Today, here are two quick mini-reviews for the afternoon. One is of Schwarzenegger’s return in The Last Stand (he told you he’d be “bahk”!) and one is of the lesser known but better movies of 2012: Upside Down.
Directed by: Jee-woon Kim
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville and more
Synopsis: After leaving his LAPD narcotics post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with remorse and regret, Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) moved out of Los Angeles and settled into a life fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction. But that peaceful existence is shattered when Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the western hemisphere, makes a deadly yet spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy. With the help of a fierce band of lawless mercenaries led by the icy Burrell (Peter Stormare), Cortez begins racing towards the US-Mexico border at 250 mph in a specially-outfitted Corvette ZR1 with a hostage in tow. Cortez’ path: straight through Summerton Junction, where the whole of the U.S. law enforcement, including Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) will have their final opportunity to intercept him before the violent fugitive slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately rallies his team and takes the matter into his own hands, setting the stage for a classic showdown.
Review: Man, I sure would love to have a car that can not only go 200+ miles per hour, but also do it for hours on end without running out of gas! Ha! That, among several other ridiculous fight physics, plot lines, sequences of events, frivolous characters and some silly dialogue, just about sums up some of the cheesiness of Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand (not to be confused with the last stand of General Armstrong Custer). The incapacity and uselessness of the FBI in this film is laughable at best along with useless storylines and moments that do nothing but make you shake your head.
That being said (getting a few expectations laid as you should probably disconnect the “rational thought” cord from your brain before watching this.) the film is truthfully not all that bad as a comedy. It is listed as a thriller, but I tend to label it as a good comedy mixed with plenty of action and violence. The film doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should the audience (trust me, you will enjoy it far better if you don’t). Schwarzenegger carries this film as he pokes a bit of fun at himself with statements about being old, allowing himself to take a little bit of a beating from a guy who, in real life wouldn’t stand a chance against the Governator, etc. The added cast, specifically Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzmán, bring in the extra enjoyment as their simple comedy brings several laughs amid the gunfire and Gatling guns. Two particular castmembers seemed completely ineffective and unnecessary: Forest Whitaker (unfortunately) as the head FBI agent who does practically nothing in the movie, and Eduardo Noriega as the escaped fugitive who is one of the dullest villains so far in this year’s cinematic offerings.
The Last Stand is no “film of the year” by far, however, Schwarzenegger makes it fun to watch. (Remember the “rational cord” I mentioned?) Not much beats getting to watch him roll through town blasting shotguns and Gatling guns along with jumping off roofs, driving/destroying a fast car, beating bad guys senseless and still getting to utter a few classy one-liners for which he is well-known! An action-filled comedy that can bore at times yet still is entertaining. Worth a watch. It is fun, but I may recommend my friend’s advice who said “Pay the matinee price for it.”
The Last Stand (3/5)
Directed by: Juan Diego Solanas
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess and more.
Review: What a fantastic delight! After watching this trailer earlier last year I could not wait to see it. A “Romeo and Juliet” story of forbidden love in which two worlds separate the two lovers. Follow the fight for love as they go through unimaginable odds to overcome.
Juan Diego Solanas skillfully sells the idea of two worlds so close to one another and establishes the rules of physics early on that make way for some highly entertaining fun.
With a great cast to go along with, Solanas tells the story of a young man named Adam (Sturgess) who lives in the impoverished world from “down below” and falls in love with a young woman named Eden (Dunst) from the world “up above” who he met by chance as a child. (Notice the play on words with the names of Adam and Eve who started civilization.)
The two worlds are not meant to communicate with one another except through a corporation known as “Transworld” which actually has a building that touches down on both worlds. The rules of these worlds make Upside Down such a visual and exciting treat as Adam and Eden interact in each others worlds. Only, when the border police find them, sadness comes and separates the two. Later on, Adam finds a way for love and goes through impossible odds to make it work. His character’s tenacity and soft-spoken manner is one that makes it easy to attach to. You want to fight right along with Adam and Eden to see love prevail…only…will it? Additional castmembers make this film come alive and real in the middle of some pretty fantastic and interesting scifi elements. (It kind of reminded me of the beautiful Cloud Atlas to a minor extent…which also stars Jim Sturgess.)
This French-Canadian film is such a joy and I encourage you to seek it out. While the conclusion felt a little rushed, Upside Down ends in a manner that satisfies. I really do it little justice in my review here, but that is partly in fact because I want to reserve some elements for you to enjoy on your own. Trust me, you will not regret watching this film…if you can find it.
Upside Down (Score: 4.5/5)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
up next: New Posters of the Week