For Your Renting Pleasure

Rec2 HeaderWith giant food babies resting nicely in your stomach following Thanksgiving, renting some movies to help the lounging around become a little more entertaining sounds like a pretty good idea, right?  Well, here are some ideas on what to get. (Batman: Year One; Crazy, Stupid, Love; and [Rec]2 for those too impatient to wait until after the break)

Batman: Year One (2011)

Something tells me that maybe had I read the graphic novel by Frank Miller first then I would have some fan loyalty to the story that would make a stronger liking for it, but without this background I find myself underwhelmed.

As the title suggests, this is another origin type story for Batman as Bruce Wayne decides to don this symbol as he protects the citizens of Gotham City.  He doesn’t actually become the bat until 1/3 of the way through the story, and I really have to wonder how the heck a bat flies through a window.  In his defining moment of wounded / hopefully delirious enough to hallucinate, a bat flies through the window, screaming at Bruce.  Dramatic, I am sure, something tells me this was a much stronger image as a drawing, but here it was just comical.

As were a lot of the other images throughout the story.  Upon Batman and Catwoman’s first interaction (though neither have actually become these alter egos yet), they end up fighting each other.  Sure Gotham is a place with loose rules and morals, but beating up a woman just seemed a little much.  Plus, the good cop Gordon drives recklessly on the sidewalk.  He’s not the squeaky clean hero by any means, but this is just reckless.  Come on Gordon!

Even though I spent the majority of the film wondering why everyone had black eyebrows no matter what the color of their hair actually was, or why Catwoman was even included in the story, I would say the biggest problem with this cartoon is the other competition out there.  I might watch this again if it was on TV, but if I am going to choose the origin story to watch, I would definitely go with Batman Begins over this one.  The competition just isn’t there.

Final Grade: B-

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

I have been waiting all year to see this movie since I missed it in theaters like a stupid face.  All that waiting can lead to some pretty high expectations, so thank goodness this one doesn’t disappoint.

As far as love stories go, Crazy, Stupid, Love is pretty guilty of keeping it close to home.  In other words, the teenage son loves the babysitter, the babysitter loves Steve Carell (the father), Carell loves the wife that just asked for a divorce, etc…You would think that this set up would prove rather annoying considering how improbable some of it seems to be, but it creates enough hilarity in the situations that come up because of these connections down the road in each characters quest to have their feelings reciprocated.

With that said, the best relationship is actually the one between Carell and Ryan Gosling as Gosling takes Carell under his wing to teach him how to manipulate women into his bed.  Carell takes on more of a performance similar to that from Dan In Real Life (see it!), and Gosling continues to provide performance after amazing performance this year as someone who is slightly disgusted by the depth to which Carell has sunk, best exemplified in the make-over portion of the movie.

In the end I was pretty surprised by how little Emma Stone and Gosling actually interact together, but this is not to say that the film suffers because of this.  Their characters have their separate screen time to build them up in their own relationships, so when they finally do meet again for a second time it is a relief because of how much I hoped they would fall in love as well.

Crazy, Stupid, Love will have you laughing, cheering, tearing up… You know, all that good stuff.

Final Grade:  B+

[Rec]2 (2009)

Whether you’ve seen the first [Rec], or the American remake, Quarantine, [Rec]2 is definitely a movie to see if you loved the zombie outbreak in the first one and want to know where it goes from there.

This Spanish sequel takes place in the same apartment complex as the first, picking up right after the events of the first (well technically there is some minor overlap during a scene or two).  Clearly the first wave of firefighters that went in were unable to quell what was unraveling in the building, so now it is up to a 4-man swat team to go in and clean up the mess.  A medical expert is also along for the ride to figure out what happened, but some secrets of his reveal that he is connected to the religious aspect that ended the first film.

Ugh, religion, shiver.  But don’t worry, the religious addition of possession to these zombie-like tenants does not ruin the horror fun in any way, but actually adds to it.  Plus, normal zombies don’t climb on the walls and ceilings, but now some of these possessed little demons do!  And it is definitely a creepy sight to see, adding another layer to the typical running, one-track mind zombies.

The use of handcams continues from the first film as well, with cameras attached to the swat team’s helmets.  This craze has lost some of its edge due to popularity in films now, but it still makes good work here.  Plus, there are a few shots that we get that just wouldn’t come out of a different shooting style.  For example, we get to be in the POV of the team as zombies try to eat their faces off, as well as end up on the ground after being knocked off someone’s head in an attack, resting at an odd angle that creates beautiful compositions for the action that is just out of view.

The one downside to the film for me was that about halfway through we switch to a different group of people, moving away from the swat team as their cameras die, are lost, etc.  With that said, eventually the two stories converge, which makes the annoying characters that stole the screen time for a while worth it in the end.

Long story short, if you are a fan of the original (Spanish or American version), or just of the zombie genre in general, then this sequel is definitely one to see.

Final Grade:  B+