Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sherlock Holmes


Robert Downey Jr. has made quite a come back in recent years with his success in Ironman and now Sherlock Holmes. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Strong. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I was a little worried about this one with Guy Ritchie directing. He has made some interesting but bizarre movies in the past, like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Rocknrolla. So I was afraid Holmes would be in that same weird spirit. But I was pleasantly surprised that it really turned out to be a clever action film with witty dialog as one would expect from the likes of Robert Downey and a true to the spirit Sherlock Holmes film. This was a great movie from start to finish and I highly recommend seeing these larger than life characters on the big screen.

I can only hope that with its success we will see one or two more sequels to this franchise! Grab your magnifying glass and don't miss a second of Sherlock Holmes!

Rating: ***** (5/5)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar



This is a very creative and visually spectaular film. I saw it on the IMAX 3D screen to get the "full" effect of this much hyped new film by James Cameron. I don't think you will miss much if you don't see it in 3D; just a few arrows popping off the screen at you, and some floaty jelly-fish thingys. But you won't be dissappointed if you see the IMAX version either.

The story is about the earthlings, sky people, traveling from their dying world to this new planet called Pandora which happens to be rich with a new energy source. Unfortunately, the indiginous people, the Navi are in the way. This eventually leads to a Star Wars-esque climatic battle at the end.

There was an underlying "green mother earth" theme and "we stole the indians land" comparison going on here, but they didn't shove it down your throat. The story, the acting, and the impressive visuals take center stage of this two and a half hour epic.

You definately want to see this on the big screen! So journey light years away to Pandora and check out AVATAR!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Armored



Well this movie was a little short on dialog substance, but it made up for it in action and suspense. A very interesting premise with some interesting characters made for a good day at the movies. It could have been way over the top, but they kept things down to earth and it was a fun ride.

Columbus Short (Stomp the Yard) plays Ty Hackett, an ex-soldier working as a security guard on an armored truck. Ty is also raising his younger brother, Jimmy (Andre Kinney) after both of their parents passed away in the same year. The cause of their death is never really addressed but the effect is easy to see. The bank is hassling Ty for payments that is he struggling to make; Jimmy is missing school and Social Services is threatening to split the brothers up and put Jimmy in foster care.
Ty is looking for extra shifts at work but there just aren’t any to be had. That’s when his friend, co-worker, partner and godfather Mike Cochrone (Matt Dillon) comes to him with this plan to rob their own trucks. He and a handful of the guards – Quinn (Jean Reno), Baines (Laurence Fishburne), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich), have decided to recreate an armored truck heist from 1988 where as Cochrone puts it, “There are no bad guys.”

But of course things don't go acorrding to plan and some of the "good guys" chose to become bad guys and total mayhem ensues.

If you miss this one during the holiday season then be sure to save it in your Netflix queue and check out Armored!



Saturday, November 14, 2009

2012


I should really max out as many credit cards as possible over the next two years seeing as how we are all not going to be here after December 21, 2012. (According to the Mayans) The new movie 2012 gives us a vivid picture of what the End of Days just might look like.

I love me a good disaster movie. I grew up watching Towering Inferno, Poseiden, Airport, etc. I am also a huge John Cusack fan. So put the two together and it's better than a Reese's cup. I had the same giddy feeling when I saw Knowing starring Nicholas Cage earlier this year. Both are great disaster films, but I think the scenes in Knowing were a little more impressive than 2012. The disaster sequences looked or felt more "real" in Knowing.

In 2012 the story opens in 2009, the earth's core is heating up thanks to massive solar flares, alarming an U.S. government geologist (Chiwetel Ejiofor). He informs the White House chief of staff (Oliver Platt), who rushes to inform the President (Danny Glover), who eventually confides the news to his beautiful daughter (Thandie Newton). Three years later, and a small time writer named Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) picks up his cute son and daughter (Liam James and Morgan Lily) at the home of his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and her new boyfriend Gordon (Thomas McCarthy). Jackson takes the kids camping at Yellowstone, where he meets a useful mountaintop crazyman (Woody Harrelson) who predicts the end of days.

Then hair raising world ending disaster ensues. It is a non stop series of over the top near escapes as we follow Cusack and his family trying to escape certain doom. Will they make it?

These latest entries into the disaster genre up the ante. No longer is a disaster confined to a specific location or event like a Volcano eruption, a.k.a. Dante's Peak, now the whole planet is wiped out. What will Hollywood do in the future? Destroy the universe? Oh wait....there is no future. Live everyday like it is the last day. But hurry to the movies and check out 2012 before it's too late!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Zombieland


Who doesn't love Zombies? Wholesale guilt free carnage on your fellow man that is trying to eat you right?
Zombieland is a horror-comedy. It's not as corny as say Sean of the Dead (which was also hilarious) or as ridiculous as the Scary Movie series. It lies somewhere in between and just sucks the marrow out of my funny bone!

A geek, who is labeled “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenburg) calls the world “Zombieland” after a supervirus turns most everyone into a zombie.  “Columbus” finds an unlikely friend and total opposite of himself “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson) a good ole boy, and then the two of them encounter sisters “Witchita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin).  The street smart girls are trying to get to Pacific Playland so they can have just a little moment of feeling like kids again.

We follow them along on their road trip as they learn to trust each and as they deal with the ever present zombies. There is a great cameo by one of the kings of comedy films. You'll have to see the flick to find out who. This was a fun popcorn worthy event, but don't take the kids, as zombies tend to eat them. 

The hardest thing for me when the inevitable zombie apocalypse does indeed come, will be trying to hide how excited I will be!  Check out Zombieland, a perfect Halloween movie!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Surrogates





Surrogates is the new sci-fi thriller starring Bruce Willis who plays an FBI agent in a near future world where crime is low and almost everyone uses an android like replica of themselves to do the daily functions of life including their job. Real people lay around at home in an easy chair or their bed with a headset on, while their “surrogate” goes out into the real world. Things turn ugly when real people start being killed with a special weapon that attacks the surrogate’s neural system.

The story wasn’t bad, but I thought the premise of the film was the best part. Imagine reclining safely at home while a younger looking robot version of yourself travels about doing your job, grocery shopping, picking up the kids, etc.

Surrogates has decent character development, interesting characters, and a little forced drama, but with the interesting premise it is definitely worth checking out. Bruce’s young surrogate’s hair seems to channel the blonde hair cut from The Jackel (also a good movie!) but it was neat to see a young Bruce Willis back on the big screen. Lay back, put your headset on, and send your android to the theater to check out Surrogates!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whiteout

I love Kate Beckinsale. (Kind of a no-brainer huh?). Her Underworld films are awesome. So I was hyped to see her latest movie, Whiteout. From the trailer it looked like a suspenseful thrill ride. Unfortunately only about thirty minutes of the hour and forty-five minute film qualify as a thriller. The first fifteen minutes and the last fifteen minutes. The other hour and fifteen minutes of the script is filled with boring character exposition and hokey flashbacks. Not even old Tom Skerrit’s doctor character can warm up this cold story. His character’s seems rather bored himself in his scenes.

In addition, the cinematography is bland and uninteresting and plain flat. Almost like looking at the storyboards of a comic book. The editing is bad as well. Choppy and scene skipping to the point you never are sure where or when the scene is taking place. (sort of like this review!)

Well I have ripped the movie to pieces without even telling you, the dear reader, what the premise of the movie is. It takes place at a science base at the South Pole in Antarctica. A U.S. Marshal (Kate Beckinsale) is posted there as she attempts to hide from her past. We learn she is about to leave for the “winter” when a body is suddenly discovered on the ice. This begins a series of investigations and close calls with the killer.


It is a typical whodoneit murder mystery which you easily figure out before the reveal at the end. As you may have guessed, I recommend you catch Whiteout on cable when you are stuck inside this winter and no one to play Monopoly with.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

I was expecting a 1967 Dirty Dozen remake, but really that was only a part of the story. The other part was about a young Jewish girl whose family had been slaughtered by the Nazis.

The story begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.

Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds," Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. The two stories are intertwined when they meet at Shosanna's theater where the German high command is coming to view the lastest German film.

The movie is rife with interesting characters and a decent, typical Quentin Tarantino story and bloodshed.
If you are a fan of his movies, then you won't be dissappointed. Check out Inglourious Basterds!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

District 9


With Peter Jackson and his Wingnut production company associated with this film, I was excited to see it.
The premise was not altogether new, but still it has been long enough that an "aliens-come-to-earth-to-live" theme is fresh enough for me. We begin twenty years after a massive alien space ship appears over Johannesburg South Africa. Inside the ship was found to be thousands of bug-like aliens we call Prawn. They were a destitute, malnourished lot.
So we took them in and made a place for them on the planet, a.k.a District 9. However after twenty years D9 has become a crime ridden slum and they must be moved as the people are fed up with the cat food loving aliens.
The movie begins very documentary like. With a camera man following the story of the person in charge of evicting and moving the aliens. I was sitting there for about twenty or thirty minutes of the movie asking myself what in the world I was watching. I wondered if the whole movie was going to be like this and add to that it was very gross. I am not very squeamish (he's lying) but there was a lot of uncomfortable nasty scenes during the first thirty minutes. But after that it ceased being a documentary and kicked into full movie mode.
It turned out to be an excellent ride after that. I loved the rest of the movie from then on! You finally start to care about the characters and their plight. The special effects were great, especially the alien weaponry which becomes the focus of the story line.
If you can push past the first part of the movie, then checking out District 9 is definitely worth it!

Friday, August 07, 2009

GI JOE: Rise of Cobra


I grew up on the REAL GI JOE! The ones that were three times the size of the little plastic toys they pander in the Targets and Wally Worlds. The real ones have moveable joints in the wrists, knees, elbows, and even a fuzzy faced head that pops off! You can dress them up in dozens of uniforms, belts, hats, boots and even scuba gear. They carried a variety of weapons and equipment and drove huge vehicles like jeeps that pulled search lights, boats, and helicopters.
My younger friend says they were "barbie dolls for boys," and had no stories or enemies like the GI Joe's in the cartoons and comic books. Well maybe so, but I had a world of fun slapping a gun in their kung-fu grip and I made up some great stories on my own. They tossed grenades in the deserts of Africa, sailed the Pacific Ocean, and went on secret jungle missions every Saturday morning in my backyard.

Hollywood has finally brought that childhood magic to the big screen with GI JOE, The Rise of Cobra. I was afraid it would be a cheesy cartoon rendition of the animated series, especially with names like Rip Cord, Heavy Duty, and Gung Ho (Special cameo by Brendan Fraser). But I was pleasantly surprised!
The movie was far from corny. The story wasn't bad at all, they kept the one liners to a minimum, and the characters actually had depth to them! That's right, a popcorn action hero movie actually had character's you could really get into. They nicely transitioned the history and backgrounds of several major characters into the story with very little exposition.
The special effects were also top tier! They were jaw dropping gorgeous (not to mention a couple of the female leads). It was quite a thrill ride and a great way to end the summer block busters! It is a must see!
But remember it is PG-13 so don't take the little ones, there are several cringe-worthy death scenes! But everyone else will enjoy seeing your childhood favorites come to life. Jump in your humvee and check out GI JOE Rise of the Cobra.....Go Joe!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Public Enemies


I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan (who isn’t?). He always plays these ludicrous characters! His role as the Mad Hatter in the upcoming Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland adaptation is case in point. I guess it all started with Benny and Joon or was Edward Scissor Hands first? Either way, Netflix them if you haven’t seen his early work.

So I was a little surprised to see him play a historical figure like John Dillinger in Public Enemies. He is a talented actor and can no doubt pull it off it’s just unusual to see him in a “normal” role. The movie follows the last days of the notorious bank robber who’s crime spree in 1933 captured the attention of the nation and the newly forming FBI. Christian Bale is also in the movie playing FBI agent Melvin Purvis who is charged with capturing Dillinger. His rather flat role and droll speech is in stark contrast to the flamboyant lifestyle of the charismatic bank robber who often jokes with the media after being captured.

It was fun watching the film’s story unfold and kept my attention despite a few scenes that dragged a bit. With all the summer block busters rolling by, you will probably miss this one, so catch Public Enemies on Netflix or your favorite movie rental place in the near future.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince


Don’t get me wrong, I love the Harry Potter movies, but I don’t think this last one was the best. I get that it was supposed to be rather “dark” but that is not the issue I had with the film. There was just way too much high school romance going on with – one character loves this other character but they are seeing someone else – and the love potions and concoctions, etc. etc.

They could have cut all that out or lessened it, and it would have been much better in my mind. Finally I was a little disappointed with the ending. Apparently in the book there is a huge wizard battle at the end. We got none of that in the movie. Some are saying the film makers got lazy.

This was a “set-up” movie, much like Star Wars Empire Strikes Back. It leaves you wondering “What now?” I will tell you what now. For the final installment of the series, they plan on splitting the last book into two movies! Warner Brothers is certainly reluctant to end its Harry Potter cash cow. So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one will come in November 2010 and part two in July of 2011.

If you are fan, then of course you will enjoy seeing the characters on the big screen once again. This film will continue to be successful. Overall I enjoyed the film and loved the performance by Alan Rickman (Severus Snape). He is always fantastic. He draws his words out like a “buzzard pulling at entrails.”

So check out the latest Harry Potter and wear your shoes to bed if you sleep walk!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


More robots fighting, more Megan Fox, this super-sized sequel to Transformers is every adolescents dream! What’s not to love?

I enjoyed the film and if you liked the first one, then the sequel is must see material. But there were a couple of problems I had with the movie this go around.

First the language was a bit much. I’m no prude, but it would have been nice if Michael Bay had just made an exciting robot smashing action film and left out the bad language and sexual innuendos. There was a little of that in the first movie, but it wasn’t glaringly obvious like it is in the sequel. My ten year old is dying to see this one, and I can’t take him due to the fact that I don’t want him learning words that should not come out of a ten year olds mouth.

Nothing would have been taken away from the movie if the crassness had hit the cutting room floor. Secondly, Sam’s (I can’t spell his last name) parents were adorable in the first movie. The clueless but attentive parents added the perfect comedic balance to the seriousness (as much as a robot movie can be) of the situation.

In Revenge of the Fallen however, I thought they were way over-the-top. Almost to the point they were just annoying rather than funny. Fortunately John Turturro reprises his role and saves the day with several good laughs!

But those things aside, it was a fun ride seeing the transformers in action again. I wouldn’t be surprised if we will get a third movie. I am sure you already have, but if not, check out Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

The Tony Scott remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) begs the question; Should Hollywood do remakes? I say YES! How else would I have ever got to see this gritty New York tale?

Pellam 123 got run over like a freight train by bigger summer movies on it’s opening weekend. This movie is a Hollywood re-make or upgrade to the 1974 film of the same name.

The modern version stars John Travolta and Denzel Washington. Travolta plays Ryder, a convict with a plan to trade hostages on a subway like commodities on the stock market. After taking the train over, he begins a rapport with a district train control center operator named Walter Garber played by Washington.

As Walter tries to learn as much as he can about Ryder, a few dark secrets are learned about Walter himself which adds some dimension to the characters. I thought the conversations were a little over the top between the two protagonists, but it was much better than the banter between Denzel and Clive Owen in Inside Man (sadly they are making Inside Man II).

The movie has a simple premise, a couple of mild action sequences, and really no other interesting character’s other than the mayor perhaps (James Gandolfini).

I enjoyed watching the plot unfold and knew it would “end badly” for one of the characters. But this was not a must see summer block buster by any means. I would recommend checking out Pellam 123 on Netflix!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Land of the Lost


I grew up in the seventies watching the two seasons of the TV series, Land of the Lost. I was really hoping this movie would be a glorious reboot of that creative show. It wasn't
I mean I get that Will Ferrell is a comedian and he has his moments but I had hoped this wouldn't be another "Will Ferrell" flick. It was. Full of language, and sexual innuendo (this is no kid's film), and he even manages to offend Christians by making light of Jesus. (don't get me wrong, he did it in Talladega Nights and Christians do have a sense of humor, it was funny).
But overall I think the audience is getting over the tired Will Ferrell humor train. Box office sales were disappointing for LOTL on it's opening weekend, especially considering the film cost 100 million to make!
I'd definitely wait for the DVD rentals to check this one out if at all, cause soon it will be Lost in the Land of forgotten movies.