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Rating History

The Brave One
The Brave One (2007)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[center][font=Garamond][size=6]THE BRAVE ONE[/size][/font][/center]
[center]director: Neil Jordan[/center]
[center]R, 122 minutes, Warner Bros. [/center]
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[center]In a fall season already loaded with violence, vengeance, and anger, you'd think that there would be at least one or two to tackle these topics on a more serious note than films like [i]Death Sentence [/i]or [i]Shoot 'Em Up[/i]. Thankfully, seasoned director Neil Jordan has presented us with a film similar to these recent others, but only at the surface, called [i]The Brave One[/i]. In his quest to make a serious film about one's sudden tranformation into a violent figure after a devastating incident happens to someone close to them, Jordan first does a good thing by setting the cast in the right direction, with Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard in the lead roles. Another thing that a proven filmmaker like Jordan brings to this type of story is balance, and the knowledge that although there certainly will be a violent killing spree, to not put it on high entertainment display, but rather the psychological end of things must be focused on. There are not intense sequences of prolonged bloodbaths like the films mentioned before. Instead, [i]The Brave One [/i]takes us inside the head of the main character as she reluctantly, but inevitably, dissolves into another human being altogether. [/center]
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[center]It is already well known from the advertisements so I know I'm not giving anything away when I mention that, in the film, Foster's character loses her fiancee, and a lot of herself, in a brutal beating in New York City's Central Park. It is in the opening fifteen minutes or so of the film, the parts where we attempt to get to know her realtionship with her fiancee well, that the movie had me a little worried. I was greatly anticipating that Jordan would certainly be the one to bring a little logic to the whole revenge genre that seems to have revived itself here in 2007, but during the opening portions of this film I found it to be rushed, with hardly any time to actually care for these people before they become victim to something incredibly senseless. These opening minutes were so problematic that I even thought Jordan's directing was a little on the uneven side. I guess it's at the point when Foster is released from the hospital, or maybe when we are introduced to Terrence Howard's detective character that the movie really finds a way to capitalize fully on what it's trying to accomplish. Major kudos have to go to the two leads here, who take the two roles, which have an interesting relationship set up already, and make them very memorable. [/center]
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[center]The reason this movie works well is because Foster and Howard are so deep inside what they're doing, so involved, that they never give them or even the movie itself a chance to step outside the realm of a sense of reality. Jordan pulls himself together after a little stumble in the introductory minutes and manages to create a strong picture that we come to find is not so much about revenge, but one's realization that they are slowly becoming a shadow of their former self. The cinematography by Phillippe Rousselot, is slick and imaginative at times, and the music score, by Dario Marionelli, is solid and fits just right. The movie has a couple of mishaps, both in the beginning and in what seems to be a spruced-up finale for Hollywood purposes, but [i]The Brave One [/i]is a strong film nonetheless. [/center]

Mr. Woodcock
Mr. Woodcock (2007)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[center][font=Garamond][size=6]MR. WOODCOCK[/size][/font][/center]
[center]director: Craig Gillespie[/center]
[center]PG-13, 87 minutes, New Line[/center]

[center]I don't think I could ever get tired of Billy Bob Thornton digging into his [i]Bad Santa[/i]-bag of tricks to create similar characters full of relentlessly ruthless humor, and even though that's what he's done a couple of times since making that hilarious Terry Zwigoff film in 2003, it just hasn't quite worked. No matter how good Thornton is in a film, and he has shown that he is never capable of being anything but magnificent, there's no denying that the material has to be up to par with the performance. That obviously has not happened for him in a comedy since [i]Bad Santa[/i], with the first piece of mediocrity being last year's [i]School For Scoundrels[/i], and now it's Craig Gillespie's long-delayed release, [i]Mr. Woodcock[/i]. [/center]

[center]The film is about a sinister physical education teacher, Thornton's Mr. Woodcock, who devastates his adolescent students' self esteem as a personal hobby. One of those students, John Farley, has grown up to become the successful author of a self-help book, mostly fueled by the actions of Mr. Woodcock thirteen years earlier. Seann William Scott plays Farley, who is coming back to his Nebraska home for the first time in a very long while, and to accept the town-honored "Corn Cob Key". So the table is set for some major confrontation to begin, again, with Woodcock and Farley when he finds out that Woodcock is dating his mother. It is extremely important to a physical comedy like this to have a good-guy lead opposite Thornton that can hold his own ground, and although Seann William Scott had shown promise early in his career, has done nothing to capitalize on it since the [i]American Pie [/i]series ended. Here he cannot do anything to generate good laughs, and especially in the scenes without Thornton is where he fizzles out to a tremendous degree. Susan Sarandon is shamefully underused and dimly written as Farley's mom, and another good talent is wasted. [/center]

[center]There are a few situations that worked some laughs out of me in [i]Mr. Woodcock[/i], and all of them being when Thornton was able to let loose on his own. Unfortunately there is a far too small amount of times when the great actor gets to dominate key scenes in the film, and instead the movie becomes Scott's, which is its downfall. Amy Poehler does some fill-in supporting work and is just so Poehler-ish. I've been amused by the actress at times in other things she's done, but she never really seems to break out the same old character shell she has been playing since her career began, which is the loud-mouthed and egotistical bitch from hell that won't take no for an answer. In this film, she does it again and is only funny about half the time...just like everything and everyone else, except for Thornton obviously, who never reverts away from his scornful demeanor, even when everything else in the movie does. That is the only thing that can save this movie from total disaster. Instead, it's just a plain ol' bad movie. [/center]

28 Weeks Later...
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[center][size=6][font=Garamond]28 WEEKS LATER[/font][/center]
[center][/size]director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo[/center]
[center]R, 101 minutes, Fox Atomic[/center]

[center]It was when thinking about the truly creeped-out brilliance that comes out of nowhere in the follow-up to [i]28 Days Later[/i] that persuaded me to create the successful sequels list that has preceeded this review. It is not often when a sequel gets things right enough to be worthy of being put alongside its predecessor, and it's even more rare when it can overcome the expectations, and [i]28 Weeks Later [/i]does it with a cast and crew that in no way resembles the first installment. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's vision brings an extremely frightening feel to this film that highly-touted Danny Boyle couldn't quite deliver in the first. He proves to be just what the series needed, elevating it into the top tier of zombie pictures, and becomes so effective that it actually makes the [i]Later [/i]seem better upon reflection. [/center]

[center]It can go without saying, but I will do it anyway. The film takes place 28 weeks after the first film left off, this time venturing inside London, where the U.S. Army is planning to make a small portion of the city and make it a place where the survivors of the first virus can start over anew. Every person is sort of shipped in like packages to the city, everyone tested to see if they are okay to live and start a new civilization, and there are high hopes and almost positive feelings that the virus is now 100% gone. The only trouble is, there wouldn't be a movie without this being entirely un-true. Robert Carlyle plays a father of two who barely escaped the clutches of the first virus, as shown in a genuinely terrifying opening sequence that had me cringing in angst, something I rarely ever do while watching a film. He makes it back to London and meets up with his two children, but has to inform them that their mother had been taken. But when she is miraculously found and taken in to be treated by a medical expert, played terrifically by Rose Byrne, it seems as though she is immune to the virus and could serve as some sort of cure to the epidemic. She is, obviously, the complete opposite, and when her family is told that she is being held in a military-held hospital, her husband quickly makes it there to see if it could possibly be true, seeing as he saw her being torn apart in front of his own eyes 28 weeks earlier. What ensues next will catapult another rage, this time creating a chaos that makes the first film seem like nearly nothing. [/center]

[center]Everything about this film is done just right, from the direction to the musical score to the cinematography, lighting, and even the terrific cast. Jeremy Renner plays the one soldier who is willing to think outside the box and help a group of scattered civilians, including Carlyle's children and Rose Byrne's character, get out of the city. There is terror lurking around every corner, just as there always is in zombie flicks, but this film really had me clutching the edge of my cup-holder throughout. There is enough story, blood and gore, taut direction, etc. to make every type of fan happy in this film. I don't think I've ever been this caught off guard by a sequel, and mainly because my expectations were little to none for a film with a cast and crew plate swiped completely clean. It is impressive, disturbing, harrowing, and just about any other creepy adjective out there. With another viewing I could easily see myself upping the rating to masterpiece level, especially in the horror genre. [/center]