Flash Movie Review: Chasing Mavericks
Not only can I appreciate a person’s determination, I understand it. In fact, I live and breathe it. When I was 7 years old I spent 1 1/2 years pleading with my parents to get me a piano. At every available opportunity I would remind (some would say nag) my parents that we needed a piano. Since two of my mother’s sisters had pianos, I cannot count how many time I sat at their pianos teaching myself how to play. Finally my parents rented a piano for me. I did not disappoint them since I took lessons for 8 years. With a similar determination, I understood the main drive displayed through this movie that was based on a true story. Jonny Weston (Under the Bed, Sugar) portrayed Jay Moriarity, a boy who simply wanted to be in the ocean and ride its waves. Before he even understood the ocean’s power, his fate was cemented when his neighbor Frosty Hesson, played by Gerald Butler (The Phantom of the Opera, Coriolanus) came into his life. Because of Frosty, Jay’s passion for surfing accelerated as he discovered mythical Mavericks (massive waves) not only existed in the world, but were found near his hometown of Santa Cruz. He wanted nothing more than to conquer these gigantic waves, but would he be able to do it on his own? With his mother Kristy, played by Elisabeth Shue (Hope Springs, House at the End of the Street), dealing with the breakup of her marriage and Frosty’s reluctance to take on the responsibility, Jay would have to go to monumental lengths to achieve his goal. As I said, I understood Jay and wished this movie went deeper into his psyche. My disappointment came from the bland dialog and predictability of the scenes. It seemed as if the writers just threw in things like an antagonist or love interest because it would make for a good story. It did not; instead, it came across like an afternoon special on television. In its favor the photography was amazing in some scenes. I only wished the studio worked on this movie with the same determination as Jay had in his life.
2 1/4 stars
Flash Movie Review: House at the End of the Street
As I drove to the movie theater, I had to wonder who made the decision that put Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games) into this film. From the ad campaign it looked like this was a horror movie; why would Jennifer put herself into this type of film? All I could think was Jennifer would look back at this film as a speed bump in her career. Playing teenaged Elissa, she and her divorced mother Sarah, played by Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, Hollow Man), moved to a small town to get a fresh start. Upon arriving at their new home, the two discovered a tragic event had taken place at the house next door, several years ago. The parents were murdered by their daughter, who then fled the scene, never to be found again. The only survivor was her brother Ryan, played by Max Thieriot (Jumper, The Pacifier); who years later returned to the house, only to be shunned by the townsfolk. Elissa ignored the warnings and tried to befriend the quiet neighbor. But, would Elissa be safe being alone with Ryan in that house of tragedy? While watching Jennifer in this role, I was relieved to see she still had not lost her command of the screen. This woman has a great screen presence. Elisabeth as the mother was the perfect antagonist to her daughter; their scenes together sparked across the screen. Unfortunately they could not save this cliched thriller that left me emotionally detached. I did not find the movie scary, though I liked a couple of the twists in the story. With a PG-13 rating, this was not a slasher type of movie; think of it more like Psycho light. I cannot remember seeing any blood in the movie, but I may have missed it when I was checking the time on my watch. Was this a bad choice for Jennifer? I do not think it will hurt her in the long run; but let us say, it was a lateral move in what I feel will be a long movie career for her.
2 1/3 stars