Friday, July 24, 2009

Double Team'd: The Rockwell Films

More and more frequently it seems we find actors in multiple movies releasing within mere weeks of one another. By far the prize for the most contrast between said films goes to Sam Rockwell who plays a lonely astronaut in an enthralling indie and a Special Forces guinea pig in an eye-straining 3D kid's film. What better time for Sam Rockwell to get Double Team'd?


Release: 06.12.09
Rated R
1 hour, 37 minutes

Full Price

Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell, Heist) lives on the moon under a three year contract to harvest fuel for Earth. With only a couple of weeks left on his contract, Sam talks excitedly of his return trip with the lunar station's artificially-intelligent computer GERTY (Kevin Spacey, American Beauty). However, Sam is growing more easily distracted which leads to an accident. After he awakens an irritated and impatient Sam sneaks out of the station against GERTY's instructions only to find a wounded Sam Bell!

Watching Moon, it's important to remember it's NOT a location shoot. The seemingly natural quality of the film makes it easy to imagine director Duncan Jones, Rockwell, and crew hopping a shuttle flight to get it in the can. Though in color, the monochromatic hues of the station and the lunar landscape are reminiscent of the original Twilight Zone episodes. As with those episodes, it wasn't the scenery that bedazzled audiences, it was the resolution of the main character's dilemma.

This is equally true in Moon as we watch a meditative, introspective Sam Bell butt heads with an angry, demanding Sam Bell. The two emotionally disparate Bells are portrayed excellently by Rockwell. Thanks to the accident and sickness, physical differences between the Bells are apparent and distinguished further by Rockwell's mannerisms. Arguing with yourself takes on a whole new meaning in Moon and Jones couldn't have been more fortunate to have Rockwell doing the shouting.

Dirty Undies
When words aren't enough the Bells resort to fists, leaving one Bell in bruised and bloody shape. Combined with the sickness and the accident's remnants, it can be hard to look at one Bell. With three years of pent-up affection, Bell also finds himself having naughty dreams of he and his wife. Unfortunately like all great dreams, they end before it really gets steamy.

The Money Shot
Moon appears quiet and reserved, but is erupting with emotion. The power of hope can inspire great change or the ability to overcome the worst, even overwhelming solitude. The only person truly capable of undermining that hope is ourselves.


Release: 07.24.09
Rated PG
1 hour, 29 minutes

A Netflix Night

Though not officially an agent of the FBI, Darwin (Sam Rockwell, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) has been specially trained in espionage by Ben (Zach Galifianakis, TV: Tru Calling). Darwin and his team infiltrate the home of Saber (Bill Nighy, Flushed Away) to locate intel on Project Clusterstorm in hopes of impressing FBI Agent Kip Killian (Will Arnett, Horton Hears a Who!). You'd think Killian would be impressed with the fact that they're a group of talking, combat-trained guinea pigs, but he instead chooses to shut the group down. Darwin, Juarez (Penélope Cruz, Sahara), and Blaster (Tracy Morgan, TV: 30 Rock) escape capture and race against the clock to prevent Saber from implementing his diabolical plan.

Having seen only My Bloody Valentine in Real 3D, I was curious to see if G-Force would squash my disdain for the lackluster technology. Sadly, it still sucks just as bad in kids' movies. I listened to kids oooh and ahhh as the Real 3D and Disney Digital 3D logos seemingly hovered before our eyes (granted, it was very cool). Once G-Force began, however, the coos of approval quickly died. Until they can produce 3D images that remain clear while in motion, studios need to stop shoving this crap down our throats.

Kudos to the voice casting. Each character has a distinct voice making the personality differences among the rodents easy to follow. The award for best work goes to nasally Speckles the mole, voiced by Nicholas Cage (Ghost Rider), although Steve Buscemi's (Monster's Inc.) Bucky overshadows all others thanks to his hyperactive, laugh-inducing shtick.

Project Clusterstorm turns ordinary household appliances into robot killing machines, which would have been interesting if I hadn't already been annoyed by this premise in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The reheated storyline isn't as much of a problem as the poor buildup and execution of the climax. Maybe story structure shouldn't matter in a kid flick, but with six writers penning G-Force, you'd expect at least coherent, passable storytelling. When they do try to wedge in a moral of positivity between the farting and destruction, it is obviously forced.

Dirty Undies
It's a Bruckheimer production so enter expecting lots of destruction and plenty of explosions...then add ten percent to your expectation. I love mind-numbing action as much as the next guy or action flick chick, but the mish-mash of 3D effects, CGI guinea pigs, and blurry action might have destroyed a few of my brain cells.

The Money Shot
G-Force disappoints even without the added help of the atrocious and unnecessary 3D. A strong first act full of mild humor and exciting action degrades into lame jokes and destruction. G-Force promises the threat of a Clusterstorm, and what it delivers is definitely cluster@%$ed.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I HEART Sam Rockwell, always have, and adding Bowie's son to the mix is sooo lovely. I can't wait to see. I like your review, tho I could never heart anyone one enough to see the hamster movie, or whatever they are...

  2. btw, "Aliens Vs Monsters" and "Up" were good 3D, and probably better movies too.

  3. Just hearing Rockwell definitely isn't enough to warrant watching G-Force.

    I've been wondering if an animated film would look better. I think Up's nearly disappeared here. If it's still lingering maybe I can check it out.

  4. Glad you really liked Moon - I did as well, and was able to really enjoy Rockwell for the first time awhile. I don't know if it was overexposure or what, but his appeal had kind of worn off for me. This performance was schtick-free and strong, which is all the more impressive considering he's the only one on screen 99% of the time.

    I'm excited for more people to see this. It ought to end up a cult classic at the worst.

  5. Being the only person onscreen, he had to nail it and I'm so glad he did. I'm behind in my Rockwell watching- still haven't seen Choke, Snow Angels or Frost/Nixon. Guess that's what happens when I waste my time on Nic Cage movies.

    With 10 best Picture slots this year and the "quality" of films thus far, maybe Moon will eek onto the list. How cool would that be? It deserves some recognition for script at a minimum.