Ry Russo-Young’s intriguing You Won’t Miss Me, starring Stella Schnabel, re-opens in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent this week, on Tuesday, March 1. Click here for tickets and more information, here for my earlier review.
In another casting coup for IndieWire, Anne Thompson announces that independent film producer Ted Hope is being added to the blogger rolls over there, importing what one presumes is some version of his Truly Free Film website to a blog entitled Hope for Film. Hope is one of the brighter and more imaginative producers out there today, so good on him; it’s a win for the folks at IndieWIRE.
In an age of Twitter-shortened attention spans, George Clooney is helping shine a humanitarian spotlight on Sudan in an unusual way, according to Newsweek — with a privately funded, publicly accessible satellite. Money quote: “I’m not tied to the United Nations or the U.S. government, and so I don’t have the same constraints. I’m a guy with a camera from 480 miles up,” Clooney says. “I’m the anti-genocide paparazzi.” Good stuff. And you have to admit, too, no one rocks the grey quite like him.
Enviro-friendly and energy-overhaul advocacy documentaries are almost numerous enough to comprise their own labeled video store sub-genre these days, and Carbon Nation, opening at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Los Angeles this week, slots comfortably and unfusssily into this grouping. While thought-provoking on a macro level in some of its interviews, sloppy construction and focus makes for a sludgy viewing experience.
Directed by Peter Byck, the film bills itself as an optimistic, solutions-based, non-partisan nonfiction film, which is true but only half the story. In its aim to be so inclusive and positive-minded, the movie doesn’t put moneyed interests of the status quo in its cross-hairs, or much acknowledge the push-back against climate change/energy advancement legislation or innovation. As such, it comes across as kind of toothless, and existing in a vacuum.
It’s also terribly unfocused. In its own roundabout way, by cheerfully playing up American business ingenuity, Carbon
Nation makes a tripartite case for bold energy innovation, without clamorously depressing the usual keys of moral suasion — it’s good business and will make lots of money; it emboldens national and
energy security; and it improves individual and community health as well as the environment, the movie tells us. The problem is that, as the movie pinballs from solar energy advances to algae studies to stories of electric cars, with little in the way of connective tissue, it fails to use these assertions as a touchstone, and tie them to each topic or field of research.
An eclectic slate of interviewees includes Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, green jobs innovator Van Jones, Earth Day founder Denis Hayes and Bernie Karl, a geothermal
pioneer from Alaska. Most interesting might be Cliff Etheredge, a one-armed West Texas
cotton farmer and entrepreneur pioneering the use of small
landowner wind collectives. But the manner in which Byck sometimes introduces/tags these sources onscreen (former CIA director James Woolsey is revealed to be… a South Park fan?), comes across as curious, an overreaching stab at levity when one isn’t warranted.
Sometimes its facts and estimations are arresting (one billion gallons of fuel per year could be saved, for instance, merely if long-haul truckers were able to achieve utility-level power storage, and turn off their idling trucks while sleeping), but overall Carbon Nation doesn’t pivot its way past being anything more than a scrapbook collection of human-interest stories one might see as the last segment on the network evening news. It’s temperate, rah-rah cheerleading, when the world outside of its carefully manicured parameters feels like it’s calling out for something a bit more. For more information, visit the movie’s website. (Clayway Media, unrated, 82 minutes)
An adaptation of the first of a proposed six-book series about an extraterrestrial prodigy hiding out on Earth from would-be rival alien killers, I Am Number Four is a technically polished but rather unexceptional thriller that never much sets its sights beyond satisfying the lowest-common-denominator expectations of its target teen demographic. Broken down to its component parts, it’s difficult to not look a bit cynically upon the film, since it feels a bit like an emo-action valentine mash-up of carefully cross-tabbed teen movie trends. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Disney/DreamWorks, PG-13, 109 minutes)
Smart exterior packaging from the PR company for the forthcoming Blu-ray release of The Walking Dead, which arrived today in a bubble-wrapped mailer large enough to accommodate one-and-a-half smeared, bloody footprints on its exterior, and thus induce a momentary double-take… especially since driveway curbs at my apartment complex have just been repainted, in the same dark red hue. Well played, ladies and gentlemen. But was it the shoe-sole equivalent of an auto-pen, or did some intern get to have fun?
The third film in Martin Lawrence’s comedy series about a FBI agent who finds himself forced undercover as a tubby matriarch, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a wearyingly unamusing affair. Devoid of ideas not reflected in its title, or even much in the way of sustained comedic effort, the movie is a meandering misfire that strangely somewhat skimps on laughs built around its guys-in-drag conceit in favor of wildly misguided stabs at adolescent love and familial bonding. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (20th Century Fox, PG-13, 107 minutes)
There wasn’t really a place to get into this in any sort of legit review of Just Go With It, but one of the more interesting things about the movie — apart from Nicole Kidman‘s hula dancing, and Dave Matthews ostensibly picking up a coconut with his butt cheeks through his pants — lies in its use of music.
Excepting the occasional diversions and quasi-artistic noodling to be found in the likes of Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish and Reign Over Me, the comedies of Adam Sandler have provided some of the most reliable and consistent studio commercial returns of the past decade — and mostly for Sony, where Sandler’s production company is housed. But both because they’re comedies — ringing up ticket sales instead of racking up little gold statuettes — and because Sandler still pads around in T-shirts and cargo shorts and doesn’t yet have a kid old enough to pimp out in his or her own projects, his clout goes under-reported. He wields it softly, in other words.
The fact is, though, a small fortune has to be spent on the soundtracks for Sandler’s comedies — music is used in goosing fashion throughout his movies, and frequently to quickly summon up a nostalgic feeling when the terrible direction of Dennis Dugan has made for some awkward juxtaposition of scenes. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony were doling out a healthy seven figures on music clearances alone for of his films, even though there’s typically no obvious soundtrack tie-in as with something like The Wedding Singer. In Just Go With It, there are no fewer than three dozen pop music cues, including a couple Police songs and a lot of newfangled mash-ups, the most intriguing of which might be the commingling of “Every Breath You Take” and Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” an Internet sensation from a couple years back. That’s not the only way to measure Hollywood power — getting whatever tunes, in variety and amount, one wants. But it is a handy indicator.
Vidal Sassoon: The Movie is a quite fawning but nonetheless solidly engaging look at the iconic, same-named stylist, which benefits chiefly from its 83-year-old subject’s articulate and extremely personable nature. The movie doesn’t fully crack the nut of Sassoon’s ambition or connect it to his fractured youth, but eventually makes a fairly convincing argument that his eschewing of convention and groundbreaking “five-point” cut, associated with the mod revolution of the 1960s, helped revolutionize hair care, freeing women from both the cost and commitment of weekly appointments. For the full review, from Screen International, click here. (Phase 4, unrated, 93 minutes)
Hey, serial spammers possessing of a dubious grasp of the English language — do you see any of your solicitations and/or weird, tangential, template flattery? No, no you don’t. Your hyperlink-saturated comments aren’t getting posted. So go bomb someone else, please. Or, by all means, continue to do your worst in idiotic fashion, and for no gain. But this is a battle you will lose, because I can control the board.
After the creative and commercial highs of films like New Jack City, Jungle Fever, White Men Can’t Jump, The Waterdance and even the original Blade, it didn’t seem like the most plausible career path for Wesley Snipes — a string of anonymous, C-grade, mostly internationally-lensed action flicks, followed by incarceration for tax evasion. That’s how it shook out, however. And it’s those long-lingering legal/financial woes, which for years prior to his 2010 sentencing hung over Snipes’ head like a comic strip’s black rain cloud, that most likely explain the existence of something like Game of Death, another yawning, paycheck-inspired action programmer in which, you know, a CIA hit man is caught up between shady underworld-types and those at his agency that would double-cross him.
Snipes stars as Marcus Jones, a special agent tasked with cozying up next to a mobster named Smith (Robert Davi). A pair of rogue agents, Zander (Gary Daniels) and Floria (Zoë Bell, of Kill Bill stunt double
and later Grindhouse fame), try to frame Jones and kill him to boot, and escape and other on-the-fly, name-clearing shenanigans then ensue.
Director Giorgio Serafini does the material no great favors of elevation by ladling on stylistic excess and gimmickry in orgiastic fashion. A straighter, simpler, grittier visual scheme and emotional template would have worked far better here. Snipes, too, seems (perhaps understandably) depressed and bored — just going through the motions. There’s no real pop or excitement here, either in execution or narrative adventurousness. Additionally, just in passing, the DVD front and back cover art does Bell no favors, featuring some terrible airbrushing that makes her look like Jeremy Renner. Yikes!
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Game of Death comes to DVD presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with an English language Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. Special features consist of a half dozen very short behind-the-scenes featurettes that explore the movie’s Detroit location shoot and other various aspects of the production, interspersing film clips with rah-rah, back-slapping interview footage. A small collection of trailers for other Sony DVD releases rounds out the material. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. D (Movie) C+ (Disc)
Writer-director David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival, is an involving, rangy and sneakily ambitious crime drama that pulses with a low electrical hum of menace. Unfolding against an unfussy, decidedly non-glamorous criminal backdrop of modern-day Melbourne, the movie has intriguing characters and a broad canvas, like it could easily be spun off into a miniseries or TV serial.
When his junkie mom dies of an overdose, introverted 17-year-old Joshua (James Frecheville) gets taken in by his doting grandmother (Jacki Weaver), which would seem to be a good thing. Problem is, she’s den mother to a cabal of ne’er-do-wells, whose armed bank robberies have made them marked men by cops, some of whom play by the rules and some of whom have no qualms with vigilante justice. As one officer (Guy Pearce) tries to flip Joshua and make him a source, a series of shocking twists and turns ensue.
Frecheville believably exudes naivety, and is a great anchor for Animal Kingdom, but Michôd smartly trades in organic rather than artificial thrills, making a movie about the legacy of violence that doesn’t often indulge in it. The result is something that works its hooks into an audience slowly, and feels like it could be compellingly adapted into a recurring small screen serial, actually. For Los Angelenos, one thing certainly awaits — a double-feature playdate at the New Beverly with fellow Aussie crime drama The Square. Other audiences will have to settle for discovering this little gem on the small screen.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Animal Kingdom comes to DVD presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, via a transfer absent any significant grain, edge enhancement or major flaws. Audio consists of English, Spanish and Portuguese language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound tracks, with complementary subtitles. Bonus features are anchored by a nice feature-length audio commentary track with Michôd, as well as a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a soundtrack promotional spot and a half-hour-plus Q&A with the filmmaker and two of his stars, Frecheville and Weaver. Allegedly exclusive to the Blu-ray, for what it’s worth, is a separate hour-long featurette on the making of the movie. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. A- (Movie) B- (Disc)
Look, you just don’t know. If you run in film nerd circles or play a lot of Trivial Pursuit, it may at some point come up — the question of in which movie Jodie Foster is gifted with two penguins, one of which is subsequently beaten to death. Well, the answer is Five Corners. And I’m sure it’s a film to which John Hinckley could relate.
An unusual little 1987 flick starring Foster, John Turturro, and Tim Robbins, Five Corners is a period piece drama whose intensity of feeling and somewhat haughty sense of social-statement importance far exceed the grasp of its execution. It’s set in the Bronx in the early 1960s, and centers on Heinz Sabatino (Turturro), a scummy and not-quite-right-in-the-head kid newly released from prison, who returns to his old neighborhood with his stalking obsession for Linda Komkowski (Foster), the woman he attacked, unabated. There’s hatred, too, for Harry Fitzgerald (Robbins), a one-time friend who tried to protect Linda by crowning Heinz with a beer bottle, but Harry won’t re-engage with Heinz in antagonistic fashion, as he’s now a pacifist looking to hook on with the Freedom Riders and head south. Also thrown into the mix is Jamie (Todd Graff), Linda’s doofus ex-boyfriend, and a pair of cops who get sucked into things when Heinz starts acting out in aggressive fashion, and imperils Linda.
On the outside looking in, Five Corners‘ pedigree is impressive; there’s the cast, of course, and the script is by John Patrick Shanley, and the director is Tony Bill. Still, set against this chaotic backdrop of political and societal upheaval, the film goes to the well of metaphorical relevance a bit too often and heartily, and never really coalesces into anything more than a kind of passably engaging ping-pong drama — meaning something that holds one’s attention in stumble-bum fashion rather than with any precision. A massive and time-consuming subplot in which a couple of yahoos who seem to have wandered off the set of Happy Days hook up with a pair of drugged-out party girls and ride elevators goes nowhere. Well… actually, it “pays off,” if you will, in a late revelation that ties into a recent neighborhood murder involving a bow-and-arrow (yes, seriously), but these attempts at writerly parallelism come across as overly didactic, and never particularly realistic or thought-provoking.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Five Corners comes to DVD presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a Dolby digital 2.0 stereo track and optional English subtitles. There are unfortunately no supplemental bonus features here, which is really a shame, as the title’s star power merits if not a retrospective with some of the players’ thoughts on the movie (Foster has to have thought about the parallels to Hinckley when shooting the film) then certainly some sort of talking-head inclusion about it, which is easy and cheap enough to produce (I say this having taken part in a couple such interviews myself) should the right production company or distributor get hold of the rights. As is, this is a yawning curio, but only for completists… well, obsessed with the cast. Let’s hope Hinckley’s prison library doesn’t get a copy. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) C- (Disc)
The framework for a potentially whipsmart, spitfire modern comedy of the sexes gets utterly wasted in Just Go With It, a bloated, mind-numbingly unfunny affair that reeks of improvisation run amok. The possible intriguing chemistry of stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston is willfully undercut, and when, midway through, a plot twist takes the story to Hawaii, the entire film morphs into nothing more than one big corporate-funded travelogue spot for its travel, hotel and luxury sponsors. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Sony, PG-13, 117 minutes)
I’ve mocked Hilary Duff and her sister before, for appearing in movies with 19 credited producers, but really, there are plenty of times (in fact, most of the time, I’d say) when she is not the biggest problem in whatever piece of entertainment she is appearing. Beauty & The Briefcase, which debuted on the ABC Family Channel last April, is one such exhibit. Based on Daniella Brodsky’s cloying novel Diary of a Working Girl, the movie is so nakedly a stab at modern-young-chick relevance and Duff’s stab at The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic-style up-with-sisters! appeal that it induces sighs fairly early out of the gate, and never deviates much if at all from its wan lessons of faux-empowerment.
Duff stars as Lane Daniels, a young, fresh-faced, wide-eyed and ambitious journalist who dreams of writing for her favorite magazine, Cosmopolitan. When she finally gets the chance to pitch an article to Cosmo‘s hard-edged editor Kate White (Jaime Pressly), it is enthusiastically received — with the condition that Lane must live out her (dubious) pitch of switching careers to bag a guy. Kate tasks Lane with landing a corporate job, and then dating as many eligible co-workers as possible. As Lane navigates her way through her new world, she meets first Tom (Michael McMillan), then Seth (Matt Dallas), and finally Liam (Chris Carmack), a dashing music producer working outside her office. Dating him would mean breaking the rules, so, you know, what’s a girl to do — live her life, or adhere rigidly and irrationally to some cockamamie scheme?
Saddled with desultory voiceover that reinforces points and feelings already established twice onscreen, Beauty & The Briefcase is an exercise in rah-rah obviousness, nothing more than pabulum for young girls. The acting isn’t all that bad, really, but director Gil Junger’s stylistic stabs at effervescence and chirpy
buoyancy come across as insipid and contrived, and the dialogue is terrible to boot. Really, something like a repeat viewing of A Cinderella Story is probably the better option for, um, more discerning Duff fans.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Beauty & The Briefcase comes to DVD presented in 1.78 anamorphic widescreen, with a Dolby digital 5.1 audio track and optional English and Spanish subtitles. Special features include… nothing, sadly. Which is strange, because one would have thought that Duff was better with self-promotion, and tossing hungry post-tweenage fans a few interview morsels here and there. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. D+ (Movie) D+ (Disc)
So the big news today, and late yesterday too, I guess, was of course the arraignment on felony grand theft charges of Lindsay Lohan, who was charged in the alleged pinching of a $2,500 necklace from a Venice, CA store. Is that crime worth three years in jail, to which she could theoretically be sentenced? No, of course not. The judge in her previous drug case did promise six months in jail if she violated probation, however. So there will be time behind bars. One wonders if this is really yet the bottom, though, given Lohan’s seeming lack of self-seriousness about some of her problems.
Over at Huffington Post (which really needs the traffic linkage), in a nice piece, Katy Hall gets into it with Blue Valentine writer-director Derek Cianfrance about some of the ins and outs of production on his film, and how he set up some of the tripwires (including telling Ryan Gosling to make a pass at Michelle Williams) to help his actors painfully construct a failing relationship. I link to this mainly because the non-nomination of Gosling for a Best Actor Oscar statuette — since he didn’t have the benefit of Julia Roberts hosting targeted screenings for his film — is inarguably the biggest travesty of the awards season, bigger even the cresting appeal of the mannered, solemn, well-bred The King’s Speech. I hope to get into this more in the coming days; we’ll see.
Also, over at FrumForum, Telly Davidson takes a look at 127 Hours, and questions what qualifies one for “hero” status.
When I first heard about 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat appearing on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines, and later being named one of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century, it all seemed quite silly. It’s a credit to the earnest film that bears his name that one leaves feeling a horse’s intangible competitive spirit merits such a distinction. (For those ascribing import to such details, an autopsy upon his death would reveal that Secretariat’s heart weighed two-and-a-half times that of an average horse.)
Directed by Randall Wallace, Secretariat tells the story of the big, famous, prizewinning chestnut colt mostly through the eyes and experiences of Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), the owner who, after the death of her father, transitions from the role of housewife and mother to driven taskmaster. In fairly straightforward fashion, the film then charts Secretariat’s training and run through the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, culminating in his record-smashing Belmont Stakes performance.
Lots of narrative contrivance, bromides and on-the-nose speechifying (“You never know how far you can run until you go”) from screenwriter Mike Rich prevent Secretariat from ever evolving into something truly special, but the movie consistently and pleasantly holds one’s attention, if perhaps only lightly so. While the drama in particular of its last hour-plus comes off understandably as predetermined, Rich is generally successful in injecting a strong feminist streak into the movie, abetted by Lane’s convincing ability to jointly convey affection, ambition and principled stubbornness.
The film has the good sense, too, to cast John Malkovich as Lucien Laurin, a colorful French Canadian trainer who sucks at golf, unironically dresses like Superfly, and lays forth an unconventional regimen that Penny is bold enough to follow through upon. Perhaps the movie’s biggest bonus, though, comes by way of Dean Semler’s superb cinematography, which grippingly incorporates but doesn’t overuse tiny, mounted cameras, thus giving a whole new sense and perspective of the word “horsepower,” for those who’ve never heard the phrase used outside of automobile and truck commercials. Yes, fans of racing dramas like Seabiscuit and Dreamer will spark to the movie, but Secretariat also slots comfortably alongside The Blind Side and the considerable back catalogue of fellow Disney sports titles as a square-jawed, nonfiction tale of uplift that’s suitable for the entire family.
Housed in a Blu-ray case, Secretariat‘s two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack comes to home video with never-before-shared in-depth interviews with the real-life Chenery, and loads of other exclusive behind-the-scenes materials. The AVC encoded picture, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, is solidly rendered, and free of any edge enhancement or grain, while aural presentations for the Blu-ray disc include English language 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and DVS 2.0 Dolby digital tracks, plus French and Spanish language 5.1 Dolby digital tracks. Subtitles come by way of English, French and Spanish, in both SDH and regular versions.
A 15-minute featurette on the real Secretariat kickstarts the bonus slate, and providing a valuable historical/contextual underpinning for both younger audiences and those who might merely be unfamiliar with the story. Director Wallace offers up plenty of erudite observations and production team shout-outs in his feature-length audio commentary track, and also gives explanations for narrative trims in additional, optional, complementary commentary for a 10-minute collection of deleted scenes.
Best, though, is a 21-minute chat between Wallace and the real Chenery, discussing some of the movie’s key scenes, as well as what it was like to have been a woman in such a male-dominated sport. Seven-plus minutes of footage charting the careful choreographing of the movie’s races also proves interesting, insofar as it particularly illustrates the innovative blend of technology and old-fashioned production planning necessary to accurately recreate historical sporting events with such exactitude.
A so-called “multi-angle simulation” relives Secretariat’s triumphant 1973 Preakness race by viewing and recalling the race from a number of different perspectives; it’s a stab at something a bit different, but not particularly any more illuminating than what’s in the movie, or Chenery’s engaging recollections. There is also a music video for AJ Michalka’s “It’s Who You Are.” To purchase the combo pack via Amazon click here, or visit your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer of choice. For a coupon off your purchase, click here. C+ (Movie) B+ (Disc)
A poorly directed and even more inadequately imagined exercise in genre calisthenics, The Roommate wanly goes through the motions of the psychological thriller playbook, but never manages to raise an eyebrow, let alone a pulse. The movie lacks narrative imagination throughout, and Danish-born director Christian E. Christiansen, in his American debut, fails to imprint any sense of escalating doom or dark consequence onto the story. Myriad story details ring untrue, and even the film’s lighting and visual scheme are patently false. For the full original review, from Screen International, click here. (Sony/Screen Gems, PG-13, 91 minutes)
When not crafting Hollywood studio blockbusters (and sometimes even when doing so, as with The Abyss and of course Titanic), James Cameron has translated a lifelong passion for underwater exploration into any number of special documentaries and side projects, and Sanctum — executive produced by the Oscar-winning filmmaker, and deploying some of the same 3-D technology used in Avatar — is his latest filmmaking assist to the nature-discovery realm, though this time it’s the sub-speciality of spelunking upon which he throws a spotlight.
Shot on location off the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, and based on true events, the film follows a team of underwater cave divers during a treacherous expedition deep inside the largest and least accessible cave system on the planet. His work funded by adventurist multimillionaire businessman Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd, above right), master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) oversees a team that’s been exploring the Esa Ala Caves in Papua New Guinea for over a month. When both an unexpected tragedy down below and a “topside” storm and its resultant flash flood force a dramatic change in their exit plans, Frank’s team, including his 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield), are forced to navigate an underwater labyrinth and search for an
unknown escape route to the sea in an effort to make it out alive.
The movie’s script, by John Garvin and Andrew Wight, trades largely in stock types,
but director Alister Grierson nicely juggles the requirements of confined space adventure with the movie’s somewhat more pedestrian human drama. It’s not ever really convincingly
communicated why Sanctum has to necessarily be shot in 3-D (and thus
come bundled with the accompanying uptick in ticket price), but the nature of its setting is at least ably delineated, and the stakes clear, and engaging.
There’s also a sort of charm to the brutally streamlined candor of the character of Frank; as the group starts to make their way through a tight space, he assigns the rear to the least experienced of the bunch, Carl’s wife, noting bluntly that if she starts to panic and gets stuck, anyone behind her is dead. Roxburgh, for his part, is particularly solid; perhaps best known Stateside for his turn as the mustachioed villain helping to keep apart Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, he here gives a gruff but charismatic performance, and he and Wakefield evince a believably frayed father-son rapport — one of mutual respect but near perpetual exasperation.
Sanctum doesn’t prove itself radical or revelatory, either narratively or from the vantage point of technological innovation, but it does hold one’s attention, and make an audience care about the shared plight of its characters. Even if, perhaps, the lesson they take away is but this: “Damn, I’m never going that far underground.” (Universal, PG-13, 103 minutes)