Sink your teeth into a cheesy love story as Stephenie Meyer‘s soppy vampire teen romance, Twilight, makes its way to DVD. Also out this week, Will Smith stars in Seven Pounds; the animated film Bolt speeds through New York City; and Ray Stevenson takes no prisoners in Punisher: War Zone.
Twilight (Available March 21)
Despite what most of the under twenty crowd might have you believe, Twilight is probably not the “best. thing. ever.” The novels have been breaking records, and the fans are going crazy, but it’s still hard to see it as anything more than a weak soap opera for teenagers.
Not that such a thing will stop it from taking in millions and millions of dollars, on top of what it already made in theatres.
Kristen Stewart stars as Bella, a social misfit who discovers a mysterious boy at her new school. Robert Pattinson plays Edward, said mystery boy, who is actually a vampire who doesn’t drink human blood. When the two find themselves falling in love, Edward has a tough time controlling his instincts, but far more trouble is in store for the duo when a clan of fresh vampires strolls into town.
Although there are few chances this toothless story will win any acting awards, or draw in many people who haven’t already read the books, I won’t discredit the film entirely; it can be fun at times. With characters cracking wise at every turn, the film is far from the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the cheesiest movies of the last year. Easily.
What really irks me about the film though is the dull beginning, and how awkwardly it ends. There have also been lots of complaints from fans that the story has lost a lot in the translation to screen, although I’m happily no judge of that.
Surprisingly enough, when it came time for the Oscars, I was a little shocked that Seven Pounds missed the nomination boat. Not because the film is particularly good, but because it tries so hard to be everything the Oscars usually dream about.
Will Smith is Ben Thomas, an IRS agent with a very big secret that not only changed his life, it has also left him with a quest. As Ben searches for particular people, with a motive we won’t understand until the end, he meets Emily Posa, played by Rosario Dawson. Among the troubled and sick people he has met, Emily stands out as a beacon to Ben, drawing him into a relationship he can’t fully accept, but can’t ignore either.
While all of the performances in Seven Pounds are compelling, the story is contrived to the point of exhaustion. Early on it becomes fairly apparent what Ben is doing, and why, and every step along the way is an obvious jab at getting audiences as weepy as possible.
Despite the obnoxious gotcha near the end, which plays out like a public service ad, Seven Pounds is definitely moving. Smith plays Ben with a fierce realism, managing both an elegance, and a brutal sadness that permeates the film. While Smith gives the film the power, it is Dawson who gives the film its heart, practically playing Ben’s tender opposite.
In the end, Seven Pounds is hindered by its style and the flawed storyline, but I’m still recommending it for anyone who likes a weepy drama, mostly because I was a big fan of the performances.
Special effects go a long way to making a hero, at least on television, but for the super-dog Bolt, it’s a hard to realize where those effects end and where he begins.
So when Bolt is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood studio to the mean streets of New York City, Bolt has a hard time realizing that he may not be the hero he thought he was. Travelling with a cat named Mittens and Rhino the hamster, Bolt will try to make his way back to Hollywood, and find out how to be a real-life hero at the same time.
First-time director Byron Howard leads this fun animated tale, with the voice talent of John Travolta as Bolt, and Miley Cyrus as Bolt’s owner, Penny.
Michael Rechtshaffen of the Hollywood Reporter eloquently summed up the film, saying, “Although it will never be mistaken for Pixar pedigree, this genial production is a notable step up for Walt Disney Animation Studios.”
Punisher: War Zone
Marvel superheroes have been doing quite well at the movies, bashing their way to the top of the box office at every turn. But greed must be getting the better of someone’s senses with the release of one of last year’s worst films: the attempted revival of the Punisher.
After the somewhat disastrous Punisher movie starring Thomas Jane, it is hard to imagine that anyone would want to be involved with this struggling franchise again, but apparently, Ray Stevenson was undaunted. Stevenson plays the vigilante gun man and hero Frank Castle, who is bringing his own special brand of justice to organized crime.
This time out, the Punisher is after mob boss Billy Russoti, who ends up disfigured after their first encounter. Going by the nickname Jigsaw thereafter, the mob brings in an army of bad guys to deal with Castle, which our flawed hero will have to overcome or die trying.
Roger Ebert’s review in the Chicago Sun-Times points out one of the more interesting aspects of the latest Punisher film. which otherwise received horrible reviews.
“You used to be able to depend on a bad film being poorly made,” Ebert wrote. “No longer. The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I’ve seen.”