Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

While I find the concept of a fast-moving killer virus to be a truly chilling notion, I didn’t find myself nearly as on-edge while watching Contagion as I expected to be. I know it might make people question my taste to admit this, but I actually found the virus-centric plot material in the movie Outbreak to be much more gripping than Contagion. That being said, this is a very well-made movie with an all-star cast who all deliver the goods when it comes to their performances. There are some scary moments here and there, and some great depictions of the worldwide panic that would likely ensue if this kind of pandemic were to occur, but in a way, Steven Soderbergh spread things a bit too thin by including so many characters. I didn’t find myself particularly invested in any of them, and though the story was good, I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Also, the choice to cast Demitri Martin, whose comedy I love, as a lab technician in a completely serious movie was a bit of an odd one. Still, this is a very solid movie that should be avoided by hypochondriacs at all costs.
3.5 out of 5

In Time

The concept at the heart of this movie – the idea of using time as currency – is interesting enough in its own right, but the film completely bungles things by basically telling the same man-with-something-valuable-on-the-run story that we’ve seen loads of times before. Justin Timberlake’s character has come into possession of a century’s worth of time, which everybody is vying for, but it could just as easily have been a briefcase full of drugs or money, secret documents, or any other Macguffin. The only reason the Macguffin is time in this film is so that the screenwriters could feel clever about themselves by including lots of time puns. “You’ve got a lot of time on your hands”, “I don’t have a minute to spare”, “You took a few years off my life”…if you think that phrases like this are the pinnacle of creativity, then this is the movie for you. Another problem with the forcible inclusion of time puns is that because the screenwriters came up with a bunch of them, they felt the need to shoehorn them into every scene in the film. The worldbuilding in this movie was totally atrocious as well, since the world in which the story unfolds looks exactly like ours with two key differences: people use time as currency, and the world is divided into “Time Zones”, each containing a different strata of society. See? I couldn’t even describe THAT without including a time pun. Overall, In Time is a waste of it.
2 out of 5

John Carter

This may go down in history as the most underrated and overlooked movie of 2012, if not the decade. Based on a century-old series of pulp sci-fi stories that influenced everything from Star Wars to Avatar, John Carter is a creative, fun, and good-natured action-adventure film that I really enjoy now, but would have adored as a kid. The cultures and races of Mars are extremely well-realized, the aliens look great, the performances are all quite good (even Taylor Kitsch, who I wasn’t expecting to like), the special effects are great, and as soon as the credits rolled I was ready for a sequel (Which sadly isn’t likely to happen). The character of John Carter is multi-dimensional, where he could have easily been a cardboard cut-out. He has motivation, he has a code, and he makes dumb mistakes while at the same time being someone we can root for. Watching this film, I could totally see why the source material’s influence is so widespread. This is good, old-fashioned fun at the movies, and the vivid colours and neat costumes harken back to the days of technicolor epics and pulpy science fiction. Finally, John Carter ISN’T PREDICTABLE! If you can name me another hundred-year-old story that can make that same claim, then I’ll eat my hat. Whoever did the crappy job of marketing this movie needs a kick in the pants, because John Carter deserves so much more than it has gotten.
4 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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