Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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
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 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
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
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
What happens when you wake up one morning and discover you are a monster? This is the question that Jude Law's character, Remy, has to answer in Repo Men. Repo Men is set in a near dystopian future where artificial organs are bought and sold like cars. The only problem is, if you can't pay for them the repo men come to collect the items purchased. After an accident on a job, Remy is left with an artificial heart. He soon discovers what it is like to be the customer. Remy decides to go on a path of redemption, which leads to one of the best twist endings I have ever seen in a movie.
Jude Law plays a good lead in the film, being both indifferent early in the movie and being able to show a great deal of emotion at the end. Forest Whitaker, Remy’s buddy Jake, is also very entertaining as the company repo man who is out to do what’s best for the company. My favorite character was Liev Schreiber as the sleazy company executive who doesn't care about anyone. Alice Braga continues to get better and better as the main female character in action movies as well. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that they gave Remy a family to drive the plot and then just kind of discarded them as they became less necessary.
Overall Repo Men is a solid sci-fi action film with a very interesting plot that was well developed. The characters were well-written, as well as well-performed. Also as a side note, one of my key issues with movies lately has been the rather crappy attempt a digital gore. This movie is the exception. Most of the gore effects in this film were very well done. All of that added together creates a good sci-fi. Add all that to the exceptional twist ending and you have a great sci-fi movie. One of this year’s best.
My Rating: 4 repo'd organs out of 5
From Director Robert Rodriguez, Machete tells the story of an ex-federale who, after watching his family be murdered, moves to the U.S. and becomes a day laborer. After being framed for a crime he didn't commit, Machete finds himself the most hunted man in Texas, but also finds himself with a chance to make things better for his people and chance at revenge.
Machete is based off of the trailer Robert Rodriguez made for his Grindhouse movies. Apparently Mr. Rodriguez is to the point in Hollywood where he can make a movie no matter how bad the plot is. The plot to Machete is entirely ridiculous and way over the top. I, for the most part, enjoy the Grindhouse movies; however, I am not sure why Rodriguez and Tarantino have this reverence for this cinema and think it is art. These were low production movies designed to use their shock value to sell the movie. The problem with that is the shock value isn't what it used to be. In today’s theaters, movies need to stand on their own merit and, at least for this movie, there isn't much to stand on.
This would usually mean the movie would be bad, but actually, due to the cast, was very good. Danny Trejo has been in almost 200 movies and even though this is his first leading role he commands the screen every time you see him. I also found myself quite surprised by the jobs Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez did in this movie as well. I have long thought that neither one of these women had any acting ability at all, yet both were very good here. Robert DeNiro, the evil senator, and Steven Segal, the evil drug lord, gave both very bland performances and obviously were just collecting a paycheck.
Overall, Machete was pretty enjoyable. It gets a little clunky at the end and kind of bogs down in the final actions set piece. Also, the battle with the drug lord is a letdown and utterly ridiculous. Overall, if you enjoyed the Grindhouse movies then you will enjoy this as well. If you didn't enjoy the Grindhouse moves, I suggest you pass.
My Rating: 2.5 Grindhouse trailers out of 5
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Drag Me to Hell marks Sam Raimi's return to the horror genre for the first time since Army of Darkness in 1992. The movie revolves around a young woman trying for a promotion at the bank she works. The only problem is her boss thinks she can't make tough decisions. To prove him wrong, she has to tell a sickly old woman that the bank will be reposing her house. This does not go according to plan. As it turns out, that sickly old woman is a gypsy and curses her for taking her house. Now she has 3 days to lift the curse before the demon chasing her takes her to hell.
The movie stars Alison Lohman as the young woman named Christine Brown. She is very good at portraying a weak and vulnerable woman. As the film progresses she is able to really reveal the strength deep inside the character. Her boyfriend, Clay, is played by comedic actor Justin Long. Taking him as a straight actor is very difficult to do. Every time he is on screen he takes you out of the movie.
The real star of this movie is director Sam Raimi. To tell you a little bit about me, I love Raimi's Evil Dead Trilogy; they are my favorite movies in the horror genre. In a lot of ways Drag Me to Hell reminds of those movies. From the way he uses simple movement of inanimate objects to the way he uses the camera to create fear. It is actually rather refreshing to see a departure from the ultra-gore that has plagued the horror genre over the last couple of years. There are scenes that will gross you out, but are as funny as they are scary.
Drag Me to Hell is a good movie and is enjoyable to watch. It is a little predictable towards the end and Justin Long wasn't the best casting choice, but even with those flaws aside it is still one of the best horror movies of the last year. If you haven't seen it yet and would like to see a good scary movie, check it out.
My rating: 3.5 gypsy cures out of 5
Friday, August 27, 2010
Greenberg tells the story of Roger Greenberg, a man who recently came out of a mental hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. After 15 years of living in New York, Greenberg agrees to move to L.A. and house sit for his brother for 6 weeks. While there, he hoped to spend his time relaxing and just maybe find meaning once again in his life by reconnecting with the people of his past. The problem with that is that after years apart, those people don't really want to reconnect with him. The only bright spot is the connection he begins to develop with his brother's assistant, Florence.
Ben Stiller is very good as Roger Greenberg. He does a great job showing Greenberg's vulnerability and how he hides his vulnerability by walling himself off from other people. Greta Gerwig also does a good job as Florence, a 26 year old girl who desperately wants a relationship with a man, but because of the relationship with her father doesn't understand how to find it.
Even though this movie was rather bland at times, I rather enjoyed it. Greenberg's quirks are quite entertaining. He is able to find fault with everything. He is unhappy because he is unable to find happiness with the present. He idealizes the past and is constantly trying to recapture it. In the meantime, he ignores the possibilities in front of him.
Greenburg is an interesting film and is worth a viewing. In a lot of ways it reminds of Lost in Translation. Can two people get past their own insecurities and faults and just love one another? This is a problem that a lot of people face. Greenburg is very slow to watch, but worth your time, if you can get past Ben Stiller in a serious role.
My Rating: 2.5 neurotic guys out of 5
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Survival of the Dead is the latest zombie movie from the inventor of the modern day zombie, George A. Romero. This time around, the story centers around a group of AWOL soldiers that head to an island off the coast of Delaware to escape the zombie plague. They arrive on the island only to get involved in another conflict between 2 other groups. One group wants to just kill off the zombie menace and be done with it. The other group wants to rehabilitate the dead and turn them in normal people who just happen to be dead.
This is the sixth movie Romero has done on a different aspect of a zombie apocalypse and, I guess, before he dies he wants to cover every aspect of zombie films. Survival of the Dead returns to the idea started in the Land of the Dead; that the undead may not have lost all of what made them human. This film takes it one step further, to examine the idea of whether or not we could coexist with them. However, this idea is never really explored, but used as a way to drive the conflict between the two groups on the island. I wasn't really a fan of the concept of thinking zombies in Land of the Dead and Survival of the Dead hasn't really done much to improve this idea either.
The cast is B movie at best, the lead character, Sarge Crocket, reminds a lot of the lead character from Office Space, the character is so out of place that he just takes you out of the movie. His apathetic approach to dealing with the various conflicts seemed ridiculous. The main thing that bothered me about the cast was that everyone from the island spoke with an Irish accent. I am not even sure why they went that route. I understand they may have existing regional accents, but this doesn't make sense.
Overall, Survival of the Dead isn't the worst zombie movie ever made, but it doesn't really bring anything new to the table either. Romero has created a fairly interesting concept; however it just could have been explored better with more interesting characters.
My Rating: 2 mindless zombies out of 5
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Based off a true story, Letters to God tells the inspiring true story of Tyler Doherty. Shortly after the death of his father, 8-year-old Tyler was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Tyler's way of coping with this difficult time is to write letters to God. Enter the family’s new postman, Brady McDaniels, a man with demons from his past which lead him to alcoholism. As Brady tries to figure out what to do with the letters he gets addressed to God, he is given a path back to the faith that he lost himself.
Now I will start off by saying that this is a religious movie, which you can attach your own preconceived notion of what that means. Tyler Doherty is played by Tanner Maguire. He does a very good job with a difficult role for a child. His mother, played by Robyn Lively, and the postman, played by Jeffery Johnson, are both solid as well. After those performances, the acting goes downhill rather quickly. Specifically, the performance of Michael Bolton (not the singer) who plays the older brother leaves much to be desired. Pun intended, but his performance was mailed in.
Though the acting in this movie for the most part is pretty bad, the story is actually pretty good. The movie has a strong faith based message and ultimately will depend entirely on the viewer’s belief as to whether they will enjoy the movie or not. If you are already a person with faith you will enjoy Letters to God and the message it sends. If not, this film will probably not win you over.
My rating 3 letters out of 5
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Right off the bat, I have to say this is the single greatest video game movie ever made. Due to the fact that it is not based on a video game, rather just referencing them throughout the movie thru its design. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is set up like a video game; offering vital stats for its characters and the evil exes representing the Bosses at the end of levels. The fights with the evil exes are also extremely well done. Each with expertly drawn Street Fighter esque fights complete with video game sound effects and text.
The cast of this movie is as close to being a perfect match to the characters themselves that I have ever seen. Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim and offers a performance with the most emotional range of his career (not that that's a lot). He is great as Scott Pilgrim, but like in Youth in Revolt I just don't like Scott Pilgrim very much. He is extremely selfish, lazy and only seems to care about his own interests. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Ramona Flowers and does a great job in playing the intriguing love interest worth fighting for. There are also stand out performances by Kieran Culkin who steals the screen as Scott Pilgrim's gay roommate and Alison Pill who plays Kim Pine, the emotionless drummer in Scott's band. Chris Evans and Brandon Routh are really great as evil exes. Finally, Jason Schwartzman plays the main villain, Gideon Graves, an evil record executive with the power to control Ramona Flowers.
Director Edgar Wright has crafted an amazing and rich world in this film. Each character, no matter how small the part, still has an amazing amount of depth. Ever line is delivered at the precise moment for the greatest effect. There isn't much about this film that wasn't done well. My only issue is that; although I am a huge fan of the video game aspect of the film, I do dislike the trendy hipster culture. Regardless, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is still one of the best films of the year.
My rating: 4 trendy hipster kids out of 5
Saturday, August 14, 2010
After seeing this movie, I honestly believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were out drinking and came up with idea for the worst action movie ever. Then, in his stupor, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked, “How many washed up action heroes could we get to be in this movie?” Sylvester Stallone replied, “11, including us.” Schwarzenegger then asked, “How many A-list (ish) action heroes would it take to turn this B-movie idea into an A-movie?” After watching the Expendables, the answer to that question would be: 0. No matter the cast, there was no saving this film. The plot of the movie is something along the lines this group of Planet Hollywood owners play a team of mercenaries who are offered a job to remove a dictator from power on a tiny island in the Caribbean. There are some other “plot points,” but they aren’t worth my time to write, nor yours to read.
Of the cast of greats that are in this movie, Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham have the most to do. However, they still play generic characters they have both already personified. The rest of the Expendables: Terry Crews, Jet Li, and Randy Couture are just that, expendable. They aren't on the screen long enough for me to gauge their performance and when they are on screen they are just killing off hundreds of generic bad guys. Mickey Rourke actually gives the best overall performance, which makes you want to remind him that his career is on the upswing and should have just stayed out of it. Dolph Lundgren does a really good job of playing a man broken down by the problems of his life and thus, has a pretty bad drug problem to boot. Wait. Sorry. He isn't acting. Steve Austin plays a racist, skinhead jerk. The same type of character he has been playing as of late. Lastly, we have Eric Roberts. If you are really interested in seeing him perform, but can’t make it to the theater; I suggest you watch his other premiere this week: Sharktopus on the Sci-Fi channel.
Now, I will give the movie a tiny shred of credit. Some of the action sequences are so over the top that they are pretty entertaining. As I mentioned before in my review for Greenzone, the problem with over the top action sequences is the camera work. It is called a steady cam. It lets you get nice clean shots of the action so people can actually see the movie. The whole “looks like it was shot with a couple of camcorders they got from a local Best Buy” film technique does not work for me. Also, STOP using digital blood and gore effects. They are never done well and always end up looking ridiculously fake.
This movie has officially taken what was a very below average summer and turned it into the worst I can remember. I am waiting for Sylvester Stallone to go onto national television next week in the style of a presidential address just to tell us all that we have been Punk'd. I can't wait for the sequel... The Expendables 2: Will Blow Sh$% Up For Food.
My Rating: 1 out of 5
Friday, August 13, 2010
Way back in 2002, there was a very good concept for a television show called Firefly. In Fox's infinite wisdom, they put the show in the time slot were all good science fiction shows go to die; Friday nights at 9pm. The show ran for 12 episodes. It got poor ratings and was cancelled before even running the remaining 2 episodes that were already filmed. That would have been the end of it had it not been for Director Joss Whedon's passion. He convinced Universal Studios to turn the failed television show into a feature film; thus creating the 2005 film, Serenity.
The film is set 500 years in the future, long after people have left earth and colonized in many other planets. It is set after a civil war, in which the outlying colonies fought for independence from the central planets and lost. The crew of Serenity is made up of a group of disgruntled former soldiers who lost the war. They take on board their ship a 17 year old girl who is a telepath and was being experimented on by the Alliance. What the Alliance knows and the crew later learn is that she is much more dangerous than she appears and may hold secrets that could shake the Alliance to its core.
The great thing about Serenity is its layers. It has elements of science fiction, horror, western, action, martial arts, drama, and comedy. The universe Joss Whedon has created is extremely detailed. It is a society which is a melting pot of different cultures and one of the best representations of the future I have ever seen on film. The characters all have just as much depth. Joss Whedon was given the option to replace the actors from the TV series, but he decided to keep the cast he had. This was a double edged sword; on one side you can see on film how much they care about this film and on the other side it leaves the film without any big name celebrities in the film. The latter made Serenity less than successful at the box office. I, on the other hand, prefer this because it helps me get lost in a movie.
Serenity is hands down one of the best science fiction movies of the last decade. You owe it to yourself to find it and give it a chance, you will be glad you did.
My rating: 5 out of 5
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Somewhere in Hollywood there was a movie studio executive who thought Steve Correll and Tina Fey would be really entertaining on screen together. The result of that idea was Date Night. This film seemed nothing more than a vehicle to put these two actors together on screen in a bunch of crazy situations. Steve Correll and Tina Fey play a middle-aged married couple who decide to have a night out in New York City to spice up their marriage. When the trendy restaurant is all booked, they take the reservations of another couple who failed to show. In doing so, they find themselves in a difficult situation; the reservation they have actually taken belongs to criminals who were faceless, until now. Will they survive this sticky situation of mistaken identity? Of course they will; it’s a romantic comedy.
The plot is ridiculous. They are being chased by dirty cops who are constantly shooting at them in public. This movie would be utterly terrible if it wasn't for significantly above average cast. I will give the movie studio executive credit; Steve Correll and Tina Fey are fantastic opposite one another. They are both very clever and a good portion of this movie is ad-libbed. The executive also deserves credit for the cast full of well-known actors. Mark Wahlberg plays a very entertaining take of the suave super spy. Mila Kunis and James Franco are great for the 5 minutes they are on screen as the criminal couple whose reservations were stolen. Top to bottom this film is one of the better casting jobs I have seen in a while.
Date Night is a movie that helps prove why it’s better to have a good cast around a crappy script, than a crappy cast around a good script. Steve Correll and Tina Fey are great around one another. They play off each other’s queues very well. I am sure we will see them together in the future. Although the movie is totally forgettable, it is worth a rent. Then again for Tina Fey, at least it’s not Baby Mama.
My rating 2.5 out of 5
Hot Tub Time Machine is a story about 4 guys who decide to go on vacation after one of them, accidentally, almost kills himself. They decide to go back to the ski resort were they experienced Winterfest ’86, when they were at their peak of their lives. After a night of intense drinking they find that their hot tub is actually a Hot Tub Time Machine. They end up back going back in time, back to Winterfest '86 where 3 of their lives changed forever and 1 of them was conceived.
Initially when I began this film, I was thinking it was going to be a satire of movies like Ski School given its location and general theme; the 1980s group of misfits overcoming the popular kids. However, they went more the route of Back to the Future the way actions in the past would affect the outcome of the future. Each of the older characters have to repeat the actions they did that fateful night or the future they are used too, as well as their younger friend, may not exist.
The movie stars and is produced by John Cusack who plays the recently divorced Adam. Channeling the Say Anything, Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer roles of his past, he is perfect in the lead role. After years of serious roles, it’s nice to see him play the role that made him famous: the straight man in a wacky comedy. I found Rob Corddry as Lou to be way too over the top for my taste. Craig Robinson as Nick and Clark Duke as Jacob are good as well. They are both funny, but in a more subtle way than Rob Corddry.
Ultimately, I admit I was a little disappointed in the Hot Tub Time Machine the first time I watched it. It’s not the laugh out loud movie I thought it would be. However, with time comes understanding. Hot Tub Time Machine is a good movie in fact after a couple of viewings it’s pretty great and I can't wait to add it to my collection.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Mel Gibson is an angry man. I mean a really angry man. On a totally unrelated note, I am reviewing his latest movie Edge of Darkness. Mel Gibson stars as Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective whose life is upended when his daughter is murdered in front of him. As he investigates her murder, he soon discovers he was never the criminal’s target, but rather a target in a conspiracy involving very powerful people.
Edge of Darkness is Mel Gibson's first lead role since Signs in 2002 and i guess this one was just to shake the cobwebs off. I have seen roles tailored to actors before, but this one take the cake. Det. Thomas Craven is a really enraged man. He is "a man with nothing to lose" who will do anything to get revenge for his dead daughter. Not that he his bad in the role, actually he is pretty good in it, but the horrible attempt at a New England accent should have been avoided. Ray Winstone plays Jedburgh the secret government agent whose loyalty and motives are meant to be shrouded in mystery. Danny Houston plays Jack Bennett the super evil corporate villain in the movie, which brings me to an issue I have. This is the second movie I have watched in the last 2 weeks were the villain isn't just evil, but super, ultra, mega evil. It’s kind of insulting. I think most people can figure out who the villain is without being made this plainly obvious. There is a point in the movie were Det. Craven is just talking to Mr. Bennett and Bennett asks him, "What is it like (to have a dead child)?” I mean come on you are trying to conceal your government cover up, so why are you poking the bear.
The concept for this movie is a touch on the side of far fetched even for crackpot conspiracy people. Edge of Darkness is rather enjoyable under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, the right circumstances would be laughing with a group of friends about how super angry Det. Craven and thereby showing just how super angry Mel Gibson is in disguise. It’s just way too bizarre to be taken seriously as the murder mystery that it’s supposed to be. Not worth your time unless it is in the previously mentioned condition.
My rating: 2 out of 5
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
What would happen if some regular person, with no real training or powers, decided they wanted to become a superhero? This is the question asked and answered in Kick Ass. Dave Lizewski, played by British actor Aaron Johnson, decides one day that he would like to become a super hero. So, he orders a wet suit online and becomes calls himself “Kick Ass.” After his first attempt at being a hero doesn't go so well, he gains fame thanks to a video of him fighting a group of thugs on the Internet. This ushers "Kick Ass" into a world of real super heroes and villains that he is not ready for. After having his life saved by "Hit Girl", played by Chloe Moretz, and "Big Daddy", played by Nicolas Cage, he must decide if he wants to be a real hero.
Aaron Johnson as "Kick Ass" is pretty good. He embodies the teenage comic-geek very well, but even better is the awkward manner in which he acts as a nervous budding hero is hilarious. The only problem with Aaron Johnson performance is he is overshadowed by "Hit Girl" and "Big Daddy." This is Nicolas Cage’s best role in his last 15 movies. His performance as a disgraced cop after revenge while channeling Adam West's "Batman" is fantastic. Chloe Moretz's "Hit Girl" portrayal is even better. Plain and simple: she is the youngest bad-ass in Hollywood history. No matter who else is on the screen with her, she steals the whole show. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, a.k.a. “McLovin,” as Red-Mist is fine, but nothing in comparison to the other performances. I did, however, enjoy Mark Strong as the head of the crime family. He is a great villain. 75% of the time you will want to see him meet his end; however, the remaining 25% of the time you will just enjoy his villainous.
The what-if premise to this film gets thrown out the window about half-way through for a more standard action movie, but it works. I enjoyed Kick Ass ,the comic, before it became a movie and was quite happy to see that it is very faithful to the source material. Kick Ass could have very easily have been turned into a rated PG-13 piece of crap. That's right! I am looking at you Daredevil and/or Ghost Rider. If the source material is meant for adults, then the movie needs to be meant for adults. So, kudos to MARV for making the movie that the Kick Ass comic deserves. This is a very entertaining movie and well worth your time.
My Rating 4 out of 5
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Runaways is a biopic of the first all-girl rock band to achieve mainstream success in the 1970's. It tells the story of Cherie Currie and Joan Jett as they contend with their sleazy manager, problems with drugs, and struggles with fame at such a young age. I have to admit I didn't have much interest in initially viewing this film. I thought it to be a movie that would not capture my attention, but i will admit when i am wrong. This film is extremely well done from top to bottom.
The performances in this film are fantastic. Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie and continues to show great ability for someone who is just 16-years-old. She has given more solid performances before being able to drive than many actresses will be able to give in their lifetimes. Kristen Stewart plays Joan Jett. I was blow away by her portrayal. I don't know if ever other role she has had before has simply prevented her from being able to act, but she is great in this film. I hope she keeps it up. The real stand out though is Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley, the Runaways sleazy manager.
It's kind of ironic that this movie is as edgy as it is. This movie earns its R rating with teens in very adult situations associated with the sex and drugs lifestyle of rock and roll. This is ironic because the lead actress in this movie can't even watch it in the theater unless accompanied by an adult. The Runaways is definitely worth a viewing. It illustrates the music industry better than any film I have seen before and hopefully is the start of Kristen Stewart finally becoming a real actress.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Digging through my collection of DVDs, I have discovered some films which are great movies that you probably missed. So, over the next couple of weeks I will re-watch and review one film a week for my new segment: MOVIES YOU PROBABLY MISSED.
This week I watched the 2003 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. This film is based off of the "true" autobiography of the life of Chuck Barris, the creator of The Dating Game and The Gong Show. The film was made all the more interesting since the television producer was an operative for the CIA or so he thinks.
The lead role of Chuck Barris is played by Sam Rockwell. He gives a great performance; very witty and sharp, with a touch of madness. George Clooney plays his CIA contact and is great as always. The real stand outs are Chuck Barris's two main love interests in the film: Drew Barrymore as Penny in his hollywood life, and Julia Roberts as Patricia Wilson in his spy life.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is George Clooney's first attempt at directing and he does a great job. He presents Chuck Barris's life from his own perspective and allows the audience to believe what they will. He does a great job showing Mr. Barris's descent into madness. An interesting side note: George Clooney gets a lot of his friends to do cameos in this movie and it is quite entertaining to play ‘find the famous person’ while watching. So if you get a chance, check out this great movie that you may have very well overlooked.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Clash of the Titians is the remake of the 1981 film of the same name. The film follows Perseus, played by up and coming actor Sam Worthington, as he quests to discover a way to destroy the Kraken, a horrible sea monster, that will destroy the city of Argos. Now, what this writer doesn't get is why people all of a sudden consider the original movie to be a "classic.” Go back and watch it. It’s not a classic. In fact, it’s pretty bad. As much as I have complained previously about remakes being totally unneeded, that does not apply in this case. This movie is a serious upgrade to the original.
Now, it seemed to me that the performances in this film were quite varied. Sam Worthington in the lead role is just kind of wooden. He has the emotional range of a house plant. Ralph Fiennes, who played Hades, seemed to be simply channeling Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter movies. Liam Neeson is fine as Zeus and about what you would expect from him at this point. There were, however, two real stand outs to me in this film. Gemma Arterton was fantastic as Io. She commanded the screen in scenes with Worthington. Mads Mikkelsen as the lead soldier, Draco, also did a great job. His portrayal of Draco seemed the most real. Draco is a grizzled soldier who just wanted to see the job done.
Clash of the Titans is one of those movies that make me glad I own a Blu-ray player. The scope of the film is top notch. They shoot on location in some the most beautiful landscapes in Spain. Combine that with high quality special effects to create a film that will look fantastic on a 1080p television. If you have high definition you owe it to yourself to watch this movie on Blu-ray. It’s one of the better movies to come out this year (if you can get past the wooden lead).
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Matt Damon's performance in Greenzone is as straight forward as you can get. Not that he is just mailing it in to collect a paycheck, but rather just nothing special. Chief Miller seems very similar to Damon’s portrayal of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, merely as a soldier rather than spy. The same thing can be said about Greg Kinnear as the slime government official who orchestrated the whole war. Kinnear and Damon are better actors than this film allows them to be. The story just isn't that good.
My main issue with this film is its cinematography. I really do enjoy the work that Micheal Mann has done; however, the style of filmmaking he has developed in films like Man on Fire and Miami Vice is ruining action movies. The last 20 minutes of Greenzone looks like it was shot using night vision goggles. I have invested a great deal of time and money in my high definition home theater set up to see it deemed completely useless for action films shot like this.
Greenzone is based off of a true story, but it is a story that American’s already understand or will choose to never believe anyway. There just really isn't anything here to make it worth more than a rental.
My Rating: 2 out of 5
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Youth in Revolt is the story of Nick Twisp, played by Michael Cera, a somewhat geeky, but lovable kid looking for love in all the wrong places. When the man shacked up with his mother gets into trouble, the whole family "goes on vacation" to a trailer park. There, he meets the girl of his dreams, Sheeni Saunders. As he heads back home, the only way to win back the love of his life is to create an alter-ego that will do whatever it takes to win her back.
The plot to this film is not terrible, but it’s not great either. My main issue with this film is in its execution. Sure Nick Twisp has a terrible life with horrible parents, but once he creates his alter-ego he becomes a terrible person himself. I pretty much had disdain for every single character in this film. Each of their quirks is what made me despise the cast and, therefore, despise the movie.
The other thing I just can't shake from this movie is how bland it feels. There are moments were you will laugh out loud, but they are few and far between. Most of the time, watching this film will be spent simply disliking everyone. Youth in Revolt is totally uninspired and just an attempt to capitalize off of other films which have already done similar things much better.
My Rating 1.5 out of 5
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The performances in Inception are nothing short of absolute top notch. The actors in this film are ALL perfectly cast and showcase some of the best and brightest up and coming actors today. Ellen Page continues to prove more and more versatile with each role she takes on and is a fantastic female lead. Joseph Gordon-Levitt may not be a name you know right now, but in a year you will.
Inception is written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who previously directed some of the best films of the last 10 years. Aspects of each film he has directed were used to help enhance this picture. From the fractured story telling of Momento to the vivid madness-inducing feeling conjured in Insomnia. Inception is Nolan's master work, a radiant blend of a multitude of film genres.
Too often these days we go the movies and see a film driven by the special effects. It is a desperately needed breath of fresh air to have a film that requires you to use your mind. If you don't like this movie, it was simply just over your head. Seriously, you need to go see this movie in the theater. It is the best movie of the year so far. Internally, I am debating whether Inception is the best movie period.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The film stars Denzel Washington as Eli and Gary Oldman as the villain, Carnegie. Due to the casting of these two very talented actors, the film gains legs. In the hands of lesser actors, The Book of Eli would be mediocre at best. The only casting that seemed out of place to me was Carnegie's step daughter, Solara, played by Mila Kunis. I am still not sold on her as a dramatic actress and her performance is easily overshadowed by either one of the more seasoned actors.
The Book of Eli is well shot with some very good and interesting action sequences. As long as you understand the underlying message, which is that faith can be used many ways, then it is a quality film and worth a viewing. I do have one gripe, though. I understand how product placement can provide extra financing for a film, but the first 15 minutes are ridiculous. This is 30 years after a nuclear war and in one scene you get plugs for Ipods, KFC, and Beats headphones. Product placement is fine, but do a better job at being a little more nonchalant with it, please.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 (would have been a 3.5, but i docked a half point for the in movie commercials)
The characters in the film are generic at best. There is nothing particularly special about them other than they have been ripped from a thousand other actions movies. For the most part the same is true about the plot. The only real stand out in the movie was Chris Evans who continues to show why he will make a good leading man. This writer however was not a big fan of Jason Patric as Max, the villain in the film. I have seen evil bad guys in movies before, but this was overdone. I half expected to see him kicking a puppy at some point; I didn't need the constant reminder of how evil he is.
In the end, The Losers is a well put together, all be it, generic action movie. I found it entertaining and will be able to watch it more than once. With that being said, there just isn't anything special about it either. One additional note, I hate it when movies go out of their way to set up a sequel.
My rating: 3 out of 5
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The acting in this film’s cast is terrific throughout the whole film. Mo'Nique’s performance as the abusive mother is amazing and well deserving of the Oscar she won for it. For being her first movie, Gabourey Sidibe showed tremendous range. In some scenes you can feel her vulnerability and in others she commands the screen with her strength. Most surprising to me was the performances of Mariah Carey as the social worker, Ms. Weiss, and Lenny Kravitz as Nurse John. I wish more musicians who wish to act, would do so in this manner then to be the center piece in a bad movie, i.e. Glitter.
This is the second film by Lee Daniels and should guarantee him the ability to direct more pictures. He will have a long career, if he can produce films of this depth. However, the camera work needs some improvement. It pulled me out of the moment at certain points when there would be a sharp focus change. It gives it a documentary feel, but is totally not needed. It is minor gripe in what is otherwise a very powerful film. This isn't an easy film to watch, but still deserves the effort. You will be better off because of it.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Friday, July 16, 2010
There are really no characters or performances to speak of, because everyone is playing themselves. Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera are both likable enough characters/actors and have an obvious chemistry, due to their real life relationship. The only real source of conflict in the film is the difficulties the new couple faced in trying to develop a relationship while being on camera.
This film is truly a case of art imitating life. It parallels the couple’s real life problems, which is trying to be a couple in the public. I get what they are trying to say about being young and famous. The issue to me is that it almost comes off as criticizing the audience for being enthralled with celebrity’s personal lives. To those who watch Paper Heart and don’t get this message, the movie will merely come off as boring and pointless. Either way you should just pass.
My rating 1.5 out of 5
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Whatever Works reminds me a lot of Annie Hall. From the nervous and somewhat neurotic examinations of life to the way that Boris breaks the 4th wall and talks directly to the audience. The difference is where Woody Allen's performance in Annie Hall as a neurotic and insecure ex-boyfriend is easy to identify with, Larry David's depressive know-it-all attitude just comes off as a jerk. Boris isn't a happy person, but in watching this you will be glad he's unhappy. The underlying message is that you shouldn't settle and always look for something that will make you truly happy.
Woody Allen is still a very intelligent director. There are some very sharply written lines that will make you laugh out loud throughout the film. In the end, however, it is just not enough to save this film. For the most part this movie is bland and feels much longer than its 92 minute run time. Whatever Works plain and simply just didn't work for me.
My rating: 1.5 out of 5
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in this film continues to show why he is one of the best actors of this generation. You feel for him greatly. You are pulling for him to uncover the truth. After a string of poor movie choices, it is nice to see Ben Kingsley remind us all what a great actor he is. As Dr. John Cawley, Kingsley proved just that. Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams also lend strong performances to this film as well.
Shutter Island was made with great care. The setting is spot on. It feels like a mental hospital with something to hide. Each room expertly crafted to show a place in 1950's America where anything may be possible. The films run time is 2 hours and 18 minutes and there lies my only real issue with the film. Some scenes either drag on too long while others don’t seem necessary to the plot. If this was even just under 2 hours it very well may have been a better film. Even so, Shutter Island is a very good film with a twist you won't see coming.
My Rating 4 out of 5
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 George A. Romero film of the same name. The film revolves around a small town sheriff, David Dutton, played by Timothy Olyphant and his wife, Judy, who just so happens to be the town doctor, played by Radha Mitchell. Their small town begins to fall apart as the townspeople begin to go into a state of homicidal madness. Once the military arrive and quarantine the town we discover a biological weapon had been introduced into the town's water supply when a plane crashed near the town. Those who are infected will be killed. As the last of the survivors, Mr. and Mrs. Dutton are trying to escape the town before the military or The Crazies get to them first.
In the end, The Crazies felt as if some film studio executive stumbled upon the original film and figured that could make some money off of it. Sadly, it felt generic and cookie-cutter-esque much like a lot of other Hollywood remakes. This particular genre has always been plagued by too many sequels and remakes. The Crazies is a perfect example of a film that should have just sat tucked away in obscurity and never been heard from again. It is not a terrible film by any means, but it is not worth anything other than a single viewing.
I give it 2 out of 5.
It's funny when you go into watching a film with low expectations you can be pleasantly surprised. That's how I felt watching She's Out of My League. The studio described it as "this year's Hangover" which it most certainly is not. It is better described as a raunchy romantic comedy and makes for a good stay-at-home date movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly and found myself laughing more than I thought I would. However this film is not without its flaws, the main characters for one. Kirk played by Jay Baruchel is playing the same character as he did in both Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder, which doesn't carry a whole movie. Molly played by Alice Eve is the ironically "Flawless" girl in the film. She is beautiful, smart, rich, understanding and completely boring with absolutely no depth of any kind. My other big issue brings me back to my "flawless" comment. There are two main conflicts which drive the two main characters apart. The first conflict, although kind of gross, is creative and very entertaining. The second deals with her being too "flawless," which is so utterly foolish and unrealistic it made the rest of the film, which I rather enjoyed, almost unwatchable. It felt tacked on. It was almost as if the director felt obligated to follow the romantic comedy formula. Overall I enjoyed it, but it is nothing special. I give it a 2.5 out of 5.