‘Dictator’ gives us nothing to laugh about
Sacha Baron Cohen stars in “The Dictator.”
- “The Dictator”
★ 1/2 (out of four)
2012, Dir. Larry Charles, U.S., R“The Dictator” is rated R for obvious reasons.
- New films
‘Snow White and the Huntsman’
Director: Rupert Sanders.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth.
The plot: In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered her to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector.
Genre: Action, adventure.
Director: John Gulager.
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Ving Rhames.
The plot: Blood-thirsty piranhas make their was into a waterpark.
Genre: Comedy, horror.
- Film roundup
★ 1/2 (out of four)
“ Such a film could conceivably be saved by a talented and game cast, but with the exception of Eva Green as the witchy villain, everybody seems to be sleepwalking through their roles. Depp, playing yet another gimmick character in a big-budget Hollywood movie, just looks jaded at this point, or perhaps baked out of his gourd. Either way he’s a bore. Chloe Moretz, usually adorable, appears to have been suffering from chronic constipation during filming. Even Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earl Haley are wasted in under-written roles. Thus, the whole thing becomes a joyless, pointless exercise in kitsch wherein nobody appears to be having much fun at all — especilally the audience.
“THE CABIN IN THE WOODS”
“The Cabin in the Woods” practices what it preaches, effectively turning the entire genre inside-out by providing not only a point of reference for literally every supernaturally based horror film ever made, but also a complete deconstruction — and, in the end, destruction — of that same filmic universe. (Ultimately, the audience itself is cast in the role of an angry evil god who destroys that which does not adhere to its rigid standards of quality entertainment.
Expectations were surpassed when it became clear that the film wasn’t merely a vehicle for raunchy humor (though it certainly was that as well), but also a surprisingly touching and emotionally mature teen love story that wore its heart on its sleeve. The movie was a tremendous success, launching a franchise that thus far has produced three sequels and four direct-to-DVD spin-offs. More importantly, it was instrumental in setting the standard for character-driven gross-out comedies in the decade that followed, and it is almost inconceivable that filmmakers like Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips would be successful today without the template provided by “American Pie.”
“THE HUNGER GAMES”
I enjoy exploitation as much as the next red-blooded American, but if I’m gonna wallow, I gotta wallow in style. Unfortunately, “The Hunger Games” is devoid of such style, with Ross preferring constant and inexplicable close-up shots, even in the most inappropriate moments. The action scenes (which come at a brisk clip once the maddeningly detailed expository scenes are through) are incoherent blurs of motion — somewhat understandable, given the difficulty inherent to depicting 12-year-olds being wantonly butchered, but still presumably avoidable with a competent artist in the director’s chair.
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 7:50 am
We’re still stuck in a bit of a rut, it seems, with the local multiplexes offering very few reasonable choices for discriminating moviegoers — unless, of course, your plan is to see “The Avengers” for the fifth or sixth time, which seems perfectly sensible given the options. “Men in Black 3,” opening this weekend and set for review next, may break the monotony, but I’m trying to further temper my already modest expectations.
On deck this week is “The Dictator,” which won out over the much more lengthy and critically reviled “Battleship” (which I wasn’t too keen on watching anyway, especially after seeing the recent interview with director Peter Berg in which he verbally abuses and attempts to troll and intimidate an Israeli reporter, all while evidently coked out of his mind — classy). My lady friend took the plunge on that one and reports that it’s somewhat admirable insofar as it at least attempts to do something “different” with the whole alien invasion subgenre, but in the end emerges as little more than just another dumb alien action flick. Bless her heart.
Friday, May 25, 2012 7:50 am.