Looking through glassy eyes, itâs hard to find focus, even if your intentions were to have a good time. Itâs the same story for Johnny Deppâs toast to Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary. The heart is in the right place, but this one stumbles around a little too much.
The film is based on the long lost novel of the same name that Thompson wrote in the 1960âs, but didnât publish until 1998. Depp supposedly found the material amongst Thompsonâs things and has since been key in getting the film produced.
The story involves journalist Paul Kemp (Depp) who takes a job at the San Juan Star in Puerto Rico. His sleazy editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins) immediately sets the tone of the film by asking Kemp if heâs drunk and how much he drinks. Kemp replies in a Thompson-esque voice âThe high end of social.â
From there, Kemp is wooed by Sanderson, (Aaron Eckhart) a developer who has plans to get rich by developing the lush island. Itâs Sandersonâs attempt to control the media in his favor.
The film is somewhat autobiographical because Thompson did apply at the San Juan Star, but didnât get the job. Itâs completely autobiographical in regards to how Depp, for a second time, entertains by channeling Thompson. Itâs a treat to hear the witty dialogue come rolling off his mumbling tongue.
Another standout is Sandersonâs fiancee', played by the luscious Amber Heard. Her character Chenault is like a beautiful tidal wave. Sheâs literally the girl that talks you into speed racing the brand new car youâve just been given by daddy.
If there was a main point, itâs how Kemp tries to use his righteous journalistic integrity to save the people of Puerto Rico from a greedy American developer. Still this is more of a rum fueled exercise in functional alcoholism. I feel like they touched on everything that Thompson was, but didnât deliver that gonzo element.
Packed with plenty of gotcha moments, Paranormal Activity 3 will make you jump several times. The problem is, we already know the formula and that takes a lot of the frightful edge away.
Set in 1988, we again get a home video obsessed guy who must catch on VHS, the things in his home that are going bump in the night. The added twist of the backstory of the original Katie from Paranormal Activity 1 is a wasted point.
To set up the scary faux-documentary, weâre to believe that were looking back on real archival footage. Dennis, a wedding videographer, has moved in with hot 80âs mom Julie. They live a happy life with Julieâs two daughters Katie and Kristi. One night, Dennis accidentally catches Kristiâs imaginary friend Toby on camera and becomes infatuated. Things escalate poorly for the family.
With just a few exceptions, I almost never recommend the 3rd chapter in a film franchise. That rule is still in effect here. I will admit to jumping several times. Thatâs the point of watching a movie like this.
In fact, based on this movie, PA1 makes much less sense. SPOILER AHEAD: In this film, young Katie from 1988 befriends the mysterious demon. Are we to assume that her demon friend is the same one that possesses Katie from 2009? The older Katie is more a victim of her boyfriendâs misguided actions. Did the demon and Katieâs relationship mean nothing all those years?
There was something fun I took away from this film. It was in the technical use of a surveillance style point of view, where the camera pans back and forth. I am a lover of puzzles where you have to figure out the difference between two pictures. In this case, the viewerâs perspective pans to the left, so look for the thing that sticks out in the frame. Pan to the right, then back to the left and see whatâs spookily changed. I am a film technique lover, so I actually enjoyed this.
Still, would you go see a movie based on someoneâs thrill that the camera panned back & forth? I donât think so. Thatâs something for movie nerds like me.
The bottom line is, you will be scared with PA3, even if itâs for the lack of creativity.
Itâs not like the world was begging for a remake of the 1982 John Carpenter film, but in the world of sci-fi horror, itâs not a grave mistake to bring this pronoun of a story back.
The Thing (2011) is set in 1982. Confused yet? Graduate student Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is recruited by a Norwegian scientist for her necropsy skills to a base in the Antarctic. There she and a team of about a dozen recover an alien creature thatâs been frozen in the ice. It comes back to life and possesses the power to morph into itâs victim to conceal itâs own identity. Itâs a similar plotline to the 1982 version with some detail changes.
Note: The 1982 John Carpenter was a remake of a 1951 movie The Thing From Another World, which was also based on a short story.
There are a few fright factors that work in this movie. The toothy creature is quite gruesome and disgusting, but in a fun scary movie way. Since it also has the ability to hide itself within the group of survivors, paranoia drives the suspense.
One semi-intense moment involves a tooth check of the humans to determine if anyone has been body snatched. The imperfectness of the life and death test ratchets up the intensity mid way through and was enough to keep my interest going.Â Thereâs also a nice dark ending to look forward to.
Where The Thing doesnât work, is how it all plays out. This is a run of the mill, scary things jump from the shadows movie. The little soldiers fall one by one, building up to a final showdown. The redeeming factor is that creepy aliens are sci-fi gold and itâs fun to watch these kind of scary movies.
Logically speaking, you could easily shred the movie. Why would the alien reveal itself one person at a time? Why would the alien have teeth like the Sarlacc Pit? Why does an Antarctic base have military grade flame throwers? Thatâs all beside the point.
This is more about a good run-for-your-life gore festival. So, was the remake necessary? No. Is it mindless escapism? Yes. More please.
George Clooney delivers what is a really weighty political thriller in his new work The Ides Of March, or as I like to call it "How to become cynical with the political process in one hour and forty-one minutes."
The film is a fictional account of a Democratic presidential primary, set in current times, but makes use of the real news media. Is it a metaphor that the real media Is following a fake election? Probably not.
Ryan Gosling, or as I like to call him âthe new George Clooneyâ plays Stephen Myers , a likable, suave and idealistic top political staffer for Democratic presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris ( Clooney). Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the campaign manager. Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) i s the rival democratic candidate campaign manager as both side battleÂ in the Ohio primary.
After Tom tries to recruit Stephen to the other side, a series of events that includes more cruel intentioned double crossings and back stabbings than one could imagine happens. At times, The Ides of March becomes the type of political thriller that only happens in movies, because the details of the misdoings are just too juicy.
Clooney directs and writes the screenplay for the film that also credits Leo DiCaprio with Executive producer credits. With DiCaprio playing J. Edgar Hoover in âJ. Edgar,â due out in November, this creates a little buzz. In all though, the story in The Ides of March is strong and the cast all equally deliver command performances.
The good thing about this production is that it is not really a partisan movie. Iâm not sure anybody comes out looking good. This is more about strategy and the thrill of the game. I donât think anyone is going to be surprised by the dark secrets that lurk in our political process, I just hope that someday I donât become as cynical as some of these characters.
I have a list of certain actors and actresses that I will see any movie they are part of, simply because they are in it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is now on that list.
Is latest work 50/50 is based on the true story of a man who is diagnosed with cancer, but still manages to keep his sense of humor. Adam (Gordon-Levitt) is a 20 something employee at a Seattle NPR radio station when he is told that the ache in his back is actually a cancerous tumor. The story revolves around Adam and his friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) and how they find the lighter side of cancer.
From the moment Adam is delivered the news from his cold-hearted masochistic doctor, he tries to keep composure while his world spirals. This all sounds like a major downer, and it is. The magic of this movie is itâs ability to balance the gut wrenching reality with the comic musings between Kyle & Adam. Kyle for one, continually tries to use his friendâs diagnosis as a successful pick up line.
Anjelica Houston plays Adamâs overbearing mother who sports a very distracting wig throughout the film. Sheâs not only dealing with a son who doesnât want to talk to her, but also a husband whoâs dementia makes him unable to talk to her. Anna Kendrick is Adamâs green psychiatrist that walks the doctor-patient relationship line.
It takes a serious moment in ones life to fully recognize who you are. This is a heartening story of friendship, trust and fighting for your life. For sure on my top 10 list of the year.
I find Levitt to be one of the more impressive and busy actors out there today. He stole many a scene from Leo DiCaprio in Inception and was brilliant in 500 Days Of Summer. I even liked his days as the snarky teen Tommy in the sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun. He brings out the human nature of his characters and does the basics well, such as getting you to like him.
The story is based on events from the life of screenwriter Will Reiser, who manages to reach into his emotional core and beautifully put words to his experience. Reiser is alive and in remission today.
There is not much that I didnât love about Moneyball. As Brad Pitt says twice in the film: âHow can you not be romantic about baseball?â
Moneyball tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics and their General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt). After losing three key players from the previous season, Beane takes the advice of recent Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who uses a statistical approach to winning. âYour goal shouldn't be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins. â
They set out together to form the best team they can with the limited money they have. These days, who of us isnât used to being told to deliver higher results with fewer resources?
Ostracized by his peers, Beaneâs new method proves rocky at first, until things gel and helped lead to a season that includes breaking an American League all time winning streak record of 20 games.
Whatâs interesting is the movie isnât about baseball. Itâs about strategy. Moneyball is best when it tries to subtract the humanity of baseball into a cold, hard numbers game, but proves itself wrong. That struggle between the pair makes this a genuinely great film. Pitt is distant, but makes you care for Beane and understand his internal conflicts. Hill is completely believable as a numbers geek who is just starting to find his way.
It is curious that Moneyball is somewhat gloomy in the way that it represents baseball as a business. Pittâs character has several moments where he struggles with it. The fact is all professional sports are businesses first. Fans know all too well about the layers that need to be peeled back to get to the heart of it all. Moneyball does too.
Side note: Who woulda thought two hours of statistical analysis would prove to be so emotional and interesting?
There may not be a movie this year that I am more conflicted about, other than Drive. Itâs a clear metaphor that a car can sit idle at one moment, then be screaming out of control at another. Thatâs the feeling you get from this movie.
Ryan Gosling plays a character with no name other than âDriver.â Heâs a Hollywood stunt driver by day and a hired getaway driver by night. Heâs got deep emotions, but we donât know where they come from. He plays the solitary loner. That is, until he meets and falls for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan.) Just released from prison, Ireneâs husband has a debt to pay off. In trying to protect Irene, the driver chooses to help the husband pull off a heist that spins out of control.
This movie has all the elements of greatness. There is real tension, a great cast and a relentless craving for itâs deeper meaning.Â This is a brilliant assembly of talent.Â Gosling and Mulligan are pros in their own right, but the additions of Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman and Christina Hendricks is near genius.Â I just couldnât get on board with the pacing of it all. We go through long portions of the film with very little dialogue or action, which is juxtaposed by moments of extreme violence and heart pounding car chase scenes.
In the moments of action, Drive is very effective in putting you right in the passenger seat, exactly where you should be. Itâs fast and furious without the steroid injected bravado of the current fast car genre. This is all to say that Drive may be a better movie for what it is not. Thatâs commendable, but it didnât feel complete to me.
I can also say that this movie drew out more of a internal reaction in myself than anything else Iâve seen this year. The problem is, it wasnât always a positive reaction.
Iâm not sure why Helen Mirren is a modern day action hero, nor do I care. I do know that whatever she has going, is working and working well in her new film The Debt.
Set in two different eras, The Debt aims to tell the truth. First in 1965, a young group of Israeli spies are on a mission in East Berlin to find and bring to justice a wicked Nazi doctor who has evaded capture. With the help of a fellow spy Stephan, who has finally tracked down said doctor, Rachel (Jessica Chastain,) and David (Sam Worthington) posing as a young couple trying to have a baby to get close to the doc. Something goes wrong.
The second plot exists in 1997, where the truth of what actually happens comes back to haunt older Rachel (Helen Mirren,) older David and older Stephan (Tom Wilkinson.) They set out to take action to settle their debt.
The film bounces back and forth in time, but in a reasonable way that sews the eras together. The scenes from the 60âs in Berlin are far more tense, action packed and satisfying.
I can fault the film for the same reason. The constant comparisons between the younger versions of the character and the older versions was a disconnect. They donât look all that similar, therefore my brain couldnât keep track of all the names and faces.
Still, The Debt has an old school thriller feel to it. Partly because of the solid story line and partly because the cast has the maturity to pull it all off. With spy stories, you often get the feeling that there will be a double agent to throw you the twist, but the essence of this movie is simpler.
As with most good films, you question some of your own thoughts on the subject at hand. Is a lie the best solution if it whatâs good for the masses? Is it ever too late to tell the truth? Is forgiveness still an option? I forgive The Debt for its foibles and still feel satisfied after watching.
Maybe this family dynamic hit a little too close to home. Maybe I agree that you should always expect the best from people. Either way, Paul Rudd delivers a grinable performance in his new lead role.
Our Idiot Brother is the story of Ned, (Rudd) a man in a state of eternal hippie arrested development. He makes choices based not out of stupidity, but from a naiveteâ, idealistic place that has high hopes for the rest of the world. Ned is jailed for selling pot to a uniformed officer who seemingly entraps him, by making Ned sympathetic to the copâs bad day.
After getting out, we meet Nedâs three slightly dysfunctional sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel & Emily Mortimer) who take him in. With each sister he seemingly destroys their lives through his man-child ways, but somehow also saves them at the same time.
I feel a little cynical calling out his actions, but itâs hard to believe that someone like Ned actually exists. Are there people so trusting of their fellow man, that they would ask them (on a subway) to hold onto their pocket of twenties, while they clean up a coffee spill? I think there are few, at the most. Then again, itâs hard to criticize a person who only wants good things for and from those around them.
Nedâs sisters seem to be living stereotypically train wrecks of lives, which makes this comedy feel a little contrived. Then again, Ruddâs happy blowtorch of sunshine is a bit too. The thing that saves this movie is itâs good intentions and good nature.
I for one, like Ned.
At one time, I couldnât say the same for Paul Rudd. From the days of his indie comedy background, I enjoyed his bit roles. That was until he took over broader parts like in âThe Ten,â âThe Oh In Ohioâ and âOver Her Dead Body.â But now, I feel Rudd has grown into a mainstream comical lead. Heâs also now one of the guys that Iâd go see a movie, just because heâs in it.
If there were someone who came to America and had no idea about our history of racism, this is not the movie I would use to explain it to them. Thatâs not saying The Help is a bad movie, quite the contrary. It does seem to glaze over the history of race relations in a chick flick friendly fashion.
Set in Mississippi in the 1960âs the help chronicles the creation of a book that tells life stories from the point of view of several black housemaids. Itâs a closer look at the racism that lies just beneath the surface. Emma Stone gives a passable performance as the young journalist.
The heart of the movie comes from Viola Davis, who plays Aibileen Clark. It is Aibileen who makes the decision to put her job, life, physical and personal freedom at risk by telling her own story. Her display of courage is what encourages others to tell their story. The underrated Octavia Spencer plays Minnie, another maid who tells her story and provides much of the comic relief.
Itâs that comic relief that I found offsetting. Itâs hard to go from a scene of blatant racism to another, where weâre supposed to laugh. Overall, it provides the desired effect of brining you back from a tense moment. Still, this movie will be criticized for not staying in that moment and allowing you to reflect on it.
The conclusion to this story leaves something to be desired. Some of the main characters are seemingly left in a worse place than they started, while others might go on to future success. It waters down their triumph of standing up for what is right. There may be some healing from the story, but itâs not guaranteed for some of the characters that weâve invested in.
I think there is something very powerful thatâs said about not only the condemnable treatment of black people, but also of women. These are stories that need to be remembered. Presenting it in a palatable way to modern audiences is a tough sell. The Help manages to present what I think is a âliteâ version of true history, but the feeling was there.
Every once and while, you get a surprise at the movies. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is one of them. It takes a sci-fi series that most people could care less about and turns it into something quite entertaining.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a researcher, motivated by his own fatherâs Altzheimers, to find a cure for the disease. During the primate testing phase of his research, he finds that his drug not only seems to allow the brain to heal itself, but it also allows it to grow exponentially. Didnât someone tell him about the recurring storyline in books and movies about tinkering with nature?
In any case, what I expected was a bloodbath of monkey on human violence. Thatâs not what you get. When our primate friends get superior intelligence, they also gain a higher level of compassion and seem to immediately understand that killing isnât the best solution.
Even though the plot isnât Academy Award worthy, all sorts of questions do pop up about human control of nature, human nature and who really is the intelligent species.
There are two noteworthy moments of the film. About half way in, the main ape Caeser, is taken to a primate shelter after he gets out into the real world and causes and incident where animal control is called out. That leads a very curious subplot about life in prison. Youâre not expecting a side story about how incarceration can alter a personâs view on the world, but this was an unexpected and welcome twist.
The other spans the entire film and thatâs the masterful use of computer generated apes. All of the apes in the movie are made inside a computer, but to my eye, you canât tell the difference. This movie may stand a testament as to how good that technology is today.
Another note: This is the second film in which Andy Serkis portrays an ape. He previously portrayed King Kong in "King Kong" (2005).Â He was also the guy that they based Gollum from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy after.
Another, anotherÂ note: no 3D was needed to make this an entertaining film.
Itâs kind of hard for me to say anything positive this movie when one of the stars goes on TV the day before it opens and calls it âcrapâ and âgarbage.â No joke. Just check out Jason Batemanâs recent visit to The Daily Show.
The Change-Up is a mashup of a body switching âFreaky Fridayâ movie and the new genre of raunchy comedies. Really, itâs a mashup of gross- out, sometimes cruel-intentioned dirty jokes. Itâs not thatâs a bad thing for a comedy. The jokes this time just werenât strung together in a way thatâs likeable.
Speaking of likeable, just about none of the cast were. Ryan Reynolds plays Mitch,Daveâs (Bateman) best friend. Heâs a self-centered, wake-and-bake man child. Dave is an over accomplishing husband who works so much, he neglects his family life. Daveâs neglected wife Jamie (Leslie Mann) is a stereotypical nagging wife, who although still looks good, has accepted a mediocre existence as a mom.
After a night of drinking and peeing into public fountains, a twist of fate switches Mitch & Dave into each otherâs body. A predictable series of events follows as they adapt to the change. At this point, I felt a little confused with the characters. I know each man is supposed to be inhabiting the otherâs body, but there were too many examples of how it wasnât working.
What does work is Ryan Reynolds. I think he does much better playing a low- life, than a superhero or one half of a romantic comedy. He does a good job using his good looks to make you see past the flaws in is characters.
There are a couple of very funny moments. (Imagine the E-Trade baby headbanging in his crib) Most of them are one liners and forgettable. I probably could have done without two grown men urinating into a mall fountain with children standing around and the grown men swearing and dropping inappropriate jokes in front of toddlers. Itâs a crutch to think that dropping an âF-bombâ in front of kids is instant comedy.
Even with the comic weight of Bateman and Reynolds, this movie is very thin.
I gotta admit. After Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I was worried that we had lost Harrison Ford into the fray. No. It was just a bad idea to make another Indy movie. He delivers once again with his role as a grizzly old cowboy in Cowboys & Aliens.
I must admit, with that title, the bar is set pretty high. Cowboys and aliens are two great movie ideas. Itâs like peanut butter & chocolate. Riggs & Murtaugh. Rocky & Apollo. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. I could go on. The casting also puts James Bond alongside Indiana Jones. Maybe this is going a little over the top?
In this case, the setting is the Arizona Old West in 1873. A lone man (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert with a weapon of some sorts strapped to his wrist. He canât remember who he is or how he got there. He slowly starts putting the pieces together as he bands together with a posse of Cowboys and Native Americans to fight off a horde of alien abductors.
Craig plays outlaw Jake Lonergan and needs to do nothing but deliver that icy stare of his to impress. He is a rough and tough hombre and is a lot of the glue that keeps this movie together. Ford plays the brilliantly named Woodrow Dolarhyde who provides the role of mean guy with a good heart. Think his portrayal of policeman John Book from 1985âs Witness.
While you could argue that there isnât a ton of intriguing dialogue, or that the story doesnât quite embrace the feel of a true western, I still enjoyed it. Cowboys & Aliens is a silly idea. I expected some campiness. I expect to trade depth for a little more action.
Director Jon Favreau also gets credit for relying less heavily on special effects and more on his characters to drive the movie. The supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Keith Carridine, Olivia Wilde and Paul Dano) also gives this push in a positive direction. Another toast to Favreau, no 3D. Its a fun movie that doesnât need it. Well done.
Movie franchises should take notes from the folks at Marvel. Captain America: The First Avenger is a good movie, thatâs part of a larger film series.
Set in 1941, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a sickly young man with a sense of duty larger than his body. After repeatedly being rejected to be a US soldier, Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America.
There are several reasons to like Steve Rogers. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He continues to learn from his mistakes and heâs always more concerned with the people around him, instead of himself. Pleasantly lacking the ego and bravado of a modern day hero. Heâs no cynic.
With the assistance of Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones,) Captain America helps take down a rogue Nazi unit led by baddie Red Skull (Hugo Weaving,) who a developed a occult superpower.
The nostalgia of the Captain America is lost on this remake though. Thatâs not necessarily a bad thing. The Captain is reinvented as a patriot, who when asked whether he wants to kill Nazis, responds by saying he doesnât want to kill anyone. He just wants to serve his country. Another reason to like him. Heâs the everyman.
I was not as much impressed with the action as much as the general storyline. That campy feel of a WWII war- action drama is there, but the characters own it. They mock themselves. Thereâs also a romantic subplot that seems to go nowhere. Still, this is a tale of the little guy facing a bully, so you always know who to root for.
This could have been just another run of the mill origin story, which leads us all to the May 2012 release of The Avengers, but itâs not. This movie is self-contained and that is something we see far too little of.
For as epic as this movie should have been, it just felt like there was something missing. There was certainly some satisfaction in wrapping up the 10-year franchise, but when something thatâs lasted 10 years long ends, shouldnât the end result be bigger?
In the eighth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finally has his one-on-one with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Feinnes.) The final showdown. The big shabang. Sounds important right? I unfortunately found that high expectation didnât meet up to the reality. It was anti-climactic.
Keep in mind, this is coming strictly from a movie perspective on the series. I sat with several Harry Potter book fans. They not only cried during the highlights of the film, but afterwards as well, when they found out that the miracle moments in the novel were traded for lesser visually enhanced action sequences.
There isnât a ton of dialogue. I was expecting at least some grand wisdom on the struggle between good and evil. Some deep thoughts on the rewarding nature of friendship. Something! Instead, we speed past it on the Hogwartâs Express to the moving parts of the film.
I would not say this is a bad movie. There was actually a very rewarding experience. Several big ideas are completed. A dopey character earns hero status. Puzzles are solved. That alone made me quite satisfied.
With movie franchises like these, I always refer back to the initial Star Wars trilogy. Each movie stands on itâs own. They have beginnings, middles and endings. That is the standard set for multi-chapter movies, so that is what I expect. HP7-#2 is literally second half of a story.
Harry Potter 7.2 doesnât do the best job of standing on its own. In fact, this had a rushed and shrunken feel to it. Am I really asking they should have made a longer movie? Maybe. In a finale situation, I feel a little more explanation is worth it.
If anything, Iâm just glad that I donât have to wait for anymore further explanation in this series. So to this series I say âExpelliarmus.â Stick a fork in it.
For what Larry Crowne lacks in depth, he does make it up in heart and feeling.
Tom Hanks directs and stars in the film that tries to capture the emotion of being fired from your job, then having to rebuild. Larry Crowne is a guy who genuinely seems to like his job in retail, until heâs fired for not having a college degree. The story arc was pretty obvious at this point.
He believes getting that education will ensure that it doesnât happen again, so he enrolls in a local community college. There, he meets Speech 217 Professor Mercedes Taniot (Julia Roberts.) Sheâs also at a low point in her teaching career and is depressed with her slacker husband, so she dulls the pain with blended mixers.
Larry also meets a free-spirited student, who rearranges his furniture in the Feng Shui style, gets him to join her scooter gang and helps him with a fashion makeover straight off the TLC network. Larry also takes an Economics 101 course, where he somehow learns the ins-and-out of home foreclosures, which transforms him into the master of his financial future. I simply find it hard to believe that one semester of credit courses and transform you that much.
Hanks and Roberts deliver passable performances, but I donât feel like we really get to the core of their characterâs problems. They were pleasant enough to watch, but I was glad when it was all over. This is a movie about overcoming lifeâs obstacles. But, if all I need to do to find a happy medium with my relationships, job and finances is take a credit at my community college, how hard can life really be?
Somewhere while they were out riding their scooters, the story transforms from one man taking control of his future, to a romantic comedy. In all, this is light fare. Thatâs OK, because itâll be palatable to a wider audience. Your Mom will love this.
Ummm, when did the Autobots turn into revenge killers who carry out mafia/gangland style killings? I think I missed that part of the cartoon TV series from the 80âs. I will say that Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is the better of the three Transformers movies that Director Michael Bay has delivered, but thatâs not saying much.
In this two and one-half hours of special effects overkill, we are told the real reason for the space race of the 1960âs was because an alien ship had crashed on the moon. Flash forward to the present, where the âgoodâ Autobots discover the well kept secret and have to race âevilâ Decepticons to discover its secret.
I use good and evil in parenthesis, because it seems the sides these two robot races once took are much blurrier now. Sure, Decepticons want to enslave the human race, but itâs all in the name of going back home. Their goal is not to fight the good guys, just go back home. The Autobots this time are motivated not only to protect the Earth, but they also carry out intensely violent revenge-style killings of their foes.
So, is that a good thing? It surely adds a darker element to this type of bubble gum entertainment. Once you get through the first 45 minutes of plot build up, the action is quite intense and it doesnât stop. I hope your ears can take it, mine barely did. I suppose that is the point of a movie that has an otherwise incoherent plot and dialogue that seems was written by a 10 year old.
Also, Iâm not really a fan of shoot âem up video games, but the appeal of this movie is clearly directed at lovers of first person shooter games. In one battle scene, the audience is given the same perspective of the first person shooter video game. It was a little disturbing for my tastes.
I did find two moments extremely entertaining. I liked the pairing of John Turturro and Frances McDormand. Both are frequently in many beloved Coen Brothers movies. Sadly, even they are unnecessary, just like the rest of the humans in the Transformers movies.
I also loved the settings. Part of the movie is shot at Milwaukeeâs Art Museum. Unfortunately the building stays intact. Another scene is downtown Chicago. The same canât be said for the Windy City, which virtually suffers some severe damage. Itâs always more fun seeing landmarks youâre familiar with getting blown up.
In all, I canât recommend this film for the simple reason that itâs two and one-half hours long. I donât care what movie it is. No one who just drank a 64oz soda should have to wait that long for a restroom break.
There are a few truths that I hold to be self-evident. Peanut M&Ms will always be better than Plain M&Ms. Traffic will always jam up on the beltline between 7-8am and 3:30-5:30pm. Cameron Diaz talking like a truck driver is always better than Diaz in a romantic comedy. For some reason, Diaz playing a foul mouthed, cynic also seems a more natural fit for her.
While there are moments that had the potential for fantastic raunchy comedy, they are matched with just as many weak plot points.
There are a couple subplots of Miss Halsey inappropriately trying to raise money for breast implants, a romantic storyline involving one of the students and Diaz wooing a fellow teacher, but none of it goes anywhere. A rivalry between Elizabeth and a goodie-two-shoes teacher is what feeds most of the story and I think thatâs where the focus should have been.
It was impossible for me to separate the attempt to mirror Bad Santa. In that story, Billy Bob Thornton is a disgusting human being because it feeds his criminal behavior. Here, Diaz is just a slacker who wants the easy road to riches. I guess if she worked harder at being terrible, that would be a good thing.
While itâs hard not to focus on Diaz, the supporting male roles did entertain me. Iâve been a fan of Jason Segel for a while. He plays the Gym Teacher at the school who is just as attracted to Elizabethâs bad characteristics as her good ones. The regular guy who is 20% sleaze-ball, is the character I like to see him play. Justin Timberlake plays a light-headed substitute teacher like heâs playing in a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Heâs well aware that heâs being goofy.
Loving the anti-hero is no crime. Theyâre sometimes more attractive. Diaz is certainly attractive. As Jimmy Buffett says âIâve read dozens of books about heroes and crooks and learned much from both of their styles. â
Bad Teacher needed more to it. Maybe more tequila.
I really love this new Woody Allen film, although I am really annoyed that it was too intellectual for me. Maybe thatâs the magic of Allen. Even if you donât get all the references and humor, you can still love his work.
There, he meets his favorites who are still in their prime. Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, T.S. Elliott, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali and the list goes on. Gil manages to keep this all on the level and even convinces some of the greats to critique the book heâs working on.
Imagine youâre meeting your favorite rock star for the first time and you play it completely cool. Thatâs the youthful spirit that Wilson manages to exhibit and temper at the same time. Watching that, you canât help but feel excited.
Hereâs the bad part. This movie is a 110 minute dream fantasy sequence for history of English literature lovers. I am not one of those people, but I can respect them from a distance. If you start quoting prose to me, my eyes may glaze over.
I like this movie because it takes those characters and puts them in personal situations. What would the conversation be like if Salvador Dali invited you to sit down for some coffee. What did Cole Porterâs songs sound like when he sang them at parties? How drunk was Hemmingway?
We know their work, but getting a insider glimpse at what their personal lives might have been like is pure entertainment.
13 Assassins made its debut at the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival in late March, and I am still kicking myself for not seeing it then.
This is a machismo period piece about a group of unemployed samurai warriors who come together to stop an evil lord from climbing to power.
As samurai movies go, this one seems to stand out amongst the rest. There are massive battle scenes, but these seem to hold a much grittier and realistic feel to them. Warriors are not flying from rooftop to rooftop on hidden wires. They are duking it out on the ground and you feel their fatigue set in as the battle rages on.
There is much bravado dialogue in the film too. Just like William Wallace spoke to rally his troops before the Braveheart battle scenes, 13 Assassins doesnât fall short on memorable lines. Upon accepting the task to take down the evil lord, the leader of the samurai Shinzaemon Shimada shouts âI shall accomplish your task, with magnificence.â If only we had that type of motivation every day. Think of how far weâd go in life.
The first act involving the recruitment of the samurai progressed a little slower than I prefer, but the payoff was large. It comes in the form of one of the most detailed and believable ambush fight scenes Iâve seen on screen lately.
13 Assassins is sure to satisfy your battle-born bloodlust and leave you a wiser film viewer. The cinematography is above par. The direction is magnificent because you feel a connection to this group of men. You are rooting for their success and feel heartbroken when things donât go right for them.
This film is also currently available On Demand on some cable systems. Itâs well worth a viewing.
You canât help but feel a little nostalgic after this one.
Set in 1979, the Super 8 centers on a massive train wreck that is filmed by a young group of friends. Theyâre making a home movie and capture and event on their film. Mysterious things start to happen after the crash. The military takes control of the town and the once small town is turned upside down.
Fans of Director J.J. Abrams are treated to several little goodies. The sensational train wreckage brought back good memories (?) of Oceanic Flight 815âs crash from the TV series Lost. The well of sci-fi elements in Super 8 doesnât run too deep, but is enough to satisfy diehards.
It is notable that the characters largely drive this story, as opposed to the action of the event they are dealing with. Thatâs a trademark of Abramsâ style and is very welcome in the sci-fi genre today. He also captures the emotional sophistication and tenderness of adolescence and that helps the audience make that important connection to the characters.
Super 8 is reminiscent of films where kids run the action such as E.T., The Goonies, Stand By Me and Gremlins. Theyâre literally darting around on bicycles. I half expected them to start pedaling into the night sky. Thatâs most likely because Steven Spielberg, who claims executive producer credits, also has his fingers into most of them as well.
The downside of this film is the third act where all hell breaks loose and the kids scramble to save the day. Once the problem theyâre facing is full presented to them, the plot steers low and loose. Revealing the face of your big secret is always a mistake if it comes too early.
While I donât think Super 8 will go down in movie history like some of the aforementioned titles, it does stand up for some summer time movie blockbuster fun.
BTWâ¦stick around for the end credits for the payoff on the home movie. Itâs nearly as good as the feature length.
Somebody call up George Lucas and tell him that this is how you make a prequel. Honestly, I donât mean to be obnoxious, but why couldnât Star Wars 1, 2 & 3 have been as much fun as this X Men prequel?
I do enjoy the plot technique of setting a fictional story around real historical fact. X-Men: First Class set in 1963 around the Cuban Missile Crisis. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a new graduate of Oxford and is recruited by the bto stop the Russian nuclear threat. Along the way, he befriends Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender,) a person who eventually becomes his arch enemy.
They discover that Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon,) a fellow mutant is busy at work instigating both nuclear powers into all out war, but for his own benefit.
Amongst the filmâs highlights is the rather scary and malicious take that Kevin Bacon puts on his supervillain. Not only does he capture the evil essence of a Nazi that wants to destroy the world with nuclear weapons, his mere presence on the screen simply creeped me out. Remember, thatâs a compliment.
The action is fast and entertaining. The battles are near epic. This is good summertime entertainment.
The real fun of this movie is in the discovery. With a good grasp on his own power, Xavier aims to find other mutants, help them discover their potential. Watching a person (or a mutant) discover their own potential is simply entertaining. I think it makes you wonder what untapped super powers are in yourself. If anything, keeping you guessing is a trait of a good movie.
The only thing that really surprised me about The Hangover II is how exact they stuck to the formula. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
The Hangover Part II brings back all the characters from the first movie including Stu (Ed Helms,) Phil (Bradley Cooper,) Alan (Zach Galifinanakis,) Doug (Justin Bartha) and Mr. Chow(Ken Jeong).Â Except this time Phil is getting married and itâs set in Thailand. Unfortunately for these once A-List actors, this movie only serves to knock them down a few notches towards has-beens.
The exact same scenario happens, except this time the missing party is Stuâs brother in law. They hop from one stop to another in the streets of Thailand, recounting their hijinks and slowly putting the clues together to solve their missing persons case.
Whatâs unfortunate is they stick to the exact same formula as the predecessor and nothing feels new.
There are some funny and perilous situations that the boys find themselves in, but in the theater I was in, they barely received a chuckle.
I think the widespread appeal of The Hangover came from the perception that what we were seeing could have really happened to a group of guys. For girls, I think it was that inside look into what happens during a wild bachelor party. After you see that once itâs not as shocking to stare into its eyes again.
With news that thereâs already a Hangover III in the works, I donât have much hope for it. If thereâs anything we learn from Hollywood, itâs that if a formula works, you repeat it until all of the money is drained out.Â Â Boo.
We as consumers must stand up and not support Hollywood when they churn out trash like this and expect us all to spend our hard earned money on it.Â Itâs the only way to send the message.
Did I need to mention that Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is weak in all sorts of ways?Â I was tired of this series after the second installment.Â I will not watch another one again.
After crossing paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is swept aboard the ship of the pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) on a mission to find the fountain of youth.
Itâs hard for me to express how overdone, draw-out and not fun this movie was.Â I caught this one on an Ultrascreen in 3D, because the showtime was convenient.Â Iâm not a fan of 3D and I donât think it added anything special this time around.Â It did make the movie look darker than when I snuck a peek without the glasses.
First, thereâs the time factor.Â I want some kind of reward for watching a two hour and seventeen minute movie.Â I felt punished for sticking to the end credits.
Then thereâs the wasted talent.Â I saw fleeting moments of grace from actors and actresses that I know have skills and talent.Â Cruz, McShane and 2011 Oscar nominee Geoffery Rush gave little to be appreciated. Â I hope it was at least a good payday for them.Â Â I think Depp is often a far overrated actor.Â Pirates 4 solidly backs that theory up. Thereâs a complete lack of chemistry between the players and itâs a bore.
Finally, add in all the work that went into this movie. Director Rob Marshall and Disney were obviously trying to make this look like and epic.Â It was a looker, but there was no thought behind it.Â Again, the 3D just doesnât do anything for me.
From what I recall from the other Pirates movies, the quick-witted dialogue was itâs saving grace.Â This time around weâre hit with nothing but snappy catchphrases that have no deeper meaning.Â To quote Captain Sparrow: âDid everyone see that? Because I will *not* be doing it again.â Lets hope so.
Call it the female version of The Hangover if you want, but Bridesmaids is really a fantastic and raunchy comedy of it's own, thatâs got a lot of heart.
Annie (Kristin Wiig) is a losery Milwaukee girl who hasnât quite figured it all out. Picked as her best friend Lillianâs (Maya Rudolph) maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.
I am told by my girlfriend that this movie perfectly and realistically nails the dynamic of women in a group setting. From the relationship between the two best friends to the catty conversations, she felt it was on par. I felt a true nature of the friendship between Annie and Lillian, which made you care about their future. I think itâs also what shifts the film from a basic comedy to a well rounded story.
Even without an unbelievably raunchy scene involving the ladies dealing with food poisoning while trying out bridesmaidâs dresses, this film still works. There were roars of laughter and ewwws of disgust from audience I saw it with.
Wiig gets co-writing credits for the film, but really she deserves more accolades than that. She steps far beyond the limitations of a three minute sketch on Saturday Night Live and earns the title actress.
Much credit goes to Melissa McCarthy. She takes her role as the strong hearted, yet hefty fellow bridesmaid and knocks it out of the park. The film also does a good job of juggling the large group of characters, without making any the lesser. Itâs an all around well done comedy.
Since when did being a superhero get so psychedelic? The latest Marvel comic turned movie is a rather silly creation. Whatâs more is that Thor, with his cape, hammer and sensible beard may be one of the sillier superheroes there is.
We are shown that Thor (Chris Hemsworth), son of Norse god Odin is an arrogant but effective warrior. On the day the throne is supposed to be passed down to Thor, his realm is attacked by assassins. Instead of heeding his fatherâs warning to stay cool headed, Thor decides to seek revenge on his attackers.
Turns out thatâs a bad decision, because the retaliation sparks what could be a massive war amongst enemies. For his arrogance, Odin banishes Thor to Earth. While this is brewing, Thorâs younger brother takes cues from Shakespeareâs MacBeth in a decades long power struggle to one-up his older bro. Something is rotten on magic space mountain of Asgard.
You are forced to accept that Thor lives on a magic mountain in space that is connected to the other nine realms of the universe by a rainbow bridge. (Did Timothy Leary come up with the scenery?)
While on earth, there is some fun to be had with Thor being a fish out of water. Walking into a pet shop and demanding a horse or smashing your mug of coffee at a restaurant in celebration of its good taste makes for many chuckles.
Still, a very watered down performance fromNatalie Portman and mediocre acting from Hemsworth wore me down. I did like the idea that Anthony Hopkins was a god and that Renee Russo was his queen of the world. They were high points in this tale which more or less disappointed.
I think what disappointed me is that I expect my superhero stories to take place here on earth. Thatâs what makes a hero super. They can do things above and beyond mortal man. Most of the Thorâs story takes place on his magic mountain in space. It felt much less like hero fighting the bad guy and more like a sci-fi fantasy story mixed in with Norse legend.
I was also disappointed in the fact that Thor felt like it was more of a set up for the upcoming Marvel flicks: Captain America: The First Avenger, due out in summer and The Avengers, due out next year.
There is nothing funny about an alcoholic that loses his job, wife and dignity because of his drinking problem. Even if that person is Will Ferrell. In the context of Everything Must Go, thatâs a good thing.
Ferrell throws us a curve ball in his new film that is far from a comedy and more like a dramatic unfolding of a sad life.
Nick Halsey (Ferrell) in one day is fired from his job and come home to find his wife has emptied his possessions onto their front lawn and changed the locks. Unsure what to do, Nick passively guards his stuff by planting himself outdoors in a recliner on said lawn. He also commences with filling the recycle bin with his empties of PBR, giving us a good idea of what a functional alcoholic does.
Kenny, a neighborhood kid befriends Nick in exchange for his salesmanship knowledge as they partner up for a big yard sale. Their relationship is genuine and well handled. From his front lawn seat, Nick also dysfunctionally befriends with his new neighbor Samantha (Rebecca Hall.) Both Nick and Samathaâs problems are living right below the surface, which gave them a realistic feeling.
There are shining moments of humanity in this film. Only having known Nick for a few days, Samantha comes to the aid of Nickâs withdrawal symptoms in a comforting, but non-judgmental way. I guess itâs a little sad that I though getting this close to somebody you hardly knew was a stretch.
I do enjoy it when a performer can transform themself on screen. With Ferrell, you always expect some comedy with darkness around the edges. Everything Must Go dives a little deeper than his more serious tone in âStranger Than Fiction." Itâs rare for a comic actor to be able to pull it off so well. Adam Sandler did a great job in âPunch Drunk Love.â Jim Carrey did it in âEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.â
This film isnât perfect, but it does add to the argument that Ferrell has range. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Look closely at the closing scene. Itâs hard not to think of the cover art on The Eaglesâ âThe Hotel California.â I guess in some ways Nick feels that he could check out any time he likes, but can never leave himself.
Bonus musical reference. Kenny, the neighborhood kid is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace. He played his real life father Christopher Wallace (aka Notorious B.I.G.) as a child in the film about the rapper âNotorious.â
Itâs not that I didnât like the Royal Wedding, itâs just that I needed something to wash the taste of it away and Fast Five is perfect for the job.
Somehow this movie franchise manages to keep itself from going into the ridiculous zone that most movies that hit three sequels go into. Maybe itâs the overdose of steroids injected into nearly every scene. Maybe itâs the muscle cars and the edge of your seat driving. Maybe itâs the ridiculous tough guy dialogue. This form of escapism still works for me.
This time, Dominic (Vin Diesel) and his racing buddy Brian (Paul Walker) find themselves in Rio de Janeiro, assembling a crack team of thieves, anxious for a big payoff in one final heist. Yes, that does sound like Oceans 11. Â No worries about how they got here. Youâre caught up within a minute of the intro credits. Thereâs a few twists; a pregnant girlfriend, a evil Brazilian power monger and Super FBI bad guy catcher Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) on their tail.
The end credits warn you not to replicate the stunts you see in the movie. Thatâs good, because I considered jumping my Honda Civic off the side of moving train, then later dragging a gigantic bank vault attached to a wire behind it. Seems like something I could pull off.
Still, you canât really pick apart the stunt work. Its one piece of a ridiculous pie that has hot chicks, reckless driving, muscle flexing and automatic weapons on the ingredient list. These are all good things. Iâm just happy they pulled it all off with a straight face.
Another part of the reason that these super-charged movies work is because of the honor among thieves. When heâs not flexing his muscles, Dom is the patriarch of his band of bandits and his number one rule is family first. Youâd think people willing to rob another person of millions of dollars would be more focused on the money. No, Dom raises his bottle of beer and says money will come and go, but his patched together family is more important.
A technical side note. In my opinion, this is not the fifth Fast and Furious sequel. There are five movies that bear a one form or another of the title: The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast and Furious (2009) and Fast Five (2011).
Tokyo Drift featured neither Vin Diesel or Paul Walker, although Diesel had a cameo.Â In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Diesel was absent. I say since muscle guys and muscle cars have to go together and since Diesel is the muscle, Drift and 2 Fast donât count.
Then, calling this movie Fast Five wouldnât really make sense, but who cares? Just drive the damn car fast.
If you took the movie Titanic and placed it in the backdrop of the 1930âs circus, thatâs essentially what Water For Elephants is. Knowing that, I was still pleased to see that the movie works.
Based on the widely popular novel, Water For Elephants is the story of an old man (Hal Holbrook) looking back on the fantastic moments of his life. In his 20âs, young and sensitive Jacob (Robert Pattison) is a veterinary student when he joins the circus. He eventually becomes smitten with the jealous ringmasterâs wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon,) the circusâ main attraction and their love grows.
Christoph Waltz is mesmerizing as August, the ringmaster and bossman of the circus. The role of August is a great villain, but is a touch more-human than his other notable role of a Nazi in Inglorious Basterds. Heâs abusive to his wife and the animals, which caused some of the people I was with in the theater to gasp. One of Augustâs favorite hobbies seems to be having his thugs toss the no longer useful employees from his moving train in the middle of the night. So much for job security.
Because of the Twilight films, I didnât expect much from Robert Pattinson. His performance is sensitive, but pretty stiff. Even when heâs being belted with pies and seltzer water as a type of circus hazing ritual, it was tough for him to crack a smile. I am blind to any flaw that Reese Witherspoon might make. She is always golden in my eyes.
The circus is an odd world, full of duality. From the viewerâs perspective, it can be magical and fantastic. Behind the scenes it can be quite a different story. The film gets credit for representing the dark side of caging wild animals. Outside of the show, their lives looked miserable and depressing.
Thatâs why even though the story is light, those who commit bad deeds are appropriately punished. Justice is served and the viewer is left with some satisfaction having watched it all go down.
One side note. Look closely atÂ the circus wagons in the film. Some of them were on loan from Circus World Museum. I recognized a couple, but was surprised they let them use them, considering how much badmouthing of the Ringling Brotherâs Circus there was.
If you are a movie junkie like me, you know that according to Terminator folklore, the world is about to end.
According to the most recent timeline Skynet became self aware at 8:11pm last night. That means we have 48 hours before the end of the world.
I think I'd just gonna spend it watching American Idol and eating pizza.
If you have no idea what this means, just disregard.
You could ask a sci-fi movie geek. That's if you want a lecture on network security and robot technology. I suggest you just let it go. If you really what to know. Email me and I'll lay it all out....that's if we have enough time.
If I could tell crime one thing, I guess I agree with what TheCrimson Bolt says; âShut up crime!â Itâs a little gritty, but an apt phrase for a superhero.
The Crimson Bolt (Rainn Wilson) is the literal and figurative hero in SUPER, a dark, violent and slightly comedic look at vigilante justice. After everyday drug dealer Jaques (played by a skeleton-looking Kevin Bacon) lures away Frank DâArboâs wife (Liv Tyler,) he transforms himself into a Crimson Bolt.
The Crimson Bolt has good intentions, but seems to draw his inspiration from hallucinations of him talking to God. After seeing Crimson and his mild-mannered cover Frank, I believe the pair are mentally unhinged. I know heartbreak can change a person, but someone so bent on justice has to see the wrongdoing in smashing a person over the head with a pipe wrench for butting in line.
Then again, there is a police philosophy that any crime is a violation of the law, therefore jaywalking should be handled with the same severity as a serial murdered. I think the idea of purist 1950âs clean-cut justice still rings true in Frankâs head. What makes him just, also makes him scary.
Frank is later joined by sidekick Boltie (Ellen Page.) Page only hints at the neurotic, insecure, over talkative character she gets typecast as. She also doesnât stray too far.
Frank is also a likable loser. We see him cry in front of other men, over his wife leaving and feel sympathy for his plight. He seems to take on characters that have significant faults, but make up for them with a sense of good. This film gets credit, because itâs not afraid to show the ugly side of human nature.
Last year, you may remember the widescreen release of Kick-Ass. Each film has a similar idea, showing the dark and comical side of the average Joe putting on a costume and fighting crime. SUPER, has a little more heart and oddly enough, more skull cracking too.
This movie seems to be sold as a superhero comedy. Thereâs only hints at comedy here. Itâs more satire on the comic book culture and playing with the audienceâs expectations of what should happen to a superhero.
I should just not have a cell phone.Â I am CURSED!
You may recall back in the winter of 2009, when I accidentally dropped my iPhone in a snow bank while shoveling.Â Â I found it 4 1/2 months later, but only after replacing it at a hefty cost.
I've done it again.
This morning while washing my hands, I set my phone on the sink edge and it slid in.Â It was under the running water for about 1.5 seconds before I snatched it out.Â Â The damage may have been done.Â Instead of being a smart person who turned the phone off and tried to dry it out.Â I tried to make a call.
I've lost the speaker that goes next to your ear, rendering the phone mostly useless.Â Seems like everything else works, including the external iPod speaker.
After multiple suggestions from my Facebook friends, I have the phone sitting in a box of Instant Enriched Long Grain Premium Minute Rice.Â I hope it dries it out.Â We'll keep it there for 24 hours and see what happens.
In the meantime, I can't stop looking inside the rice box to see what's happening. I had to tape it shut.Â It is too much temptation to keep looking inside.
Also, I wonder if I could use the rice afterward for cooking?
In the action-thriller world, itâs hard to think of another teenage girl who I might fear more than Hanna. A surprisingly energetic movie, it manages to satisfy our revenge-lust while making sure justice is served.
16-year old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is home schooled by her super spy father (Eric Bana.) He not only educates her with an encyclopedia, he also shows Hanna his training to defend herself in the deadliest of situations. She sets out on a mission to avenge her slain mother and finds out she is more than your average teenager. Marissa (Cate Blanchett) is a rogue agent on their trail.
The shock and draw of this movie is the juxtaposition of the fair-haired, delicate little girl, who can turn deadly on a momentâs notice. Ronan made my eyes bug out in a tremendous escape scene. She is crawling through a ventilation system like a child might crawl through playground equipment, except every once in a while you get a glance of the gun she just took off a guard, that she mercilessly killed.
In the action genre, something big always packs the punch. Itâs a bigger gun, a meathead henchman named Jaws or a supped-up car. Thatâs why Hanna was refreshingly entertaining. It was quite the opposite of what you expect.
Ronan plays Hanna as an inquisitive and smart yet ferocious creature. Blanchett was delightfully playing the evil stepmother type, and Bana, who I tire of quickly, was even watchable.
I do love a good sci-fi thriller and I think weâve found an early year goodie in Source Code.
Source Code is a dark, sci-fi cousin of Groundhog Day. It manages to thrill, make the mind wonder and give us a sense that humanity will deliver us a brighter future. Thatâs a pretty tall order to deliver on, but Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga are able to carry the load.
Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) wakes to discover heâs part of a government experiment that allows a person to take over another manâs identity for the last eight minutes of their life. The mission is to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train before they hit a much larger target. Colleen Goodman (Farmiga) is Stevenâs contact. In a hidden military lab, she communicates with him through an elaborate Skype setup.
To question the unbelievable logic and fantastic science behind the movie is to look beyond the point. The point of this movie is a manâs struggle to right a wrong. The enjoyment of this movie is to see the story unravel.
One reason this all works is because there are dark themes, which seem to match Gyllenhaalâs style well. All of the people on the train will die. He has to put that aside and find clues to stop the next tragedy. Stevenâs also has to cope with his own reality amid the confusion of why heâs a soldier, turned futuristic data-cop.
Because Michelle Monaghan wasnât in every single minute of this movie, I feel like she may have been underutilized. She plays the girl on the train that Stevens is riding with. Itâs hard not to gravitate towards her beauty and acting skills. Iâll watch her in anything.
In the movies, power must corrupt. What seems to be a brilliant tool for fighting crime also has to come with a human cost. Iâll stop there without laying out any spoilers.
I can say that itâs rare to see a modern sci-fi film thatâs got a lot of good ingredients mixed in. This film is worth the while.
I would consider it a great accomplishment to tie together a coherent film noir about mental institutions, sword play, epic battle scenes, dragons, robots, samurai warriors, World War II steam-powered automatons, debauchery, corruption and battle ready young women who love to show off their midriffs. The thing is, trying to throw in all those ideas into one film makes it very incoherent.
Iâm still not exactly sure what the title means, but bear with me as I try to describe this jumbled mess.
A young woman is accused of accidentally killing her younger sister and is sent to a 1950âs style mental hospital. While there, she introverts into a fantasy world where the goal to escaping an oppressive pimp who make them wear lingerie 24-7 and dance for money. Somehow freeing herself in the fantasy world is also supposed to free her physical self from the mental hospital.
Really, the plot is beside the point. Iâm not exactly sure who would like this movie, unless they are fans of video game, anime, sword-wielding female fighters. I canât really recommend this movie to anyone, because I donât really know anybody like that.
The stylized violence is the only thing Sucker Punch has going for itself and even with that, the film is weak. While themes from Inception, our lead heroine is in a second level escapism dream, she is engaged in WWII style trench warfare. She and her friends dispatch countless steam powered burn victims while trying to capture a object that will help them escape from the first level escapism dream.
While Sucker Punch may exceed with eye popping effects, it leaves you wondering of the director has ever actually spoken to an actual woman. None of the cast of scantily dressed women portrayed anything genuine. I think he was too busy playing video games.
Just when I thought I never wanted to see another legal drama or Matthew McConaughey on-screen ever again, along comes The Lincoln Lawyer.
Mickey Haller (McConaughey) is a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his late 80âs model Lincoln sedan. Heâs spent most of his career defending garden-variety criminals, until he lands the case of his career: defending Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy accused of rape and attempted murder.
The seemingly straightforward case suddenly develops into a deadly game of survival for Haller.
The Lincoln Lawyer is not perfect. Like many movies that dabble with the law, grandiose ideas are reduced down to a simple, one-sentence of dialogue. Some characters are unnecessary and arrive at extremely convenient points in the plot. I found it forgivable.
Honestly, I almost forgot that McConaughey could act. Heâs been in so many romantic comedies and other lame examples of movies that I had written him off as a hack. He really performs well in dramas. I know actors like to stretch out of their comfort zone, but sticking to the things you are really good can also be a challenge too. Not that heâd take my advice, but I think Matthew should.
I think if Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Pale Rider and the toy animals from Toy Story all got together, Rango would be their baby.
Rango is the story of a domesticated lizard who dreams his life is a stage filled with rich characters. Given a shot of freedom he uses the opportunity to create a new personality, while on the path to finding himself.
In the comic western style of Blazing Saddles and followed by a Greek Chorus of Owls in a Mariachi band, Rango assumes sheriff duties of western town and tries to help them solve their water crisis. Not only is this a tip of the 10-Gallon hat to westerns, Rango also pays homage to films across the board including Apocalypse Now and the aforementioned Pale Rider and Fear and Loathing.
Johnny Depp lends Rango his voice, but is just one of a dozen beautifully defined characters. They look real, and they feel real enough to make a human connection to them.
One of the characters is the amazing desert backdrop where the story takes place. At times I wondered whether the film was merging real life footage with the CGI. Possibly a great sign of advanced animation movie making?
Even though itâs animated and rated PG, I canât really say this is a kidâs movie. The dialogue is often complex, thereâs a lot of deep existential thought and thereâs a focus on artistic beauty. No groin shots, no animal farts, no princesses. OK, some animal farts.
Just one question for the makers of Hall Pass. Why save your most funny ideas for the end credits? The extreme lengths that men will go to, in order to get lucky, is what makes comedies like these funny.
Hall Pass is a social-marital experiment of sorts. Two archetypical suburban men-children feel trapped in married life. Their wives grant both men a week off of marriage. They are allowed to do anything they want, including see other women. The idea is that it will breathe new life into the old relationship and with itâs new found freedom, the old relationship will blossom once again.
The comedy should have come from the extremes that the main characters Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudekis) would take their new freedoms. Itâs doesnât. In fact, most of the plot is boring with enough male-directed laughs to keep you waiting for the next one.
Itâs hard to watch when a joke completely falls flat. I counted about five instances in Hall Pass before I gave up. One involved a comic mix up between the group Snow Patrol and the Cuba Gooding Jr. movie Snow Dogs. Owen Wilson is trying to hit on a hot barista, when another man calls him out. Another involves male frontal nudity, which done in a particular way, can be quite funny. This time, they didnât seem to work and it was like pressing pause in the movie.
Overall this movie fails in its attempt to serve as a raunchy-guys movie, because it tries to walk into the feel-good date movie territory. Choose one formula and stay there. It makes a lot more sense to the viewer.
The Farrlley Brothers, who have delivered us comic gems like Dumb and Dumber and Thereâs Something About Mary, are know to throw some raunch in for fun. I know its not fair to continually judge them according to the success of Thereâs Something about Mary, but I say either go overboard with it or just keep it to one joke.
There is no debating. There is no budging. There is no compromise.
Yeesh. I sound like the Governor here.
What I am talking about is not what's going on in downtown Madison. No, my focus is on downtown Hollywood this weekend and The 83rd Annual Academy Awards.
I've taken the Top 10 Oscar categories and locked in what is sure to be guaranteed winners.
How do I know these will be winners? Don't ask such silly questions. Some things must remain unknown.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem for Biutiful.
Jeff Bridges for True Grit.
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network. Colin Firth for The King's Speech.
James Franco for 127 Hours.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right.
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole.
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone. Natalie Portman for Black Swan.
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Christian Bale for The Fighter.
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone.
Jeremy Renner for The Town.
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right.
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Amy Adams for The Fighter.
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech.
Melissa Leo for The Fighter.
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit.
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom.
Best Achievement in Directing
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan.
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit. David Fincher for The Social Network.
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech.
David O. Russell for The Fighter.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist Toy Story 3
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Iron Man 2
Best Documentary, Features Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
This is something pretty cool that AMC (Star Cinema) is doing next weekend.Â The question is...can you stand watching 11+ straight hours of movies?
They're going to show all ten Oscar Best Picture Nominees (five one day, five another day) in a row.Â Details.
A two-day pass is $60 and is good for all 10 films divided between both days. To make up for the insane bleacher butt you're gonna get, they're throwing in $10 per day in concession stand gift cards. You gotta over the course of 10 hours! A one day pass is $35 (available online and at participating theatres' box office)
Here's he schedule of films for the two-day event is as follows:
Saturday, February 19
11:00 a.m. Toy Story 3 (103 min)
1:00 p.m. 127 Hours (95 min)
3:00 p.m.The Kids are All Right (106 min)
5:45 p.m. True Grit (110 min)
7:45 p.m. The Fighter (116 min)
Saturday, February 26
11:00 a.m. Winter's Bone (100 min)
1:00 p.m. Black Swan (109 min)
3:10 p.m. Inception (148 min)
6:45 p.m. The Social Network (121 min)
9:00 p.m. The King's Speech (119 min)
They suggest you dress comfortably. Ha! Can I bring a bleacher cushion?
If I were to name three things that bore me; cave exploration, C-List Australian actors and James Cameron might actually make the list. Unfortunately for me, Sacntum has all three.
Based on a true story, Sanctum follows a group of adventerous researchers who are exploring a gigantic cave and have to spelunk for their lives after a rainstorm threatens to flood their only entrance and exit.
This isnât James Cameronâs follow up to Avatar, because that would be a sad, sad reality for him. Heâs got Executive Producer credits on this film, which means little other than that he served as a consultant. Heck, I think my dog has Executive Producer credits on some movies from the early 2000âs.
Sanctum features a cast of mostly unknown actors who deliver cheesy and flat performances. While dealing with the natural disaster theyâre facing, they resort to bad dialogue, uninspired drama and awkward Australian phraseology. I would have been happier if somebody said âa dingo stole my baby,â but again, Iâm out of luck.
Maybe Indiana Jones could still get away with saying âWhat could possibly go wrong with diving in caves?â This cast makes the foreshadowing obvious and annoying.
The movie is also shot from a confusing perspective. You never really can grasp whether the cave they are in is 10 feet from the surface or six miles under. Most of the scenes take place in a cramped cave space that doesnât give you the massive feeling that a cave should give you.
Like Cameronâs last work, the scenery is beautiful in Sanctum. The tropical forests, underground worlds and underwater oceans were a character to themselves. Sadly again, they were the only interesting character. You can dress a movie up and even put it in shiny 3D, but if the story is lacking, there wonât be much to enjoy.
This movie could have been much more with better execution. Being trapped in a cave, miles under the earthâs surface and having to rely on your strengths to get you out is a scary and intriguing premise. I think if Cameron really had his hands on this movie, he would have been able to root out Sanctumâs glaring weaknesses. Putting his name on it only serves to weaken his overextended and no longer welcome pitch for 3D.
Though the audience that goes to see this film probably wonât admit it, I find it perfectly acceptable to have a man-crush on the bullet-headed intensity of Statham. Heâs leading the game of modern action heroes and in many ways heâs a likable actor.
Of course this is a movie about over-excess. Just look at the movie poster. Itâs a picture of a gun, made up of a bunch of little guns.
The only really annoying thing about this movie had nothing to do with the lead actors. In one scene Statham has a friendly old man who serves as his watchman. (Think of him as a Wal-Mart style greeter.) When he is not at his post, it should be clear that something is wrong. Instead, the film dumbs itself down, and highlights the facts that the old man is not at his post, tipping you off that he is missing. Is this not obvious? Did the film editor fall asleep? No, itâs just a ploy to keep everyone up to pace with whatâs going on.
Itâs funny how hard it is to watch somebodyâs life completely fall to pieces. Still, I think the draw to watching mistake after mistake until the downward spiral bottoms out, is the cautionary lesson you can hopfully take from it.
Blue Valentine time shifts around the lives of Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling.) Quite the opposite of a romantic comedy, we watch the married couple make the heart-wrenching and heavy relationship decisions that we hope we never have to make.
People always wish that they could be young again, but surviving the emotional strife that these two twenty-something go through seems like too far a mountain for me to climb. I could feel the pending sense of doom for this pair from the moment they decided that their song was one that goes âyou always hurt the one you love.â
Dean is all heart and no brains. A romantic lunkhead. Cindy is emotionally fragile from a troubled home life. We watch their relationship from beginning to itâs breakdown and worst of all, see them completely forget the reasons they decided to get married.
The viewer is left to piece together what went wrong. Makes you hope that when the time comes, you can do the same.
I personally still find it hard to watch Michelle Williams without having some kind of sad thought about how her family was shattered after the death of Â Heath Ledger. They say true art comes from pain. It didnât take long to become invested in Dean and Cindy. Williams acting made it easy to put aside her real life story and focus on the drama on screen.
I'm not a big fan of the Golden Globes, but I do like make predictions. That's the only reason I'm acknowledging the Oscar's -Lite ceremony on Sunday that everybody else calls the Golden Globes. It's basically a popularity contest instead of a reward for good work.
I poo-poo the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. They are a group of "journalists" whose sole purpose is to cozy up to celebrities. it's well known that they bribe celebrities and throw parties for them. These are the same celebrities who they are supposed to impartially judge and decide which movies are of worth. Anyone else see the conflict of interest here?
So, with that in mind, I make the following picks for Sunday night's show. I have also included a few categories that I think should be added to the ceremony. (We all love how long these dumb shows last...right?)
Nominated Movie Picked Because Of Big Name Stars, But Has No Business Being Nominated
The Tourist - Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie
Nominated Move Picked Because Of neat Special Effects, But Has No Business Being Nominated
Alice In Wonderland (2010)
Category Where The Judges Obviously Have A Crush On Johnny Depp
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical - Depp is nominated like 5 times.
Here's the real categories with who I think will win in BOLD.
Best Motion Picture - Drama
The King's Speech The Social Network
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Halle Berry â Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman â Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence â Winter's Bone Natalie Portman â Black Swan
Michelle Williams â Blue Valentine
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Jesse Eisenberg â The Social Network
Colin Firth â The King's Speech
James Franco â 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling â Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg â The Fighter
Best Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Alice in Wonderland
Burlesque The Kids Are All Right
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Annette Bening â The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway â Love And Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie â The Tourist Julianne Moore â The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone â Easy A
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical
Johnny Depp â Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp â The Tourist
Paul Giamatti â Barney's Version Jake Gyllenhaal â Love And Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey â Casino Jack
Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams â The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter â The King's Speech Mila Kunis â Black Swan
Melissa Leo â The Fighter
Jacki Weaver â Animal Kingdom
Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Christian Bale â The Fighter
Michael Douglas â Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield â The Social Network
Jeremy Renner â The Town
Geoffrey Rush â The King's Speech
Best Animated Feature Film
How To Train Your Dragon
Tangled Toy Story 3
Best Director - Motion Picture
Darren Aronofsky â Black Swan David Fincher â The Social Network
Tom Hooper â The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan â Inception
David O. Russell â The Fighter
Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle - 127 Hours Christopher Nolan - Inception
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler - The King's Speech
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network
Best Television Series - Drama Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
The Good Wife (CBS)
Mad Men (AMC)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Julianna Margulies â The Good Wife (CBS)
Elisabeth Moss â Mad Men (AMC)
Piper Perabo â Covert Affairs
Katey Sagal â Sons Of Anarchy Kyra Sedgwick â The Closer (TNT)
Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Steve Buscemi â Boardwalk Empire (HBO) Bryan Cranston â Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall â Dexter (SHOWTIME)
Jon Hamm â Mad Men (AMC)
Hugh Laurie â House (FOX)
Best Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
30 Rock (NBC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
The Big C (Showtime)
Glee (FOX) Modern Family (ABC)
Nurse Jackie (SHOWTIME)
Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical
Toni Collette â United States Of Tara (SHOWTIME)
Edie Falco â Nurse Jackie (SHOWTIME)
Tina Fey â 30 Rock (NBC) Laura Linney â The Big C (Showtime)
Lea Michele â Glee (FOX)
Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Comedy Or Musical Alec Baldwin â 30 Rock (NBC)
Steve Carell â The Office (NBC)
Thomas Jane â Hung (HBO)
Matthew Morrison â Glee (FOX)
Jim Parsons â The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
Carlos (Sundance C)
The Pacific (HBO)
Pillars Of The Earth (STARZ) Temple Grandin (HBO)
You Don't Know Jack (HBO)
Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hayley Atwell â Pillars Of The Earth (STARZ) Claire Danes â Temple Grandin (HBO)
Judi Dench â Return To Cranford
Romola Garai â Emma
Jennifer Love Hewitt â The Client List
Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Idris Elba â Luther Ian McShane â Pillars Of The Earth (STARZ)
Al Pacino â You Don't Know Jack (HBO)
Dennis Quaid â The Special Relationship
Edgar Ramirez â Carlos (Sundance C)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hope Davis â The Special Relationship Jane Lynch â Glee (FOX)
Kelly MacDonald â Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Julia Stiles â Dexter (SHOWTIME)
Sofia Vergara â Modern Family (ABC)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Scott Caan â Hawaii Five-O
Chris Colfer â Glee (FOX)
Chris Noth â The Good Wife (CBS) Eric Stonestreet â Modern Family (ABC)
David Strathairn â Temple Grandin (HBO)
It seems, about this time of year we typically get another mediocre film with Nicholas Cage in it. So much for starting new in 2011.
Season Of The Witch begins with a series of Crusader battles, which somehow are bloodless, and do less than thrill as they strive for epic battle status. Behman (Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) are some of the fiercest warriors, until (12 years later!) they decide killing in the churchâs and god name isnât so honorable. Maybe theyâre just too old for that stuff.
After ditching, they return to a convenient town thatâs become stricken with the plague. Itâs no mistake that itâs the same town from the opening sequence that previously hung three suspected witches, but didnât do the job quite right.
That sets Behman and Felson on a quest to finish the witchhunt. I wonât really give anything away that the biggest twist in the movie is revealed early on. The witches in question are actually witches. When does that ever happen?
In any case, this movie is a scatterbrain. Is it a buddy comedy between Behman and Felson? Is it another weak Nicholas Cage action flick? Is it a period piece? Is it a good guys vs the supernatural horror movie? Itâs a bit of each of them, which means the film loses itâs focus and wanders, just like the main characters do.
Iâm trying to remember a movie with so many religious themes in it, that isnât religious at all. Season Of The Witch steers down the road of mythology and dogma, before crashing itâs medieval wagon on the side of the road.
Also, what is going on with Nick Cageâs hair? I couldnât tell if that was a bad wig, or just a hairdresser who canât see.
The only redeeming quality of this film if Ron Perlman. He knows how to execute a supernatural action movie (See Hellboy. No, really go watch it.) If not for his one-liners, furrowed brow and smirky expressions, I wouldnât have even gone to see this.
OK...I'm free to change my mind...right? I caught one more movie this week that's going to change my mind about my Top 10 Movies of 2010 list. Keep in mind I wrote this list while some 2010 movies hadn't been released yet.
Since it's on the books as having a 2010 release date, and its most likely going to be an Oscar contender, I wanted to add it it.
Rarely are there movies that do a beautiful job of showing how people overcome adversity and grow from it. The King's Speech is one of those movies. Here's my revisions:
#10 - Shutter Island - A excellent tale, a dark backdrop and a story that I couldn't quite figure out until the end.
#9 - The Kids Are Alright - I watched it on a 7 1/2" blurry screen on a flight from Detroit to Paris. It was still good.
#8 - True Grit - The Dude does The Duke justice. Brilliant dialogue in a classic western style.
#7 - The Fighter - I apologize for calling this one a modern day "Rocky." It has it's own story and a lot of heart.
#6 - Toy Story 3 - You win this time Disney.
#5 - Inception - Don't tell me it was too hard to follow. This was a fantastic, original, and visually stunning idea.
#3 - (Two Way Tie) 127 Hours & Black Swan- Minus the whole arm cutting off thing, I felt a close connection to 127 Hours love of the outdoors. A great nature movie. Black Swan was just beautiful in every way.
#2 - The King's Speech - Colin Firth and Geoffery Rush pull off a masterpiece. I love movies about people overcoming their disabilities. This one is fantastic.
#1 - The Social Network - Intense, dramatic and topical. Rarely does a movie draw you in this much. I had to check my watch because the two hour run time flew by.
Honors For Being Bumped Off The Top 10 List Version 1.0: The Town My Guilty Pleasure Of 2010: Machete Favorite Close To A Series: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest Favorite Comedy: Get Him To The Greek Favorite Movie That No One Else Liked: Hot Tub Time Machine Favorite Scary Movie: Devil Favorite Movie With Flaming Swords Starring Michael Cera: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Favorite Kids Movie If Not For Toy Story 3: How To Train Your Dragon
#10 - The Town - A great crime thriller. Say what you will about Ben Affleck. The dude knows how to make a good Baaaaah-ston movie.
Now for something completely different...is what I wished I could have done with the time I wasted on these movies in 2010.
Keep in mind, it was hard compiling a Top 10 Worst Movies of 2010 list, because there was a TON of crap film out there. Please. Please heed my warnings. If you haven't seen these films, don't waste your time.
#10 - Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 1 - I really prefer my movies to have a beginning, middle AND and ending. (see Star Wars Trilogy on how to make movies that are part of a series, yet also stand on their own)
#9 - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - Is Shia LaBeouf out to wreck every single movie franchise out there. This movie was flacid at best.
#8 - The Last Airbender - Please make it stop M. Night Shyamalan.
#7 - Valentines Day - How many big movie stars does it take to make a horrible and predictable love story? I stopped counting at 18.
#6 - Clash Of The Titans (2010) - Sure it's cool to hear Liam Neeson say "Release The Kracken." That was the only cool thing about it.
#5 - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - I seriously would rather bang a hammer against a metal bucket that is on my head that have to watch this poor excuse for a film. Complete dribble.
#4 - The Tourist - I really wanted to like this but Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie stunk. Very predictable.
#3 - Avatar: The Special Edition - Really James Cameron?!? You release your movie again with a few extra minutes? I'm glad nobody fell for it.
#2 - Little Fockers - I hate this pun, and I want to punch Ben Stiller in the face. Really America? You went to see this instead of True Grit?
#1 - Grown Ups - 1,000 paper cuts and a vat of lemon would have been nicer. I'd rather watch Eclipse three times, the entire Fockers series and Eclipse again, than watch Grown Ups.
Honorable mentions: Worst Use Of Will Smith's Kids: Tie: Jayden Smith in The Karate Kid, Willow Smith - Song: Whip My Hair Worst Epic Movie That Should Have Been Better: Robin Hood Worst Movie That Was Actually Good: The A-Team Please Stop Making These: Saw 3D Worst Movie With A Great Alternate Ending: Yogi Bear - See it here..
It's time for my annual list of the Best Movies of 2010. There was a LOT of very poorly made movies this year (I'm looking at you Little Fockers,) which is why these ones stood out and deserve a viewing.
Since I'm only picking ten , I also added a few extra made-up categories of other movies worth mentioning below.
#10 - The Town - A great crime thriller. Say what you will about Ben Affleck. The dude knows how to make a good Baaaaah-ston movie.
#9 - Shutter Island - A excellent tale, a dark backdrop and a story that I couldn't quite figure out until the end.
#8 - The Kids Are Alright - I watched it on a 7 1/2" blurry screen on a flight from Detroit to Paris. It was still good.
#7 - True Grit - The Dude does The Duke justice. Brilliant dialogue in a classic western style.
#6 - The Fighter - I apologize for calling this one a modern day "Rocky." It has it's own story and a lot of heart.
#5 - Toy Story 3 - You win this time Disney.
#4 - Inception - Don't tell me it was too hard to follow. This was a fantastic, original, and visually stunning idea.
#2 - (Two Way Tie) 127 Hours & Black Swan- Minus the whole arm cutting off thing, I felt a close connection to 127 Hours love of the outdoors. A great nature movie. Black Swan was just beautiful in every way.
#1 - The Social Network - Intense, dramatic and topical. Rarely does a movie draw you in this much. I had to check my watch because the two hour run time flew by.
My Guilty Pleasure Of 2010: Machete Favorite Close To A Series: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest Favorite Comedy: Get Him To The Greek Favorite Movie That No One Else Liked: Hot Tub Time Machine Favorite Scary Movie: Devil Favorite Movie With Flaming Swords Starring Michael Cera: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Favorite Kids Movie If Not For Toy Story 3: How To Train Your Dragon
If I only had brought a notepad to watch this movie. Then I would have dialogue that was just as sharp, snappy and brilliant as they lay out in the remake of True Grit.
The Coen Brothers do their storytelling magic once again. In each of their films, they deliver a character that you just canât seem to get out of your head. Jeff Bridges is that character again, but heâs not The Dude. Heâs a grumpy, old curmudgeon of a US Marshall.
After the death of her father at the hands of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin,) strong-headed youngster Mattie Ross (Hailee Stienfeld) goes out in search of justice. While it seems like she is prepared to kill the man who killed her father, Mattie first enlists the help of Marshall Reuben âRoosterâ Cogburn (Bridges) to help her hunt him down. LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is a dim witted Texas Ranger whoâs also on the trail of Chaney for previous crimes heâs committed.
The brilliance of the film lies with its brilliant characters. They have depth, are interesting to watch and you cheer for their success. That said, you can almost smell the BO, whiskey breath and cigarette smoke that comes off of Bridges portrayal of Rooster Cogburn.
Mattie is a girl you are better off having on your side. Her standout performance doesnât wear you down, although I could easily see this type of character in another film, wearing you thin. The pairâs dark comical tones are a treat.
This is definitely the most palatable Coen Brothers film to date. Itâs made to feel just a western, but there are few trademark cringe-worthy moments. Despite the fact they spend much time in the woods, there are no wood chippers. There are cattle, but no air-powered cattle guns. There are grumpy men, but not to the level of an angry outburst of Walter Sobchak.
A note. True Grit (2010) is not meant to be straight up remake of the John Wayne western. Itâs based more off the book of the same name and even Damon was told not to watch the original as a starting point. Thatâs a good move because it doesnât try to recreate the essence of Wayne. Nobody should try that. The Dude doesnât try to out-Duke the Duke and thatâs why this works so well.
Another note: although Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is used brilliantly in the trailer, it does not appear in the movie.
Didnât anyone ever tell Natalie Portman that pobodyâs nerfect? Ironically, in a story that warns about the dangers of perfection, the director and cast nearly achieve it.
Black Swan is the seductive story of Nina Sayers (Portman) whose life is completely surrounded by her job as a ballerina. Sheâs got drive, technique and a possessive mother, vicariously living through her. With Mommyâs aid, itâs enough to tip the scales of sanity for Nina. Parents who demand perfection seem to do that (see Tiger Woods.)
After landing the lead role in a new production of Tchaikovskyâs Swan Lake, Ninaâs paranoia and perfectionist ways lead her astray. The story mirrors Swan Lake as Nina loses herself in ballet, but also loses her mind. Tragic, yet compelling to watch.
Being a person that only has anecdotally experienced ballet, I must say it was not difficult watching almost two hours of it. Ballet itself seem excessive, but with the absurd nature of this movie, it seems to fit. Portman is a favorite of mine, because I believe sheâs a smart one on and off the screen. You wonât catch her out of character, even for a minute
Director Darren Aronofsky again proves heâs got a knack for piecing together works that seem supernatural yet grounded, all while exposing the psychological flaws of humans. You always want his characters to achieve their own version of success, but they are the only ones standing in their way.
Black Swan shows beauty. Itâs in the filmâs music, dance and life, even as tragic as it can be.
The American Film Institute has released it's list of the Ten Best movies of 2010. They aren't in any order, nor is there a #1.Â Here's what they said:
Toy Story 3
The Social Network
The Kids Are All Right
Side note: here's where I do my annual complaining about how it is unfair for us in Wisconsin.Â We don't get movies released on the same schedule as they do on the east and west coasts.Â That's why you'll see movies like True Grit, Black Swan and The Fighter on these year end lists...even though you haven't seen or maybe even heard of them.
Since I can't judge those three movies yet, I'll make my top ten movies list for 2010 with one caveat.Â These are movies that I've seen, and this list may change by Dec 31st, 2010.
Toy Story 3
The Social Network
The Kids Are All Right
How To Train Your Dragon
Honorable mentions also going to:
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Next, The Runaways, Machete and Salt
Johnny Deppâs love affair with Wisconsin continues. First, he was here for Public Enemies, now he claims to be a born and bred Cheesehead.
Two of todayâs arguably biggest stars (Depp & Angelina Jolie) pair up for this European romantic comedy/crime thriller, but the end results are about as good as the Dollar-to-Euro exchange rate (not great.)
The sparklingly attractive, foreign and mysterious Elise (Jolie) sits next to Frank (Depp,) a random American math teacher, on a train from Paris to Venice. Sorry Frank, itâs a guise to throw the authorities off her trail. Elise has been evading the police, who are after her lover, who is accused of embezzling some big bucks. They couple need to dodge the cops and the mobster from whom the money was stolen.
The Tourist gets and A+ for a beautiful European setting. Itâs a treat to look at. Unfortunately, there is a lack of chemistry between our two stars. The plot and action are unbelievable and weak.
I kind of get the feeling that most of this movie was lost in the production. Thereâs an amazing amount of directorial prowess behind the camera. On screen, we also get a nice array of supporting characters, none of which are used to their potential. The film went through a couple directors. Charlize Theron was originally going to play Elise and Sam Worthington was going to be Frank. Things just got watered down in the mix.
I can say it was a surprise treat that the background story of Frank includes him living in Wisconsin. That being said the two references to Americaâs Dairyland seem to be delivered with a chagrin and semi-mocking nature. Itâs as if the writers brainstormed a place that could be believably common and non-interesting. (Hey! Youâre talking about my home state here!)
I wanted to take the time today to remember an actor who has had a significant influence on my life.
Roger Ebert once called him the "Lawrence Oliver" of spoof , but I'd go one step further and say he was the King Kong of spoof comedy.
Leslie Nielsen died yesterday at the age of 84 from complications due to a pneumonia.
As a child, there was no greater actor who may have influenced my immature sense of humor other than Leslie Nielsen.Â From his deadpan delivery to his ability to make you believe that he had no idea about what was going on, Neilsen always portrayed a character that had a noble heart. You nearly needed oxygen after laughing so hard at him.
He is part of what I would consider one of the greatest comedies of all time, delivering some of the key one-liners from the movie "Airplane."Â In memoriam, I will watch it and laugh for Leslie today.Â Thanks for the laughs.
Youâd think the boy wizard could have conjured up a better outcome for himself.
Film 101: Any successful movie must have a beginning, middle and end. The rule also applies to movies that fit into a franchise, such as the Harry Potter films. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has no ending, just a point where they press pause until Part 2 comes out. Not fair.
I feel that if Iâm going to see a film, I should be seeing a beginning, middle and end.
In this much darker and moody chapter of the series, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is on the run while at the same time is in search of horcruxes. They are magical items that if all found and destroyed, can also destroy the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Feinnes). Thatâs about the entirety of this film. Itâs one long chase scene.
Although fans of the book would argue this film leaves out plenty of details, I would argue that the film retains too many details. If you donât recall all the characters from the previous films, you could very easily get lost in the casting. Again, not fair to the film audience.
There are also unnecessary scenes used for the purpose of creating drama, which donât advance the film. Take for example when Ron Weasley is wearing one of the soon to be destroyed horcruxes. Harry knows from wearing it himself that it puts the wearer in a bad mood. When Ron puts it on, he gets in a bad mood and eventually leaves. This breaks up the team and puts them further in jeopardy. The problem could have simply been resolved by taking the horcrux off. All of the characters in the scene knew it.
That said, itâs set beautifully. You get to see the characters in amazingly brilliant settings as they teleport from one locale to another to stay safe. The high production value and special effects were entertaining, but not nearly enough to sustain.
What is interesting is that Harry Potter isnât the real champion of this story. Heâs the main reason for whatâs going on, but fellow protagonist Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) is the real brains behind the operation. Sheâs the one getting them out of a sticky situation. Sheâs the one coming up with the next step. Sheâs the one who figures the big riddles out.
Maybe we call the next chapter âHermione Grainger: The Witch Who Quite Often Bails Out Harry Potter.â
Fair Game lies somewhere between a political thriller and a non-fiction biopic about the politics and war of the Bush administration.
Sean Penn plays Joe Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame Wilson (Naomi Watts). In 2003, she was the undercover CIA operative who was outed by staff members of the Bush administration after her husband delivered intelligence that was counter to the Bush Administrationâs main reason for launching the Iraq War.
Penn and Watts load their characters up with enough righteous anger, that sitting in the audience, you start to wonder why youâre not doing something right there to defend justice.
What was notable to me was the portrayal of the life of a CIA agent. Plame knew how to turn on the James Bond, but it was counterbalanced by her home life. Thereâs plenty of domestication drama where sheâs shown washing the dishes and telling her kids not to fight with each other.
Fair Game made a point to show Plame was a regular old US citizen, just with an important job. A good portion of the film shows us how her family life gets unfairly deconstructed in the scandal.
A rather intense but tangible example of Pennâs performance is a scene in his kitchen where Valerie and Joe are squaring off over whether she should speak out about the injustice. Penn raises his voice and shouts whether the loudest person is always the correct person. A poignant point considering the politics of today.
In hindsight, we know that The Bush Administration was wrong about weapons of mass destruction and admitted it. We also know the man found responsible for leaking Plameâs name was found guilty. Fair Game at times seems surrealistic, considering how dirty the politics were at the time. Itâs hard to believe that all of this actually happened.
I always find it a little stomach churning to go back documentary-style and relive the lead up to the Iraq War, but Fair Game gives us just the right amount of thriller and tension to make this an exciting one.
If you canât have Snakes On A Plane, Denzel on a train is a good substitute.
Unstoppable is an action movie that you would expect a lousy action hero like Nicholas Cage to star in. Heâs not in this one, Denzel Washington is. Add Denzel plus the fantastic idea of a train wreck and you have a decent action movie.
Unstoppable is loosely based on a near-train wreck that actually happened in 2001 in Ohio. This one is set in Pennsylvania. After a buffoon train yard worker forgets to set the brake on his engine and hops out, the unmanned, half-mile locomotive hauling toxic materials jets off, threatening all in its path.
Frank (Washington) is the seasoned employee who gets paired with Will (Chris Pine) who is the new guy on the job. They devise a plan to catch the runaway train with another train and hit the brakes.
This isnât an award winning performance, but it is a suitable way to spend ninety minutes in fantasy-action land. The odd thing about this one is that itâs a decent action story minus the murders and bloodlust. Itâs probably because the main villain is a train, and theyâre kind of hard to hate.
I will say that this movie doesnât do much to support initiating high speed rail in Wisconsin. It wasnât great public relations for the train industry.
Sidenote: Something I always look for in a Denzel Washington movie is his moment of elation where he lets out a big âHA-HAHH.â Itâs kind of like the moment in a film where the speak the name of the movie. Very nerdy movie thing to do, but it was to my enjoyment, as was the time I spent watching Unstoppable.
If truly we had a mega mind steering this animated kids movie, they would already know that this should have been funnier. That being said, the A-List voices behind the characters save what otherwise might be ninety minutes of animation boredom.
Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super villain, but only because the role of superhero was already taken. Light must have dark, day must have night and good guy Metro Man (Brad Pitt) must have his bad guy rival in order to exist.
Both the dashingly handsome Metro Man and blue-toned and big-headed Megamind were sent to earth, Superman style. They adapt to a regular program of Mega hatching evil plots, which are always foiled by Metro. That is until Metro decides he wants to retire, leaving Mega a host of psychological problems. The most notable being heâs lost the person whoâs been beating him up for years and wants the abuse back. Mega is presented with a choice to create a new superhero to be his rival, or become the good guy himself.
The bad thing is the thereâs a lot of plot development and general stuff that I imagine kids might get tired of quickly. The good thing is that the visuals are superb and the rest of the cast including Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and David Cross know how to deliver a line with charm. Ferrell has a good time with name pronunciations, which gave me a nice grin, if not a wide smile.
It was hard to not think of Superman because of all the obvious references, but it wasnât a bad thing. I doubt the current generation knows of the original 1978 movie or has much of a desire to see it.
I canât say this one rivals some of the better animated works weâve had this year like Toy Story 3 or How To Train Your Dragon, but itâs a good enough family venture for a chilly fall day.
My belief that cinema can be art and film can open your eyes to a profound message was not aided by watching Saw 7. In fact I will invoke a quote from Ray Romano who once said, âlook how much it takes to bore me.â
The only glimmer of light from this chapter in the Saw series is that they are promoting it as if it were the last one. Donât be fooled though, thatâs just a marketing gimmick.
The movieâs plot is not worthy of discussion because thatâs not what we go to see the Saw movies for. We want to see the contraptions that produce heaping mounds of gore, while tearing people from limb to limb. The illogical storylines that filled in the remaining gaps were mind numbing and possibly worthy of asking for a refund.
I also canât say this is a horror movie. I found nothing that invoked horror. It was gory, but itâs a dull gore that you think of when you see roadkill. Itâs gross, but as soon as you pass it by, you donât give it another thought. The semi-grizzly climax will only serve to confuse and annoy those who doesnât know the back-story of Saw.
I can say the film was not lacking a host of body parts and guts that somewhat come flying at you with the 3D technology. Itâs OK, because you could really careless about the characters, or the pieces of them.
Save your money and spend it on Halloween candy instead. I guarantee, it will be more satisfying.
If your thing is watching the endless stock ticker cross the screen on CNBC, then by all means head out to watch Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Thatâs not my thing, which is why this movie felt more like a depressing reenactment of just how sucky and greedy some people can be, and have been lately.
The sleepy Shia LaBeouf leads a seemingly strong cast including Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan and Michael Douglas in the continuing story of Oliver Stoneâs 1980âs classic about greed and money. Both elements are still here, but Stoneâs second venture into the world of Gordon Gekko fails to capture the essence.
Jake (LaBeouf) is a hot investment broker about to marry Gekkoâs daughter. After being released from prison for insider trading Gekko seems to be plotting a comeback. On the brink of the worldwide global disaster, they plot a plan together.
Their backdrop is the banking giants manipulating the federal government for bailout money. It didnât make me want to stand up and shout for morality and financial regulation (which I think is part of the message here.) It just made me more upset that we as a country got to that point.
In one scene, an average Jane Doe asks Gekko to define a âmoral hazard.â He symbolically brushes her off before answering; itâs when somebody does something with your money that you donât want them to. That should have been the homerun dialogue line just like âgreed is goodâ was, but instead we get a bank robbed again.
Also, listening to two hours of banking terminology, no matter how dramatic it can be just bores me to death. I know itâs a serious issue, but I want to sit and hear about derivatives, bursting bubbles and moral hazards like I want a hole in the head.
This has Oliver Stoneâs feel to it with conspiracies and power and money grubbing characters. It just should have been a better follow up. Stone making an appearance twice in his own film as an unnecessary character was more than unnecessary. Besides, what we really want to see is an evil power and money hungry Gekko. Instead, heâs in search of redemption for all the family time lost in the pokey.
One real turn off was Gekko (Douglas) making reference to how bad cancer is. Considering Douglasâ recent announcement that heâs actually battling cancer, it made the scene feel cheap, shameless and self involved. Is it really OK to exploit your own health problems to sell a couple extra to the show? It made my stomach churn.
After putting his touch on a string of bland, pseudo-horror and ridiculous concept movies, M. Night Shyamalan does something good again.
He didnât direct or write Devil, but Shyamalan gets credit for the story about five people trapped in an elevator. One of them is the devil. Itâs a brilliant movie idea and itâs carried out in a tight-knit, thrilling and believable fashion.
The story mostly takes place in your typical corporate building elevator, where five (not necessarily random) people hop in for what may be their last ride ever. A detective who is connected to the incident is also drawn into the case.
The real pay off of Devil is the execution. The cast does a reasonably good job of getting dirty and screaming their heads off. Itâs the situation they are in and tension that surrounds them that is the fun of it all. I love the visual idea of compounding fears. Weâre in a claustrophobic elevatorâ¦in the darkâ¦with a killerâ¦and a guilty conscience.
There isnât a single scene wasted either. With a short run time of 80 minutes, the excitement and drama are packed in tight and nice.
That being said, Shymalan movies have been known to drift into the cheesy realm. A security guard, who is the only one to believe that what everyone is witnessing, may be the work of the Devil fills this gap. Is it reasonable to jump to the psycho-supernatural conclusions that he makes? Not really.
I think I would have preferred that everyone was ignorant to the situation, because who really can decide if the devil is involved in a deed?
Say what you will about Ben Affleck, Boston accents and crime dramas being stereotypical. This is a case of all three done right.
I wonât say The Town quite has the same teeth of Martin Scorseseâs 2006 Boston based crime drama âThe Departed,â but itâs not far off.
The Town is about a group of four Boston locals (townies.) They rob banks and armored cars, but itâs not to be bad guys. They do it out of a sense of community. Itâs just a community that believes the system, police, and the world in general have delivered them a bad hand. Jon Hamm is the FBI agent on their tail.
Affleck once again takes the directors chair, but also leads the cast as Doug MacRay. Doug is caught in between his sadistic partner in crime, John Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) and his desire to get out. Side note: another great performance from Renner.
Thereâs a dark mood to this movie. Boston is always cloudy. Sunny days are dark. The characters desire a better life for themselves but they donât have much hope. They had my sympathy, but it was a conflicted feeling because you know they are doing wrong. Think âThe Sopranos.â
Tension is everywhere. The most notable a scene where Doug is courting a girl named Claire. Doug has to keep secret from Claire that he and his friend John are criminals. Claire could only know this by identifying a tattoo on Johnâs neck, which Doug does his best to hide. The tension is in this scene is palpable. Thatâs always a sign of a good movie.
I canât say the film reaches a level of epic greatness, but it is more than solid. Ben Affleck proves once again that he has the chops to produce thoughtful, intense and compelling material.
Ummmm..Resident Evil. I know weâve been friends for a while now. I really hate to bring this up, but when we first started hanging out, you said you were about zombies. I know you have this whole conspiracy thing with the Umbrella Corporation, who released the virus, that turned everyone into zombies. Now itâs like we do everything except talk about zombies. Where are my zombies?
Really, why else would I be interested in another boring evil corporation conspiracy theory? I want to see people fighting zombies in my apocalyptic movies. I donât think youâre giving me what I need.
Resident Evil: Afterlife doesnât give you much, other than something sparkly to look at for 90 minutes. The fantastic action scenes were ho-hum. The sloppily thrown together plot and downtime between the action sequences dragged on. Milla Jovovich, who plays the heroine Alice just didnât do much or me this time around. Itâs honorable that Alice searches the world for zombie outbreak survivors, but being such a warrior, she should focus on taking out the bad guys? I like Jovovich, but I guess itâs I really like to look at her.
Fans of the video game may enjoy the inclusion of the original video gameâs main character Chris Redfield. For me, that didnât provide any thrills. The 3D didnât do much for me either.
Bottom line with the Resident Evil franchise is they generally suck, but rake in a lot of dough. I guess movie goers like to look at Milla Jovovich too. That also means thereâs probably going to be a fifth in the series
Isnât it sad that the scariest thing in a zombie genre movie are crows flying out at you?
Another question. Why is it that the movie previews attached to this film, are for movies that will also be in 3D, but the previews were not in 3D? 3D is more and more just another way to get an extra $5 out of you at the door. The return on the investment is quite low.
Aye dios mio! When it comes to fun trashy movies, you donât get much better than Machete. Heck, just saying the name is fun.
Part action, part Spanish soap opera and a full dose of B-movie mockery Machete exceeds on just about every venture it sets out on. Youâre taken on a ride that spans from some caliente fighting, to the touchy immigration issue all the way to pop culture trash queen Lindsay Lohan. (No, she still doesnât qualify as an actress after appearing in this.)
Machete (Danny Trejo) is described as a FBI, CIA, DEA and Federaleâ all rolled into one. Heâs one major macho mustached man, not meant to be messed with. Three years after the loss of his family at the hands of an evil-fat Mexican kingpin Steven Seagal, Machete is thrust into the center of an assassination plot. Heâs hired to kill at sleazy US Senator (Robert De Niro) who wants to build an electrified fence to keep illegal aliens out. Of course, demonizing politicians is good fodder, so they make him extra evil.
They messed with the wrong man, and thatâs when Machete starts to cut it up.
The list of Latino stars in Machete is long, and all deserve some amount of credit. Itâs way awesome to see Danny Trejo getting a lead role. Cheech Marin is a double-shotgun wielding priest. Jessica Alba is a by-the-book Immigration officer and tough chick Michelle Rodriguez was actually tolerable as the head of an underground peopleâs army.
Lost fans will clap (I did) upon the screen appearance of Jeff Fahey, who plays the politicianâs even more evil aid. It was like he stepped off the set of his role as Captain Frank Lapidus in Lost and into his role in Machete without changing a hair on his head.
Director Robert Rodriguez is well known for his blood spilling action stylings, and on the surface this is just good example of his eye candy. Look a little beneath and you see there is actually brilliance in the way he parodies every angle of the immigration issue. From crazed self-appointed border patrols to illegal Mexican laborers using lawn care equipment to start a revolution, it's witty. Outside of Onion Magazine I canât think of another forum that has addressed the issue by hitting the nail on the head.
Side note: Machete was originally just a phony trailer in Robert Rodriguezâs 2007 film Grindhouse. From what I could put together with my friend Steve, the full movie included every scene from the trailer. Yeah for movie nerds like me!
I didnât hear the tubular bells, but I did get a little spooked with The Last Exorcism.
Knowing that this was the sixth in a long line of exorcismÂ movies, I brought pea soup and holy water with me to the theater. Not to prevent the demons, but rather to throw at the screen upon my disappointment. Nothing was hurled though, and I was pleasantly surprised with this scary flick.
The Last Exorcism is not necessarily a title that designates it will be the last in the series, but rater the last for our hero, âFatherâ Cotton Marcus. âFatherâ is in quotes because Cotton admits that he is a evangelical trickster. He knows there are people willing to pay for the service of exorcising demons. He doesnât believe in demons, but does believe that if his sideshow gives them some relief, he has done something good for the possessed and their family. A twisted form of psychotherapy I suppose.
Deciding to allow a documentary film crew to shoot his last exorcism, before leaving the job behind, Cotton and his faith are put to the test when the spirit cleansing turns a little too real. Itâs interesting how likable Cotton Marcus is. We know heâs a grifter. He knows heâs a grifter, but you feel as if he is doing some kind of good in the world. I canât say giving small shocks to the people he is exorcising is ethical, but it does seem to achieve the goal.
The Last Exorcism doesnât exactly compare to the original, but I donât think itâs trying to. There are some eerie moments that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There is a possessed teenage girl who makes some disgustingly creepy faces.
This is more of a modern take on how an exorcism may happen today. The frights are real, itâs original and it was fun.
If anything, horror movies like Piranha 3D teach us that college spring breakers must be severely punished for their hedonism. How else will they learn the hard lessons of life, except for being torn to shreds in a semi-campy bloody mess?
The B-movie story is really not what you are paying for when you go to see this but hereâs the rundown anyway. A tremor at a popular spring break lake destination in the southwest opens up an underwater cavern where prehistoric Piranha have been living. Then the fish get real bitey.
It is odd that the Piranha may actually be the heroâs of this movie. The spring breakers pollute the lake as they party and donât respect the Sheriffâs authority. Jerry OâConnell portraying a âGirls Gone Wildâ style videographer simply needs to be fish bait. The cast of extras who get bitten are extremely guilty of poor acting. We should be thanking those fish.
When you add in brief and mildly entertaining cameos by Richard Dreyfuss, alluding back to his Jaws days and Christopher Lloyd as a Doc Brown-like fish expert, Piranha isnât a complete waste of time. Elisabeth Shue plays the local sheriff who tries to warn the people. (Side bar to Elisabeth: I donât care that you take dumb roles like these. I still love you.)
My only wish is that Piranha might have taken the chomping over the top to a place where it might have mocked itself. Then we would have had the holy horror trinity of scary stuff, bloody gore and self-deprecating humor.
In what may be one of the more enjoyable movie watching experiences Iâve had this year Scott Pilgrim vs. The World stands out as a unique fantasy action-comedy, real world-video game mash up.
Prepare to enter the dulled to violence world of the ritalin induced-emo-neo punk rock-anime-G4-snarky-video game playing generation. Our hero, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) who has eyes for a beautiful emo-girl, finds out that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to be with her. One by one, Scott very stylishly fights off his rivals, but also questions at the same time why heâs putting himself through it.
Based on a graphic novel, the film goes to great lengths to make it seem as if we are watching the live action version of a video game thatâs based on a comic book.
The mix of comedy and action is a near perfect and this film is so chock full of Easter Eggs, youâll need to bring an extra basket. A scene mimicking Seinfeld walks up to the line of mockery, while nodding itâs head at the same time.
Scott is the anti-hero, but thatâs what he wants. Itâs much cooler that way because it helps the storyline arc from him only wanting to be with the girl, to Scott learning how to believe in himself. The rest of the characters are well placed. Great casting work.
This is the type of film where the premise of using fast paced video game stylized violence and eye-popping special effects are permitted in the real world. I was smitten by the sugary fun.
That being said, there isnât much nutritious about the movie. You wonât leave a better person having watched it, but hey, itâs fun to munch on pop rocks and Coke Zero some times.
Itâs the same Will Ferrell schtick you already know with some mildly entertaining jokes on the side, but The Other Guys just isnât comic gold.
Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Holtz (Mark Wahlberg) are a pair of C-list cops who just donât seem to fit in. Allen is happier busting crime from a desk to help keep his dark side from showing. Terry is angered by his inability to succeed and can only react in outbursts of frustration. Together, they try to reel in a giant case and show their worth.
Take for instance when Gamble and Holtz fall victim to a bribe, three times in a row, but donât realize theyâve been bribed until itâs too late. Unfortunately, that awareness which made movies like Tropic Thunder entertaining only comes in waves this time around
Walhberg was the standout, and this role gives him the chance to sharpen his comic chops. If not for his angry cop routine, The Other Guys might have fallen right on its face.
This is yet another comedy directed by Adam Kay, starring Ferrell. They teamed up on Talladega Nights & Step Brothers most recently. This isnât a far departure from the previous work, itâs just not really something new.
My sense of humor means I was the only one in the theater laughing at some of the jokes. A running gag involving music from TLC made me chuckle, mostly because there hasnât been anything else real funny this summer.
I know the doctors say I should cut back, but I would love an extra thrilling serving of Salt.
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a female action hero living up to her full potential. Sheâs right up there with Ellen Ripley from âAlienâ and Sarah Connor from âTerminator.â
Salt is a seasoned CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy. She goes rogue, but youâre never sure if sheâs doing it to protect herself or to get away. We do know sheâs crafty, deadly and runs full speed at her target.
The reason Iâm enthralled with this story is because it works on my paranoia. Is it a far stretch to believe that the Russians have been training children to be sleeper agents? Not really. Could our former enemies still hold a major grudge against the US? Sure. Could the president ever be tricked into launching our own nuclear weapons? I hope not, but in the action genre, itâs plausible.
I canât say Iâve always been a big fan of Angelina Jolie, but this seems to be a role tailored to her talents. Sheâs good looking (I know, an underestimation,) sheâs energetic and she seems wise too. The energy in particular really brings this character to life. Jumping from semi-to-semi takes a lot of it ya know.
Imagine you just ate a delicious steak and the next day you were given dog food for dinner. Thatâs how I felt with Swedish-subtitled The Girl Who Played With Fire. This is a bad sequel.
The follow up to the impressive thriller: The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, (and the trilogy book series they come from) fails to capture much of what was entertaining in the first film.
Goth super-hacker Lisbeth returns to Sweden after a year abroad to make sure her court-appointed and blackmailed guardian is filing satisfactory reports on her. At the same time, investigative journalist friend Mikael is about to expose a sex-trafficking ring. When a fellow journalist is killed, Lisbeth is named as the key suspect. In parallel, but soon to be connected story, both Lisbeth and Mikael work to clear Lisbethâs name, find the killers and help Lisbeth piece together her childhood.
Sounds intriguing, but it isnât carried out that way. Plot lines are left dangling. Chemistry between the two lead characters is missing. The thrill of the chase is absent and things donât feel resolved at the end. I couldnât have been left with a poorer taste in my mouth.
The fiery relationship chemistry between Lisbeth and Mikael was essentially left off the table. The introduction of James Bond-esque villains was weak and non-comical.
Iâm conflicted, because I think the viewer really wants to root for Lisbeth. Sheâs very un-heroine like, but thatâs also one of her likable traits. Sheâs had a rough life, is fueled by vengeance and we want her to have it. But Lisbeth is tame and less likable this time around. Maybe weâve seen all she can do? Maybe thereâs only so much vengeance she can deliver?
There are American versions of the novels coming out in the near future starring Carey Mulligan and Daniel Craig. I had no interest in seeing them before. Now, my hope is they can shore up this disappointing story.
Itâs a good reminder that youâre only dysfunctional, until someone even more dysfunctional comes along.
In this dark comedy Cyrus, John (John C. Reilly) is at a low point in his life. Afraid of being alone, he is forced by his ex-wife to meet someone else.
While acting a drunken fool at a party, John meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) and for some reason his awkwardness is attractive to her. Their relationship blossoms, until John later meets Mollyâs 22 year old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill) who has some serious mommy attachments.
What results is an all-on war between Cyrus and John for the possession of Molly. The passive aggressive tension between the pair is palpable and brilliant. Both men realize they canât own her, but in a very child-like fashion, they also refuse to submit to each other.
Itâs hard to resist the likeability of this movie. Like a pro-athlete can make their game look easy, Reilly and Tomei are instantly believable in their roles. Hill is also starting to prove he has more depth than just being the âfat guyâ comic.
The realistic nature of this trioâs relationship to each other is also what makes this an adorable story. Both John and Molly crave with a passion, a real relationship. Both have relatable hang-ups and luggage that they have to deal with.There's a lot of honesty and realism in it.
The viewer gets to sit back and watch the train wreck develop, and the payoff is plentiful.
I donât see why any kid under 10 wouldnât love Despicable Me. Thereâs a super villain with cool gadgets, another super villain with even cooler gadgets and a bunch of sassy little yellow Sponge Bob-like goofballs running around.
Steve Carell lends his voice to Gru, a James Bond-lite villain who is more concerned with winning the title of Baddest Villain, instead of demanding $1,000,000,000 like Dr. Evil would.
Heâs got a pretty cool freeze gun that he uses to skip the lines at his local coffee shop. Outside of denting the car next to his while parallel parking, thatâs the extent of how evil he really is. Hi rival, Vector (Jason Segel) is doing bigger and badder things like stealing the pyramids of Egypt. Thatâs the catalyst for Gru to one-up him.
In his suburban homeâs basement, Gru hatches a plan to use a shrink ray to literally steal the moon. He adopts three young girls from the neighborhood orphanage to infiltrate Vectorâs stronghold, under the guise of selling cookies.
Little does Gru know that heâs in for a lovey-dovey change of heart, just like the Grinch who stole Christmas had coming.
Itâs a nice twist that the villain is the hero in this story. Itâs probably dangerous waters to tread in for a kids movie, but Gru is really a villain-lite who is still working out his mommy issues. Heâs also got a crew of minions, literally called Minions who steal most of the jokes and help make Gru look better. They do, and that helps make Despicable Me a fun ride.
This the latest in the movie to cram 3D down our throats. While they did use the technique to itâs most appropriate use (a roller coaster ride,) again, I donât see why you should have to pay the surcharge for the goofy glasses. I caught this in 2D and I still enjoyed the experience.
This is the fifth movie in the Predator franchise, which usually doesnât bode well for the viewer. Aside from the 1987 original starring Ahhh-nold, this one is the second best in the series.
This time around a group of warriors are dropped onto an alien planet that serves as a game preserve for the Predators.
When I say dropped, I mean that literally. The film opens with Adrian Brody in free fall searching for a ripcord to pull on a parachute. How does he know heâs wearing a parachute? Those arenât the kind of details you need for an action movie so donât ask that question. Just enjoy the free fall and youâll enjoy Predators like I did.
The motley cast of hunted humans is what makes this entertaining. You get an ex-military mercenary (Adrien Brody,) a Mexican drug cartel thug, a Yakuza sword master, an African death squad meanie and the list goes on. Lest I forget the Russian soldier wielding a Microgun. You canât have a good Predator movie without a rotary machine gun that can mow down dense jungle brush like a chainsaw.
Side note: I say that, but I actually fear the coming collection of every action hero out there in The Expendables. Not sure if my brain can handle that.
Back to the movie at hand. Once the warriors figure out theyâre the ones being hunted, the chase is on. You get to guess whoâll be the next one to go, but even with a few twists thrown in, the hunt gets repetitive.
You get the feeling that Brody, who Iâve always considered to be a more refined actor, really, really wants to be an action hero. Thatâs fine, heâs mostly believable as a mercenary. I just donât see him there yet.
If you love saying âget to de chopperâ like I do, it makes all the difference in whether youâre gonna enjoy your viewing experience. If you have no idea what that means, skip this one.
Unless you don't mind wasting your time on uninspired dialogue and sappy romance there is no need to see the new Twilight film.
Obviously, I am not inside the head of a 14-year old girl, so I am quite confused as to why this movie series is popular. The only logical explanation is that people sometimes love trash.
In this chapter, human teen Bella Swan is the designated target of a vampire army. Torn between two potential suitors; Edward the vampire and Jacob the werewolf, Bella has to decide which will be the love of her life. Things get complex when both rivals decide to join forces to fight off the oncoming army.
Hereâs my main problem with the Twilight series. I donât believe Bellaâs motivations. Whether thatâs the fault of actress Kristen Stewart or just a collection of bad writing & directing, Iâm not sure. I donât believe the words she says when she opens her mouth and I donât believe her reactions to the world she lives in. They seem fabricated. They seem counter-intuitive. Is that the world of a teenage girl? Maybe, but it makes me feel unconnected to her character.
I get that these movies are about chastity, forbidden fruit and teenage love. Itâs just those stories can be told in better ways.
Simply put, this is a poor example of movie making. Without knowing all the details from the novels these are based on, the viewer is mostly confused as to what is going on. Even sequels should be able to stand on their own.
I will say that Eclipse is slightly better than the last two Twilight films, but that's not saying much for this afterschool special.
At times I found myself wishing I was watching the Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning vehicle The Runaways again.Â At least the pair were intriguing characters in that movie.
Itâs a typical Adam Sandler movie. Thereâs goofy one-liners and immature behavior but underneath it all, thereâs a warm-fuzzy feeling to it. Iâm not sure I should be glad or sad that I can relate to his films.
Grown Ups is about five childhood friends who reunite as adults following the death of their beloved basketball coach. Theyâve all got jobs & families of their own, but once reunited, they retort to their childish ways together.
The plot is sketchy at best. This movie is much better described as five forty-somethings that like to play pranks on each other while ogling women. It feels at times that the cast is settling for mediocrity, which will only disappoint fans. Part of the problem is the mass of players onscreen including, but not limited to : Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Kevin Smith, Maria Bello and Salma Hayek.
Someone has to lead here, which means the other talent is left at the wayside.
I think on some level, all Adam Sandler movies try to include a small moral lesson about being good to each other. That little notion seems to allow me to enjoy his stupid humor. There is a good hearted nature, but it doesnât make this a great comedy. Just an OK one.
Some of the âguys hanging out togetherâ humor may be relatable, but the series of one liners gets old quickly. I feel like there was a good story to tell here, but there are too many completely phony and ridiculous storylines which water down the more solid scenes.
I laughed, but I donât think this will go down as one of the better comedies of the year.
Itâs rare that a movie series can three-peat, but Toy Story 3 is one of the rare wins.
Thereâs only a few movie series that can say they are worthy of a trilogy. Toy Story is now one of them. I canât say whether this will be as fantastic as the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Lord Of The Rings films, but it is a worth-while movie.
In this chapter, Andy is heading off to college and has to decide whether to toss, donate or put his beloved childhood toys into the attic. The toys are accidentally given to a local daycare, where Woody (Tom Hanks,) Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the crew find out life can be rough, especially at the hands of toddler.
The toys decide that itâs their duty to belong to the departing Andy, even if it means being stored in his attic is their fate. Now thatâs dedication.
This Toy Story was different, because the toyâs lives always revolved around Andy, now theyâre off into the world. Yet, that disconnect doesnât distract the toys from their sense of family for each other.
The blend of comedy is clever. At one point, the group is trying to reset Buzz Lightyear from his factory settings and accidentally switch him into Spanish mode. Buzzâs new Latino personality takes over and one is helpless but to laugh by the confusion. Itâs a smart humor that doesnât have to resort to the lowest common denominator.
This film wins because the people at Pixar are able to convey real emotion and humanity in the objects. You feel for their plight and hope for their success. Thatâs as good as it gets for a character in a movie, be they toys or humans.
As for the 3D, 2D debate, Iâm still not sold that 3D is a superior viewing experience. Iâve actually heard some say that comparing the 2D & 3D version, you lose some of the vividness of colors in the 3D version. I say if it doesnât improve the story itself, itâs not worth the cost.
Itâs loud, excessive and superficial but its also far better than any 80âs TV show remake that Iâve ever seen.
The A-Team follows an above average crew of former Special Forces soldiers, set up for a crime they did not commit. In going rogue, they utilize their unique talents to try and clear their names and open an extra large can of whoop-ass on the person who framed them.
Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and relative unknowns Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley navigate their way through over the top helicopter chases, impossible situations and gigantic explosions (somehow even flying a tank) to exact their revenge. Itâs got cheeky humor, countless clips of ammunition and they even snuck in a little bit of character development. Weird huh?
The action for the most part is non-stop, which kept me engaged, locked and loaded. Violent, childish and flashy. The A-Team is all them and they know it. Still, itâs a better action movie than the dribble weâve been handed from Prince of Persia, Kick Ass and Ironman 2.
Being a fan of the 80âs TV show, I âm not ashamed to admit I was quite impressed how they managed to avoid going over the top with the cheese and managed to keep this on the level. Again, itâs because the movie, characters and audience are aware of the style.
Hereâs the thing about this movie, you have to like Bradley Cooper to fully enjoy it. Heâs the type of actor that can rub some people the wrong way. Heâs very charismatic, but also reminds you of that jerk in high school that was always a littler cooler than you. If you can learn to love his style, youâre in for a fun ride.
Neesonâs character Hannibal sums up the whole movie in three words âoverkill is underrated.â
First combine Aladdin with Indiana Jones, but only the semi-interesting parts. Then add Pirates Of The Caribbean minus the Captain Jack Sparrow. Thatâs Prince Of Persia.
This is Hollywood âs grab for your entertainment dollars, but not providing a decent return on investment. At least this isnât the worst of the worst video game adaptations ever made.
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time follows pauper turned Prince Dastan(Jake Gyllenhaal,) who with his prince brothers, lead an attack on a rival city. Based on bad information, they believe the city has been supplying weaponry to enemies of Persia. After learning the true nature of the attack, Dastan is considered a traitor. Heâs then off reveal the real bad guy and save himself and his kingdom with a magical knife that has the powers of turning back time. (How Cher!)
Jake Gyllenhall offers up his typical boyish charm, but I felt that this effort was a waste of his talents. Iâve seen him do better. Letâs hope the paycheck from Prince will allow him to pick a better role next time. The same goes for Ben Kingsley.
The exception is scene stealer Alfred Molina, who plays a tax dodging, street hustling Sheik entrepreneur with a lot of eyeliner. If there were a Captain Jack Sparrow in this movie, heâs it.
Is it odd that there seemingly is no one in the main cast that is of Persian descent? Not really. This is just another Hollywood adaptation of a video game, designed to make a killing on merchandising and cross marketing. Thankfully they opted for a little more character development than most movie-video game adaptations, which made the time spent watching tolerable.
Think of it this way: Can you name more than one GOOD movie thatâs the 4th sequel in a series? There arenât many and Shrek Forever After isnât one of them.
The new entry finds our favorite green ogre feeling the pains of being a new father. Stressed out and upset with his condition, he signs a magical deal with Rumpelstiltskin to give himself one day of what life was like before children. Shockingly, the deal has fine print that Shrek doesnât read.Â He's not a suave contract negotiator.
Shrek is thrust into an alternate reality where none of his friends in Far, Far Away remember him and faces challenges that remind him that being and Ogre daddy isnât such a bad gig.
What was missing from this Shrek 4, much like Shrek 3, is the fun. Other than two scene stealing moments from the Gingerbread Man, the laughs are few. ShrekÂ is also missing the satire it once prominently featured about Fairy Tales. Much of it goes over the heads of this movieâs target audience, but at least it gave adults some reprieve.
Parents: save your money.Â Don't tell the kids that Shrek is in theaters and wait to rent it.
I usually donât quote fellow critics in my review, but this one was funny and summed it up for me: "Forever After feels like a tired yank on the udders of a cash cow thatâs nearly dry." -Â Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer
Remember the story of Robin Hood where he and a horde of men donned swords and invaded the French castle? No? Me neither, because thatâs not the side Robin Hood we know.
This is what you would call a prequel to the Robin Hood story we know and love. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is among a group of other AWOL soldiers in Englandâs army who decide they want nothing to do with the war against France.
He finds a home in Nottingham with Maid Marian and family only to discover itâs one of may villages that are being taxed and terrorized by the jerk of a leader Prince John. When they confront him, it leads to a greater adventure which help lead to the mythology we all know and love.
The talent in this on is solid. Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchette, Max von Sydow, William Hurt. They are all greats, but itâs the story theyâre working with that isnât all that compelling.
Donâtâ get me wrong, there are some impressive things to see. Any epic battle where they darken the sky with shot arrows makes you say âooooh.â Any time you see an archer make a long distance kill shot (ala Superman 2) itâs fun. But thatâs not the body of this film. Here we spend a lot more time explaining the politics of the time, mixed with character development that doesnât pay off until the movie is nearly over.
The visuals and battle scenes kept reminding me of Gladiator, which also starred Crowe and was directed by Ridley Scott. They were impressive, but the similarity was a distraction.
In all, I t seemed to be missing one key element. It seems the great heroes of ole were people that not only were honorable and do-gooders, but they were also leaders of men. They could inspire. I didnât feel any inspiration from this story.
Sure, you expect your teenage slasher films to be light on the narrative, character development & dialogue, so why did I expect more out of the re-imagining of A Nightmare On Elm Street.
The 2010 remake takes most of the elements of the 1984 original, adds some darker imagery, and turns it into the Hollywood version of a modern scary movie for teens. For some reason, I kept thinking of the Final Destination films while watching this one.
The central character is Nancy, one of a group of high school aged kids who begin having nightmares of a man. The man in question, Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Hailey), carries a glove that only comes in one size; extra-stabby. The nightmares seem to start as each of the characters begins to remember an event from their childhood that they blocked out.
One by one, Freddy gets busy with his bedtime butchery and it was pretty much par for the course. No big surprises here.
Realistically, would have 1997 suburban parents of kindergarten kids opted for a gang vigilante style justice on a man who may, or may not have done something suspect to their kids. No. Thatâs the type of thing that got settled in the courts and on Jerry Springer.
Thatâs not the real problem I had with this remake. What was wrong is that Freddy Krueger seemed small in stature and fright-induction. You almost feel like heâs a severe burn victim, which makes you feel sympathetic, until you find you find out what heâs done.
The slashings were fun, but they didnât come often enough in the dream sequences, like they should have. It was also obvious when we were supposed to be scared. Again, nothing really surprised me. One remaining question: Did he really need to kill the dog?
In the comic book inspired action genre, The Losers provides some decent acting and comedic elements, but it still ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack.
The Losers are a team of CIA special ops, who are betrayed and left for dead. For justice sake, the tight knit a-team go out in search of the those who targeted them.
This one can be divided into two halves. Thereâs the set up of their comic book personas for each of the five Losers. Clay, the leader (Jeffery Dean Morgan,) the computer specialist, the sharpshooter, the driver and the guy who plays with knives. Each get some fun camera time demonstrating their elite skills, but the movie drags a bit in their character development.
Then the move shifts into a more traditional action film as they plot the revenge and get closer to the villain. Enter Aisha (Zoe Saldana,) looking 100 times better than she did in Avatar. She also has revenge on her mind, so their plans just happen to work in conjunction.
The villain, no super-villain Max (Jason Patric) is more of a mean Dr. Evil than a cold, heartless version of Dr. No. Patric somehow makes him slimy, cheesy and dangerous at the same time. Fun, fun.
Hereâs what you can take from The Losers. Itâs a decent action movie. The villain is over the top and the heroes are almost there. It teeters on the edge of satire and complete comic book overkill, but doesnât have a giant WOW factor.
Sometimes the tone of a movie is what makes it unlikable. Kick-Ass has the wrong tone.
Kick-Ass is the story of a teenage fanboy named Dave, who asks why there are no real superheroes? Dave decides to buy a flashy scuba suit and tries to enact some vigilante superhero justice on his city. His intentions are good, but ends up drawing the attention of a mob boss who doesnât appreciate his work.
A side plot involves an oddball father (Nicholas Cage) who has raised his 11-year old daughter with the intention of seeking revenge on the previous mentioned mob boss, whom he blames for the death of his wife. Instead of playing on the swingset, their daddy-daughter moments involved butterfly knives, gun trivia questions and plotting revenge. After observing Kick-Ass, they join forces and challenge the bad guy.
If youâre a comic book insider, youâll be treated to a non-stop flow of comic and popular references. I realize the movie is based on a graphic novel, and itâs supposed to be a boatload of comic ultra-violence, but there was a problem. Unless you live in the world of comic book heroes, you know the idea of vigilante justice is probably just a good way to end up in the hospital.
Thereâs also an issue with the 11-year old girl character âHit Girl.â Not only is she shown spilling blood by the gallons, she also spews out foul language that would make Richard Pryor raise an eyebrow. Hit Girl is meant to have adult like qualities, but there is a mismatch between what she might be in a comic book and actually seeing a pre-teen girl carrying it out.
Thatâs what sets an âoffâ tone for this movie. Iâm no prude, and I will always defend the use of bad language, blood, gore and other film techniques, as long as provide some level of understanding and add artistic merit to the film. Thatâs simply not what happened in this movie.
It doesnât happen often, but after watching Kick-Ass, I didnât feel good about it. Iâm trying not to wag my finger here, but I honestly canât recommend seeing this one
Another Wisconsin Film Fest is in the books (or maybe the DVD case), and here's my recommendations.
I caught eight movies over three days, most of them worth a viewing.Â These were the top three.Â The trailers are below.
1. Feed The Fish - Tony Shaloub is featured in this one, partially filmed in northern Wisconsin.Â A writer & his buddy venture to Door County, where they comically endure a Wisconsin winter, a polar bear plunge, an angry badger and other Wisconsin staples.Â Worth the viewing for Cheeseheads.
It's going to run for a week starting this Friday at Point Cinema.
2.Â The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - An amazing crime thriller.Â I'm not sure this will become a hit in the US because of it's in Swedish, and has a 2 1/2 hour run time.
Still, for movie lovers and those who read the book, this is worth a viewing before an American version if it gets made.
A super hacker girl with a whole side dish of problems assists a journalist in solving a missing person's cold case.
A superb story, great action and drama and a visual treat too.
3. A Matter Of Size - Ever heard of sumo wrestling in Israel?Â Me neither, until I saw this very endearing story about a group of weight challenged buddies who find themselves through the sport.Â Think "The Full Monty"Â mixed with Sumo.
It's all about accepting your faults and rising up to your challenges.Â Great humor and a great storyÂ that deserves an audience.
If not for the talent of the fearless crew, The Minnow would be lost.
Thereâs no Skipper, Gilligan or shipwrecked island in Date Night, but the idea remains the same. If this movie had anyone besides Tina Fey & Steve Carell in it, it would be a bomb.
Date Night is just that. Phil (Carell) and Claire(Fey) Foster are the typical nice, yet overworked Suburban couple, who, after witnessing a friendâs marriage fall apart, decide they need to spice up their lives. They go out for a big date night in the city, and feeling pressure to make it exciting, Phil steals a reservation at a hot new restaurant.
Little do they know the people who booked the reservation are blackmailing the mob & the high-powered District Attorney. A case of mistaken identity follows and these fish out of water have to survive a night of dodging bullets, car chases and dangerous liaisons.
The movie is held together because Claire and Phil never give up their belief that they are victims of mistaken identity. They donât find the comedy in their situation, because the situation they are in is the comedy. Making fun of their own troubles would water them down. They also donât turn into superheroes, just average people who rise up to the occasion.
The sad thing is this film reeks of corporate influence. You can practically see the board meeting where the executives suggested they take two of NBCâs biggest stars, combine them in a funny-action movie and then watch the money roll in.
Date Night has that feel. Then again, if youâre a big fan of the two talents, you might welcome more time watching them.
I think this isnât the best showcase of Fey & Carellâs talents, but if youâre looking for a light comedy to see on a date night, this beats out Clash of the Titans hands down.
To quote AC/DC, âRock and Roll ainât noise pollution. To me it makes good, good sense.â So does the story of The Runaways, your basic rock story with a special twist.
Set in the mid 1970âs, the film tries to capture the torrid world of the first all-girl teenage hard rock band. James Brown said itâs a manâs world, but with middle fingers flying, these bandmates led by Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) fought for their spot.
The story is adapted from a book by The Runaways lead singer Cherie Curie (Dakota Fanning,) so the story is told from her point of view. Her backstory also gets the most focus. That may leave some fans who want to see the Joan Jett story, a little turned off.
Even if you havenât seen the movie, you know the story. A group of rough and tumble kids get together with a crazed manager. Belt out some hits; go on tour; hit a rough patch; smash some instruments; break up and move on. Donât forget the sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Of note is the manager Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who creates the band out of nothing. He puts the girls through a rock style bootcamp to prepare for them for the big time, which is nothing but entertainment at itâs best. He tears them down telling them no one will cheer for an all-girl band, and then helps them develop a tough outer shell. Yes, that includes deflecting thrown beer cans with their guitars.
What you donât get from this movie is an in-depth look inside the heads of the members of The Runaways. You do get a lot of Rock and Roll lifestyle, the ups and downs. That was plenty entertaining to me. Now, excuse me while I put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
As an added bonus, here's the actual Japan 1975 concert that they tried to recreate in the movie. Fun.
While delivering some mildly impressive special effects, itâs not enough to hold this cheesy remake together.
Clash Of The Titans tries to pay homage to the 1981 classic B-movie, and in many ways it succeeds there, but I canât honestly believe that anyone whoâs not a teenage boy will say the remake will echo through the years like the original did.
Played out in a time when swords and sandals were proper fighting gear, half human-half god Perseus (Sam Worthington) is called up by the humans to wage war against Zeus (Liam Neeson.) Zeus believes the humans should be penitent in his presence, considering he made them and all and calls upon his brother Hades (Ralph Finnes) to take their egos down a notch or two.
Perseus leads a group of warriors across the land stop the pending destruction, fending off giant size scorpions, Medusa and best of all the kracken. Ya never know what fate has in store for you.
It takes a while, but after wasting the first half of this movie on plot and character development, the filmmakers do finally get to what we want to seeâ¦epic battle scenes. The draw of this type of film is seeing somebody trying to slay a supersized scorpion. The more CGI effects and green screen work the better. This is the type of movie where I want to see it. Smart dialogue has no place here. I wanna hear Liam Neeson summon the kracken.
Titans is filled with the ridiculous action sequencing that will make you chuckle if not marvel at the stupidity. At one point while Perseus is flying on a Pegasus , trying to avoid the krackenâs tentacles, just before the winged-demon steals his Medusaâs head-in-a-bag, Perseus wipes his brow. Itâs like he wants to say âboy, itâs tiring when you fight giant-monster sea creatures sent from hell.â
Theyâre the kind of moments that make goofy action movies like these tolerable.
Considering Sam Worthington also played a lead role in Avatar, itâs hard not to compare the two movies. Itâs especially hard when Worthington is flying on a winged creature, just as he did in Avatar. Yes, Titans is a cheap version of Avatar.
Itâs got heart, cool special effects and a sharp story line. Hey, this is a great example of a really good kids movie.
How To Train Your Dragon is the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) the Viking. Outcast by other children and talked down to by his own father, Hiccup is just not the picture of the burly Viking you expect. In his effort to prove his worth, he captures the most villainous of all dragons. Instead of killing it, the improbable hero befriends the dragon. Hiccup chooses to understand the creature, and makes a dashing effort to put an end to Viking-on-dragon violence and vice versa.
Dragons have been invading Hiccupâs village for generations, making the idea of siding with the good dragons, to later fight a giant evil dragon a little hard to swallow. Still, Hiccup draws from his own strengths to bring about change for the better.
I really didnât expect what Dreamworks animation studios delivered. The animation, action sequences, 3D and IMAX effect make this dazzling to watch. But thereâs more. Thereâs a strong message about being yourself, and how our differences are really what make us great.
If the kids are old enough not to be scared by dragons, theyâll love it.
Hereâs the downside of this one. Thanks to Roger Ebert for the tip: The movie is being shown in both 3-D and 2-D. Paramount has threatened theaters that if they don't clear screens for "Dragon" despite the current glut of 3-D films, the studio won't let them show it in 2-D. This displays real confidence in 3-D.
This is without a doubt the funniest movie Iâve seen this year, and very well may be the funniest of 2010.
Hot Tub Time Machine has a ridiculous premise involving four buddies who go on a skiing weekend. Their room has aâ¦you guessed it...which transports them back to the 1986, where they get the chance to relive a teenage party weekend.
If it sounds like a raunchy version of Back To The Future, thatâs because it is. Hot Tub earns such a high rating, because itâs played out in a way that completely mocks the silliness of its own premise. Itâs goofy bathroom humor, but itâs also genius.
Adam (John Cusack) is unhappy with the way his life has turned out. Nick (Craig Robinson) has let his dreams fall to the wayside after marriage and kids. Lou (Rob Corddry) is so desperate to relive his glory days, heâs rather take his own life than deal with his reality.
Desperate to break from their monotony, the group, along with Adamâs nephew (Clark Duke) go back to their old teenage ski resort stomping ground, where things are not exactly as they remember. A quick splash in the hot tub, and they get a do-over.
The idea of being able to go back in time and fix what went wrong is one of my favorite movie ideas, because who wouldnât? Bringing your buddies for the party is just icing on the cake.
Running gags involving a puked-on squirrel , Crispin (who also was in Back To The Future) Gloverâs character almost losing an arm and endless sex jokes keep the story moving from beginning to end.
They also play off Cusackâs obvious connection to movies of the 80âs. If you loved seeing Say Anything, Better Off Dead or Sixteen Candles, you canât help the warm fuzzies from building up again. Rob Corddy though, is a frequent scene stealer with his manic outbursts and Craig Robinson âs comic style really round out a party that I would love to have attended.
Itâs also noteworthy that DeForest native Sean Anders had his hands on this one, credited with the screenplay. If he reaches out to behind the camera, heâs going to be the next Judd Apatow.
For a kids movie, this is a success in capturing the essence of what it means to be a Middle schooler. Kids old enough to watch movies, but not older than 7th grade will love it. Parents will also laugh along.
What does it feel like to just enter middle school? From what I recall, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid gets pretty close to the real feeling.
Based on the popular book series of the same name, (which I havenât read) I get the feeling this movie gets close to what they did in print. The movie is about Greg Heffley, a regular kid entering middle school with sights set on becoming popular. His aspirations donât quite meet with reality as he deals with the tough decision and questions a kid his age deals with.
Have nuclear cooties affected his classmates? Why is this girl the same age as me, yet two feet taller beating me up? Why would anyone consider a personâs posterior to be âcute?â
The nice thing about this movie is that unlike so many other kids movies, the childâs point of view is not dumbed down. Keeping pace with Greg is funny and rewarding. Heâs rewarded for making things right, but the lesson is learned only though personal strife, the way it should be.
The repeating gag involving a moldy piece of cheese is well played out. Once one touches the swiss thatâs been sitting on the playground, they have the undesirable Cheese Touch. That person is the outcast of school, until they pass it on by tagging the next person. Itâs a simple joke, carried out in a funny way and something any middle school student can relate to.
It looks and feels a lot like Matt Damon in the Bourne Identity but this has a more serious tone. Itâs part military action thriller, part expose of what went wrong with the Iraq war.
Green Zone follows mid-level US Soldier Roy Miller (Damon) whose job is to track down weapons of mass destruction in 2003 Iraq. Heâs notably frustrated, because heâs not finding any and believes that heâs being given bad intelligence. What heâs unsure of is where that bad intelligence is coming from; us or them.
I think Director Paul Greengrass, who did the Bourne Identity movies, was trying to walk the line between fiction and fact. There are obvious realisms about the film. It even includes President Bushâs infamous âMission Accomplishedâ speech. Still this isnât a documentary. Itâs more a hybrid doc-like thriller.
Green Zone really pinpoints whose to blame for the phony intelligence (neocons who wanted the war,) but also hands out finger waggings to the press and the CIA while still depicting the US military as just and right.
There are scenes that are meant to shock you and show the disconnect between the job that the military was trying to do, and the suits calling the shots. At one point, Miller trudges into Saddamâs Republican Palace moments after risking life and limb, chasing a suspect through the gritty streets of Baghdad. He finds something like Club Med, where people are eating pizza and drinking beer pool side, while hip hop music plays in the background.
I think whether you choose to agree with the real world evidence thatâs come to light about the seemingly fabricated reasons why went to war in Iraq will be a determining factor in whether you like this one. Your politics are put to the test, but if you can get around that, youâll get a pretty good thriller.
It looks like Alice, but itâ missing some of the heart and some of the wonder. The film tries to make up for a lesser story with great visuals. This didnât feel like Alice In Wonderland should have felt.
In Tim Burtonâs version, Alice is a teenager. Faced with the prospect of grown up decisions, she follows the White Rabbit into the forest and falls down the rabbit hole. Believing she is having her recurring dream, Alice begins to realize she has returned to the familiar Underland, and reunited with some familiar friends. She is then charged with the quest of ending the Red Queenâs reign.
As I recall, original story is filled with characters taunting and misdirecting Alice on her way home. The imagery is dark and the ideas are a little scary. This story is seemingly happier, even with the Red Queen and her constant requests for beheadings.
What is fun about his is the cartoon-esque hallucinogenic world that Burton creates. He had help from one of the visual designers from Avatar, and Wonderland is fantastic looking.
The characters, some old, some new, seem to be there more out of a convenience. They are clever and interesting to look at, but it felt as if Alice could have made her way through without the advice of the hooka-smoking caterpillar. Isnât he supposed to be a key player?Â Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter was a treat.
Another problem is Aliceâs journey, which resolves in a gigantic climactic battle. Isnât Alice on a journey of finding herself, while finding her way home? Why does she need a dragon to slay? I guess it helps pack the film with some more action.
This movie leaves you feeling like you saw something impressive, just not a better version of the story. Something is missing. By the way, the 3D format did nothing to improve on the story, and serves more as a distraction.
At the beginning of Brooklynâs Finest, we have a snitch talking to a dirty undercover cop about truth and justice. He talks about how even the law recognizes that in some cases, committing a crime can be forgiven if itâs done for a greater good. Think of the man who steals bread to feed his starving family. Thatâs the idea that Brooklynâs Finest tries to convey.
The film features three unconnected New York Police officers, who paths unknowingly cross. Tango (Don Cheadle), a deep undercover drug agent with heavy underworld connections. Eddie (Richard Gere) is just a few days from retirement and Sal (Ethan Hawke) is the drug raid cop in need of money in order to support his family.
All three are on the edge, seemingly facing situations that are more than they can handle. You donât get the feeling that things are going to work out well for them either.
This is a solid trio of actors. They all make their case that life fighting crime can be gritty, unrewarding and takes a serious personal strain on the officer. Corruption is a slippery slope.
Ethan Hawke was the notable one here. His character Sal busts up drug houses for a living. He sees untold amounts of drug money piled up like laundry, tempting him on a daily basis. Sal is also a father of several kids, has twins on the way and a wife that is ill from mold in their decrepit house. Heâs the most justified for thinking about stealing the bread, and heâs the most conflicted about his strife.
Outside of Salâs story, the film falls short of the thrilling expectations you desire from this level of acting skill.
Really, other than one category this year, the picks are pretty clear to me.
I think it's a toss up in the Best Actress category between Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side" and Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia."
Here's the link to theOscar ballot if you wanna play at home and below are my picks in the major categories. I've also included with the nominees, who will win and who I think should win. They're not always the same.
Best Picture Avatar
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker - WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
Notes: There is no denying the strength, power and intensity of The Hurt Locker.Â It may not be the most well known of the nominations, but it stands above them all.
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart - WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN
George Clooney for Up in the Air
Colin Firth for A Single Man
Morgan Freeman for Invictus
Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker
Notes: It was a tough call to rule out George Clooney's performance of Up In The Air.Â The story hit home, but Jeff Bridges wins.Â He literally transformed into his character. Â Colin Firth went to the bottom of the well, showing how one's sexual orientation had to be masked in the 1950s.
Best Actress Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side WILL WIN
Helen Mirren for The Last Station
Carey Mulligan for An Education
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Meryl Streep for Julie & JuliaÂ SHOULD WIN
Note: This is a hard call.Â I didn't really like The Blind Side, but it's turned out to be a fan favorite.Â I would have watched a whole movie of Meryl Streep portraying Julia Childs.
Best Supporting Actor Matt Damon for Invictus
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger
Christopher Plummer for The Last Station
Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN
Notes: If not for Christoph Waltz as the bad guy in Inglorious, this would have been a lesser movie.Â Stanley Tucci also deserves credit in this category, but not for his work in The Lovely Bones.Â He should have been nominated for playing Julia Childs' husband in Julie & Julia.
Notes: Admission of guilt.Â As of press time, I still haven't seen Precious.Â I am solely going on my fellow critics review of her work and the fan outpouring of support she's received.
Best Director Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN
James Cameron for Avatar
Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Notes: I giggle that James Cameron will be beat out by his ex-wife.Â This is a good lesson for Jason (Son of funny movie god - Ivan) Reitman.Â Get a couple movies under your belt and you'll have your Oscar soon.
Best Original Screenplay The Hurt Locker: Mark Boal WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN
Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger: Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
A Serious Man: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Up: Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy
Notes: All of these movies deserve credit for their originality.Â They all have their own charm and special touch.Â All are worthy, but I would like to see Quentin Tarantino win sometime soon.
Best Animated Feature Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up - WILL WIN/ SHOULD WIN
Notes: Fantastic and The Princess and the Frog are both great examples of creative animation.Â Up was simply a better example.
The Crazies is capable horror film. Itâs tense, and a little smarter than the average scary movie. It needed a little more dread and fewer predictable things jumping out from the dark at you.
The film is a remake of Horror God George Romeroâs 1973 âThe Crazies,â and manages to achieve the task of doing a good job with it.
Small town Iowa Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) finds himself at the center of town gone crazy after a military jet carrying secrets crashes nearby. One by one, the townâs residents turn into murderous psychotics and no one can explain why.
I wouldnât say the town folk are turning into zombies, but rather the do not kill instinct in their brain gets turned off.
The film is set in Iowa, but a rather generic looking military force is sent into clean up the mess. It seems like it would be the U.S. military thatâs sent on a contain-and-eradicate mission, but itâs not clear.
What is clear, is the idea of whoâs crazier? Is it the infected locals, or the government thatâs bringing down a big hurt on its own citizens? Who are the heroâs to run from? The infected or the military? Is this a horror story, or a man without a country whose on the run?
In my head, those ideas muddied what seemed to be a pretty good idea for a scary story. Adding in the tension where the viewer and the characters in the film canât quite tell whether a person is infected, or just way stressed out is a nice touch.
Itâs not bad, but Romero always adds a far superior gloom to his work. It was a little lost on this one.
Sure Martin Scorsese has done better, but you get his full âmental health treatmentâ this time. The best thing about it is, youâre guessing about whatâs going on, right up till the end.
It would be wrong to label Shutter Island a horror film, rather a sometimes intense and very dark thriller. Set in 1954 on a Boston harbor island, US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is on his way to investigate the disappearance of a patient in a mental institute for the criminally insane.
It seems pretty routine that Teddy and his partner would be in search of a missing person at a federal prison, but from the second they step on the island, we begin to get the sense that something just isnât quite right.
In case you werenât getting the full Scorsese âdread vibeâ from realizing youâre watching one of his worksâ¦the rusted gates, overgrown brush and the old time civil war fortress turned into a mental institute does the job.
I think the appeal to Shutter Island is the motivations of the characters. Are they working for or against the hero? Why are they doing what theyâre doing? Why do the institute guards seem to be a little overprotective? Is there a Nazi secret hidden deep in the instituteâs innards? So many questions, and this conspiracy lover only has so much time. Resident therapist Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) appears to have the interest of his patients in mind, but you also think on the sly, he might very well be into the old time mental health treatments that he protests.
A lot of questions are thrown around, but you rest assure knowing that they are being guided by the steady had of a filmmaker we expect good things of.
On the downside, the setup to the resolution takes time. I found myself lost in some of the mood of the film, wishing to the story would progress. There are parts that donât seem to fit, until you realize the movie as a whole. I think that sometimes throws movie goers for a loop, but donât be disheartened. The exposition and rising action are worth while.
Even Ozzy Osbourne would bark at the moon for this howling remake of the original wolfman.
Benecio Del Toro leads the cast ofÂ The Wolfman, is a close remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney classic The Wolf Man. They even look like the same wolves.
Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) returns to his native England to investigate the mysterious death of his brother. He stays with his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins,) until one night Lawrence is bitten by the Wolfman and soon becomes the creature he is hunting.
Director Joe Johnston managed to capture the classic gothic horror story feel to this one, working on the curse of the werewolf, and weaving in mythology and folklore into the story. Add in the villagers with pitchforks and torches to round out the theme.
The difference is the wolfman is honestly brutal on his moonlit marauds. While he looks like a man, he attacks with the veracity and bloodlust of a hungry animal. The heads to roll, literally, with the help of a little computer animation.
The film has an eerily gloomy and dark setting, which add to the enjoyment. You get a sense from the start that things will not bode well for Lawrence upon his return. At his fatherâs mansion, the cleaning staff has apparently taken the last 100 years off. Its creepy to see wind swept piles of leaves in the den and hallway. You almost get the feeling that only animals are living there.
The big question is how scary is the wolfman? Lets just say I wouldnât want to run into the guy in the woods. Heâs a brute-force, killing machine, but itâs a little off to see him move. Youâd think a creature that has the power to decapitate a man with a single swipe, would also have the girth of a grizzy bear. Not so much here. This wolfman can effortlessly jump from building top to building top like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ninja wolfman? I donât buy it.
Valentineâs Day is to Romeo & Juliet, as my 1st grade finger paintings are to a Picasso. Thatâs not to say there isnât something to enjoy on a basic level of my attempt at artwork, it just no masterpiece.
If that sounds a little formulaic, thatâs because itâs meant to be. Valentineâs Day has the feel that there is some secret Hollywood equation that calculates how many celebrities can you jam into one movie and make it profitable.
By my count, there are 21 recognizable celebrities in the film that interweaves a dozen or so love stories on Valentineâs Day. It seems odd that so much could happen on one day, but itâs necessary in order to make the plot work.
I can say this film could have been a lot worse. The stores are at least connected in a somewhat logical way, and at least some of the characters have believable backstories. Most of the characters seem to be made up of corporate committee group thinking. (The old couple, the newly dating couple, the teen romance, the âwill he beâ retiring NFL quarterback who looks surprisingly like Brett Favre.)
It may seem like Iâm being overly critical of a film that is clearly targeted at a certain demographic, and only serves to hand out warm fuzzies. On that simplistic level, sure it works, but movie goes should demand more for their money instead of just a romantic version of People Magazine.
Then again, I would consider going back and watching it again just to hear Anne Hathaway âpurrrrrrrrrrrrrrâ again.
John Travolta serves up a lot of fromage in this (sort of) action spy thriller. Some of its tastyâ¦but a good part of this is smelly cheese. From Paris With Love stars Charlie Wax (Travolta) a buffed out, bad ass cheseeball American spy, sent to Paris to take out the bad guys who are involved in drugs and terrorism. He is met by the Assistant to the American Ambassador to France, James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who is unknowingly wrapped up in a terror plot.
Charlie provides James with some high intensity on the job training as they lay waste to Chinese drug dealers and other brown skinned men of an unclear origin, who believe blowing up Americans is the just thing to do.
Wax is another redundant action hero, whoâs bulletproof, can disarm ten thugs by himself and has an endless clip of ammunition. Heâs further exaggerated by having a hefty desire for Royaleâs with Cheese, a clear reference to Travoltaâs far superior character in Pulp Fiction. Bad call referencing a better movie the audience could be watching at home.
Then again, if not for Charlie Wax, this movie would have been a complete waste of time. Sure, his action sequences are set up, and I couldnât imagine wanting to spend more than five minutes with him, but heâs there for a reason. Itâs for us to vicariously live through him. Who wouldnât want the skills of a ninja, combined with the bravado of a rock star?
If you do choose to see this one, prepare yourself for a pretty transparent plot and action sequences that would make any 13 year old boy smile.
As far as the title goes, Tina Turner would say..."what's love got to do with it?"
Just as much as Mel Gibson knows how to shoot his mouth off in the worst waysâ¦he can also do just the opposite and make a really exciting action-thriller. This is one of them.
In the oddly named Edge Of Darkness, Tom Craven (Gibson) is a Boston Detective, whose adult daughter is murdered on her return home. Craven begins to put the pieces together to uncover a deeper conspiracy that proves to be a challenge to unfold.
High marks go out to our bad guy in this one. I wonât spoil who are what they are, but they are evil. They are double evil. The only way they could be worse is if they were peering out the castle tower window, tenting their fingers and delivering a low-toned bwahh-ha ha ha haaaa.
I wouldnât justify Gibsonâs acting performance here as a justification for his notable harsh words, but he does great work creating likeable characters. Tom Craven is just, honest and vengeful, like you expect a clean Boston cop to be.
Mel Gibson seems to be at his best when he plays a cop hell bent on finding the truth. seasoned few actors such as Clint Eastwood, who can enter their golden years on screen with more style than Georgio Armani.
Itâs hard not to think of The Departed while watching this one considering all the similar connections. I think thatâs Notably older than his Lethal Weapon mainstay, I wondered while watching this if heâs turning into the OK, because this isnât trying to copy Martin Scorsese, itâs just got a similar background.
In any case this is probably the best flick in 2010 so far.
If this is what the apocalypse looks like, just take me now. In Legion, they talk about how the weak minded are the first to go. I canât see anyone but the weak minded thinking this is anything interesting.
Legion is a rip-off B-Movie posing as a major motion picture. God has become angry with the humans for squandering their gifts, and has chosen to send an army of angels to wipe them out. That is except for the Arc Angel Michael, whose gone rogue, thinking this is a test. He chooses to fall to Earth, and protect a group of strangers, which he believes hold the key to rebuilding humanity.
In many ways, this is a lesser version of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, except this is Angelnator 2: Jesus Day. Our hero angel falls from the sky, with the sole purpose to protect a child, who is prophesized to save us all. Maybe call him a Jesus 2.
He arms himself to the teeth to fight off the bad guys. Michael has tough guy one-liner after another, until the final face off between good and bad Terminator/Angel.
Thereâs even a scene in Legion that nearly frame for frame copies The Terminator where Sarah Connor is driving off into the desert, with an idea of the trouble to come. Itâs detailed right down to the bandana worn by the woman.
To question all of the loopholes in the plot would be silly, because the film assumes weâre dumb enough to let them all slide. Yet, hereâs a couple for your entertainment:
Why do angels need guns? How do pregnant women run away looking fine, just minutes after giving birth? Why wouldnât the other Arc Angel just show up and do the job himself? Why do all the invading angels randomly stop?
The only entertainment youâll find with this movie is dissecting it afterwards for the plot holes. This movie sucks biblically!
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and A Single Man shows the soul of good movie making.
Set in the early 60âs George (Colin Firth) is a Los Angeles English professor who has lost his lover. A Single Man follows George through a day in what may be his last day. His mountain of grief appears to be too much because of the tragedy of his loss. He finds his life to be stale and meaningless, all while the story tells the tale of his unspoken love in flashbacks.
George speaks to his class about how some people remain invisible in society, when he is actually talking about himself. The film is set in a time when people would lower their voice to say the word homosexual, let alone acknowledge a person who is.
George is forced to keep his life a secret because of societal standards and has to endure hardships that no person should. He is only told days after his lover dies of what has happened and when asked when the funeral is, George is told heâs not welcome to attend.
Still, George eerily goes about his daily routine, neatly putting his ducks in a row, as not to leave a mess for the person who would find him.
Itâs a dark subject matter and I can only assume that it may have been a reality for someone in the past. What keeps you hanging onto this movie is that you feel George is a smart enough man to know that he can go on, even with his loss.
Firth does some of the best work Iâve seen him in here. It well worth the award nominations heâs already garnered, but I donât see it taking home the metal at the end of the night.
Denzel Washington is typically good, even when the movie is bad. This movie leaves you with not much more than indifference, so I guess its one of his bad ones.
In a post apocalyptic future, Eli (Washington) walks the road, heading west looking for a better place. The future is sepia toned and grim. There are road gangs, cannibalism, water is scarce and the typical feeling that humanity is fading.
Eli is a sword wielding, kung fu fighting, road warrior disciple, who believes his mission is to carry the last copy of a certain book, to a place where it can be used for good.
Heâs been walking west across America for 30 years since the war. The guy must be doubling back or something, because it really shouldnât take 30 years to make that trek.
That peaks the interest of Carnege (Gary Oldman,) the self appointed overlord of a town of survivors. He just happens to be in search of the book in Eliâs possession. He believes the masses will follow the written word, and follow him as their leader. Trouble arises when both boys start fighting over who should be the rightful owner.
Washington is a great actor, but an awkward action hero. You expect him to deliver dialogue with a profound sense of understanding, but you donât expect him to round house kick his opponent and cut his arm off.
There is a promise of hope, and you get a little twist at the end of the film, but reflecting on itâ¦it didnât click as a ground shaking reveal. In a way, the story is digestible, but if all thereâs left in the word to eat are bald catsâ¦.yuck.
One basic premise in filmmaking is that for the audience to be satisfied, justice has to be served. I felt very unsatisfied and a little weirded-out after watching The Lovely Bones.
The movie adaptation is about 14-year old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), who is killed by a serial killer, then narrates her story from a surrealistic world in between Earth and Heaven. From that location, she tries to help her friends and family with clues to finding her killer.
Susie takes her horrific death in great stride. Youâd think a spirit that wants to figure out what happened to herself, would be more active in the pursuit. Not in this case. Susie runs and plays in the world that looks like something a young girl would imagine is heaven. (Horses, flowers, ribbons and other pretty things.) She even gets to meet up with the fellow victims of the serial killer and they hang out. Tea anyone?
Meanwhile her killer (Stanley Tucci) goes hidden in plain sight, as her family goes bonkers trying to cope. Tucci is convincing as a classical serial killer, but I think his character deserves a worse fate than whatâs delivered.
Other than the light tone of a girl being murdered, I found it annoying that the film set up several ideas, told you about what was going to happen and then showed it. Why not just save me the time and tell me the entire story in the first five minutes and let me go home? Donât spoil whatâs to come next.
The story canât be blamed on Saoirse Ronan. I liked her performance. She was what youâd expect a 14-year old girl to be. Whatâs wrong with this movie is the tone and emotion of it. It didnât connect with me.
Iâm guessing that The Lovely Bones was a better read than a film.
Hollywood, Iâll let this one pass, but Iâm done with the vampire for a while. Why not let zombies or The Wolfman have another turn. (What? They already are? OK.Â Fine...I'll shut up.)
Daybreakers gets a pass from me, because presents a couple of very interesting points that donât quite fit in with the typical vampire fare. 1. Almost whole world are vampires and the human blood population is running out. 2. There may be a cure for vampirisim.
Just nine years into the future, a plague has taken over most of the human species, turning everybody into vampires. With the threat of the extinction of humans (i.e.: no food for vampires,) Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a top blood expert working on a synthetic blood that the bloodsuckers can survive on. So far no success, until he meets Lionel Cormac (Willem Dafoe,) an Elvis Presley-quoting former vampire, turned back to human, whose not sure how it happened.
Another twist is that Dalton grudgingly works for the corporation trying to come up with the synthetic blood. A nice little sci-fi element is when faced with the prospect of the cure, the company rather chooses making money on the patch job instead of fixing the main problem. Sounds a little like our health care system today. Iâm guessing the public option didnât make it into the vampire health care overhaul.
In any case, greed and power rules over good until the truth can no longer be contained. Thatâs your typical futuristic sci-fi theme. In this case, its another tolerable example.