Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Movie Review: Lockout (PG13 - 95 minutes)

John Carpenter is responsible for many amazing things.  Among them:  Halloween, the Fog, the Thing, Christine, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China (my personal favorite), and the amazing Escape from New York.  In addition to writing and directing the majority of his movies, Carpenter also scores them himself.  For those who have no music knowledge (like myself), that means he writes the majority of the music for the movies....so that incredibly scary theme from Halloween - all him.  Save that information for a trivia contest someday.  Back to Escape from New York:  a pure action movie with a simple plot.
In the far-off future (you know, 1997), a giant wall has been put up around Manhattan, and the worst criminals in the country are dumped inside it.  They are left to fend for themselves, without any government issued control, rations, or costs (pretty much what the old British Kingdom attempted to do with Austrailia).  Air Force One accidentally crashes inside this super max prision - and the president suddenly needs rescuing.  But who to send in to such a situation?  A criminal, of course.  Enter one of the greatest movie characters ever created, Snake Plissken.  At the time, Kurt Russell was John Carpenter's go-to guy, collaborating with him on many projects.  Russell's Plissken was the perfect anti-hero: grumpy, determined, with questionable morals but a sense of honor, and easy to root for.  He also has one of the best lines in cinematic history:  after the mission is explained to him and he realizes he has no choice, and suffering some insults at the hands of his "recruiters", he says, "when I come back, I'm going to kill you."  Simple line - but incredible because of the delivery.
The new movie Lockout, directed by two Irishmen:  James Mather and Stephen St. Leger, has a small line in the opening credits that says, "...based on an original idea by Luc Besson..."  Now, I love Luc Besson.  He is responsible for the original La Femme Nikita (and everything else based on it), The Messenger (the best Joan of Arc movie ever made), and the absolutely perfect 5th Element (if you have never seen that, or if it's been a while since you've seen it -Netflix it now).  He is also the man behind the incredible action career that is Jason Statham's.  True - Statham was first a Guy Ritchie player - and would have continued to be fantastic in gritty British heist films...but Besson produced the Transporter, and that launched Statham's action career (Merci, Monsieur Besson).  So - Yes, I adore Luc Besson, but Lockout is the furthest thing from an original idea to hit cinemas this year. 
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  In this version - the super max prison is an orbiting space station - not a walled off city (that sounds way more expensive to maintain then just dumping prisoners inside a walled off city).  The prisoners are kept in 'stasis', which is basically a chemically induced coma (hello Demolition Man -"illuminate!   deluminate!").  The president's daughter goes to make sure the criminals are being kept in humane conditions (who cares?), and happens to wander into a mass breakout.  They have to send someone in to get her - but who?  Well, a former CIA agent who has just been wrongly convicted of espionage and is on his way to serve out a sentence up there anyway.  Snake, I mean, Snow is the best there is at what he does (which, incidentally is the way to describe any action movie hero).  It also happens that the guy who has the thing that could prove his innocence is also on the station.  There you go - plot.  Fairly uncomplicated - but that's what you want in a piece like this.  Also - 95 minutes is the perfect running time for a movie like this - short and simple.  I also enjoyed the PG13ness of it.  Had it been rated R - I don't want to think what the prisoners would have been doing to each other or the president's daughter while waiting around to be stopped.  Because it was PG13 - it was more action, less ick.
I know what you're thinking...Guy Pearce as an action hero?  But he's actually the best part of this movie.  Being a former lightweight bodybuilder in Austrailia - he certainly has the body of an action hero in this movie, and is able to bring just the right touch of sarcastic smarmyness to Snow's screw-em attitude (it's PG13 - had it been R, it would have been F-em attitude).  At no point does he take this too seriously, which, remember is the best part of a bad movie - if everyone in it knows it's bad and just has a good time with it (again, Kull the Conqeror is the best example of this - Priest is an example the other way, where it was bad, but no one in the movie realized that). 

Pearce is really fun - Maggie Grace, from Lost - where she irritated everyone on the island, and from Taken, in which she was taken - is actually not bad in this.  She essentially has to play the damsel in distress role, but does a decent job with it, and trades one-liners with Pearce gamely.  The wonderful Peter Stomare (who you've seen in everything, but my favorite for him is Armageddon - he's the crazed Russian they meet up with.  My second favorite for him is Constantine - where he plays the devil) shows up as the man attempting to convict Snow, then send him on the mission.  He's usually over the top, but is a little more low-key in this, but still clearly having fun.  Lennie James plays another CIA agent who presents the idea of sending Snow to solve the situation.  James is another British actor who has been in everything (Snatch, Jericho, Lie to Me, Human Target, Columbiana, and most recently Walking Dead - episode 1 anyway...I'm assuming his character will show up again at some point).  His american accent keeps getting better and is really good in this.  He's very fun as he spends the movie coaching Snow along.  In terms of the prisoners, two brothers take over leading the breakout.  Vincent Regan, who must have been thrilled to be doing a futuristic movie, having previously been in Troy, 300, and Clash of the Titans - plays the older and "I'm in charge!" brother.  Joseph Gilgun plays the younger and "I'm crazy!" brother with a scottish accent so thick - he almost needs subtitles.  He steals the majority of this movie by simply acting crazy and looking like he's having the best time. 
The movie is short and quick.  The action sequences are good and shot well.  The movie is also fairly predictible, but honestly, I don't mind that either in a movie of this style.  It does have the cheesiest ending ever, but hey, what do you expect.  In reality - no one is going to be fooled into believing this is a good, original movie.  Sorry Luc Besson - we know it's not an original idea.  But - it is fun nonetheless. 
6 out of 10.  Don't expect too much - and just have fun.
gained points for Pearce's surprising action skill - who knew?  Christopher Nolan knew probably.   Lost points for pretending to be original - but gained points by not pretending to be great.
bonus video:  Memento trailer...Guy Pearce in the first glimpse the world had into the genius of Christopher Nolan...if you haven't seen it - Netflix it now.
Bonus Video 2: 5th Element Trailer...an original idea by Luc Besson!
bonus video 3:  Demolition Man...Sandra Bullock's best movie - what the hell was the deal with the 3 seashells?

1 comment:

  1. Solid review Jeanette. Of course you get what you would expect from a B-grade sci-fi flick but it's still a lot of fun and the cast knows how to sell this type of material, as ridiculous as it may be. Guy Pearce also has a blast with this role and it's so great to see that from such a professional like him.