Friday, October 29, 2010

My Personal Halloween Movie Picks

Let me start off by saying that these are my favorite Halloween movies to watch each year and NOT what I consider to be the best Horror/Halloween movies of all time. That would be a separate list, one that I will probably not make anytime soon. Please feel free to weigh in with your Halloween movies in the comments section (and to add a little suspense to the list, I've added a 'jump.' You'll have to click on through to see the list).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Survival of Temple's Iron Hood

Here are a couple more movies I've watched recently. It's a pretty mixed bag with mixed results as well. Temple Grandin is from a few weeks ago (forgot to include it before), but the other 4 I just watched this week and most are relatively new releases.

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

Oh, The Movies I've Watched...

Here is a (mostly) complete list of the movies I have watched since I last posted (in July). Some of them have brief fragments attached to them, as I was in the process of reviewing them. At some point, I would like to come back and expand on them (at least the ones worth expanding on). In any case, here are the movies I've watched over the past 2-3 months (in no particular order, although it's kinda-sorta in the order I watched them):

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.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – (3 Stars)
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.

Letters to Juliet - (1 Star)
A painfully dull, cliché ridden romance movie that meanders onward for what seems an eternity (figuratively of course, the movie is only 105 minutes), making all the predictable stops along the way. It even has a groan-inducing ending that I saw coming a mile away.

An Inconvenient Truth - (1 Star)
A movie about Al Gore...who happens to be talking about global warming. Not a very engaging documentary, and an even less engaging subject. Would have been more interesting with the focus off of Gore (and no, my opinion is not based on any particular dislike of Al Gore or the concept of Global Warming).

Youth in Revolt - (2 Stars)
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.

Probably missed a few, but I will add them as I find them. Also, I will more than likely try to at least put out a full review here and there. I have passes to see Secretariat, so I will definitely post a full review for that one, since it is new to theatres.

Updating in the Dark

Well, it's been some time since I have fully reviewed and posted my thoughts on any movies on here. I'd say that a lot has been going on but it hasn't, at least in the sense of being busy. The truth is that I've found it hard to write and take the time needed to make my reviews meet my expectations while I am currently unemployed. As I said before, I have plenty of time in which to write, but the spectre of being jobless hangs over me every time I think to start working on a review. But, I have been keeping track of movies that I have watched so that I could eventually fill in these gaps once I find some sort of employment.

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!