REVIEW: “GREENLAND” (2020) STX Films

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Gerard Butler is back in action mode in “GREENLAND” and me going in with a certain amount of skepticism on this one isn’t going to shock anyone. Surprisingly enough, considering the last years of his career haven’t given us the best of films, here Butler gives us some of his best action acting in years as “Greenland” is quite an entertaining motion picture for the most part.

The movie begins with John Garrity (Gerard Butler) a Scottish-born structural engineer visiting his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). John and Allison are separated but working towards a reconciliation. Nathan is fascinated by the stars and the comet nicknamed ‘Clark’ that is shooting ‘small particles’ towards earth and the story being told across the news is there will be no major disaster effect from the comet. While getting ready for a festive neighborhood gathering the Garrity’s have a room full of friends over, when a presidential alert appears on their TV and phone telling them to pack some bags and drive to a close by airfield. This is when the film kicks it up a major notch in the tension as things start to go awry immediately with not only the neighbors, but the whole question of why they were picked. Even the drive to the airfield is building up to something we aren’t sure of but as they are ushered in and just before they are about to board the plane the separation plot kicks in and admittedly it’s not as silly as one might think as it’s actually told very logically why.

Now this might sound like your typical disaster movie but trust me it’s not quite. “Greenland” is smart in how it handles it’s characters and the plot is not always straight forward. The movie tries less to create tension with the looming disaster but rather does so through the human element and the different characters the family members meet on their way. From the seemingly ‘helpful’ couple Ralph (David Denman) and Judy (Hope Davis), to Colin (Andrew Bachelor) they both encounter a number of harrowing experiences in order to hopefully meet up again at Grandpa Dale’s (Scott Glenn) house. The whole separation journey to find each other again is wrought with a great edge of your seat tension as we get to experience what each of the family members do and would do in order to be together again. As well, even when they’re separated, the Garrity’s stay the focus of the movie even as they meet both the good and the bad in the people they meet along the way.

Unfortunately the second half of the film seems as it was unprepared for what it was supposed to become after the excitement of the first half. The tension level drops to low digits and it just never picks back up again. CGI takes over and it loses it’s edge it created for us in the first hour. Acting wise again, Butler gives us a his best effort in a long time, and Baccarin is good. The supporting characters they all met on the journey were all very well done, my only iffy is with child actor Floyd who just doesn’t seem to change the dramatic expression on his face for a good half of the film which at points of seriousness, gave to moments of giggles.

Though it’s definitely a worthwhile entertaining watch, ‘Greenland’ is a raw, tension-filmed disaster film that showcases both the noble and dark sides of human nature, when disaster strikes and ultimately doesn’t come together with it’s two halves, into a completely satisfying package.

Grade: C+

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Review screening: Courtesy oSTX FILMS

“GREENLAND” IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THEATERS WHERE AVAILABLE AND ON VOD

Review: “PROJECT ALMANAC” (2015) ~ Paramount Pictures

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Project almanac

Oh Project Almanac… I was so hoping for a fun and entertaining teen time-travel thriller. What I got was a film that seemed like it was being filmed by a 12yr old with a hand-held camera. Along with a massive headache within minutes, that camera thing got tiresome… fast. And it’s too bad because I really think this film had potential and if you can handle all that movement, which I’ve never liked and you miss a lot of what’s actually taking place because you’re rolling with someone running with a camera while it’s focused on the ground…or the sky… or someone’s head. It’s a shooting decision that adds very little and ultimately distracts from the pleasures of the script and performances. Yeah, not for me.

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Nonetheless, our nerdy & adorable lead character here “David Raskin”, played with a good dose of wit and charm by relative newcomer Jonny Weston, begins the film between a rock and a hard place. He’s been accepted to MIT but doesn’t get a complete free ride so can’t afford the tuition. While his mom talks about selling the family home to pay it, David starts going through the papers and equipment his now-deceased scientist father left in the attic as his mom wants him to clear out preparing for the sale. He and his sister “Chris” (Virginia Gardner) find an old video camera and after he oddly sees his teenage self in a video from when he was at his 7th birthday party they find, with the help of his child-hood techy friends “Adam” (Allen Evangelista) and the funny “Quinn” (Sam Lerner), a secret set of prototypes and blueprints in the basement, hidden by David’s father. As they begin to build a time-machine on their own, the situation slowly dawns on them and they realize looking at the tape…they’ve already done this. project almanac 5

Much like in a horror film where you just want to scream out at the character walking straight into being killed, Project Almanac suggests it’s not so smart to mess with the way things and they should probably in all good thought be left as is. But if that happened, we wouldn’t have a movie here now would we. Especially after David starts going back in time again and again, first to win the heart of his crush and cool girl, “Jessie” (Sofia Black-D’Elia) who just as in any basic teen movie, drops cool status to hang with the nerds and become a time-traveler.
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It’s here that our group use their new time travel power to leap through time — so they can see Imagine Dragons at Lollapalooza. With VIP passes no less. I will admit, I would probably do the exact same thing, even now. 🙂 And it’s all done with seemly little damage except to win the girl of his dreams he goes back alone against their own rules, but as things aren’t always as they seem…David has to correct all the damage his seemingly minor meddling with time has wreaked on the fragileness of reality and keeps traveling back himself. Bad move.
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Even with all of the vertigo-inducing hand-held camerawork and special effects magic that goes into the film’s time-travel sequences, it’s worth noting that the characters in it all act like real teens and you believe they really are all good friends even as things start to fall apart some. The premise of this film is great…and had the camera work not induced me to have to close my eyes at times just to stop my head and stomach from rolling, it would have been a really good film. As is, and because of this filming fiasco, I am barely recommending it and only if you can handle this type of filming would I suggest going as it doesn’t stop throughout the movie.

Grade: C-
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