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December 2010 Reviews

By Shawn McKenzie 12/17/2010

Here are my reviews of the movies that were released in December of 2010.  Check back later as the month progresses for more reviews.

Go directly to my reviews of Tron: Legacy and I Love You Phillip Morris.

Tron: Legacy Review

Back in 1982, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) went into the Grid of the program he created for ENCOM International and destroyed the Master Control Program created by Ed Dillinger (David Warner) with the help of the security program Tron, created by his friend and former co-worker Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner.)  He became the CEO of ENCOM and later married Jordan Canas (Amy Esterle), who together had a son named Sam.  In 1989, Kevin disappeared after leaving for work one day, leaving the 7-year-old Sam (Owen Best) to live with his grandparents (Donnelly Rhodes and Belinda Montgomery), since Jordan had died in a car accident in 1985.  Fast forward 21 years later and the 27-year-old Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is the majority owner of ENCOM, though he really doesn’t want to have much to do with the company.  After sneaking in and releasing ENCOM’s latest software to the world free for all online, Alan comes to see him and tells him that he received a page from Kevin coming from the computer research lab underneath the long-closed arcade that Kevin owned.  Sam goes to the arcade and finds the lab behind a Tron arcade game (Kevin created the game after the events he experienced in the Grid in 1982.)  He accidentally activates a digitizer laser while searching through his father’s computer and is transported into the Grid.  Program guards assign him to the Games, where he is fitted for armor by Gem (Beau Garrett) and her fellow Armoury Siren programs (Yaya DaCosta, Serinda Swan, and Elizabeth Mathis) and made to participate in battles with other programs in order to survive.  Using an Identity Disc given to him by the Sirens, he wins the battle and is sent to whom he thinks is his father.  He finds out that it is actually a program named Clu 2 (a CGI-version of the 1982 Jeff Bridges), the leader of the Grid (the original Clu was “derezzed,” a.k.a. erased, by Dillinger in the first movie.)  Clu, with his henchman program Jarvis (James Fran) and the flamboyant End of the Line nightclub owner Castor (Michael Sheen), wants to find the “user” Kevin (Sam and Kevin are users as opposed to programs) in order to escape into the real world.  He thinks that 60-something-year-old Kevin will try to save his son, but he is actually saved by Kevin’s loyal confidante and student program Quorra (Olivia Wilde), who takes Sam to reunite with his father.  Kevin knows about Clu’s plans, so he doesn’t want to try to get out, but Sam does want to take his old man out of the Grid into the real world.  Sam and Kevin decide to get out and take Quorra with them…if they can survive Clu’s army of programs.  I saw the original Tron when I was a kid, and I didn’t understand it…though I do remember it being visually stunning.  I recently re-watched it, and I could understand it better as an adult.  I was surprised that I thought that it was still visually impressive (though the costumes were a little cheesy.)  It was a pioneer of using computer graphics extensively, and it really holds up today.  Computer graphics have improved since the original came out, and while this sequel looked good…it didn’t blow me away.  I guess there is just so much you can do with computer graphics, so I think that the filmmakers tried to impress us with a de-aged Bridges.  The result comes off looking like a character from the 2004 Robert Zemeckis film The Polar Express.  I guess I was just distracted by how cartoonish he looked, even though they came close to making him look like he had subtracted 28 years from his age.  Other than that, I was still confused by all of the techy-talk in the movie (you almost needed to have a degree in computer science to understand it.)  Wilde looked hot in her skintight outfit though, and I liked the Daft Punk score (it’s a long shot, but I hope that it might be nominated for an Oscar.)  I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a year now (through posters and teaser trailers), but the result just didn’t wow me.  If you want to see a visually cool movie, see this one in 3D on an IMAX screen.  If you want to see a good Jeff Bridges movie in the theater this month though, see the Coen Brothers remake of the 1969 John Wayne western True Grit.


I Love You Phillip Morris Review

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) was a cop in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who was happily married to his wife Debbie (Leslie Mann), was a father to their daughter Stephanie (Alyssa Tate and Sammi-Jack Martincak at various times in the movie), and was an organist at his conservative Christian church.  He decides to use his police resources to find his biological mother Barbara Bascombe (Marylouise Burke), but when he finds out that she had rejected him (his was the middle child of three, but she kept the other two kids), he quits his job, moves his family to Texas, and gets a job in food management selling produce.  He tells his wife that he entertains “clients,” but that is just an excuse to have sex with men on the side.  One night, after surviving a car accident, he decides that he doesn’t want to lie anymore and proclaims to live his life as an openly gay man.  After coming out to Debbie, he moves to Florida and soon has a new boyfriend, Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro.)  Steven lives flamboyantly, but he soon realizes that being gay is expensive.  In order to pay for his lavish lifestyle, he pulls cons and commits fraud.  He is caught eventually and is sent to jail.  One day in the prison library where he was studying law, he meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor.)  The two fall in love, and after Phillip is transferred to another prison, Steven gets him out early once he himself is released.  They move in together, and Steven cons his way into the CFO position of a big financial company.  Even though he promises Phillip that he will no longer pull any scams, Steven can’t seem to stop.  It’s based on the true story of con artist, impostor, and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell.  It was was adapted from the novel I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker.  This is another one of Carrey’s attempts to score some Oscar lovin’, but unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of award recognition for the movie yet (other than being nominated for the Breakthrough Director Award at the Gotham Awards for first-time co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and a nomination for Best Comedy at the BFCA Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.)  Personally, I didn’t think that it was that bad.  Does he deserve an Oscar nomination?  You would think that he would at least get a Golden Glob nom (since he won two of them back-to-back for The Truman Show and Man on the Moon), but it didn’t, so I’m not sure his chances of even getting an Oscar nom are too great.  While this movie is mainly Carrey’s show, his chemistry with McGregor is good.  Carrey was able to pull off being gay, and McGregor was really believable as a gay man.  Story-wise, it’s like the gay version of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can.  Carrey’s chances are limited now…only the Houston and Chicago Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the BAFTA’s are left to make their announcements before the Oscars make theirs.  If you take into consideration that you may not be seeing an award-winning performance by Carrey or McGregor, I would recommend checking out this quirky little comedy-drama just for entertainment sake.

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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