DVD Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

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Framed as a flashback, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is the story of Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner), who live in a dying industrial town whose economy depends on the local pencil factory.

At the film’s start, Jim and Cindy get some terrible news – after years of trying everything, they are told that they will never be able to produce a baby of their own. One of the films most heart-wrenching moments, we see Jim and Cindy go through sadness, anger, and eventually denial.

Sick of mourning, they get drunk and start imagining the kid they would have had, writing each of his awesome attributes on a piece of paper, then putting the slips into a wooden box, which they bury (or plant) in their garden (along with their dreams apparently).

Overnight, something magical happens – there’s a rainstorm localized specifically over their house and garden and something crawls out of the earth. In the morning, Jim and Cindy discover muddy footprints leading to what would have been the baby’s room – and inside, a mud-covered 10-year-old (CJ Adams) who announces that his name is Timothy and that he is theirs.

Timothy is a strange little strange little cookie to say the least. He doesn’t pick up on social cues—he’s oblivious to bullying and can’t figure out the fun of sports – and persists on photosynthesising at the most inappropriate moments. Timothy is a unique soul, but it’s a struggle to get really excited about his arrival, excepting the fact that he’s growing leaves along his shins.

Luckily, the camera often follows Cindy and Jim. The majority of scenes are reliant on their connection, which Garner and Edgerton pull off spectacularly – they really work as an on-screen couple. Both deliver fine performances as parents who desperately want to become parents, but even their combined efforts can’t save this movie from its own overbearing sentimentality.

Having said that, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is definitely a different kind of film and one that the whole family could enjoy. It’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it has its moments. A safe bet if you’re looking for a family friendly tear-jerker.

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DVD Review: Battleship

Out on DVD this week we have Battleship starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson and, unfortunately, Rihanna.

The film starts reasonably enough with Kitsch playing Alex Hopper – a reckless and irresponsible youth whose wild ways consistently disappoint his brother Stone (True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård), a respected officer in the US Navy.

Shortly after giving his brother an ultimatum, Stone finds his brother committing a totally unneccessary burrito-related felony and offers him a life at sea as an alternative to prison. Finding that the US Navy life agrees with him, Alex resolves to turn his life around, both to please his brother and impress his girlfriend’s father (Liam Neeson).

At much the same time, scientists have been sending transmissions to a newly discovered planet in the hope that its inhabitants might be friendly. They’re not.

And quicker than you can say Independence Day, Battleship goes from being a mediocre movie, to downright incomprehensible drivel.

If they had stuck to a basic plot, with one or two offshoots, they might just have been on to something… but the whole thing is weighed down by totally unnecessary sub-plots. We have the unrealistic love story and the short-lived sibling conflict, but that’s just the tip of the narrative iceberg. We also get Japanese-American hostilities between Hopper and Nagata, a group of grizzled war veterans taking one last shot at glory, and a bizarre sub-story in which a double amputee teams up with a physical therapist to do battle with aliens in a forest…

At times it almost feels like director Peter Berg – whose previous credits include Hancock, The Kingdom, and Friday Night Lights – is out to satirize the genre, sending up the work of Michael Bay rather than aping it, but the film is played with such po-faced stoicism and flag-waving jingoism that this theory has to be rejected.

Instead, the sub-plots mount and mount so that come the finale, the film threatens to collapse under the weight of its many tangents, and it’s a testament to Berg’s skills as a director that he reins proceedings in for the final few scenes… though even he can’t make the sight of two ships firing at each other particularly interesting.

Those with a fetish for weapons and hardware will doubtless enjoy proceedings to some extent, but if plot logic and character development are what you’re after, you may want to give Battleship a miss.

The Lucky One: full of vapid, useless beings

The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Taylor Shilling, is due for release on DVD next month. My advice? Stay as far away from it as possible.

The movie begins well with Efron sporting a fetching army get up and braving guns and bombs in a war-torn Iraq. While the initial sequences are action packed, gritty, and realistic, it’s not long before things take a turn for the worse.

After finding a photo of a pretty blonde woman, Logan (Zac Efron) and his company are attacked. Calling the mystery woman his guardian angel, Logan credits her with his survival and makes it his mission to find her once he is discharged.

Thanks to a conveniently placed landmark, Logan is able to make his way to the place where the photo was taken. Once there, he starts questioning the locals and finds out that his mystery girls name is Beth (Taylor Shilling). Having found her, he accidentally secures a job working for her and her grandmother (Blythe Danner) and finds himself playing an important role in her life.

While The Lucky One does have its share of touching, gut-wrenching and tummy-flipping moments, it ultimately falls short of the benchmark, especially for an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The majority of the characters are vapid, useless beings, and while Zac Efron is an admittedly fine specimen of a man, I’m afraid he wouldn’t be able to act his way out of a paper bag if his life depended on it.

If you’re looking for a film where you can drool over Zac Efron, this is definitely the one to watch. If you’re just looking for an interesting chick-flick, however, I’d keep looking.

DVD Review: John Carter

John Carter, a tale of otherworldly mysticism, came out on DVD last week. Upon its release, the Disney movie received many an unfavourable review which undoubtedly had an adverse affect on its box office performance. Much like Mirror, Mirror, which I reviewed a few days ago, I believe a lot of these reviews to be misleading. Sure, John Carter isn’t one of the greats, but by God was it enjoyable!

Carter himself is played by the ever handsome Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, X-Men Origins) who is absolutely to die for. The fact that he is the main focal point for the entire 132 minutes is reason alone for any straight female to watch this movie. That he spends most of it topless is another bonus.

The film follows a very basic plot. Carter, a Civil War veteran, accidentally transports himself to Mars when he encounters and kills a strange man holding a strange device. After finding his feet, so to speak, he is captured by tall, eight limbed creatures and brought back to their home in chains. Before long, he encounters a princess in dire need of assistance and, gallant to a fault, he makes his escape to save her city and win her hand.

Based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is an excellent visual spectacle full of great special effects and many a tense fight scene. It is pure escapist, adventure cinema at its best. Yes it has flaws, no it’s not perfect, but I really don’t think this film is deserving of its flop status. All too often, perfectly passable films are slated by pretentious, douchebag movie critics who elevate themselves above the average cinema-goer.

You probably won’t love this movie, but it definitely won’t bore you. Perfect for anyone looking to immerse themselves in another world and not think too much about it.

DVD Review: Underworld Awakening

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Out on DVD as of May 8th, the fourth movie in the Underworld series saw badass vampiress, Selene, make a blood curling return to the big screen. This installment, however, lacks a lot of the substance that made its predecessors so popular.

The movie opens with Selene, played by the ever-svelte Kate Beckinsale, and Lycan lover Michael (Scott Speedman) on the run from the latest threat to their survival – humans. Captured by armed forces, Selene is placed in a cryogenic state and unwittingly lends her body for medical experimentation. Upon her violent awakening, twelve years later, she finds the world little different to how she left it.

In an era where the existence of Vampires and Lycans is common knowledge, Selene discards all the secrecy she was taught to uphold. Leaving a trail of body parts in her wake at every turn, the film is a gloriously gory transportation back to the time before Twilight made vamps and weres all fuzzy and cuddly.

Having said that, blood and guts is just about all this movie has to offer. Beckinsale, while being an effortlessly cool and vicious vampiress, struggles to take the sole lead. The film as a whole suffers from the lack of another role such as Bill Nighy’s Viktor or Michael Sheen’s Lucian. There is very little storyline throughout with the writers chosing to focus on action and blood spatter rather than some actual character development.

I, for one, missed the backstory that each previous installment furnished us with. The history of the war between Vampires and Lycans is an interesting one and yet Awakening mentions nothing of it in any way shape or form. There are only minimal references to ‘the old ways’ and all the lore seems to be forgotten entirely.

Despite its many faults and a severe lack of story progression, Underworld: awakening isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It has plenty of action, its fair share of blood and guts, and it’s a welcome return to the gory days of vampires and werewolves. If that’s exactly what you want, then you won’t be disappointed but if you’re after something with a little more depth, you may want to look elsewhere.

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