Mini-reviews: AVPR, Astronaut Farmer, Fracture

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Starring: Steven Pasquale, John Ortiz; Directed by: Colin and Greg Strause
Rating: 1/2 (half star out of five)

Summary: When an Alien managed to destroy a group of Predators, including impregnating one with a little gut-busting baddy, the ‘head’ Predator on the hunt seeks revenge. They meet in a small town in the US, whose residents range from a do-good sheriff, an ex-con, his brother and the girl he likes, and a bunch of other people who die. Carnage ensues as the Predator hunts down the Alien, destroying humans who get in the way.

Thoughts: Boring. The original AVP, which was only PG-13, was much better than this one. With an R-rating, one would assume the extra gore would bring a new level to the story … but no. Disappointingly, no one makes any use of the alien-predator hybrid that is being hunted. When the Alien face-hugger implants the Predator, the damned thing that bursts from it’s chest cavity is a hybrid between both species. How cool of a creature could that be? Unfortunately no one seemed to realize this had potential and it was much to the films detriment. In a word: Utter disappointment.

The Astronaut Farmer
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen; Directed by: Michael Polish
Rating: ** (two stars out of five)

Summary: Charles Farmer has a dream to be an astronaut. So he builds a rocket in his barn with the plan to orbit once around the earth then plummet back down into his backyard, all safely. His son has been working with him and training to man the command center as his father orbits. His family, though in debt and in foreclosure, endlessly support Farmer, stressful as it is. As does the town, at one point even buying advertising on the rocket itself (a la NASCAR). And then he tries to buy 10,000 gallons of fuel. In comes the FBI worried he’s building a WMD. In comes a regulatory board which does all it can to ground Farmer. But they can stop a Dream? (Dream is the name of the rocket).

Thoughts: Not as touching as it should have been, and the lack of any scientific explanations will likely turn of most people. Where he got his equipment, his physics and math skills, and, most importantly, the knowledge to build a rocket with it’s complicated engine, structural design, and ‘advanced’ electronics (‘advanced’ is something of an understatement as the technology in Dream itself harkens to the Gemini-era). The end is also choppy. So why give it two stars instead of one? It was original — what a fantastic idea! I was sold on it when I first saw a trailer, even though I knew it wouldn’t be quite as good as I wanted. In a word: Great idea that falls extremely short on execution.

Fracture
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins; Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
Rating: ** (two stars out of five)

Summary: Ted Crawford is an artist who has discovered his wife is cheating on him with a police officer. So he shoots her in the face and cleans up the murder scene. When the cops arrive, the man she was messing around with is the head detective; Crawford confesses to him. Enter Willy Beachum, a top-notch young lawyer for the prosecution. Can he play Crawford’s game? Or will someone get away with murder?

Thoughts: Just plain average. Both Gosling and Hopkins give good performances, but there isn’t much to any of the characters for these two great actors to truly build anything upon. The actual details of the case and the plan that Crawford has to get off are incredibly predictable. So, once again, why two stars instead of one? Because Gosling and Hopkins were good, and the direction actually wasn’t bad. It was the script that was lacking, not the overall film. In a word: Predictable yet somehow well made.

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