Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Triple Feature; Zach attack!!

This week I bring you something a little different as all three contributions are in theaters presently. I saw three very different flicks this past week, and all three with very different reviews. So without delay; I bring you the three movies I saw, in the order I saw them in!
Hereafter Pictures, Images and Photos
On the Big Screen: Hereafter (2010)- Written by Peter Morgan and directed by Clint Eastwood. Starring Matt Damon, C├ęcile De France and Bryce Dallas Howard. This movie has all the makings of a blockbuster; powerful premise, big name star, award winning director and the marketing budget that seemed endless. Problem is; the movie was heartless. After an exciting first ten minutes or so, the movie managed to slow to a snails pace and seemingly suck any suspense or emotion out of every viewer in the theater till it is void of an identity. After much self anticipation by the hopes that Eastwood and Damon together could never be a failure, I was very much let down by terrible screen adaptation and a muddled, AT BEST, storyline. To me the story was one or two exciting scenes amidst a two hour, drawn out story lacking substance, that was more transitional scene after transitional scene. I found myself truely believing if I had to watch another scene where Matt Damon was eating dinner alone, I just may claw my eyes out.

I pride myself on being the "positive" critic who is a believer that if you have nothing nice to say, maybe it should not be said. However, a movie that is this much of a 'let down', as my expectations were high coming in, I cannot bite my tongue on this one. To me, it just seems that a movie that advertises itself as a movie about the after life, should probably at some point in time actually delve into the topic that is the after life. Buried under this multi-million dollar heap, is a lost and illogical love story that takes forever to evolve with several side stories that try so desperately to intertwine in a all paths intersect in the end kind of way that is as predictable as it is nauseating. At the end of the day, only three things are clear, this movie has very little to do with anything paranormal, Matt Damon must have been throwing back some Boston Lagers when he read this script, and much like Joe Pa, maybe Clint Eastwood is getting old and its showing.

Action rating-1/5, I counted two scenes the entire movie that were somewhat exciting
Sex appeal-0/5, nothing remotely sexy in the entire 2 plus hours
Comedic appeal-0/5, nothing close to a laugh through out entire film
Deep thought rating-2/5, being generous, but perhaps could be thought provoking to the easily entertained rating-48%
IMDB rating-7.5/10 (what a joke)
CVB rating-2/10, worst movie I saw this year, perhaps one of the worst ever!
FINAL COMMENTS-Many reviewers have mentioned similar sentiment in that perhaps the film makers had focused on one plot line, such as just the Damon character exclusively, perhaps it would have been a better movie. Far less muddled for sure. A lifeless love story at the end of the day that is disguised as a "think piece" that will leave you looking at your watch hoping it just will end soon.

Due Date Pictures, Images and Photos
On the Big Screen: Due Date (2010)-Written by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, and Todd Phillips, Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. From the Creator of Road Trip, the Hangover and Old School (Phillips), comes the Trains, Planes and Automobiles of the next generation. Utilizing the hilarious and "hot on the pop culture scene" status of Galifianakis to create a character who borders on the unbelievable, the film makers manage to make a movie that is funny and heart felt. Though it teeters on the absurd from time to time, it should not be anything unexpected going into a Phillips film.

To me, it is just silly that this movie is only currently receiving a 39% on Rottentomatoes in contrast to the previously reviewed Hereafter which is getting 48%. Let me set you straight, in the previously mentioned film, I couldnt run out of the theater fast enough. I contemplated writing the Production company, Clint Eastwood, and the theater I saw the movie in letters demanding retribution for monies and time lost; and probably would have done so if it didnt mean losing yet more of my life to the awfulness that is "Hereafter". Upon seeing "Due Date", I smiled, felt I had spent money on a quality contribution to society, and enjoyed the rest of my afternoon with my wife. To a movie snob, a Todd Phillips film will never be well reviewed, but if you are like myself, and can enjoy ALL aspects that is going to the cinema, then you can understand how important just good old fashion entertainment value can play into ones after thoughts. This is such a case. THIS MOVIE IS FUN, IF YOU LIKE FUN, YOU WILL LIKE THIS MOVIE...bottomline.

Action rating-4/5, nice action mixed in for a dramedy
Sex appeal-1/5, not really existant unless you can appreciate bro love
Comedic appeal-4/5, very funny flick, you'll love the scene with Danny McBride
Deep thought rating-3/5, abnormally high substance for a Todd Phillips joint rating-39%
IMDB rating-7.1/10
CVB rating-7/10
FINAL COMMENTS- Solid flick, heavily reliant on the comedy of Galifianakis, luckily that is good enough, coupled with good comedic writing, this ironic plot line keeps you tied through till the end credits. A nice surprise a few days after one of my bigger let downs of the year.

Its-Kind-of-a-Funny-Story Pictures, Images and Photos
On the Big Screen-Its Kind of a Funny Story (2010)-Written and Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Novel by Ned Vizzini. Starring Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, and Zach Galifianakis. This is a wonderful story that takes a look at the inner workings of a depressed teen who lacks perspective on how sad life can really get. With yet again the comedic stylings of Galifianakis inter woven into this serious film, this movie also branches into aspects of love, family and the meaning of life itself.

In just a little over an hour and a half, this feel good movie takes you inside the mind of a loathing teen who believes he is suicidal only to find that not only do some have it worse in life, but perhaps the hand he has been dealt is not as bad as he once thought. A movie that I really think is about perspective more than anything, this movie leaves things un said that I believe keeps the films integrity in tack, and allows the viewer to use a bit of imagination on the ultimate outcome.

With enough comedy to sustain any lulls that may have existed, the serious story is strong enough to stand on its own. As this movie has been out a little bit, it is soon on its way out of theaters, if you are able to catch it while it is still out, please jump on any opportunity to see this and feel good about life. If not, put this on your MUST RENT list, and move it to the top of your Netflix queue.

Action rating- 2/5, not an action film, couple points for character sneaking in and out of secure areas
Sex appeal- 3/5, some steamy puppy love scenes that stay PG for the most part
Comedic appeal- 4/5, for feel good humor that is generated by Galifianakis and others in the psychiatric care unit
Deep thought rating- 5/5, for a deep movie with more than just is what on the surface, led to some nice conversation on the drive home. rating-60%
IMDB rating-7.4/10
CVB rating-8/10
FINAL COMMENTS- With nice contributions from the young Gilchrist and Roberts, Galifianakis is complimented nicely with good acting and a plus story that accentuates Galifianakis's range as an actor and not just a comedian. With the funny Matthew Maher and Adrian Martinez (maybe the beginnings of a break out for both actors) adding to the humor factor, the layers of quality film in this flick is truely deep.

1. Let Me In--9.5/10
2. Catfish--9/10
3. Social Network--9/10
4. Its Kind of a Funny Story--8/10
5. Kick-Ass--8/10
6. Despicable Me--8/10
7. Predators--8/10
8. Devil--7.5/10
9. Shutter Island--7/10
10. Due Date--7/10
11. How to Train Your Dragon--7/10
12. Date Night--6.5/10

COMING SOON: REVIEWS OF The Town, Easy A, and Nowhere boy!!! Three movies I can't wait to see!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Retreat from MacVampires"

This week I was feeling a little silly after a long weekend of work and chose to sit down and watch some comedies as my entries for the ON CABLE and ON VIDEO installments of my article. And for my review of in the box office, I chose a movie I actually saw a couple weeks ago that I absolutely loved!

Couples Retreat Pictures, Images and Photos
On Cable: Starz on Demand -Couples Retreat (2009)-Written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Dana Fox and directed by Peter Billingsley. Starring Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, and Jason Bateman. Much like many of Vaughn's newer movies this movie dealt with poor reviews. But unlike the more deserving Fred Claus and Four Christmases, Couples Retreat I felt held some good entertainment value. A little more wholesome than we are accustom to from the Favreau/Vaughn duo, why is it they are bashed for tapping into the 'romantic comedy' genre when people like Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts have made entire careers by doing so? Not to mention the latter are even praised for being great actors! To me, a movie like 'Couples Retreat' shows a tiny bit of range for two guys who have been criticized for being typed cast in the past as playing the same characters a lot. Im not gonna try and sell you that movies like this are GREAT cinema, but speaking strictly entertainment value, there are far worse movies one can watch nightly on Cable. So if you have a date, and would like to sit down with her or him to something not too serious, I would highly recommend this movie.

*Action rating; 0/5, is virtually no action in this flick
*Sex appeal; 4/5, plenty of scantily clad starlets on paradise island
*Comedic appeal; 4/5, classic and typical Favreau and Vaughn, kind of a Mikey and Trent 15 years later after marriage and kids. (Swingers reference)
*Deep thought rating; 2/5, only thought is really the underlying messages about marriage and dealing with struggling relationships, but not too deep at the end of the day. rating=15%
-IMDB rating=5.5/10
-CVB rating=5/10
-Final comments- definitely worth watching on cable if you havent seen it yet, if it was a rental situation I would say stay away if you are not a fan of Favreau and Vaughn.

MacGruber Pictures, Images and Photos
On Video: Rented through Netflix- MacGruber (2010)- Written and Directed by Jorma Taccone; Starring Will Forte, Ryan Phillipe, Val Kilmer, Kristen Wig... Part of me wants to be able to tell you that if you do not take yourself too seriously, then you ll be able to enjoy this movie. Unfortunately, I cant tell you that, because this movie is not that great. The good news is there is actually some very funny parts of this movie despite all of its other short comings. I did in fact laugh out loud once or twice. Whereas some of the dialog is actually more funny than the that of the actual skit on Saturday Night Live, it was hardly strong enough to be the basis of a full featured movie.

*Action rating; 3/5, 3 because there is a lot of action, but only 3 because it is not very good action sequences.
*Sex appeal; 0/5, unless you like male nudity.
*Comedic appeal; 4/5, definitely the strongest aspect of the movie, good for some laughs if you are drunk or high. (btw, I do not recommend the use of any illicit drugs)
*Deep thought rating; 0/5, YEAH RIGHT! rating=48%
IMDB rating=5.6/10
CVB rating=4/10
Final comments-rent if you are desperate for any kind of laugh, but otherwise this is definitely a movie that you can wait for on cable, even if it will be butchered by editting on regular TV, not much content to butcher.

Let Me In movie 2010 Pictures, Images and Photos
On the Big Screen: Let Me In (2010)- Written and Directed by Matt Reeves, Starring Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit McPhee and Richard Jenkins. This clever and thoughtful remake of the Swedish film "Let the right one in" (2008), is beautiful enough in its own merit, that even if you saw the original, this will be equally as wonderful. Enchanting and thrilling, this movie captures an awesome mix of fantasy, Sci fi, and Horror. Yet just another A++++ performance from the always impressive Richard Jenkins, this movie was truely stolen by the young debut of Chloe Moretz. This script which Hitchcock himself would marvel at, always includes some of the best cinematography of any movie that I have seen this year! If you can find a theatre that is still running this movie as it has been out for a few weeks now, jump on it and see it immediately. Otherwise it looks like you may have to be relegated to waiting to see it on DVD.

*Action rating; 4/5, should keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense
*Sex appeal; 4/5, strangely erotic in a lolita meets true blood kind of way
*Comedic appeal; 0/5, nothing really of a comedic value in this movie
*Deep thought rating; 5/5, a movie Shyamalan wishes he had remade, the ending is a bit of surprise. rating=89%
IMDB rating=7.5/10
CVB rating=9.5/10
Final comments- this movie is everything Twilight wishes it was,... and isnt.

1. Let Me In
2. Catfish
3. Social Network
4. Kick-Ass
5. Despicable Me
6. Predators
7. Devil
8. Shutter Island
9. Date Night
10. How to Train Your Dragon

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the spirit Pictures, Images and Photos
On Cable: SHOWTIME on Demand- The Spirit (2008), written and directed by Frank Miller, Starring: Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L.Jackson and Gabriel Macht as the Spirit. Unlike its uncanny predecessor, Sin City, this Frank Miller installment is not co-directed by Robert Rodriguez. When this movie came out in 2008 many reviewers saw it as hokie or camp or even a parody of itself, but now that I have seen this flick twice, I realize it is not just the stunning visual effects that make this movie intriguing as much as the throwback to cheese ball comic book dialog that sucks you in, as if you are watching a living comic book. To me this is another success for Frank Miller, although slightly behind Sin City and 300 in comparison. But those are two very hard movies to live up to.

*Action rating; 4/5 plenty of gun fights and action sequences.
*Sex appeal; 5/5 plenty in a movie that features Johansson, Vega, King and Mendes!
*Comedic appeal; 3/5 between the cheesy dialog and the flat out peculiar multiple characters played by Louis Lombardi, definitely some laughs to be had.
*Deep thought rating; 2/5 falls way short if looking for a 'thinker' of a movie, however, what is your expectations from a comic book movie?
-IMDB rating=4.9/10
-CVB rating=7/10 perhaps rent, definitely if on cable
-Final Comment- now past the theater and rental stage there is no risk in giving this past poorly reviewed flick a try. If you have enjoyed any previous Frank Miller contributions, there is a good chance the result will be the same!

ip man 2 Pictures, Images and Photos
On Video: rented through Redbox- Ip Man (2008), Written by Wilson Yip and directed by Edmond Wong, this foreign film was originally released in 2008, but was not released in the US until October of 2010. A semi-biographical account, this movie is a dramatization of Kung Fu/Wing Chun master Yip Man's experiences in his life that supposedly took place in the city of Foshan during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Starring Donnie Yen, he is beyond words in both portrayal of character as well as high flying martial arts. A star is truely born, albeit late in his career, (Yen has done many Chinese produced films) as Jet Li should be looking over his shoulder at the new face of martial arts if Yen continues to put up similar contributions. Though self proclaimed as a only semi biographical movie, this flick has you gasping that such a human could ever have existed. The man who taught perhaps the greatest martial arts legend of all time, Bruce Lee, has a legend of his own, and one that was built for Hollywood.

*Action rating- 5/5, perhaps the best fight scenes you will ever see!
*Sex appeal-none
*Comedic appeal-none
*Deep thought rating- 4/5, a movie that will have you running to wikipedia to learn more about the history of this legend.
-IMDB rating=8.2/10
-CVB rating= 10/10 Must see!
-Final comment- a movie with a little bit of everything for everyone, a foreign flick that you don't even notice the subtitles; it's Schindlers list meets Enter the Dragon meets Cinderella man!

catfish Pictures, Images and Photos
On the Big Screen- released September of 2010- Catfish (2010), directed by Ariel Schulman , Henry Joost,- Think Blair Witch, less scary, but maybe better cause it just may be real. The beauty of this movie is its simplicity! The unfortunate truth about the movie however is that it is virtually un reviewable without completely ruining the movie for all of you my readers. With a story that can best be described as a love story, one must enter this flick with an open heart, and an open mind. The movie will tug at your heart strings, and in the end is a roller coaster of emotions that leaves you pondering how and why. My advice; see this movie quickly and as soon as you can, as it is sure to be water cooler fodder which will just destroy the suspense and illusion that is the movie Catfish. So don't wait, go now, and hurry!

*Action rating-2/5, for a few scenes where the main characters were in possible danger and took some suspenseful chances.
*Sex appeal-1/5, for some steamy text messages sent back and forth
*Comedic appeal-5/5, for awkward situations that leave you blushing, think David Brent from the original Office except real life!
*Deep Thought rating-5/5, a lot to ponder, I have already said too much.
-IMDB rating=7.0/10
-CVB rating=9/10 and despite not being a 10 out of 10, still a must see immediately for the fact this flick can be destroyed by the mouths of others rendering it less than what it should be.
-Final comment- A beautiful, yet unconventional story told in an unconventional manner. Enter with an open mind, and you just may be surprised.