Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MOVIE REVIEWS: Man on a Ledge, The Devil Inside

Director: Asger Leth
Starring: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris

The title pretty much sums it up. Within the first five minutes of the movie, Nick Cassidy (Worthington) enters a hotel room, clears his fingerprints, leaves a note, and steps out onto the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Cut to one month earlier, Nick has been spending time in prison for stealing a precious diamond from David Englander (Ed Harris). He has proclaimed his innocence time and again and proclaims he was framed by Englander himself who still has the diamond. After Nick is allowed to attend the burial of his father, he escapes the arms of his attendees and flees to a storage unit. As he gets to storage unit, you find out there is more behind Nick's escape. There are police files, money, and IDs. His brother Joey (Bell) and Police Officer Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie) seem to be in on the escape and ultimate plan. As Nick risks his life by hanging out on the ledge surrounded by a crowd of on-lookers, Joey and his girlfriend sneak into Englander's building to steal the diamond back to prove Nick's innocence.

Man on a Ledge succeeds on the basic notion that it keeps you entertained the whole time. The script is not as smart and faced paced as Mission:Impossible-Ghost Protocol. I never felt my fear of heights come into question nor was I on the edge of my seat the whole time. On the other hand, it is not so dumb and full of stupid characters that you get frustrated. The characters are flawed enough to make them believable. Elizabeth Banks steps a little outside of comfort zone as the negotiator trying to get Nick off the ledge. Her acting comes off a little melodramatic at times. Maybe it was a weak script. Sam Worthington has dialect issues playing a New Yorker. All too often his natural Australian would step in. Not all of the acting is off. Jamie Bell is slick and funny as the younger brother. Man on a Ledge will take your mind off of thinking about your daily routine, but it won't challenge you enough to keep you guessing about what will happen next.

RATING: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

In theaters January 27th


Director: William Bell Brent
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth

Isabella Rossi (Andrade) heads to the Vatican to visit her mother who is being held in a psychiatric hospital. When Isabella was a kid, her mother killed two priests and a nun while they were performing an exorcism on her. Isabella meets two young priests, Ben (Quarterman) and David (Helmuth) in an exorcism studies class she attends. Ben and David have their personal histories on why though chose to become priests. They like to perform unauthorized exorcisms when the Catholic Church doesn't recognize certain cases. Ben and David convince Isabella that they best way to learn about exorcisms is to watch a live one over sitting in a classroom. Isabella comes to terms with demonic possession and demonic transference. Is Isabella's mom possessed by the devil or does she just suffer from mental illness?

Like many horrors movies of late, The Devil Inside is filmed like a documentary. I don't know who these filmmakers think they are fooling anymore. The use of a shaky hand held camera, "real" news footage, interviews with experts, unknown actors, and an abrupt ending are not scary anymore. It's almost more frustrating knowing that they are trying so hard. One of the other big problems with this devil of a movie has to do with focus. Does the lack of focus seem to make it more realistic? What at first seems be about the possession of a mother turns out to be about demonic transference. This means to me that the screenwriters didn't know where to take the story after page 60. It just feels like it should be called "The Paranormal Last Exorcism of Blair Witch". Watch those three movies and you'll predict this paint-by-numbers story.

RATING: *1/2 (1.5 out of 5 stars)

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