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…

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
This bittersweet comedy about the end of life as we know it plays like a combination of the Don McKellar movie Last Night and the Zach Braff film Garden State. The world is about to be struck by a gigantic meteor that will wipe out all of civilization, and our hero, played by Steve Carrell, just doesn’t know how to spend his final days. He crosses paths with manic pixie dream girl Kiera Knightley, and the two of them decide to go on a road trip to reunite Carrell’s character with his first love. Along the way, of course, our to protagonists fall for each other. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was billed as a comedy, but I would hesitate to classify it as one. Much like with Garden State, the overarcing tone of the film is one of melancholy, and while there are chuckles here and there, I didn’t find myself laughing out loud at any moments after the opening scene (which basically says that this movie is what would have happened had the astronauts from Armageddon failed their mission). It’s entertaining, and it never gets boring, but…well, it’s about the end of the world. It can’t help but be a bit of a downer. If Melancholia was a comedy and didn’t have the unique visuals, it might be something like this film. Though the movie does get credit for featuring a William Peterson cameo where he (SPOILER ALERT) gets abruptly shot in the neck.
3 out of 5

The trailers for Branded made it look like a combination of Mad Men and the classic John Carpenter movie They Live, and while the film does follow up on that premise, the movie is so poorly assembled that it became very difficult to get invested or even pay attention. The problems lie almost entirely in the editing, as the film looks great on a visual level, the acting is fine, and the premise is solid enough. But it jumps around without rhyme or reason, and tries to plug up the gaps created by the disjointedness with completely unnecessary and altogether annoying voice over. The creepy ad-parasites don’t show up until past the halfway mark of the film, and there’s very little payoff to them at all. Furthermore, Max Von Sydow is totally wasted, and I don’t think he utters a single line of dialogue. Branded is a prime example of a great premise with a poor execution. I really wish this had been more watchable.
2 out of 5

Breach is a minimalist story, focussing on only two characters for the majority of its running time, but I found it to be a highly engaging political spy thriller, and was pleasantly surprised by the suspense that it delivers. Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillipe (an actor whom I usually don’t care for) play off each other very well, and you actually believe the comraderie of their relationship. Phillipe’s character being tasked with being a spy within an agency of spies creates a lot of palpable tension. The subject matter may seem quite dry, but I found Breach thoroughly enjoyable. If you liked Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, then I think you’ll enjoy Breach as well.
3.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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