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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transformers 3: Boom Boom Bay


Transformers: Dark of the Moon: 3 out of 5
Optimus Prime: Everything humans know of our planet we were told had been shared. You lied to us.
Throughout time, as far as Autobots are concerned, it has always been important to fight for what is right.  I think Michael Bay believes in what is right, I really do.  His more is more approach has proven to be poison from a critical standpoint, but I truly believe that he enjoys being able to deliver satisfying action and mayhem to audiences around the globe.  These Transformers films have certainly given him the opportunity to do things that have not been done before and it stands to reason that the fun element has been embraced by many.  This latest entry is pure spectacle through and through.  It delivers (especially in the final hour) a ridiculous amount of momentous special effects, all very shiny and presented in glorious 3D.  The same flaws that effected the previous Transformer films are still present here, but I can say this:  Transformers is still the best live-action, alien robot, sci-fi adventure, toy adaptation franchise there is.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe – Episode 16: Cars 2

 
The summer film season continues as this week’s episode of Out Now has Aaron and Abe discussing the newest Pixar film, Cars 2, with the help of the newest friend of the show, Leah Ducey (http://leahduce.tumblr.com).  In addition to this review, the Out Now of course has all of the usual segments as well, which includes discussion of some of the latest movie trailers (Winnie the Pooh and The Muppets), followed by the Cars 2 review, and then followed by more fun.  This fun includes talk of box office results, some retro reviews, covering films that in some way relate to the main feature of the week, and then a couple of actual games that pit the three against each other.  Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found at outnow.podomatic.com as well as within the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast (“like” it), which also features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs and other frequent posts.  Finally, feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com with any sort of feedback.  So now, if you have an hour to kill…

Saturday, June 25, 2011

‘Cars 2’: Cruise Control


Cars 2:  3 ½ out of 5
Fin McMissile:  Fin McMissile, British Intelligence.
Mater:  Tow Mater…average intelligence.
Last year I made the incorrect assumption of thinking Toy Story 3 would be Pixar’s way of easing back into simple comedy territory, after delving into more complex emotional territory with Up and Wall-E.  I was wrong, as Toy Story 3 not only turned out to be a powerhouse adventure/comedy, it also managed to pack a lot of dramatic weight as well.  This year I believed that Cars 2 was certainly going to be a shift down for Pixar, as the first Cars was underwhelming to me and the announcement of another did not get me very excited.  Much to my surprise, I had a large amount of fun while watching Cars 2.  Despite scaling back on having a strong emotional backing like previous Pixar films, what this film delivers is a bang up action-adventure film that delivers laughs and excitement, all within a beautifully animated film.

Friday, June 24, 2011

‘Bad Teacher’ Makes The Grade

Bad Teacher: 3 out of 5 Stars
Amy:  Elizabeth, you shouldn’t be teaching.  I mean, I can’t think of anyone less suited to being a teacher.
Bad Teacher is an example of bringing a lot of talented and funny people together to make a movie that should obviously deliver, yet it doesn’t quite knock it out of the park.  Still, while not a grand slam by any means, the film does manage to make it to home plate (and that’s the end of the baseball analogies).  Instead of playing out as a clever satire about a teacher who does not care or as a spin on the teacher who comes into the lives of students and makes a difference in an unorthodox way, this movie is simply a feature-length sitcom.  The film plays as an R-rated, raunchy comedy, where logic does not really apply and the overall plot is incredibly contrived and conventional.  Still, I did laugh quite a bit, thanks to the efforts of the cast.  It’s not a comedy smash, but it is a solid double (sorry, now I’m done with the baseball stuff, promise).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

‘Attack The Block’ Is A Lot Of Fresh Fun, Believe


Attack the Block: 4 ½ out of 5
Pest:  That's an alien bruv, believe it.
 Attack the Block is wholly original and entertaining, believe!  I have recently seen Super 8 and Paul, which serve as fun films that do a lot to pay as much tribute as possible to Spielbergian-era films of the 80s (mostly), but Attack the Block is a film that acknowledges what similar genre films of the past have done and creates its own fresh take on an alien invasion story.  While shot on a low budget with many new and young actors, this film far exceeds similar, recent alien invasion films, due to its level of authenticity and confidence one can glean from the filmmaking portrayed here.  Coming from the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block is a wonderful blend of sci-fi, horror, action, and comedy that I could only wish to see break out as a mainstream success, but will easily become a cult classic.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe – Episode 15: Green Lantern


This week’s episode of Out Now has Aaron and Abe recruiting two more voices to their briefly lived Out Now Podcast Corps., as the main film to be reviewed is Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye and Casino Royale).  Yes, in addition to the presence of Aaron and Abe, past guests Mark Hobin (FastFilm Reviews) and Jordan Grout (Damn Dirty Blog) have returned to help critique this latest superhero blockbuster.  Along with a fairly lengthy discussion of Green Lantern, the regular segments of the show do occur as well, including trailer talk, some box office talk, and some other fun and games.  Of course, in addition to this episode, there are many more episodes to be found at outnow.podomatic.com as well as within the official Facebook page for Out Now, facebook.com/outnowpodcast, which also features updates from Aaron and Abe’s personal blogs and other frequent posts.  Feel free to e-mail the show at outnowpodcast@gmail.com as well with any sort of feedback.  So now, if you have an hour to kill…

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little Brightest Day, A Little Blackest Night, ‘Green Lantern’ Doesn’t Quite Get It Right

Green Lantern: 2 ½ out of 5
Abin Sur:  Your name?
Hal Jordan:  Hal, Hal Jordan.
Abin Sur:  The ring chose you.  Take it!  Place the ring in the lantern.  Speak the oath.
It is sad when a movie, capable of being better than its actual results, goes down the inevitable path of disappointment.  Initial footage of Green Lantern was met with lukewarm reactions.  The completely computer generated costume never seemed to click with the masses.  Only the power of Ryan Reynolds’ charisma and the intrigue that stems from seeing a live action Green Lantern using imagination-based abilities seemed to be giving people hope.  I had remained cautiously optimistic in anticipation of the film’s release, but alas, despite a lot of entertaining and well put together portions, the film did not end up working for me as a whole.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

‘Submarine’ Takes A Dive Into The Depths Of Quirky British Comedy


Submarine:  4 out of 5 Stars
Oliver Tate:  I don’t quite know what I am yet. I’ve tried flipping coins; listening exclusively to French crooners; I’ve even had a brief art phase, but nothing stuck.
I find it interesting that I have gotten to see both Beginners and Submarine within the span of the same week.  Both films are engaging, romantic, comedic dramas, which use quirky sensibilities that manage to both give the film a unique voice and feel as though it is working hard to be different.  Keeping both of these thoughts in mind, I am happy that I really enjoyed these films, but for different reasons.  In Beginners, I admired the performances, among other aspects of that film.  For Submarine, the subject of this review, I admired the film’s cold sense of humor.  If I had to use another movie to describe this movie as a spring board, Submarine is essentially a very British version of Rushmore, with some more obscure qualities.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe - Episode 14: Super 8

This week's episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe has the hosts discussing the new J.J. Abrams directed film, Super 8.  This is following the previous episode which broke traditional episode structure and served as more of a special episode all about The Tree of Life.  Now, the boys are back, and keeping with the recent style of having special guests featured in each new podcast episode, Aaron and Abe have also brought along fellow cinephile and self-proclaimed comic geek Alan Aguilera (twitter.com/mrdvd) to help review the film and participate in the fun and games that occur on a weekly basis.  In addition to the main review of Super 8, the standard episode segments are back as well, which includes some new trailer talk (Real Steel and The Adventures of Tin Tin), box office results and predictions, retro reviews, and games.  Additionally, stick around after the outro music if you want to hear a little more of our thoughts, which enter into some more spoiler-related details.  As always, you can find all of the episodes of Out Now at outnow.podomatic.com.  You can e-mail Aaron and Abe at outnow.aaronabe@gmail.com.  And you can feel free to "like" our Facebook page at facebook.com/outnowpodcast.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wonder and Thrills Delivered in J.J. Spielberg’s in ‘Super 8’

 Super 8:  4 out of 5
Joe:  I have to help Charles finish his movie.
Before the J.J. Abrams directed film, Super 8, begins, the film is stamped with the Amblin production logo.  Amblin is a production company created by Steven Spielberg back in 1981.  When that logo began to appear on the outset of not only Spielberg films, but films directed by other filmmakers he had influenced, it would imply that the film would fall into a particular category that holds a sense of wonder that could skew towards all audiences.  Super 8, which has Spielberg on board as a producer, certainly evokes elements of films like E.T, Gremlins. and The Goonies, but is also a product of modern cinematic sensibilities.  The film has some trouble striking its balance between being a throwback adventure and a modern thriller for (almost) all ages, but it is a very enjoyable feature.  There is a nice level of nostalgia that works for this original summer blockbuster.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out Now Special: Also Out – The Tree of Life


And now for something completely different.  This is another landmark for Out Now with Aaron and Abe, as it is both the first episode to not feature the show’s regular co-host, Abe, and also an episode that breaks the regular format of the standard episode.  Hence, this episode has been dubbed “Also Out”, which has Aaron (and hopefully Abe, in the future) discussing a worthwhile film that is also in theaters at great length with a number of other guests.  For this inaugural episode (and hopefully the first of more like it), the film under discussion is Terrance Malick’s latest feature, The Tree of Life.  Guests for the episode include former guest Jordan Grout, along with Adam Gentry (http://everythingyoualwayswantedtoknow.blogspot.com/) and Mark Hobin (http://fastfilmreviews.wordpress.com/).  This episode does focus entirely on the film The Tree of Life, which includes spoilers for the film as a whole (even though the film does not really feature much narrative that could be ruined by spoilers).  It will be curious to hear what the response is to an episode like this, as it is incredibly focused on one subject and discussed for quite a long period of time.  As always, every episode can be found at outnow.podomatic.com, along with the Facebook page at facebook.com/outnowpodcast, where people can feel free to “like” the page and leave any comments they may have.  In addition, anyone can feel free to e-mail the Aaron and Abe at outnow.aaronabe@gmail.com.  So now, if you have a little more than an hour to kill…

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stay Through To The End With ‘Beginners’

Beginners = 4 out of 5
Oliver:  Look, it’s lonely out here, so you better learn how to talk with me.
Arthur, the Dog:  While I understand up to 150 words – I don’t talk.
I am very pleased that in a summer film season full of a (surprisingly strong) list of blockbusters being released week after week, I have had time to also see a number of very good films in limited release as well.  Films like Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life have been just as entertaining to watch as the bigger releases and now I can add Beginners to that list as well.  A well handled comedic drama, Beginners is the story of a man dealing with some revelations about his aging father as well as handling a new relationship.  The story is fairly simple, but the acting is strong and the nonlinear story editing is appropriately suited to the film as well.  There are some indie film-type touches that seem to draw attention, but nothing really gets in the way of the charming story being told.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe – Episode 13: X-Men: First Class


This week on Out Now with Aaron and Abe, the duo decides to bring in another new guest to help them review the newest film in the X-Men film franchise:  X-Men:First Class.  That guest is the wonderful Susan Moua, who aids the boys in a discussion of the film along with other topics following the regular format of the show.  As always, They first talk about some new trailers (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), followed by the film review.  Next up is talk of box office results, a lengthy retro review segment, mostly devoted to the previous X-Men film, and then it is game time, as Aaron, Abe, and Susan have more fun with the Character Actor Guessing game and another edition of Cast This.  As always, feel free to e-mail the podcast at outnow.aaronabe@gmail.com and, especially, “like” our Facebook page at facebook.com/outnowpodcast.  In a few weeks listeners will be able to enjoy some new developments in the podcast, but for now enjoy the show’s slow rise from amateur status, take joy in the music selections that bookend the show, and if you have an hour to kill…

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spend An Enjoyable ‘Midnight In Paris’ At Any Time

Midnight In Paris: 4 ½ out of 5
Inez:  You’re in love with a fantasy.
There is a great, classic scene in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, which has Allen’s character literally pull philosopher/literary critic Marshall McLuhan onto the frame, in order to have him directly tell another character why he is misinformed in his opinions, giving Allen the ultimate form of satisfaction.  In Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris, the lead character gets to spend lots of time amongst all of his greatest literary and artistic idols, receiving his own wonderful type of satisfaction.  Full of energy and lots of whimsy, I greatly enjoyed this Paris-based film, which has Owen Wilson headlining a fine cast in a Woody Allen story that has an actual sturdy premise, which balances the comedy with the fantastical.  Now delving into my thoughts, while writing about this film, I believe this actually is the most enjoyable Allen film that I have seen in quite some time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Uncanny ‘X-Men’ Begins

X-Men: First Class: 4 out of 5
Charles Xavier: Listen to me very carefully, my friend: Killing will not bring you peace.
Erik Lehnsherr: Peace was never an option.
Adding to the list of exciting comic films that are coming out during the packed summer of 2011, we now have the latest entry in the ­X-Men film franchise.  I find X-Men films to be among the tougher kinds of comic book films to make into films, as it involves the use of an ensemble cast and finding a way to best incorporate decade’s worth of history into a film that will satisfy both the casual audience and intense comic fans alike.  Fortunately, this film is a whole lot of fun.  Thanks to many very talented individuals, this newest take on the franchise manages to reset the series in many ways and take advantage of some previously unused potential.  The film still has similar problems that the other X-Men films have had, but the slam-bang action sequences, humor and drama (from within the realms of a comic book universe), and other filmmaking aspects have left an impression that should easily have many true believers excited for X-Men again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Episode 12: The Hangover, Part II


Yep, Episode 12 of Out Now has arrived in speedy succession.  Since I can only assume that episode 11 was a massive hit in advance, it is being justly rewarded with another episode, given the busy nature of this past memorial day.  So The Hangover Part II is the subject of this latest episode and in it, Abe and I bring back our first guest and friend of the podcast, Jordan Grout to once again delve into the a film review and other activities with us.  As always, the regularly scheduled programming includes the review of the film, along with some trailer talk (The Change-Up and Crazy, Stupid, Love), box office results and predictions, a trio of retro reviews, and some fun and games.  Lots of fun and games are had in this episode that features Abe, Jordan, and myself, and hopefully the future will bring on some more episodes that involve an added participant.  As always, you can find all our episodes at outnow.podomatic.com (and we're working on finally getting the show into iTunes), you can "like" our Facebook page at facebook.com/outnowpodcast, and you can of course e-mail us at outnow.aaronabe@gmail.com, and provide us with feedback, comments, and maybe even some thoughts on having a special guest on the program.  So now, without any further ado, if you have an hour to kill...enjoy:

‘The Tree of Life’ Is Beautifully Obscure

The Tree of Life = 4 out of 5
Mr. O'Brien:  I've just always wanted you to be strong, be your own man.
It almost feels daunting to start to try and describe my thoughts on the latest Terrence Malick film, The Tree of Life.  I certainly enjoyed the film, but for the purposes of a review, establishing what it is about this deeply meditative film that encompasses many different themes stemming from a personal place for its writer/director certainly presents a challenge.  I have read many comparisons of this film to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which feels very appropriate in many ways.  Tree of Life certainly manages to encompass a scope that feels similar to Kubrick’s sci-fi classic.  As a Malick film, this certainly feels like a deeply personal project that was somehow able to get off the ground and be made by a willing enough studio.  I feel that my prose in this opening paragraph alone is already somewhat scattershot, as I do have many more things to say about the film.  Basically, this has all of the elements of a very ambitious and deep film, which has been beautifully realized; however, the line of pretension is one that this film borders on crossing at many points, which does not necessarily act as a negative against the film for me, but will certainly test audiences that are not quite sure what to expect.  The Tree of Life is slow and minimal in a sense, but also reaches many moments of profundity, which speaks well for everyone involved in its making.

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