June 2009

Taken (2008)
Director: Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Running Time: 1 hrs. 93 min
Rated: PG-13

Review by Brother Reed

Taken is a one-man show. Liam Neeson is that man, and he is bringing his A-game. You may hear Taken described as a pulse-pounding thriller, a relentless action film or a gritty revenge flick. All of those things apply, but probably the most apt qualifier is the one I can’t say: bad*ss. If you hear anyone summing up Taken with that word, be aware that they are not amiss. If you are one who balks at such language, you may want to grant some leniency to the offending party knowing that sometimes there just is not a proper synonym. This tightly-handled film, like its protagonist, is singular of mind and purpose and also very effective. FULL REVIEW

Up (2009)
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai
Running Time: 1 hr, 36 min
Rated: PG

Review by Brother Reed

You don’t need a review to help you decide whether or not you are going to see the new 3D animated movie, Up. You already know you are going to see it. The reason? You noticed it is the latest offering from Pixar studios; and because you’ve been paying attention for the last decade or so, you know that Pixar has been responsible for consistent, high-quality films such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Wall-E. With each new movie, the animation gets better as technological advances enable the team of creative wizards to render light and texture with stunning realism. Yet with all these steps forward, they continue to focus on stories full of heart, humor, and relatable characters – which is exactly what you can expect with Up. FULL REVIEW

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson

Running Time: 2 hrs. 46 min
Rated: PG-13

Review by Brother Reed

Thinking back on my viewing of Benjamin Button, I like it a bit less than I originally thought. It seemed engaging enough at the time. It even seemed pretty good. However, it quickly becomes apparent that qualifiers such as “engaging enough” and “pretty good” are faint praise, damning a film that sought to ignite our imaginations. This is the latest Fincher/Pitt combo, the duo that turned out hits like Se7en and Fight Club. It garnered a staggering 13 Academy Award nominations and picked up 3 wins. A movie with such accolades ought to blow our minds, not settle for being merely acceptable fare. FULL REVIEW