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Monday, February 28, 2011

I Love My 'Role Models'

Role Models = 4 1/2 out of 5

(Another throw back review, but I really love watching this movie)
Ronnie: Suck it, "Reindeer Games"!
Danny: I'm not Ben Affleck.
Ronnie: You white, then you Ben Affleck.
Wheeler: You are white.
Danny: That's true, I am white.
Along with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this is a comedy that follows a familiar formula, but somehow becomes greater due to just how hilarious it is and creative in placing the characters in seemingly absurd situations. 'Marshall' had a puppet musical, this movie has an extended LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) session.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A ‘Hall Pass’ May Excuse You From This

Hall Pass:  2 ½ out of 5

Fred:  It’s just you and me buddy, for the next six days!
Rick:  Alright, I’m gonna log out.
Fred:  Ok, you log out, I’m gonna go try to nail the receptionist!

This is a movie about dorks.  The characters here are a couple of nice guys, who act like nice guys caught saying inappropriate things on many occasions.  There is a lot of raunchiness and gag related humor mixed with some sentiment and a touch of heart.  Unfortunately, the film does not hit the humor marks very hard.  Both leads get to do and say some funny things here and there, but the film still left me with mixed feelings of being entertained, yet bored in many places.  Nevermind the story, which is inconsequential, the last thing you want from a comedy is to be bored.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

‘Drive Angry’ Made Me Aggravated That There Wasn’t More Angry Driving

Drive Angry 3D:  2 ½ out of 5

The Accountant:  Would not want to be you when Satan finds out.
Milton:  What’s he gonna do, not let me back in?

This is strange, but I am going to have to both judge this movie, while defending Piranha 3D.  I think Piranha was the kind of film where I could have written the exact same review and assign it either a 1 star or a 4 star rating (which is what I ended up doing).  That film knew exactly what it was and it did it well.  Drive Angry also knows exactly what it is, but unfortunately, what it is as not as much fun as it should be.  There are some great bits in it for sure, with great help from one character in particular, but the film lacked a certain factor that would help it to become a rewatchable guilty pleasure for future times to come.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Bought A Ticket To Ride To 'Nowhere Boy'

Nowhere Boy:  4 out of 5

John: Why couldn't God make me Elvis?
Julia: 'Cause he was saving you for John Lennon! 

Nowhere Boy is a fine drama about a look at the teen years of future music phenomenon, John Lennon.  Wisely, beyond many visual and story related hints, the film is not about the creation of The Beatles, nor does the film even mention that group name at any point.  Instead, it is more of an emotional journey for Lennon, as he deals with issues surrounding his family.  The film does also get into his development as a musician as well.  Overall, this is a solid film, featuring some strong lead performances.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

‘Cedar Rapids’ Is Charming and “Super Awesome!”

Cedar Rapids = 3 ½ out of 5
Tim Lippe:  The hotel pool is incredibly.  There are palms trees and the whole place smells like chlorine.  It’s like I’m in Barbados or something.
Sometimes you can tell a lot from how good a comedy can be simply by the names of your main characters.  Standard, ho-hum comedies may go for simplicity with names like John or Jane without mention of a last name.  Other comedies like to have fun with all of the details, like this film for example.  It is not enough that Cedar Rapids has people named Tim Lippe and Dean Ziegler; it has to go farther and make sure we know all the nicknames their friends give to them and repeat them enough that we find them to be memorable.  I am not saying these are always the ingredients to a successful comedy, but this aspect is enough to convince me that there was enough positive energy in the making of this film to develop such a particular detail.  With that being said, Cedar Rapids is a very successful comedy.  It doesn’t knock laughs out of the part, but it has a quirky fascination with its characters that makes it quite charming and sweet at times, while still celebrating its crude humor throughout.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hi, ‘I Am Number Four’ and I Have Problems


I Am Number Four = 1 ½ out of 5
Henri:  You can only be killed in sequence.
I have an embarrassing confession to make:  I have not seen Twilight.  I know, I know, but hey, I can’t catch everything right?  So keep your laughter down for a second.  While I may not have seen those movies, I am familiar with the details, so see if this sounds familiar; a desirable, teenaged male with angst issues and supernatural powers risks his very existence in order to be with a girl he sees as his true love.  As this story has already been told successfully, there is only one obvious way to make it better – add Michael Bay as a producer.  I Am Number Four manages to take a horribly written, logic flawed, banal story into even worse territory by filling its “thrilling sequences” with an excess amount of dull, yet over-the-top CG.  The film certainly tries to appeal to the young adult demographic; it’s just too bad that the film is a horrible mess.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Only Mildly Better Knowing The ‘Unknown’

Unknown = 3 out of 5
Dr. Martin Harris:  Do you know what it feels like to become insane? It's a war between being told who you are and knowing who you are... Which do you think wins?
Unknown is the type of film that works very easily as a source of entertainment…when you try not to apply much logic to it.  It is perfectly serviceable, mainly due to Liam Neeson, who has a screen presence that can elevate any B-movie (Taken, Darkman), and because of the film’s solid production values.  However, once the things that are unknown in this movie become “known,” I found the film to be less interesting and the plot became sillier as it went along.  Still, Neeson being put against a plot that has him running around, frustrated that no one knows who he is, kept me entertained enough that I can see where the enjoyment factor is for large audiences.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In 'Taken', People Suffer the Wrath of Schindler's Fist

Taken:  4 out of 5

(Another older review that I find fitting to put up on the blog, given the release of a new Liam Neeson action movie)

Bryan: I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Before starting the review, I must point out (with acknowledgment that my friend gets credit for coming up with this) that the title of this movie, to me, is now: Schindler's Fist.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

People Should Tune In For 'Broadcast News'

Broadcast News: 4 1/2 out of 5
Aaron Altman: If anything happens to me, you tell every woman I've ever gone out with I was talking about her at the end. That way they'll have to reevaluate me.
I don't like to add my own baggage to these reviews, as it's generally all about the movies for me, but I have to say something about this seemingly random review.  Lately I've been busier with other aspects of this movie biz, but I managed to obtain the Criterion Collection  Blu-Ray of Broadcast News, and not having seen it in a very long time, I can easily say that this is a fantastic movie that deserves to be revisited.  It has been harder for me to be able to review everything I see due to time, but this movie deserves some extra attention, as it is brilliantly written and acted.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Brings Childish Joy For Few

Gnomeo & Juliet = 2 out of 5
Lord Redbrick:  Red gnomes and blue gnomes have been enemies forever!
Right off the bat, I am going to say that I will be surprised with how much I have to say about this movie by the time I reach the end of this review.  For whatever reason, Disney has not only decided to produce an animated comedy about lawn gnomes (which is not a bad idea), but has for some reason decided to base it on the plot of one of the most famous romantic tragedies of all time and release it during Valentine’s Day weekend.  I dare you to guess how far the studio wanted to take these characters by the time it got to the end.

‘The Eagle’ Soars At About Mid Altitude


The Eagle = 2 ½ out of 5
Esca:  How can a piece of metal mean so much to you?
Marcus Aquila:  The eagle is not a piece of metal. The eagle is Rome.
The Eagle presents a story about a soldier trying to redeem his family’s honor by retrieving a lost treasure of the Roman nation.  It is also a buddy film that unites two unlikely friends.  I would have liked to enjoy these two aspects of the film more if this film tried to make it more interesting.  While I appreciated the practical aspect of this film when it came to the action sequences, there really isn’t much else to grab onto here.  The film goes through its predictable motions without developing any aspect that is particularly unique.

Monday, February 7, 2011

‘The Illusionist’ Creates Animated and Heartfelt Wonder


The Illusionist:  4 out of 5

While watching the 2004 Academy Awards, I recall the award for Best Original Song.  After sitting through a set of nominated songs that brought little excitement, the final entry came on.  It was for “Belleville Rendez-vous” from the animated French comedy, The Triplets of Belleville, directed by Sylvain Chomet.  This song was a burst of jazzy fun and I felt I immediately needed to see that movie.  After having done so, I immediately fell in love with it and would be anticipating whatever Chomet had to offer next.  Now that time has come with Chomet’s new film, The Illusionist, which is different from ‘Belleville’, due to how much more restrained it is, but still maintains a familiar sense of humor and wonderful, mostly hand drawn, animation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

‘Dead Space 2’ Delivers Action and Thrills (Video Game Review)


Dead Space 2: 4 ½ out of 5

Dead Space 2 is a fantastic follow up to the original Science Fiction/Survival Horror sleeper hit from Visceral Games and Electronic Arts.  It is not as much a significant upgrade as say Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed II, but it takes what worked very well in an already great first entry and adds little tweaks and a more diverse setting to make the gameplay and overall experience very satisfying.  The game also benefits from a solid narrative, particularly in its handling of the protagonist’s internal struggle, which is appropriately creepy and very well done.  Speaking of creepy, this is certainly a game that will make you feel uneasy if you find yourself in the right sort of setting while playing.  Dead Space 2 delivers more enemies, more weapons, plenty of dark spaces to move through, and graphic carnage to be seen.

‘Sanctum’ Apparently Threw All Its Good Dialogue down a Hole

Sanctum: 2 out of 5
Frank:  This cave’s not gonna beat me!
Making an underwater, 3D cave-diving thriller, with producer James Cameron in your back corner, seems like an exciting idea for a film.  Using today’s technology, there is certainly a lot of ways to come up with a well made film that can pit people up against elements such as air, darkness, and tight spaces, as they struggle to survive.  Unfortunately, nothing really helps the cause when that film is glued together by a pretty horribly written script and poor work by some of the actors involved.  Such is the case with Sanctum.  There are moments, especially towards the end, that are quite involving, but the film as a whole cannot support its nice photography and moments of actual tension with the story and characters that it provides.

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