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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quick Reviews: 43 Gangster Bodies

And we move into 2013 releases (although there are still a few 2012 films I'll try to see, a couple of Oscar Best Picture nominees in particular). I'll discuss these in reverse order of the names in the title.

With the "Twilight" films finished, Hollywood brings us another version of the strange-love-between-human-and-other genre, Warm Bodies. Instead of human girl-vampire (or werewolf) romance, we have human girl-zombie romance. After some sort of apocalyptic events (cue the USA Today with the front page headline "The End?" that I swear I've seen in multiple films), zombies wander around in search of human flesh and brains to eat. One such zombie, R (Nicholas Hoult), narrates, explaining that he can't remember his full name or anything of his life. The zombies can barely grunt and moan, let alone communicate. Meanwhile, the survivors have fortressed (is that a word?) themselves and occasionally send out scout parties of young people to find medicine and other items in short supply behind the giant walls. On such a run, Julie (Teresa Palmer) is nearly caught by a zombie pack until being rescued by R, who became smitten with her instantly. R begins to regain some humanity as he falls for her, but her father (John Malkovich) is convinced there's no way a zombie can recover, so...see what we have here? R and Julie...Romeo and Juliet. Spoiler alert? (I didn't come up with that on my own, to be honest.) At any rate, there's some humor and cleverness to it. Certainly more than in the "Twilight" films. My grade: B.

Gangster Squad is almost like a cartoon. That's not really meant as a compliment. The story of a war between a mob boss and a police unit (loosely based on an actual squad) that's kept "off the books" so they can do things regular cops can't do, such as shoot and kill an unarmed mobster, in 1949 Los Angeles is a violent but simple story, with characters that are pretty much walking cliches. Ryan Gosling (as a cop) seems to be having a ball, but Sean Penn (as the mob boss, Mickey Cohen) brings nothing but histrionics. As good as Penn was in "Milk," that's how awful he is here. And Emma Stone as Cohen's girlfriend, who falls for Gosling's character, isn't at all believable in the role. This grade would be lower without Gosling. My grade: C.

As for Movie 43, after sitting through over a dozen gruesomely awful, disgusting, not remotely funny tales tied together by a movie pitch, featuring all kinds of big names (Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, just to name a few), just after the credits began to roll, there was one final story, in which an animated cat is jealous of the girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) of his owner (Josh Duhamel). You might be happy that it includes pictures of Duhamel in a swimsuit, until you see said animated cat masturbating while looking at the photos. Every one of these stars should apologize for this garbage. The only person who didn't leave a negative impression on me was, believe it or not, Snooki. Of course, that's because, in the barrage of excrement that was this waste of celluloid, I didn't even notice Snooki until her name showed up in the credits. My grade: F.

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