The summer months provide an excellent opportunity to be a tourist in your own town, but there are also plenty of great blockbuster movies to enjoy as well. If you’re not as inclined to fight the crowds at the local multiplex, you may be better off looking into renting a DVD.
Last month, I took a look at three very different movies and I’m doing much the same today. Whether you’re into gambling, intense action, or a little bit of fantasy, I’ve got a film here for you to consider. Too bad they’re all pretty mediocre at best.
21 – The Movie
Those who like to gamble will find an obvious appeal to this movie about raking in unfathomable amounts of money in Las Vegas. Loosely based on the book Bringing Down the House, 21 follows a group of brilliant students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who, with the aid of one of their professors, manages to “beat the house” in blackjack through a rather simple card-counting scheme. Card counting is not illegal, per se, but it is certainly frowned upon by the casinos. Kevin Spacey does a pretty good job playing the money-happy professor and the rest of the cast are believable and admirable. In the end, the tale is more about the psychology of greed than anything else. I was a little disappointed with the ending, but there is enough substance here to keep you entertained for the length of the movie.
Death Proof (Grind House)
One half of the Grind House double feature from Quintin Tarantino, Death Proof was a terribly strange film. As far as I can surmise, it surrounds the character of Stuntman Mike McKay, played by Kurt Russell. This Stuntman Mike is the proud owner of a stunt car that he says is — you guessed it — immune to death. It’s a decrepit looking thing and it would look totally out of place at just about any auto show. The plot is very segmented and it feels like Death Proof is actually comprised of several similar tales told over and over again. There are some exchanges that will bore you to death and then when the action comes, it’s actually quite shocking. Maybe this film makes more sense with Planet Terror, the other half of the Grindhouse double feature.
You could say that the initial fascination surrounding Golden Compass came from the excitement that people enjoyed through the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies. It’s a fantasy film that combines real-life action with a significant amount of computer-generated imagery. I went in with rather low expectations, hoping that the armored polar bears would make up for any other deficits, but I still came out the other end utterly disappointed. Nicole Kidman is forgettable and the tale, as it is told, does not even hold a candle to better films in this genre. Don’t waste your time with Golden Compass. The needle points to two hours you’ll never get back.