Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Easy A

I can't help but get a little bit sad watching Easy A. Emma Stone is a delight. A fun and talented girl to watch. But to see Amanda Bynes play a small role like that? Five years ago Bynes would've played lead girl Olive. How quick things change, huh?

The plot: After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean cut high school girl sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter," which she is currently studying in school - until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.

While I'm not actually crazy about the plot, there's much to like about the film. It all looks great. I love the use of color in this film. I can't really explain it, but to me, it makes the film come alive. And while Stone is the shining star here, the girl is in good company. How many teen comedies have three Academy Award nominated actors in them? Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson make a great couple, seem to have fun with their roles and their characters are more developed than just the standard dad and mom roles. Thomas Haden Church is always a welcome addition. I was cheering when he got his Oscar nom for Sideways. I've liked him since his Ned & Stacey days. Penn Badgley plays likeable well, however, I think I would've preferred Dan Byrd in the role. Byrd is always good and entertaining, while Badgley, at times, not per se in this film, can come off bland. And Bynes, she's still talented and comedically gifted. Let's hope Hollywood gives her another shot.

One of the surprises of 2010. A 3,5/5.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: Skyline

Well Skyline came and disappeared without leaving much of an impression. Which is shame, because boyfriend and I really enjoyed the flick. It's a film with a relatively small budget, estimated at $10 million, and with effects that look much more expensive.

The always reliable Eric Balfour stars as Jarrod, who, along with his girlfriend, visits his successful best friend Terry (Donald Faison in not a comedic role) in Los Angeles. They're staying at his fancy apartment when aliens spaceships appear, trying to capture humans.

Okay, yes, the film is not highly original. Cloverfield and District 9 spring to mind, but did it bother me? No. There's only so many ways you can go making an alien invasion flick. I had a bigger problem with the lack of characterization as only Balfour's character was developed. Making someone pregnant is not characterization. Are we supposed to care for the annoying girlfriend now because she's with child? It's also a cheap way to move the plot forward. I was telling the bf how glad I was they cut out Erin (Jessica Biel)'s pregnancy in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (also starring Balfour) as the film ultimately didn't need it in terms of characterization or plot purposes.

However, I can't really hate on a film that accomplishes as much as Skyline does with a limited budget. To compare, Box Office Mojo tells me Cloverfield's budget was $25 million. Skyline visually looks great and delivers effects on par with certain bigger budget flicks. The film is entertaining and I personally love Eric Balfour so it's great to see him play a lead role in a studio film. Give it a shot and don't be too critical. A 4/5.