This movie explores the interesting (if unoriginal) idea that we can’t tell the difference between human and machine intelligence. After a computer scientist is fatally wounded, his wife uploads him into an AI, which immediately starts taking measures to improve the world and it’s people. But is it really? And who’s doing it, the scientist or the computer? Unfortunately, not a lot actually happens so it gets kind of boring. Read my review for more.
Heaven is For Real
When I type this title, it ends up as “Heaven Is Not For Real.” Freudian slip. You can yell at me if you want, but that won’t change the fact that even if you set aside the issue of veracity, this movie belongs to the same ‘hamfisted inspirational slap’ genre popularized by the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A little boy has surgery, wakes up, tells his dad he went to heaven and met a bunch of famous people, and the dad puts him on TV to convince and uplift a skeptical public. It’s based on a “non-fiction” book written by the boy and the dad.
My first thought was: how did Sam Worthington and Joe Manganiello star in a movie together without my knowing about it? (It was straight to DVD in Canada). The premise is a weird cross between an action movie and a horror movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a team of wise-cracking DEA agents who aren’t as witty as they think they are (a la The Expendables) take down a drug cartel safe house and then start getting killed off one by one (a la every horror movie ever made) on account of some missing money. It’s about as good as Arnold’s movies usually are.
To people who are not me, this would be another lean week for movies. However, since I automatically line up for all movies concerning airplanes and/or firefighting, I was excited for this weekend. I thought the only problem with Planes was its resemblance (story-wise) to Cars, so this time, with firefighting planes, it had to be different. Right?
After a gearbox failure a racing airplane trains as a firefighter in order to help save his hometown.
As a pure Disney effort rather than a Disney-Pixar film, Planes: Fire and Rescue is pretty good. The characters are cute, there are scenes of exciting action, and a handful of jokes that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately Fire and Rescue lacked heart, which means that by next week I’ll probably have forgotten all about it.
While I have to give this movie credit for acknowledging that there’s never just one copy of a thing in the digital age (something action movies like Skyfall and Jack Ryan have yet to clue into) it’s still pretty dumb. Why are these people flailing across the nation thinking they can get every copy back? THIS IS DIGITAL. THERE ARE INFINITE COPIES. YOU WILL NEVER GET THEM ALL. They would have done better to explore the comedy inherent in the two of them becoming overnight internet porn celebrities.
What is it, stupid premise day? Horror movies get a certain amount of leeway as far as believability goes, but this one pushes the envelope right over a cliff. National legal crime day is not only stupid (who would live in a country where everyone was allowed to kill them? And who wants to rebuild their entire nation every year after the criminals destroy it?) but it wouldn’t work. Criminals would not wait 364 days to get revenge if someone pissed them off the day after the purge. Also, how dumb are those two who decided to go for a drive just before the purge started?
I know Planes didn’t go over well with anyone other than me, but this is a cool idea for a movie. Firefighting AND planes! Firefighting planes! I’m even willing to overlook the fact that Dusty is way too small of a plane to be much help in fighting forest fires. I mean, how much water could he hold in his tank? And how would he scoop it up? Poor Dusty doesn’t look like he could put out a campfire. But he’s still a plane that fights fires so I’ll see it.
I think it’s a cool idea to make a movie where the kid grows up on screen, and it looks like a good movie, but it’s kind of like a Guinness record attempt – the only reason to do it is for the pleasure of knowing you’re the only one who has. It just seems like 11 extra years of work when you could have made a good movie in a year by hiring a herd of brothers who all look alike or something.
I guess this is what you do when you want to make a post-apocalyptic action movie on a small budget. Set it on a train. It looks okay, but it does seem a little silly. I mean, their whole goal is to get to the front of the train. When they get there, they’ll still be on a train.
It looks okay I guess. I remember liking Garden State many moons ago so I’d probably like this one as well. There just wasn’t anything in the trailer that really jumped out at me and made me say “Yes! This one! I want to see this one!” All I got was a vague sense of puzzlement… was that a hovering robot??
In the first Rio, a terrified, flightless macaw named Blue was brought to South America to breed with Jewel, the only other remaining bird of his species. In this sequel, we discover that blue macaws aren’t as rare as everyone thought: Jewel’s whole family is out in the jungle, so Blue (reluctantly) takes the family to Brazil once again to meet their relatives. Like the first Rio, it’s an okay movie. Not the funniest or most exciting movie ever, but it’s cute, it looks nice, and kids enjoy it.
Under the Skin
If you’re in the mood for a movie that will make you go: “What the #$%$@& is happening?!” then Under the Skin is for you. Don’t be fooled by the mention of aliens and the fact that Scarlett Johansson is in the cast (okay, she pretty much IS the cast). This movie is more about self discovery and learning about feelings, and by that I mean the main character has a weird look on her face while incomprehensible things happen around her. The only reason people who are not film critics might want to watch this movie is for the nudity.
The Wipers Times
If Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife have sucked you into the world of British period drama, expand your horizons a little further and try a BBC war movie. Don’t worry, it’s not full of blood and bombs and harrowing death scenes. It’s about a group of soldiers (led by Ben Chaplin) who find a printing press in World War I and use it to publish a satirical newsletter to keep up morale in the trenches (even though the brass think it’s borderline treasonous) so it’s quite funny. And the best part is – it’s true!
Buy The Wipers Times on DVD.
There is a Hercules movie coming out soon that stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This is not it, but a sizeable portion of its marketing team are probably hoping you get the two confused – it’s about Hercules and stars a WWE wrestler (John “Johnny Nitro” Hennigan), but the movie itself is sort of a sequel. Hercules is a down-on-his-luck exile who is pressed into action once again when a young man’s bride is kidnapped by an evil king. It’s about as good as any of the knockoffs in the “mockbuster” family (Transmorphers, Chop Kick Panda, etc.) which is to say: not very good.
I wanted to see Begin Again this week, but all we got was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and as I previously mentioned, Planet of the Apes has overstayed its welcome. So my brother and I decided to go to a film from a few weeks ago: The Fault in Our Stars. I havn’t read the John Green novel (not because I wouldn’t, I just haven’t gotten around to it) but I knew it would be sad.
Two teens with cancer meet at a support group and fall in love.
I’m not opposed to sad movies per se. I’m opposed to tearjerkers. For those of you who don’t go to a lot of dramas, sad movies are like The Boy in the Sriped Pajamas. They’re all about conveying the reality of sad situations. Tearjerkers are like The Notebook. They’re all about hamfistedly slapping tears out of your face. This movie is the former.
Planet of the Apes is a one-off for me. It was good for that one surprise at the end of the first one (I won’t say what it was in case you haven’t seen it) and the brief ‘ha ha, those are monkeys that act like people’ aspect of the premise. It’s not something I want to keep seeing movies about, even if they’ve upgraded from monkey suits to CGI and hired Gollum to animate them. Also, I think the title for this one and the one that came before it (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) should be switched around. It would just make more sense.
Once was a film with a very simple (too simple, really) story that was carried on the strength of its soundtrack… or mostly that one song: “Falling Slowly.” I liked Once enough to check out another John Carney film but I do hope the “rejected rockstar girlfriend meets rejected agent” story is stronger than the storyline in Once.
This movie can best be summed up as ‘Jason Bateman swears a lot and is mean to children.’ He plays a 40 year old who attempts to get revenge for a past wrong by winning a children’s spelling bee as an adult. Not only is the premise extremely implausible, I find it difficult to watch movies where there are no sympathetic characters. It’s impossible to feel for a guy who bullies and intimidates little kids so mercilessly, even if some of the kids themselves are little brats. If you’re looking for something light and funny, you won’t get it here.
Prisoners of the Sun
With this cool-looking DVD box and the reference to the Academy Award, you might be fooled into thinking this is a film in the vein of The Mummy: a fun big-budget adventure playing on Ancient Egyptian mythology. But before you run out and get your copy, you should know Roger Christian’s oscar was for set decoration and this movie has a 3.7 rating on IMDB – deservedly. It’s a cheap-looking, cheesy, horror/adventure about a group of no-name actors (plus John Rhys-Davies) who get trapped in what can only be described as a ‘doom pyramid.’
Buy Prisoners of the Sun on DVD.
That’s it for today. It’s another slow week for releases.
This week I refused to see Tammy on the grounds that it’s just a giant fat joke. I also rejected Earth to Echo, because I saw E.T. and have no desire to watch a remake starring annoying modern kids. Deliver Us From Evil didn’t look all that special either, but it had three things to recommend itself by: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, and Sinister.
A police officer with a talent for finding trouble turns to a renegade priest for help tracking down a painter possessed by evil.
I was expecting hot guys and some good scares from this movie, but I only got one out of two. Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez were still worth the ticket price, but writer/director Scott Derrickson failed to recreate the “I am about to chew my own fingers off” tension levels I remember so well from Sinister.
I just finished reading A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (that’s Game of Thrones series to you, if you only watch the TV show). Instead of reviewing it, I thought I’d give you a look at what’s going on inside my head as I read these things.
CHARACTER #1: I have a daring plan! It will bring me honor and/or glory!
ME: It’s a dumb plan. It will bring you death.
CHARACTER #1: Nonsense! I’m sure it’ll be fine.
ME: Yeah, that’s what the last guy said.
DEATH: Just so you know, I’m coming to kill you in 3…
CHARACTER #1: Who said that? Must be the wind…
CHARACTER #1: Silence, craven wind-speaker!
CHARACTER #1: Onward! For honor/glory!
ME and DEATH: I fucking TOLD you.
CHARACTER #1: Oh, oh, I’m dying! Woe! Woe! I totally did not see this coming.
ME: I refuse to feel sorry for you. You’re obviously too dumb to live.
CHARACTER #1: Oh fine then.
CHARACTER #2: Wasn’t that dramatic? Are you moved?
ME: Try annoyed. I’m gonna go read a different book.
CHARACTER #2: Wait! Don’t you want to know what happens to me?
CHARACTER #3: Or me?
ME: Are you as thick as the other guy?
CHARACTER #2: Umm….
CHARACTER #3: Err…
ME: That’s what I thought.
CHARACTER #2: Wait!
CHARACTER #3: Take us with you!
CHARACTER #2: Poop. I hate it when I don’t get everything I want.
CHARACTER #3: Oh but we CAN have what we want.
CHARACTER #2: How?
CHARACTER #3: I have a plan!
CHARACTER #2: Is it daring?
CHARACTER #3: Without a doubt.
CHARACTER #2: Will it bring us honor and/or glory?
CHARACTER #3: By the bucket! …if it works.
CHARACTER #2: Is this plan ill-conceived?
CHARACTER #3: Possibly. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.
CHARACTER #2: LET’S DO IT.
Who buys their kid creepy-ass toys like that? That owl thing was scary even before it started moving on its own. The cop angle on this is cool (if not that original) plus: Eric Bana! I lost interest a little bit when they dropped the cop stuff to focus on the guy’s home life, but perked up again when I saw it was directed by the same guy who did Sinister. That guy knows that the key to a movie actually being scary is to have the audience scouring each frame for the monster… and having it not be there… until it IS. I’ll see this one.
So are we just remaking old Chris Farley movies with Melissa McCarthy now? “Hur hur, look, she’s FAT and DUMB! Hur hur!” Come on. She’s way funnier than this.
Speaking of remakes: hello again, E.T.. Can’t say I’m fond of your Super 8 makeover.