Valentine’s Day and post-award season consideration means a mess of spring movies. These end of winter into spring films are neither here nor there. They are not in the realm of being nominated for anything and they are also not summer blockbusters. Consequently, the movies end up being forgettable, in the grey area of film. This means they are not horrible (sometimes) but are not really any good either.
Most of these types of movies make pulling out money for a movie ticket hard and yet when you want to go to the theater there is nothing else to see. So, it becomes a decision of what will be the least painful. Another way to think about these movies is to think that it will be an escape, just some mindless fun. Otherwise it is best to wait for DVD since they will be out soon enough anyway.
This devoted moviegoer went to see three of these kind of films recently, sadly. It was hard to stay away from the movie theater for too long and that is the truth of the matter. “The Vow” was the first up. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams play a young couple, Leo and Paige, madly in love. After a car accident Paige loses her memory of Leo and all their time together (interestingly she only forgets her husband). Of course, she remembers her old life and that she is engaged to another man.
Leo (Tatum) has to fight to get Paige (McAdams) to remember who she was and who they were together. Strangely, Paige seems to have done a complete 180° and had a personality transplant in the last five years. She went from going to law school to being an artist. Tatum, who let’s face it is not the best actor, is actually better than McAdams here. Lately McAdams (who had a lot of promise) is coming off cold in her roles. There is not any chemistry between the two, either, although they seem to be trying their hardest. “The Vow” is the kind of film that you either like or you don’t and it’s hard to like.
“This Means War” is even harder to like sadly. Two undercover CIA agents, also best friends, fall for the same woman. It was hard to see what people liked in Chris Pine even at his best, in “Star Trek,” and here it is even harder to see. Pine comes off detached and is unable to create chemistry with another actor (the most he has is with Tom Hardy, who is the best one in the film). There are not many funny parts and the editing is choppy, leading to complete blackouts in between scenes. Reese Witherspoon is sadly wasted. It is best not to think too much when seeing this film because there is so much wrong that comes to mind. The fact that two men are spying on a potential love interest, invading every inch of her privacy, is creepy to say the least. There is a sort of “Vampire Diaries” (the TV show) like problem going on here, where the two brothers (in this case friends) cannot for the life of them find different girls to fall in love with. The one good thing about “This Means War” is the lighting is excellent, making everyone look wonderful at least.
Lastly, it was between “Big Miracle” and “The Grey” and I made the mistake of choosing the latter. “The Grey” is not a bad movie per se. Actually, it attempts to conquer more than just the usual man fighting off the wild, man versus nature thing by bringing in more philosophical issues and questions of faith and if there is a purpose to fate. Liam Neeson holds down the fort as a man who has come to the end of his rope after losing his wife. He exiles himself to Alaska, the place of lost souls. The plane that he and his work mates are on crashes (the crash scene is difficult to watch) and they end up in the middle of nowhere with not a lot of hope for the future.
One by one the number of men dwindles as they are killed off mostly by gigantic, savage wolves. The ending is one you might not see coming but probably should. The problem with “The Grey” is that it never lets up. For those of us that are not particularly fond of being on edge for entire movies that tenseness and fear of wolves popping out every second takes away from its attempt to be more than what it is. There are many scenes that are hard to watch, almost to the point where it seems that the filmmakers had a little too much fun showing all the horrible ways a person could die. Some movies where man faces a nonhuman enemy, like “Jaws” and “Backdraft,” succeed because there is some glimmer of hope. With its harsh terrain and never-ending obstacles for these poor men, it is hard to leave “The Grey” in a good mood and hard to know what the greater message that the movie makers were trying to convey is.