Having spent a little more than 40 hours in airplanes over the last two weeks, you can probably imagine that I've had my fill of in-flight movies. I've put together a brief review for each, as well as a ranking based on how much I would pay to go see it.
Antoine Fuqua had some trouble following the blockbuster success of Training Day. I was particularly disappointed by how Tears of the Sun and King Arthur were basically the same movie, only separated by about 1600 years. I originally thought this loose interpretation of Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact would be similarly disappointing, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a moderately good action movie. I also can't believe I'm about the same age as the beautiful Kate Mara. Dollar Value: I'd pay matinee price.
Going in, I initially had mixed feelings about this adaptation of the relatively obscure W. S. Maugham novel. The director, John Curran, only has a handful of artsy movies under his belt and I haven't been able to stomach Naomi Watts since the painfully over dramatic 21 Grams. On the other hand, I think Edward Norton is one of the greatest of the Generation X actors (a close second to Johnny Depp) and I think 1920s China is a great backdrop for story telling. The end result is very entertaining, but a touch formulaic. Dollar Value: Pay full price to take your girlfriend/boyfriend if they frequent art house cinema or fancy British period pieces, but don't pay full price otherwise.
The stars seemed to align for this film. Something seemed very right about putting Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe in a crime drama/spy flick directed Billy Ray (the only director to get a reasonably solid performance out of the pretty, but flat Hayden Christensen) and film delivers for the most part. If you enjoyed the political-bureaucratic backdrop of Now Way Out or wasted your late 20s in CIA counterintelligence, you will enjoy this movie. Your girlfriend and mom will think this movie is either "too dark," boring or both. Dollar Value: Rent it or put it at the top of your Netflix cue. That shouldn't be a problem because you'll probably have trouble finding someone to watch it with anyways (unless you're a current or former spook).
eh. Dollar Value: Only go see this if you or your girlfriend likes Hugh Grant.
AnnaSophia Robb has a disturbingly elfish face, but that didn't kill the mood of the film. Overall, it isn't a bad film and would appeal to anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter movies or the recent Chronicles of Narnia film. Be warned though, this adaptation stays true to the book, so there will not be a dry eye in the house at the end. I wouldn't recommend it for young kids. Dollar Value: Rent it if your audience includes the 12+ crowd or a Harry Potter-reading third date.