Luke’s movie reviews


If the outback is this boring, I don’t want to vacation there anymore

Romantic films are pornography for women; they bring an unreal fantasy that reality just doesn’t offer. And for that reason, men will hate Australia while the women who dragged them to it will love it.

Written and directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo+Juliet), Australia is being marketed as an “epic love story,” which translates to “a three-hour chick flick that will throw some explosions into the last 30 minutes to wake-up the male audience.”

Australia is basically three movies shoved into one. The first story is a western that introduces us to the characters. There’s Nullah, a “creamy” child, meaning he’s half white and half black; Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), a British woman trying to run her late husband’s failing cattle ranch; and Drover (Hugh Jackman), who is just that – a cattle drover (you can see that Luhrmann was real original in naming that character).

Nullah is in danger of being exiled with other “creamies” to an island where men of the cloth can educate them and “breed out the black” so they can be reintroduced to society. Lady Ashley can’t have children of her own, so she protects Nullah on the farm from being arrested. But when she fires the previous corrupt groundskeeper, she must put him to work in herding the cattle north to a cargo ship along side Drover.

The second story takes place after the first task is completed. It is one of love and romance and everything predictable that comes with it – ups and downs. It eventually leads to a fight that sends Drover off into the outback.

The third story is one of war. Just after Drover leaves, Nullah is arrested and taken to the island. Then the pull a Pearl Harbor attack on the city, not only widening the gap of separation of the three, but leaving them wondering if the others even survived.

Australia aspires to be Casablanca and Gone With the Wind, but falls short in so many ways. Considering it’s trying to be an epic love story, there isn’t much to the love or epic sides of it. Only one simple act sparks this romance. The epic war part feels like it was thrown into the movie just to make a big finish for the movie. The result of these two major flaws makes the film feel emotionless and shallow. There is no drive for the characters doing the things they do in the given circumstances. I don’t buy it.

And as if the story wasn’t dreadful enough to get through, the filmmaking will make one go nuts. Luhrmann over uses slow motion more than anyone (excluding Michael Bay). The painfully obvious CG effects, such as dust, animals, cliffs and landscapes, make you feel like you’re watching Peter Jackson’s King Kong. What would be amazing beautiful shots of the Australian outback are ruined by bad CG enhancement.

Claiming to be an “epic love story,” Australia will be the most forgotten of it’s kind. It’s over indulgent. An Aussie making a movie about his homeland is a bad idea. He throws in far too many historical elements for one movie and does a poor job at making them link together.

Who’s going to like Australia? Women and Aussies. Everyone else will see through the shroud that covers the most boring of self-proclaimed epic movies.

Four Christmases

A.K.A. Meet the Parents: Christmas Edition

There’s only one thing more annoying than going to a noisy, annoying huge family event, and that’s watching Reese Witherspoon going through four of them in 80 minutes.

Four Christmases is Meet the Parents set during Christmas. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play a couple that hates family gatherings. For the past few years, they’ve been avoiding every major holiday by claiming to be doing humanitarian work abroad. In reality, they’ve been off living their selfish holidays vacationing at foreign resorts.

When fog cancels their Christmas morning flight, they are seen on the TV by their families when newscasters (who have nothing better to do) interview them concerning their frustration. Their gig is up, so now they have to visit both divorced sets of parents and their families, making it four Christmases.

Of course, as they meet each other’s dysfunctional families and hear dreadful childhood stories about one another, they begin to bicker and fight, questioning their relationship. By the time it ends, there’s a perfectly placed holiday cherry on top.

Had Vaughn, friend co-star Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man) and Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Pushing Daisies) not been in Four Christmases, it would have been unbearable. Between Vaughn and Favreau’s fast paced, witty and often-improvised lines that keep you laughing frequently and Chenoweth’s charmingly condescending character, you have a few things pulling you along in the story.

If you thought the trailer looked bad, know that it’s not as bad as it looks; it’s not much greater, but it’s not as bad. If you thought it looked funny, then this is your movie. Nothing can stop you from enjoying it, not even four hellish family reunions crammed into one unbelievable day.

Synecdoche, New York

A movie stranger than it’s name

Writer Charlie Kaufman has earned himself quite a career over the last decade. For writing such quirky and odd stories, he’s been pretty successful. Considering his last project, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, you would expect a lot out of his latest project Synecdoche, New York.

When you see the title written out, you can’t help but wonder, ‘How in the world do you pronounce that?’ It’s pronounced sin-neck-dough-key and it’s taken from a child mispronouncing the name of the city Schenectady, pronounced ske-neck-tuh-dee.

Synecdoche, New York stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as theatre director Caden Cotard. When his wife and daughter leave him and move to Europe, Caden hits his midlife crisis in the hardest way. Even though he’s just won a huge grant that will allow him to create his theatrical masterpiece, everything falls apart.

Caden’s depressingly lonely life causes him to lose his grasp on time and reality. It doesn’t take long for his current life and play to blend together so much that you don’t know what’s real and what his actors are doing.

While the idea behind Synecdoche, New York is a brilliant one with lots of potential, the story never really goes anywhere but down in it’s melodramatic mumblings. Nothing is defined or refined. A big event will happen that strikes such a change in Caden that he decides to change the way things are done, yet the next scene plays as if it never happened.

Kaufman decided to take the director’s chair for Synecdoche, something he’d never done before. In my opinion, had he not done it himself, it would have been a much better film.

Throughout the flaws and constant drabble of Synecdoche are potently aesthetic moments. The heart of this film is beating, just not in a healthy rhythm. Many moments are extremely moving and completely unforgettable; but the stuff in between those scenes is the absolute opposite.

Synecdoche is a love it or hate it film. I know that some Kaufman fans will fall head over heels for it, but most will be disappointed.

Transporter 3

An awfully good action flick

How can you not be excited to see an action movie involving high-octane automobile stunts, Jason Statham strip-fighting and a director whose last name is Megaton (so close to Transformers villain Megatron)?

Reigning in as the best movie opening this Thanksgiving week is
Transporter 3. Don’t be fooled by the ‘3’ in the title. You do not need to see the previous installments to be completely entertained with number 3.

When I recommend seeing this movie this week, it’s not because it’s better written than Australia or more heartwarming than Four Christmases.
Transporter 3 is merely the most entertaining. Note: I only used the word “entertaining,” not “amazing” or “timeless.”

Transporter 3, Statham returns as Frank Martin, a fast Audi-driving deliveryman who can be hired by any shady businessman to blindly take “packages” from one location to another.

Instead of being hired to do the job this time, Frank is captured and forced to do the driving. To keep him under control, the bad guy has locked a special bracelet on Frank’s wrist that will explode if he goes farther than 75 feet away from his car.

Just like the previous
Transporter movies, this one offers lots of speeding and crashing cars, shirtless fighting Statham eye candy for the girls and the highest amount of unbelievable stunts in one movie since
XXX: State of the Union. Often times, the ridiculous things that Frank is capable of doing successfully will make audience members laugh. You just might laugh more in
Transporter 3 than you do in Four Christmases.

If you liked the previous two movies, over-the-top action flicks, Jason Statham or anything that I’ve said to describe this movie, then be sure to check out
Transporter 3 over all of the others opening this week. It may be just as lame as the others, but at least you’ll leave with a smile on your face.

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