The Reel Deal
RANGO, THE LINCOLN LAWYER & BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Quick Takes on Three Films
Film Insight by Tyler Malone
Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5
With its near-Pixar quality (the gold standard for computer animation), this animated flick is both funny and intelligent. The leading lizard is a well-crafted and lovable character who himself creates the eponymous persona: Rango. There is an obvious reason Rango is an actual chameleon, it is because of his chameleon-like ability, as a reptilian thespian, to assume a role and blend with his surrounding. The film is, on one level, a rumination on performativity. Of course, if you’d rather not think deeply about an animated film, never fear: it is also just pure, unadulterated fun. Everything you could want from a great animated movie is here in droves, and it is as much for the kids as it is for the adults–a perfect family movie in that sense. It may not end up being the best animated film of the year–obviously, it is much too early to tell–but Rango definitely sets the bar pretty high for animated movies in these early months of 2011.
THE LINCOLN LAWYER:
Reel Rating: 3 out of 5
Matthew McConaughey returns to the courtroom after getting lost in the No Man’s Land of crappy Romantic Comedies. A Time to Kill this film is not, but it’s also not Fool’s Gold (so there’s something to celebrate!). As far as an adaptation of an unremarkable potboiler from the likes of Michael Connelly goes, they’ve juiced about as much as they can out of the mediocre source material. Much of what they’ve done here works well enough, but not all of it. All in all, it’s a decent film, and it kept me interested for the most part, but the twists were at turns entirely predictable or out of left field–neither of which is entirely satisfying to an intelligent moviegoer. A little too ridiculous for me to get fully behind and governed by the kind of clichés that make me cringe a bit, I still must admit The Lincoln Lawyer wasn’t too shabby.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES:
Reel Rating: 1.5 out of 5
I much preferred this movie when it was called Independence Day and wasn’t shot like it was trying to be Saving Private Ryan (with aliens). Independence Day was no work of cinematic genius, but at least it knew how to treat its material. That film was campy, fun and funny–in a cheesy, 90s disaster-movie kind of way–and though ultimately forgettable, wasn’t a complete failure. After all, it had Jeff Goldblum, who never fails to elicit a smile. Battle: Los Angeles did not have the benefit of Mr. Goldblum–one of its many flaws. Though it had Aaron Eckhart, who is undeniably a better and more versatile actor than anyone in Independence Day, even he couldn’t save an action movie this overbloated and unfun. Besides Eckhart, the rest of the cast seemed as talentless as the filmmakers behind the camera–a virtual who’s who of mediocre actors. Speaking of Eckhart’s supporting cast: I wish his co-star from The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger, as the Joker, could have been there during the filming of Battle: Los Angeles just to say to someone in the production: “Why so serious?” It’s an honest question: Why make an alien film so damn serious? And so lacking in human life? Sure, there are humans on screen, but they are as lifelike as the roboticized aliens that are threatening LA. And with all the pro-military propaganda that underscores every scene of this film, by the time I was finished I didn’t know if I had watched a boring, overly-serious sci-fi war film or an annoying and bathetic military recruitment video from a not-too-distant, alien-infested future. There was a little too much “hoorah”-shouting, but nothing to actually make an audience member want to “hoorah” along with the Marines who–betcha couldn’t guess?–save Los Angeles. I almost didn’t even care if LA survived, which means a lot, since that is where I was born, and where much of my family and friends still reside. The movie just had trouble getting me invested in it–emotionally, intellectually, comedically, or otherwise. That said, at least it wasn’t Sucker Punch…
Rango is a film directed by Gore Verbinski and written by Gore Verbinski, John Logan and James Ward Byrkit. It stars Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer and Abigail Breslin. Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.
The Lincoln Lawyer is a film directed by Brad Furman, and written by John Romano, based on a novel by Michael Connelly. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Fillippe and William H. Macy. A sleazy defense attorney has a crisis of conscience when he represents a wealthy client who has a foolproof plan to beat the system.
Battle: Los Angeles is a film directed by Jonathan Liebesman and written by Christopher Bertolini. It stars Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan. A Marine Staff Sergeant who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders.
Written by Tyler Malone
Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures and Allmoviephoto.com
Design by Jillian Mercado