I dunno whether it’s all the holidays or just some screwup by the release date monkeys, but there’s nothing worth talking about coming out this week. Just some old titles being put out on Blu-Ray and some straight-to-DVD stuff. So instead of some DVD reviews, here’s a picture of an Ebola virus in a graduation cap.
People either seem to love this movie or hate it, and the line seems to be drawn between movie critics and normal people. The main bone of contention is the sadness. Sure it’s sad – any movie about a boy dealing with his dad’s death in 9/11 would be – and the kid’s kind of a brat (who isn’t, at his age?) But it’s also really cute because he bonds with his mother and the mute old man living with his grandmother as he searches for the lock matching the key his father left behind. I like it, so I say check it out. You can get more detail in my full review.
I am occasionally called upon to sit through these movies (or, as I like to call them, Crimes Against Humanity) with my young cousins, so I can tell you from personal experience that you do not want to rent Chipwrecked. Between the squeaky voices, irritating songs, fumbling plot, terrible jokes, and fake looking interactions between the CGI and live action characters, there’s enough in here to make you want to drill into your own brain unless you’re already brain damaged or under five. There are plenty of other kids movies out there – Monsters Inc., The Little Mermaid, hell, even Space Buddies. Rent one of those.
If you’ve ever studied any Freudian psychology, you’ve probably wondered whether the people who practiced that stuff were a little… shall we say: inappropriate? If you thought this, you were totally totally right, at least according to this movie. It’s a kind of joint Freud/Jung biography about how neither of them can keep their hands off their patient. It won’t give you much insight into their methods, but it will make you feel weird, uncomfortable, and probably bored. Unsurprisingly, it is directed by David Cronenberg. The only bright spot is Michael Fassbender’s silly mustache.
If you’re expecting, from the box art, that Chow Yun Fat will be sailing through the air on wires for this whole movie, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s a biographical movie about the philosophy and wisdom of one of China’s most enduring teachers, not Kung Fu. There are massive 300-esque battles, however, because it’s set during a really violent period in China’s history, but they don’t involve any superpowers and/or defying the laws of physics. So it’s not quite as exciting as the Chinese films you’re used to, but it’s a lot more exciting than, say, reading a book about Confucius.
I was really ambivalent about whether I wanted to see this movie, but since my only other choice was A Thousand Words, picking this week’s film wasn’t difficult. The reason I wasn’t eager to see John Carter is that it’s based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that was written at a time when we had a much higher tolerance for ridiculous made up science fiction names and climactic sword battles. But to us now, John Carter is just more of the same:
A Victorian-era ex-cavalry soldier is accidentally transported to Mars and falls in love with its princess, sucking him into a civil war between four factions of Martians.
Even just the word Martians is now goofy, mostly because we’ve sent rovers to Mars and not seen anything more interesting than red rocks and old Soviet space junk, so John Carter is automatically at a disadvantage. Fortunately, it’s aware of that fact and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which actually makes it pretty fun to watch.
Apparently movie studios aren’t hopeful that everyone will go to the theaters on New Year’s Eve, because even the movie New Year’s Eve insn’t premiring this Friday – in fact, nothing is. Ergo there will be no trailer reviews.
This week’s review will be a Top 5/Bottom 5 of 2011, which I will post just as soon as I can whittle my list down to five of each.
If carving your holiday turkey left you with dismemberment fantasies, then why not use your gift cards to add this straight-to-video sequel to your torture porn library? Continuing in the grand Hostel tradition of making people afraid to go on vacation, a group of people at a Vegas bachelor party are lured to a “private party” (read: opportunity to be tortured and killed) by a pair of hookers. This movie is gory, perverse, and useless except as a lesson: bring your organs with you to Vegas, they stay in Vegas.
Apparently the movie studios are under the impression that after having a happy holiday we want to have a horrifying New Year, because they’re also putting out Apollo 18 this week. Unlike Hotel, Apollo 18 doesn’t rely on flying intestines and chainsaws to inspire horror. It creates real tension by stranding a group of astronauts on the moon with a hostile being that mostly stays off the screen. If you liked Blair Witch Project (the first one, not the sequel) you’ll like this one too, because it’s pretty much the same thing, just on the moon.
Okay, is this week the dumping ground for bad horror movies or something? A Hostel sequel AND another Final Destination remake (sorry SEQUEL). Swap the airliner for a suspension bridge and Devon Sawa for some kid who looks vaguely like the guy from Final Destination 4 and you’ve got the original movie with one major difference. The premise is no longer original, but a tired rehash. The deaths are increasingly ridiculous and the box office returns are shrinking, so this series will probably movie to DVD-only soon. It should. Good riddance.
At least one movie out of four released this week will be suitable for watching with visiting family members. Despite the National Geographic logo, it’s not a documentary. It’s a dramatized feature film of a true story about an 84 year old man in Kenya who fought with the government to be allowed to get the free education they promised to everyone, which meant going to school with a bunch of six year olds. As you might expect, it’s touching and uplifting and all those nice things, so if you get tired of watching The Wonderful World of Disney, check it out.
Since it’s the holidays and I have more spare time on my hands, I actually saw several movies this week: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (totally fun and awesome), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (totally disturbing and awesome), and The Adventures of Tintin. I wasn’t sure which to review at first, but then I decided to do the one most suited to a family trip to the movies during the holiday season. And that movie is The Adventures of Tintin. The plotline is taken from one of Herge’s original Tintin comic books:
An intrepid reporter and his dog team up with a cursed sea captain to uncover the mystery behind a treasure filled ship that disappeared a hundred years ago.
I watched the Tintin cartoon avidly as a kid, so while I was excited for the movie, I was also a little worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, like most of the nostalgia driven 90s movies they’ve made in the last few years (Transformers, The Smurfs, The Chipmunks, etc.) But I should have known better. Any movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson can’t help but be awesome.
I promised myself that I would watch the original Swedish version of these films first (I’ve read the books already) but it appears that I have run out of time. I’m not willing to wait any longer to see the Daniel Craig version. It looks totally awesome. I hope all those doubters who said Rooney Mara was going to make a crappy Lisbeth Salander have shut up, because she totally looks like the girl I saw in my head when I read the books. I have to admit to being a little concerned about the running time (2 hours, 40 minutes) and the David Fincher factor (he directed the tremendously boring Zodiac) but this movie a) has an ending and b) is based on a tremendously long book that doesn’t feel tremendously long, so I have faith that it will be good.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN
No, I don’t think there are any actual unicorns in this movie. The Unicorn is the name of the sunken ship they’re trying to find. I loved the Tintin cartoon when I was a kid and am looking forward to seeing this movie. After all, both Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are involved. But I’m a little worried about the fact that they used motion capture. It gives all the characters’ movements this weird smoothness that I associate with video-game animation, which always looks super-fake to me. I also won’t be seeing it in 3D either. I’ve seen enough 3D movies now to know that they’re a fad that’s not worth the extra money. I’m just glad they’re at least giving me an option this time.
THE DARKEST HOUR
Movie studios, what are you trying to do to me? I’m going to end up spending my whole holiday season in a movie theater, because I want to see this one too. Unfortunately (or fortunately, since there’s so much else to see) I don’t think our theater is getting it until after the weekend. There are a lot of things I like about The Darkest Hour. I love that it’s set in Russia instead of some random American city (or, God forbid, New York City). I love that the aliens are orange glowy balls instead of giant space suited things with blasters like usual. I love that they’re invisible. And I love that they actually have a plan other than to destroy Earth for no reason. Those guns they made are a little silly (Ghostbusters anyone?) and the plot seems like it might have been better suited to a video game, but I’m still excited for it.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO
And what has bumped The Darkest Hour from our weekend lineup? That’s right, it’s a stupid Matt Damon family movie about zoo animals! At least the animals don’t talk (that I’ve seen, anyway). It’s supposed to be one of those heartwarming family togetherness stories (which I guess is why they decided to release it like two days before Christmas??) but because of that I’m guessing the zoo could be replaced with an amusement park or a senior’s home or a sandwich shop or a stray dog or anything that can force a family to start working together as a team. Still, I’m a sucker for the family stuff. I might have watched this (eventually) if it wasn’t for the accursed Matt Damon and his wooden acting.
A lot of the people who fight in a war would rather not be doing it, and some are even forced into it, but at least they have the ability to say “no I don’t want to.” When you’re a horse, you can’t. That’s why this movie looks fantastic. I’m a little concerned that there isn’t much indication what direction the plot will take. “A horse is forced into the army” is all we get. But do we follow the horse? The boy? The soldier? All of them? I suppose I could read the book, but that would be cheating. I also don’t know who they think is going to go see this movie on Christmas day, but that’s when they’re releasing it. I’ll probably review this for next week, because there are no movies coming out on the weekend of New Year’s.
Hey, remember I was telling you about how another one of my stories is going to be in a book? Well you can buy it now. The story is called “A+ Brain” and it’s about a teenager who gets a brain transplant so he can get into college. The book is called Tesseracts Fifteen and it’s all YA (young adult) themed stuff.
You can buy a copy for yourself or a teenaged person you know at any of these places:
I don’t usually go for bad guys, but I’ve always found Magneto much more interesting than Professor Xavier. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Magneto’s back story in X-Men and I hope to learn a lot more with this film (no I have not read the comics. Obviously). Add in the historical aspect (the Cuban Missile Crisis is a fascinating and often overlooked part of the 20th century) and you’ve definitely hooked me. I’m a little concerned that James MacAvoy looks like a teenager compared to Michael Fassbender (they’re supposed to be the same age) and that there are mutants (like Beast) in this early period that shouldn’t really be there (Beast was on the team at the same time as Jean Grey, Cyclops, et all in the cartoon). But I can probably overlook it. Hell, I definitely can. Magneto lifts a submarine right out of the water!
This movie is listed as coming out on the 6th, which is next Monday (weird) but I’ll list it with this week’s movies just so X-Men First Class doesn’t have to be all by its lonesome. This is one of those movies where you don’t get much from the trailer. Is the whole movie him just explaining things to his dog? And the dog responds, but in subtitles? How odd. How exactly like Ewan McGregor to star in something so odd. I’ll probably watch it, since it’s him, but it also helps that it looks sort of funny. Even if it is your standard character drama (Ha! Called it! His dad’s got cancer AND he’s just come out of the closet!) then the McGregor/quirk factor may be able to salvage it. I’ll let you know in like two years when a copy becomes available to me.