January and February are normally pretty slow for the sort of movies I like, so I feel lucky in the run I’ve had so far this year. In February, all the ones I’ve gone to see have been at the AMC theatre in Yonge-Dundas Square, which means $6 morning movies on the weekends! Cheap movies are the best kind. I mean, I’ll see almost anything for 6 bucks.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
The first movie I saw this month was a kid-targeted adaptation by director Chris Columbus of a popular series of books. No, not the first Harry Potter movie (though they have been on TV lately…), but The Lightning Thief.
The movie was okay. It was entertaining, but the plot wasn’t especially tight—several times I found myself asking why the characters were doing something so stupid, but naturally it was for the advancement of the story. From other reviews I’ve read, the movie diverged rather significantly from the source material in several ways, so I can only hope the characters weren’t quite so dumb in the books.
The main character is the demigod son of Poseidon, charged with finding out who stole Zeus’s lightning bold (hence the title) else the gods will go to war and destroy the human world in the process. Wackiness ensues as the unusually gifted boy goes to a camp of other demigods to learn to harness his powers, gains a comic-relief sidekick male friend and a brainy war-strategist female friend, and the trio then strikes out on their own to do what they think is right.
Obviously, the movie hews close the Potter model, but is drenched in Greek mythology, which is refreshing and fun. The visual effects were also quite well done, what with the monsters and gods and such. Ultimately, it wasn’t quite as good as the good Potter movies, but it was still fun and entertaining.
Defendor was an unexpected delight. I had little idea of what to expect other than Woody Harrelson as a superhero, which I figured would be awesome after his turn in Zombieland. The movie did give me Harrelson as a superhero, but not in quite the way I expected. And it was fantastic.
Harrelson plays Arthur Poppington, a low-IQ construction worker who created an alternate identity for himself as “Defendor”, to track down the evil Captain Industry. I can’t really summarize the movie in greater depth, because it’s not quite like anything I’ve seen before.
Harrelson turns in a strong performance for the role, and the rest of the cast holds up their end as well. The movie is funny and tragic and dark by turns, with a bittersweet ending that had me (not so successfully) blinking back tears. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie—it has fairly limited distribution, but if you do get a chance to see it, do so.
Cop Out is a buddy-cop movie starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and was directed (but not written) by Kevin Smith. This movie has been getting a lot of advertising lately, and looked passably entertaining, but it was Kevin Smith’s involvement that made me sure I wanted to see it. To my knowledge, this is the first movie he has directed that he hasn’t written, but I like his stuff in general, so I hoped that the movie would be good.
Thankfully, it was. While it didn’t blow my mind or vastly surpass my expectations, it was a funny buddy-cop movie with decent action and a well-paced plot in which Bruce Willis’ character is trying to recover a rare baseball card stolen from him while he was trying to sell it to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Naturally, wackiness ensues, and they run up against a gang of Mexican drug dealers who have the card and need a favour in return.
About the only thing this movie lacked was explosions. But it was funny and entertaining, full of swearing and shooting and jokes; you could do far worse with your movie-going dollars.