Monday, August 29, 2011

Movie Review: Unknown

Recently, I watched the film "Unknown" starring Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger.


"Unknown" is an action-thriller-drama movie set in Berlin, Germany. Dr. Martin Harris and his wife arrive in Berlin for an important science conference; however, on the day of their arrival, Harris forgets a bag at the airport and tries to retrieve it, only to end up in a car accident. He wakes up four days later with amnesia and then remembers the conference and his name. However, when Harris returns to the hotel where he and his wife were staying, his wife does not know him and another man has assumed his identity. People start trying to chase Harris, and he turns to the cab driver Gina, who caused the car accident, and a German PI named Jurgen for help.

The plot seemed straightforward and interesting, but it became twisted and did not flow smoothly. As I watched it, it seemed as if the writers couldn't quite make up their mind as to the ending would be; this made the build-up confusing and the revelation looking as if it had suddenly been added with nothing to lead up to it. I still don't fully understand the assassination scheme and the whole thing about genetically modified corn. Also, the ending of the film felt like the ending of a Bourne movie, though it was not as well-done and did not fit in well with the rest of the movie.

The characters were all right though nothing memorable. At first, I sympathized with Harris when I wondered what was going on to him; however, by the end of the movie, he was nothing special. Harris remembering his true identity reminded me of Jason Bourne, but he was far less sympathetic than Bourne; Bourne's change of heart in the first film made sense, but Harris' did not. Neeson and Kruger had no chemistry together, and they did not work together well.

Maybe it was because of the meandering plot, but there was quite a bit of action in the movie though not as cool as other action films. I did have a problem with the shower sex scene and the meaningless off-screen sex in Gina's apartment; neither fit into the movie, and they seemed more like they were thrown in for no good reason whatsoever.

The movie looked like a popcorn film, but I was disappointed. It came across as meandering and then like a Jason Bourne wannabee that miserably failed. It was not a very memorable movie, and I'm not likely to watch it again.

I give it two stars out of five.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This evening, I made my first trip to the movie theater in several months to see "Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

For those who are familiar with the original series that started back in 1968, the current movie is the first one of a reboot and does not deal with the original story.


"Rise of Planet of the Apes" is a new origin story for the "Planet of the Apes" mythology. James Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist who is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease, emotionally inspired by his own father who suffers from the disease. After Will's cure seems to fail when an intelligent chimpanzee Bright Eyes becomes violent, he and his assistant Franklin discover she has a baby. Not wanting to kill it, Will takes the baby home, where his father names it "Caesar." Because of the drugs given to his mother, Caesar becomes a highly intelligent chimpanzee. When Will's father's dementia returns, Will makes a new but more aggressive form of the virus, but he and his company do not test it on humans, preferring to continue the testing with chimps. After an incident involving Will's father, Caesar is sent to a primate house, where he is abused by the workers and is disgusted with the other unruly chimps. Caesar soon becomes the domineering chimp and begins instructing the other orangutans and gorillas, and things become more interesting when he manages to get a hold of the intelligence virus and give it to his companions.

The plot was easy to understand, coherent, and interesting. My one complaint is that it seemed a little slow, as the real action didn't begin until later in the movie. Part of that is that this movie is an origin story, which means that it's a mere introduction to what will happen later. Which means that if there is at least another movie in the works, then that one will likely deal with more actual conflicts between apes and humans and not the build-up.

The characters were divided into the human and the animal. The human ones were generally nothing memorable, but neither were they ones you disliked or hated, except for the greedy cooperation owners and the people who run the primate house. The apes were definitely meant to be sympathetic as they suffer from abuse at the hands of humans, and they all had their different personalities, like the young male who challenges Caesar, the ferocious gorilla Buck, or the orangutan who befriends Caesar.

The special effects for the movie were cool, especially in regards to the CGI apes. Andy Serkis did an excellent job doing Caesar's role, and the apes looked much better than in the 60's and 70's versions where people were just dressed up in makeup for the roles.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie, but I ended up thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an entertaining drama-action film, and I believe worthy of being continued. If a sequel is ever produced of similar quality, you will find me at the movie theater when it arrives.

I give this film four out of five stars.