Film Briefs: “The Last Days on Mars” and “Out of the Furnace”

5Film Briefs is our way of giving our opinion on films we might not necessarily have the time to review in full.  This is a column where we sum up our feelings about movies currently playing in theatres and throw ‘em up just to give you an idea of what’s out there. Follow the jump to see briefs for The Last Days on Mars and Out of the Furnace

The Last Days on Mars

2one-star2It started off interestingly enough, but then came the… Zombies in space!! Also in space, action sequences so jarring you’d have to slow the film down one frame per second in order to figure out what the hell is happening, as well as to avoid motion sickness. Add to that the dizzying array of flashing red strobes and a camera set to hyper shake along with the confusion of trying to figure out who just got bit by who because everyone’s wearing identical clothing and see if you’re not screaming at the screen for everyone to just die and the story be done with.

Liev Schreiber stars as one of a half dozen or so astronauts who are all set to return to Earth after spending several months on the red planet. Hours before they are about to leave, and just after about 20 minutes of what is supposed to be slow burning story telling, all hell breaks loose. And when I say “all hell breaks loose” I’m referring to both within the story as well as the way it’s presented.

Not having the smartest of scripts (including dialogue), the film still manages to answer questions while leaving a few unanswered ones for myself and other viewers lucky enough to have sat through this movie in its entirety to scratch our heads at. Sure, we find out who survives, and how they’ll get back to Earth, but I fear the unanswered questions like why should we care, and when will the writers of Alien sue for plagiarism will forever be floating amongst the cosmos from now until who the fuck knows when.

Out of the Furnace

Out-of-the-Furnace-Casey-Affleck2two-stars1Scott Cooper‘s sophomore outing following Crazy Heart (2009) is many things. It’s a bare knuckle betrayal of tough-guyisms, it’s well acted by an impressive cast of Hollywood heavyweights, it’s taut with tacked-on tension, relentless in its downward trajectory of tragicness, and through means of hurriedly paced story telling it’s also an allegorical Cliffnote on the effects felt upon the blue collared “everyman” living in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse.

So with its reflection of the latest economic collapse and the mention of our latest war, could Out of the Furnace be this generation’s The Deer Hunter (1978)? Well, had we seen actual reenactments of Casey Affleck‘s troubled war vet character Rodney fighting in Afghanistan rather than hear about his hellish time through a brief monologue then maybe. And had the film spent more time wallowing in the head space of its lead protagonist Russell, played by Christian Bale, rather than tack on the added plot of revenge against a crazy Appalachian drug lord (Woody Harrelson) for the sake of calling the film a thriller then perhaps. So sure, one can call this The Deer Hunter for a new generation, but they’d be wrong, so I wish they wouldn’t.


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