Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed - My Calculations Are Flipping Pinpoint!

Safety Not Guaranteed - (4 Stars)

"WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED."

Safety Not GuaranteedThis is the ad in the newspaper that magazine employees Darius, Jeff and Arnau are sent to investigate. Looking for a good story, the three reporters try to determine whether the man who placed the ad is serious, or just looking for attention.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" has an all-around good cast, which is important as the movie definitely places an emphasis on the character's journey over the end goal (although the end result is very satisfying). Aubrey Plaza doing her usual "weird girl" thing as Darius, the lead intern. Jake Johnson, who's gained attention from FOX's "New Girl," is her boss, Jeff. Rounding out the main group of actors is Mark Duplass as the eccentric Kenneth, who claims to be able to time travel.

Overall, the movie is a funny, unique movie that's part offbeat comedy, part missing piece drama (finding one's identity) and entirely entertaining. It's a movie that strikes a perfect balance between comedy and drama, an overall feel good movie (with a few surprises in store).
(86 minutes - Rated R for language including some sexual references - 2012)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Not so Honest Abe?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - (2½ Stars)

What if Abe Lincoln was not just one of the most revered presidents, but also one of the most prevalent vampire hunters in American history? That's what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter posits. So before he was working on freeing the slaves, he was attempting to rid America of vampires. The movie is based on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies").

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterNow my review may be slightly biased based on the fact that I've read the book (more than once), but I would figure. What worked in the book, an adherence to the historical facts of Abe Lincoln's life with vampire hunting shoehorned in where it could, is what they depart from in the movie. The strangest part of all this is that it was the author of the book, Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote the screenplay for the movie. Apparently he wasn't too fond of his original work and decided to "generic" it up.

Overall, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter took an interesting, unique idea and made it a pretty generic, albeit visually entertaining, action movie. The "set pieces" (not sure how many actual, physical sets were used) all help to create aesthetically pleasing mood for the movie and Benjamin Walker does a decent job as our nation's 16th vampire hunting president, but the movie just comes across as underwhelming.
(105 minutes - Rated R for violence throughout and brief sexuality - 2012)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quick Review: The Campaign - The Choice is up to you...

The Campaign - (3 Stars)

The CampaignThe Campaign follows two North Carolina Senators battling for a seat and doing anything it takes to get elected. Will Ferrell is the brash, egotistical Cam Brady who is so used to running unopposed in his district, he basically does whatever he wants. After opinion shifts, The Motch Brothers (criminally underused Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) decide to back a new candidate: Marty Huggins (an effeminate Zach Galifianakis). So begins the mayhem.

The movie is solidly funny with plenty of laughs, but the comedy does tend towards the raunchy side so it may not be for everyone. Ferrell and Galifianakis are their usual comedic selves (if you like them, you still will; if you don't like them...why are you watching the movie?). Dylan McDermott is also surprisingly funny as Marty's campaign manager. Overall, a decently funny comedy to keep you in the spirit of /take your mind off the results of the recent election.
(85 minutes - Rated R for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity - 2012)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Prometheus - It starts with a BLERGH...

Prometheus - (4 Stars)

The Alien series has been around since the original 1979 "Alien" and has had various sequels and spin-offs spanning the decades. Now Ridley Scott has begun to bring the circle back around with his long-gestating (pun completely intended) prequel of sorts. "Prometheus" is not a direct prequel to Alien, but rather takes place in the same universe which leaves it free to follow it's own story beats and not be a slave to what happened in the original Alien, but still have plenty of nods towards the "future" movies.

PrometheusFor this trip to the Alien universe introduced by Ridley Scott in the original, we find ourselves following an expedition to an uncharted planet where several scientist believe they will find the origins of the human species. Noomi Rapace plays the lead scientist, the strong female lead, and is joined by a diverse (and entertaining) cast of other scientists, engineers and crew. Most notable of the remaining crew is Michael Fassbender as David (an android). His acting is top notch, especially when he shows off David's penchant for imitating T.E. Lawrence (as portrayed by Peter O' Toole in the classic "Lawrence of Arabia"). Of course, once everyone arrives at the planet, things do not go as expected.

Prometheus is a visually stunning sci-fi horror movie. Full of intrigue, suspense and various alien landscapes, the movie is definitely fun to look at. It definitely nails the atmosphere of its predecessors, but with more modern effects. Prometheus actually blends a lot of practical effects with CGI, so it doesn't like watching a video game like some more modern CGI heavy movies. The movie asks a lot of questions, answers a few, and leaves more open. For me, this approach works as I have not built up years and years worth of questions from the previous movies waiting for answers. Others who may be expecting to be able to run down their list of questions they want answers may be disappointed.

My advice for enjoying the movie is to just sit back and take it all in. Don't sit by waiting for each and every thing to be neatly explained or answered: because it won't. But with how well done everything else is, that doesn't make the movie any less enjoyable.
(124 Minutes - Rated R for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language - 2012)