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They Grey

They Grey

What She said:

She

The Grey tells the story of a bunch of super testosterone charged oil-rig workers who are involved in a plane crash that leaves them abandoned in snowy remote Alaska.  The concept is awesome.  How will they survive?  They have limited food, many of them are injured, and the weather is not cooperating at all.  It’s literally a countdown from the second they survive the crash until they freeze to death.  Oh, have I mentioned the man-eating wolves that are out to get them? 

The execution of this film is mostly good.  There are some not so awesome things—namely the wolves—but the acting, cinematography, and general plot are strong.  Here’s my problem with the wolves.  They are really hungry for people, more than I can rationally believe.  Actually, they seem to have a personal vendetta against the humans.  I’m wondering if the plane landed on the Wicked Wolf of the West or something, and they’re just royally p’d off about it.  They were also presented largely in not-so-fantastic CG.  From their representation as a dozen glowing eyes, to the actual daytime exposure of them, they don’t look that great.  And when you finally meet the alpha male, he seems a bit too cognizant, almost human-like.  The idea of the wolves is great, but the execution just wasn’t ideal.

Aside from that, The Grey offers a decent adventure.  I was intrigued by the notion of whether or not anyone or everyone would survive.  You’ll quickly realize that a lot of people here are going to die, and it’s going to be bloody.  Liam Neeson is Ottway, our main character.  He’s tormented by flashbacks of a lost love, but is a natural leader, and he gives the rest of the guys the only chance they can hope for.  The rest of the crew is rounded out by a collection of personalities.  The characters are relatively fleshed out, although you won’t care about the others as much as Neeson. 

The filmmakers make a few big statements in the film about life, death, and God.  It’s sort of the type of thing we’ve come to expect nowadays.  Some might be bothered by it, wondering why they’re forcing it on us, but I found it harmless and a bit soulful. 

Overall, The Grey is a decent movie, although not as suspenseful or creative as one might hope.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

In recent years, Liam Neeson has developed has something of a reputation as a movie bad-ass. I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but he has really transformed himself into an imposing figure in recent years. I’m not sure why it suddenly came to light that Neeson has an intimidating presence; because he’s been playing some tough – or even unhinged in some cases – characters for a while now. In Next of Kin (1989) he plays he plays a hillbilly who is determined to deliver his own brand of justice when his brother is murdered. In Darkman (1990) he plays a mentally unstable doctor who is transformed into a monster by his own experiments. In Michael Collins (1996) he played Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. The guy has also played a Jedi – and was one of the best things about The Phantom Menace (1999) – in George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie in 20 years. But for some reason people didn’t recognize him as a legit movie tough guy until somewhere around Batman Begins (2005).

Anyways, The Grey is the latest movie in which he’s cast as someone you wouldn’t want to mess with.  In The Grey he plays a man named John Ottway. Ottway serves as a security person for an oil drilling operation in Alaska. His specialty is protecting the workers from the local wildlife; particularly wolves.

It is very quickly implied that Ottway has suffered some kind of loss. The specifics are not clear, but something happened between him and his wife. He is a very sad man and has very little interest in anything, so working for a company where most of the workers also seem to be troubled individuals fits. Speaking of his coworkers, they are a rowdy bunch. It is implied that most of these guys are doing the kind of work they are because nobody else will hire them.

Trouble arises for Ottway and company when they are on their way back to civilization and their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, it is very cold and finding a source of heat is the number one priority. But things get really tough when some wolves decide to terrorize them. And by terrorize, I mean follow them for what seems like the length of the entire state. For some reason the exaggerated behavior of the shark in Jaws doesn’t bother me, but in this it seemed excessive at times. I can’t explain why, you just know when something doesn’t quite work for you. The wolves just seemed a little too smart at times. I half expected them to transform into people at one point.
I also wasn’t crazy about a lot of the supporting cast. There was something about the performances of several of them that came off as bland. It actually bored me when they were sitting around discussing the types of things you do when you are an inch from death. I am not the kind of person who needs things blowing up in my face nonstop, but some of the “deeper” moments made me want to shut the movie off. I appreciate some good emotion, but when it bores me instead of grabs me that’s bad.

The more emotional moments revolving around Neeson’s character were well-done though. Those made me feel something. I thought I was in for a great ride after his opening narration. I think it’s one of the more dramatic scenes I’ve seen in a movie recently. He also had several moments like that throughout the movie and a pretty memorable one at the ending too.

If the tone had been more consistent, I thought this could have been a really good movie. Instead, it is just an ok one. It was something of a missed opportunity in that sense. The trailers made it look a lot more epic than it was. It had its moments, but needed more of that.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written on June 18, 2012.