11 April 2011



There’s been a respectable number of young-lady-centric movies recently, some of them good (True Grit) and some of them pretty awful (Sucker Punch). Hanna definitely falls in the former category.

The story is a little vague, but not too hard to follow. Hanna is the daughter of a rogue CIA-or-something agent who has grown up separated from civilization in a snowy forest-land, learning how to be the perfect soldier and not a whole lot else. She does manage to retain some wonder though, which makes her an interesting character. Once she is set free from her prison as a rite of passage deal, we’re witness to both her efficiency as a warrior and her quizzical, awkward side as she deals with attackers and newfound friends on a mission to avenge her murdered mother who she never knew. On the way, she discovers things about herself and her father that change her world forever.

Possibly the coolest thing about this movie is the soundtrack and how the rest of the film is entwined with it. Near the beginning of the movie Hanna asks her father what music is, and is given a dry, colorless definition that really has no bearing on what she really wants to know; when she first discovers music in an ugly Moroccan hotel, she’s enthralled. There are several scenes where the characters are doing rhythmic things that sync up with the music to great effect. The music itself is great. It’s the first Chemical Brothers music I’ve heard, and I think I’ll probably be investigating them further.

The second greatest thing I thought was the dialogue. Hanna herself speaks very strangely, mostly in a sort of rapid-fire fashion, especially when reciting her carefully memorized cover story to people who don’t really care. At other times she just says things that any normal person wouldn’t say, to the confusion of her audience. Another character, a young European girl who quickly befriends Hanna, says possibly even weirder things in her matter-of-fact voice that I found pretty hilarious. The adult cast’s dialogue is also quirky but not to the same extent.

The camera work is awesome, the characters are colorful and interesting, the dialogue is a joy, and it’s all just so darn fun. It does help that many comparisons could be drawn to The Bourne Identity without danger of being another Unknown. As far as female empowerment goes, I think this movie succeeds quite well. It’s not exactly what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t a disappointment at all.

06 April 2011

Source Code


Duncan Jones last/first movie was called Moon, and it was a pretty fantastic, simple sort of homage to Space Odyssey: 2001. It was a small movie so it didn’t get all that recognition or anything but it was very well made on a small budget. Now, Jones has been given the money to make something a bit more financially viable, and he’s made another kind-of-homage, this time to Groundhog Day and maybe a bit of 12 Monkeys. While it is a bigger movie and thus loses a bit of the personal nature of Moon, it retains most of the spirit and quality of its predecessor while hitting all the points necessary to please the big crowds.

Captain Colter Stevens wakes up to a strange, unfamiliar scene in a train, with a woman he’s never met, who acts like they’re good friends. This is very confusing to him. After a few minutes of questions and running around a bit, the train blows up and he dies, only to wake up again in a small dark room strapped to a chair, with a strange woman giving him orders he doesn’t understand over a monitor. He’s told that he’s been assigned to a recon mission of sorts, reliving a dead man’s final eight minutes in order to find the bomber. After a few repeats of the scenario he eventually gives into his task while getting to know the specters of the passengers a little better, and growing increasingly attached to the beautiful woman in the opposite seat.

The sci-fi elements of the story are a bit far-flung, but they strangely appealed to me. Coupled with a pretty emotional performance from Jake Gyllenhaal and the themes of death and newfound attraction, the movie had a pretty profound emotional affect on me and may have warped my analytical eye a little; however, I really think it’s a well made movie and deserves the attention it’s getting. The cinematography is wonderful for one. The opening credit sequence of helicopter shots was absolutely beautiful, and all of the other scenes had a warm, colorful quality to them that endeared it to me all the more. Even with the colorful nature it still managed to bring in hints of Terry Gilliam in the “pod” scenes, appropriate considering the elements borrowed from 12 Monkeys. Again, the most obvious film comparison would be Groundhog Day, another one of my favorite movies; the biggest difference here is that the reason for the conceit is plainly laid out, whereas in Groundhog Day is was left to speculation, to the film’s benefit. In this instance though I think it’s handled well enough for at least sci-fi lovers to accept.

It’s a pretty great movie I think. The acting is very good, the story is full of heart and excitement, and if you can accept the minor flaws that other people are finding in it, then I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did.