Demotivational Poster of the Day

Demotivational Poster of the Day

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

An adolescent named Max has an active imagination, and he will throw fits if others don't go along with what he wants. Max - following an incident with Claire (his sister) and her friends, and following a tantrum which he throws as a result of his Mother paying more attention to her boyfriend than to him - runs away from home. Wearing his wolf costume at the time, Max not only runs away physically, but runs toward a world in his imagination. This world, an ocean away, is inhabited by large wild beasts, including one named Carol who is much like Max himself in temperament. Instead of eating Max like they normally would with creatures of his type, the wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can magically solve all their problems.
A very different movie than expected - I thought it would be a sort of children tale, light, and bouncy, entertaining and brought to the screen exclusively for kids. However, the movie turned out after an opening setup to be a more adult level story, in essence a psychological introspective analysis into how a child deals with aspects of his behavior he doesn't really understand, through his fantasies of wild, scary, muppet like creatures on an isolated island. That part of the story will be way over the heads of most kids, and adults for that matter, and they won't see past the superficiality of the somewhat scary creatures acting strangely. The setup to the story was just excellent - Max (the charismatic Max Records - a riveting presence) feels lonely, isolated, in his existence, primarily his family relationships. Single Mom (Catherine Keener) loves him, but his preoccupied with making a living and catching The Boy Friend (Mark Ruffalo), while older teen Sister (Pepita Emmerichs) sees Max as that pesky little brother. Max finally blows up after an incident where his feelings are hurt, gets out of control, and runs off to the woods - where the second part of the story begins. The second part of the story is the almost group therapy with the Wild Things providing the feedback. I found the Wild Things creatures fascinating, and the analogies of each monster to parts of Max's conflicting behavior really creative - a much more complex story than the simple setup story. Of course Max returns to reality, and Mom, and you're left to your imagination how Max's goes through. Overall, this movie is worth renting on two levels: a somewhat interesting, albeit slow, story of a kid and Wild Things for preteen viewers; and a fascinating adult level psychological look at the imagination of a kid projected on fantasy creatures as he tries to cope with reality.

This artistic film is visually hypnotic and stays true to the tone of the childrens' book, emphasizing the raw emotions, confusion, uncontrolled behavior, and eventual understanding of "wild thing" Max that relationships and feelings are challenging and cannot be controlled the way a king rules a kingdom, temper tantrums and wild behavior are hurtful, and the fact that he is not always be the center of attention does not mean that he is not loved. A terrific score/soundtrack add to the film's beauty, Max Records is fascinating to watch (you can see the wheels turning as he ponders and tries to offer solutions to the challenges of the monsters' conflicted social life and insecurities), the voice-actors make the monsters almost human, and the costumes brilliantly match the illustrations from the book. However, the slim story is too slight for a full-length movie. Most kids and many adults will be bored with the slow pace and confused by the lack of exposition. As in real life, the characters express themselves as if through a mental and emotional filter -- they barely understand their own feelings, and therefore have trouble communicating them to others. Can you say "passive-aggressive"? As viewers, we have to use our own thoughts and experiences to cobble together an understanding of what is going on with each of the characters. This challenge is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is different from family films where the story is fast-moving and straightforward. I recommend that parents and kids watch it together at home where you can talk about feelings and what is going on during the movie. It is a great opportunity for adults to put themselves into kid-sized shoes, where small events seem huge and emotions can be very big and scary.


****/*****

4/5 Stars

Knight and Day (2010)

June Havens finds her everyday life tangled with that of a secret agent who has realized he isn't supposed to survive his latest mission. As their campaign to stay alive stretches across the globe, they soon learn that all they can count on is each other.
How come Tom Cruise isn't catching any bullets? How come the govt. in this movie seems to be composed of the worst marksmen ever? How come all these action movie cliches are extra annoying in this movie? These, among others, are the questions I asked myself while watching Knight and Day. I say skip it. It's not really funny or full of great action (unless you like the nonsense stuff). The score really sucks. It's about 20 minutes too long and, in a nutshell, this is just Tom Cruise's way of saying, "Hey everyone! Remember me? I can still do action-y flicks!" Box office numbers don't lie people. This is a flop.

Just so you know this going in, this is NOT an action/comedy the way it is being billed and advertised in the trailers. I went in expecting to see someting completely different. As it turns out this is a ROMANTIC COMEDY, with an emphasis on the romance and not so much on the comedy (a few minor points) and very few and far between on the action. The story itself is slow, repetative and very predictable. That said, it is not completely unenjoyable. Just far from what the editing leads you to believe. Diaz almost overplays the ditzy blonde and the way the story goes cant seem to decide between being helpless or a tom-boy. Cruise almost seems to be consciously downplaying the action as it if were a spoof, very disappointing having seen him excell at the same in Mission Impossible, Collatteral, etc. Dano probably gives the best performance in here playing a quirky genius who doesnt even get much screen time.


**/*****

2/5 Stars

Who's Sori Now?

Left Fielder Cranks 2 HRs in Cubs 3-1 WinOh, so that's how you beat the lowly Pirates: You hold them to one run, and you have your left fielder Alfonso Soriano — the guy who'd homered twice in his previous 28 games — crank two solo round-trippers. Crafty lefty (is there any other kind?) Ted Lilly was again strong, going seven innings and allowing a mere one run. Did Lilly just prove he might be the Cubs' ace, or did he up his trade value? Maybe both. Other than Soriano's bombs, though, the Cubs' offense didn't exactly wow us. But hey... one-game winning streak! Woo-hoo!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jonah Hex (2010)

Enlisted by a Union soldier (Will Arnett), scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) scours the Wild West in pursuit of Turnbull (John Malkovich), a crazed voodoo master with a scheme to assemble a devastating weapon that will destroy the government and lift the Confederacy. Based on the cult DC Comics hero, this action Western co-stars Michael Shannon as strange circus impresario Doc Cross Williams and Megan Fox as beautiful gunslinger Lilah.
As a Western Jonah Hex is horrible. As a comic book film it is okay. It is filled with the usual PG-13 thrills i.e. large explosions, no blood and stock characters. Surprisingly the prelude, done as a moving comic in the film, would have been better filmed & fleshed out to keep it closer to a real Western. Much of the rest of the film needed to be animated, especially the acting. Josh Brolin plays a mumbling, pseudo-supernatural Jonah Hex. Although Brolin assumes the look, he cant capture Hexs snarl. John Malkovichs Turnbull is barely a one dimensional character given no reason for his desires. Megan Fox continues to prove that she cant act her way out of a paper bag. The film moves quickly but without purpose. Watching it I was reminded of the Clint Eastwood Westerns. Jonah Hex was DCs man with no name. Here is a man with no movie.

Remember how people always seem to make jokes that they lose interest in a movie if something isnt blown up in the first five minutes of whatever theyre watching? Well, if thats true, those people wont have any problems with the opening of Jonah Hex. There are two huge explosions, a shootout, and a robbery in the first fifteen minutes of the film. Not to mention the fact that the film is beyond loud. With all of the explosions, fires, shootouts, fistfights, and yelling going on in the film, there isnt really a single moment in the films entire duration where the floor isnt rumbling or your chair isnt shaking from the intense action taking place on screen. Jonah Hex is incredibly flawed and the film seems to try and make a point to showoff its weak points more than anything, but its short enough that it doesnt seem like torture and tries to be as explosively entertaining as it can during that runtime. If Desperado and Van Helsing could somehow meet, spend a romantic evening together, and mate that resulted in offspring in the form of film, Jonah Hex would be their love child.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball (2010)

Walter Weed is an unassuming desk jockey at the FBI when the Bureau uncovers a plot to assassinate him. A team of degenerate, psychotic assassins dispatched by mystery man Hal Leuco to win a huge bounty includes a resourceful beauty who has a unique method of killing her prey, a power-tool wielding psychopath and a deadly master of disguise.
Nowhere near as good as the original, this prequel has quite a few holes in the story, with it's greatest flaw being that it's immediately obvious who the "bad" bad guy is. Yeah, it's fun to look at, great sets, colorful costumes, etc. But the final scene is all that saves the film.

Forget comparing it to the original Smokin' Aces. It just doesn't have the quality of the "omg" moment at the end. The final seconds of the film is the part I recommend. This movie is okay. It has the shoot out's, government twists and hitmen. If you've seen the original Smokin' Aces, then you're weary of the characters from the beginning and you know one character's fate for this film. On its own, it is not a bad film. Watch it if you feel like a good shoot out movie. I recommend it for that. But if you're going into it wanting the twists and excitement like the original, be well aware that it is just not up to par.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

Tokyo Zombie (2005)

While training to fulfill their dreams of being jujitsu champions, Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) and Mitsuo (Shô Aikawa) work in a fire extinguisher factory. But when a mob of zombies suddenly invade Tokyo, they'll have to employ their limited fighting skills to battle the undead. They soon join with other zombie fighters to try to reclaim the city. Directed by Sakichi Sato, this Japanese zombie-movie satire is based on the manga by Yusaku Hanakuma.
This flick is one of those where you want it to be good, but it fails it's source material, and never develops a voice of its own. It's zany and all over the place - and not in the good way. In the right hands, this could be something. But this ain't it. Watch Wild Zero or Biozombie instead; both are infinitely superior.

Don't believe the hype. The back of the case describes it as a "Japanese Shaun of the Dead". It's not even close. The first 30 minutes are entertaining with some funny jokes, but then it slows down considerably. Then shortly after, the movie takes a major plot turn and the tone of the movie changes all together. I won't spoil it by giving details, but the second half of the movie is not only not at all funny, but tediously boring. If you're looking for a humerous zombie movie, other than the obvious Shaun of the Dead, try Dead and Breakfast or Undead instead. This one is not worth your time.


**/*****

2/5 Stars

Friday, June 18, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

It's 1954, and up-and-coming U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a patient from Boston's Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. He's been pushing for an assignment on the island for personal reasons, but before long he wonders whether he hasn't been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from unethical to illegal to downright sinister. Teddy's shrewd investigating skills soon provide a promising lead, but the hospital refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open. As a hurricane cuts off communication with the mainland, more dangerous criminals "escape" in the confusion, and the puzzling, improbable clues multiply, Teddy begins to doubt everything - his memory, his partner, even his own sanity.
Unfortunately for me I was able to figure out the plot very early on in the movie, which sort of ruined it for me. A few twists and turns in the storyline keep it interesting. Very good acting, the actors fit their characters well.

An excellent ending, the way it plays out to get there could be a bit confusing for some, but does play in to the fractured minds locked away on the island. I would give this one three and half stars. The 1950's feel gives the movie a film noir atmosphere. DiCaprio is intense, and this is the best role Sir Ben Kingsley has had in years. I thought of several comparisons to this movie, such as Angel Heart, Total Recall, and The Sixth Sense. Not exactly a classic, but entertaining, and the very end of the movie will give you something to both talk and think about.


***/*****


3/5 Stars

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

The story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Kaun Banega Crorepati?" (2000) (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions. Each chapter of Jamal's increasingly layered story reveals where he learned the answers to the show's seemingly impossible quizzes. But one question remains a mystery: what is this young man with no apparent desire for riches really doing on the game show? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the Inspector and sixty million viewers are about to find out. At the heart of its storytelling lies the question of how anyone comes to know the things they know about life and love.
I expected to enjoy Slumdog Millionaire a lot more than I did, especially because it won Best Picture. I'm not put off by violence when it forwards a rich/truthful story line and the cinematography is beautiful, but ultimately, I don't think the film tells a compelling story. The plot evolves like a Lifetime Channel movie of the week with a better cast and more exotic locations. I'm surprised at the other ratings - it seems either people LOVED this film or couldn't watch it because of the relative violence of some of the early scenes. To me, the film just wasn't very interesting. I think the Kite Runner explored similar territory with much more depth, beauty and compassion. Slumdog Millionaire has brief hints of insight into the humanity of extreme poverty, but ultimately seemed like a trite story of rags to riches that has been marketed as something more meaningful.

Danny Boyle proves that you don't have to have any sort of star power to make a great film (we're having a trend now with The Hurt Locker). What really did it for this movie was the superb directing and the well paced editing. The story is original and the score fits the setting throughout each scene. Although most of the story is harsh and depressing, by the end, we get a rare feel good film that works with a deep message, which is why I think it won Best Picture. Most of the time there seems to be a rule that our main protagonist has to die or has to come extremely close to obtaining the main objective of the film to win top prize at the oscars. The acting is not stellar, but it's not anything to really complain about either. If I have a few minor gripes I would complain that when Jamal and Latika see each other after years and years, I did not feel that immensely emotional feeling that you should feel (ex: Forrest and Jenny). Although this was not my favorite film of the year (The Dark Knight, The Wrestler)and I didn't think this film deserved 8 oscars (Schindler's List didn't even win that many), it's still a very good and original film with great directing. It's more than worth a few viewings.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The A-Team (2010)

This updated feature-film take on the hit 1980s television show follows a group of Iraq War veterans on the run from U.S. military forces while they try to clear their names after being framed for a crime they didn't commit. Along the way, Col. Hannibal Smith, Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock , Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus and Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck help out various people they encounter. Joe Carnahan directs this high-octane actioner.
The A-Team movie was fast-paced and action-heavy, but totally entertaining for a summer movie. It's definitely ridiculous and features lots of explosions, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Just definitely not story-heavy.


Really? Not understanding the negative reviews I've read of The A-Team. I saw this last night, and was absolutely entertained throughout the entire movie. This film completely captures the ridiculous, exciting, funny nature of the television series. It's filled with thrilling (albeit totally unbelievable) action sequences. It's consistently funny and entertaining, with just enough plot to keep you interested. And it has enough character development to make you fall in love with each member of the A-Team! The four leads in this film have terrific chemistry, and their enthusiasm for the A-Team is contagious. Granted, this is a very silly, unrealistic action movie. But I would call it a perfect summer film. It kept me entertained and laughing right through to the end!


****/*****

4/5 Stars

Killers (2010)

Spencer Aimes (Kutcher) is just your average, undercover, government-hired super-assassin accustomed to a life of exotic European locales, flashy sports cars and even flashier women. But when he meets Jen Kornfeldt (Heigl), a beautiful, fun-loving computer tech recovering from a bad break-up, he finds true love...and happily trades international intrigue for domestic bliss. Three years later, Spencer and Jen are still enjoying a picture-perfect marriage - that is, until the morning after Spencer's 30th birthday. That's when Spencer and Jen learn he's the target of a multi-million dollar hit. Even worse, the hired killers have been stalking the happy couple for years, and could be anyone: friends, neighbors, the grocery store clerk, even that crabby old guy shuffling across the street. Now Spencer and Jen are on the run for their lives. As their suburban paradise turns into a paranoid game of dodge-the-bullet, they must find out who wants Spencer dead and why, all the while trying to save their marriage, manage his in-laws, keep up neighborly appearances ... and just plain survive.
The first word that comes to mind is "average". Killers is a decent movie that has a couple of real standout performances, but unfortunately, those performances are not put in by the leads. (Tom Selleck, Rob Riggle, and Katherine O'Hara steal every scene they are in.) There are some decent action sequences once the movie really takes off at the midway point. However, the chemisty between Kutcher and Heigl just is not there, which pulls this move into forgettable status. Overall, Killers is far from the worst movie I have seen in the genre, but it is also far from the best.

This is the perfect light date movie. The acting was what you'd expect from two TV actors, the chemistry was far from smoldering and the story had been done before (hence the three stars), but everyone in the theater was entertained and put in a good mood. For the guys there's plenty of explosions, gun fire and car chases, while all the women in the theater let out audible sighs (honest, everyone laughed when it happened - and it happened at least twice) over Ashton Kutcher. The women actually swooned the first time he appeared without a shirt and then later ALL went "awwwww" in unison when he confessed his love to Heigl. If you are looking for the right movie to take your date this weekend, there's no better movie to see.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Adopted from the streets of Nasaf by King Sharaman of Persia, young Dastan grows up amongst royalty and quickly earns his place as a mighty warrior and prince. As his brothers Garsiv and Tus plan battle strategies, a spy sends word that the Holy City of Alamut has been supplying weapons to enemies of Persia. Taking matters into his own hands, Tus orders an attack on the sacred city and upon its fall Dastan encounters the beautiful Princess Tamina. When King Sharaman dies under mysterious circumstances shortly after, and Dastan is accused of his murder, he flees with the princess on a harrowing mission to clear his name. Learning from Tamina the true motives behind Alamut's invasion, Dastan must embark on a perilous quest to stop an evil mastermind's plot for ultimate power with a mystical weapon that can control the very fabric of time.
Okay sword and sandal filck has high production values but standard story that doesn't bear a great deal of scrutiny. The best perfomance comes from Alfred Molina as a humorous entrepreneur everybody else performs competently but unmemorably. I know it's a Disney movie, but it felt like a Disney movie. That's probably why I don't see many Disney movies.

Pretty but very orange. Fun and a solid entry in the post-Memorial Day action film genre. Gyllenhaall doesnt have the talent for physical comedy that Brendon Fraser brought to The Mummy, but it works most of the time. A lot of eye liner died for the film but that always seems to happen when Ben Kingsley is involved. Satisfying ending that avoided the obvious. Liked it.


***/*****


3/5 Stars

The Invention of Lying (2009)

It's a world where everyone tells the truth - and just about anything they're thinking. Mark Bellison is a screenwriter, about to be fired. He's short and chunky with a flat nose - a genetic pool that means he won't get to first base with Anna, the woman he loves. At a bank, on the spur of the moment he blurts out a fib, with eye-popping results. Then, when his mother's on her deathbed, frightened of the eternal void awaiting her, Mark invents fiction. The hospital staff overhear his description of Heaven, believe every word, and tell others. Soon Mark is a prophet, his first inventive screenplay makes him rich, and he's basically a good guy. But will that be enough for Anna?
If you read the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes they mostly agree that this movie has a fantastic idea, an excellent first 30 minutes and then doesn't do much with what it started with. I agree. Such an original plot and that first half hour has some of the funniest original writing and scenes you'll have ever seen in a comedy. However, when it moves into the religeous/afterlife section it stops being clever and gets uninteresting and formulatic.

I'm not terribly religious, so I thought the comments about religion wouldn't apply to my critique, but I was mistaken. Like many other comments (and I can't offer much new here), I was a bit disappointed that it started out as a comedy and morphed into a film on theology.

***/*****


3/5 Stars

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

In Nazi occupied France, young Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus witnesses the slaughter of her family by Colonel Hans Landa. Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later when German war hero Fredrick Zoller takes a rapid interest in her and arranges an illustrious movie premiere at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance, the event catches the attention of the "Basterds", a group of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lt. Aldo Raine. As the relentless executioners advance and the conspiring young girl's plans are set in motion, their paths will cross for a fateful evening that will shake the very annals of history.
A mark of a distinctive filmmaker is that rarely can one discuss a film by Quentin Tarentino without mentioning his name within the first few seconds of the discussion. He has created his own imprimatur that instantly tells you what type of film you are in for when you sit in your seat and the curtain goes up. This one will not disappoint. Enough gore to fill several back haulers; over the top graphics that literally point you to key screen elements (like "this is a bad guy"); larger than life characters that are even larger than larger than life; funky mood music; a departure from the usual three act cinema experience; and Chester Gould-like use of bold, primary colors. All of this is wrapped up in a long movie that entertains like a good comic book. Oh, the storyline. The only thing that historically matters is that the setting is the Nazi occupation of France during WWII, and it involves a band of Jewish Nazi-hunters who endeavor to execute a brilliant scheme to topple the Third Reich and end the war early. Enough pseudo-history, it's a bad guys versus good guys thing. Guess who wins?

Inglourious Basterds is a typical Quentin Tarantino film - characterized by excellent casting, acting, and directing, a compelling script that is creatively mixes humor with utter horrific violence without being campy, wonderful cinematography and sound, and an innovative movie style. Christopher Waltz as Nazi Col. Hans Landa is excellent as the de facto star of the movie (he did get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), and is in just about every scene. Tarantino's script really comes alive when he is on screen. Brad Pitt, as U.S.A. Lt. Alto Raine, head of the Nazi Killing elite squad, is a hoot with his hillbilly accent and swaggering invincible air. Melanie Laurent has a great role as Shosanna Dreyfus, a Jewish movie theater owner whose path crosses with the infamous, and much hated by her, Col. Landa several times. And Diane Kruger as famous German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark, secretly a Resistance fighter is quite entertaining and sometimes over the top. As is typical with Tarantino scripts, the story rambles around in unexpected directions - in this case rewriting WW II Nazi downfall history with scenes that have just fascinating dialog. Character development comes secondary to captivating dialog punctuated by sudden graphic violence that makes you momentarily grimace. The 2.5 hour story is broken down into logical chapters running parallel stories, that eventually overlap at the end. Of course the cinematography and soundtrack are top notch, as is the case with most all taratino productions. I'd say this is one of Tarantino's better movies and worth a DVD rental for escape type entertainment.


****/*****

4/5 Stars

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

For the last 8 years the brothers have been living with their father on a sheep farm deep in isolated Ireland. One day their uncle tells them that they have been framed for the murder of a Bostonian Catholic priest. The boys must return to Boston to not only clear their names but find the men who framed them.
This movie is nothing but a homage to the original BDS film and if you loved that movie, you will find yourself laughing at the not-so-subtle cues spread all over BDS:2. After 10 years of waiting I felt like I’d already seen this movie and it was done better the first time. There was to much forced dialogue, the new comedic relief is just not like the Rocco I loved so much, the Boston cops really get on your nerves, and the back-story was lame and overdone. Duffy spent so much time trying to incorporate all the characters from the previous BDS film that he didn’t seem to care how much it effected presenting a good story. The movie is worth watching for Connolly and Reedus. Die-hard BDS fans will chuckle, but I won't be spending money to put it in my personal collection.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

New Moon (2009)

After Bella recovers from the vampire attack that almost claimed her life, she looks to celebrate her birthday with Edward and his family. However, a minor accident during the festivities results in Bella's blood being shed, a sight that proves too intense for the Cullens, who decide to leave the town of Forks, Washington for Bella and Edward's sake. Initially heartbroken, Bella finds a form of comfort in reckless living, as well as an even-closer friendship with Jacob Black. Danger in different forms awaits.
The story is ludicrous, the script is so staged, the acting by most is atrocious, the cinematography looks marginal at best, the pace seems very slow, and the movie weighs in about 30 minutes too long, Robert Pattinson once again demonstrates he has little, if any, natural acting talent, and again shows absolutely no chemistry with Kristen Stewart, his co-star and love interest. Kirsten Stewart has little material to work with other than mopping about looking sullen and indecisive, which by the way, she does quite well. Taylor Lautner, however, probably has the best role and turns out to be a good actor, also not hard to look with his young buff body - and his scenes with Kristen Stewart actually have some semblance of emotional attachment. The werewolf creatures were kind of neat, maybe a little scary for young kids. I noticed the human-werewolf transition seemed missing - none of the closeup transition you'd see in the usual werewolf movies. In all honesty, the only reason I liked this movie was because of Taylor Lautner, who I believe has a great career outside the lame Twilight series.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

11:14 (2003)

Tells the seemingly random yet vitally connected story of a set of incidents that all converge one evening at 11:14pm. The story follows the chain of events of five different characters and five different storylines that all converge to tell the story of murder and deceit.
Bad acting, worst writing and what was up with those scores? Way too comedic for the situation at hand but the structure that it was put in to was very entertaining to say the most.


This is a nice quiet movie with many stars. No character dominates the scenes and what drives this movie is the script. It is basically a quick ten minute story but told from multiple perspectives. The story is not thick enough where it is a giant spider web, yet quite the contrary. Easy enough to follow and fun enough to guess the end. Although some of the scenes might be a little out there, fornication in a graveyard, window and decapitations, etc. Let that not deter one from seeing nice fun little film. It has no glitz or glamor but just a basic story told from all different views.

***/*****

3/5 Stars

Død snø (2009) AKA Dead Snow (2009)

A group of Norwegian friends get the scariest history lesson of their lives during a weekend getaway to the snowy town of Øksfjord, where the party is interrupted by throngs of Nazi zombies who once occupied the area. Armed with a machine-gun-equipped snowmobile, the gang fights for survival in director Tommy Wirkola's quirky horror, shot on location in the mountains of Norway. The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Dead Snow never tries to fall under the pretense of being anything new or original, but rather gives a wink, smile, and nod to the forebearers of the horror genre. All of which could be a fault if it wasn't for the comedic blood gushing moments on pure white snow beautifully captured for viewing entertainment. The typical generic set up: 8 medical students on a long weekend of R&R with a little beer, fun, and sex set in a remote cabin. All is fun and good until a stranger comes along to tell a local tale of Nazi torture, gold, and MIA soldiers. After that the real carnage begins. If you didn't find the opening scene of zombies chasing a female victim to the song of Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy funny, then much of the humor will go above your head. There is no obvious hero of the bunch and none are annoying enough to route for their death. Dead Snow is a light entertaining horror movie that delivers some laughs, blood, action, and maybe a couple of scares. Lesson learned: Don't steal gold and if ever in an avalanche spit to find out which way is up. Surviving zombies: Who knows how to survive that one? Dead Snow: Leave your brain at the door and enjoy the rare bloody goodness of a fun horror movie.


A very un-Viking like group of Norwegian students vs. long dead World War II Nazi Zombies. How could you possibly go wrong with this combination....This is simply a fun movie! Definitely one of the better Zombie movies in recent years.

****/*****

4/5 Stars

Run! Bitch Run! (2009)

Catherine and Rebecca are two Catholic School girls going door-to-door selling Religious paraphernalia in order to pay for their books and education. Things go horribly wrong when they knock on the wrong door in the wrong neighborhood. "Run! Bitch Run!" is a throw back to the classic rape and revenge films like The Last House on the Left (1972) and Ms. 45 (1981).
Alright I liked this for what it was... trash. This is an ultra low budget nod to the grindhouse movies of the seventies. Someone sat down and watched "I Spit on Your Corpse" 15 times then wrote this knock off. Like I said, I liked this for what it was, so if your looking for a good movie, or even originality... don't watch this. Plus there's plenty of boobs... yay.


Torn between if this was truly just a poorly done movie, or if the film quality was part of the homage to 70's style 'spit on your grave' style moviemaking. Either way, was a pretty average watch, nothing special, very lowgrade acting & cinematography. Maybe was intentional, maybe not. Lots of T&A, lots of blood & sexually charged violence. Not one to watch with the kids. Great date movie!

***/*****

3/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

In London, the sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus promises to the audiences a journey to the "Imaginarium", an imaginary world commanded by the mind of Doctor Parnassus where dreams come true. In the stories that Doctor Parnassus tells to his daughter Valentina, to the midget Percy, and his assistant Anton, he claims to have more than one thousand years; however, when he felt in love for a mortal, he made a deal with the devil Mr. Nick trading his immortality per youth. As part of the bargain, he promised his son or daughter to Mr. Nick on the sixteenth birthday. Valentina now is almost in the doomed age and Doctor Parnassus bets with Mr. Nick that whoever seduces five souls in the Imaginarium will have Valentina as a prize. Meanwhile the troupe rescues Tony that was hanged on a bridge by the Russians that explains why he had been chased and he joins the group. Tony and Valentina fall in love for each other and the jealous Anton discovers that his competitor is a liar.
Christopher Plummer is Dr Parnassus, a gentleman who years ago made a deal with the devil for immortality. while it seemed great at first, a thousand years later it feels more like a curse, especially when he is only 3 days away from having to "pay up"... the devil (Tom Waits) gets his daughter on her 16th birthday. Reduced to some sideshow freak attraction, Dr. Parnassus tries to lure people into his "Willy Wonka on crack" warped world. By doing so, he hopes to satisfy the devil in his quest for souls in order to save his own daughter. When things look their bleakest, they happen across Tony (Ledger), a man literally at the end of his rope, who brings a new attitude and life to Dr. Parnassus' efforts. This is the first film I've seen from director Terry Gilliam. There are some nice visual effects which definitely come in handy because the story lacks a little punch. If it wasn't for my interest in seeing Heath Ledger's final performance and how they worked around his death before filming was complete, I would probably enjoy this movie a little less.


This is an interesting film. Far from Gilliam's best and Ledger is consistent. For me Waits and Plummer steal the film along with the doe eyed Cole. Somewhere it seems the laces came untied on the script and it just became free flowing. I might attribute that to the death of Mr. Ledger. I was expecting 12 Monkeys or the Fisher King. This is neither.


***/*****

3/5 Stars

The Hurt Locker (2008)

An intense portrayal of elite soldiers who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat. When a new sergeant, James, takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn and Eldridge, by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat. James behaves as if he's indifferent to death. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James' true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever.
Adrenaline-pumping “realistic” depiction of war on the ground in Iraq. “War is a drug” is the opening quotation—specifically, in this movie, that drug is adrenaline, and the junkie is squad-leader James, assigned to head the Bravo bomb squad after the former leader gets himself blown up. The squad has only 38 days left on it's highly dangerous tour of duty, but with the arrival of the old-style, bigger-than-life, rough-and-ready action-hero, James, their odds of surviving to day 39 just got a lot poorer. This film works on a lot of levels. Unfortunately, it's rather difficult to know, without having actually been there, how accurate a portrayal it is of the life of a soldier on the ground in Iraq. As an action-packed, suspenseful war-thriller, however, this film is top-notch. The hero or anti-hero of the film, James, is an adrenaline junkie who can't function in the “real world” where his wife and baby son live, but is only really at home on the edge of destruction. And yet James may indeed be just what the situation orders—a seemingly fearless comando who gets the job done no matter what. “Body-bombs” (corpses wired with explosives), unwilling civilians wired as walking bombs begging to be saved, mercenaries seeking bounties on wanted terrorists, street-vendors and onlookers who may be carrying the trigger to the next buried bomb—determining who is a friend and who is foe becomes a minute-by-minute life-or-death situation. The acting is great all-around. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the pacing and dark humor are perfect. Jeremy Renner is truly someone to watch in the future. Whether the situation is real-to-life or not, I think where the movie does “work” as a message film is in subverting the “Rambo” mentality of war, giving a much more realistic depiction of what drives “Rambo” and the consequences of putting “Rambo” in charge. Beyond that, take it with a grain of salt, as hopefully you do all war movies.


****/*****


4/5 Stars