Valdosta Daily Times

Features

September 1, 2012

Movie Reviews

VALDOSTA — “Premium Rush” (Action / Thriller: 1 hour, 31 minutes)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon and Dania Ramirez

Director: David Koepp

Rated: PG-13 (Profanity and violence)

Movie Review: Wilee (Gordon-Levitt) is one of the thousand bike messengers In Manhattan. He picks up an envelope with a valuable and mysterious piece of paper in it at about 5:30 p.m. The envelope’s content attracts the attention of Bobby Monday (Shannon,) a dirty detective who chases Wilee throughout many dangerous, busy streets for hours.

Gordon-Levitt is a fine actor. He is superb here, but the plot is an adolescent-like feature, which plays like a comedy at multiple moments.

“Premium Rush” is a different kind of film. It is hip, using quick-paced scenes and smooth visuals of New York City. These scenes promote a unique adrenaline rush, especially when the cyclists speed in and out of lanes with potential collisions with automobiles. The scenes keep one on edge, yet they fail to keep momentum near the end. There, the film turns into an awkward, unintelligent piece. The NYPD officers are portrayed as inept.

More important, the film leaves many loose strings. Repercussions for the characters’ actions appear absent.

This action film would be a better cartoon. It would have appeared more believable in that medium.  

Grade: C (Good on rush, poor on premium.)

 

“2016: Obama’s America” (Documentary: 1 hour, 28 minutes)

Directors: Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan

Rated: PG (Thematic elements, brief language and smoking images)

Movie Review: Instead of bashing President Obama, Indian-American Dinesh D’Souza, an academic scholar and conservative author of several books, subtly examines the question: If President Obama wins a second term, where will we be in 2016? This documentary shows how Obama’s history may explain his actions as president, and what happens if Obama remains in office.

D’Souza is smooth in his attempt to chronicle President Obama’s history via Obama’s absent father, several of Obama’s relatives living in Africa and his collegiate associations. D’Souza first explains the similarities he and Obama share, such as they were born and married their wives during the same years. Then, D’Souza shows how two Americans, he and President Obama, came to see this country in different ways.

The first 30 minutes are captivating to a point one may feel a certain sympathetic concern for President Obama. D’Souza attempts to show Obama’s parents, mainly his father, Barack Obama Sr., through the words of the President’s mother, Ann Dunham, and how they influenced the 44th President of the United States.

D’Souza accomplishes his goal. He easily makes this family fascinating. Anti-Obama moviegoers will take D’Souza’s words as truth, but they should not.

D’Souza acknowledges himself as a scholar. His attempts to psychoanalyze the President are clearly influenced by D’Souza’s right-wing politics. Some of D’Souza’s evidence here is sketchy, very subjective and contains illogical false conclusions.

As a scholar, he should not determine guilt via association. If you research everyone’s life, all have had associations with people others would not find acceptable. This does not mean one person may share the same values as those around them. D’Souza is incorrect to assume people Obama had a connection to have influenced him any more than any other person. Second, D’Souza does not interview people — at least it did not make it into this film — who also knew Obama while in college and have spoken differently about him. Third, D’Souza assumes presidents have the ultimate power to totally change government. He fails to note Obama has continued the majority of Bush’s programs. D’Souza also forgets to note a president must operate in a hyper-partisan climate, contend with multiple levels of federalism and share power with Congress and the Judicial branch.  

D’Souza does some poor research here. He has a hypothesis. He tries to make the evidence fit his intellectual question. However, his attempt is a serious endeavor. D’Souza offers his research in a very pleasant, non-threatening manner. His low-key manner may just influence some independents. Others have already made up their minds since childhood.

D’Souza does plenty of research, enough to make this film an intriguing and thought-provoking piece of political propaganda. He knows how to captivate using his own version of the facts. He does this with nice visuals from around the world and subtle jabs at Obama.   

Grade: B (2012, D’Souza’s interesting political propaganda)

 

“The Apparition” (Thriller/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 22 minutes)

Starring: Sebastian Stan, Ashley Greene and Tom Felton

Director: Todd Lincoln

Rated: PG-13 (Thematic elements, some mild sensuality)

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