Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“Under the Skin”
There are really two things you need to know about this film up front – one, Scarlett Johansson is fearless in her portrayal of a body-snatching alien. She spends a lot of time showing her skin on a human-eating black floor. Johansson also spends a lot of time riding around in a van picking up dudes in order to snatch their bodies via the black floor. (Sorry if that was a spoiler alert.) The cool aspect of the film is that most of the men she picks up weren’t actors and didn’t know they were in the movie until after Johansson gets them in the van. The second little tidbit you need to know is it’s hard as hell to understand. Writer/director Jonathan Glazer is not an easy nut to crack. His two previous films, “Sexy Beast” in 2000 and “Birth” in 2004, are dense, British character studies. Despite the fearless nudity and strange alien twists, this one is still a big snoozer. There are moments of dramatic pacing and visual grace, but it merely scratches the surface and never truly gets under the skin – pass.
The roles played by Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in this film were originally supposed to be played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ryan Reynolds – it probably wouldn’t have been that different. Reynolds can play goofy and Johnson has made a career playing a hardass. But Hart is on a tear lately, moving from the standup stage to the screen in an attempt to cash in on an Eddie Murphy-like transformation. It’s working for the most part. Cube and Hart are working with a familiar director in Tim Story, who directed Cube in “Barbershop” and Hart in “Think Like a Man.” The results are pretty predictable – everyone stands around, while Hart runs away with every scene. The other actors, especially Cube, loft one alley-oop after another for the five-feet-four-inch Hart to dunk. And you can fight it as hard as you want to, but there’ll be times when you’ll laugh. There have already been enough laughs to garner an upcoming sequel. It’s not great, but it is worth a watch.
Clear the way…this comment needs plenty of space – Nicolas Cage gives a great performance in this movie. Cage delivers something people have been waiting for since the middle of the last decade. Cage finally let Cage out of the cage. Maybe we can thank filmmaker David Gordon Green for this metamorphosis. Green is known for his ability to make the most of his genres and his actors – the dark drama and non-actors of “George Washington,” the over-the-top comedy and comedians of “Pineapple Express,” the HBO series and Danny McBride of “Eastbound & Down,” the indie comedy and Paul Rudd in “Prince Avalanche.” This is a dark southern tale that pulls no punches. Dialogue is spoken through piss-warm beer and stale cigarette smoke. Pit bulls fight. Boys and men fight. And Cage gets back to doing some real work – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge