PICK OF THE WEEK
Our Idiot Brother (***1/2). As I said before in my "Sneak Peek" review from earlier last week, this is a low-key, formulaic charmer that succeeds and earns its fair share of laughs thanks to a pitch-perfect cast, led by the invaluable Paul Rudd.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (**). Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and produced this remake of a 1973 television movie. It was probably better back in '73. As with anything where del Toro is involved, I had hopes that this would be a memorably creepy, fun thrill ride. The first five minutes hint at that promise, with some truly disturbing imagery and sound effects involving a crow bar on some teeth. But things unravel from there when the focus shifts to present-day, where a new family moves in to the gothic "haunted house." As with The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth, Don't Be Afraid's lead is the typical del Toro child character - inquisitive, foolish, and catnip for horror hijinks. Here, the main villains are little hunchbacked gremlins who whisper, "Come play with us." Director Troy Nixey does a decent job of building suspense, but the movie isn't scary enough. Don't Be Afraid lacks momentum and takes too much time in between its scares to dawdle. The adults (Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes) are clueless as to their child's endangerment, which can grow a bit tiresome. A weird twist at the end is supposed to be cool, but doesn't really make a lick of sense.
Colombiana (**). Luc Besson can pump out movies featuring action heroines and/or revenge stories like it's nothing, and he routinely does so, with about a movie or two a year bearing his unmistakeable imprint. There's nothing in Colombiana that you haven't seen before. It's a typical revenge potboiler, where young girl grows up to kill those that killed her parents. Zoe Saldana is the girl-turned-assassin, and the role requires little more of her than to slink in and out of tight spaces, dress and undress, and balance looking pretty with kicking ass. She does a nice job, and certainly carries the movie, but I had the same problem with her that I did with Angelina Jolie in Wanted - she's so damn skinny, how can she even lift a weapon let alone wield it so ruthlessly? The bad guys are cliche. The story is preposterous. And a love story between Saldana and Michael Vartan feels tacked-on and forced in an effort to humanize Saldana's character. The movie may look professional (Oliver Megaton directed), but it lacks the skill, subtlety, and grace of that other Besson classic, The Professional.