DreamMachineTeen Movie Critic -V is a Dream Machine Site
The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
Teen Movie Critic - V

Home About TMC Alphabetic Index Hall of Flame Other Film Sites Feedback

Tuesday: Takers

Perhaps this is still worth a rental for those who are still willing to give it a shot.

Buy this poster at
The story of cops and robbers has been popular for many years. It's a very basic plot that doesn't require an expert in screenwriting. Takers follows this simple concept and attempts to add suspense into this action thriller. While I'm not positive why or how, it has attracted a couple well-known names in the modern day action flicks to star in it. From the beginning, I was aware that this wouldn't be a mind-bending thriller. I expected no more than the typical razzle-dazzle that mindless action movies are known to produce. When this is true about a flick, then the visuals and action sequences must be able to keep the eyes of the audience glued to the screen. Takers is too ordinary of an action flick to be memorable for more than a short period of time.

With their collective eye on a huge payoff, a motley crew of bank robbers get busy planning out their next heist. A former colleague, Ghost, convinces the boys to target an armored car carrying $20 million. A detective who's obsessed with his work is just as obsessed with making sure the thieves never pull off their next scheme. Takers has an extremely straight forward story and it doesn't stray from it either. For a thriller, it has absolutely no suspense. In fact, it spoils the ending from the beginning if you were to actually pay attention. Sometimes simplicity is good, but not in this case. It's too simple. It feels as if the writers got lazy and typed up this script in an extremely short period of time. I never once felt connected to any of the characters, whether it be a cop or one of the members of the gang. They feel so distant that it leaves the audience not caring what happens to them. Everything is conveyed as much too plain for an action movie. There are so many mindless motion pictures in this genre that if they don't bring something new to the table, they become difficult to distinguish. Moviegoers don't want to see something that's extremely similar to something that has been seen so many times. Well, Takers fits into that category.

Most of the names of the stars are known well enough, but aren't huge names. Takers stars Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon, Michael Ealy, Idris Elba, Steve Harris, T.I. Jay Hernandez, Zoe Saldana, Paul Walker, and others. This is another case of actors giving an overall very mediocre presentation. Most of these actors have proven before that they're worthy action stars, but one wouldn't know if Takers was the first movie they saw them in. I have no idea what made the casting department decide to cast Chris Brown as one of the robbers. I dislike his music and don't like his acting to the same degree. To be honest, the flick is so ordinary and even uninteresting at times that the acting will be the least of your worries.

If a script is going to be this uninspiring, then the visuals need to blow me away. Needless to say, they didn't. Similar to the screenplay, the action sequences are too basic. Everything feels all too familiar. However, the explosions and such do look quite good. The most impressive department of Takers is easily the audio quality.The dynamics are almost flawless with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track included on the Blu-ray. The sound editing and mixing are fantastic. Even the smallest of sounds are audible in the mix. When bullets are shot, they fly from speaker to speaker with extreme clarity. The crappy dialogue is clear as can be. Even audiophiles will be pleased with the track included.

Ultimately, I don't see even some of the biggest mindless action fans enjoying this one much. It isn't able to escape the routine script. There are times that it tries a bit too hard to be a thriller as well as an action flick. I believe that it would have worked much better as merely a mindless action movie. The acting is mediocre, but I'd be surprised if people are primarily checking this one out for the actors. The visuals look good, but the quality of these sequences needed to deliver, but never quite pulled through. Takers should have been at least a bit more entertaining than it ended up being. Perhaps this is still worth a rental for those who are still willing to give it a shot. Otherwise, I advise viewers to avoid this one.

My Rating = One and One Half Stars

Next movie: Midnight in Paris

Thursday: Midnight in Paris

Audiences should believe the positive buzz that this film has been attracting.

Midnight in Paris
Buy this poster at
The film Midnight in Paris has the central theme of combining fantasy and reality to create something in between. Writer/Director Woody Allen has been known for his unique filmmaking. I have never been a huge fan of his style, although I'm able to respect him and his acquired fan base. When all of the buzz was obtained during the release date of Midnight in Paris, I expected another off-the-wall film from him. I couldn't be more wrong. This is very different for Allen. He tells a simple story of self-discovery and remaining true to oneself. There are some heavier messages told through this film, but they are addressed in a very light manner. This is so different from Woody Allen's past work by focusing more on the fun factor and novelty, making it something I certainly wasn't expecting.

A small group of Americans visit the French capital for business and pleasure. A screenwriter is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his fiancée due to his magical experiences in the city beginning each night at midnight. This script is a character-driven drama/comedy that succeeds in what it strives for. The plot is quite simple as it explores themes of the past and present and what connects the two. By doing this, our protagonist learns more about himself and his goals. It's easy to sympathize with Gil, the main character. While speaking of the characters, i should mention that one big flaw is just that. They're all rather flat. All of the one-dimensional types are present. The wannabe writer, the snobbish intellectual, the demanding fiancée, the stuffy mother, and the conservative father. Putting aside the characters themselves, Woody Allen has composed a near-perfect screenplay. The dialogue is spot-on and witty. A lot of the plot points are predictable, but the movie will suck you in to the point where the predictability isn't much of an issue. Especially once we go back in time to see great names such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso, the story gets really intriguing. They inspire the growth in Gil and aid him in finding out more about himself as a person, as well as an artist.

Woody Allen works with a cast that is generally able to manage the characters well. However, Owen Wilson is Owen Wilson. He's one of those actors that generally plays himself in the movies he stars in. Wilson isn't terrible, but the other actors deliver more than he does. Gil is still a sympathetic character, but I believe that another actor could have done better with the character. Rachel McAdams is a perfect choice as Inez, Gil's fiancée. This isn't the first time that McAdams has played such a rude role, but she has shown that she can master this type of character. Michael Sheen is great as Paul, the snobbish intellectual. He goes even as far as arguing with a tour guide about historical facts. Sheen is very convincing in this character. Even all of the actors who perform as the historical figures do a good job. Marion Cotillard is a fantastic actress who has proven it yet again as Adriana. For the most part, the cast does well with this well-written script.

Midnight in Paris obviously takes place in Paris. While I haven't been there myself, the imagery is absolutely beautiful. After seeing this movie, moviegoers will get a large urge to plan a trip to Paris. The movie shows what a gorgeous place it is, both in the past and the present. Those who watch the movie on Blu-ray will see the wonderful clarity in everything from the wet pavement to the leaves and tress. Just because the film doesn't offer action, don't count it out in the visual department. The costumes shown during the 1920s are marvelous and very realistic. The film doesn't call upon needing a full surround sound mix, so Sony Pictures opted for a DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0-channel track. It proves to be just fine for this movie. The dialogue is always easy to hear and the airy notes spread very nicely across the front stage. The audio doesn't miss out very much from not having a dedicated LFE channel as the front speakers handle it with great clarity. Prepare to be immersed by the beautiful scenery of Paris.

Audiences should believe the positive buzz that this film has been attracting. It's just as marvelous as so many people have said. The simplicity in the story is nice despite the flimsy characters. Midnight in Paris constantly switches between the 1920s and the present and remains engaging throughout. The film gives us the protagonist, who is likable and very easy to identify with. Despite my doubts, this is one of the more pleasant surprises of 2011. Even though I'm not a fan of Woody Allen, this is a fantastic movie. If you aren't a big fan of his either, you should still give this motion picture a chance. Midnight in Paris is a meaningful and beautiful venture that shouldn't be missed.

My Rating = Four and One Half Stars

Next movie: Anonymous

Saturday: Anonymous

Anonymous isn't a complete waste of time, although it certainly isn't a flick I would recommend.

Buy this poster at
The works of William Shakespeare are still extremely relevant in today's society. They are involved in a lot of pop culture and media in everything from movies to books. However, the true authorship of the works has created some controversy within some audiences. Director Roland Emmerich takes it upon himself to tell a story of what is supposed to tell how Shakespeare's work came to be. I don't think that I'm the only person who raised an eyebrow to how he crossed over to Anonymous from movies such as 2012 and Independence Day. I suppose that going out of one's comfort zone is getting popular in the film industry nowadays. Nevertheless, for a movie trying to persuade us to believe Shakespeare didn't actually write the works, this is extremely bland and uninformative.

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, this film speculates on an issue that has for centuries sparked the interests of academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain. Who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories. To be honest, this topic has never been something that I found very intriguing. Putting aside the story of whether or not Shakespeare wrote his own work, this style of filmmaking has been done far too many times. This movie proves that its a tired effort all by itself. No need for analyzing. From early on, one can tell this is one bland film. I found the characters to be uninteresting and the dialogue to be uninspired. There are even quite a few sequences that feel repetitive. Some of the lines of dialogue feel all too familiar from scenes that occurred a mere twenty minutes before. Anonymous tries so hard to be a historical and well-written flick, but it never gets even close to being that. Now, returning back to the plot. This is supposed to be about Shakespeare not writing his own works, right? Well, the movie doesn't seem to have everything put together. This is one of the main issues I have with the movie. This isn't a small flaw and is a huge problem. The movie itself appears to be confused at times. Anonymous continues to drag for a full two hours and ten minutes. It's one long running time and you feel every minute of it. It's rather dull to where I had difficulty keeping awake during a few scenes.

Fortunately, the acting is much better than the screenplay. All of the actors fit his or her role and are entirely convincing. Every bit of them feels true. The accents and actions feel natural as can be. The most impressive performance from Anonymous is delivered by Vanessa Redgrave. She is Queen Elizabeth I and is not only convincing, but absorbing. During the scenes she stars in, you are guaranteed to have your eyes glued to the screen. She captures the role in a way that not many other actresses could have. Redgrave was a fantastic casting decision. The rest of the cast is believable, although Redgrave is the only truly standout performance to be seen. With such a boring script, these actors are left to carry the movie all by themselves. They have done what they can and are one of the small reasons it got a slightly higher rating than I was going to give the overall motion picture.

The second reason why I boosted the score by half a star is due to the visuals. Anonymous has rightfully been nominated for an Academy Award for the Costume Design. Lisy Christl has developed an insanely realistic world on screen with the costumes. There are quite a few worthy contenders this year, so I'm curious to see who the victor will be. Meanwhile, the color palette of the movie is a dark gray. This doesn't exactly aid me in keeping awake, although the sets are wonderful. Director Roland Emmerich has created some truly crappy movies, but he has placed quite a bit of style into Anonymous. The audio transfer is actually pretty good for a drama. The dialogue is never difficult to hear and the soundstage is immersive. The surround sounds are made active when necessary. There aren't any sound gimmicks involved, this is a truly well-mixed audio track.

Unfortunately, I didn't find too much value in watching this movie. In fact, I felt a little bit angry after my viewing. After allowing the film to sit in my mind for a little while, I realized that isn't as bad as I originally thought. The acting is spot on and the visuals are well-done. However, this doesn't excuse the huge flaws that exist within the screenplay. This is a drama, so the script is what the film heavily relies on. The screenplay is a mess and definitely could have used quite a bit of work. The pacing is extraordinarily slow and is sure to put some audiences to sleep, as it nearly did to me. I'm not too interested in the topic of whether or not William Shakespeare wrote his works or not, but I kept an open mind. Perhaps enthusiasts of Shakespeare will find more worth in this movie. I don't see myself ever checking this one out again. Anonymous isn't a complete waste of time, although it certainly isn't a flick I would recommend.

My Rating = One and One Half Stars

Next movie: ????