Sunday, September 11, 2011

Movie Reviews: Day of Warrior Sharks

Warrior movie poster, image property of Lionsgate.

Warrior AWESOME!

Warrior, co-written and directed by Gavin O’Connor, is in many ways everything you would expect from the fight movie genre.  It’s the classic underdog story where the characters—against all odds—rise up to victory.  However, Warrior manages to be a lot more than a fighting movie:  it’s a compelling family drama that is as emotionally raw as it is brutally macho.

The story is of two brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy), who haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years.  Their problems seem to center around their drunken and distant father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) who is riddled with grief over his past misdeeds and the broken family that resulted from them.  Tommy—an ex-Marine—shows up on his father’s doorstep unexpectedly, wanting to be trained in Mixed Martial Arts but still unwilling to forgive the man.  Meanwhile, Brendan—a former MMA fighter turned teacher—is struggling financially and about to lose his house.  Against his wife’s wishes, he returns to the cage to try and win some money.  The two brothers progress to the point that they must finally come head to head in the biggest MMA Championship in the sport’s history, and only then can the two face their demons and come to an understanding.

The movie thrives on its terrific performances.  Nick Nolte does terrific work as the damaged father and does the role with restraint and control.  This is probably the best work I’ve seen Nolte do in a long time and I was really very moved by his character.  He and actor Tom Hardy have some of the greatest scenes in the film, which leads me to say that Hardy was equally impressive in his role.  Edgerton does a great job as well, and the finale of the film with he and Hardy had me in tears.  Really moving stuff.

Besides all of the great emotional characterizations, Warrior has a lot of great fights that really get your adrenaline going and manages to balance the two sides very well.  It might not be as Oscar-worthy as last year’s The Fighter, but it’s definitely up there.


Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess star in this film based on the novel by David Nicholls (who also wrote the screenplay) and directed by Lone Scherfig.  Hathaway plays Emma, a bright girl who finds success as a writer late in life and Sturgess plays Dexter, a man who has everything but nothing.  The two meet on the night of their graduation in the late 80s, and the movie shows us where they are in their lives every year on that same day.  Sometimes they are together, sometimes they are a part.  It is essentially a romantic drama and the two friends find that they love each other by the end, but the movie suffers from a lack of humor—everything is very heavy-handed—and the “one day” premise makes it hard for us to really see the character progression.  It feels like we keep fast-forwarding through the good stuff.  That being said, I still liked the movie well enough and admired Hathaway for taking on the British accent.  She really is very underrated.

Shark Night 3D AWFUL

A less-than-all-star cast led by Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan get terrorized by sharks in this ridiculously awful horror movie.  The premise is this:  a group of college kids go to a lake house to spend a weekend of drinking, sex and fun but lo and behold there are sharks in the lake!  It’s a salt-water lake of course.  It turns out the sharks were placed there by three hillbilly psychopaths who get their jollies off of seeing people get torn apart and devoured.  They’ve even put cameras on the sharks to sell the footage on the internet.  Sound stupid?  Well, that’s because it is stupid.  The stupid script coupled with cheesy over-the-top acting of the soap opera variety make for one horrible movie.  Oh, and it’s also really predictable.  The entire time I was saying things like, “It’s gonna jump out and eat him” or “he’s bad, isn’t he?” and I was correct every time.

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