Movie Project #16: Unbreakable [2000]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Unbreakable [2000]

Unbreakable [2000] 
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Country: USA
Genre: Drama/Mystery/Sci-Fi
Starring: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Spencer Treat Clark
Running Time: 106 minutes

Riding the wave of success from the massive box office hit, The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan immediately followed with Unbreakable, a superhero origin film that has become quite a cult favorite since. Many would argue that this is his best film, though that’s hardly a bold position given his recent output.

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Poll Results: Best Bruce Willis Film

Well, I’m sure we all saw this one coming:

Die Hard

THE RESULTS:
– Die Hard: 12 votes
– Pulp Fiction: 9 votes
– The Fifth Element: 6 votes
– Twelve Monkeys: 3 votes
– Unbreakable: 3 votes
– Die Hard: With a Vengeance: 2 votes
– Moonrise Kingdom: 2 votes
– The Sixth Sense: 2 votes
– Armaggedon: 1 vote
– Hudson Hawk: 1 vote
– Last Man Standing: 1 vote
– Looper: 1 vote
– Sin City: 1 vote

This was Die Hard‘s to lose, wasn’t it? Still, nice to see so many of Bruce Willis’ movies get some votes. The man has had a great career, unnecessary Die Hard sequels be damned.

This Week’s Poll: I’m sure many of you watched the Oscars last night (as did allegedly over one billion people worldwide), and I would like to hear your thoughts on the event. More specifically, what did you think of Seth MacFarlane’s performance as host? Just from doing my morning reading, it sounds like the reactions are pretty mixed. I will go on record in saying that he was a much better host than the dreadful duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco from two years back, and it was refreshing to not have a “safe” bet like Billy Crystal from last year. What did you think?

Poll Results: Favorite Video Game From 2012

It was looking like we might have an upset, but this game came roaring back at the end:

The Walking Dead

THE RESULTS:
– The Walking Dead: 5 votes
– Borderlands 2: 4 votes
– Journey: 3 votes
– Sleeping Dogs: 3 votes
– XCOM: Enemy Unknown: 2 votes
– Assassin’s Creed III: 1 vote
– Call of Duty: Black Ops II: 1 vote
– Diablo III: 1 vote
– Dishonored: 1 vote
– Far Cry 3: 1 vote
– Fez: 1 vote
– Halo 4: 1 vote
– Hitman: Absolution: 1 vote
– Mass Effect 3: 1 vote
– Max Payne 3: 1 vote
– Persona 4: The Golden: 1 vote

Sixteen (!) games received votes, which may be a new poll record. Last year was stacked with great games, but I agree with you guys: The Walking Dead stood tall above the rest. No game has ever provided the type of emotional experience for me quite like Telltale’s adventure saga.

This Week’s Poll: Despite atrocious critical reviews, the new Die Hard film topped the box office over the weekend. Rather than dwell on a series that has apparently been pushed too far, let’s focus on the highlights of its star, Bruce Willis. What two films do you consider to be the best in Bruce Willis’ filmography?

Have a great week everyone!

Movie Review: Looper [2012]

Looper [2012]

Looper [2012]
Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels
Runtime: 118 minutes

After 2005’s criminally overlooked Brick, it’s great to see director/writer Rian Johnson and lead star Joseph Gordon-Levitt collaborating once again. This time around, with a clever time travel sci-fi premise and a bigger budget, the results are even more impressive.

Looper takes place primarily in the not-so-distant year of 2044, with the focus being on a group of assassins known as “loopers.” Their job is to wait in a cornfield for their victims to be sent back to them from the future (2074), blindfolded, where the loopers promptly shoot them and collect their rewards. It’s a relatively easy job, but their one rule is to never let anyone escape, even if that means their future selves.

Looper [2012]

That’s exactly what happens to Joe Simmons (Gordon-Levitt). When presented with the prospect of killing his future self (played by Bruce Willis), Simmons hesitates, and as a result his target gets away. Now on the run from the mafia, Joe has to hunt down himself in order to complete his job. The plot gets a bit convoluted from there, adding in some romance with a single mother, Sara (Emily Blunt), and a mission to kill the future Rainmaker, a crime lord who is wiping out the loopers one-by-one. There’s a lot to digest, especially since time travel is involved.

Multiple viewings are definitely going to be helpful in analyzing and understanding Looper‘s multiple layers, but this is still a film that can be appreciated on its surface. For one, time travel is just one aspect of the film, and it is not the primary focus. This is more about the struggles of a particular character (Joe), in which time travel just so happens to have caused the conflict. Now, there are potential discrepancies with the time travel logic in the film (as expected with this subject matter), but for the most part, it works.

Looper [2012]

When I heard that Gordon-Levitt and Willis would be playing the same character, I had to do a double-take. The two really look nothing alike in reality, but thanks to the wonders of Hollywood makeup, the resemblance between the two in Looper is uncanny. Both stars deliver strong performances to boot, with the centerpiece of the film being an especially entertaining diner conversation between the two. Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also excel in their supporting roles, each integral to the film’s development.

In the end, Looper is a rather intelligent film that is both fresh and entertaining. There is a lot to take in, but it’s a fun ride, and it makes for one of this year’s more enjoyable experiences.

8/10

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]
Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand
Runtime: 94 minutes

Moonrise Kingdom is the perfect antidote for these hot summer days. Light, vibrant and fun, Wes Anderson’s latest film takes us back to the days of being an adventurous kid.

The movie takes place in 1965 on a small New England island. There are no paved roads, and it is so sparsely populated that everyone knows each other. During the summer, the local “Khaki Scouts”, led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), set up camp there. As the group of boy scouts work on their badges, one of them sneaks out and runs away. This errant child, Sam (Jared Gilman), has set off to secretly rendezvous with his local crush, Suzy (Kara Hayward), who has also run away from home. Both are outcasts in their social groups, and they have been eagerly awaiting their chance to be together since their random first encounter the previous summer.

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Once the children are discovered to be missing, the island’s adults begin to panic. Scout Master Ward reaches out to police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and the two of them begin a search party with the rest of the scouts. Suzy’s parents, Walt and Laura (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, respectively), are also informed of the situation and join the others in seeking out the missing children.

At its core, Moonrise Kingdom is a story of young love. Sam and Suzy will do anything to be together, and their awkward transition from friendship to dating lends itself to some amusing moments. Although both characters exhibit traits of erratic behavior, they are eminently likable. Wes Anderson did an excellent job with his casting of these two young unknown leads, as they steal the show from the big name adults found in the rest of the cast. It helps to have Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray and others as support, but the children are more than capable in their roles. I will say, however, that it was a lot of fun to see guys like Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman dressed up as scout masters.

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

All of the familiar Wes Anderson traits are present here. He has succeeded in creating a colorful world that is unlike any other, and his trademark fashion selections are as wild and memorable as ever. For those who are less appreciative of his quirks, rest assured that Moonrise Kingdom is easily one of his most accessible feature films.

There were a few moments near the end of the film that I felt were a little too ridiculous (including one seemingly random lightning strike), but on the whole this is an especially enjoyable feature. This is a movie that anyone and everyone can enjoy, and it is one of the early summer highlights this year.

8/10