Saturday, September 29, 2012


Plot: Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an assassin who kills victims sent back from the future. One day Joe's older self (Bruce Willis) is set back to be killed by younger Joe. Old Joe survives and soon young Joe and countless villains are chasing old Joe around. Old Joe is trying to kill his future adversary as a child to change the future -- like the Terminator  movies. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Looper has a complicated Sci-Fi story that enables some clever interplay between a young man and his older self. This is the best part. The weakest part are the alternate future scenarios that sometimes did not make sense. We see future Joe coming back to young Joe three times -- I still don't understand that.

The future scenarios set up the paradoxes for the final scene -- the final scene is one of the great science fiction endings. It pays off all the investment in the Sci-Fi premise and puzzling out who is who and when is when. 

The character interactions between the two Joes and Emily Blunt are interesting enough to make this a solid movie that people will be downloading for years to come. 

Aside from the time-travel, the floating motorcycle, and the new model cell phones, the future seems pretty retro. Emily Blunt is living in a simple farm house. The child plays with toy fire trucks. 

The special effects and production values are not so great, and the sound track is forgettable. There is no humor in the entire film. 

Having said that it was interesting throughout, and I enjoyed it. 

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

Written and directed by: Rian Johnson

Rating: 3.0 - stars:  Interesting and enjoyable. One of the great Sci-Fi endings.

More: The idea that the best way to assassinate people is to ship them to the past seems silly. There have to be easier ways like tossing them in the ocean or sending them back to dinosaur times.  Director Johnson needed this premise is to set up the time loop at the climatic resolution, but he should have worked harder on it. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

End of Watch

Plot: Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Pena) are two LA cops who become friends as they patrol South LA. They talk in the patrol car about themselves and their families. Gang member and drug dealer encounters lead to the final action with a drug cartel. Brian is taking a film class and has set up cameras -- so there is grainy video from odd angles of everything they do.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Vivid characters, snappy dialog, and suspenseful police action make End of Watch top Hollywood entertainment.  Actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are up to the challenge in both the talking and in the action scenes. They have realistic emotions, as the switch from the serious, to the the comic and sometimes the sleazy. There are a several well-done action scenes, but what distinguishes End of Watch is the rest.

The script is a big star. Gyllenhaal and Pena spend screen time talking in the car about themselves, but at the same time, they are building toward a climatic event with its personal sacrifice and life altering consequences. 

I also liked the villains -- especially cartel thugs Wicked (Diamonique) and Demon (Richard Cabral.) 

The foreshadowing is fun as Ayer leaves subtle clues about where the film is going.

It has two or three excellent songs coupled with a few beautifully photographed images of LA at night. The artistic photography contrasts with the home video feel of the action scenes. Despite the home video premise, the shakiness was not distracting. 

Cast: Jake GyllenHaal, Michael Pena

Written and directed by: David Ayer

Rating: 4.0 stars:  Best movie of 2012 so far.
More: I liked the fight scene as shown by the camera on Pena's shirt.