Gil Mansergh’s Cinema Toast

New Releases for 6/08/12


Prometheus (PG-13)
Starring: Noomie Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Way back in the late 60’s, a couple of Brits named Kubrick and Clarke made a movie they called “2001.” It posed the question of who (or what) put the signal beacon on the Moon and Mars and beyond? Then in the late ‘70’s another Brit named Scott, made a terrifying movie that may have partially answered the first question, by presenting us with huge, horrific, insect-like beings in “Alien.” Now Scott provides an alternative mythology in a prequel of sorts, with “Promethus.” The quest begins when two spelunking archeologists discover cave paintings portraying humans having contact with “what can only be interpreted as alien beings.” This is the same rationale a guy named Eric Van Danikin used in his book (that came out the same time as “2001”), to posit prehistoric human contact with “ancient astronauts.” But, no matter, it’s enough “evidence” to convince a super secret and super rich conglomerate to fund an manned exploration of another solar system in search of a planet “remarkably like Earth.” Once they arrive, and are awakened from the suspended animation pods, the crew discover fossilized alien remains, red-shirts start to die, scary things start to happen and the female archeologist becomes pregnant with an alien’s baby.  If this seems ridiculously implausible, then this movie’s not for you. If you are intrigued, it will definitely grab your attention.

3  pieces of a Rosemary’s Alien Baby toast 


Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13)
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel

Directed by: Wes Anderson

When a recent news story told of two young teens ditching their school’s field trip and taking a bus to LA, I thought of this movie. The same thing happens here, the difference being its 1965 so instead of texting, the teens have set up their escape as pen-pals. Trapped on an island, their’s no bus available and the “storm of the century” is headed right at them. The adults are all played by marvelous actors who, like Bruce Willis as the island’s entire police force, brings their previous character gravitas to the role. In interviews, the writer/director claims naivite about the creepiness of scenes where the pre-teens cavort around in their underwear in sexually charged situations. Forgetting “Romeo and Juliet,” he seems to believe teen lust didn’t exist before the fabled Summer of Love. But since biology programs us to be ready, willing and able at the age of these kids, his protestations are unconvincing.

3 pieces of could bring up some interesting family discussions toast


Madagascar 3 (PG)
Starring the voices of: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinckett Smith, Sacha BAron Cohen, Martin Short

Directed by: Eric Darnell

My son spent three weeks on Madagascar a year ago, and he assures me that except for the cute lemurs (and the villainous  fossa) the animals on this island nation off Africa’s east coast, are nothing like the ones in any of the animated films in this series. Of course, the star animals escaped from a New York zoo in the first film, and are from the circus in this one, so these creatures are not indigenous. And they don’t stay on Madagascar very long either, since they travel to Africa in the second movie, and  Europe to join the circus in this one. How they get there is never explained, but movie-goers know that any series that has to take a European Vacation, has lost it’s comic inventiveness. What this animated tale lacks in originality, it makes up for in Loony Tune-style disregard of physics and anatomy. The circus acts at the end of the film are fast and funny. If only we didn’t have to sit through all those jokes about how things are different in Europe.

2 and 1/2 pieces of skip to the circus parts toast



Safe House (R)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
This Bourne-wannabe is set in South Africa, but except for a couple of pretty backgrounds it could just as well be any modern city with a shantytown attached. Filled with spy-movie cliches and a “shocking” expose of how we treat terror suspects (i.e. waterboarding, rendition, safe-houses, etc.), we are just here for a thrill ride of quickly-cut chases, shootouts, and mind games. Like the old-fashioned dime-novel westerns, we end up rooting for the truly evil bad guy—of course it helps that he is played by Denzel Washington.

2 and 1/2  pieces of watch it for Denzel toast


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgins, Luis Guzman
Directed by: Brad Peyton
“Vernians” are people who believe Jules Verne wasn’t writing science fiction in his 19th Century novels, but travel diaries of real adventures. The first “Journey” in this movie franchise, was to The Center of the Earth. This time, it’s to The Mysterious Island, where dinosaurs of normal size compete with insects of enormous proportions to either chase or assist the humans who crash-land on their shores. Lacking suspense, intelligent dialogue, or believable CG effects (the ride on the insect’s back is laughable), the filmmakers resort to 3-D tricks and action sequences stolen from “Star Wars” and “Avatar.” All in all, it’s truly underwhelming.

2 pieces of mild-mannered adventure toast  


John Carter ((PG-13)
Starring: Taylor Kitsh, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

In order to keep paying the bills for his Tarzana, CA complex, author Edgar Rice Burroughs (and his son) created several different pulp-novel heroes, including John Carter of Mars. He populated the red planet with odd-named creatures and loincloth-wearing humans, and George Lucas stole those ideas, renamed the characters, and made gazillions with his Star Wars franchise. There, in a nutshell, lies the problem with this movie. Despite some whiz-bang stuff from the Disney studios, every landscape, every furry, slimy, or leathery character, and every prop looks familiar. The dialogue (partly written by Pulitzer Prize Winner Michael Chabon!), is old-fashioned and stilted, (think of the stuff Arnold said in Conan the Barbarian), and halts the action in it’s tracks. Only the super-fast, ten-footed Woola is worth seeing, and he’s there just to make a marketable character for those Happy Meal prizes.

1 piece of this flop cost the head of Disney his job toast