Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Unknown: The Unrelated Sequel to Taken

As with Taken, Liam Neeson leaves his comfort zone yet again as an action star. This classic Irish actor assumes the role of an American with a sophisticated upper class NorthEastern accent to kick some more ass. I don’t know how this all happened, but out of nowhere, Liam Neeson became a huge action star at the ripe old age of 56. It may have started in 2005 with Batma Begins, who knows. But the world (Hollywood) decided it was time for a 50+ year old man to be the star of oh so many action films. In his latest to be released, Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, a biochemical engineer on a getaway convention in Berlin, Germany.

With The Grey to be released soon, I had to see Unknown before I could begin to handle Neeson bottle knifing wolves in the forest wilderness of Alaska. (I think that’s where it is…) By the suggestion of my mother (weird it isn’t just my own volition, huh?) I sat down with some Taco Bell and delved into something I wasn’t entirely ready for.

Aww, what a quaint father and daughter... I mean couple...

Dr. Martin Harris is a well to do scientist in Germany on business. He has decided to take his wife Elizabeth (January Jones) on this wonderful little convention at a well to do hotel in Berlin. (My mother suggested this movie to me because I speak German decently and enjoyed Germany.) Upon arrival, Martin Harris (he will frequently and forcefully refer to himself as such throughout the film) forgets his briefcase at the airport. Catching a cab back to retrieve it, Harris is involved in an unfortunate accident that takes him off a bridge (homage to Bourne Supremacy insert here) and loses his memory (continue Bourne reference).

WHO AM I? My age has restricted my memory...

Upon waking up in the hospital, Harris can’t seem to explain to the doctor just who he is or what he’s doing there. With a bit of probing, it all starts to come back to him. He is Dr. Martin Harris and he must get back to the hotel for the conference he’s been unconscious three days for. So he books it to the hotel with a stern message from the doctor and finds his wife. But his wife doesn’t recognize him. And there’s a man there, claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aidan Quinn).

In his polite and assuredly forceful rage, Liam Neeson begins a Alzheimer’s induced rampage all over Berlin. He runs into the fraud of himself multiple times and argues semantics with his past that this man can spew back at the same exact time. This is where it gets weird. You think there’s a sci-fi/fantasy twist, but hold your breath, it’s something not as strange. But it does seem like The 6th Day right? Someone in my house eating my birthday cake with my child, right? It’s uncanny. And yet, it almost seems to actually be the delusion of some old man running into another old man and rambling like old men.

A love made in... Berlin?

The movie has some good action scenes, but with the unfortunate comparison to Taken, it’s just not as good. Liam Neeson elegantly and kindly stumbles around Berlin attempting to find out just why he’s so crazy. His logical mind kicks into full gear and recruits an ex-Nazi intelligence man, Ernst Jurgen (Bruno Ganz). This guy seems like a hardass and, with the way Liam Neeson’s career is going into action films, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Ernst karate chopped a few necks of his own. Harris (Neeson, they’re interchangeable) recruits the help of a renegade Turkish woman who was driving his taxi Gina (Diane Kruger) and strangely falls in love with her. It’s all just bizarre.

Get out of here J.J., you're terrible.

This movie, like Taken, takes cues from the Bourne series amongst other things. Car chases and explosions, intense fight scenes with a lady present, it’s got it all. What is doesn’t have is an element of romantic chemistry I felt it was going for. Liam Neeson is attempting to fight for and win back a wife who is 26 years younger than him. Sure, love comes in all shapes and sizes, but you feel absolutely none of that chemistry on screen. He remembers sleeping with her. A bit creepy. Imagining Qui Gon Jinn hooking up with Padme Amidala is a bit more realistic. When this movie started, I thought it was Taken 2, and Neeson was accompanying his daughter January Jones (funny, she’s born Jan. 5th…) to Berlin for a proper European vacation. I was sorely mistaken. And disappointed.

It’s unfortunate I have to compare this to Taken. Based on the novel Out of My Head by Dider Van Cauwelaert, I found the premise and plot to be quite well paced and interesting. The casting is just too piss poor. With this new stigma of placing Liam Neeson in the wrong roles, there is a translation error. An unfortunate one that must be corrected. We should’ve stopped at Taken. A paltry 5.1 out of 10.

Oh, and January Jones is a terrible actress. Frank Langella was good though for his small part.

Time to get you chop on. Maybe in The Grey...

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50/50: Was Better Than 50/50

To keep things simple, this movie surpised me as a darker true drama comedy. I wasn’t sure about 50/50 going in, and I was surprised that I liked it more than 50/50 percent. I hadn’t seen any trailers, but knew I was going to see it based on my mom’s need to see it. That’s solely because Josephy Gordon-Levitt was meant to be play by fellow boss actor, James McAvoy. But, all the same, it was a moving film about cancer that I’d never really seen before. It was edgy with just the right amount of humor (AKA Hall scene, when you see it, you’ll know.) and just enough human connection. Although I thought it was going to be a comedy, I was pleasantly surprised to the contrary.

This is a true story (about one of Seth Rogen’s friends, I think) who was diagnosed with cancer in his late twenties. With seemingly nothing wrong in his life, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a radio producer in his prime with a

Gordon-Levitt coming to terms with cancer.

loving girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). His best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) is a bit of a dick, but he really sticks by Adam. Include a neurotic, worrying mother (Anjelica Huston) and you’ve got the heartbreakingly bittersweet journey of one man’s back cancer.

There were lots of things I loved about this movie. First off, Adam and Rachael’s relationship. Adam, for lack of a better word, is spineless (and that’s a pun). He doesn’t assert himself anywhere in life, and you feel that would set up for his last run at life full force with his knowledge of cancer. But that’s not what happens at all. At least, not until the threat of

This scene was amazing because it was real.

death towards the very end. I have to say, the entire ending is one gigantic emotional scene. I’m pretty sure everyone shed at least one tear in that theater. Anyways, Rachael is an artist, and she has all of these “expos” and “galleries” all the time that gives her not much time for Adam, although she promises to stay by his side and help him through his disease. Fat lot of good that does.

Adam’s relationship with his parents is something I would have liked to see a lot more of. Adam’s father has Alzheimers and hasn’t remembered his son for quite some time. His mother has both her father and her estranged son to dole on, but never is really give the chance to help and care for them. Adam’s friendship with Kyle (AKA, Seth Rogen in every movie) is something that isn’t worthwhile until the end of the film. In a Knocked Up/40 Year Old Virgin mash-up, Seth Rogen drinks and smokes as he does in every movie and tries to get laid. He’s skinnier now, but it’s still sad. If this is how he truly acted around his real friend with cancer, I will now shudder with the thought.

Anna Kendrick. Yes.

Add also into the mix, Anna Kendrick. Current Twilight understudy, like many of the other Twilighters, she has broken away from the stereotypical marble mold and been given a chance for bigger and better works. I would say this is one of them. Playing an awkwardly naive therapist, Katherine attempts to help Adam come to terms with the idea of dying, although his chances are 50/50.

There are some eye opening scenes and experiences in this movie that I never really knew about. Chemotherapy and its aftermath looks horrendous and tragic. The diminishment of life that is experienced while just going through treatment is completely harrowing. The toll that cancer can play on not just the life of the person, but the life of everyone the person knows, is beyond comprehension. All of this issues come to a beautiful story about Adam that I would love to give credit to director Johnathan Levine and writer Will Reiser. With a great cast (besides Seth Rogen for the most part, but, if Seth Rogen is playing Seth Rogen, then it’s all good) and a fantastic delivery, this movie is worth a watch or two for a good life perspective switch. 9.3 out of 10.

Just overall fantastic.

 


Rise of the Planet of the Apes

So the second I saw that this movie was coming out, I became instantly pumped to see it. I thought the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg (and Tim Roth mind you) was fantastic, although it didn’t receive the best of reviews. I thought, “Hey, if they’re willing to take a chance on another one, going back to tell the origins of the rise of the apes, then I gotta see this.” And see this I did. And I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t the fuel-injected adrenaline ride you expect from the trailers, it delivers a more insightful, sensitive side to Caesar and his rise to intelligence.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes all starts with a cure for Alzheimer’s. With the AZ-112 cure, Will Rodman

Oh hey Andy Serkis, didn't realize you were Caesar.

(James Franco) has found, through ape testing, that it does in fact, reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. With this amazing breakthrough, all those affected across the world could be cured of this fatal disease. But in a horrible accident, it appears as if the cure is not yet ready for human testing. But, as its discovered, it is sort of ready for human testing (hard to explain). But one of the apes who was tested with the AZ-112 is in fact, hyper-intelligent. Accelerating through intelligence at an incredible rate, Caesar as he is come to be known lives with Will and learns like an overly strong young boy.

Caesar and the cause of destruction, AZ-113.

Over the years, Caesar comes to resent his entrapment indoors and wishes for a more stimulating environment. But when he acts out, he is punished and taken to a wildlife “reserve” for apes. Horribly mistreated, Caesar uses his intelligence to begin the fall of mankind. I shouldn’t divulge anymore, but its well worth the watch. One thing I gotta say is that the 3-D animated apes in this film are phenomenal. The use of intelligent sign language, the movements and natural positions and actions of the apes implies that the makers of this movie really put in the effort to study apes. This build-up and framework of the apes and their rise to dominance really creates a background for an incredible plot.

And no, this movie isn’t completely unbelievable. At first, the apes’ goal are to find their own home and live there peacefully without abuse. Using their new found intelligence, they do so. But there are adverse effects to the AZ-113 (new Alzheimer’s drug) this time. And this creates a problem that causes the destruction of the humans of this world. So no, to all you out there that may say, we’d destroy those damn, dirty apes. We destroyed ourself.

With a few notable actors, this movie really brings together a good cast to tell a good story. With James Franco as the research scientist in search of a cure for

A touching, powerful film.

his father (John Lithgow), I feel the pain that losing a father could cause in this situation. It pains Franco to see his father in such a situation where he is no longer himself. And so does Caesar. Freida Pinto gives a good supporting performance for James Franco as his fellow ape lover and wife, Caroline Arahna. Tom Felton, as I’m sure most H.P. fans would agree, comes out of left field in this movie as a jerky daddy’s boy who just doesn’t like those not like himself (AKA Apes). I did enjoy his character and am happy to see he’s getting work after the H.P.’s are over. And David Oyelwo gives a good performance as the greedy exec, Steven Jacobs (Sounds like Steven Jobs… JK.)

So, all in all, this film delivered. Even Andy Serkis got in on the action as the voice of Caesar. It’s no wonder that Weta Workshops was the creation force behind the apes. With the fluidity of the story and the focus on the apes, this movie itself even became taken over by the apes. I also found it very interesting that I could identify certain apes in this film with their counterparts in the Planet of the Apes (aka, Tim Roth as Caesar, Korba as Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s ape Krull, and Buck the gorilla as Michael Clarke Duncan in the film as well.) With this connection and the set up for two more films from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, this could be a promising trilogy. 9.2 out of 10.