Friday, April 11, 2008

Movies opening this week

Prom Night (Brittany Snow, Johnathon Schaech, Scott Porter, dir. Nelson McCormick)
I saw the original Prom Night last year, and while it wasn't any good, this isn't much of an improvement. About the only thing the two movies have in common is that they both involve a prom; otherwise the plots are completely different, and this version follows every obvious slasher-movie cliche you can possibly think of. It might very well be the most predictable movie I've ever seen. And that's the saddest thing here - no one is even making a token effort to be creative or clever or do anything more than the absolute minimum required. Every cheap horror device in existence shows up here, and with the PG-13 rating there isn't even any cool gore (these are some of the least bloody stabbings you could imagine). At least it ends quickly, exactly the way you knew it would from the moment it started. Wide release

Smart People (Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashton Holmes, dir. Noam Murro)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I will say one thing for this movie: It came the closest of anything I've seen to making Sarah Jessica Parker come off as attractive and likable. Not quite, but almost. Really, this isn't necessarily as bad as my review makes it out to be; it's just sloppy and pointless, and dressed up in "indie" clothes when it's about as offbeat and unconventional as something like The Family Stone. The actors are mostly appealing, and the tone is light enough not to be too irritating, but it's still mostly a waste of time. Wide release

Street Kings (Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans, Hugh Laurie, dir. David Ayer)
Ayer's first movie as a director, Harsh Times, was an awful mess and made me actually question Christian Bale's acting ability, and this one isn't much better. Ayer isn't credited as a writer, but the script still has that same sense of desperate posturing, like someone trying really hard to prove he's connected to the streets while just coming off like a poseur. The tough-guy dialogue is ridiculous and overwrought, and Reeves gives his usual sleepy performance, so Whitaker hams it up like crazy, maybe to compensate. The plot is both convoluted and obvious and indistinguishable from a Steven Seagal movie. At least Seagal has some cool martial-arts moves; Reeves just shoots everybody and mopes. Wide release

Taxi to the Dark Side (documentary, dir. Alex Gibney)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I wish I could get more enthused about this movie, which a lot of people seem to think is brilliant, but telling me more things I already know about how much the government is fucking things up in the Middle East no longer interests me. Sorry, documentarians. Go find another insane video-game rivalry instead. Opened limited Jan. 18; in Las Vegas this week

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