Two interesting facts about director Chris Kentis: 1), he and his filmmaking partner/wife, Laura Lua, escaped death during the Asian Tsunami of 2004 when they were vacationing on a Thai island; 2), all three of his films have been a study of minimalism – “Open Water” was two people bobbing around in the ocean while sharks circled for 80 minutes. It’s been nine years since “Open Water” and he returns with Elizabeth Olsen – the Olsen sister who can actually act. This movie is supposed to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot which can be a strenuous job for any actor. Plus, Olsen is in every frame of the movie – Kentis must love to challenge his actors. She does a great job but not enough happens to make this movie a statement in experimentation. There are some cool tricks employed as it attempts to be a mindfuck in the suspense/horror genre but the other actors of the small cast look tired and bored and Olsen’s freaking out only goes so far. The filmmakers don’t do Olsen’s skills any justice. Keep on driving past this house – pass.
Actor Guy Pearce gives a special pizzazz to even the smallest roles. He can make a movie watchable with a supporting role. But he hasn’t been able to match his two career-defining roles – “L.A. Confidential” and “Memento.” He doesn’t let those roles overshadow, when the camera blinks on, he gives it all he’s got. This time, he goes for an over-the-top production, a sci-fi action film produced by Luc Besson. It’s sleek with the same art direction as Besson’s forgotten classic, “The Fifth Element.” Pearce delivers a deadpan, smartass action-hero. Even the way he acts action is cool. But he is the movie – the villains aren’t really menacing which leads to no suspense which leads to all the actors walking through their parts, including the femme fatale, little-known Maggie Grace. In short, it’s not a career-defining role but Pearce carries the movie and it’s a good action film because of it. Lock in on “Lockout” – worth a watch.
Everything about this film screams, “pass.” It’s yet another revision of the classic Snow White tale. Julia Roberts has had a hit-and-miss career in the last decade. The film’s previews look like an excuse for elaborate costume design and colorful stage sets. But Roberts is growing up in Fairytale Land – she played Tinkerbell in “Hook” in 1991 and plays the evil queen here. Director Tarsem Singh always makes visually astounding films – “The Cell,” “The Fall” and “The Immortals.” The newcomer actress who plays Snow White, Lily Collins, is charming and tries to keep up with Roberts’ enthusiasm. Singh attempts to stay closer to the original Brothers Grimm story. The results – a colorful, visually interesting film with a story you’ve seen a million times in the last two years. If you’re sick of Snow White – pass. But if you’re a fan of Singh’s style or have kids, it’s a family film with moving art and worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge