Saturday, March 23, 2013

Movie Review: Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker

Title: Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
Author: Alex Pettyfer plays Alex. Good actor. English accent. Nuff said.
Genre: Adventure
My Rating: *** (four if there hadn't been so many head-desk cheesy parts)

Age Group: 12+ (people do die, some in explosions, one by jelly fish, and a few by gunshot)
Official Rating: PG

My Summary: Alex is a normal kid--aside from the fact that his legal guardian is his uncle (parents died long ago) and he has an American "nanny" named Jack. But, you know, normal. And his uncle? Incredibly boring and extremely normal. Works for a bank, always on business trips, but does somehow manage to take Alex mountain climbing and all sorts of other fun things. He is, of course, a careful man.

So when the police show up and say that Ian Rider died in a car crash, and a man at the funeral comments, "It's a pity he wasn't wearing a seat belt", and the preacher says that Ian was a patriot, well, Alex gets suspicious enough to notice that the graveyard seems to be surrounded by men in black suits who have guns on their belts. What? A cool twist, no doubt, but the way he discovers it is incredibly, painfully, cheesy.
But jumping forward a bit, Alex is a boy with very dangerous levels of curiosity and self-defense skill. The MI6 recruits him for a job his uncle has been preparing him for all his life.
And that's where the fun begins. Aside from the super cool gadgets and the awesome action scenes (very few of which were computerized), there is of course the Stormbreaker computer, the orange-haired bad guy, and the pet jelly fish. We also have a motor bike chase, a car chase, a crazy helicopter ride, and lots of other action sequences.

Words of Warning:
Mr. Grin is a man who used to be in the circus as a knife thrower, got distracted by his mother in the audience, and slipped (true story). You don't see it, you just hear the story and see the scars on each side of his mouth.
A few men are shot off screen.
Alex sends some men (who are not bad) over a cliff, causing broken limbs and near death experiences.
A woman is killed by a jelly fish (off screen).
Alex is put into a fish tank with a jelly fish (unharmed).
Alex is used as knife "practice" for Mr. Grin, who is trying to scare Alex. (Intentionally, he is not hit.)
Various fist fights and shootings.
A man plans to kill billions of children with a virus and appears to have no qualms about it.
Bullying is mentioned briefly.

My Thoughts:
It doesn't sound all that good, does it? The main reason I enjoyed it so much is that it's very hard to find a modern spy movie which is actually appropriate to watch, and yes, I do find those types of movies thrilling, albeit not very memorable once the adrenalin rush is over. But, sometimes, it's nice to watch a movie like this that isn't deep and all that. This one was about a 14 year old boy. It was interesting. And while characters in the book died and little notice was given to them, when a man is shot off screen and Alex sees it, his reaction is perfect. He flinches, looks like he might be sick, and even looks terrified at the same time. Nicely done, Alex. His reaction is so well done it actually made my stomach flipflop a little (not for Alex, mind you, but for what just happened).
Were the cheesy parts really that bad? No, but in a movie that depends on action and spy-related stuff (which means the movie stands on almost nothing), it does knock it down an entire star.
On the plus side, we have Jack (Alex's "nanny")--who is just plain awesome. And we also have thrilling action scenes, a very unique cast of characters, and a spy movie appropriate for most ages.

If they did more movies from the books, would I watch? Yes, absolutely. But keep in mind this is one of those very rare instances where the movie was better than the book.
Would I watch the movie again? Yes, I've watched it three times, actually. But I don't think I'd spend any of my own money to actually buy it for myself. I can wait the week or two for it to come in at the library.

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