Mr. Movie

Speed Racer dazzles but breaks down with poor plot

Speed Racer could be the most colorful movie of all time.

Andy and Larry Wachowski splash it with glittery hues and swatches of rainbow reds, blues and yellows. But the colors aren’t pleasing.

Instead of complementing the film, they’re in your face. Though I can’t prove it, I suspect

Speed Racer may contain colors that haven’t been invented yet. Whatever. Take a pair of sunglasses.

Just as dazzling is Speed Racer’s special effects. The racing scenes stagger the senses. The simple dialogue explaining the plot and providing transitions to action blend the characters with those sequences in a way that make Speed Racer a production masterpiece. You have never seen anything like this. As they did with The Matrix, the Wachowskis have reinvented state-of-the-art. And like The Matrix sequels, the letdown is zip for a plot and characters so one-dimensional that a chimpanzee is the most interesting of the bunch.

Effects impress for only so long. You will be utterly and completely bored.

Mr. Movie rating: 1 star.

Rated PG for mature themes. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

What Happens in Vegas

With no pretense at creativity and no willingness to gamble, What Happens in Vegas merrily trips down the path a thousand other love stories have traveled.

Salvation comes in performances from effervescent Cameron Diaz and amiable Ashton Kutcher. Along with Dennises Miller and Farina, Queen Latifah and an excellent comedy turn from Rob Corddry, they give life and light to the intolerable.

The two stars play a couple who get drunk then married in Sin City. The next day, they decide to divorce but winning a $1.5 million jackpot changes the plan. Unable to agree on a split, the judge orders them to stay together and get marriage counseling.

At first they hate each other, then they fall in love, then she learns that he’s done something, they break up and at that point you find yourself wishing, like the TV commercials say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas.

Redbelt

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) is a martial arts instructor who saves an actor (Tim Allen) from an assault. That act of kindness gets him sucked into a web of lies and a difficult moral decision that anchors the film’s climax.

The draw with Redbelt is America’s obsession with the sport of ultimate fighting. The film is done by one of the world’s best filmmakers and writers, David Mamet. His resume is jammed with critically acclaimed screenplays and movies: Wag the Dog, The Spanish Prisoner, Vanya on 42nd Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables and a dozen others.

Mamet’s characters and stories are complex and multi-faceted. Redbelt is no exception. Unfortunately, as with most fight films, no matter how you concoct the ending, it’s cliche. So Mamet’s movie has nowhere to go.

The film’s hook line is Ejiofor’s character reminding anyone who’ll listen that there is always an escape when you are on the verge of defeat. Mamet just didn’t build one into his movie.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars.

Rated R for language, violence. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8.

Snow Angels

With a little effort, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) and Kate Beckinsale (Click) could be superstars. Preferring steak and potatoes to hot dogs and potato chips, Rockwell and Beckinsale are always willing to stretch.

Snow Angels casts them as an estranged couple in a destructive dance. He’s an alcoholic dreamer putting her under unbearable pressure. Tragedy strikes and the inexorable downward spiral follows.

Snow Angels is a total downer. Why you want to see it has to do with David Gordon Green’s (All the Real Girls) mastery of the character study. The complicated, character-laden script and exceptional acting make Snow Angels a must-see. You will, however, want to gulp a couple of antidepressants before buying a ticket.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars.

Rated R for mature themes, language, violence. Opens today at the Carmike 12.

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