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“The Next Three Days”
a review by Darby O’Gill

How far would you go for what you believe to be true, even if what you believe could be wrong? That’s the question the new Paul Haggis film The Next Three Days dares to ask. You might remember Haggis from his Oscar award winning film Crash, which had an amazing sense of realism that helped ground the film, and The Next Three Days is no different. Now, I’m not a big Russell Crowe fan. That is, I dislike him, but do find myself enjoying his films from time to time. This just so happens to be one of those times. Crowe brings a great sense of believability to the professor he plays that is suddenly thrust into a world that is truly foreign to him. Crowe normally plays confident badass heroes, but in this film he is unsure of himself, desperate, and getting his ass handed to him more than not. The movie is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was shot completely on location. The city of Pittsburgh plays a pretty big part in the movie. The prison they filmed at is right down the road from my wife’s father’s old house in Squirrel Hill. I’ve driven by it like a hundred times, so seeing it in the film gave me that “hey I’ve been there” feeling. I’ve never lived in Pittsburg, I’ve only visited over the years, but I think the movie manages to capture the atmosphere of the area amazingly well.

In The Next Three Days, a family living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh has their lives turned upside down, when early one morning Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) finds herself being arrested for murder. Her husband John Brennan (Russell Crowe), a college professor believes his wife has been wrongly accused, and after a few years of litigations and appeals, John quickly realizes that his wife could quite possibly spend the next twenty years of her life in prison. The realization is not lost on Lara as well, and when she tries to take her own life, John decides to do the unthinkable… Break his wife out of prison! That’s righ; it’s a prison break film. But, the thing that makes it great is that it’s not a Hollywood version of a prison break film. The Next Three Days takes an everyday man and brings him into a heist style situation. Now, there are some parts that don’t play quite as well as others, but the movie does work on a whole, and has a little bit of everything for everyone. It’s got drama, suspense, action, and even romance. Some could even argue that The Next Three Days is actually a love story. The movie also plays the “did she or didn’t she” card pretty well. I think the only reason this movie works as well as it does, is because of Paul Haggis’ directing. It’s not going to win him an Oscar this year, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Rating:


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“Surrogates”
a review Darby O’Gill

In the near future people no longer leave there homes, instead they jack-in to a surrogate robot that they operate like a car. The really trippy thing is that surrogates also drive cars, so a person can operate a surrogate and a car at the same time. Did I just blow your minds? The movie is based on the 2005 comic book series The Surrogate and takes place in a world of robots, where crime is almost nonexistent, almost. When an unknown device seems to kill not only Surrogates, but also their operators, Detective Greer, played by Bruce Willis, finds himself investigating the first homicide in over a decade. Surrogates, being machines, are stronger and faster than a normal person. They can also be or look like anything. It’s the internet in everyday life. What looks like a hot twenty-eight year old girl, is really a fat fifty-four year old man. It kind of makes you wonder why there isn’t more crime. If anyone could look like anything, why wouldn’t they be robbing banks or something? I’m getting off subject, but it’s a good point. Back to the story at hand; while investigating the murders, Greer’s Surrogate gets destroyed, and Greer is forced to go out into the world without a Surrogate to continue his investigation, and uncovers a much deeper plot against the Surrogates. It’s really cool the way they deal with this part of the story. Willis’ character is just overwhelmed by his senses the first time out on his own. You really realize these people have been locked up in their houses with no real contact with the outside world, and it’s almost like quitting an addiction. At times you really can’t help but notice just how close we could be to that. Every day something else comes out that keeps us in touch with people, but without ever having to see them. It’s kind of scary. Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking wow this sounds like a great movie, and I would like nothing more than to tell you that this is the case, but sadly it’s not. The problem with Surrogates is that they had a chance to do something new, but instead just seemed to play it safe, and go through the motions. This truly could have been the next Blade Runner, well okay, maybe not. But, it could have been something great. The ideas are there, but everything you see is something you’ve pretty much seen before. It’s a fun movie and well worth seeing, but I just wish they would have taken it to that next level. Would somebody, please give Hollywood their balls back! We’re so close to getting something good here. The one thing I really did like wasn’t in the movie. Elizabeth Banks! I’ve always enjoyed her performances in movies, but I think I’m an even bigger fan of hers now. She was an executive producer on this film, and yet she doesn’t appear in it. As a producer, she could have easily given herself a role in the movie, but she didn’t. The only time most actors produce a project is to guarantee they can be in it, but not Ms. Banks. It says a lot about her character, and I am now a bigger fan because of it.

Rating:
3 Little People