxurious hotels. Meanwhile, Kemp indulges in alcohol, cigarettes, cockfights, and even dabbles in narcotics, introduced to him by a wild-eyed pariah played by Giovanni Ribisi. While The Rum Diary isn’t quite as energetic and mesmerizing as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it’s refreshing to see Depp once again channel the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson. In this movie, Thompson is younger and still sober enough to get noticed by deceitful authorities running a scam. All in all, this is a well-made film that manages to avoid a clichéd ending in favour of something more interesting.
THE THING THAT is most loveable about the Paranormal Activity series, and the whole Blair Witch Project approach to horror movies, is that it is moving in the opposite direction of other scary movies. To be scary, a movie needs two things: Suspense and the grotesque. While most horror movies are innovating by taking the grotesque to new and horrible levels—The Human Centipede, anyone?—Paranormal Activity 3 and its predecessors know how to make a little go a long way by couching brief sequences of the grotesque in layers and layers of suspense.
This latest instalment may seem like more of the same, and in a way it is: Middle-class suburban yuppies encounter paranormal phenomena and decide to start trying to capture it on film, only to have it spiral out of control. Nevertheless, for this reviewer, the scares are still fresh and the self-conscious “documentary” style still found new ways to build truly oppressive suspense. Without giving too much away, one playful example is a sex scene that is rendered all the more suspenseful because you just know it’s going to be interrupted by something creepy before they can do the deed. This movie is worth seeing—it’ll scare anyone and leave many horrified long after the final credits roll.
IN THE WORLD of In Time, humans are able to develop a system where they stop aging at 25 and then have a year to live. The only way to accrue “time” after that is to work in the ghettos of Dayton doing manual labour. Starring big names like Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Alex Pettyfer, and Olivia Wilde, this sci-fi thriller will have you on the edge of your seat—for the most part, anyways.
The film focuses on 28-year-old Will Salas (Timberlake) who lives in the ghetto with his 50-year-old mother (Wilde). Salas goes out to the bar with his best friend, where he encounters 105-year-old Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) who is tired of living and comes to the ghetto to spend all of his time. Hamilton is then attacked, and Salas subsequently saves him. While they are asleep, Hamilton transfers most of his time to Salas. Salas tries to save him, but he is too late and is framed for Hamilton’s murder. Salas’ adventure against the ticking clock thus begins.
This star-studded flick delivers more than is advertised. Although slow at some points, with shabby acting here and there, it produces a solid performance from start to finish. This is definitely not a movie for the shallow minded, as it mirrors the myriad of greed, corruption, and politics going on in the world today.
THE THIRD VOLUME of the franchise, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, finds the duo aimlessly tackling the traditions of the holidays. The pair has grown apart, with Harold (John Cho) now married and working on Wall Street, and Kumar (Kal Penn) remaining a pothead loser. They reunite after a few years of no communication when Kumar receives a mysterious package addressed to Harold that sets off a series of events, which includes thwarting gangsters and saving Santa Claus from a bullet wound.
Unfortunately, most modern shows deal with the same subject matter with better wit, absurdity, comedy, and creativity. When TV shows like South Park or Family Guy tackle similar topics, there is a grounded reality to their characters, which makes the absurdity work. Every character in this film is crazy and obnoxious, making the movie insufferable. It flails around racial and social stereotypes, making you cringe instead of laugh.
Parodying other Christmas films and lacking creativity, the film is depressingly predictable. There is potential because of the two likeable leads, but the horrendous writing ruins it. It’s the anti-Judd Apatow film, but in order to resonate, the filmmakers needed to do something different that can’t be found better executed on television. They should’ve known that in order for stupidity to work, you need to be smart as well.