Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Contagion (2011) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Scary look at our world's bacteria and germ problems and how what we do can effect the entire world. Through something as simple of a bat eating a banana, the world's immune system becomes compromised, with millions of people dying. Contagion gives a reasonable account on what the world is faced with in the fear of a pandemic viral outbreak. Rumors spread fast throughout the Internet, people panic and rules are broken all to save personal life yet we still don't take proper precautions to keep ourselves safe.

With an all star cast, the movie could have been so much better if the focus was more on the horrible deaths and lives upended globally. At the beginning it's very scary watching how fast a virus can infect the world and the lives it takes. For me, it would have been much scarier and more realistic if the focus showed more of the taking of lives, showing how tragically a virus can spread and it's horrible consequences. With our recent epidemic of Swine flu, effecting the entire world, the movie is probably loosely based on that fear brought to the surface showing how easily this can happen. Luckily we live in a modern world with modern technology to work on solutions faster, but the threats of bacterial contamination producing deadly viruses are real and should be in our faces more often.

Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard), Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle), and Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), are up against the wall when an unknown lethal airborne virus is discovered and people around the world are dying within 24-48 hours of contact. Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), is a business woman traveling to Hong Kong in the wrong place at the wrong time. She comes in contact with a virus newly formed after her company recklessly bull dozes banana trees down in a community of bats. As she returns home, her husband Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), hopelessly watches her agonizing death that quickly spreads to their small son. Though Mitch appears to be immune to the disease, the world is at a standstill awaiting a solution from administrators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. With the government not telling all, people have turned to the Internet and battle with false information and reporters like Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), trying to make a name for themselves.

Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Warner Brother Pictures
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Producers: Steve Soderberg, Ricky Strauss, Stacey Sher
I viewed 1/12

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Hangover Part II (2011) R - 3½ Stars

The original Hangover movie has got to be one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. The freshness of not knowing what to expect makes it a classic. Trying to duplicate that it in The Hangover II is a tough challenge. However, I rented the movie not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Though it's not as good as the first, same plot with different scenery, it's worth the rent and tickled my funny bone. This time a little monkey, in his Rolling Stones vest, joins our 4 friends as they awaken in Bangkok not knowing what happened to put them there. Not the greatest but definitely funnier than most other comedies out there like Bridesmaids.

Stu (Ed Helms), is getting married again, this time in Thailand. The bride to be Lauren (Jamie Chung), is awaiting the arrival of her fiance along with the disapproval of her father Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Phil is feeling very intimidated, going to a strange land alone, and invites his buddies Alan (Zach Galifanakis), Doug (Justin Bartha), and Phil (Bradley Cooper), to join him. Vowing to make this marriage a success, Stu is cautious to join in when Phil suggest the gang share a beer on the beach one last time before the big day. Phil assures him nothing can go wrong and suggests Lauren's younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee), join them as this young prodigy needs to loosen up under the control of his over bearing father. What could go wrong with one harmless beer, bottled and capped and no chance of contamination of any drugs getting in. Stu's main concern is the wedding going off without a hitch. Guess they should have left Alan at home.

Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Scot Armstrong, Craig Mazin, Todd Phillips
Producers: Todd Phillips, Dana Goldberg, Daniel Goldberg
I viewed 1/12

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Final Destination 5 (2011) R - 3 Stars

Even though you know what to expect from the Final Destination series, it's always fun to see what they come up with next. I actually like this version (#5) more than some of the others I've seen as it tied together another episode at the end. Fairly gross in it's special effects, it's really not for younger children. This time, co-workers are on their way together to a corporate retreat when their bus must stop on a suspension bridge while construction takes place. One of the boys, envisions the bridge collapsing and gets a few of them out of the bus only to find out his vision was correct.

Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto), is aboard with some of his other co-workers, Peter  (Miles Fisher), Molly (Emma Bell), Isaac (P.J. Byrne), Candice (Ellen Wroe), Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood), Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta), and their team leader Dennis (David Koechner), along with the rest of the crew, headed for a corporate retreat. As the bus makes an unexpected stop over water on a suspension bridge, Sam begins to envision the worst case scenario about the bridge collapsing, plummeting the bus to a gruesome encounter with the ocean below. As things begin to happen exactly as Sam has imagined, he grabs his ex-girlfriend Molly's hand as he explains to the rest they must get out of the bus. A few follow his lead as they watch the bridge finally crumble, sending the rest of the crew to the ocean floor. Agent Block (Courtney B. Vance), investigates the coincidental vision of Sam and tries to make sense of how he knew in advance. Sam, and the others, soon learn there's no way to cheat death.

New Line Cinema, Practical Pictures, Parallel Zide
Director: Steven Quale
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Producers: Warren Zide, Craig Perry
I viewed 1/12