Film Friday: ‘Source Code’ and ‘Hop’

by W. Andrew Powell

Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code

Michelle Monaghan and Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code

Opening in a theatre near you this weekend: Jake Gyllenhaal relives the past as he looks for answers in the thriller Source Code; James Marsden gets in the Easter (candy) spirit in Hop; and horror comes home in the film Insidious.

Source Code
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Cas Anvar, Russell Peters, Michael Arden
Director: Duncan Jones

Directed by Duncan Jones, who previously worked his magic in the film Moon, Source Code is a dramatic thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Colter Stevens, a decorated soldier who is assigned to work on a top-level government experiment. What bothers Colter is that he doesn’t remember how he got into the experiment in the first place.

Colter’s latest mission is to work in the “Source Code” program which lets him relive the last eight minutes of another person’s life to help solve the question of who set off an explosive on a commuter train. If Colter can solve that question, there is hope the answer could avert an even larger target as someone threatens the city of Chicago with a second much more terrifying explosion.

Reliving the last eight minutes of one man’s life over and over again, Colter hunts for answers, but at the same time he discovers a woman named Christina, played by Michelle Monaghan, who may end up causing the soldier divert from his mission.

Co-starring Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright, Source Code has a solid sci-fi premise that is wrapped up like a mainstream thriller. As directed by Jones, who has a natural talent with far out concepts, the film looks like a hit this weekend, but it is getting a little negativity in terms of the overall transparency of the story and the lack of a strong concept. The film was written by Ben Ripley, who doesn’t have a lot on his resume, aside from the direct-to-DVD Species III, but there is still a lot of good press out there for Source Code.

“With a twisty, mind-bending plot that frequently changes direction and occasionally overreaches,” wrote Kenneth Turan for the Los Angeles Times, Source Code wouldn’t work at all without a cast with the determination and ability to really sell its story.”

While Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in his review, “Here’s a movie where you forgive the preposterous because it takes you to the perplexing.”

Starring: James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, Russell Brand, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie, Elizabeth Perkins
Director: Tim Hill

Hop may have been written by two of the guys involved with writing the screenplay for Despicable Me, but based on the reviews it has a lot more in common with the director’s previous work, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

James Marsden stars as Fred O’Hare, a jobless wonder living in Hollywood who stumbles on the son of the Easter Bunny, cleverly named E.B. and voiced by Russell Brand. While Fred is a slacker, E.B. has actually shirked his duties as the next Easter Bunny and has wandered off to Hollywood to become a drummer, but when he meets Fred he convinces the man to take him in.

At the same time, on Easter Island, a fluffy chick is trying to take over the job of Easter Bunny, and without E.B. there to stop him, the little yellow fiend may just succeed. It will be up to Fred and E.B. to make sure he doesn’t ruin Easter for good.

Reviews for the film are definitely not in favour of this kid comedy. David Germain of the Associated Press wrote, “Hop has one of the cutest bunnies you’ll ever see and plenty of other eye candy among its computer-generated visuals, yet there’s not much bounce to the story behind this interspecies buddy comedy.”

Although one positive review came from Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle called the film “A fairly undistinguished but pleasant and easy-to-take holiday movie, with slow spots and silly spots and a handful of moments of inspiration.”

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Lin Shaye
Director: James Wan

In this horror film from director James Wan, the man behind the original Saw movie, a family with a young son discover that their brand new house may not be the perfect home after all as their child falls into a sudden, unexplained coma.

As terror breaks out around the child, the family discovers that his mind has been trapped in the otherworldly realm called The Further, and if they don’t figure out how to bring their child back, his mind will be stuck there forever.

Working with doctors, no one is able to figure out why their son went into a coma in the first place, and they can’t revive him either. It’s only through a psychic, played by Barbara Hershey, that they begin to find answers as spirits continue to haunt them wherever they go.

The film has received above-average reviews, which is a nice change for horror flicks these days.

John Anderson of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Insidious establishes that these folks can make a film that operates on an entirely different level, sans gore, or obvious gimmicks. And make flesh crawl.”

The film is not without its detractors though, with Mike Hale of the New York Times writing in his review, “The strongest analogue for the second half of Insidious is one that the filmmakers probably weren’t trying for: it feels like a less poetic version of an M. Night Shyamalan fairy tale.”

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