Wednesday, December 22, 2010
- After what seemed like a pretty dry year for comedy (and still will be since this technically releases next year), this is definitely the movie that I laughed the hardest during.
- Christoph Waltz (Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds) plays the villain quite well.
- James Franco has a brief, uncredited role.
- The film has, at times, a campy feel to it (as a throwback to its radio roots). It doesn't make the movie campy itself, though.
- I watched the movie in 2D and it will apparently also be released in 3D. You can tell which camera shots, etc. were designed for the 3D, but it isn't too distracting (as it mostly fits in with the aesthetic of the movie)
"The Green Hornet" will be released January 14, 2011 and is rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.
Cop Out - (2 Stars)
There are plenty of buddy cop action comedies out there, including one of my favorite movies, so Cop Out already starts itself from a bad position. Add in the fact that this is the first time Kevin Smith is directing something he didn't write, and things are not looking any better. Had Smith written and directed this, it might have fared better as I've enjoyed some of Smith's previous movies, but not all of them by any means. This movie is going to be added to the "not so much enjoyed" list.
The movie starts funny enough with a good mix of visual and verbal humor from leads Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan but then nothing really happens. The story, which is never top focus in this type of movie, is pretty weak and the laughs drop off dramatically once the main arc of the story picks up. I ended up finding myself bored more than laughing. There wasn't even that much action to pick up the lack of comedy.
(107 minutes - Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality - 2010) (Netflix)
Creation - (2 1/2 Stars)
Paul Bettany does a wonderful job with his very emotional, human portrayal of Darwin. Most times when people think of Darwin, they focus on his theory and not on what lead Darwin to his theories. Creation instead makes an interesting focus on Darwin's religious beliefs and the conflict he felt with his newfound discovery. But, it's not without its faults. Creation is another movie that builds well, but falters near the end. Creation, like many movies that dwell in the realm of emotions, built up but never hit that perfect end note.
(108 minutes - Rated PG-13 for some intense thematic material - 2009) (Netflix)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - (2 Stars)
After the very successful first 'Transformers' movie, it would have seemed that Michael Bay could only improve on the flawed but fun movie. Instead, like many people predicted, Bay created a mess of a sequel. There is simply too much going on for a movie that should know that it's more about giant fighting robots than complicated exposition. It's too long, too tedious and too ridiculous, and that's hard to do when you are already expecting to see giant, transforming robots.
The first entry into the Transformers series wasn't great by any means, but it was at least more than an excuse for Michael Bay to blow stuff up and overcomplicated mythology. Okay, it probably was just an excuse for Michael Bay to blow stuff up, but at least (unfortunately) it made me interested in seeing the second one. Now the only reason I want to see the third one is to see whether or not the train completely derails or gets back on track. Just don't expect me to head to the theatre to do so.
(150 minutes - Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material - 2009) (Netflix)
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I'm a sucker for a well done, clever Science Fiction story. So, going into the movie, I thought there could be some potential for a surprise. To me that's one of the best movie going experiences, when a movie completely delivers something you don't expect. And while "Repo Men" has an interesting enough concept, it doesn't completely deliver in the end.
Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker play the title characters who, in the semi-near future, are tasked with tracking down and repossessing artificial organs that the owners have fallen behind in payments on. The idea is both well executed and sloppy at the same time. Some plot holes exist because of this (or I guess, more along the lines of logic or character motivation holes).
The movie still moves at a pretty quick pace and provides some decent action. I actually gave the movie a higher rating because of the ending (which I will discuss more in my AtM post). While it may lack in some areas, "Repo Men" at least offers some action and some interesting ethical dilemmas. For example, to think of predatory lending extending to something that is actually in your body is a scary idea indeed.
(119 minutes -Rated R for for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity - 2010) (Netflix)
(98 minutes - Rated PG for scary sequences and images - 2009) (Netflix)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Whenever I watch an "inspirational sports film" I always go into the movie skeptical. It can't be helped. How many movies like Secretariat out there recycle a similar sports story and, despite the fact that they are based on true stories, still utilize the same tired plot points? There are many. So, going into Secretariat, I had my concerns.
For one thing, this movie is about a horse and not a person. Horse racing isn't exactly at the top of my list of "Must Watch" sporting events. Secondly, perhaps the biggest concern, I knew how the movie was going to end, or rather, how the story ends. My concerns weren't allayed at first. The movie starts as you would expect, with a dramatic voice-over quoting something or sharing an anecdote complete with your typical dramatic sports story music (compare soundtracks to sports movies sometime, they are quite similar). But where Secretariat goes from there is much better than I expected. In fact, it delivers a very entertaining story that, while following the exploits of a horse, also has a very human aspect to it in the story of the people who owned and trained and rode Secretariat.
The cast is top notch. Diane Lane does a pretty good turn as the tough, not-going-to-back-down Penny Tweedy nee Chenery and John Malkovich is always entertaining, and does a great job bringing his charisma to the cast. As for knowing how the movie ends, "Secretariat" still does an excellent job of building and maintaining suspense throughout the movie. I found myself several times questioning what I knew to be true. In the end, "Secretariat" delivers a well-acted, solidly entertaining inspirational sports movie. While it's not groundbreaking or anything particularly new, it's definitely worth a watch.
(123 minutes - Rated PG for brief mild language. - 2010) (Netflix)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Last Song - (1 Star)
Without even putting the DVD into the player, this movie had two strikes against it: Nicholas Sparks and Miley Cyrus. Some will probably say that it's a little harsh/biased to go into a movie thinking that. Trust me, in this case, it's not. "The Last Song" is another typical Nicholas Sparks movie that includes all of his usual gimmicks. The acting gets pretty bad at some points in the movie, especially the first introduction between Miley Cyrus' character and her eventual love interest, Liam Hemsworth, where it literally felt like Miley was reading cue cards behind his head. Probably enjoyable for younger teenage girls, a demographic to which I obviously don't belong.
(107 minutes - Rated PG for thematic material, some violence, sensuality and mild language - 2010) (Netflix)
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse - (2 1/2 Stars)
A follow-up to the previous Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. As someone who has read the source comic book, I can say that it plays like a mediocre adaptation. It doesn't really change much or bring anything new to a story that was just kind of okay to begin with. Still enjoyable if you're looking for an animated superhero movie, just nothing special.
(75 minutes - Rated PG-13 for violence and brief sensuality - 2010) (Netflix)
Greenberg - (2 Stars)
Instead of being awkwardly funny or awkwardly touching it's just awkward. The film is more of a character study in that it basically follows Ben Stiller's character, Roger Greenberg, who's neurotic and often socially inept. I wasn't a fan of Noah Baumbach's previous movie, "The Squid and the Whale," but I enjoy his contributions on Wes Anderson's movies (then again, that might just be due to Anderson). Stiller does do a great job with the role, but it's not enough to make the otherwise aimless movie worth watching.
(107 minutes - Rated R for some strong sexuality, drug use, and language - 2010) (Netflix)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Due Date - (2 Stars)
The first thing I thought when I saw the preview for "Due Date" was that it looked like an updated version of the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," as I'm sure many other people did. The movie was basically marketed as "Planes..." meets "The Hangover." Fans of "The Hangover" will be much more interested than fans of the "Planes..." (in fact, Todd Phillips directed both "Due Date" and "The Hangover"). Although, even they might not find it too funny. I was not particularly amused.
"Due Date" uses the tried and (usually) true method of pairing two mismatched people for comedic effect (call it an odd couple, or the "jerk and the moron" or even a variation of the straight man to the funny man). The problem is that most of the time you really don't like the "jerk" or sympathize with the "moron." I'd like to say that along the way their characters grow and get better, but they really don't.
The aspect of the movie that bothered me the most and really put me out of the movie-going experience was that "Due Date" wasn't a realistic, sincere type of comedy. Now this wouldn't be a bad thing except that it's not on the opposite end of the spectrum, a ridiculous, funny slapstick style of comedy either. The movie starts out believably enough (and enjoyably enough as well) but quickly begins veering more towards stupidity and away from being funny or believable.
One of the reasons I wanted to like this movie more than I did was that I have enjoyed Robert Downey, Jr.'s performances of late. I was more than a little disappointed when I saw that he was going to be in this movie, but held my breath that perhaps he and Galifianakis could pull it off. However, Galifianakis seems to be playing a vaguely similar character to his Hangover counterpart, who I didn't enjoy the first time around and Downey is channeling a more smarmy version of Tony Stark, his character from "Iron Man." Except where Tony Stark's character is a likable character with some personality flaws, Downey's character in "Due Date" is just completely unlikeable.
In the end, there were definitely funny parts throughout the movie, but many of them also showed up in the trailers. "Due Date" never hits any real comedic stride and really peters out by the end. In fact, as the movie went on I found myself wondering how long it was. While it officially clocks in at 100 or so minutes, it feels closer to north of 2 hours.
(100 minutes - Rated R for language, drug use and sexual content - 2010) (Netflix - February 22)
I'm toying with a new idea and have added a poll to see what people think. I try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, but I often have more to say. What I'm thinking of doing is creating a series of posts that would be extra, spoiler-filled commentary for people to read after they have seen the movie. For example, there are several things from this movie I wanted to elaborate on but didn't want to spoil anyone as to what specifically occurs in the movie. There was also a lot in Toy Story 3 and Inception as well. Please take the poll and let me know what you think about this idea!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Inception - (5 Stars)
First thing I will say: this is the best movie I have seen all year. Second thing: This may be the best movie I have seen in a while. I am and have always been a huge fan of all of Christopher Nolan's movies. As soon as I see his most recent movie, I'm looking ahead to see what he has coming up. Memento was the first of his movies that I saw, and it blew me away. His takes on Batman have been equally brilliant (with the Dark Knight considered by many to be the best comic book movie out there) and The Prestige is one of my favorite movies of all time.
So what did I expect going in to Inception? Nothing short of brilliance again. I don't really want to go into what happens in the movie as it is definitely one that needs to be watched for oneself, but I will say that despite my really high expectations, it delivered way beyond what I had hoped for. The story is smart, engaging and a little bit puzzling (in a good way). The scenery/imagery is fantastic. There were several scenes in the movie where I was blown away. They were the kind of scenes that are iconic (some of which have, unfortunately, been in the trailers). Hans Zimmer also delivers a haunting, reverberating (literally) score that pairs wonderfully with Nolan's vision. Perhaps the aspect that works the best about this movie is its phenomenal ensemble cast. Every person, from Leonardo DiCaprio to Tom Hardy to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fit perfectly into the puzzle without a piece missing or out of place.
I realize that I haven't really explained what the movie is about and for the sake of those of you who may be on the fence about seeing it, think of it as a con/heist movie that takes place within the mind. There's action, suspense, some funny parts and some real emotional moments as well. Definitely worth seeing (several times).
(148 minutes - Rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout - 2010) (Netflix - Dec. 7)
How to Train Your Dragon - (4 Stars)
When it comes to animated movies, I'll admit that sometimes I'm a little biased towards Pixar movies. That's not to say that I'll only watch their movies or that I turn my nose up at Dreamworks or other studios movies, it's just that when your track record is as good as Pixar's it's hard not to be jaded towards the competition. That being said, 'How to Train Your Dragon" is by far the best movie Dreamworks Animation has put out.
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, "How to Train Your Dragon" follows a young viking by the name of Hiccup. He lives in a world where vikings and dragons are engaged in a constant battle against each other for existence. The vikings believe that all dragons should be killed on sight and the dragons, well...what would you do if you saw a big, hairy guy swinging an ax? However, when Hiccup encounters a young, injured dragon he begins to learn that things aren't so black and white when it comes to the scaly beasts.
"Dragon" has a pretty decent voice cast, smooth animation and a good story that makes Madagascar look even more like it was written by a group of chimpanzees (sorry, sorry...but it's true...Madagascar is a mess). It's also reinforces that not everything is always as it seems (or don't judge a book by its cover). Hopefully, though, it doesn't also give kids the idea to walk up to the nearest scaly reptile and attempt to pet it. Overall, "Dragon" is a solidly entertaining movie that both kids and adults should enjoy. It's not as funny as I thought it would be, but it's still a great time.
(98 minutes - Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language - 2010) (Netflix)
Toy Story 3 - (4 1/2 Stars)
Inception's challenge was all about whether or not Christopher Nolan could top his previous movies and How to Train Your Dragon's was whether or not Dreamworks could put out something decent and on almost on par with Pixar. Toy Story 3 probably has the biggest challenge of the three: How do you create a sequel, more than ten years later, to one of the most beloved franchises of all time? The movie itself is the answer to that question. Pixar has outdone themselves with Toy Story 3 by creating a movie that is both fresh and nostalgic and is a sequel that doesn't just retread old territory but provides a proper send-off for some of animation's most beloved characters.
Toy Story 3 picks up about 10 years after the last Toy Story (so, just about as long as it was in real life). Andy is getting ready to head off to college, and his favorite toys are starting to get nervous because they haven't been played with in a long time. Eventually, due to a mix up, the gang ends up in a daycare center. This provides the opportunity for a lot of new characters to be introduced. However, at no point does the amount of toys get confusing or detract from the main story.
Once again, sticking with my usual stance, I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't like spoiling what happens (hopefully my explanation above only covers what was in the previews). I will say that there were parts that I did feel where a bit rehashed or tired (although, I will admit that when I watched the movie I was in the midst of an annoying cold and was a bit more irritable about stupid stuff) but by the end of the movie I completely forgot about them and was fully engaged and emotionally invested in the story. Pixar shows that, once again, they are the masters of animated storytelling and that they know how to properly end a story as cherished as Toy Story.
(103 minutes - Rated G - 2010) (Netflix)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Temple Grandin* - (4 Stars)
A touching, and wholly interesting look at the life of one of the leaders in humane livestock handling who also happens to be autistic. Won the Emmy for best Made for TV movie (it was on HBO), as such it is not rated. It is basically the equivalent of a PG movie along the lines of Finding Neverland (no real objectionable content but not really interesting for younger kids). (103 minutes - NR - 2010) (Netflix)
Survival of the Dead^ - (1 Star)
George A. Romero has officially lost his touch with zombie movies. It's a good thing "The Walking Dead" starts on AMC on Halloween night (10pm) or else there would be nowhere to turn for good zombies anymore. I have four words to summarize how bad this movie is: zombie riding a horse. Oh yeah, and he uses digital effects instead of makeup effects (see my review of Zombieland if you really want to know more about how I feel about zombie movies) (90 minutes - Rated R for strong zombie violence/gore, language and brief sexuality - 2009/2010)(Netflix)
Iron Man 2 - (4 Stars)
Great follow-up to the original. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one. I like that they are building up to a big team-up movie (The Avengers), but they are forcing too much information into the Iron Man story that could just be saved for the actual Avenger movie. As a side note: I thought Sam Rockwell stands out as being perfectly annoying as Justin Hammer, Tony Stark's business rival, whereas my wife just found him annoying. (124 minutes - Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language - 2010) (Netflix)
Robin Hood - (2 1/2 Stars)
Ridley Scott, who apparently lives to make epic battle movies, brings his style to a Robin Hood prequel tale. Some of the changes to the mythos work, others are just confusing. I found myself liking some parts and hating other parts of this movie. Overall, the movie is a bit long and convoluted (too many extra characters, some of which are probably set-up for a potential sequel) and probably would have been better had it not been about Robin Hood. (140 minutes - Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content - 2010) (Netflix)
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths^ - (2 1/2 Stars)
Not the best and not the worst of the DC Animated movies. Standard comic book fare that is at the very least an entertaining popcorn watch. (75 minutes - Rated PG-13 for action violence - 2010) (Netflix)
*Recommended Pick of the Week
^Netflix Instant Play
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Alice in Wonderland – (3½ Stars)
Everyone knows the story, or at least bits and pieces, of “Alice in Wonderland,” whether you’ve seen the Disney cartoon or one of the various live-action versions or read the books. Enter Tim Burton and his love for remaking movies with his own spin (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Planet of the Apes…). What happens when you let Mr. Burton, whose movies often evoke strange and gothic-esque atmosphere, handle Alice in Wonderland? A better than expected, fresh adaptation of the wonderfully unusual Lewis Carroll stories.
(108 minutes - Rated PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar - 2010) (Netflix)
Dead Alive – (3 Stars)
One of the most ridiculous movies I have ever seen with over-the-top gore effects, cheesy and hilarious slapstick humor and lots of other strange happenings. The MPAA rating for the R-rated version says it all: an abundance of outrageous gore.
(97 minutes - NR - 1992) (Netflix)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – (4 Stars)
A pretty decent adaptation of the penultimate Potter book. As with all of the other movies, some liberties are taken to keep it consistent with the others. The movies have taken an upswing starting with "Order of the Phoenix" (my favorite of the movies) and "Half-Blood Prince" that hopefully will hold up into the two-part finale. Although, any Potter movie would be better than the train wreck that was "Goblet of Fire."
(153 minutes - Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality - 2009) (Netflix)
The Wolfman – (2 Stars)
A remake of the Lon Chaney version with pretty good casting. This version is more of an action movie than a horror movie but the problem is: it’s a very slow action movie. The characters lack any real emotional depth, which is integral to this movie really working. Although, the soundtrack has shades of the original, which is a plus.
Brothers – (3 Stars)
A tense, unsettling and sometimes even heartbreaking movie that shows some of the potential extreme effects of war.
Sunshine Cleaning – (3 ½ Stars)
Quirky dark comedy full of great characters with a focus on the importance of family.
Kick-Ass – (2½ Stars)
Interesting enough premise, but a poor execution. I didn't care at all what happened to any the characters, which isn't exactly great for a superhero movie (yeah, I know it's not supposed to be a 'typical' comic book movie).
Shutter Island – (3 Stars)
Great atmosphere, building suspense mounts to a disappointingly predictable ending…or is it?
The Crazies – (3 Stars)
A respectable entry into the infected / ”zombie”/crazy-person horror genre. Creepy and foreboding, without being an unnecessarily violent slasher movie.
Green Zone – (4 Stars)
A solidly entertaining political thriller that has the look of a Jason Bourne movie, without actually being one. The movie is a fictionalized account of the search for WMDs. Some may find it “too political,” but I viewed it as enjoyable fiction.
Green Lantern: First Flight – (3½ Stars)
Animated re-telling of Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s origin story. This is a good movie for people gearing up for next years theatrical Green Lantern movie who want a basic understanding of the GL universe.
Batman: Under the Red Hood – (3½ Stars)
A decent adaptation of a very good Batman comic story arc. This is probably not the best story for people new to Batman, but it does its best to fill in the uninformed. The screenwriter is actually the same person who wrote the original comic, so it's interesting to see the changes the author makes to his original source material. Most of the changes are for the better, but some just seem unnecessary.
Funnier and more enjoyable than I expected. The movie does seem drawn out at times (which isn’t good when the movie is only 90 minutes to begin with). I haven’t read the books myself, but I assume most kids would enjoy this if they liked the original stories. If not, they can always read the books again (Yea for reading!).
The Book of Eli - (3 Stars)
I find myself usually drawn to post-apocalyptic movies of this type for some reason. I think it has to do with wanting to see how people react and stand out in a world that is starting over without rules or other preconceived notions. Eli is just a slightly better than mediocre attempt at this. The movie is pretty slow at most parts, only speeding up for the rather dull (and expected) fight scenes. There are definitely some interesting aspects of the movie, but overall not much here.
She's Out Of My League - (2½ Stars)
While funny at times, the movie is mostly a pretty typical comedy that I guess would be the male equivalent of a 'chick flick.' It kind of feels like a B version of a Judd Apatow movie. Jay Baruchel is likable enough as the lead.
Michael Cera stars as himself (ok, not really...but he's basically always the same character). Having been unlucky in love in the past, Cera sets up an alternate bad boy persona to impress a new girl and mayhem ensues. Not particularly funny or clever, just more of your typical Michael Cera fare.
The question then is, why after almost three months have I decided to write anything here? I felt that it would at least explain why there haven't been reviews, first of all. Also, I really want to be writing and posting reviews and plan to get back to it when I have some means of income, so I wanted to keep this alive. So, that leads to where I am now: for the meantime, I have decided to post my ratings for movies I watch. I'm not going to be fully reviewing them, but will be putting them up as at least a placeholder to fill in later. If at any point anyone would like to know more about why I gave a particular movie a certain review, I will gladly respond to Facebook posts, tweets or e-mails. Hopefully this will enable me to keep up with movie reviews and still help a few people out there when it comes to selecting their evening (or anytime) entertainment. Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
(102 minutes – Rated PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity – 2010) (Netflix)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Night Stalker – (3 Stars) – A television movie that kicked-off a subsequent series, “The Night Stalker” is the supernatural precursor to “The X-Files.” The story follows the exploits of the great character of Darren McGavin’s Kolchak, a newspaper reporter, as he tracks down what he believes to be an actual vampire preying on young women. The movie is a bit dated, but still a lot of fun. There is a second movie and the series, however it was short lived, but there was another an attempted resurrection a few years back (to no avail). Also, for those not familiar with the name Darren McGavin, he is the dad who finally relents to getting his son a Red Rider BB gun in “A Christmas Story.”
When In Rome – (3 Stars) –“When in Rome” is a romantic comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t require you to. Starring Kristen Bell (who is most know from her turn as Veronica Mars on CW) and Josh Duhamel (mostly known for being Fergie’s husband), as the couple of interest. They meet at a destination wedding in Rome near a famous fountain of love. The movie includes some funny bit parts from comedians Jon Heder, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett and Dax Shepard (Bell’s real-life love interest). Overall the movie is pretty predictable but remains enjoyable.
(Netflix) (91 minutes - Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content - 2010)
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (for real this time)
The Wolfman (2010)
Some potential movie reviews currently in theatrical release:
Grown Ups (definite review incoming, I have free passes)
Toy Story 3
Monday, June 21, 2010
For this week I do have a few movies to review:
The Night Stalker
When In Rome
Until then, feel free to post ideas for movie-less weeks in the comment section.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
(Netflix) (109 minutes – Rated R for Language and some sexual content – 2009)
(Netflix) (96 minutes – Rated PG-13 for Sexual content and language – 2009)
(Netflix) (105 minutes – Rated PG for Some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language and smoking – 2009)
(Netflix) (103 minutes – Rated PG-13 for Some sexual references and momentary violence – 2009)
(Netflix) (75 minutes – Rated PG-13 – 2009)