Past Entertainment

For the week of 2/21/10

RPP Double Feature Review

The Wolfman’ proof that old techniques still work today

By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)

Review also posted at the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

With the price of a ticket going up quick enough to keep pace with the national debt, it’s harder to choose from what is usually at best a box office full of rentals. Then you have the race to see who can wow the most and throw in the best use of 3D technology.
Many classic movie fans are understandably worried that well made stories will get lost in the drool causing special effects bonanza. Thankfully we can all breathe a sigh of relief and in the form of a monster motion picture remake no less. “The Wolfman” is what Hollywood has forgotten, an experience that not only hooks the eyes, but the mind behind it.
I still think we need to seek ideas that are as original as possible, but this flick showed me that even a retelling can be fresh if you actually invest real passion and not just dollars into it. The freshest part was that Universal Pictures did not use the exact same story, but kept true to the legend, with thrills and chills throughout.
This time the main story focuses on Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), an American stage actor, who has returned to his birth home after learning that his brother has gone missing. Alas, though swift, Lawrence is too late in arriving in England and instead must investigate a death while consoling his father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) and his brother’s fiancé, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt). A werewolf of course turns out to be the real killer and soon its curse will become more entwined than anyone involved can possibly imagine.
What my wife and I most enjoyed about this film was that they borrowed enough from the original to make it still feel like we were watching the action in black and white. The face of the creature looks like it did back in the first film and the transformation was no worse than could be expected.
As far as acting, Hopkins once again proved he can do sinister better than most, though I was not terribly impressed with Del Toro’s emotions (rather flat and too dead for me). It is a bit too violent for children so you’ll want to keep this one for adults only. I highly recommend this not only as a great testament to old school filmmaking, but as something that is worth at least watching once, earning “The Wolfman” four out of five howls.

‘The Book of Eli’ suprisingly tolerable for post apocalypse film

Review also posted at the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

If you’ve seen one movie where humanity crawls out of a hole it most likely dug itself into, you’ve probably seen what there is to a surviving after end of the world type flick. Usually post apocalyptic films are so amazingly bad that you might only watch them drunk or under extreme cases of boredom.

I am surprised to say that I have found another silver screen offering other than a few like “The Postman” that I actually did not laugh off and then push to the back of my mind. Sure, this movie got enough cheesy moments to run with the rest of them, but in the end I was not disappointed. “The Book of Eli” was not Oscar material, but I wouldn’t turn it completely out of my possible future DVD buys.

The premise of the movie focuses on the world in ruins, more specifically the nuked remains of the western United States. The main character, Eli (Denzel Washington), believes he has been charged with a quest to protect a holy book that will one day save what’s left of the human race.

Eli must journey to a place that is worthy of receiving the manuscript, but must encounter dangers that would stop him dead in his tracks, including the main antagonist Carnegie (Gary Oldman). He is mostly alone in his quest, but eventually must deal with an unofficial sidekick in the form of a young girl named Solara (Mila Kunis of “That 70s Show” fame). I was pleased and impressed with Washington’s ability to not just be a heartthrob and Oldman’s devious nature as the villain of this story.

It’s not really the best movie to show younger kids, but I could possibly see this movie shown to teens in a church youth group for the overall message. The movie is about two hours long, but it goes with a pace that keeps you glued to your seat the entire time.

Heck, perhaps Christian Bale could watch this movie for emotion pointers if he decides he wants to be a part of a “Terminator Salvation” sequel. I felt like I got my money’s worth and recommend it at least as a future rental if not a multiple viewings in theater option. For an experience that should satisfy 2010’s quota of this genre, “The Book of Eli” earns three and a half out of five amens.

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