Archive for May, 2011

Gulliver’s Travels

Posted: May 29, 2011 8:41 am in New Release Review

Gulliver’s Travels

PG – 85 Min – 2010

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Starring Jack Black as Lemuel Gulliver and Jason Segal as Horatio, “Gulliver’s Travels” is about travel writer Lemuel Gulliver as he takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Liliput where he towers over its tiny citizens.

I have really given Hollywood too much benefit of the doubt lately. For some odd reason I kept the thought of a potential glimmer of hope in the back of my mind in regards to this movie. Being that this story was always one I liked as a child, and I usually get a kick out of Jack Black, what’s to lose right? Well, 85 minutes of my life, that’s the answer.

This film does it best to not stray away from the child movie formula that Hollywood has cooked up. So if you’re looking for something fun and different, you shouldn’t look this direction. The only thing we get is Jack Black doing everything we expect to see him do, only toned down an incredible amount to merit a “PG” rating. And with a supporting cast like there was, you would think that they would be shooting for a “PG-13” rating and maybe aiming the jokes and plot more for adults. Nope. You know, maybe I would have liked it, 11 years ago.

Jack Black is a funny guy. His signature brand of humor has been fine crafted by him through out his career, and now he won’t rarely ever do anything different. He does his obnoxious “Tenacious D” style singing in the movie. He does his crude potty jokes in the movie. He even shows his butt crack (another one of his shticks). But like I said, it’s toned down, a lot. Jason Segal, who I’ve come to expect “R” rated humor from, was the main supporting role. It was good casting, though odd and out of place for a children’s film. Emily Blunt, who’s not even  very attractive, is an annoying actress. She was Gwen Conliffe  in “The Wolfman” (a god awful movie), and I didn’t like her in that. So that’s two for two, one more bad flick and she’s out. Amanda Peet was pretty good in the film, this was like a reunion of sorts between her and Jack (last movie they were in together was “Saving Silverman” back in 2001). T.J. Miller rounded out the odd cast in his small role as Dan. Now I’ve seen it all by him, a more serious role in “Unstoppable“, a goofball in “She’s Out Of My League”, and now in a children’s movie.

The movie did make me crack up, but it just wasn’t original enough. And it’s not even like I have a beef with it due to it being aimed at a younger audience than me, because I love sitting down and watching those kinds of movies. There was potential, they just chose to go the cookie cutter route. Also, what was supposed to be all big scale and epic, just really turned out the opposite. And the ending was atrocious. Jack Black and cast sing “War” by Edwin Starr as a way of mending the rocky relationship between two nations. Wow. Oh and sorry to spoil it (though it was obvious) he gets the girl and the job at the end. Skip it, I know I won’t make the same mistake twice.

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Lords Of Dogtown

Posted: May 29, 2011 7:59 am in Review

Lords Of Dogtown

UR – 107 Min – 2005

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Starring Heath Ledger as Skip and John Robinson as Stacy, “Lords of Dogtown” follows a group of outcasts from California’s Venice Beach that change the face of skateboarding forever in the 1970s. Based on his own true story, the film was written by “Skateboard Godfather” Stacy Peralta, one of the competitive skaters portrayed in the film. Known as the Z-Boys, the radical riders invent a unique style of skating and deal with heartache when the sport they live for turns into big business.

Ever since I was a kid, I have been totally into skateboarding. I owned one since a young age, ans I would hurt myself numerous times trying to mimic the tricks I had seen Tony Hawk do on t.v. Although, my one biggest link to the sport was through my favorite video game series as a kid, the “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” series. Through all of these different ways of “keeping up” with the sport, I had heard the names of the characters in this movie many times. I knew who they were and what they had done for the sport, so I saw that this movie not only had Heath Ledger, but talked about the origins of this sport, I had to give it a shot.

This movie is definitely not for every one. Most true story movies have a degree of boring, but this one has that more prominently. I happened to really enjoy it and found it very interesting, but again, I have always found this sport interesting. The film follows Stacy Peralta mostly, but also shows a great deal of Tony Alva and Jay Adams as well. And it really is just about these rebellious teens who don’t want to do anything but skate and get laid. It was the 70’s after all. That’s really all there is to the plot, nothing more and nothing less. So, it would be easy for someone to say that the movie was boring.

Heath Ledger was truly an amazing actor. I honestly didn’t even notice his roles until “The Dark Knight” came out, but then not long after that amazing role, he died. It was a really sad day, and all together too soon. He had a bright future ahead of him. In this film, Heath does not disappoint. It was great seeing him in this low budget type of film, and yet his performance as Skip Engblom shone bright. He really would be, if not for the origin story for skateboarding, the very reason to watch the movie. He dives into his role, and not unlike his previous (and in 2005, future) roles, completely changes into this person. He and Johnny Depp, in my opinion, are one in the same in that respect. No matter what gig they’re given, they will give it 110 percent, and blow audiences away. Heath did a superb job here. The “Z-Boys” (mainly consisting of Stacy, Tony and Jay) were played by John Robinson (who I know best as Shia’s friend Miles in “Transformers”), Victor Rasuk, and Emile Hirsch (the most famous of the three who’s biggest role was probably Speed in “Speed Racer”). All three of them did a mediocre job, but that’s because I just liked Heath’s performance so much. Another notable performance was by actress Rebecca De Mornay (who’s probably most known from her role in “Risky Business” as Lana), she did a fantastic job in her role. A LOST alum is in the movie as well, William Mapother (who played Ethan Rom). I hate that guy. Of course, I have to mention that Johnny Knoxville (who we all know from “Jackass”) is in this one with a not so typical role.

There’s really not a lot to the film. I liked the character played by Michael Angarano (I know him best as Will Stronghold from “Sky High”) the best. He was the spaz of the group, and everyone likes to spook him and make him fall off his board. I thought those scenes were amusing. However, when the movie started getting really good for me, was when they discover skating in a empty pool for the first time. That’s such a big part of skating today, it was just cool to see that done for the first time.

All in all, it is a decent film, just not for everybody. I gave it three monkeys because there was a bit of a snooze factor, but I rather enjoyed it. Give it a shot if this skateboarding is your cup of tea, or if Heath Ledger is one of your favorite actors.

Thor

Posted: May 26, 2011 6:29 pm in Theatrical Review

Thor

PG-13 – 115 Min – 2011

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Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, “Thor” is about the powerful but arrogant warrior who is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

I have not been very enthused about this movie. I remember reading Marvel comics all the time as a kid, but whenever Thor came around I always just got kinda bored. I mean, he’s a god. With a big hammer. Woo-hoo. So, when I heard about them making “The Avengers”, I was pretty stoked. Until, I remembered that Thor was gonna be in it. Well, after seeing the pretty rad cast that got rounded up for the film, and hearing rumors that there was a big secret scene at the end of the credits, I decided I would give it a shot. Only, I was going to a matinee, and no 3D. Good thing too.

First off, I’m gonna start out by saying that it wasn’t a horrible film. There were some cheesy moments, and some actually dreadfully awful parts, but not enough to make the movie a complete waste of time. Although, with that being said, this movie did nothing but further my dislike for Thor in general. I still just don’t see how he fits in with the super heroes around him. He’s a Norse god, people! Anyway, the whole to-do about the frost giants was kind of lame. It was hard to grasp just who was the bad guy through out the movie. The frost giants are, but then again so is Loki (Thor’s brother-ish, played by Tom Hiddleston). But, the rest of the plot was very predictable, partly because they play the entire plot in the trailer. But honestly, if you know anything about how Hollywood’s movie formula works, this one will not shock you.

The casting was excellent in this movie. We have Anthony Hopkins, who is still a creepy old man to me (due to seeing him play Hannibal in 3 movies), did a very good job as the king of Asgard. He has a certain presence of screen that captivates the watcher, and frankly I think he plays the perfect royalty kind of role. His queen, Frigg, was played by Rene Russo. She doesn’t have a big role in the movie (in fact shes only in about two major scenes), but she is a very good actress. As I mentioned earlier, Tom Hiddleston played Loki, and he did a great job playing that conniving and dark bad guy. I haven’t seen him in anything else, but I can see that he will probably be cast into this role again. Stellan Skarsgard (whom I know as Bootstrap Bill from the 3rd and 4th “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) was pretty funny in the movie. Though his character wasn’t supposed to be, I found him kind of amusing. Finally, my two favorite characters in the movie, Volstagg and Sif, played by Ray Stevenson (who I know as Dagonet from “King Arthur”, again my favorite character in the film) and Jaimie Alexander (who will always be Jessi from “Kyle XY“). They were great.

Now, I need to touch on the most annoying characters in the movie. Chris Hemsworth’s accent in the movie was driving me banana sandwich. I don’t even need to get into the character of Thor, cause obviously I don’t even like it, but Chris was very annoying (though the scenes of him when he first gets to earth without any powers was pretty funny, like getting run over and shot with a needle, it was pretty great). Speaking of annoying, Kat Dennings needs to go back to where ever she came from and stop acting. Her cute little one liners were going to drive me insane. The whole theater would laugh every time, and I would only shake my head. And, unfortunately, Natalie Portman was kind of irritating, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I just, I don’t know. I didn’t like her in this movie. Sorry if that’s a really lame excuse, but I can’t help the vibes I get off of certain characters.

There were many things in the movie that were true to the comics. The twirling of the hammer when he’s flying, yea straight from the comics. Most of the scenes would only look good in a theater, or IMAX. They went all out on designing Asgard, and some of the visuals in and around the city were stunning. But yet, these things could not redeem it for me. It was a bore. For 80 percent of the movie, Thor doesn’t even have his powers. So, explain to me the reason in calling this a super hero movie. The action sequences went in reverse order, meaning the biggest fight scene was in the beginning and the lesser ones followed. So much for a climax. Also, the ending was retarded. Oh, and the “sneak peek” scene at the end of the forever long (and Foo Fighter filled) credits, wasn’t even that great. I will tell you that it reveals who the bad guys are gonna be. But, if you’re a smart cookie you could probably just figure it out. I did without seeing the scene. Also, I dare you guys to find the reference to the Incredible Hulk, I was pretty proud of myself when I found it.

In conclusion, I didn’t really like it. I’m very glad I didn’t waste more money on it, though I wish I hadn’t spent any. It did nothing for me, and I felt like it really did nothing for the series. Maybe if you are/were a comic book “Thor” fan, you’ll get a kick out of it. I will not be surprised if this one finds its way onto Netflix Instant queue soon after its release. Uh-oh, watch out super heroes with super powers, Thor has a hammer.

Persons Unknown

Posted: May 22, 2011 4:50 pm in Television

I just finished the last episode of this one season series this morning. It was ranked really high on my Netflix Instant recommendations, so i decided to give it a shot. Turns out, this show is pretty much an exact copy of my all time favorite show, LOST.

The plot of this show centers around a group of strangers, who wake up completely unaware of where they are, or who is watching them from the cameras on the ceilings. They gather together and leave the hotel where they woke up and discover that they are stranded in a deserted, old time America, one block town. Oh, and the town is surrounded by a force field so they can’t leave. Like I said, it’s a total rip off of LOST.

I would have recommended it when I first started the show, but half way through the show it got really annoying. It didn’t seem like it was gaining any ground, and they replaced the “Shannon” character, with a really annoying black gangster chick who kept getting in everyone’s face. Also, the very ending resolves nothing, and since it was cancelled after one season, those who watch it will never understand just what was going on.

Pulse

Posted: May 22, 2011 4:39 pm in Review

Pulse

R – 90 Min – 2006

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Starring Kristen Bell as Mattie and Ian Somerhalder as Dexter, “Pulse” is about when a computer hacker friend accidentally channels a mysterious wireless signal, a group of co-eds rally to stop a terrifying evil from taking over the world.

I’ll be completely honest, I only put this movie on my queue because I adore Kristen Bell. And the fact that this is her only movie in this genre really did interest me. The plot seemed a little odd, but then I saw that it’s a remake of a Japanese movie, so there’s our solution to that. It seems like a lot of our horror movies are remakes of Japanese movies. Weird.

The movie absolutely wastes no time in getting to the monkey, as the very first scene features a “jump out at you” scary moment. And because of that initial jolt, I was able to become 100 percent fascinated at what was unfolding after that. Sometimes a good horror movie can fall apart if they start out by boring their audience. The movie was actually pretty freaky. There were plenty of scenes that made me cringe, but when we start figuring out what is really going on, it starts to seem a little dull. However, for it being an obvious low budget flick, the movie delivers big screen feel to a lot of the movie. I really enjoyed how some of the scenes and plot twists played out.

Kristen Bell did a fantastic job, in my opinion, at being the scream queen in the film. I’m so accustomed to her comedic roles in movies like, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or “You Again”, that it was kinda weird seeing her play this role. But, she rocked it. Her counter part in the movie is a LOST alum. Ian Somerhalder, who played Boone Carlyle, played Dexter in this film. He’s not much different of a character than Boone, so it suits him well. But aside from those two, the rest of the movie are relative unknowns. I did recognize the first character we see, Josh, who was played by Jonathan Tucker (he was one of the young men who broke into the house in “Hostage“). The acting was good all around, with only a few faulty lines, but that is more a result of poor script writing.

The scenes with the creepy “ghosts” were freaky enough to actually have me on edge. Near the end when you start piecing what they really are together, they really lose their edge. So I really wish that there were a different way of presenting it to maintain the creepiness. The ending was also pretty bad, climatic for sure, but not good. Not only did it leave it open for more (I hate it when they try to make a new horror series out of a movie, rather than just try to make a horror movie), but there’s just no resolution. Everyone dies, except for the main characters of course, and the final scene with one of the “ghosts” didn’t really leave that final chill.

Overall, this was a movie that I really wanted to like more. I liked it enough, and it scared me enough, to give it three monkeys. It’s a decent teen screams type of horror film, so you should check it out if you are interested at all. The one thing I got from the movie is, that our generation is completely dependent on social networking and using electronic devices to talk to each other. This habit is what leads to the demise of the world in the movie. I thought it was pretty amusing that this is how the “ghosts” were spread. Be careful how much you use your phone and computer, you might be opening that gateway. Lesson learned.

Hostage

Posted: May 20, 2011 6:03 pm in Review

Hostage

R – 113 Min – 2005

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Starring Bruce Willis as Jeff Talley and Kevin Pollak as Walter Smith, “Hostage” is about a failed police negotiator turned small town cop, who must save the lives of a family held hostage, which draws him into a much more dangerous situation.

Bruce Willis is in so many movies, it’s not even funny. Like, he’s in indie movies and blockbusters. He’ll do pretty much anything for a paycheck, and as a general statement, I like his films. However, this was one of those “well it looks alright” movies, which is probably what he said when he looked at the script. It’s a tired old story, with a nothing new ending.

The movie starts out with ole’ Brucey on top of a building talking on a phone to a guy holding a gun against his wife’s head. He’s sporting a greasy look with a big mountain man beard (weird). The situation goes south and there’s a sad scene following with a graphic death of the young son. This failed negotiation causes him to become a small town cop? Whatever you have to do in order to cope I guess. The rest of the movie follows the story of him once again having to negotiate when three young men break into a rich family’s home and holds them hostage. Pretty much all there is to it.

There’s not a big cast at all. Aside from the two previously mentioned actors, the only other guy I recognized was the insane psycho, Mars Krupcheck, played by Ben Foster (I know this guy from “Pandorum” and even better as Angel from “X-Men: The Last Stand”). A bunch of stupid stuff happens in this movie because of Mars. I really hated him the whole time, and rejoiced at his pretty graphic demise.

This one is a skip for sure. There are certainly better hostage situation type movies on the market. You just gotta love Bruce Willis being a bad ass in every movie he’s in. Lesson learned bad guys, don’t mess with Bruce’s family.

The Village

Posted: May 20, 2011 5:43 pm in Review

The Village

PG-13 – 108 Min – 2004

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Starring Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy Walker and Joaquin Phoenix as Lucius Hunt, “The Village” is a chilling tale about an isolated village whose residents face the constant threat of evil creatures. The villagers’ lives are changed forever when one of them decides to venture beyond the town borders to see what’s lurking in the surrounding woods and makes an unexpected discovery.

My parents saw this movie when it came out and would always tell me how it was a really creepy movie, except the ending is something you totally don’t expect. Well, I watched a few M. Night Shyamalan’s movies within the past year and they all pretty much sucked. But after the reassurance of a couple of friends that this one isn’t like his other stinkers, I borrowed their copy and checked it out. The movie has so much hype surrounding it, and I don’t really see why.

There’s a lot of jacked up things happening in the movie. Even in the very beginning. The villagers live their lives completely shut off from the outside world, due to an intense fear of who they refer to as “those we don’t speak of”. These creatures wear the color red, and therefore that color is strictly forbidden within the village. Apparently the safe color is yellow, so they wear yellow cloaks and paint yellow stripes on the borders of the village. The younger generation have both a fear and curiosity for the surrounding woods, and it’s because of that curiosity that a bunch of stuff starts happening. Skinned animals, red stripes on peoples doors, and the siting of “those we don’t speak of” in the village.

First off, the casting was probably the best part of movie. It really was a very talented bunch. Bryce Dallas Howard (who I know as Gwen Stacy from “Spider-Man 3″played a blind girl who has a strong fear of the creatures, but is driven by her strong love for Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix). Joaquin plays an odd guy who has an obsession with going into the woods. He’s viewed as a trouble maker and not thought too highly of. Adrien Brody stole the show performance wise. He played a mentally challenged guy, and he did it with great talent. He turns out to be basically a savant though, and I’m not going to tell why. The patriarch of the village, Edward Walker, was played by William Hurt. This guy has been in a bunch of stuff including : “Lost in Space” and “Robin Hood” (though I know him best as General “Thunderbolt” Ross from “The Incredible Hulk”). Sigourney Weaver also had a supporting role, just to round out the already star studded cast.

I honestly think that the movie could have been better. Aside from the obvious plot holes, and the fact that “those we don’t speak of” looked kinda goofy, the big twists in the movie proved to be more of a nuisance than a thrill. *SPOILER* The fact that the creatures weren’t even real, but made up stories by the elders in the village was stupid. Then of course they took it to the point where they actually had the costumes and they would terrorize their own people, jacked up. Then the major thing at the end with the revelation that they weren’t in 1897 like they were leading everyone on, and that they were living in the middle of nature reservation surrounded by a police force paid by Edward Walker himself. I was pretty confused, and they didn’t really try and make the connection for people to fully understand the plot twists. They made a lame attempt while the Walkers’ looked through a box they had hidden and you hear voices of them talking to each other at the time a picture from the box was taken. But aside from that, there was no real explanation. It just seemed like a big waste of time, but I should have known better, after all it was a movie by M. Night.

All in all, it may be one of the better M. Night movies, considering it has the likes of “Signs” and “The Sixth Sense” to contend with, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good flick. I personally thought it was not creepy or scary at all (frankly the trailer is more creepy than the actual movie), and the big climatic ending really wasn’t even that great. It’s a shame that the great cast couldn’t just carry the weight of this one. It wasn’t that great. So, lesson learned, don’t listen to hype. Oh and M. Night, just stop making movies. They all suck.