Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Hangover 2

The Hangover Part II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [Explicit] [+Digital Booklet]

Two years after their crazy bachelor party in Las Vegas, the Wolf pack reunites to go to Stu's wedding in Thailand. After plans for Stu's bachelor brunch goes awry, the Wolf pack finds themselves in a seedy Bangkok motel with no memory and missing Stu's soon to be 16 year old brother in law. Will the Wolf pack finds Stu's brother in law in time for him to get married, well I am not going to ruin that part.

Hangover 2 is directed by Hangover director and veteran comedy director Todd Phillips and reunites pretty much the entire cast from the first film. Bradley Cooper seemed to literally just be here for the paycheck. His performance seems totally mailed in. Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis are both over the top, which is fine except when you add a lot more Ken Jeong to that to make it just too much. In a lot of ways this movie reminds me of American Pie 2 and not in a good way. The Hangover 2 is the definition of a studio trying to cash in on a successful "out of the blue" movie. Much like the first American Pie, the Hangover was kind of a perfect storm. A very entertaining and (I can't stress enough the importance of it being a) "new" concept along with a great deal of word of mouth support. Where the Hangover 2 is an almost step by step rehash of the original plot, with the exception of a lot more of Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), which, much like Stiffler in the American Pie movies, is not a good thing.

There were a five or six moments in the film that were laugh out loud funny, but are almost too over the top to do so. I am not saying you won't enjoy the movie; I am mainly just questioning why it needed to be made in the first place.

My rating 2 totally not needed sequels out of 5

Friday, June 24, 2011

Super 8

After witnessing a mysterious train crash while making a movie, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings in their small town, and begin to investigate these creepy phenomena in Super 8.

The movie is directed by J.J. Abrams who continues to offer top quality films in the science fiction genre. The movie is designed to be reminiscent of such 1980's summer movies like E.T. and the Goonies which, for the most part, it does very well. Movies like this succeed or fail based off of the young actors put in the lead roles. This is the strongest part of this film, newcomer Joel Courtney does a fine job play the lead character Joe Lamb. Paired at his opposite and also doing a solid job is Elle Fanning as Alice. These characters are very likable and easy to identify with. This makes you not only care for them, but make you interested in their budding young relationship as well.

Super 8 isn't your run of the mill tent pole summer movie either. Although there is a fair amount of high quality special effects, the movie is not built around them. The only real action set piece of the entire film is the gigantic train wreck at the beginning. The remainder of the movie uses the effects mainly to enhance the plot. After years of summer movies that have sacrificed substance for style, it's kind of refreshing to see a movie go the other way.

Super 8 is definitely one of the better films of the year so far. There are times were the film was a little slow paced, but for the most part it was very well put together. If you are a fan of J.J. Abrams movies then you will be a fan of this movie as well.

I give this movie 4 Government Cover Ups out of 5.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Social Network

The Social Network

The Social Network tells the true story of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of the social-networking website called Facebook. The film follows the creator from his early days at Harvard all the way to becoming one of the richest people in the world.

The Social Network is directed by acclaimed director, David Fincher. Fincher, who is best known for directing Fight Club, Seven, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, is likely to find The Social Network added to the lot of those films which are regarded by many as modern classics. This is a film that, on paper, sounds like it would be very boring. A good portion of the scenes take place in several different deposition hearings. In addition, the way the story is narrated from those different hearings could make it rather confusing to some people. Personally I think that adding the narrations gives it an excellent sense of flow.

The performances in this movie are nothing short of Oscar caliber. Jesse Eisenberg stars as the Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg. This is his break out role. He should, at the very least, get nominated for best actor and may very well win it. Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake also do an excellent job throughout the film. Although not the best performance, the most difficult was given by Armie Hammer who played both Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. In playing two people and having to film each scene twice, Hammer shows he was definitely up for a challenge and does a great job in it.

After a very poor summer season, it is nice to see that the fall is making up for it. The Social Network is another Oscar caliber movie that will still have mass appeal. If you spend any time on Facebook at all then you owe it to yourself to see how it was created.

My Rating: 4.5 Facebook friends out of 5.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Town

The Town

In watching The Town, I have come to a rather interesting conclusion: Ben Affleck can be an amazing actor, writer, and especially director, but only if the movie he is working on is filmed in Boston. The Town is centered around the Charleston section of Boston, the bank robbery capital of the United States. The film tells the store of a 4 man crew lead by Ben Affleck's character, Doug MacRay. After being forced to take a bank manager hostage, Doug is forced to follow her to ensure sure she isn't disclosing any information on them to the FBI. While following her, the two begin to develop a relationship, which is destined to threaten his way of life as well as his entire crew.

The Town continues where Gone Baby Gone left off and shows how Ben Affleck has gone from a joke of an actor to become an amazing director. The Town is extremely well put together. It is well written and very well shot. Affleck has developed characters on both sides of the law that are very deep and well-rounded. Sure these guys are criminals, but because of the story developed around them you will understand why they are the way they are. You will find yourself routing for them, even though, for all intents and purposes, they are the bad guys. In addition, the attention to detail is very good as well. These are professional criminals and the execution of the robberies is very believable. In addition, the action sequences in the film are very good as well.

The cast for this movie is also top notch. Ben Affleck is great in the main role. He shows a great deal of emotional range, which he has lacked in many prior roles. Rebecca Hall is also really good as the bank manager and love interest. She gives great range and her vulnerability adds a great deal to the film. Jon Hamm, who you will know from Mad Men, plays the ruthless FBI agent after the bank robbers. The biggest stand out, to me, was Jeremy Renner who plays James Coughlin, Doug's slightly unbalanced best friend and partner in crime. This is Renner's first role since being nominated for best actor for last year’s best picture, The Hurt Locker. Don't be surprised when you see him get a best supporting actor nomination for this.

Bottom line: The Town is one of the best heist movies I have ever seen. It offers strong performances and moves seamlessly through several different genres of film. It is well shot, well written, and well-acted. It is a complete movie from beginning to end. You should definitely make an effort to check it out.

My Rating: 4.5 bank robbers out of 5

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is based off of the popular video game series and tells the tale of a disgraced prince on a quest to save the world. Prince Dastan must stop his evil uncle from unknowing releasing the sands of time, which will destroy the world. Overall, it isn't a bad story and is put together pretty well. However I do have a couple of points that subtract from the movie. First the Prince isn't really a prince, rather a poor orphan whom the king decides to take in and raise. This is a Disney movie and that is clearly a nod to Aladdin. Heck, I half expected him to be called a "street rat" in the beginning of the movie. Secondly, and much more important, since when do Americans pass as a Persians just because they use terrible British accents?

The cast of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time just seemed off to me. Jake Gyllenhall as the prince is totally out of place. His acting is practically phoned in and his fake British accent is just awful. Gemma Arterton plays Princess Tamina. Her acting is fine, but again it just seems like she doesn't belong. The only bright spot in the movie is Sir Ben Kingsley who is fantastic as the villain in this. He is the only actor in the whole movie that looks like he even remotely belongs there.

The high point of the movie is its design and execution. Mike Newell is a seasoned director and does a great job to capture the spirit of the game without being constrained by it. He does a great job to show the platforming aspects of the game. In addition, the sequences using the dagger to turn back time are also very good.

I would be willing to bet that when Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was being pitched to Disney it was talked about as "Pirates of the Caribbean in the Desert" and it is close, but not close enough. It is pretty entertaining, but its shortcomings outweigh its victories. You will be entertained while it’s on, but won't really remember it once it’s over. Overall, there are just better things to do with your time.

My Rating: 2 Prince’s out of 5

Robin Hood (2010)

Robin Hood: Unrated Director's Cut (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is a completely different story that most people are used too. This version is based off of the real men who inspired the legend, rather than the legend itself. Robin Longstride returned to England from the crusades to find the land in turmoil under a corrupt government. Robin Hood tells the tale of this man fighting on both sides of the law as he tries to make things better for the common man.

Ridley Scott, in my opinion, is one of the finest directors of all time. The movie is technically sound and extremely well shot. However, there are moments, especially during the director's cut version of the movie, which are kind of slow. The battle scenes, although not his best work, are still better than what most directors could put on film.

The cast of this movie is full of serious and quality veteran actors and it shows. Russell Crowe's version of Robin Hood will remind you a lot of his role in Gladiator, but it works in this movie. Cate Blanchett was born to play nobility in period movies and is excellent, as she always is. The stand outs to me are Mark Strong as the corrupt main villain, Godfrey, and Oscar Isaac, playing the best Prince John ever seen on film.

I really don't think Robin Hood is going to be one of the movies Ridley Scott is going to be remembered for. However, it is a solid well-made and well-acted movie from top the bottom. Most critics have panned this film, but i think it’s because they couldn't get past what they thought Robin Hood should be. I, however, saw a very good movie that is well worth your time.

My Rating: 4 outlaws out of 5

Saturday, September 11, 2010



The Killers tells the story of a woman going on vacation with her parents to the South of France soon after being dumped. While there, she meets the man of her dreams. A frantic romance leads to a quick marriage and the perfect life. Fast-forward 3 years later to their perfect life hitting a snag when her husband’s old life catches up with them. As it turns out her husband used to be an assassin for the CIA and now he is the target.

Most of the actors in this movie just seemed to be going through the motions. The leads in this movie Kathrine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher just seemed like they were collecting a paycheck for most of the movie. They never really seemed to have any real onscreen chemistry and were totally unbelievable as a married couple with one exception: their marital fights were both very believable and very entertaining. The bright spot to me in this movie was Tom Selleck, he was very entertaining and it’s nice to see him in a movie again.

There is one area of this film I had a serious issue with. Now, I understand that product placement is a necessary evil of the modern movie industry, but this movie went totally too far. There were almost 10 different times of product placement and some of them were nothing short of commercials. It was totally out of hand and took me out of the movie.

Overall The Killers has an interesting concept, but was never really developed and not really well done. If I had to guess, I would be willing to bet this whole movie was financed through its ramped product placement. There are a few moments that are pretty funny and the film is mildly entertaining to watch; however, by the end is totally forgettable. It is worth a single viewing at best and nothing more.

My Rating: 2 ex-assassins out of 5