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Thumbnails June 2009

by Tony Medley

Revanche (8/10): This film that is in no hurry to tell its story is not for everyone, as it starts out with Irina Potapenko, a prostitute, making graphic love with her boyfriend, Johannes Krisch. There is a substantial amount of nudity in the first fifteen minutes, causing a few people at my showing (not a screening) to walk out. That was their loss, because as this film progresses, it gets deeper and deeper. Writer-director Götz Spielmann doesn’t hit you over the head with what he’s trying to say. Instead, you have to pay attention and grasp the nuance. (In German and Russian).

Terminator Salvation (8/10): This is a slam-bang, action packed, high tension, albeit extremely loud, film set in a post-apocalyptic California, circa 2018. Loaded with special effects and filmed with a background of treeless desolation, this is the type of film I generally abhor. But director McG tells such a high-paced story that it kept me in thrall throughout its almost two hour runtime. Even though Christian Bale is the prime mover, he’s joined by a new character, heartthrob Sam Worthington, who could make lots of female hearts flutter.

Star Trek (7/10): The judgment on this prequel isn’t based on the storyline; it depends on how well the new young stars portray their predecessors, who have become iconic. So let’s cut to the chase. Chris Pine gives an outstanding performance as the young Captain James Kirk. You can easily see how he could seamlessly evolve into the Kirk of William Shatner. He’s got good looks, charm, smarts, and cunning. But Zachary Quinto completely misses the boat as Spock. While the look is close, the personality isn’t. Whereas Nimoy played the putative-emotionless Spock with a glint in his eye, almost laughing at himself, Quinto is squarely humorless, playing Spock as an arrogant effete. Counterbalancing Quinto, standing out among the others are Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as Bones, who live up to their memorable originals, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, respectively.

Earth (6/10): Despite awe-inspiring cinematography, this is cheapened by some really silly story-telling by Disney that tries to make animals appear human à la Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Bambi. Worse, lots of the cinematography seems pretty derivative, if not identical, of what has already appeared on television.

Angels & Demons (5/10): The advertising campaign proclaims that it’s “better than ‘The Da Vinci Code’.” That’s like saying that your blind date is better looking than Quasimodo. After a tedious first hour, the film mostly consists of Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, and Ayelet Zurer running through one narrow alley and tunnel in Rome after another trying to find a bomb. Oh, well; one thing director Ron Howard has learned is that a film doesn’t need quality (or suspense; I identified the bad guy instantly) to make money, and he can laugh all the way to the bank on this one.

The Merry Gentleman (3/10): Unconscionably slow with no ending, a waste of 93 perfectly good minutes.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (0/10): Matthew McConaughey, who has made a string of bombs longer than Laker center Pau Gasol’s arm, pulls talented director Mark Waters, who made the brilliant “Freaky Friday” and “Mean Girls,” down to his level with this vacuous, unfunny debacle. I would say that this was a complete and utter waste of time and talent, but, except for Emma Stone who gives a captivating performance as the ghost of girlfriend past, I didn’t see any talent.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (0/10): What’s the mega-gifted Amy Adams doing in this soporific, dumbed-down ineptitude?

Read full reviews at www.tonymedley.com.