Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Movie Review :: I Am Number Four (2011) (PG-13) - Associated Content” plus 1 more

“Movie Review :: I Am Number Four (2011) (PG-13) - Associated Content” plus 1 more


Movie Review :: I Am Number Four (2011) (PG-13) - Associated Content

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With just a little less violence and a complete removal of the foul language, I Am Number Four would be adequate material for a Saturday morning action series, like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It clearly has the same
sensibilities: Plot, character, theme, and significance don't matter as long as something marketable is being shown to a mass audience. This is an astonishingly stupid movie, and the filmmakers must have known it, for there's a noticeable lack of effort with each passing scene; what begins as a bland and baffling science fiction thriller eventually devolves into a mind-numbing laser-blast light show, complete with phony-looking alien creatures, blurred choreography, and dialogue that wouldn't pass muster in a second-rate comic book.

The premise, as best I understand it, is that nine members of a humanoid alien species fled to Earth after their planet was destroyed. Their enemies - hairless creatures with tattooed heads, pointy teeth, and gills around their noses - have been hunting them down in sequential order, and thus far, three have been killed. And so we meet Number Four (Alex Pettyfer), a teenager who, because of his very existence, must always be on the move. He's looked after by his mentor, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), who assumes the identity of his father and sees to it that no pictures or videos of him wind up on the internet. After fleeing from a Florida beach community, they arrive in Paradise, Ohio, where Number Four will adopt the absurd alias John Smith and pose as a high school student.

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Five favorite movie presidents and why we loved them - Chicago Sun-Times

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Five favorite movie presidents and why we loved them

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Henry Fonda is a level-headed president in "Fail-Safe."

Every possible kind of United States president has been depicted on screen: corrupt ones and honorable ones, real ones and fictional ones. So with Presidents Day coming, it's as good a chance as any to say hail to the chief. Here's a look at five favorite movie presidents:

1. Henry Fonda in "Fail-Safe" (1964)

Fonda is everything you'd want in a president. He's decisive but even-tempered, commanding but kind, and he even shows a sense of humor. He is, in short, a good man. And when he has to make the most difficult choices imaginable in the face of nuclear annihilation, he's calm and gracious every step of the way. Sidney Lumet's stripped-down, gripping drama envisions a world on the brink of disaster when machines fail and the humans who run them are filled with Cold War mistrust. With the help of a young Larry Hagman as his Russian translator, Fonda reasons with the premier in Moscow and reaches a compromise that's devastating — but not as devastating as it might have been.

2. Peter Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964)

Same year, same topic, completely different tone. Stanley Kubrick's biting political satire allows Sellers to show off his comic genius and the breadth of his transformative powers in not one but three distinct parts: as the proper British Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, the volatile former Nazi Dr. Strangelove and U.S. President Merkin Muffley. This last role is his most subdued; in a room full of mad characters, Sellers serves as the horrified voice of reason. He's even a little sheepish as he calls to explain to the Russian premier: "Dimitri, we have a little problem. ..." It's a performance that defies expectations.

3. Kevin Kline in "Dave" (1993)

One of Kline's best performances in one of the best films Ivan Reitman ever directed and Gary Ross ever wrote. Like Sellers in "Dr. Strangelove," Kline has multiple jobs here: He stars as Dave Kovic, a mild-mannered guy who runs a temp agency. But Dave happens to look exactly like President Bill Mitchell and is secretly called on to impersonate Mitchell when the president suffers a stroke while sleeping with an aide. Dave makes the most of this challenge, cutting the budget, bringing an upbeat tone to the Oval Office and falling for the first lady, played by a lovely Sigourney Weaver. "Dave" offers a perfect balance of sweetness, smarts and humor.

4. John Travolta in "Primary Colors" (1998)

This is a bit of a cheat, because for a long time, Travolta is just playing a candidate for president. But he's clearly patterned on Bill Clinton, and Travolta's performance is dead-on. With the combination of Mike Nichols' direction and his partner Elaine May's script, of course "Primary Colors" is sharp and insightful. But Travolta brings the film to life as Gov. Jack Stanton. He's charming as hell in that smooth, Southern way, but he's also flawed and self-destructive, with a weakness for women. He largely remains a mystery, while still managing to inspire hope.

5. Josh Brolin in "W." (2008)

A rather conventional biopic, but Brolin's so good, he almost makes us feel sorry for George W. Bush. Almost. He gets the innate humor within the frequent buffoonery, and he has the voice and the demeanor down pat. But he also seems to recognize the tragedy of this man, who was in way over his head for one of the world's most complicated jobs. Director Oliver Stone offers a fair and balanced assessment of our 43rd president, who basically wanted only to watch baseball and drink beer all day but ended up being chosen as leader of the free world. Twice.

Associated Press movie critic Christy Lemire co-hosts "Ebert Presents At the Movies" at 8:30 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays on WTTW-Channel 11.

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