Recliner Reviews for Aug. 9, 2012

August 7, 2012 

Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.

“Project X”

There is a narrative thread throughout this teenager version of “The Hangover,” but that thread gets strained and severed by all the hijinks and foolishness. It does get tied back together a few times but this isn’t a movie that depends on character development - or even a script for that matter. It’s a party and it’s filmed like you’re at the party – editing together footage from video cameras, news cameras and even cell phone cameras. The actors are not worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning? An ass-kicking midget, a flamethrower and mayhem…lots and lots of mayhem. It’s meant to be a “Risky Business” for the new millennia. It’s not. It’s fun at times. It’s a really long YouTube clip at times. And other times, it’s just plain mean. The target demographic is teenagers and teenagers will love it. Funny, it’s rated R, but all the best teenage movies of years past were rated R, too. Anyone older than the age of 30 – pass.

“Gone”

Amanda Seyfried got her start on soap operas, but really got noticed on her break-out role on HBO’s drama, “Big Love.” Many thought her post-TV career would get bogged down in romance and melodramatic fluff. Quietly, Seyfried has made some decent films that flew under the radar. This is one of them. A psychological suspense film, Seyfried displays her two best skills – sass and emotionally falling apart. This film won’t blow anyone away but there are some unpredictable turns. Every actor worth his-her salt has to do a few suspense films throughout his-her career. If they’re lucky, they don’t end up being misdirected or impassionate or a train wreck in editing. This one came together well enough to make it out of the slush pile at the Lifetime Channel and on the shelves of the video stores. It could’ve been a throwaway but instead, “Gone” can stay – worth a watch.

“The Woman in Black”

This is Daniel Radcliffe’s first big film since he wore a lightning bolt scar on his forehead and battled the one who cannot be named. No one expected him to knock it out of the park. Let’s face it – the world was willing to give him a mulligan. The first two or three scenes, it’s hard to accept him as anybody else except Harry Potter. Especially since this film is so very British. But he fights through the odds and gives a pretty solid performance. Writer Jane Goldman adapted the novel by the same name. Goldman also co-wrote “Kickass” and “X-Men: First Class.” Director James Watkins directed the well-executed but deeply disturbing, “Eden Lake,” in 2008. With the pedigree for this film, you would expect a blast of distinctive violence and unexpected plot twists. What you get is a straight-forward ghost story, told in dreary English fog. The result is unexpected – it doesn’t stun but it doesn’t suck either. Radcliffe’s career is not over yet – worth a watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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