BURIED: The Film Babble Blog Review

BURIED (Dir. Rodrigo Cortés, 2010)

After cool retro Saul Bass-style opening titles a pitch black screen greets us. We hear heavy breathing and thudding. Finally Ryan Reynolds lights a zippo lighter and we’re right there with him – trapped in a wooden coffin buried underground.

Reynolds panics, sweats profusely, claws at the wall, etc. A cell phone at his feet rings. He retrieves it with some difficulty to find that its an Arabic language model. Reynolds calls every number he can think of mostly getting answering machines before getting somebody on the phone from the Hostage Working Group in Iraq voiced by Robert Patterson.

That’s right – Reynolds is a non-military working stiff truck driver buried alive in a war-torn Iraq in 2006.

Reynolds is told on the cellphone by a man (José Luis García Pérez) who denies being a terrorist that he has until 9:00 PM (just a few hours) to get his embassy to pay $5 million dollars for his release.

There are some abstract shots through the darkness surrounding our protagonist but the bulk of the entire film takes place inside the coffin.

We never see any other face but Reynolds but there are few recognizable voices on the other end of the phone besides Patterson including Samantha Mathis and Stephen Tobolowsky.

It would be tempting to joke that Reynolds couldn’t act his way out of a sealed coffin because years ago I would’ve loved seeing Van Wilder get buried alive, but his performance is truly excellent here.

It’s a convincing and emotional tour de force that kept me riveted from start to finish. It’s also admirable that he chose this project as a welcome change of pace from rom coms like THE PROPOSAL and action tripe like WOLVERINE that has been dominating his career.

As chilling a scenario as could be imagined, BURIED is a grueling unpleasant experience in a lot of respects but its such a vital and gripping minimalist nightmare of a movie that it really shouldn’t be ignored. It’s the right time of the year for a fright and here director Cortés’s Hitchcockian thrust really delivers.

“Buried” is now playing at the Colony Theater in North Raleigh. Consult the theater’s website for show-times.

More later…

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds’ career began in 1990 when he starred as Billy in the Canadian-produced teen soap Hillside, distributed in the United States by Nickelodeon as Fifteen. As an adult, Ryan Reynolds starred in the National Lampoon movie Van Wilder and the American television series Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place, playing medical student Michael “Berg” Bergen. Ryan Reynolds also cameoed in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle as a nurse, appeared in The In-Laws with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, as well as the Canadian production Foolproof.

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: The Film Babble Blog Review

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (Dir. Gavin Hood, 2009)

Warning: This review may contain Spoilers!

The title would best befit a comic book; I know that’s the point but it’s clumsy as a movie title even for a big blustery comic book movie like this. 

No one will use the full title though, I’m sure as Hell not planning on on using it again from this point onward. The film itself gets off to a clumsy start with a cold opening set in 1800’s Canada with our wolfish hero as a kid (Troye Sivan) witnessing his father’s murder, or who he thought was his father – you see, it’s complicated. The kid has the infamous bone claws which can protrude from his knuckles at will and he’s working on the screaming: “no!!!” at the sky in a ascending camera crane shot, something he’ll be an ace at a lot later in life. 

Lil’ wolf boy and his likewise indestructible brother (Michael-James Olsen) run off into the night and into seemingly every war in history as they grow into Hugh Jackman and the fierce growling Leiv Scheiber. This montage credits sequence recalls the jaunty sweep through time opening that WATCHMEN employed but here it comes off as more then a little forced.

After surviving a military style execution, the brothers, one good and one bad (guess which is which) are recruited by Danny Huston as a conniving Colonel who is putting together an elite team of mutant folk for a mysterious mission.

The supernaturally skilled group (including Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, Kevin Durand, and John Wraith) is immediately too much of a kill crazy crew for Jackman and he quits to live a normal life as a lumberjack in his home country. After 6 years of peace with a school teacher girlfriend (Lynn Collins) in an idyllic cabin in the mountains, Huston again appears to warn our constantly scowling protagonist that his former team mates are being hunted down and murdered one by one. 

We know, of course, that it’s Sabretooth Scheiber and that a huge confrontation fight set piece is coming with him. It’s one high octane fuelled fight action scene after another and, yeah, that’s what I expected with all the players in place and the pulse pumping perfectly but inspiration was sorely lacking. 

There was not a single shot that surprised or excited me. The tried and true frantically running, or at one point walking casually, away from a gigantic explosion shot has been done so many times that it’s beyond redundant here (you’d think that the countless Simpsons satires of said effect would’ve killed off this cliché). The plot is pretty standard stuff too with themes like revenge and betrayal banally balancing everybody’s motivation. 

Still, the tone of the previous X-MEN movies is replicated convincingly and I’m sure many will find plenty of worth between the lines. Jackman undoubtedly owns the role with a presence that grows in every scene while the dynamic between him and Scheiber has a effective edge albeit being far from fleshed out. 

Because of the foul stench of early bad reviews I went in with low expectations and that definitely helped. It’s not a badly made or boring movie by any means, just a mediocre super hero movie throwaway that I believe only fanboys will remember with much affection in the near future. 

Post note: Incidentely Scheiber and Huston have both played Orson Welles in previous projects. They’re both listed on a post I did a year ago about Welles wannabes (May 5th, 2008).

More later…