A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at “Gemini Man,” “Lucky Day” and “Lucy in the Sky.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the high frame rate of “Gemini Man,” the high violence of “Lucky Day” and the high flying theatrics of “Lucy in the Sky” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
I suppose enough time has elapsed so that a film like “Lucky Day” can no longer be seen simply as a Quentin Tarantino rip off but can now be regarded as an homage to the crime movies of the 1990s, especially when it is directed by Roger Avary, the co-writer of “Pulp Fiction.”
The film takes place during one eventful and bloody day. It begins with Red (Luke Bracey), a safecracker with an artist wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and adorable daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn), finishing up a two-year jail sentence for a heist gone wrong. As low lifes go he’s a decent sort. He’s a just a guy who robbed a bank and skimmed half a million bucks to look after his family.
Luc (Crispin Glover) doesn’t quite see it that way. He’s a hitman for a crime cartel called The Connection. “I’m in the retirement business,” he tells border security in his outrageous and completely fake French accent. He’s come to California to “retire” Red. Seems Luc’s brother was part of Red’s team but was killed in action and now the faux Frenchman has come to exact his revenge.
“Pulp Fiction,” for better and for worse, inspired a slew of imitators complete with over-the-top violence, groovy yet quirky soundtracks, old-school details and unusual characters. And don’t forget the irreverent, edgy and politically incorrect dialogue.
“Lucky Day” falls firmly into the Pretend “Pulp Fiction” category.
It’s a movie with all the bits and pieces of the Tarantino classic but with a tenth of the impact. To be fair, Avary pulls charming performances from the cast, crafting the kind of eccentric, cartoonish characters that fuel these kind of films but nothing really connects. From start to finish you know who will survive and who won’t so the stakes never seem very high even when Luc has nice people in the crosshairs of his gun.
In “Lucky Day” Avary has made a buoyant, if predictable thriller, efficiently told, with some laughs and a gallon or ten of blood to paint the screen. It’s not “Pulp Fiction” but then again, what is?
For those who thought last year’s “WALL-E” was the last word in animated post apocalyptic entertainment along comes a dark fable about a war ravaged world populated by brave burlap dolls (numbered 1 through 9) and terrifying machines. Call it Sock Puppets Save the World if you like, but despite the kid-friendly lead characters, “9” isn’t as cute and cuddly as “WALL-E.”
Set ten years after the war to end all wars actually ended everything, “9” really picks up when the title character mistakenly awakens a terrifying machine with the ability to create other machines of destruction. As 9 and the other dolls fight the evil machines they discover the very essence of their existence; that they were created by a scientist who knew the end of life as he knew it was near. Rather than see all life disappear he created these limited edition rag dolls, each with a special skill, to continue life.
The basic idea behind “9” is something we’ve seen before—technology goes wild and machines turn on humans—but what makes this film unique is, bless their little burlap hearts, the rag dolls. Each has a well defined personality and while the voice work isn’t terribly strong—save for Christopher Plummer as 1, the king doll—they all bring something interesting to the story.
Jennifer Connolly voices 7, a kind of ninja beanie baby character. She’s a strong female presence in a genre that often lacks interesting roles for women. Other voices in this eclectic cast include Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover and Martin Landau.
“9” isn’t so much a story as it is a series of action set pieces bound together by ideas. The narrative is simple—man has been destroyed and now these little saviors must defeat the big bad machines or they too will be crushed—and little effort is spent developing the story past a certain point. Lots of effort, however, has been put into creating the elaborate action scenes that make up the bulk of the film.
The wild scenes—mainly of demonic looking machines trying to kill the little dolls—may be too intense for young kids. Ten and eleven year olds should be fine with the imagery—human skulls attached to winged metal skeletons and the like—but anyone younger than that might have trouble sleeping after these frenetic, violent sequences.
Of course, there is an environmental message attached to the story; this is, after all a movie aimed at the young. It’s not heavy handed, but lines like “This world is ours now… it’s what we make of it” subtly push kids to think about their surroundings.
“9” is cool sci fi for kids with imaginative characters and lots of action that doesn’t talk down to its audience.