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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Schindler's Wolves

Went to see "The Grey" today.  SOS likes Liam Neeson, and I'm more or less open to anything when it comes to movies.  It wasn't bad for what it was, but I'm not exactly sure what it was.  The story follows a small group of Alaskan oil refinery workers who survive a plane crash and then struggle to make their way back to civilization while battling the landscape, the elements, and a pack of animatronic wolves.  How the animatronic wolves found their way to the arctic is never made clear, but just go with it.

Liam Neeson plays a professional wolf-hunter who emerges as the leader of the group. I've decided that Liam Neeson is one of those good-not-great actors that's fine if the material is good, but who really can't carry a movie.  I will always appreciate him for playing Oskar Schindler, but, let's face it, while he certainly looked the part, if a better actor had played Schindler, it's possible that the unknown Ralph Fiennes wouldn't have walked away with the movie. 

Back to "The Grey": The movie is based on a short story called "Ghost Walker," by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, and without having read it, I can say confidently that the story was better.  A good old fashioned story of man vs. wild--especially when "wild" features highly charismatic fauna like wolves--sounds like a decent premise for an action movie, this film is seriously deficient in action.  Instead, long stretches of screentime are devoted to character development.  Indeed, this is essentially a character study marketed as an adventure.  And even once I had accepted the nature of this film, I found myself wanting to scream at the actors to pick up their cues.  Note to director Joe Carnahan: Dialogue delivered at a slow, profound pace doesn't always come across as profound--often, it just comes across as slow.

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