Archive for June, 2011

In Memory of a Jackass

Posted: June 24, 2011 10:01 am in General

Earlier this week, June 20 actually, I heard that Ryan Dunn, one of the stars of Jackass, had died. A horrible shock came over me, and I immediately thought of the cast of that series and how close they all were. I can’t imagine the lose that Bam Margera is going through specifically. They were life long best friends, and now just like that he’s gone. I can’t imagine the pain I would be going through if I lost my friend I’ve known since I was 5. My heart goes out to the Margera’s, the cast of Jackass and all of Ryan’s family and friends. He truly was too young, and now gone too soon. We miss you buddy, and you will remain our favorite Jackass

Below is the very sad interview with Bam after his best friends untimely death.

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X-Men: First Class

Posted: June 24, 2011 9:43 am in Theatrical Review

X-Men: First Class

PG-13 – 132 Min – 2011

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Starring James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Eric Lehnsherr, “X-Men: First Class” is the prequel to the X-Men series, following the future Professor X and Magneto who are best friends dedicated to harnessing their powers and promoting the education of fellow mutants during the turbulent 1960s. The duo works together to stop a powerful adversary that threatens mankind, but their ideological differences drive them apart and turn them into ferocious enemies.

Hurray! Get To The Monkey’s first Barrel of Monkey’s review! And thank goodness, I thought the day would never come when I would go to the theater and come back with a new favorite film. I am a huge Marvel fan, and especially an X-Men fan. I loved all of them, aside from finding laughable aspects to the 2009 entry, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. So when I found out that they were doing another origins film I was pumped. So much so, that I about went to the midnight showing. If I had, it wouldn’t have been a waste of time or money.

Let me start out with some complaints, as there aren’t very many. I realize that to fill Patrick Stewart’s shoes has to be a challenge. I mean c’mon, he IS Professor X. But I can’t say that I was 100 percent on board with James McAvoy portraying this iconic role. Maybe it’s hard to shake the hoofs out of my mind, but that was the only casting problem I had. That being said, he did do a really good job, the only thing I’m saying is that compared to his predecessor, it was hard for my mind to make that transition. The other thing I had to say, I didn’t like the casting for Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence. She had the boobs, er, shoes of Rebecca Romijn to fill. Of course, all of those thoughts went away as there was a nostalgic cameo from Ms. Romijn about mid way through the movie. Aside from the two casting problems, I couldn’t think of anything wrong with this one. Michael Fassbender was perfect as Magneto. He captured the essence of Ian McKellen’s interpretation, then adding youth and rage to the character. He was easily my favorite character in the film. Kevin Bacon did a great job as Sebastian Shaw, just one of the biggest bastards of a bad guy I’ve ever seen. His mutant power was pretty beast too. Speaking of beast, Nicholas Hoult played the young Hank McCoy/Beast previously played by Kelsey Grammer. As you can see there are a few differences between the two, but I didn’t mind. The rest of the cast of young mutants were all pretty good. January Jones as Emma Frost, that was just amazing. Eye candy, and a good performance. Michael Ironside, the voice of my favorite video game character Sam Fisher from “Splinter Cell”, had a small spot in the movie. I thought that was cool. One thing I noticed is that there was no Stan Lee cameo in this movie. He’s had one in pretty much every Marvel film to date, so that was weird.

There were so many scenes in this movie that were awesome, I don’t know if i can choose one to be my favorite (I lied, the best scene in the movie involves a surprise cameo from someone and I’m not telling who, it is so funny though). Pretty much every scene with Magneto was great, and yet they didn’t outshine any of the other character’s scenes. When a movie can be so good that there wasn’t a better part than the other, you know its a good one. I’d have to just buckle down and say that the very end when we see Charles and Eric become Professor X and Magneto was probably the most exciting part of the film. It was a great build up, and an even better pay off.

Speaking of build up, the soundtrack was excellent in this installment. Usually Marvel movies have a pretty epic soundtrack with a lot of tension build up, and this was no exception. I went and bought two of the songs from iTunes.

This is definitely one to go see in theaters, one I will absolutely be buying when it comes out. There is no secret scene at the end of the credits (which is weird being that pretty much every Marvel movie has those now), so I can save you the ten minutes of credits I waited through for nothing. But the movie was so good it didn’t need an extra scene to make you want to see more, cause I’m already counting down to “First Class 2”. Just please Hollywood, don’t call it “Second Class”.

Tron: Legacy

Posted: June 24, 2011 8:23 am in Review

Tron: Legacy

PG – 125 Min – 2010

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Starring Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn and Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn, “Tron: Legacy” follows the story of the son of a virtual world designer who goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. There he meets his father’s creation turned bad and a unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid.

Ah yes, Tron. I remember trying a few times in my life to get through the original “Tron” from 1982, but I would always lose interest really fast or just fall asleep. So when it was announced that they would be making a sequel, 28 years later, I was excited to see what today’s graphics and animation could do for this story. Well, the exciting colors and impressive display of computer graphics are just about the only thing that’s worth this movies rental.

This was the second movie in a night I had watched starring Jeff Bridges. Earlier that night I had watched “True Grit“, so the transition between the old west and The Grid might have been too much for me. Plus, Jeff’s performance in “True Grit” was so excellent that when I popped this one in I was actually kind of disappointed. He wasn’t horrible, but then again, there wasn’t anything amazing about him either. The one biggest complaint of mine was that they opted to make a complete CG young version of him, rather than have Jeff’s own face then just computer inhance it to cancel out the wrinkles. It’s been done before (in “X-Men: The Last Stand” they did this to both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). Garrett Hedlund (last thing I saw him in was “Troy” as Patroclus) did an alright job, again nothing to crazy good. He got kind of annoying after a while actually. Olivia Wilde, now she made the movie for me, her and sexiness. Her character was pretty cool, and she was probably the best actor in the film. Michael Sheen is one of those amazingly talented actors who can only play bad guys. He was Steven Arthur Younger in “Unthinkable”, Lucian in “Underworld”, Lord Oliver in “Timeline”, and apparently Aro in “Twilight” (though were just gonna forget that he’s in that). He looked pretty bad ass as Castor in Tron, and I was glad to see that he hasn’t lost his bad guy flair. Also, Cillian Murphy (I know him as Jackson Rippner from “Red Eye” or Scarecrow from “Batman Begins”, though most know him as Robert Fischer from “Inception”) had a brief role in the beginning of the movie.

Speaking of brief roles, Daft Punk also had a brief spot in the film. Not only that, but they did the soundtrack to the movie. So, needless to say, the soundtrack was pretty beast.

The over all feel for the movie is just that Disney was trying to flex their CG muscles. Besides that spectacle, there really wasn’t much to it. I was a little let down, especially by the ending (it was such a typical Disney ending). There really isn’t anything new under the sun I suppose. Also, I probably would have enjoyed this movie more if it were a “PG-13” rated flick. They could have put in a lot more action that was more action and less stylization. I gave it a solid 2 and a half monkeys. Take it or leave it, I personally did not like it all that much. Well, except for Olivia Wilde.

 

True Grit (2010)

Posted: June 22, 2011 6:14 pm in Review

True Grit

PG-13 – 110 Min – 2010

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Starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Matt Damon as LaBoeuf, “True Grit” follows the story of a tough U.S. Marshal when he helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer.

I am not a man of western movies. I mean, as a kid I watched my fair share of John Wayne films, and that is what I compare that whole genre to. Now, that may be foolish of me, and I may be missing out on some good movies, but I only think of John Wayne when I think of a western. When they unveiled the remake of one of John’s most famous movies (but one of the only ones I have never seen), I felt somewhat interested for once. What I found in this film is that I had been right about missing out.

Being that I don’t have the knowledge of the first film to compare the remake to, I cannot say for sure that this one was better. But, it is hard to imagine that it could have been inferior to it. Jeff Bridges was amazing in this role. I saw him for the first time as Obadiah Stane in “Iron Man”, however I realize now that he’s been in quite a number of famous roles prior to that. And since he made a pretty awesome bad guy in “Iron Man”, I didn’t know if I could shake the typecast I had in my mind. But boy, was I wrong. He shone bright as Rooster, the man with “true grit”. And he was a bad ass, I wouldn’t mess with him, even with only seeing out of one eye. Hailee Steinfeld, who aside from having a last name that sounds identical to a certain comedian I know, is an unknown. She did a great job, at being a pain in the ass little whiner the whole movie. But at least she could act, I guess. I really thought that having Matt Damon, or Jason Bourne to me, in this movie would seem weird and out of place. All up until I saw him in his first scene. Then I was perfectly fine with having him in this role. Not only did he rock it, but he some how shed his secret agent persona when he donned that cowboy hat. Another notable actor was Josh Brolin as the murderous Tom Chaney. He didn’t seem to change much of anything (besides the face makeup) since his last western adventure as Jonah Hex in, well, “Jonah Hex” (Aka- a movie that is a complete and udder waste of your time).

I really enjoyed the movie, and also loved the scenes with LaBoeuf and Rooster when they would get into arguments. Especially when, while Rooster is completely drunk, they have a shooting contest. The movie had a lot of action, and yet, a lot of story line. The Coen Brothers did an excellent job of retelling a famous and loved story, and from what I hear, they stayed very true to the original. If only John Wayne were alive to see Jeff Bridges filling those big boots as the man with “true grit”. Any one thinking they should remake “Rooster Cogburn“?

Check this one out. If you’re a fan of westerns, a fan of Jeff Bridges, or a fan of John Wayne, I think everyone will find something they like in this film. And this coming from the guy who doesn’t like westerns.

 

Saw III

Posted: June 10, 2011 9:47 am in Review

Saw III

R – 108 Min – 2006

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Starring Tobin Bell as Jigsaw and Shawnee Smith as Amanda, “Saw III” follows the story of Jigsaw when he kidnaps a doctor to keep him alive, while he watches his new apprentice put an unlucky person through a brutal test.

This movie really started amping up what I know to be the “Saw” franchise. It picks up with and continues the big game changer that was revealed at the end of number two. There’s really not a whole lot to this installment, other than the fact that it is really not for the faint of heart. The gore and death scenes were pretty haunting, and the acting wasn’t any better than before.There was the first nudity scene from the “Saw” franchise in this one. As with all horror films with nudity, it’s never like “oh look, boobs!”, but rather disturbing.

The thing that struck me as weird was the fact that, in this installment we’re made to feel bad for Jigsaw himself. As if all along he really wasn’t that bad of a guy. Now granted, the reason for this is due to the fact that his apprentice is in a whole new league of demented evil, but still. His apprentice builds the traps in order to brutally kill people, with no way out. The original Jigsaw traps have a way out, with a sacrifice you have to pay. So, in this movie since Jigsaw is so sick and isn’t in charge of making the traps, there are no lessons learned, just rigged death traps with no resolution. Near the end of the movie you’ll start finding yourself routing for Jigsaw, because he “cares” for his victims? I don’t know. The only redeeming aspect of the movie for me was when they had a very detailed portrayal of how what happened just hours before the first movie, showing some pretty interesting things that make so much sense now. Aside from the “oh man I totally didn’t even see that coming” scenes, the movie wasn’t all that great, and didn’t have all that much happening in it. They even did off with Donnie Wahlberg’s character in a very anti climatic way. You would have thought that since he had a major role in the previous film that they would have given him more screen time.

This isn’t great but isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen. I can’t say that I’ve hated any of the “Saw” films, but I can say that I don’t get why they are so vastly popular. Watch this one if you’ve seen the first two and like them, these three really build on each other with some exciting and chilling conclusions in this installment.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

PG-13 – 136 Min – 2011

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Starring Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and Penélope Cruz as Angelica Malon, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is about the cunningly clumsy Captain Jack who meets his match when mysterious beauty forces the him to join her in search of the Fountain of Youth. In the fourth installment of the action-packed “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, Sparrow tries to determine whether Angelica is friend or foe while the adventure sets him aboard a vessel belonging to the fearsome pirate Blackbeard.

Let me start off by saying, the only reason I even watched the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy was because I liked the Jack Sparrow character so much. I was one of the people who got irritated at the presence of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, and wished that they would make a movie devoted to only Jack. Well, after some falling outs between Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and the people behind the franchise, I got my wish. And yes, while the absence of the two characters left out the nostalgic feel of the franchise, they had the opportunity to take this installment in a completely different direction.

The story picks up noticeably years after the events of the third installment, in the middle of a trial for Captain Jack that turns out to not be the Captain but a familiar face. From the opening scene, we rarely have a Jack free scene, which is great. In my opinion that could be the only thing that could save this franchise, having more Jack centric movies. There were only a weak points in the plot and casting, and from there on out it is a solid film. Plus, getting to see the two greatest pirates, Jack and Barbossa, teaming up for once, amazing.

The villain in the movie is Blackbeard, one of the most feared pirates of all time. Now, I wasn’t impressed with how this whole situation was handled. First off, they cast Ian McShane as Blackbeard. I’m sorry, but he will never be anyone but Rod’s annoying and violent stepfather, Frank Powell, in the funniest movie ever, “Hot Rod”. I just couldn’t shake that role long enough to take him seriously as Blackbeard. And aside from that, they didn’t even present him to be that menacing. Like Barbossa was pretty bad ass, and Davy Jones was down right diabolical, but Blackbeard, eh. That was really my only complaint. Penélope Cruz made a great addition to the cast, she’s probably one of the most sexy actresses out there. Her character, Angelica, was the perfect match for Jack. You could tell that in some scenes he was actually stumped as to how she out smarted him. The only returning members of the original cast, besides Johnny Depp, were: Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally and Keith Richards (he of course only having a small role in the previous installment, had a smaller role in this one). Now, either I missed how much time had elapsed between part 3 and 4, or Geoffrey is getting really old these days. Barbossa looks ancient in this movie, but ancient or not, he actually made this movie great. Kevin McNally reprised his role as Gibbs, while Keith Richards reprised his role as Captain Teague (Captain Jack’s father).

Now, a lot of people had a lot of bad things to say about this installment. Oh, that it didn’t follow the same path as the other three, that the mermaids were dumb, that the fountain of youth should have been in Florida, blah blah blah. What they need to understand is that, this installment is the beginning of a new set of stories. They weren’t trying to continue the same old path that was worn out after three rounds. The story isn’t even one they pulled out of they’re old bag of tricks, it was a book written in 1987. They followed the plot of the book which features Blackbeard, the fountain of youth, and zombies. So really, stop whining and enjoy the movie. Another thing I’ve heard a decent amount of times, is that the side love story of Philip and Syrena was stupid. I thought that it actually fit great into the movie. It certainly was better than watching another movie with the Elizabeth and Will annoyance.

Overall, this was a great time at the theaters. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, not only because of how epic the movie was (you’ll be surprised to see that the overall tone of the movie is much darker), but also because of how many funny scenes there are because of how much Jack is involved in the plot. My favorite scene is in the dialogue between Jack and Angelica in the very end, it’s so funny that I won’t spoil it. Speaking of the very end, there’s a worthwhile hidden scene at the end of the credits, so stick around for that. All of the new additions fit perfectly, and all of the aspects taken out were not missed. I will be adding this to my collection once it releases onto blu ray. Good job on this one, and here’s to many more.

Tremors

Posted: June 10, 2011 8:07 am in Review

Tremors

PG-13 – 96 Min – 1990

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Starring Kevin Bacon as Valentine McKee and Fred Ward as Earl Bassett, “Tremors” is about the natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one.

I remember watching this one when I was a kid, and while it wasn’t my favorite creature-feature, it was definitely up there. So, hoping that it wasn’t another case of glorified recall, I saw it on Instant queue and decided to give it a shot (again). I pretty much remembered it the exact way as it really was, so that was lucky.

The movie has such a silly story, and yet has the guts at the same time to rival any “supposed to serious” creature -feature (which all have a tendency to be silly in my opinion). I like the fact that this one actually pokes fun at itself, but delivers that thriller feel every once and a while. The story features this rinky dink town called Perfection, with it’s handful of citizens, who start getting picked off by giant underground worms they begin nicknaming “Graboids”. The worms are funny looking, and even funnier when they blow up (they have bright orange blood).

The casting was pretty random, but it actually worked. Kevin Bacon was the big star of the movie, and I actually liked him in this. I usually don’t care for his roles, but this wasn’t too bad. His character, Valentine, is the adventurous one, and also the one who gets the girl at the end (umm spoiler-ish?). His partner Earl, played by Fred Ward, was the straight laced and serious one. In fact, this is the only major role I’ve ever seen this guy do (I saw him in supporting roles in “Corky Romano”, “Joe Dirt” and “Road Trip”). The relationship between these two characters is probably the funniest thing about the movie. They made me crack up multiple times. The love interest of Valentine’s, Rhonda Lebeck, was played by Finn Carter, whom I’ve never seen in anything since. The other main characters were the Gummers, played by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire, Yup, Reba. See, I really wonder if she’s good at anything. She sucks at singing, and sucks at acting. She should have just stayed in a small town and worked at the local grocery store. Of course her song had to be featured in the credits. Anyway, moving on. Michael Gross returned to this franchise in all reincarnations of it (yes, even the t.v. show). I think that goes to show how hard up he was for cash. I did find this interesting, the girl who was hopping on the pogo stick during the film, is Ariana Richards who played Lex Murphy in “Jurassic Park” (my favorite creature-feature).

This movie had a huge cult following, apparently so big that it spawned 2 sequels, a prequel and a television show (and probably a reboot on the horizon). Now, I tried to watch the sequels, but could only make it 10 minutes before I wanted to eat poison and die. Well that’s a bit drastic, but they can’t hold anything on the original. Give it a shot, it’s fun, it’s freaky, it’s a good time. And it’s on Instant queue, so watch it while it’s free.