Review: Looper

Rian Johnson’s Looper shows us that the sometimes you have to save the best for last. Coming in after a mega blockbuster summer, Looper shows it can still please the crowds during the slow roll into Oscar season. Time travel is the easiest concept to screw up and yet the most intriguing to tackle as a director. If you get it right the crowds rejoice. If you get too complicated and confuse the audience then your film, no matter how good, will just be thrown to the waste side. Fortunately for Rian Johnson he struck the proper cord and delivered a great sci-fi romp through time. The future is not a clean and wonderful utopia in the vein of an episode of The Jetsons, but rather a realistic upgrade to our lives presently. I always prefer that the future be portrayed in this way, allowing the audience to stay connected. Looper tells the story of a hitman named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose job it is to take down people that the mob from his future send back to be killed. Its a pretty simple job, Joe is told when and where the victim will arrive and all he has to do is pull the trigger and get paid. However, life really goes off the rails when the older version of Joe (Bruce Willis) shows up as a victim. The momentary hesitation allows Old Joe to escape and thus beginning the crumbling of Young Joe’s world. The moral conundrum that plays out on whether to kill your future self in order to save the present day you in fascinating. With Old Joe on the run, the mob is now hunting down both of them to close the loop. The high octane chase scenes are fun to watch and add an element of danger and suspense to an already intriguing story. Once Sara (Emily Blunt) is included in the story we get a very interesting play on what is destined for the future of both Joe characters. Is your future already laid out for you or can you change it on a whim? There are so many twists and turns in this film that talking too much about what happens next will just spoil the movie going experience. Needless to say, you never know what’s coming around the bend, but you will be happy when you get there.

One of the most noticeable elements in the film is the extent to which Joseph Gordon-Levitt went to play a young Bruce Willis. Facial prosthetics and voice coaching were clearly used to really bring a young Willis to life. There is a scene where the two actors sit across from one another in a diner and it seems as if they are actually related. The mannerisms, facial expressions, and voice are meticulously accurate. Gordon-Levitt performs well here a much added improvement over his very mediocre performance in Premium Rush. Bruce Willis brings a certain level of man on a mission attitude that makes him believable in his unrelenting pursuits. Emily Blunt puts on her best American accent and really generates a heartfelt character striving to protect the one thing most important to her. All in all, the performances were top notch. For an action sci-fi flick it was one of the best I have seen this year. The sci-fi genre has had some excellent thoughtful films as of late, and this one is no exception. Rian Johnson takes advantage of his fantastic cast and weaves a narrative that people will examine and reexamine for years to come. His portrayal of the near future is a simple one on the surface but masks a world that is far more complicated and nuanced. Listen to this week's upcoming The Nerdpocalypse podcast episode for a spoiler filled review and further analysis.

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Review: Men in Black III

In Men in Black III we have the return of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K. If you have seen either of the other two films from the MIB franchise, you are well aware that J and K work for a top-secret organization established to monitor and police alien activity on Earth. The concept was derived from the Malibu Comics book of the same name which was bought out by Marvel.

The plot is based on time travel or in this case time jumping. Agent J (Will Smith) has to travel back in time to stop a world changing event from occurring. This world changing event is the death of agent K. Using quantum theory as a way to address time in general, the movie banks on the butterfly effect. The smallest event can change the course of history. This is of course the watered down version, but it makes its somewhat clunky point.

The villain in this film is played by Jermaine Clement. In this film he plays the part of Boris the Animal. Move over Macho Man Randy Savage, there is a new Slim Jim man in town! Boris is part of an alien race known as the Boglodites. Boglodites are an aggressive and brutal alien race known for devouring worlds...think Klingons meet Galactus. Boris has been imprisoned on a lunar prison built specifically for him. This is where the story begins.

Emma Thompson replaces Rip Torn in this film as "O" the head of the MIB. However, Josh Brolin makes this film. His portrayal of a young Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is impeccable. He plays K with a little softer edge. This is because Brolin's K has not yet faced some of the hardships of Jones' K. You learn a lot about the MIB universe in this film, even if some of it is pretty predictable from the first scene. You also get some insight into the relationship between J and K that you have not had before.

All in all, the box office numbers of this film will suffer and not because it is that bad of a movie. The stigma of the stinker that was MIB II still hangs in the air. Would I recommend going to the theater to see this film? I will put it this way, if you can disregard that the second film ever existed and you are a fan of the first film...go see it. It makes a decent sequel to the first film. If you are not a huge fan of the first film, wait for Redbox or Netflix streaming.

[easyreview title= "Review of Men in Black III" cat1title="Matthew's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]