Monday, September 26, 2011

Small Bites: Hanna, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Stake Land


Hanna

Unique take on the coming of age tale. Not quite the action film I was expecting, but I enjoyed it for the most part. The action sequences work well and the set design in the last act is fantastic. There is something a little off about the pacing that irked me. However, I doubt it will be noticeable upon repeat viewings. For her part, Saoirse Ronan does a nice job blending both Hanna’s naivety and her killer instinct. Cate Blanchett is the weak link in the film. She just never reaches the level of her counterparts. Tom Hollander routinely steals Blanchett thunder with his chilling performance as the sadistic Issac.



The Lincoln Lawyer

Just as I was starting to lose faith in Matthew McConaughey’s career choices, he turns it around and reminds me that there may be some magic left. McCounaughey brings his trademark charm to the role of shady lawyer Micky Haller. The film is very reminiscent of Primal Fear though Ryan Phillippe is not as memorable as Edward Norton was in that film. The one major issue I had with the film is that it has multiple endings. The conversation with the mother and the scenes outside Maggie’s (Marisa Tomei) house are completely unnecessary. Last act aside, The Lincoln Lawyer ended up being better than I expected. I would have no problem seeing Mickey Haller in another film.





Stake Land

Although I like to think of this film as its own entity, if pressed I would say it has a Zombieland meets 28 Days Later vibe. The major difference being that this film takes a far more realistic approach to the post-apocalyptic genre. Similar to the zombies in 28 Days, the vampires are the least of mankind’s worries. The real terror in the film comes from the religious zealots whose skewed view causes more damage than anything the vampires can dish out. Director Jim Mickle’s script really shapes the film into a character study about mankind rather than a straight vampire flick. Beside the solid story, it was nice to see both Kelly McGillis and Sean Nelson back on the big screen in prominent roles.

12 comments:

  1. Phips1:47 pm

    completely agree about Hanna..was expecting more action but was pleasantly surprised and actually enjoyed the movie the way it was. when i thought it was a full on action movie i thought it looked ridiculous..im glad it wasnt.

    i loved matthew mc in the lincoln lawyer. i thought his performance was great. philippe was good as well but, agreed, not as good as norton.

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  2. Yes, The Lincoln Lawyer was surprisingly solid and certainly, I wouldn't mind McConaughey reprising the role in some sequel. Still have to see Hanna, looking forward to it when Netflix finally makes it available...

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  3. I loved Cate's work, just because it was so camp-ish and tongue in cheek. She's such a fine actor, and always seems so serious and I miss her doing comedy. And, this isn't quite comedy but she's having palpable fun.

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  4. I liked Hanna, and completely agree about the set design towards the end. It felt like it was a whole additional character to interact with.

    I haven't seen the other two but might check out The Lincoln Lawyer based on your review.

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  5. @Phips - Hanna is more artsy action than straight up action. It works for the film though.

    @Castor - I think you will enjoy Hanna. It is a fun way to pass the time.

    @Andrew - As much as I usually love Cate, she just seemed out of place for me. I agree that she needs to add more comedic roles to her canon. She has done a lot of serious roles of late.

    NeverTooEarlyMP - I definitely recommend giving both The Lincoln Lawyer and Stake Land a look.

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  6. Totally agree on all points about "Hanna". Certainly my expectations going in had to be shifted, but I still enjoyed it - just not quite to the extent that a whole lot of other people did. It looks great, has some spiffy set pieces, great use of music and Ronan is very good (really wish I had seen "Violet Daisies" at TIFF), but your point about its flow is absolutely one of my issues with it - it doesn't have to be high pitched every moment, but it just felt a bit off. And I didn't like Cate in that role - I know there's camp value, but I don't think she made the character very interesting at all. The movie slowed every time she came on screen (and don't get me wrong - I think she's a tremendous actor).

    Liked Stake Land a great deal too, but also a bit taken aback by how MUCH some people like it. It's good, very good in fact, but my expectations had been built up to ludicrous heights.

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  7. I think Stake Land is the type of film that most go into with really low expectations. Then when they discover that the film is actually good they go head over heels for it. I also think that seeing the film with a large audience plays a factor as well. Seeing it with a Midnight Madness type of crowd may enhance the overall experience for some. While I may not rave about it as much as others do, I was still thoroughly satisfied with the film.

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  8. Good write-ups!

    Thought Hanna was a really fun action movie. One of the better films of 2011.

    About The Lincoln Lawyer:

    A solid thriller and it was great to see Michael Pare in it.

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  9. @Ty- Michael Pare was a pleasant surprise for me as well. He really should be getting bigger roles.

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  10. Love love love Hanna. Can't wait to get the DVD. Got the soundtrack months ago. :)

    Lincoln Lawyer was alright. I'd watch another in the series, but not in the theater - there's just no need to. It's the kind of film that's probably better on TV, anyway. And I liken it more to Fracture than Primal Fear, though I prefer Fracture a lot more. Basically, I'm still bitter than Lincoln got all this good press while Fracture is/was largely forgotten.

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  11. I actually thought Blanchett brought the movie Hanna down some. She was pretty much just a stock one dimensional bad guy. I've gotten used to better from her. I liked the movie as a whole, but it could have been better if the villain was more developed.

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  12. @Dylan – Although I have a man crush on Gosling, or so my wife’s friend tells me, I could not get into Fracture at all. I do like the idea of a television version of Lincoln though, I would definitely watch that.

    @Chip Lary – Completely agree with you. I would have loved to see Blanchett’s character developed far better. I thought Tom Hollander's character, who is essentially a henchmen,had far more depth than her.

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