What’s the most solid sci-fi/gangster thriller of the year, with a bit of a silly name? That would be Looper.
Looper takes place in the not too distant future, where Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays mafia assassin, with a twist. In this scenario, time travel is a reality and his future mob boss eliminates his victims, by sending them back in time, where his hitman, aka a “Looper,” eliminates him. If you think about it, it’s actually a very efficient process.
Except for this. From time to time, a Looper is sent the future version of themselves. (Think Terminator) Joe is sent Old Joe, played by Bruce Willis. This is a very tricky sci-fi game to pull off. You could get mired in the details of how time travel works, but instead, Looper focuses on the characters, and does one of the best things a time travel movie can do. It gives us the opportunity to ask our future selves questions, and in turn our future self can guide us through potential mistakes we might make.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
The film drifts into some pretty dark places, seriously dark, but tries to balance them out with humor. I’ll admit it was distracting seeing Joseph Gordon Levitt with face prosthetics on. The effort to make him more like Bruce Willis was necessary, but it pulled me out of the story from time to time.
Looper is smart and tricky. Time travel stories can get dizzying with multiple timeline scenarios, but at least in my head, Looper resolves them without giving you a science headache.
Finally, an Adam Sandler movie that I can tolerate. It’s been about 10 years since something of substance, and while this isn’t a great movie, it is watchable.
Sandler plays Count Dracula in this animated feature. A typical helicopter parent, Drac has a daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez,) who he tries to protect from humans. He does this by building a grand hotel, hidden deep and far away from the human element. Call it a human-free zone for monsters to vacation in peace.
Mavis though, yearns to see the world, and learns from Hostel-hopping Human traveler, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) that it’s a big world out there. Most of the film is dealing with Dracula trying to dissuade his daughter that there is nothing to see out there.
It’s a good example of a movie that makes you say “meh.” But at least I didn’t want to bang my head against the wall for watching it.
There are some comic elements and the friendship that brews between Dracula and his mortal enemy Jonathan is sweet. At the same time, their relationship development drags on, giving this movie a little too long of a running time.
To sum up, Hotel Transylvania is monsters dealing with human relationship problems. If that sounds a bit like Monsters Inc., that’s because it is. Sandler and Samberg just don’t do it as good as Billy Crystal and John Goodman.