The Loft, The Loft, The Loft

The Loft is currently playing in theaters

The Loft

 

The Loft (2014) – Rated R

Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city–a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved.

My wife went off to Ikea on Sunday so I took the opportunity to catch a movie at the theater. I prefer going during the week as it is much less crowded but, hey, opportunity. The previews for The Loft were not inspiring but it was rated R (less kids on the weekend) and a remake of a European thriller (good sign).

Loft (2008) was a Belgian thriller written by Bart De Pauw and directed by Erik Van Looy. It was the most successful film in Belgian history. It was remade in 2010 in The Netherlands. Erik Van Looy came in to finish directing it after the original director had an accident.

Hollywood brought in Erik Van Looy to direct this film for the third time. Wesley Strick rewrote Bart De Pauw’s screenplay for the English language. Strick’s screenplays have been good (Arachnophobia), bad (The Glass House), and ugly (Doom).

Casting did a good job of picking men who look good in and out of suits. Karl Urban, James Marsden, and Wentworth Miller are three of our friends. Matthias Schoenaerts replays his role of Philip from the original. Eric Stonestreet plays the token overweight friend (yes, successful overweight people like to fool around too).

I failed my daughter. She asked me to count the number of times they said ‘Loft’ in the movie. I quickly lost track as not only is the loft referred to as such but the building it is in is also referred to as The Loft. Let us just say that they made the title abundantly clear.

The tagline for the original was “Five Friends. One Deadly Secret.”. The tagline on this one is “The Right Place to do Wrong”, further selling us on the location. Sadly the location isn’t much. The Loft just appears to be a bachelor pad with a bar, sitting area, and a decent bed. It overlooks a decent chunk of city but there is certainly no location porn here.

VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD: So we are left with Five Friends – One Deadly Secret. Here’s my numeric rundown. Seven men, plenty of liars, several alcoholics, a drug addict, a rapist, a murderer, a corrupt city official, a procurer, a corrupt businessman, an extortionist, a pornographer, a man with incestuous issues, a john, ZERO likable, or even relatable, male characters

I was hoping for a neat thriller with some good twists that might say something cogent about sexual politics, desire, or need. Oh well. It was not to be. At the least, I was expecting a prurient interest guilty pleasure but it fails on that level too. We do have a lot of good-looking thirty-somethings in various stages of undress but the focus is never on the sex or violence but on the dialogue and, trust me, the dialogue could use some work.

The plot twists are interesting, or would be if you cared about any of the characters. The Loft is not horrible but it is not much more than that.

DragonCon 2014 – Patrick Stewart, Harry Turtledove, and Me!

Yay! My wife and I are off on a mini-vacation to DragonCon, a pop-culture convention hled annually in Atlanta, Ga. We are going with one of our best friends and will meet our daughter and some other friends there.

DragonCon

 

I’m not actually sure what all of us are going to do there. My wife and I have been before but it has been a couple of decades.

They have hundreds of guests appearing. Patrick Stewart is perhaps the best known but they have a slew of other film actors (Karl Urban, Peter Weller), television actors (Amy Acker, Jeri Ryan), authors (Harry Turtledove, Laurell Hamilton), comic book writers/artists (Tim Sale, Mike Grell) and plenty of others.

DragonCon Aquarium

I am going to try to attend some of the writing seminars while the rest of them will likely be at the costuming events. There is a full-blown parade and nightly parties, including one at the Georgia Aquarium after hours!

Star Trek – Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Thank you Esurance! I won two tickets to Star Trek: Into Darkness from them. Not only was the contest generous but the tickets covered up to $15.50 each, which is coincidentally what the Biltmore Grande charges for their RPX evening showings in 3D. Not wanting to waste a gift horse that is what we used it for.

One Line Review: Trek is packed with action, excitement, witticisms, and character development – this one will be tough to beat for the summer crown.

My wife, daughter and I all thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The RPX sound was immersive and the bass made the seats throb. The RPX picture quality was amazingly crisp, even in 3D. I don’t normally go to RPX because I love my Carolina and the RPX is about twice the price but WOW I was blown away. This is the closest we have to Imax in Asheville.

While the RPX heightened our enjoyment, Star Trek Into Darkness is a wonderful film on its own. While I derided Iron Man 3 for being made by committee/formula, much the same approach is used here but to great effect.

Star Trek checklist:

Strenuous heroics from Kirk and Spock: Tons! This film is almost constant action with brief respites for clever dialogue.

Fun banter between Kirk, Spock, and Bones: Any time they are not in a fight and sometimes when they are, witty banter abounds and not just for those three.

Good character moments for Sulu, Chekov, Scotty, and Uhura: Uhura’s role is considerably beefed up and the others all have their moment in the sun.

References to classic Trek episodes: I don’t want to spoil any of them but they are nearly uncountable. Plots, characters, incidents are mentioned, seen, adapted, or alluded to.

Ship to ship combat: Yes and wow.

Kirk and/or Spock learn a lesson: Both do, of course.

Cameos: Yes, two – one of which is in the previews.

Three of the four quibbles I have with the film are all minor. The first, which I can only speak generally about to avoid spoilers, is that a lot of elements that they felt were necessary for Trek fans were shoehorned in at the last minute. The second is that the final action sequence, while having a couple inventive touches, pales in comparison to the several before it so it feels more like an afterthought than building to a crescendo. Third, Benedict Cumberbatch, while a wonderful actor, isn’t given enough to do – mostly because there are so many beloved characters to focus on.

The fourth quibble I have, I don’t want to go into detail for fear of spoiling but nearly every plotting aspect of this movie makes no sense (a la Iron Man 3). Almost everything in this movie is done simply to get from point A to point B, action sequence to action sequence. As a for instance, the rescue method in the beginning of the movie could clearly have been used for the insertion but that wouldn’t have been as dramatic. A second example, also from the beginning, is that we have plenty of remote placement and firing mechanisms now (robotic, radio, laser, programmed, etc.) and this is set in the future. Whatever you do, just enjoy the ride and try not to question the logic until you leave.

I am very much looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams and crew do with the Star Wars franchise.

 

Ghost Ship – Don’t Get on That Boat Week!

Sometimes it seems too easy to do a particular week on a genre or a particular star or director. This week is Don’t Get on That Boat! week. Ghost Ship is currently available on instant Netflix.

Ghost Ship

PASS: Ghost Ship (2002) – Rated R for strong violence, gore, language and sexuality.

“Dispatched to recover a long-lost passenger ship found floating lifeless on the Bering Sea, the crew of the Arctic Warrior salvage tug soon becomes trapped inside the mysterious vessel — which they quickly realize is far from abandoned. But just who — or what — is on board remains to be seen. Gabriel Byrne, Isaiah Washington and Julianna Margulies lead the cast in this high-seas horror film directed by Steve Beck.”

“Congratulations. You found a boat. In the middle of the ocean of all places.”

*Sniff* What’s that I smell? It smells good yet rotten at the same time. Yes indeed it smells like wasted potential.

The idea of a cursed or haunted ship is a good one all by itself. Watching the first scene in the movie, while heavy-handed, is very entertaining. Later flashbacks to events surrounding the first scene gave me the impression that the movie might have been much better if it had been about the original cruise and not the salvor’s voyage.

The story is written by Mark Hanlon and the screenplay is written by Mark Hanlon and John Pogue. The story is a good one with a fair number of really nice touches. The dialogue is almost jaw-droppingly awful. I’d quote some to show you but sadly this comes from the school of ‘let’s show how hip we are by dropping profanity in every other sentence’ screenwriting.

The cast is pretty good for a horror movie. Gabriel Byrne is largely wasted as the salvage captain. Julianna Margulies capably plays the tough heroine. Bizarrely out of place is Isaiah Washington whose character doesn’t seem to fit in at all with the rest of the crew. Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington and Alex Dimitriades round out the crew.

While the opening sequence is almost a reason to recommend this film, the rest of the film doesn’t measure up. It’s not that the film is particularly bad (except the dialogue), it just isn’t very good either.

People Watch: Look for Karl Urban (Bones on the new Star Trek movie) as a crew member and Emily Browning (Violet from Lemony Snicket) as a young passenger.